Pop-up Globe | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Pop-up Globe (PUG) is a full-scale mobile replica of the Second Globe Theatre (1613-42). Originally constructed in February 2016 for the Shakespeare 400 commemoration in Auckland, NZ, its first three seasons (with twelve in-house productions) in both Auckland and Melbourne, Australia, were seen by over 350,000 people, and introduced a new audience in the Southern Hemisphere to Shakespeare in Early Modern playing conditions.

The project is the brainchild of Artistic Director Dr Miles Gregory, Shakespeare director and scholar and former Visiting Lecturer on MA Acting. Associate Artist Ben Naylor, Course Leader of MA Acting (Classical) has worked extensively on building the company’s house style, and directed Romeo and Juliet in the 2016 season in Auckland, and Othello for the 2017 season in Auckland and Melbourne. PUG incorporates new Shakespearean scholarship in both architecture and performance, and has won multiple awards already in its short lifetime. In just two years, PUG’s first three seasons have been the three biggest Shakespeare festivals ever staged in Australasia, and the company has become New Zealand’s biggest theatre producer, with international touring under the auspices of Live Nation.

To date, fifteen graduates of Central’s MA Acting programme have worked at Pop-up Globe. These graduates have had the unparalleled opportunity to perform Shakespeare with an accomplished international ensemble, hundreds of times, in front of many thousands of people; introducing entirely new audiences to Shakespeare in a replica Early Modern theatre space. In this they’ve been able to draw directly on the skills learned on MA Acting at Central; the material conditions of Early Modern theatre are at the heart of the Shakespearean pedagogy taught by Ben Naylor on MA Acting.

Central’s graduates have featured in both leading and ensemble roles, providing core skills to a new classical company, and helping to forge a contemporary Shakespearean style which draws from both European and Pacific performance traditions. Performing in both comedies and tragedies, they’ve tested all the elements of their training at Central: rigorous textual analysis, truthful communication with the audience and disciplined stagecraft, delivered in an atmosphere of intense liveness with an open and generous improvisational spirit.

MA Acting - Classical Graduate involvement

The 2016 season featured Jonathan Tynan-Moss (graduated 2015, Romeo/Sebastian) and Stanley Andrew Jackson III (graduated 2015, Mercutio/Malvolio) in Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night in Auckland, and Eddie Bijl (graduated 2014) as Assistant Director.

The 2017 season in Auckland and Melbourne featured Jasmine Blackborow (graduated 2014, Desdemona/Ursula), Haakon Smestad (graduated 2011, Iago/Conrade), Daryl Green (graduated 2015, Cassio/Borachio) and Kieran Mortell (graduated 2012, Roderigo/Dogberry) in Othello and Much Ado About Nothing; and Chris Huntly-Turner (graduated 2013, Henry/Le Beau), Michael Mahony (graduated 2014, Chorus/Touchstone), George Kemp (graduated 2012, Katherine/Silvius), James Haxby (graduated 2017, Westmoreland/Oliver), Jonathan Tynan-Moss (Jamy/Rosalind) and Stanley Andrew Jackson III (Dauphin/Celia) in Henry V and As You Like It, with Eddie Bijl as Senior Assistant Director.

The 2018 season in Auckland features Blake Kubena (graduated 2014), Jason Will (graduated 2012) and Nigel Langley (graduated 2016) in Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors, and Patrick Griffin (graduated 2008) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merchant of Venice.

What our graduates say

Edward Bijl, graduated 2014: “Since training at Central I have returned to my home country and worked with Pop-up Globe, as an Assistant Director over three seasons, and as an Associate Director of an international transfer. The skills I developed on the MAAC programme have equipped me to work in this field by giving me a language to adeptly help actors find their way through scenes, rehearsals, and performance. It taught me a process of critical thinking in approaching text, which continues to be at the foundation of my work.”

Jasmine Blackborow, graduated 2014: “I have spent the last year working with the Pop-Up Globe. Despite having worked consistently in UK theatre since graduating, this was absolutely the biggest gig of my career so far, and the first opportunity to fulfil my number one dream of playing Shakespeare on big stages! Undoubtedly this put my training at Central to the ultimate test, and I drew on everything I’d learnt from our work on classical texts with Ben Naylor, as well as my voice, movement and clown training. Working for the PUG company requires stamina, professionalism and enthusiasm; it’s not for the faint-hearted. But it was an experience made less daunting knowing I had the support of my Central tutor, and other Central alumni. Working internationally, with a cast diverse in nationality, culture, age and experience was a real highlight, I learned so much from all my colleagues; but it is also fair to say that the Central alumni raised everyone else’s game too - our grasp of classical texts, our confidence in front of audiences and our positive get-go attitude in the face of adversity, did not go unnoticed by our peers.”

Daryl Green, graduated 2015: “It was here that everything I had learned at Central truly began to make sense. Going into rehearsal, I felt confident in playing a space that I had yet to set foot in. I learned invaluable lessons of the meaning of 'company', how to navigate long seasons, and grew in my awareness of Antipodean and Pasifika culture, which has left a real imprint on my professional and personal life. The collision and fusion of internationalism, company youth and ambition really made it feel like we were integral to the shaping of not just our own work but the company as a whole, and that was special. 204 shows later, I know so much more about myself as an actor and feel immensely more confident after having been tested physically, emotionally and performatively over the last year at the Pop-up Globe.”

James Haxby, graduated 2017: “Six months of working for the Pop-Up Globe proved to be the ideal testing ground for the training that I had received at Central. Working for the Pop Up Globe requires a level of autonomy and self-sufficiency in terms of preparation for rehearsals and performance, which calls on the detailed, specific and thorough way I was taught to work on classical text by Ben Naylor. Ben's huge knowledge base in this field means that his teaching provides ideal preparation for an actor working at PUG. The high level of commitment, skill and passion for the work from those PUG actors who had been Ben’s students is clear evidence of this. The vocal and physical training I received on the course also proved invaluable in maintaining my voice and body over a demanding and long season.”

Chris Huntly-Turner, graduated 2013: “Pop-up Globe required every tool I had in my tool belt. Textual analysis, physicalisation of character, stage combat, dance, vocal support and dexterity, stamina, emotional availability, clowning, etc etc. This tool belt was built at Central in the MA Acting program. The rigorous training program allowed me to work fast, make strong offers in rehearsal, make massive mistakes on the floor and correct them quickly leading to performance. Once in performance, the skills I had acquired at Central and in my professional career enabled me to have the confidence to tackle one of Shakespeare's iconic roles.”

Stanley Andrew Jackson, graduated 2015: “I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I was afforded to be a part of the life changing experience that was the Pop-up Globe. In working at the Pop-up Globe I was able rediscover my abilities as an actor, enhance my confidence, face my fears, and live the definition of perseverance-while working with a prosperous company and regularly performing to a crowd of 900 people. But I must afford the sense of ease in which I was able to attack this opportunity to the foundation laid during my time at Central. At Central I was thrust so far out of my comfort zone and I was continually challenged by my gracious tutors who truly saw my potential. Because of them and the ground work laid down during my studies, I was able to create freely, collaborate generously, and give the true joy of my creativity through my work.”

George Kemp, graduated 2012: “The discipline that was needed in order to learn two full Shakespeare shows in a short amount of time was tried and tested over and over at RCSSD. The ability to present polished and detailed work under very strict time constraints was a skill honed at Central and implemented at PUG. There are few more exposing stages than the PUG stage. With the audience mere centimetres away, in full light and so involved in the plays, there is nowhere to hide. There is no stage trickery. As a result, the preparation of text, meaning and clarity is paramount - it's all the audience has to go on. This, again, was a skill refined at Central and realised at PUG.”

Michael Mahony, graduated 2014: ‘Working in the unique, exciting, ambitious, challenging and ultimately successful environment of the Pop-Up Globe so soon after graduating from Central was a terrific opportunity to start and develop professional relationships within the industry. On a personal level, it also felt like an ideal continuation of the learning experience began at drama school, a perfect opportunity to put into practice many of the thoughts, ideas and theories discussed in class, while also dealing with the challenges of putting on two full-scale productions and maintaining them to the highest possible standard across a long run.”

Kieran Mortell, graduated 2012: “I was lucky enough to be cast as the roles of Dogberry and Roderigo in Much Ado and Othello. Two great comic roles - which was special for me, having thrived in the clown element of the teaching on MA Acting (Classical) at Central. Dogberry specifically involved a large amount of audience participation – which would not have been so easy without the lessons learned at Central. With varying weather conditions and audiences, I relied heavily on my training - most specifically connecting my body & voice together, especially considering the characters I created were almost gymnastic in their physicality.”

Haakon Smestad, graduated 2011: “Working at Pop-Up Globe made the training at Central come full circle. Navigating the geography of thought within PUG unlocked the space-text-audience-actor relationship in specific and immediate ways. The work has also left me feeling empowered with the knowledge that I can successfully handle one of Shakespeare´s most demanding characters/texts under conditions bordering the extreme (cyclone-fuelled thunderstorms included). My toolbox is filled to the brim with skills (new and old) sharper than ever. My training at Central and Ben Naylor´s guidance has been key in achieving this.”

Jonathan Tynan-Moss, graduated 2015: “As soon as the rehearsal process began I knew Central had given me the toolkit to be one of the most prepared actors in the room for whatever lay ahead, and I am very grateful for that. My work at PuG has given me a new relationship with Shakespeare: the space is a necessary part of how the plays work. And though the space is demanding in every way I can think of (mental, physical, spiritual), the preparation I had at Central to work with Shakespeare allowed me to rise to these challenges, and maintain the sense of ‘play’ that was so deeply instilled in me in training.  This was amplified by the theatre and became crucial to my performance day to day.”

Pop-up Globe’s Mission

  • Pop-up Globe creates exceptional professional productions of Shakespeare plays, exploring both original and contemporary staging practices, drawing on European and Pacific performance traditions and bringing together performers and creatives from NZ and around the world.
  • The company introduces new audiences to Shakespeare in the transformative setting of a replica 17th-century theatre. Over 60,000 school students have attended PUG since its opening in 2016.
  • The company tours internationally: the theatre can be built anywhere in the world, as it is primarily constructed from configurable, locally-available materials.
  • The company acts as a scholarly laboratory and repository for the performance of Shakespeare. The theatre’s evolving architectural design takes advantage of the most recent Shakespearean scholarship, much of which challenges contemporary orthodoxy; and its staging practices (drawing directly on the principles taught and developed on MA Acting) place the unique space at the heart of the performance style. An academic conference at the University of Auckland was organised for the 2016 season, and programmes of seminars, workshops, talks and lectures have attended all PUG’s seasons so far.

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