Much has been said about the premature departure of the Globe's new artistic director Emma Rice. It's been labelled the 'Brexit of theatre', a decision that has pitted traditionalists against modernists. Commentators have vigorously attacked and defended the decision, which seems largely to boil down to your feelings about what (and who) The Globe is for.
I'm not going to retread those arguments now (if that's what you're after I recommend you read Matt Trueman and Kate Maltby's pieces for a balanced view of each side). Instead, I want to celebrate the fact that it has sparked a fascinating debate, and returned theatre to the news pages.
Clearly something about the announcement on Tuesday struck a nerve. Rice's name started trending on Twitter as people waded in with their views. Figures across the industry cried foul, while no shortage of critics and punters offered their penny's worth. The sides were soon drawn, between those who enjoyed Rice's marverick updating of the plays, and those who felt The Globe is not the place for such a modern approach.
Much as I question the nature of the announcement, I also feel very sorry for The Globe's staff, who have seen their venue questioned, criticised - including by The RSC - and even ridiculed. For a space that has achieved so much in a short space of time, much of this seems unfair. It feels important to acknowledge all the good, groundbreaking work it has done, and will no doubt continue to do in the future.
'Not every opinion is voiced on social media'
However, for all the pity I feel I also celebrate the passion this decision has evinced. Theatre rarely gets so much coverage these days without involving Harry Potter or Lin-Manuel Miranda. Whatever your view of Rice's departure - which won't actually happen until 2018 (the Brexit analogy runs deep) - we must all agree it is heartening that our industry is something people still care about so deeply.
And let's not forget that not every opinion is voiced on social media. While watching The Entertainer on Wednesday, before curtain up I overheard two elderly theatregoers sitting behind me having a heated discussion. "Well, I can see where the the board are coming from," said one. "Yes," replied the other, "but nobody likes to be bored, do they?"
Whether the wordplay was intentional or not, it was my favourite contribution to the debate so far.
- Theo Bosanquet
Image: The Taming of The Shrew at Shakespeare's Globe, © Matt Humphrey 2016Back to news