Welcome from the Artistic Director

When I founded Pop-up Globe in 2015, inspired by my daughter’s interest in a pop-up storybook, my dream was to give my fellow New Zealanders and others the chance to see Shakespeare’s work alive and kicking in a space which he and his colleagues built and in which many of his plays were performed: the second Globe.

Pop-up Globe is more than just a remarkable feat of engineering and design. It’s the world’s first full-scale, temporary, working replica of the second Globe, based on over a decade of research by academics Tim Fitzpatrick and Russell Emerson of Sydney University.

Pop-up Globe replicates the dimensions of this long-lost theatre exactly, for the first time since the second Globe was demolished in 1644. This is more than a theatre: it’s a living time-machine that opens up the mysteries of a long-lost world – and it’s the space for which our company makes extraordinary new productions of Shakespeare’s masterworks.

In the twenty years I’ve spent studying and making Shakespeare for performance, I’ve learned that Shakespeare is alive when we are so engrossed in a performance that we forget that his work is 400 years old.

We think we’ve cracked why the experience of attending theatre in Shakespeare’s time became the single most popular activity of the age.

That’s why Shakespeare at Pop-up Globe isn’t dusty old Shakespeare. It’s now. Alive. Like a party.

Spectacular fight sequences, blood spattering the crowd. Laugh out loud comedies, and breath-taking dance sequences. Expert storytelling. Above all, the experience is a collective one. Our actors make the story WITH our audience, rather than performing it TO them. Many of our audiences describe their experience with us as more like attending a sports match or a stadium concert. The noise from our audiences can be so loud that it can be heard two hundred metres away from the playhouse.

We make Shakespeare that is playful, subversive, and makes a direct connection with our audience. We are ruthlessly focused on artistic quality and integrity, because we know that our passion behind the scenes shines through on stage.

Our shows are made by highly experienced directors and specialist creatives working with brilliant actors from around the world, who are trained in our unique performance methods at our HQ in Auckland.

Our extraordinary costumes are designed by experts and made from scratch by our own wardrobe team, working out of our Auckland HQ. Every season, this highly specialised team makes over 450 individual pieces of costume, from hats to hose, doublets to bumrolls.

Shakespeare requires numerous specialist props. Our dedicated scenic and prop designers and constructors make dozens of props from scratch every season, ensuring that we can delight and surprise our audiences with Jacobean special effects, spectacular set-piece props and scenic devices.

Research is at the heart of our work. We are fascinated by the ‘shock of the old’: the experience of being amazed by technologies and performance practices that are so surprising because they are based on four hundred year old evidence and customs. All of our scripts are edited by our in-house dramaturgs and directors, drawing from all surviving sources to craft production scripts that hold faith with Shakespeare’s originals, but are edited down to a more manageable running time of approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I never dared to hope that Pop-up Globe would become such a runaway success, and such a source of pride for New Zealanders. It is truly extraordinary and historic that over 500,000 audience members have attended our performances in New Zealand and Australia in just over two years. I’m very proud that we have touched so many lives, and proud too that Pop-up Globe has become an international ambassador for New Zealand innovation, theatre and creative talent.

Pop-up Globe has evolved significantly in that time. We’ve become a seasonal sensation, one of the most popular theatres in the world: a theatre that returns annually to bring together 100,000 audience members and an 80-strong production team for a joyful celebration of live performance right here in New Zealand; and an international smash-hit, transferring our shows to new markets overseas.

We hope you love your Pop-up Globe experience as much as we love making it for you, and that your time at Pop-up Globe opens a door for you into the extraordinary world of Shakespeare performed by our company in the space for which it was written – a world that we hope will remain with you long after the show.

Dr Miles Gregory
Founder & Artistic Director
Pop-up Globe