Conversation with Dr Miles Gregory of Auckland's Pop-up Globe

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Conversation with Dr Miles Gregory of Auckland's Pop-up Globe

Dr Miles Gregory is Founder and Artistic Director of Pop-up Globe - the world's first reconstruction of William Shakespeare's second Globe Theatre, which is currently enjoying huge success in Auckland. Pop-Up Globe is a full-scale temporary working replica of the second Globe Theatre and marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The theatre is behind Auckland CBD's Aotea Square and features a festival of Shakespeare's plays that commenced in February. Due to demand, the schedule of plays has now been extended into April.

Dr Gregory grew up in Auckland, trained as a Shakespearean scholar in the United Kingdom, is a frequent guest lecturer on the Whiteclife Master of Arts in Arts Management programme, and was the keynote guest speaker at our 2015 Graduation Ceremony. We caught up with Dr Gregory to talk about the exciting programme and events:

1. How did the initial idea for Pop-up Globe come to you?

I was reading Nancy, my daughter, a bedtime story about three years ago. It was a picture pop-up book and one of the pop-ups was the Globe theatre. Nancy asked whether we could go there. I said, ‘we can’t. The nearest Globe replica is a long way away...’ Then I stopped and thought.... a Pop-up Globe... And now here we are!

2. What does the role of ‘Artistic Director’ entail for this event?

Fundamentally, the Artistic Director is responsible for devising and delivering the creative vision of a theatre. It's an important job because the quality of our productions determines the success of our theatre. In reality, at Pop-up Globe, it's a very varied job. It's my job to programme the theatre and decide which productions and creative teams work on them. The nature of our business means that each day poses new and unforeseen problems and part of my job is to solve problems as they arise. I oversee all elements of our productions and act as the line manager for all creative and playhouse departments working within Pop-up Globe.

3. What do you think the project has touched in Aucklanders or New Zealanders that has provoked such an enthusiastic response?

There's no doubt that this project has captured the imagination, not only of Aucklanders, but of the whole country. Our audiences come from all over Australasia and indeed the world - drawn by a deep desire to encounter the unique experience of seeing Shakespeare performed in the space for which it was written. Seeing world-class Shakespearean theatre, in a space which conforms precisely to the latest academic research and which exists only temporarily, is an extremely exciting prospect.

4. What have the most popular plays been?

Twelfth Night has been the most popular production, closely followed by Romeo & Juliet. These two productions are produced by our own in-house company, the Pop-up Globe Theatre Company, which has drawn together an international ensemble and a world-class creative team to make critically-acclaimed theatre right here in Auckland. But our ticket sales speak for themselves. 60,000 tickets sold across the season prove that all these shows, timeless in their own right, remain a strong draw to audiences when promoted in the right context.

5. What advice do you have for others interested in the creative direction and management of international arts events such as this one?

My experience has taught me that behind all successful arts events is one simple idea - to make world-class quality projects that audiences feel they cannot afford to miss. Studying Arts Management is also helpful to understand what goes into producing a successful arts event and to gain the necessary, transferable skills that are required to manage a large-scale, world-class event such as Pop-up Globe.

6. Where will the Pop-up Globe pop up next?

Our focus remains on making Pop-up Globe here in Auckland the best experience it can be. We're constantly working to improve our audience's experience, from front of house to the shows themselves. As for the future - well, the late and great David Bowie once said “I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.”

Whitecliffe Marketing Coordinator and artist Paris Kirby has organized several events around Auckland in collaboration with Pop-up Globe including Love Notes, Pop-up Spoken Word and a permanent, hand-painted lettering of a Shakespeare quote to be featured in a public space. Please visit the website for more information about Pop-up Globe or to buy tickets.

(image at right: Miles Gregory, Artistic Director and Founder, Pop-up Globe - credit Jordan Arts)

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