Welcome to #SuchStuff — the podcast from Shakespeare’s Globe
Your hosts Michelle Terry, Dr Farah Karim-Cooper and Imogen Greenberg, take you behind the scenes, into rehearsal rooms and onto our stages, sharing the incredible stories and experiences that come through our doors every day.
We explore the big themes behind all of the work that we do here, looking at Shakespeare’s transformative impact on the world around us, asking questions about programming, gender, race, social justice and their relationship to Shakespeare.
Subscribe to hear all the latest from Such Stuff.♦
As Brexit rumbles on to an uncertain end, we take a look back at the theatrical experiment we’ve been running alongside the country’s political one, to stage Shakespeare’s cycle of history plays, with their all-too familiar political turmoil, ambitious personalities and treacherous behaviour.
We revisit interviews with some of our Henriad companies broadcast earlier in the season; in particular, the women of colour who have brought fresh voices to these stories and roles, bringing to life new ideas about our collective past. We’ll be asking: what is this sceptr’ed isle now? Why is it important to interrogate and keep interrogating our own history, as well as Shakespeare’s version of it? How can the plays act as a kaleidoscope through which to view, to understand and to question our own society?♦
For centuries, Bartholomew Fair was held on the 24 August in the heart of London, and people flocked to the notorious streets of Smithfield for the fair, famous for its lawlessness, depravity and general merriment. Ben Jonson’s play Bartholomew Fair brings a cast of characters from across London together in a snapshot of London life. But the raucous comedy has a dark side, and its exploration of class, social standing and just deserts has as much to say now as it did then.
It’s about to land in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, brought up to date for 2019. We went behind the scenes with the company – director Blanche McIntyre and actors Zach Wyatt, Josh Lacey and Richard Katz – to find out more about Bartholomew Fair and Londoner’s past and present, and to ask how much has really changed since Jonson’s Londoners partied in the streets of Smithfield?♦
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play we come back to again and again, the irreverent story of lovers, royalty, fairies and actors crossing paths in a forest outside Athens is full of riotous comedy and lilting poetry, bringing midsummer madness to life. But like all Shakespeare plays, underneath the frothing fun is a dark underbelly.
So, this week on the podcast, we go behind the scenes with our company and ask: what’s the dark side to Shakespeare’s comedies? Is Shakespeare misogynistic? And as 21st century theatre-goers, what do we make of the misogyny in Shakespeare?♦
‘Having an ongoing dialogue and confrontation with the work is actually the best way to engage with the plays.’
— Dr Farah Karim-Cooper
‘For years we’ve always seen the female lovers, like you know whether it’s Hermia, Helena, Juliet, Miranda, as weak characters. But Shakespeare doesn’t write weak characters.’
— Jocelyn Jee Esien
In an age of political antagonism and, all too often, despair, is being optimistic and hopeful about the future a truly radical act? Shakespeare’s comedies throw their protagonists into confusion, despair and any number of hilarious hare-brained incidents. In true Shakespearean style, as much as there is comedy, darkness is never too far from the surface.
But it all comes right in the end. We sat down with the Globe’s Associate Artistic Director to ask what his idea of ‘radical optimism’ means in his production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and as a political act at this moment in our culture and society..♦
‘For all the dark shades and sharp edges in his comedies, they really are about that coming together of everyone in what you could only call optimism’
— Sean Holmes, Director
This week on the podcast we chat disability and performance, asking how we increase representation on our stages, taking a look at the characters and parts we see – and often, don’t see – performed, and asking whether theatre should act as a mirror, to see yourself in, or a window, to see someone else’s view on the world.
We’re joined by actor and campaigner Nadia Albina, actor, performer and researcher Jessi Parrott and actor, performer and comedian Dougie Walker.♦
‘If you look at Friends, any of the six friends could have been visually impaired and very few of the episodes would have to change. When visually impaired people live their life, their life is not about being visually impaired’
— Dougie Walker, performer and comedian
This week on the podcast we celebrate the particular fascination of Poland with Shakespeare, exploring how Polish artists have appreciated, performed and played with Shakespeare’s work, and none more so than the renowned Polish playwright, artist, director and craftsman Stanisław Wyspiański. It’s sometimes too easy to think of Shakespeare as being particularly English, and to have a set idea about how the plays should be performed.
So, this week on the podcast, we’ll be asking what is the particular fascination with Shakespeare in Poland, and how has it become so politicised? How does Shakespeare cross international borders and how does this change the way we read, understand, perform and see Shakespeare? And what do we mean when we talk about the ‘universality’ of Shakespeare?
We chat to translators Tony Howard and Barbara Bogoczek about the life and work of Stanisław Wyspiański; director Nastazja Somers and actress Edyta Budnik delve into The Death of Ophelia, a chance to hear from one of Shakespeare’s best-known but least heard characters; and Dr Will Tosh explores how Shakespeare’s work has spread across the world and what that means for Shakespeare today.♦
Please note: today’s episode includes references to suicide and mental health issues.
‘Depending on what state Poland is in politically, depending on what state Poland is in emotionally, Shakespeare gives them metaphors that really have rung true for a long time’
— Tony Howard, translator
To celebrate World Refugee Day, we catch up with some of the extraordinary artists who have joined us here at Shakespeare’s Globe for Refugee Week. We chat to our Refugee Week artist in residence Sabrina Richmond and American director, artist and educator Madeline Sayet.
We ask: what can art offer when it comes to telling the stories of lived experience of displacement and migration, how can we tell these complex and layered stories and what role can Shakespeare’s work play in that dialogue? ♦
‘What is the price of admission to society? Is the ticket price my story? Because there’s something cheapening about that’
— Sabrina Richmond
Sam Wanamaker was an American actor and director, and the visionary behind Shakespeare’s Globe. He founded the Globe project in 1970, and worked tirelessly for decades against setbacks, funding struggles and court cases to build the Globe theatre we sit in today.
In the run up to the centenary of Sam’s birth, we chat to our Director of Education Patrick Spottiswoode – who has been part of the Globe team since 1984 – about Sam’s remarkable story. ♦
‘I think this project is built on chutzpah, passion and the spirit of inquiry, and Sam had all three, of course‘
— Patrick Spottiswoode, (Director, Globe Education)
In the first episode of Season 3 of Such Stuff, we go behind the scenes with the Women and Power festival. As women take to the Globe stage to play the traditionally male roles of King Henry V, Falstaff and Hotspur, we ask what the relationship is between women and power. What does it mean to occupy spaces and roles that have been predominantly male and predominantly white? How can the voices that came before us inspire us moving forwards? Is there a backlash to the progress we’ve made? And what might the relationship between women and power look like in future?
We hear from Sarah Amankwah, who is playing King Henry V in the Globe’s history plays about what it means to take on the role as a woman and a woman of colour. We chat to classicist Donna Zuckerberg, whose book Not All Dead White Men, delves into the murky, misogynistic online world of the alt-right. And we sit down with Claire Van Kampen to talk about the progress she’s seen when it comes to the relationship between women and power in her lengthy career across the arts. And as we move forwards, we look to the women who came before us, with an extract imagining the life of Shakespeare’s sister from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.♦
‘In some ways I feel like it won’t be long before they come for Shakespeare’
— Donna Zuckerberg
In this episode of Such Stuff, we tackle the aura of inaccessibility around Shakespeare, and the preconceptions that the plays are too hard, irrelevant or elitist, asking our guests: who is Shakespeare for?
We chat to Darren Raymond, artistic director of Intermission Theatre, whose own experiences around Shakespeare persuaded him to use Shakespeare in the Intermission Youth Theatre programme to get kids to devise work around both the plays and the issues affecting their own lives. We catch up with a group of teenagers who came to see our Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production of Romeo and Juliet in the Globe Theatre about what they can and can’t relate to in the play. And actor Lewis Bray tells us about approaching Shakespeare with dyslexia, and how hip hop helped him to unlock the text.♦
‘Shakespeare doesn’t belong to anybody, but people convince themselves that it does. They’ve somehow convinced themselves that it’s theirs… So they need to kind of ask themselves why they believe its just for them. It’s clearly a piece of literature that is for everybody’
— Darren Raymond
In this episode of Such Stuff, as the country is in the midst of political paralysis and constitutional crisis over Brexit, we take this moment to look backwards to Shakespeare’s moment and beyond, and forwards to an unknown future, to ask: what is ‘this sceptred isle’?
Over the course of this year, Shakespeare’s Globe will present a cycle of Shakespeare’s History Plays. What do these plays say about who we are as a nation? And more importantly, who we want to be? What role does art and theatre have to play in challenging the way society looks and reflecting the country we might want to live in?
We speak to the co-director and star of Richard II, Adjoa Andoh, about the significance of this production, the first ever all women of colour Shakespeare production on a major UK stage, and how the way they’re presenting the show re-examines what – and who – this England, this ‘sceptred isle’, might represent…
We chat to our artistic director Michelle Terry about that relationship between past and present in the Globe Theatre at this moment in our history.
And we catch up with members of our Globe Ensemble, who will be presenting Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V on the Globe stage this summer, about the particular version of an English past that the history plays are often associated with, and how you go about examining them with fresh eyes.♦
‘I wanted us for us, as an audience and a cast, to get involved in a thought experiment that says: what happens if you tell the story of England, out of the mouths of women and people of colour, who are generally bottom of the heap in social hierarchies?’
— Adjoa Andoh
In this episode of Such Stuff, we celebrate International Women’s Day. Taking a look at our own work, and a wider look across the industry, we talk to brilliant women from across the theatre industry and ask: how far has theatre come in the drive for equality and inclusion, and how much further do we have to go? And what is it, right now – on and off our stages – that give us hope that by International Women’s Day next year, we will have pushed the conversation even further…
We hear from playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury, who just won the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, the oldest playwriting prize in the world with an all-female shortlist; Clare Perkins, who is returning to the role of Emilia in the West End, talks inspiring women and changing the world one play at a time; fight director Yarit Dor talks us through a career in a discipline that was until recently seen as typically masculine territory; Dr Farah Karim-Cooper, our Head of Higher Education and Research, takes us through the upcoming festival Women and Power, and why we need it now. And our very own artistic director Michelle Terry, talks about the huge structural changes we need across the industry, and how we’re getting the ball rolling here at Shakespeare’s Globe.♦
‘I know in my heart that there have been millions of women throughout history, but obviously their stories are not documented, are not written down. Who remembers them? Who remembers the small actions of a woman who stood up and said no? Who remembers the countless Rosa Parks stretching back over the last thousand years?’
— Clare Perkins
In this episode of Such Stuff, we go behind the scenes with Romeo and Juliet. A Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production, this fast-paced 90-minute version is designed with a teenage audience in mind. Over four weeks, around 25,000 school children will see the production, and over 18,000 of them for free.
We go behind the scenes with director Michael Oakley, and actors Nathan Welsh and Charlotte Beaumont who are playing Romeo and Juliet, to ask: is there such a thing as making Shakespeare ‘relevant’ to young people? Why should Shakespeare be seen and performed, and not just read? And are love and hate two sides of the same coin? We also catch up with some of our future audience members, teenagers who will be coming to see Romeo and Juliet, to see what they think of Shakespeare and what they expect from the show.♦
‘I’m trying to avoid doing anything I think will appeal [to young people], because I think that’s fatal. How do we know?’
— Michael Oakley, director
In this episode of Such Stuff, we go behind the scenes with the Pride, Then and Now festival, asking how we perform sexuality, and how sexuality is performed, shining a light on queer narratives from the early modern period too often overlooked.
Writer and actor Tom Stuart talks about his new play After Edward, a response to Marlowe’s Edward II, in which he is also playing the titular role. Globe Research Fellow Dr Will Tosh delves into the life of Christopher Marlowe, and other writers from the period whose work touches on queer themes. And we chat to curator Sarah Grange and drag king Wesley Dykes, two of the team behind Moll and the Future Kings, an improv drag king cabaret by candlelight in our very own Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. They tell us about the extraordinary life of 17th century cross-dressing criminal Moll Frith. Plus, poems from early modern writers Richard Barnfield and Katherine Philips.♦
‘When you look back at that early modern period, they had this completely different idea of gender ’
— Sarah Grange
In the first episode of Season 2 of Such Stuff, we go behind the scenes with Dark Night of the Soul, a festival of new writing from a collective of women writers who are taking on the myth of the Faustian bargain from a fresh and feminine perspective.
So, this week on the podcast, we’ll also be asking: ‘what would you sell your soul for?’
We talk to writers Lily Bevan, Katie Hims, Athena Stevens, Amanda Wilkin, Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence about how they went about asking and answering the question, and we put the women of the Globe on the spot and ask them what they’d sell their souls for. ♦
‘In contemporary society, there’s an argument we sell our souls all the time ’
— Lily Bevan, Writer
Our new Associate Artistic Director, Sean Holmes, joins us on the podcast to share his relationship and previous experiences with Shakespeare over the past two decades in theatre. We hear more about how these experience will shape his experimental work with the Globe’s Ensemble in our unique theatrical spaces.♦
‘The plays were written for this way of working. A company of actors who knew each other… who knew the space they were playing in… who knew the audience they were playing to ’
— Sean Holmes, Associate Artistic Director
It’s Christmas at the Globe!
To get into the festive spirit, we travel back in time with Dr Will Tosh to the frosty winter of 1607/8, when the river Thames froze solid.
As midwinter approaches, we’ve retreated into the warm glow of candlelight. We head backstage in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse with Cleo, our Candle Technician, to find out how we get through hundreds of candles a day.
Finally, we’ve been digging around the archives to find you a festive poem from Jacobean England.♦
‘ Who doesn’t like candlelight? It’s very soothing and calming ’
— Cleo Maynard, Candle Technician
It’s Halloween at the Globe! We searched the Globe high and low for all things superstitious and spooky…
We go behind the scenes with the upcoming production of Macbeth, chatting to director Rob Hastie about witches, superstitions and saying the name of the Scottish Play.
We go Globe ghost hunting with Access Manager David Bellwood, and discover incredible ghost stories and urban legends, old and new, from the Globe and beyond.
Prosthetics artist Suzi Battersby tells us how to make a severed head, and about the weirdest prosthetic prop she’s ever made for theatre.♦
‘The play is very much about two people who look into the abyss and step forward anyway.’
— Rob Hastie, Macbeth Director
In this episode of Such Stuff, we take a closer look at history plays, old and new, asking: why do we turn to the history play at times of crisis and why do they continue to speak so deeply to our contemporary fears and anxieties?
We go behind the scenes with the company of Eyam as they explore the village, and speak to writer Matt Hartley about why it was so important to tell this extraordinary story now, and in the ‘civic space’ of the Globe theatre.
Michelle Terry gives us a sneak preview of what to expect from next year’s summer season, and Research Fellow and lecturer Dr Will Tosh digs deeper into Shakespeare’s history plays, when we reach for them and why, with Professor Lucy Munro.♦
‘What does our sceptred isle look like now?’
— Michelle Terry, Artistic Director
This week on Such Stuff, we follow up on our first ever Shakespeare and Race festival, and ask: what does it mean to be a person of colour and study, teach, perform and read Shakespeare?
Our own Dr Farah Karim-Cooper sat down with Professor Ayanna Thompson, to hear her thoughts on casting Shakespeare here and in the US, and follow up on her controversial proposition that Othello is an irredeemable play.
Keith Hamilton-Cobb brings us extracts of his solo play American Moor, which was part of the Shakespeare and Race festival, and which examines the experience and perspective of black men in America through the metaphor of Shakespeare’s Othello.
Farah talks to actor Aaron Pierre, currently playing Cassio in Othello, about performing to Globe audiences, and how he sees the role of Cassio.
Finally, Farah spoke to Leaphia Darko, performing in Love’s Labour’s Lost, about her experiences of studying and performing Shakespeare and classical theatre at drama school.♦
‘Othello is not a real black man’
— Professor Ayanna Thompson
This week on Such Stuff, we go behind the scenes with the Globe Ensemble and ask: what happens when any person can play any character, and what do audiences make of this?
Director Federay Holmes and Research Fellow Dr Will Tosh explain the inspiration behind the ensemble, and how Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were radical before their time… They also talk about casting, gender swapping and giving actors parts they can really play.
Actor Shubham Saraf talks us through the rehearsal room, and asks whether audiences are ready to see his Ophelia, and Michelle Terry sits down with Jack Laskey to talk Hamlet and Rosalind, and whether gender really plays a role in playing these roles.♦
‘Anyone can play any character’
— Federay Holmes, Director
November 11th 2018 marks the centenary of Armistice Day, one hundred years since the end of the First World War.
Ahead of Shakespeare and Remembrance here at the Globe, we ask: what can the real experience of war teach us about performing Shakespeare and what can performing Shakespeare teach us about war and its effects?
We chat to Neil Davies, Shaun Johnson and Max Hamilton McKenzie, ex-military personnel who will be performing in Shakespeare and Remembrance, about their journeys since leaving the Forces and what art and performance has offered them as therapy and rehabilitation.
Shakespeare and Remembrance will include extracts from Shakespeare’s plays alongside original pieces written by those in the show about their own experiences of conflict.♦
This episode contains explicit language, and references to suicide.
‘I need to get all those memories back, put them in place and re-establish who I am’
— Neil Davies, performer and Armed Forces veteran
In this episode of Such Stuff, we take a look back at Refugee Week at the Globe and ask: how can art respond to the crises of our times?
We talk to the artists and theatre-makers who have taken part in this nationwide celebration of refugees.
Writer Jude Christian and director Elayce Ismail discuss Nanjing, a monologue which reflects on pacifism and the responsibility of the individual from 1937 to the present. Jude tells her own family story, the story of the notorious Nanjing Massacre and asks what each of us can do when atrocities occur across the world.
Syrian Canadian visual artist and educator Dima Karout takes us behind the scenes on her Boarding Pass Installation, explaining why she wanted to get audiences to participate and think about their own lives – and the lives of refugees – a little differently, and shares some of the incredible contributions left by our audiences.
Finally, actors and refugees bring you The Strangers’ Case, Shakespeare’s cry for compassion for the plight of refugees which is sadly still so relevant.♦
‘I care because I’m human, and second chances are human’
— Boarding Pass Installation contributor
This summer, community groups, both local and wider, came together with our sonnet ensemble to fill the Globe with the sounds of all 154 sonnets for our very first Sonnet Sunday.
Director Athena Stevens and poets Rummer, Gary and Charlie – who met through the arts and mental health charity CoolTan Arts – take us behind the scenes. We ask what poetry means to them, what they made of working on Shakespeare for the first time, and why Sonnet 29 resonated with their own experiences…♦
‘Part of writing is naming the unnameable.’
— Athena Stevens, Director
In the first ever episode of Such Stuff we’ll be asking: why is it so important to reclaim the untold stories of women from history?
Emilia Bassano was a poet, writer, feminist and contemporary of Shakespeare, and until recently, her contribution to the literary canon was largely forgotten. Now she is the subject of a new play, Emilia, and the Emilias that appear throughout Shakespeare’s work have underpinned the entire summer season.
Is she the dark lady of the sonnets? Was she the inspiration for the Emilias in Othello and The Winter’s Tale? We explore what we do and don’t know about the real Emilia Bassano with Research Fellow Dr Will Tosh and go behind the scenes with writer Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and director Nicole Charles on new play Emilia, which takes an imaginative leap from the evidence of her life and tells an extraordinary story.
We’ll also be taking a look at imbalances off of our stages, and speaking to Emma Gersch of Band of Mothers about the missing women in our workforces.
And finally, Kate Pankhurst, author of bestselling Fantastically Great Women Who Made History, chats to us about why young children – girls and boys! – need more stories of women from history.♦
‘[Emilia was] the perfect axis on which to make the whole season spin’
— Michelle Terry, Artistic Director
Composer and Globe Music Associate James Maloney takes us behind the scenes on how to compose the music for two shows in just ten weeks, when you can’t write a single note before you get into the rehearsal room… how do you go about composing as an ensemble, and how do you hold your nerve to the very last minute? Featuring music from the Globe Ensemble’s production of Hamlet.♦
‘People are really going to think this is far too much’
— James Maloney, Composer and Globe Music Associate
What happens when the old and the new collide?
We’ll be looking at Shakespeare’s transformative impact on the world around us, asking questions about programming, gender, race, social justice and their relationship to Shakespeare.
Meet your hosts Imogen Greenberg, Dr Farah Karim-Cooper and Michelle Terry, who will take you behind the scenes, into rehearsal rooms and onto our stages.♦
‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on’
— The Tempest