My Shakespeare: Marcus Coles
The Patron and Fundraising Ambassador discusses his role
What do you do at the Globe?
I am a Fundraising Ambassador for Shakespeare’s Globe. I helped raise money for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and am currently an active member of the International Campaign Board for Project Prospero, which is raising money for the final development phase of the Globe Estate (including a library to house John Wolfson’s collection of books that he will donate).
What brought you to the Globe?
I hated Shakespeare at school; a complicated language, convoluted plots and who the heck is who? I attained a C in A-Level English, went to Queen Mary, University of London to read Geography, and thought that the Bard and I were done. Twenty-three years on, in 1997, while strolling through Bankside, I came across the Globe, a brand-new, 400-year-old theatre with oak beams too green, lime wash too white and a crowning thatched roof too gold. A matinee performance of The Winter’s Tale had just begun. I paid a fiver for a groundling ticket. I was suddenly in medieval Sicilia, drawn effortlessly into both character and story. That afternoon, I ‘got’ Shakespeare.
What do you do when you’re not at the Globe?
Last year I finished my ‘grown-up’ job as an international trader of special crops. I am now working full time for Folio400, which is organising a number of projects to celebrate the 400th birthday of the First Folio’s publication – the very first printed edition of all Shakespeare’s plays in one book – in 2023. We are hoping to launch the Folio400 website in early 2021. It will tell the story of how the First Folio came to be, and how it very nearly came not to be! We will include famous speeches recorded by familiar actors.
In their very own version of The Comedy of Errors, my daughter and son-in-law have produced two sets of twins, aged 5 and 2, and I enjoy spending time in my grandchildren’s world. It’s often delightfully more chaotic than Ephesus.
Why is the Globe a special place for you?
Seeing Shakespeare’s plays performed in a reproduction of the original Globe theatre, without sound amplification and lighting effects, close to where it stood 400 years ago, means we experience them in much the same way the very first audiences did. Times have changed, but the Globe reminds us that the human condition has not.
What has been your favourite production? Why?
Richard III with Mark Rylance. The production had me somehow wanting a psychotic mass murderer to get the throne, but also enjoying him receiving his comeuppance at Bosworth.
What has been your favourite moment at the Globe?
An anonymous and generous patron has loaned the Globe a First Folio, the Munro, one of only 235 First Folios printed in 1623 that still exist. The first time I saw this Folio, the most important book in the English language, at the Globe, the theatre for which most of the plays were written, a thrilling shiver raced down my spine.
Who is your favourite Shakespeare character and why?
Sir John Falstaff. ‘I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men.’ Falstaff is, in my opinion, Shakespeare’s greatest invention. To love laughter, fun, friends, feasting, drinking, irreverence and all the other ‘good things in life’ means you possess some of ‘Valiant Jack’s’ DNA.
What production would you most like to see at the Globe?
Anything! Since the ‘plague’ descended on both our (play)houses, they have obviously been closed. I long for them to be open and for the theatres to start making money again.
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