Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Education
Patrick Spottiswoode is the Director of Education at the Globe Theatre in London.
ON LOVING SHAKESPEARE
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.
ON HIS FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH SHAKESPEARE
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.
ON WHY THE GLOBE IS ROUND
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.