A Darkness comes over the place by Neil Vallelly

PhD Researcher Neil Vallelly reflects on the latest Research in Action workshop in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse…

The opening act of Ben Jonson’s Catiline contains one of the most interesting stage directions for scholars of the early modern theatre: “A darkness comes over the place”. What exactly does this mean and was it even possible in a theatre illuminated primarily by candlelight? In early July we held a lighting workshop at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse as part of the Research in Action series in order to explore moments such as this one from Jonson’s tragedy. Dr. Will Tosh (Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Globe Education), Professor Martin White (University of Bristol), and Paul Russell (Production Manager, Shakespeare’s Globe) led the workshop with four actors performing scenes from three plays (including Catiline) originally performed at an indoor playhouse in the early 17th century.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse stage © Hannah Yates 

As Martin pointed out during the workshop, we know very little about the exact lighting configurations at the indoor playhouses in early modern London….

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Muse of Fire is a multi-award winning promenade performance for intrepid families around Shakespeare’s Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

"Theatre for young audiences at its innovative best" - Susan Elkin

"The best theatre experience ever!" - Emily Drabble, Guardian

★★★★ - What’s On Stage

18-27 August. Book tickets here

Book of the week: Shakespeare Beyond English: A Global Experiment

imageCoriolanus performed in Japanese by Chiten, part of Globe to Globe 2012 © Simon Annand 

Sara Reimers - Senior Research Intern at Shakespeare’s Globe - picks the next Book of the Week in our ongoing summer series, Shakespeare Beyond English: A Global Experiment edited by Susan Bennett and Christie Carson. Please look out every Friday for our weekly feature on particularly noteworthy and memorable Shakespeare books, available from the Globe Shop

Between April and June 2012 Shakespeare’s Globe hosted the Globe to Globe Festival as part of the Cultural Olympiad… 

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Introducing Neil Vallelly, PhD researcher, investigating Light in 16th century theatre

My initial interest in historical environments of light was sparked when I read Love’s Labour’s Lost for the first time a few years ago and was intrigued by the line: “Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile” (1.1.77). Here, light not only represents both sight and knowledge, but displays early modern theories of vision (in which sight was thought to be the result of light rays emitted from the eye). This line got me thinking: what exactly did “light” mean for Shakespeare? What I understand as “light” comes from a world of street-lighting, and a host of electric and convenient artificial lighting sources. Yet for Shakespeare, light was simply daylight and flames. Before I knew it, I was counting candles and looking at 16th- and 17th-century window glass….

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CGI and Acting: The Digital Revolution?

After an inspiring trip to see Digital Revolution at the Barbican we started to think about the impact of digital advances on the very old craft of acting.

We asked our Twitter audience what they thought. Here’s what they said:


Book of the Week: A Little Book of Language by David Crystal


This week’s Book of the Week is David Crystal’s exhilarating journey through the mysteries and vagaries of language, A Little Book of Language. It is available to order from the Globe shop here.

David Crystal is one of the world’s pre-eminent language specialists. Regular visitors to the Globe may recognise him from the Exploring Original Pronunciation events which he presents here with his son, Ben.

Here’s what the critics say about Crystal’s book:

'Demotic, lively, rigorous but unabashedly unpedantic, Crystal indulges himself with great good humour in his little book of love for the pleasures of language and words worldwide.'
The Times

'A Little Book of Language may be for children (of all ages, as the saying goes), yet it's by no means childish or juvenile. In other words, buy it for your son or daughter, but read it yourself.'
The Washington Post

‘Crystal-clear, witty and informative, a book to bring out the linguist in us all.’
Roger McGough

‘A delightful guide to language and its development.’
The Bookseller

Let us know what you thought. Share your own reviews with us on Twitter @The_Globe using the hashtag #BookoftheWeek 

Look out every Friday for our weekly feature on particularly noteworthy and memorable Shakespeare books, available from the Globe Shop.  A Little Book of Language is available for £8.99 in the Globe shop.