Property editor of the NZ Herald

'Exceptional' demand for world-first Auckland Shakespearean theatre

Kiwis are culture vultures and we love the Bard, so the world's first full-scale working replica of the second Globe Theatre might stay open for longer than initially planned - but nothing is yet decided.

Bookings have been so strong for Auckland's duplicate of William Shakespeare's London Globe that it could remain in its unusual carpark setting for a little longer than first expected.

Miles Gregory, artistic director of the three-level circular 16-sided structure built by scaffolding experts Camelspace, said the resource consent from Auckland Council allowed operation till early May. Initial plans announced last year were for the theatre to only stay open till around the end of March, but now the season runs through to early April.

Both Mr Gregory and mayor Len Brown indicated the Globe's operation was subject to demand - and ticket sales had been strong.

"It's always a possibility for discussion," Mr Brown said of a longer season.

Mr Gregory said bookings had been "exceptionally" strong for the 900-seat venue in the project which had cost about $500,000: "Pop-up Globe will host eight full-scale productions as well as guided tours, seminars and workshops. We've sold thousands of tickets including 15,000 to school children who are coming from Whangarei to Christchurch. It's a remarkable turnout," said Mr Gregory who is also directing the production of Twelfth Night.

Standing tickets are from $15, seated from $20 and range up to about $140.

"Thirty percent of our tickets are $20 or less," Mr Gregory said.

The metal structure is up and its plywood roof is going on, all behind Q Theatre on the corner of Mayoral Dr and the Greys Ave entrance into the underground Civic Carpark beneath Aotea Square.

Mick Spratling of Camelspace said the structure exceeded Building Code requirements and apart from its plywood roof and the need for some maintenance, it could survive almost indefinitely. Invited guests will attend Romeo & Juliet on February 18 and the public from February 19.

The building timetable projected the basic structure would only take 25 days to build, but Mr Gregory said it was probably closer to 28 days. Then, finishing work will begin.

Eight productions are scheduled and Mr Gregory said it was significant that the Globe opened with Romeo and Juliet and towards the end of the programme from March 28 was Antony & Cleopatra to be staged by Auckland-based theatre director Dr Vanessa Byrnes from her Byrnes Productions.

"The first is young love and then a middle-aged couple," Mr Gregory said.

A spokesman for Mr Brown said money from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Developments's major events funds had been used but no precise numbers were disclosed.

Corrugated iron external cladding with thermal insulation will be applied soon and Mr Gregory said that had acoustic properties. Initial tests showed the intimate space meant the audience could hear actors who would not wear microphones, he said.

"When we brought actors here, one burst into tears, they were so over-whelmed," Mr Gregory said.

This year is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death and the Auckland project marks that.


WHAT'S ON WHEN


• Romeo & Juliet: from February 19
• Twelfth Night: from February 20
• Much Ado About Nothing: February 21 only
• Guided tours: range of dates
• Henry V: from February 28
• The Tempest: from March 3
• Titus: From March 13
• Antony & Cleopatra: from March 28
• Hamlet: April 11 only

[Source: Pop-up Globe, for full information www.popupglobe.co.nz]

- NZ Herald

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