Photography credit: Marc Brenner.

Shakespeare’s Globe is back in Singapore this week and this time, with a repertoire of three plays, will be staged at School of The Arts’ Concert Hall. Directed by Brendon O’Hea, who used to perform at Shakespeare’s Globe himself, this run of performances include The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night as well as Taming of the Shrew.

One interesting element this time would be introducing Audience Choice performances on the very last day of the tour. This is a tradition that dates back to the 16th-century where audiences have the power to choose the performance they would like to watch, and of course, the majority would win. The touring company of eight actors will follow this tradition by letting audiences decide which of the three plays will be performed right before the show is set to begin.

How exactly would the votes be cast?

Well, in true Shakespearean fashion of course! The audience will cast their votes by shouting and applauding in support of the play they would most like to see. So save your voices and your arm power to have things go your way in the theatre!

In the mean time, Popspoken interviews director Brendon O’Hea on the language of Shakespeare and why theatre is still a big part of The Arts today.


The Merchant of Venice

Popspoken: You yourself have performed at Shakespeare’s Globe before. Share with us how different it is now that you are directing the shows instead of performing in them. 

Brendon O’Hea: I worked at the Globe as an actor for 6 years, and I’ve had experience of touring too. But I stopped being frightened as an actor, and I need to be frightened. Directing three plays for one tour is certainly scary, but in the most brilliant way. It’s an experiment, and experimentation is at the Globe’s core. But it’s also scarier because during the performance I have no control of what happens on stage – as an actor I did, but as a director none at all. Watching from the outside is much more of a white knuckle ride.

PS: What about theatre do you think has led to its lasting presence in the arts scene since the Elizabethan times? 

Brendon O’Hea: When it works, theatre is the best community. It cuts across gender, race, sexuality, age, religion, and brings people together in one shared experience. Theatre can change lives and empower people; it’s essential.

Taming of the Shrew

PS: People tend to say that Shakespearean plays are difficult to understand due to the language. Do you think staging it can help with that? 

Brendon O’Hea: Shakespeare’s Globe celebrates language, so although I’ve abridged the plays, I’ve not changed a single word.

The most important thing in making that language accessible for the audience is simple, clear storytelling, which is at the core of the tour.

PS: Personally, out of the repertoire of the three plays being brought here, which is your favourite? Why? 

Brendon O’Hea: It’s an impossible choice! I didn’t use to like The Taming of the Shrew at all, but the more I’m working on it, the more I’m falling for it… But my favourite tends to be the one I’m watching.

Twelfth Night

PS: Which other Shakespeare play would you love to direct? 

Brendon O’Hea: I’d want to direct them all, but I’m very fond of Cymbeline and All’s Well That Ends Well.


Shakespeare’s Globe 

Date: 18th – 22nd September 2018

Venue: School of The Arts Concert Hall

Time: The Merchant of Venice: Tuesday 7.45pm, Friday 2.30pm / Twelfth Night: Wednesday 7.45pm, Thursday 7.45pm / Taming of the Shrew: Friday 7.45pm /Audience Choice: Saturday 2.30pm & 7.45pm

Admission: From $88 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)

Photographs courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe 

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