Americans Lead the British in Globe Project

Tornborg is Western Region director of Shakespeare Globe Centre (USA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study, appreciation and excellence in performance of Shakespeare's plays in North America and reconstruction of the Globe near its original London site.

A Morning Report item (Calendar, June 5) notes American billionaire Gordon Getty's challenge offer of $1.7 million to help rebuild Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.

While the British response to the Shakespeare Globe Trust's 8-million appeal (about $13 million) may be reserved, the same cannot be said for U.S. (especially Los Angeles) donors, educators, schoolchildren and theater professionals, who seem eager to embrace Shakespeare regardless of the location of the Globe Theatre.

California donors lead the U.S. effort in dollars raised, with the Ambassador Foundation, Arco, the Cardiff Group and the California Council for the Humanities topping off individual donations, and in leadership support that has come to the Globe through local fund-raising efforts such as the recent world premiere of Warner Bros.' "Hamlet," starring Mel Gibson. Other efforts:

* Students at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks (a suburb of Sacramento) have staged their second marathon reading of all of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets for the Bard's birthday. Parents and local businesses sponsor the reading teams, with funds pledged to the Globe Appeal. In 1990, $1,750 was netted, and 1991 will see more than $3,478 credited to Del Campo students.

Their goal is 10,000 to outfit the Del Campo School Room, a Globe dressing room. Students are also planning a group presence at the Gala Opening of the Globe on April 23, 1993.

* Since 1989, the Western Region Globe has sponsored four daylong "Teaching Tools" conferences for more than 400 educators in Los Angeles-area schools who have given up their Saturdays to learn enhanced techniques for bringing Shakespeare alive in the classroom.

* Despite the popular notion that Shakespeare doesn't play well in Los Angeles, more than 100 actors and theater professionals have, since 1990, participated in the Globe's "Shakespeare and the Human Voice," two-day workshops for honing theater skills.

* Since January, 1991, the Western Region office has received 212 requests for information about teaching Shakespeare in schools across the United States.

* Last April, the Globe sponsored a weeklong conference/festival with the combined support of the California Council for the Humanities, the Ambassador Foundation, the Cardiff Group and numerous individual supporters. The conference brought together translators, directors, scholars and actors from 11 countries, offering Shakespeare in Hindi, Swahili, Czechoslovakian, New Chinese, French, Amharic, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Japanese and Swedish for multicultural Los Angeles audiences.

From the evidence it seems that American donors, educators, schoolchildren and theater professionals might disagree with the idea that the project is "essentially British." Already they are strategizing to maximize their education benefits from the project either in local classrooms or through future exploration of their own ideas acted out on the rebuilt Globe stage that will be available to school groups (with priority bookings for those who have supported the rebuilding).

Contemplating the future benefits of this unique educational/cultural facility in which there is worldwide interest, British apathy to the project is puzzling.

In addition to new scholarship on staged Shakespeare, they can anticipate transformation of the previously shabby Southwark neighborhood, new jobs for local residents, increased tourist revenue and a systematic approach to the preservation of the sites of the original Globe and the Rose.

While Britain is thinking it over, Americans are already gaining from local programs and are supporting the Globe project with interest and dollars. They are going to be there to use and learn from this important educational facility--the only one of its kind in the world--when the Globe is completed (or, to paraphrase the now-famous line . . . "if they build it, they will come").

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