“I stuck my neck out,” late Old Globe Theatre founding artistic director R. Craig Noel said in 2003, “and I’ve been terribly stubborn about it.” He was referring to the return of Shakespeare repertory at the Globe, which suspended in 1984 after 35 years—too many actors had been lured away by the considerable monetary prospects in television and film.
Since the Globe’s 2004 reopening of its Summer Shakespeare Festival, Noel’s gamble has paid off handsomely; the showcase is an integral part of the annual line-ups that make the Globe the nation’s eighth largest theater enterprise. The venue’s gearing up for its ninth such installment, which opens June 3 with Richard III, centering on Richard’s Machiavellian rise to power and his short reign. Also on the agenda are As You Like It, Shakespeare’s take on the fickle nature of love, and Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee’s Inherit the Wind, loosely based on the Tennessee statue that made it illegal to teach evolution in state-funded schools. The festival runs until Sept. 30.
The festival is not without its pedigree and creature comforts—Adrian Noble, former head of London’s Royal Shakespeare Company, is the artistic director, and the plays are staged in the 660-seat outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre.
Meanwhile, the Globe is San Diego’s flagship live venue, begun in 1935 on a shoestring as part of an international exhibition. It now mounts 15 productions a year in three theaters and is host to several youth theater programs and theater-related community events. Noel, who died in 2010 at age 94, was there for all of it—and in a few days, the Globe will recycle the Shakespearean part of his legacy. For more, see oldglobe.org, or call 619-23-GLOBE.