WILMINGTON — It’s called the Container Globe and it could be the new home for Shakespeare – and much more – in the Port City.
The Container Globe is the brainchild of Angus Vail, a rock music manager who has represented KISS since 1995. The project is a proposed reproduction of Shakespeare’s London theater, constructed out of shipping containers.
According to Vail, “the Globe in London is a wood, plaster, and thatch reproduction of Shakespeare’s 1599 Globe. The Container Globe is a re-imagining of the 1599 Globe – based on the same principles of that playing space.”
Vail sometimes describes his take on the bard as “punk rock Shakespeare,” and has given a TedX talk to the subject. His industrial version of the Globe embodies that philosophy, but the Container Globe is practical, as well. The design is modular: it can be built as a single level or multiple stories. It can also be disassembled and transported.
A Container Globe in Wilmington
According to Christopher Marino, director of the newly formed Alchemical Theatre in Wilmington, it’s the perfect fit for his company’s take on Shakespeare.
“It’s great to say, we’re now a thing, we’re a company,” Marino said. “We’ve already been producing shows but our two or three year goal is to have our own home.”
Alchemical is currently producing a production of “Much Ado About Nothing” as part of the Lumina Arts Festival, sharing the stage with Opera Wilmington’s “Carmen.” Using the same sets was a “good work around,” Marino said, allowing his company to pull off their version of Shakespeare’s comedy set in the south, just after the Civil War. But it also emphasized to Marino the long-term need for a home for Shakespeare in Wilmington.
“After reaching out and talking to Vail, I think one of the things I loved was that the project could be built in sections,” Marino said. “We could build one level, then another. We want to be able to build slowly, to build in a smart way.”
Marino’s take on Jacobean theatrer is, in his words, “not a radical rewrite, but forward thinking. It’s attempt to reach the classical theater audience without alienating the more adventurous audience. We’re essentially a loosely classical company, with Shakespeare as our core writer. We’ve got some edge though, and definitely a southern identity.”
Marino’s mix of reverence for the source material and desire to experiment comes, like Vail’s, from his punk rock background.
“(Vail) is an recovering punk rocker who loves Shakespeare,” Marino said. “So, we had that in common.”
Marino was a longtime member of the Taffetty Punk Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. — a rebellious group cross-pollinated with the city’s punk scene. The company spun off the Riot Grrrls company, an all-female Shakespeare company. Marino is starting his own Riot Grrrls program at University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he teaches theater.
Vail is currently planning a prototype in Detroit. Marino plans to visit to inspect, among other things, the sound quality. That’s important, as much for theatrical performances as when for live musical acts, since the Container Globe could easily serve as a multi-use venue.
“Music ‘in the round’ is something we don’t have here, and the industrial vibe of it could work well with a lot of artists. I’d have to be sure that it sounded good, but it’s got potential,” Marino said.
Video: Assembling the Container Globe from 20-foot shipping containers.
According to Vail and Marino, a full-sized Globe could seat about 1,200 people, but costs vary.
Vail said, “Because the Globe is modular (the advantage of using container), it’s also customizable. So, we could provide a ‘bare-bones’ one (through) to a ‘cadillac’ one — the full monty Cadillac would be around $10 million. The construction (time) would be perhaps four to five months, depending on the site – if it’s a flat concrete surface, then it’d be very quick. If it’s a soft, grassy slope, then that’d take time to set up the foundation.”
The prototype in Detroit will be the “bare bones” type, which will also make it more portable. Vail suggested the possibility of allowing the prototype to “visit” Wilmington.
“(S)ince the ‘cut-down’ Globe is much more movable than the ‘full monty’ one, maybe we’d be able to move it to Wilmington and try it out there too,” Vail said.
Though it will likely be several years before Marino gets a Container Globe up and running, he has already looking at locations.
“We’ve done some performances at Waterline Brewing, and I think there’s some underutilized land there that would work for us,” Marino said. “We’ve also been looking at developments in the industrial area near Greenfield Lake. I think our aesthetic would work there, obviously, with shipping containers. We think that would be a good home for Shakespeare in Wilmington.”
Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at email@example.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.