Great Lakes Theater troop visits Clague Playhouse

Great Lakes Theater actors, from left, James Alexander Rankin, Roderick Cardwell II and Arthur Chu, perform "The Great Globe Itself" at Clague Playhouse. Photo by Vic Evcic

On March 31, Clague Playhouse theatergoers were treated to a performance by members of the Great Lakes Theater. The last stop in GLT’s spring outreach tour of "The Great Globe Itself," featured actors Roderick S. Cardwell II, Arthur Chu and James Alexander Rankin enacting playwright David Hansen’s historical fiction on the connection of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with Lake Erie. 

Shakespeare’s Globe burned down in 1613, and nearly 400 years later an idea of rebuilding it was birthed on the North Coast of Cleveland. It was the brain child of Shakespearean scholar Thomas Wood Sevens of Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. In 1936, a replica of The Globe appeared at the Great Lakes Exposition surrounded by an array of “Coney Island” attractions.   

Playwright Hansen attributes a 1990 student visit to London as his inspiration for his rendition of this historical event. While there, Hansen discovered an old plaque on the exterior wall of a post-war factory building. Words indicated that the Globe Theater was at one time in history somewhere nearby. After a short walk down the south bank of the Thames River, he saw a great vacant muddy mouth, the groundwork for a controversial restructure of Shakespeare’s Globe. 

Hansen explained that in this new play he hoped to show that it is “the ‘rough magic’ which drew another young man from the shores of Lake Erie to discover that plaque on that wall and finally to dig that hole in the ground near the banks of the Thames to excite the imagination for a new Globe and provide valuable data on original construction.” According to John Vacha, author of "Showtime in Cleveland" and other books on regional theater history, Sam Wanamaker was the visionary and an inspiration for the production.

The performers magically transported the Clague audience to a time of Shakespeare’s work and that of the 1936 Exposition and to a vision of the rebirth of the Globe Theatre.

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Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 9:38 AM, 04.21.2015