Will Tosh has recently joined us as Post-doctoral Research Fellow.
We will be catching up with Will on a weekly basis over Twitter. He will discuss the latest developments in his research into the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and how the historical features of the playhouse contribute to our understanding of indoor 17thC performance practices. It will also be a chance to ask him questions.
Look out for the hashtag #AskWillSWP and follow @The_Globe and @will_tosh. The first discussion will take place on Thursday 16 January at 12.45pm.
Can you tell us a little about your background/what lead you to your current role?
I studied English Literature at Oxford University, before training as an actor. I worked in theatre as a performer and producer for five years, before switching sides and becoming an academic – I’ve just finished my PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. My research focussed on friendship and sociability in the 16th and 17th centuries – a topic in which the theatre (and particular the indoor theatres of Jacobean and Stuart London) features prominently. So both strands of my career so far have come together in my job at the Globe: my background in theatre helps me to understand the practical side of theatrical research, while my academic training has given me an insight into the cultural and historical context of early modern drama.
What do you do at the Globe?
As post-doctoral research fellow, I’m in charge of the 2-year research project that kicks into gear now the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is up and running: we want to understand how the historical features of the playhouse contribute to our understanding of indoor 17thC performance practices. The project will entail lots of applied research into the specific playing conditions of the indoor playhouses – what does it mean to perform in a mix of daylight and candlelight? How did the move indoors affect the use of music in theatrical performances? Did the new indoor playhouses change the repertory and the style of playing? We’ll also be interviewing actors, musicians, directors and audience members to find out what people think of their beautiful new-old theatre!
In addition to my research role, I also support Farah (Head of Courses and Research) as a teacher on our Globe Education courses, and I provide research support for the theatre department.
Please describe what a normal day at the Globe entails for you.
There’s no typical schedule in my job, but on any one day I might have a meeting with a show director to discuss some aspect of a play or early modern culture, or I might give a lecture to a new cast at the start of their rehearsal process. There’ll be meetings to plan our playhouse research workshops, and seminars to prepare for my undergraduate and graduate teaching. And then some urgent enquiry on a piece of early modern arcana will come in and blow all timetabled work out of the water!
Tell us something that it would surprise people to know about your role, or your profession.
As a researcher, I’m lucky enough to have access to the Globe’s library holdings in theatre history and early modern culture – a wonderful specialist library a few metres from my desk! The library is an under-appreciated resource at the Globe and the backbone to our research and teaching.We’re very excited that we’ll soon have a new, improved state of the art library.
If someone wanted to perform a role like yours, what advice would you give them?
My job is quite unusual – most theatres don’t have research fellows! But I would encourage anyone with an interest in theatre history and early modern culture to pursue that interest in whatever way they want , through our Read Not Dead and Rarely Scene events, or a further degree – London is the best place in the world to study early modern theatre. We also encourage masters and PhD students to spend some time at the Globe as a research intern, and get a taste of the research resources available.
What do you strive to achieve in this role?
My main objective is to produce original and compelling research into early modern theatrical practice. But I also want that research to be applicable in a modern theatrical context, and I want theatre-goers and non-academics to experience it, too.
Which is your favourite play by Shakespeare and why?
Tough call. Othello and King Lear leave me pretty brutalised (in a good way), but I’ve always had a place in my heart for Twelfth Night. But then Measure for Measure is pretty mind-altering, as well.
Who would win in a fight between Shakespeare and John Webster, and why?
Webster, because he’d fight dirty.
Why is this an exciting time to join the Higher Education & Research team in Globe Education?
Other than the first Globe season in 1996-7, I can’t imagine a more exciting time to be joining the Globe research department. We have an exquisite new theatre to explore, which will help us make all sorts of discoveries about the plays of the 17th century, just as the Globe itself has opened up the earlier generation of plays to new ways of playing. But I also can’t wait for the Globe season to kick off in the spring – we’ve been a bit blind-sided by our beautiful new space and it’ll be a thrill to get busy in our veteran theatre!