Premiere issue Autumn 2002

'Pericles' comes to the Globe ... finally

See review of "Pericles."

William Shakespeare is no stranger to San Diego's Globe Theatres. The Globe is, after all, named after Shakespeare's own 17th Century Globe Theatre in London.

And Shakespeare is a regular staple of the Globe's programming, with at least one Shakespeare play nearly every season at The Globe. Add it all up, and since it's opening in 1937, the Globe has presented hundreds of productions drawn from Shakespeare's pen. Longtime subscribers are able to weigh different productions of "King Lear" or compare their favorite Falstaff against the competition.

But never, in all that time, has "Pericles" been seen at the Globe.

That changes starting Saturday evening.

If one is going to ask what has prompted The Globe to finally stage "Pericles" after 65 years, the one person to ask would have to be Executive Director Craig Noel — who arrived for the Globe's first season in 1937 as a young actor and has yet to leave.

When asked why "Pericles" has never been done at The Globe before, Noel said, "Frankly, you do the popular shows — 'Taming of the Shrew,' 'Twelfth Night,' 'Hamlet' — because they are well-known and are taught in school."

But Noel said that ultimately it came down to the fact that no director or actor had ever come to the Globe wanting to do "Pericles."

Until Darko Tresnjak.

It is Tresnjak who will be directing the Globe's premiere of "Pericles," and he said directing Shakespeare at The Globe is a natural. As for "Pericles," he said he's been wanting to direct it for some time.

William Shakespeare"I've a great love for Shakespeare's last four plays, and I want to focus on those four," Tresnjak said of his desire to direct "Pericles."

"There's so much of Shakespeare that it takes a lifetime to become an expert on his life; I want to focus on these four."

Tresnjak said that these four plays ("Pericles," "The Winter's Tale,"" Cymbeline" and "The Tempest") are "perfect for a greedy director" because they all cover so much theatrical territory.

"In 'Pericles,' there are moments that are evocative of Greek tragedy, moments of Roman comedy, a passion play, a Medieval mystery," Tresnjak said.

"It's as if Shakespeare was looking at all the theatrical forms that came before him, examining them, and incorporating them into a single play."

Both Noel and Tresnjak noted that "Pericles" was one of Shakespeare's biggest hits, the most popular of his plays during his lifetime. Tresnjak pointed out that its popularity may indirectly be responsible for scholarly arguments over whether "Pericles" was actually written by Shakespeare.

"There is evidence that suggests that the version that survives is a pirated text," Tresnjak said. He explained that Shakespeare wrote before the concept of copyright had been created, so once a play was popular, publishers would rush to print up as many copies as possible. In many cases, this led to situations where the original script was not available — so actors would re-create it from memory as they moved around the country. It may have been one of these productions from which the surviving text was drawn, Tresnjak said.

But for Tresnjak, there are more then enough similarities with the plays written before and after "Pericles" to convince him that this is Shakespeare's work — even if not every word came directly from his pen.

Interestingly, "Pericles" may not be the last Globe premiere of a Shakespeare play. After "Pericles" opens Saturday, there will still be four of the Bard's plays never produced at The Globe: "Henry VI" Parts 1, 2 and 3; and "Titus Andronicus."

"'Titus Andronicus' I'm sure we'll do," Noel said. "I don't know that I can promise that we'll ever get around to 'Henry VI.'"

"The histories are terribly popular in England because all the people know that history," Noel said of'Henry VI.' "We can't even do history plays about OUR country because nobody gives a damn."

Will "Pericles" return to The Globe again, or will audiences have to wait another 65 years?

"We're now sort of promoting it as the chance of a lifetime — it will probably only be done once in anyone's lifetime."

Autumn 2002 Theater Section | Autumn 2002 Main Page
Current Theater Section | Current Home Page