Emma Rice’s Toil and Trouble- Three conspiracy theories on Rice’s departure from The GlobeDaniel Richards

By Daniel Richards


Growing up in Cornwall and always knowing I wanted to be an actor, Kneehigh Theatre have been an exciting staple in my theatrical diet all through my time working in Cornish theatre. So you can imagine how happy I was this year when I heard that Kneehigh’s Co-Artistic Director, Emma Rice had reportedly been headhunted by none other than The Globe Theatre to become their illustrious AD.

“Hurray!” I thought “That will be interesting! Good on them!”

You see, the thing about Emma Rice is she always creates interesting, bold and innovative theatre.

That is the thing about her. It is what she is and what she does. So when The Globe employed an interesting, bold and innovative individual such as herself one can assume that they wanted their programme to be packed to the faux-Elizabethan rafters with theatre that was interesting, bold and innovative. It just stands to reason. I mean, this is The Globe we’re talking about. They’re not idiots! Right?

Cut to: “The Shakespeare Globe Trust Board together with Artistic Director, Emma Rice, have determined that the current nature of work, which has characterised the period since Emma assumed the position of Artistic Director in April 2016, will conclude in April 2018, when Emma will be leaving the Globe following its 2017/18 Winter Season.” —  “this latest season has generated productive debate concerning the purpose and theatrical practice of the Globe, in relation to the use of sound and lighting technology within our theatre spaces. Following much deliberation and discussion, the Globe Board has concluded that from April 2018, the theatre programming should be structured around ‘shared light’ productions without designed sound and light rigging, which characterised a large body of The Globe’s work prior to Emma’s appointment.”

That statement was drawn up by The Globe to announce Emma’s leaving.

So, am I the only one that thinks all this “Ooh! We want to use all natural Shakespearian lighting and not use speakers and defecate in massive slurry pits and get lead poisoning from our stage make-up!” stuff all sounds a bit fishy? Emma has, by The Globe’s own admission, been bringing in excellent audiences since she began this year. Not only excellent audiences but new audiences! Young and excited audiences who seemed ready to be inspired and rocked by theatre… and this brings me on to my first conspiracy theory; what if The Globe don’t want people to be rocked and inspired? *shock, horror* What if all this use of “sound and lighting” (presumably used by Emma in order to confuse and stimulate the senses so that at any moment we’ll all be dropping E’s in the stalls and having an orgy in the yard) is attracting an audience that The Board find… unpleasant, uncomfortable and undesirable? What if Emma’s success doesn’t seem to them to be what they think theatre should be.  “Get them out!” I can hear them cry “Turn those proles out onto the street and turn that bloody music off!”

Conspiracy theory number two. I can’t have been the only one who has noticed that not long after Emma spoke out about some frankly appallingly sexist comments made about her during her first months at The Globe she’s suddenly been shown the door? She said she wanted to make the gender balance in terms of casting 50:50 at The Globe. An honourable and noble idea and one that will no doubt be quashed once she has gone.

Conspiracy theory the third: On the Board at The Globe there sits an individual (possibly from one of our border countries) who is hungry for power… someone whose significant other is perhaps encouraging them to take the seat of Artistic Director at The Globe. This person would never thought to have done such a thing if they were not accosted on some windswept moor by three OAPs who, over a questionable soup and some chanting, told them that it was their destiny to topple Emma from her throne… One can’t help feeling that at one point The Globe are going regret this. Word is Globe Board members have already been seen wondering the south bank, wringing their hands and muttering “Out damn spot!”

All joking aside I can’t believe that Emma’s leaving is solely to do with her use of theatre tech. Whatever dark deeds are going on behind those circular walls, it all feels positively… Shakespearian…