Shakespeare's Globe's piloting scheme is not — as it might seem at first sight — about low rates of pay for actors, but a scheme where schoolchildren can follow an actor's progress from page to stage.
"Globelink" is an internet idea that enables children to follow individual actors from first rehearsals to opening night, and to interact over the internet with a pool of five performers selected for this role; one of them is the Globe's artistic director, Mark Rylance.
Given that Rylance will be wearing a dress in his all-male version of Twelfth Night, the pupils may get rather more than they were bargaining for. Whether Globelink will also expose them to hissy fits and fraught rehearsals remains to be seen, but it will be genuinely educational to see the behind-the-scenes reality of a superficially glamorous profession that in reality involves an enormous amount of hard work and concentration, and where artistic sensibilities — essential for a theatre career — also have their down side.
That the most old-fashioned (in the sense of presenting 16th-century plays in a 16th-century auditorium) of London theatres should also be one of the most far ahead in terms of education and, now, technology, is a fascinating combination. Hopefully it will encourage and prepare schoolchildren to see the real thing, onstage, at Bankside.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow