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All The World’s A Stage...

All The World’s A Stage...Autograph At The Home Of the Bard

The Globe Theatre was the vision and life’s work of pioneering actor and director Sam Wanamaker, a vision that was finally realised when Her Majesty The Queen opened the new Globe in June 1997.

Standing very close to the site of the William Shakespeare’s original Globe theatre (which opened in 1599 and remained the home of Shakespeare’s theatre company until it was closed by the Puritan regime in 1642) today’s Globe is a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare's work and the playhouse for which he wrote, through the connected means of performance and education. In the words of The Shakespeare Globe Trust, the theatre is ‘...dedicated to the experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance. Uniquely its work celebrates the fact that the greatest dramatic poet in the English language lived and worked in London and that the cradle of English theatre was on Bankside by the River Thames.’ The Globe’s latest major project is the opening of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Unlike the main theatre the new venue is an indoor space constructed of oak within the building's brick shell, seating 340 on benches in a pit and in two horse-shoe galleries placing the audience close to the actors.

Autograph Sales & Installations were contracted to supply and install the main sound reinforcement infrastructure for the theatre - although traditional Shakespearean performance eschews amplification (in the interests of Elizabethan authenticity), the Playhouse is also used for contemporary works. Working closely with consultant / designer Sarah Weltman, Autograph delivered a loudspeaker system based around four Meyer Sound UPM-1Ps and two UMS-1P subwoofers, supplemented by a small selection of EM Acoustics speakers for fills and delays, driven by Lab Gruppen E8:2 and E12:2 amplifiers. A Yamaha DME24N system processor provides overall system and zone control while the new mixing console is a Yamaha LS-9 digital console fitted with a Dante network card facilitating connection to the DME24N via two Ro8 Dante protocol breakouts. Autograph also installed all the 19” equipment plus a patch bay and the requisite cabling.

The shape and form of the new theatre requires a multi-channel approach to achieve seamless coverage, and the ability of the Dante network to deliver sixteen returns from the FOH console to the DME24N in the rack room was a key element in achieving the necessary zone control. Autograph’s Chris Austin oversaw the project and commented, ‘Although theatre and theatrical sound is our lifeblood there was something unique in being able to work at the new Playhouse, especially in the sense that Elizabethan theatre is really the roots of the global theatrical industry. The venue feels really special, just like the Globe it is so true to its convictions and much of this is down to its all-wood construction - I was there while they were finishing it off and instead of being full of builders, it was full of carpenters! It looks amazing’.

He continued, ‘The unusual shape of the room presented some challenges, especially with sightlines, but it’s nothing we haven’t dealt with before. Meyer Sound equipment is the de facto standard in world theatre for a reason and the UPM-1Ps combination of form factor and absolute predictability (plus our nearly four decades of experience with the brand) means that they were perfect for this project. I feel very privileged to have been part of this, and I really hope that audiences at the new Playhouse have as much fun there as I did’.

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