'JESTER OF THE GLOBE & MUSICIANS'

The show was originally conceived in collaboration with Phil Pickett (with whom I have worked on many productions since 1984) and the Musicians of the Globe for a tour of Japan in 2000 and again in 2002 where an abridged version was filmed for a television broadcast. Phil had extensively researched Shakespeare's songs and possible musical accompaniment as Musical Director of The Globe, London and I intertwined the visual element of the Fool characters as played by Will Kemp & Robert Armin (apprentice to Richard Tarleton Jester to HM Queen Elizabeth 1. The production has subsequently played the Ravenna Festival, Italy, Vilac, Austria, Utretch, Holland tour of Hungary, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Prague, Vienna, Neuss, Dubrovnik and Mexico, in the UK we have appeared at the South Bank Centre, Chester Festival, Henley-on-Thames Arts Festival, York Early Music Festival and Arts Centres. The smaller version of the show alongside, my own musicians (all of which play regularly at The Globe) was devised for the Gyula Shakespeare Festival, Hungary in 2005. This show contains all of the Fool material but is less formal than the concert presentation; the musicians are in period costume, have no sheet music more akin to an inn courtyard rather than a theatre.

Synopsis

The through line of the piece is presenting the spirit, style and wit of Shakespeare's clown/fool characters and show their historical development with universal language and visual comedy. Starting in the auditorium with the 'Pedrolino' mask, reminiscent of the itinerant commedia dell' arte performers in the streets before the play. This mask is the innocent country bumpkin played by Will Kemp which had little weight in the plot but provided comic interludes/relief in the early texts and the 'Jig' at the end.

The musicians enter playing popular ballads of Elizabethan England and accompanying their singing of Shakespeare's songs. The mask is lost reflecting the departure of Will and the arrival of Robert Armin a serious comic actor in the company portraying 'Touchstone' (As You Like It); linking the reality of the occasion and the fantasy of the play. Between the ensuing instrumental pieces we have visual glimpses of 'Feste' entertaining the underbelly of the court life. We also see Armin in an earlier role of 'Carlo Buffon' playing two courtiers simultaneously, getting drunk and fighting, from Ben Johnson's 'Everyman out of his Humour'

The latter part of the programme is introduced by the 'Master' mask, again from the commedia dell' arte, showing the progression of the clown/buffoon to fully-fledged Court Jester - 'Master of the Elizabethan stage. Having shown this I continue with my own routines; juggling with balls, eggs, knives and sickles, the coxcomb is offered to the musicians and the audience as Lear's fool did to the King showing that life is an 'All Fools Play.' Finally after songs and music celebrating life and love, the piece is concluded with the 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow' speech from Macbeth summing up all that has preceded it.