Theatre News

Michelle Terry: 'Emma Rice was the best thing that happened to the Globe'

The artistic director designate and chief executive of Shakespeare’s Globe spoke candidly about the recent controversy over Emma Rice’s departure

Michelle Terry
Michelle Terry
© Sarah Lee

The artistic director designate of Shakespeare's Globe Michelle Terry has said the previous artistic director Emma Rice was the 'best thing that ever happened to the Globe'.

Speaking at the theatre's new season announcement, Terry was asked about what had been learnt after the fallout from Rice's departure only two years after she started.

Terry said: "I personally think Emma Rice was the best thing that has ever happened to the Globe because it has forced an organisation to go through a most healthy form of protest. It has afforded a time of unbelievable self reflection. It was really painful for everyone including Emma. I also hope it was the best thing that has happened to her too."

The chief executive Neil Constable added that the board and theatre had had 'great fun' working with Rice.

He said: "We are finishing this weekend a wonderful Emma-style new musical Romantics Anonymous which played alongside Secret Theatre. A new play and a new musical in the playhouse with technology and support. And so the experiment, as we like to call it, has been a very, very valid one and helped us identify, especially when we went to talk to people about Emma’s successor, a real clarity of cause and why the two theatres were built.

"We will continue to celebrate Emma’s two years here, because we’ve had fantastic productions on our stages and a wonderful audience welcome."

Rice announced she was stepping down from the position in November 2016 due to an argument over the use of electric lighting in the theatre.

Terry explained that there will be no amplified sound during her tenure at Shakespeare's Globe.

"The thing that is unique about the Globe is the playing conditions of the two spaces, and that is the only criteria I would ask director and designers, to explore," she said.

"There will be no amplified sound. [We must focus on the question of ] what can we do here that we can’t do anywhere else? Which in an industry that goes: 'Where’s the West End transfer?', isn’t exactly industry friendly. Really, if we’re doing our job well we won’t be able to transfer anywhere else.

"There will be lighting and a reduced lighting rig, only because we want to do plays in the evening and if we were doing original practice we’d only do matinees. There’s also a lot of educational work that goes on and tours, so we need technology. It’s functional, rather than affective.

"Original practice for me has limiting or almost pejorative connotations now because it implies that women can’t be in the plays, and what’s not going to happen. The term 'original process' expands it."

Read details of Michelle Terry's first season as head of Shakespeare's Globe