Music at the New Globe
Chantal Schütz
Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique, Paris (France)

Schütz, Chantal. "Music at the New Globe." Early Modern Literary Studies 7.1/Special Issue 8 (May, 2001): 4.1-36 <URL:

1. The New Globe, a full scale authentic "instrument", opened in summer 1997. Ever since the Opening Season, at least one or two productions per season have adopted recreated authentic clothing and props, directors have been making more and more systematic attempts at authentic staging, and as a consequence, more and more discoveries are being made about authentic playing conditions. The same approach has been applied to music : authentic instruments and period music have frequently been employed, while some productions have commissioned new music, thereby adapting the tradition of Renaissance Masques.

2. Globe productions have a commitment to authenticity that extends to every aspect of the theatre, including the presence of musicians playing on period instruments. One of the main problems, however, is that the original music for Shakespeare's plays is unidentified, except for the scores of a few songs. Music directors therefore are faced with the complex task of deciding which instruments may have been used for each play, when music may have been interspersed at moments other than those clearly stated in the stage directions or in the dialogue, and which pieces to play.

3. The musicians' experience has confirmed that the Globe replica shares some of the aesthetic and practical advantages of authentic instruments, that its acoustic qualities help achieve stylistic coherence. It has also opened up a number of very practical questions: where did musicians hang their instruments? what did they do when they were not playing? were they really curtained off? how much did actors' and musicians' work overlap? who chose the music?

4. The New Globe has in effect reopened the debate that raged in the 70s around the early music movement and applied it to the world of acting. Can the lessons of that movement be applied to the New Globe project? Can the familiarity with authentic practise lead to original 21st century productions? The experience of the past five seasons is already pointing to a change in expectations and has in effect opened up a new field for practical research, as can be seen in some structural modifications that have been made to the theatre.

The Globe stage and audience (click on pictures for enlarged versions)


5. This paper will present the musical choices made in a number of Globe productions in the period 1997-2000. An extensive analysis of these choices was presented in a long report on Music at the Globe published as a Globe Research Bulletin and also available on the Internet at (within the Globe Research Website hosted by the University of Reading). In this paper I will summarise the most significant examples, then I will then attempt to analyse what has been learned through the experience. I will continue with an updated discussion on the use of curtains in the Music Room and conclude with some considerations on the problem of authenticity.

Musical choices from 1997 to 2000

6. Since the Opening Season of the Globe, sixteen plays have been performed in repertoire. Of these, one of the productions most concerned with the issue of authenticity was Richard Olivier's Henry V (in 1997). The director committed himself to an exploration of period uses of the stage. Actors wore hand-made costumes of antique fabric copied from Tudor portraits. The alarums and trumpet calls prominent in the stage directions came straight out of period military manuals. For the fanfares and songs, the music director used tunes from Byrd's Battle and other programmatic courtly pieces. The Non Nobis Domine and a Te Deum, were sung, as Shakespeare's King commands, at the end of Act IV, in order to celebrate the English victory. The instrumentalists' livery was of brown wool and canvas and their usual location on the balcony, also referred to as the Lords' Room or the Music Room, (which they shared with audience members), except in court scenes, when they accompanied the King on stage, waiting for the his signal to play. Finally, and this is perhaps the most surprising result of this particularly ambitious search for authenticity, the ceremonial role of music was given its full weight : actors and musicians discovered that music does not just happen, it requires coordination and respect for complex social rules. The musicians had to wait for the King's signal to play, and thereby signify the end of an audience. On one significant occasion, at the close of Act II, this ceremonial role was clearly extended to a political gesture, when the flourish for the French King's exit was rudely interrupted by the English ambassador.

7. Henry V is not a play that calls for much music, but the little music it does have was paid great attention. Some of the choices seemed appropriate for the Globe, but of course, we are still at the stage of wondering what is authentic and what is not. For instance, fanfares were played during act breaks, although we know that act music was only introduced at the Globe at least 10 years after Henry V was written. The director introduced two songs in the camp, which expressed the mood of the armies on the eve of the battle. A probably inauthentic but highly effective choice was to have the French sing a drunken bawdy song outside the auditorium: as they heard it, the English soldiers on stage looked with apprehension above the groundlings towards the not so distant enemy.

8. A very different approach of the question of authenticity was to be found in the second of the Globe Opening Season's productions, Malcolm McKay's punk-Elizabethan staging of Thomas Middleton's comedy, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. Most of the staging was anachronistic, and indeed deliberately and resolutely so. Ascents into the galleries, entries through the yard, acrobatic descents from the stage-roof trap are among the many examples of the production's imaginative use of the architectonic opportunities afforded by the building. On the other hand, the director did opt for authentic Jacobean clothing and a band of specialised early music theatre musicians. The music fitted into that scheme: oscillating between authentic and pastiche, it made use of the performers' knowledge of period tunes and ability to realise bass-lines, to create a production that was not so much authentic as able to generate a period feel in its look and sound. The musicians were once again in livery. They performed from the balcony but also outside the theatre before the show began, then on stage, as part of a dumb show that explained the pre-history of the plot. Two lute-songs were accompanied from the balcony, with the lute player needing to just slightly lean over the balustrade in order to achieve better visual contact and auditory balance. Pictorial evidence of the time seems to tell us that accompanists were not always positioned very close to singers and often had to stand in rather uncomfortable positions to do so, but the lutenist, Doug Wootton, made little of the discomfort and stressed that he could hear the singers perfectly.

9. The show ended with a Morris-Dance based jig, and so was the first new Globe production to perpetuate the tradition of dancing after the close of the play, either a jig in the amphitheatre playhouses, or a more sophisticated ballet in the hall theatres. Actors danced into the yard, sometimes with audience members, which was probably unauthentic as a Globe tradition, but was a gesture in the direction of the less dramatic and more genteel tradition of Jacobean Masques, where during the Revels - which was usually the longest part of the entertainment - performers chose partners among the audience. This tradition has now become a staple of Globe productions, with As You Like It in 1998, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra in 1999, The Antipodes and Hamlet in 2000. It is now clear that the anti-climax that the jig produces, when the slaughtered characters reappear on stage to dance a more or less stately dance in the company of their murderers, is not a problem for modern audiences, and that it does in effect succeed in producing a relief of tension, a return into the world of unsuspended disbelief in which (rhythmical) clapping and loud music have an unquestionable part.

Jigs from Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and As You Like It


10. Many productions, from David Freeman’s The Winter's Tale in 1997 to Lenka Udovicki’s The Tempest in 2000, have laid no claim to authenticity - at least in the sense of "trying to do it as if you were there". New music has usually been commissioned for those productions. The composers wrote music resolutely recognisable as 20th century creation. Yet many of them have felt compelled by the spirit of the building to integrate forms of tradition in their music. For instance, in The Winter's Tale, two off-stage songs were added to the script, but the words were from Elizabethan poems relevant to the symbolism of the play. The songs written for the character of Autolycus had a ballad-like quality which made the tunes, although new, sound familiar. Most strikingly, the composer (Claire van Kampen, who has written music for over half of the Globe productions) made use of the Medieval sound of psalteries (where all the other instruments were modern or exotic), to accompany the awakening of the statue of Hermione, as required by Shakespeare's text:

Paulina: Musick; awake her: Strike;
         Music plays.
'Tis time: descend: be Stone no more:

The Winter's Tale, 5.3.98-99

The music, coming from above, with musicians standing at the back of the balcony, added mystery and awe to this section of the scene, while fulfilling the symbolic requirement of representing both divine intervention and the harmony of the spheres.

11. The Maid's Tragedy (produced in 1997) is known to scholars first for being the story of a regicide, and secondly because barely 15 minutes into the story, it holds up all action to introduce a reduced-scale Court Masque. The few modern productions of this play have tended to cut the Masque, which made no sense to them. Director Lucy Bailey chose to make it a dramatic climax, the point after which nothing can interrupt the course of tragedy. Composer and designer helped her achieve a wonderfully baroque extravaganza, incorporating Inigo Jonesian costumes and some references to Jacobean music, particularly in the choice of rhythmic patterns (4 against 3, syncopations etc). The choice of five brass instruments derived directly from the design of Night's skirt. This was formed a large cloth that covered the stage entirely, which the character of Night slipped into from the stage trap. Musicians and sea gods and creatures emerged from holes in the cloth, playing trumpets, trombones and tuba. The instruments both mirrored the hysteria and broadness of gesture of play and masque, and could also be used to clearly mark the stages of the narration. In effect, The Maid's Tragedy was the first new Globe production to summon the audience with a trumpet call, as would have been the case in Shakespeare's Globe.

Set for The Maid’s Tragedy

Musicians in that production played from various parts of the auditorium, creating interesting spatial sound-effects, often at quite a distance from one another. This seems not to have been an uncommon practice in the 16th and 17th century, as can be seen in such pieces as Monteverdi's Vespers, which call for an echo in the upper galleries of the church where they were performed. Several productions at the new Globe have continued experimenting in this direction. In As You Like It (1998) musicians were dispatched in the yard (for the prologue and during the wrestling match) and in the galleries. Thus 'Under the Greenwood Tree' made use of echo effects, with a soprano repeating all the male singer's lines from the middle gallery, while 'Blow, you Winter Winds' had recorders placed in three different spots on the middle gallery and a bassoon in the Music Room. This meant that the actor playing Amiens had to conduct so that the recorders answering each other from the gallery would be in time.

As You Like It in production


12. In The Two Noble Kinsmen (2000), actors and musicians sang and played from the galleries to accompany the actors and musicians on stage and in the Music Room. This production is in fact the one that has gone farthest to date in the integration of acting and music : the two singers were really part of the cast, one of them playing the part of one of the 3 queens, while another set the tone of antique tragedy with the magnificent aria sung on the forestage at the onset of the performance.

What has been learned from the four past seasons?

13. The first thing that was found out is that the acoustics are far more convincing than had been thought initially. The building does pose a number of problems: on the one hand, it is circular and partly open to the sky, which creates risks of dispersion and exogenous sounds. However, above the stage, there is a proper roof against which the sound bounces off before going into the yard, and there is a certain amount of depth in the balcony (Music Room), so if the musicians play as far forward as possible, they get good results. These could be enhanced if the ceiling was curved, as it was in most period musicians' balconies. The effect was further improved when the balcony of the Music Room was extended forward in 1999, allowing musicians to stand somewhat closer to the actors and audience, to be more visible, and to benefit from the wooden roof above the stage (the Heavens), as opposed to the plaster roof above the balcony.

Music Room in 1998

Music Room in 1999


14. Opinions on the acoustics are contradictory. While instrumentalists often complain that they cannot hear the sound come back to them, most singers and actors feel that if the sound is very focussed, it carries astonishingly well and resounds so sensuously that they could get carried away with it. However, in The Maid’s Tragedy (1997), when Cynthia descended from the Heavens trap and stayed suspended there for a duet she sang with a mermaid on stage, the partners could not hear each other's voice, and Cynthia's vocal line had to be doubled by the band below.

15. Is the quality of the acoustics due to the goat's hair contained in the plaster? Or is it the omnipresent wood that creates the feeling of playing inside the resonance chamber of a traditional instrument? One hypothesis is that because the balusters have all been turned by hand and the timbers all cut individually, resulting in a generally uneven surface, it offers thousands of facets off which the sound can be broken up. At any rate, the Globe is perhaps the only theatre in London where the sound is "natural" rather than deliberately dampened by acousticians, who usually concentrate on eliminating or muffling noises. The price of the roofless structure is, of course, is that jets passing overhead are a nuisance - they usually come in moments of great silent intensity, proving the most violent reminder of the limits of every attempt at authenticity.

Scene from Henry V showing drummers on stage seen from the upper gallery

16. In spite of these disturbances, the Globe has indeed a distinct quality of silence that can create moments of rapt attention. Here the music plays the prime part. The lute, for instance, requires singers to be very soft, and the rule that the softer you play, the greater the emotion achieved suffers no exception even in the both obviously populistic and eruditely historical context of an early 17th century theatre in late 20th century culture. This is remarkable in a house where audience participation can become quite boisterous, and where audience members are generally encouraged to move around as much and whenever they wish. The dramatic use of songs in Shakespeare's plays to arrest the action and prepare for a climax (or an anti-climax) becomes far more understandable in this context.

17. Sophisticated music was performed frequently in the open air, as is documented by the summer 'progresses' of Elizabeth I. Evidently, Elizabethan/Jacobean audiences expected to hear good quality music in the theatre, and after the King's Men acquired the Blackfriars in 1609, they not only brought its broken consort - which had the reputation of being the best in London - to the Globe, equipping the balcony with proper music room trappings (ie curtains and appropriate storage), but also presumably introducing the tradition of playing before the performance and between acts rather than having a jig at the end of a tragedy. [1] The Globe has now experimented in the use of quiet instruments and ensembles close to the broken consort structure, with act music integrated into the action, as in The Merchant of Venice in 1999. Played while the audience is busy buying drinks or moving in and out of the yard and galleries, it was clearly heard only by the "happy few", but this was arguably the case in the original Globe too.

18. Shakespeare uses music for characterisation, as in the case of Autolycus in The Winter's Tale. Here, the discovery was that the best rapport with the audience can still be created by a comic singing character, in the tradition of Robert Armin. Nicholas Le Prevost, who anachronistically played the violin as if it was a ukulele came on as a beggar. He was usually thrown pennies by audience members, and he took the idea of authenticity seriously enough to actually collect his earnings, trying to achieve the feeling that his livelihood depended on the quality of his playing. David Fielder's Touchstone in the 1998 production of As You Like It continued the tradition of comic song, as did the added prologue to The Merchant of Venice, which relied on a Commedia dell'Arte approach (staged by Marcello Magni who played Lancelot Gobbo) to create the atmosphere of lightness and enjoyment that surrounds Bassanio and Lorenzo, and mock the seriousness of the characters of Antonio and Shylock

How was the Music Room used ?

19. Richard Hosley's seminal article of 1960, "Was a Music Room at Shakespeare's Globe?" provides ample evidence that Music Rooms were equipped with curtains, and many Globe productions have now adopted this custom, although in the first season only one production, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, had a curtain on the balcony. [2] In that show, the musicians did not play behind the curtain nor use it as place of concealment for themselves (though they did keep instruments there). When musicians were not required to play, they either stayed in the Tiring-House or went into the Green Room which is just outside the playhouse, on the same level as the balcony.

21. Hosley's opinion is that musicians played the 'dramatic' music, the music that underlined the action, behind curtains, whereas the 'act' music was played in full view, usually without action on the stage (except eg the sleeping lovers in Midsummer Night’s Dream who are instructed to 'sleep all the Act'), but often with dancing. There is much evidence that before 1609 and the acquisition of the Blackfriars broken consort, music (usually louder instruments) was simply played 'within', ie in the Tiring-House on stage level, presumably behind the Arras of the central opening. Experience at the new Globe has shown that noise from within has to be rather loud to be heard in the auditorium (holes had to drilled in the Frons Scenae and doors for actors to hear their cues properly, and music "within" must usually be cued by stage managers). At first, the likelihood that broken consort music would be audible from behind curtains seemed small - unless the fabric was very fine, which is why so few productions adopted curtains.

22. The idea that seeing the musicians might distract the audience from the action now seems hard to defend: it is in fact rather hard to focus on scenes played above, as it is the remotest part of a very large stage, and also the least well lit by the sunlight. As a result, musicians had a tendency to be in the background, and during the first seasons, they would usually remain on the balcony even when they were not playing.

23. Some architectural changes to the stage and balcony have since then been carried out, partly in response to musicians and acousticians’ remarks, even though the primary reasons were visual and practical. This applies above all to the extension of the balcony, a modification made in order to improve the focus on actors giving speeches as it were from a rostrum ( such as Anthony in Julius Caesar), but also to make ascents and interchange between the « above » and the stage easier, as in the case of the heaving of Antony’s body in Antony and Cleopatra. The central part of the balcony now juts out above the central opening, in effect deepening the « discovery space » and thus allowing a much larger part of the audience to actually see scenes set in it. This change has also brought the musicians forward, closer to the actors they accompany and easier to focus on for the audience. It has therefore also made it more important to curtain off the central opening above, so that they can exit discreetly when they are not playing.

Heaving of Antony's body

Musicians at the new Globe thus form an essential and colourful part of the set, which in the « authentic » productions is otherwise reduced to some hangings and a few props. This practice is in keeping with Renaissance iconography. In many Dutch and Italian paintings, the musicians' gallery plays a prominent part in the composition. Certainly, they show that musicians in the 17th century were a common sight and would neither have been considered as a potential distraction nor as an alternative focus of attention.

24. Richard Hosley builds his argumentation partly on references to 'encurtain'd Musique'. Yet, as has been pointed out by Alan Dessen, stating that something is there in the dialogue can mean either that it has to be imagined, or alternatively point to the fact that a prop was indeed used. I suggest the same is true in this case. It is necessary to state where musicians should play from, when it is an unusual place, as for instance in the stage direction 'hoboyes below' in Antony and Cleopatra. It is pertinent to hide the musicians when a degree of mystery is required, for example for Ariel's song in The Tempest, or for the music accompanying the awakening of Hermione in The Winter's Tale. We know from Queen Elizabeth's progresses (eg the entertainment at Elvetham) that music was sometimes played with the musicians out of view, eg in the room next door during a feast, or hidden in a bower, but again these occasions are marked out by the narrator as pleasantly surprising.[3] As a rule, musicians played in full view even for the Queen. Experience at the new Globe points toward the likelihood that musicians retired behind the curtains while they were not required to play, to relax and talk without being seen or heard, yet close enough to hear their cues, or to hide the fact that they had gone into the Tiring-House. On hearing their cues, they could resume their places, and they would appear when it was time to play, and at the same time be able to see the action they were taking part in. This theory is actually borne out rather than contradicted by Hosley's example of Brome and Heywood's The Late Lancashire Witches, where music is called for by one character and another responds: 'I, and lets see your faces, that you play fairely with us', followed by the stage direction 'Musitians show themselves above'. Claire van Kampen (composer and music director to half of the Globe productions) notes that it is impossible to judge the possible disturbance of musicians coming and going in this way from a 20th century perspective when to a 16th or 17th century audience, this is arguably what they would expect both culturally and theatrically. [4]

25. Here again, further experimenting has been carried out since 1998 with curtains and broken consort music above. We now have some answers to the three basic problems to be solved: Could the music be heard from behind curtains? Can the musicians follow the action from behind closed curtains? Will curtains on the balcony, whether open or closed, affect sightlines and acoustics?

26. The question of sound is very dependent on the nature of the instruments. The recorders used in act V of As You Like It to underline Hymen's speech were played on balcony level within the Tiring House, behind curtains, so that the audience heard a muffled sound and had no trouble understanding the words spoken by Leader Hawkins on stage. The musicians however neither saw nor heard what was taking place on stage, and had to rely on the rehearsals they had with the actor in the technical week. No variations in tempo were allowed from one performance to the next, so that one of the players had to conduct, his/her back to the stage.

27. In the same production, curtains were added to the Music Room, dividing it effectively into three separate areas, and making sightlines more difficult for audience-members sitting in the Lords' Rooms. These audience-members (usually 4 in all) also had to deal with hearing the bird-calls and recorders at a much higher level than the rest of the audience, which could be distracting. But most of the time, the curtains were extremely useful as hiding-places for musicians before their cues, and even for Phebe and Silvius, who staged a little chase above before their major scene below.

Sackbut in Music Room

Shawm in Music Room


28. In The Merchant of Venice music is also required to sound within while Lorenzo and Jessica debate on harmony. In this case, the instruments were two cornets, recorder, sackbut and theorbo, with the cornets and the sackbut falling away during the repeats to give a "thinning" effect. Music is specified to accompany the text, and it was necessary to play in the Tiring House, behind closed doors, in order to achieve the exact balance in order to allow this complex and non-declamatory scene to emerge correctly. This also meant that the musicians had to be cued. The recorders played during the Hymen scene in As You Like It would have had to be treated in this way if it were not for the fact that the rhetorical style of Hymen's speech does not present the same acoustic difficulties.

29. In the 2000 production of Hamlet, the Ghost’s apparitions were conferred a supernatural dimension by the sole effect of music, since he entered by a stage door and simply walked the stage. Discordant and eerie music was played on the fiddle and various percussion instruments from within the Tiring House above. Cueing (by a stage manager) was made necessary , as the actors were barely audible from within, because the heavy side doors were closed, although the central door was only covered by a black curtain.

30. Curtains in the Music Room can have an adverse effect on sightlines – in fact Jenny Tiramani, the designer for A Chaste Maid in Cheapside and The Merchant of Venice opted against curtains because of the sightline problem. However she did decide to drape the entire balcony with black hangings for the 1999 productions of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, in accordance with the documented custom that the stage was hung with black when tragedies were performed in Early Modern playhouses. This in effect constituted a striking backdrop for the musicians’ rich liveries. These were further enhanced in Antony and Cleopatra, by a gold damask curtain and the exotic instruments and tunes chosen by Claire Van Kampen to characterise the court of the Egyptian queen.

Exotic instruments in Antony and Cleopatra

The problem of authenticity

31. In a sense, the problem of the New Globe is that it wants to try and cover traditions that changed over a period of forty two years and that were also different from playhouse to playhouse, at least between amphitheatres and hall playhouses. It is a little as if 24th century researchers were trying to reconstitute the 1953-1998 London stage in one single theatre that replicated the National.

32. The Globe is the only active Renaissance replica theatre at the moment, and the tradition it focuses on is that of the amphitheatre playhouses, which catered for audiences from all social classes, beliefs and ages. In one phase, there were little props and scenic effects, clowns extemporised and dialogued with audience members, alternating with tragedians who 'strutted and bellowed', there were no curtains in the Music Room and only wind instruments and percussion were used. In a later phase, the influence of court Masques began to be felt, act breaks were introduced, with broken consorts playing in a curtained area, clowns accompanied themselves on the lute, tragedians developed more sophisticated acting techniques and Hamlet instructed clowns to keep to their lines. In both phases, audiences were very active, and the playhouse manager, author and actor's interest was to attract as many spectators as possible and make them all happy. Shakespeare of course united all three interests in one, and was very successful indeed.

33. Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights were not always happy with their actors' tendency to extemporise or with theatre managers' temptation to emulate the lavishness of court entertainments, usually at the expense of dramatic and narrative continuity. So do we want to take stock of the progress that was made when 19th century composers decided to write out cadenzas for their singers, rather than let them ad-lib without regard for style or tonality? The new Globe has already had the effect of encouraging extemporising, yet employing early musicians, who have relearned the art of ornamenting, can sometimes have adverse effects: Philip Pickett had to instruct his brass musicians not to ornament in fanfares, because the sound got too messy in the round auditorium. On the other hand, the actors who added lines and joked with the audience, sometimes with little regard for stylistic, dramatic or narrative coherence, have been as successful as their forebears, and as a result, the Globe mostly staged comedies in the first seasons.

34. This is a typical example of the compromise the Globe faces, between trying to do exactly what Shakespeare's actors did on stage without any regard for what modern audiences want, and trying to achieve exactly what Shakespeare's company achieved - by running a successful theatre that caters for its audiences' preferences, whether academics like them or not. Twentieth century audiences do not expect as much music in the theatre as Elizabethan audiences did, they have different notions of sound volume, and they are used to psychological acting and proscenium arch darkened auditoria. Yet they have already evolved. At the Globe, a new dynamic is created: audience attitude oscillates between the uninhibited enthusiasm of football matches and the dilettante snobbery of classical concerts, but with the added dimension of self-consciousness born from its idea of what Elizabethan audiences may have been like, it results in something completely new, in many ways recreating the process that took place in the 1570s when the first professional playhouses opened, bringing together apprentices and citizens, papists and puritans, in short, blending all social classes into a single audience.

35. Of course, Shakespeare was totally unconcerned with the problems of authenticity, even when he wrote Roman plays: there is some evidence that attempts at imitating Roman costumes were made for the principal characters, but the rest of the cast were in Elizabethan dress. And he was not torn between the decision to direct a 'modern' production or an 'authentic' production. In fact, the whole notion of authenticity is fraught with ambiguity: etymologically, authentic means 'doing the act with one's own hand', following one's own instinct, and applies to the notion of committing a crime. Therefore, referring to an alien canon to make acting decisions means at the same time being authentic and being unauthentic.

36. Musicians already have 30 years of experience trying to revive traditions, rediscovering the vocabulary, syntax and style of 16th, 17th and 18th century scores. They have gone through the process of accepting that they will sound and look ridiculous to modern eyes. They have realised that authenticity is a moving target, that practises they thought were correct were constantly being challenged by other researchers and practitioners. They know that every new step they take will prove controversial, as it is at present with the introduction of the French pronunciation of Latin, of 17th century diction ('Vieux François'), of baroque gesture and staging. Yet these latest additions to the debate are precisely the ones that most concern actors and directors at the Globe: will they accept to move away from psychological acting and try the grand style? Will they try out authentic pronunciation or rediscover the majestic rhythms of the iambic pentameter? The experience of the last five years is encouraging. In 1996, The Two Gentlemen of Verona was staged in modern dress with the understanding that this was authentic, since the audience was in modern dress too. In 1997, Jenny Tiramani took the process one step further and created over 60 authentic sets of clothing which form the core of the Globe wardrobe. Actors and audience all learned to appreciate their beauty and particular flexibility. In the following years, more and more such clothes have been added to the wardrobe, while the decoration of the auditorium has begun to harmonise with the stage. Meanwhile, more and more emphasis is being put on eloquence and the art of speaking Shakespearean verse. Yet the familiarity with authentic practice is also fostering genuinely new modern productions, in effect founding a new authenticity.


The author would like to thank Philip Pickett (music director for Henry V), Douglas Wootton (musician on A Chaste Maid in Cheapside), Roddy Skeaping (music director for the production of As You Like It), Keith McGowan and Jacob Heringman, musicians, and Claire Van Kampen, for their personal communications.

All photographs in this article were taken by the author, and authorized by ISGC for academic purposes.

[1] The Blackfriars broken consort was reckoned to be "the best of the common musicians in London" by Bulstrode Whitelocke who wrote a Coranto for them in the 1630s (as told by Richard Burney). See Gurr, Playgoing p.210-2.

[2] Richard Hosley, "Was there a Music Room at Shakespeare's Globe?", Shakespeare Survey (1960) 113-123, esp. 117-8.

[3] Jean Wilson, Entertainments for Elizabeth I (Woodbridge: D.S.Brewer, 1980) 96-98. Evidence concerning the Dutch paintings mentioned in the previous paragraph is gathered by E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, Oxford, 1923. For stage conventions, see Alan C. Dessen's books Recovering Shakespeare's Theatrical Vocabulary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) and Elizabethan Stage Conventions and Modern Interpreters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), and his lecture. "Staging at the Globe: Enter and Entrances" delivered at the Globe in 1995 and online at http://www.rdg.ac.uk/globe/Articles/Dessen2.htm.

[4] Brome and Heywood cited by Hosley, 117-8. Claire Van Kampen, personal communication.

Works cited

Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editor at L.M.Hopkins@shu.ac.uk.

© 2001-, Lisa Hopkins (Editor, EMLS)