Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Education

Patrick Spottiswoode is the Director of Education at the Globe Theatre in London.

Interview Excerpts


PATRICK SPOTTISWOODE:  Well, why do I care about Shakespeare?  For the same reason that his two colleagues cared about him.  For the same reason that they published his complete works.  In 1623.  And they said he was a happy imitator of nature and a most gentle expresser of it.  So, as far as I’m concerned Shakespeare had the ability to observe and make observations about human nature that were just as cliché-cliche as relevant today as they were.  But certainly, the more trickier one of the two, a most gentle expresser of it.  His style – his writing style – the way he expressed himself, the way he expressed his observations, are just so both empowering, exciting, enlightening that – well, it’s just for me, the greatest writing there is  — that I’ve come across.  Dramatic writing.  So, that excites me and I’m . . .  Then when you put all that into the most exciting theater building in the world, and you’ve got an good explosive mixture, which I think changes people.  And changes people’s perceptions.  Not only the place, but of the place they’re in.  The place they’re at.


PATRICK SPOTTISWOODE: My earliest experience with Shakespeare was standing on a desk at twelve years old on the Ides of March in my little prep school, and I was asked to do “friends, Romans, countrymen.”  And that was my earliest memory, really, at twelve years old.

STEVE ROWLAND:  So you spend some time preparing that?

PATRICK SPOTTISWOODE:   Oh, no, just read it.  Read it, boy.  “It’s the Ides of March, I think we should do some Julius Caesar.  Read it.”  And when I was sixteen, my English master suggested that I took part in the Shakespeare show – the annual Shakespeare; it was Twelfth Night.  And I went out for an audition – I was desperate to play Malvalio.  Wouldn’t you know; who doesn’t?  And I got Orcino.  So I was really hard done by.  But I loved it and I went up to my English teacher afterwards and I said, “Sir, that was marvelous advice.  I think I’d like to be an actor.”  And he said, “Oh, no.  Oh, God, no.  That’s not why I asked you.  Terrible, terrible.  No, I wanted you to do it to develop your sense of self, your eloquence, your ease of bearing, so that when you become chairman of an international company you can deliver a good board paper.”  And to Palonius; that’s exactly what Palonius did drama for – at university.


PATRICK SPOTTISWOODE: The round shape is because you want to get people as close as possible to hear.  You know, we say gather round – we don’t say gather square.  You gather round to hear a story.  When we start to gather square we don’t have a good view.  So when we started to build scenery into a theater, and especially perspective scenery, then you had to sit if you wanted a skit with full value you were conscious about where we were sitting in relationship through eyes.  So, the less money you had, the worse view you got.  Here it’s different:  here people pay for hearing places and people – I mean, they came to see, obviously, but there was a very much sense of wanting to come gather round to hear.

So a shape, I suppose, comes from any shape.  I mean, if you stand in the street and start talking and people want to listen to you, they gather around you.  They don’t form lines.  So, that’s a natural shape.



    michael lake

    June 8, 2012

    Patrick, good to see you are back at The Globe and thought it would be nice to catch up if you would like to get in touch. Best Mike

    Sherry Stender

    June 20, 2012

    From what I understand, you are a leading shakespeare expert. I’m not sure of anyone else to contact or if you’ll ever even see this. I have a book that was passed down to me and I would like to know more about it. It says “The temple shakespeare” inside the front cover. It says “shakespear tragedy of pericles” on the next page. It says that it was published by J.M.Dent at the Aline House. It is the prince of pyre and seems to be a playbook of some kind. Any information you may have wouldbe great. Thank you for your time.

    Saul Elkin

    October 16, 2012

    Hi Dear Patrick I hope all is well with you. I am fine and rolling long.
    Briefly, I’m directing HAMLET in the park here next summer (38th season)-and I’ve read the reviews of the touring Globe production. The inventiveness , the economy (yes) , appeal immediately to me.
    ANy possibility that I might might see a copy of the “cut” script if such a thing exists. If I were to do a version of it I would of course give the Globe proper credit.
    I am of course busy as ever. Currently directing THE WHIPPING MAN. For my Jewish Rep. All my love .Saul

    Don Wolfe

    February 20, 2013

    Can you please e-mail me? I’m involved with a project benefiting James Dodding. I hope you can help.


    Winston Bull

    April 18, 2014

    Dear Patrick,

    After twenty years, it is a joy to see you are still with us all. You were my teacher and mentor in/around 1993 in St. Louis: it was six of the better months of my educational career, and I trust you are still working your magic with students, now the world over. Congratulations on ALL of your successes, and I would love to catch up at some point.

    All the best,
    –wstb (Winston Bull)

    Annie Fullard

    June 4, 2014

    Dear Patrick,
    Fade in:
    Many years ago , about 1999 or 2000, I believe, you paid a visit to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. At the time you may remember meeting a lovely, wonderful , and extremely charming and woman named Vonnie Swing, who worked at the Festival as a volunteer and docent. I was also there that summer in residence with my string quartet ( Cavani Quartet, see website above) at the Britt Music Festival and was staying with Vonnie who introduced us. Vonnie was a dear friend and passionate lover of theatre, especially Shakespeare and she adored you!
    If memory serves, she made several trips, perhaps more to see The Globe and visit you in London. I remember her raving about the theatre and dreaming of a time when I could experience it myself.
    Flash forward to today :
    My family and I will be in London from June 22-25 a short visit , I have a 13 year old who is a huge Shakespere fan and also a budding violinist, and I was wondering what you might recommend as the best way to see the Globe. I am hoping to get tickets for either Julius Caesar or Antony and Cleopatra , they both look spectacular! Hope you are well and huge kudos for a the fantastic education initiatives at The Globe and for keeping the passion for live theatre ignited !!Bravo!!
    Hope to hear back ,
    Many thanks,
    Annie F.

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