Tonight, Shakespeare's theater lives. Around a conference table three floors above Euclid Avenue, a trio of actors breaks into accents and practices three acts of The Great Globe Itself, a time-hopping Great Lakes Theater production.
On the table sits a Cleveland Press clipping showing a map of the 1936 Great Lakes Exposition featuring a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Arthur Chu paints the scene as Winsor Mackey, a Press columnist.
"Presented with lusty vigor, and best of all speed, these excitable modern performers have taken these classic works down from their lofty pedestal, dusted them off, shined them up and given them back to ordinary folks like you and me!" he says in a voice off a World War II newsreel. "Just as we like it."
Chu, the Jeopardy! champ, co-stars with James Rankin and Roderick Cardwell to portray multiple Shakespearean parts, from actors to playwrights. The play jumps between three vignettes taking place at the original Globe, which burned down in 1613, was rebuilt, then torn down in 1644; the exposition replica and today's reconstruction, which opened near the London original in 1997.
David Hansen, writer and director of the play, created the show by mixing historical facts and inspiration from Shakespeare's The Tempest, which Great Lakes Theater will produce from April 10 to 26.
"It shows how the trajectory of Shakespeare's Globe is a straight line that runs through London, through Cleveland, then back through London," he says.
Piled into a van with a simple set, the three actors will take the free show to 18 Northeast Ohio locations from Elyria Public Library to the University of Akron Student Union March 3 to 31.
"[The production] is very much a bare-bones, impromptu thing, without elaborate sets, props or budget," says Chu.
Coupled with a Q&A session, the show is a study on Shakespeare and his most beloved theater. "The Globe Theatre is a character in this production, the power of this particular unique stage that Shakespeare wrote his works specifically for, and the energy that continues through the centuries," Hansen says.
Think you can be a champion like Arthur Chu? Test your knowledge Jeopardy! style.
1.) The Bard for 400 ‡¨ The original Globe Theatre burned down during this performance.
2.) Exit Burbage for 800 ‡¨ Building a replica Globe was a passion project for this American actor, who was banished to England by the Hollywood blacklist in 1951.
3.) My Expo Rose for 200 ‡¨ A ride on the Goodyear blimp cost this much at the Great Lakes Exposition.