The Playgoer: Peter Hall's New Digs

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Peter Hall's New Digs

Get a load of this beaut.

No, not the Globe. The Rose. Another pseudo-Elizabethan reconstruction, and it's the new home of Peter Hall, 20 minutes outside of London, in Kingston-on-Thames.

The 900-seat £11 million Rose, modelled on the Elizabethan original where Shakespeare played, has been 23 years in the birthing...

"When the original Rose was excavated 10 or 12 years ago I stood on its stage and felt where the audience had been, and they were all in my eyeline. I went to see the new building in its scaffolding state and it seemed to me to answer so many problems that we have in terms of the actor-audience relationship."

The new Rose seats, as Hall puts it, "almost 1,000 people in extraordinary intimacy" in three horseshoe-shaped tiers of seats around a pit where groundlings can sit on cushions for £5 a pop. The projecting stage emulates the lozenge shape that theatre historians now believe the Rose's original owner, Philip Henslowe, arrived at, rather than the thrust stage traditionally imagined.

This "intimacy" of the Elizabethan stage is such a marvel, isn't it? When I visited the new "Globe" in London I was startled how small it felt. And yet the seating capacity (+ standing "groundlings," of course) is roughly the equivalent to a Broadway house. And yet sitting in, say, Balcony Row Z here you feel you might as well be across the Atlantic!

Those guys sure knew what they were doing, eh?

Hall's venture ain't coming cheap:

what he really needs is benefactors. The Rose receives no core funding and needs £600,000 to get through its first year: Hall's grander plans, for a postgraduate theatre course at the university that would work with and feed into two small resident companies performing in repertory at the theatre - and doing two plays a day from Thursday to Sunday - are on hold.
Sounds like if you've got some dough, I'm sure he'll let you put up your show there!

That is, if the dollar weren't worth shit.

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