The reconstructed Globe Theatre in London -- William Shakespeare's stomping ground four centuries ago-- reopened May 27 with new artistic director Mark Rylance starring in Henry V.
Reconstructed to many of the specifications of the original playhouse, the new Globe was the guiding passion of late American actor, Sam Wanamaker, whose crusade led to the ten-year, $50 million rebuilding project. Completion is expected in September 1999 -- the 400th anniversary of the Globe's first recorded production.
According to Reuters, 1,500 people attended the first new Globe staging, featuring Rylance in Henry V -- a role he played to much acclaim for Off-Broadway's Theatre For A New Audience a few years back. This production was apparently even more true to the spirit of Shakespeare's day: the roles were all played by men, the costumes were made using Elizabethan sewing techinques, and some audience members who stood in front of the stage paid only a penny.
Actor David Fielder told Reuters, "In my indulgent, romantic moments, in my hand-stitched costumes, I do feel the shadow of the past, but this is no theme park or museum theatre."
The Globe had an unofficial "preview" season in summer 1996 featuring, among other things, a production of Two Gentlemen of Verona on the unfinished stage. Rylance's company went to New York in January for a co-production of Two Gentlemen Of Verona with the aforementioned Theatre For A New Audience.
--By David Lefkowitz