The Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand was founded in 1991 by Dawn Sanders following a visit by Sam Wanamaker to New Zealand the previous year. From 1992, Dawn Sanders set upon establishing a programme of education-based activities, including workshops and the annual Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare in Schools.
The New Zealand Hangings
New Zealand's first involvement with the Globe project came when a member of the Wellington Shakespeare Society read about the construction process in a Times newspaper supplement. A proposal was put forward by the Society that New Zealand could make a contribution by donating a set of embroidered hangings, made from its world famous wool, to adorn the frons scenae of the Globe Theatre stage. Dawn Sanders became the Project Manager of the Hangings' Project.
Between January 1990 and April 1991, 500 embroiderers from around New Zealand worked devotedly to produce four hangings depicting Hercules and Atlas (the two logos of Shakespeare's theatre company, The King's Men), and Venus and Adonis (alluding to Shakespeare's most famous poem of the same name).
Little was known of the original Globe Theatre's stage hangings and it took Raymond Boyce, the Executive Designer of the Hangings, a year of painstaking research to complete the designs.
The discovery in St Albans of an Elizabethan fresco depicting the popular tale of Venus and Adonis provided the perfect story to be depicted in the two larger hangings. In keeping with Elizabethan narrative illustrations, the entire story is depicted in the Venus hanging. The Adonis hanging portrays the special regard in which animals, birds, insects, and fish held the beauty of the boy.
The two narrower hangings of Atlas (holding up the Globe) and Hercules (symbol of strength and courage) were designed for the central door of the stage leading to the 'discovery space'. The designs relate to the Roman style favoured by Northern Europeans in Shakespeare's time.
In 1993, the Hangings were transferred from the Wellington Shakespeare Society to the SGC NZ, who were to oversee their year-long international tour. After being viewed by 500,000 people in NZ, the Hangings went on to be seen by a total of 300,000 people in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Chicago, Toronto and London.
On 22nd April 1994, the Hangings were unveiled by the Globe's patron HRH Prince Philip and in June 1997, they adorned the frons scenae throughout the fortnight-long Festival of Firsts to celebrate the official opening of the Globe Theatre. Today, they hang in pride of place in the UnderGlobe of Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition.
The SGC NZ has a thriving education department. Working with students, teachers, actors and directors, it organises workshops, encourages NZ schools to participate in GlobeLink, and initiates fundraising projects like the Prospero Project.
The highlight of the yearly programme is the annual Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare for Schools, named after the patron of SGC NZ. Students from around the country perform short scenes from Shakespeare at regional festivals. Representatives from each area then perform at the national festival in Wellington in June, where there is also the opportunity for both students and teachers to participate in specially organised workshops and associated events.
Each year, the SGC NZ Young Shakespeare Company comes to England, spending time at the Globe participating in summer schools activities, and in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Fore more information please contact:
Dawn Sanders QSM
Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand
PO Box 17 215