The Show Must Go Online

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 154

March 2020. Theaters were beginning to cancel ongoing and upcoming productions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Glasgow-based actor Robert Myles had just lost a gig that would have taken him through April. One night, after chatting with his wife about what to do, he tweeted:

In response to #Covid_19, I'm going to set up an online #Shakespeare play-reading group via Zoom or similar. Once a week, evenings UK-time so US people can join during the day as well. We have to do what we can to stay connected and creative over this time. Anyone interested?

His tweet blew up, and that play-reading group became The Show Must Go Online. The hugely successful series, available for free on YouTube, is working through all of Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which they are believed to have been written. The Show Must Go Online creatively uses the everyday facts of life in a pandemic—living rooms, laptops, and, of course, Zoom—to bring actors from around the world together in innovative performances of Shakespeare’s plays.

We talked with Myles about The Show Must Go Online’s incredible success, the process of creating virtual theater, and the community his project has created. He is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

Listen to Shakespeare Unlimited on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, NPR One, or wherever you get your podcasts.

New performances from The Show Must Go Online happen every Wednesday at 7 pm GMT/3 pm EDT. To find out more, contribute, and watch all of their past performances, visit robmyles.co.uk/theshowmustgoonline/.

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published October 27, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Kindly to Judge Our Play,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

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Trancript

MICHAEL WITMORE: We’re in COVID time. The theaters are closed. So what do you think about watching a little Shakespeare tonight?

From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director. I know there are thousands of us out here who are hungry for a little Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to be “In the Park.” It doesn’t have to be the RSC or Folger Theatre. Just something. Just people saying those words out loud, reminding us what “normal” felt like, and maybe suggesting it’ll be back sometime soon.

Robert Myles was one of those people, but he decided to do something about it. Beginning in March, he has curated, directed, staffed, and executive produced a web series called The Show Must Go Online, that’s working through the entire Shakespeare canon in the order that the plays are believed to have been written.

They do it on Zoom—where we all do everything these days. As you’ll hear, starting with one random tweet back in March, this project has exploded, drawing in actors, designers, and scholars—including me, I’m proud to say—and Shakespeare lovers from all over the world.

Rob joined us from his home in Glasgow recently to talk about the project’s genesis, its growth, and the lessons it’s taught everyone involved.

We call this podcast episode: “Kindly to Judge Our Play.” Robert Myles is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

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BARBARA BOGAEV: Rob, I would love to start in the beginning of this. What was the genesis? Was it like that eureka moment, or was it a slow burn as coronavirus just took over the world and your life?

ROB MYLES: I think it was probably closer to a eureka moment than a slow burn. But it was a weird eureka moment, in that I didn’t realize I’d had one.

My wife and I were having a conversation one evening. I’d just lost a project that was going to take me through April. At the same time, probably four or five of my friends had reported via social media and things like, that that they’d lost work as well. So it seemed that those of us that were working in, kind of, mid-scale regional touring theater, and things like that, were the canaries in the coal mine. This was only going to get worse.

It was the most trivial thing in the world. I think I wrote a tweet shortly before we started preparing dinner and sent it out saying, “Does anybody fancy doing Shakespeare readings online?” And thought no more about it for a couple of hours. Then, sure enough, couple of hours later it had hundreds of likes and retweets and people were proverbially banging on the door.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m not an influencer, I don’t really have much of a following, or I certainly didn’t before this program began. So this was all astonishing and overwhelming to me. At that point, we realized that, actually, perhaps we’d caught the crest of a wave that was only going to get bigger, and we should try and surf it for as long as we could.

BOGAEV: Wow. And so, you just got this flood of responses. Who was most excited about the idea? I’d imagine actors.

MYLES: Actors very much so, yes. I think as people were looking at this precipice that was, kind of, hurtling towards them, people really wanted something to be able to hold on to. I think as much as anything else, it might have just been in the phrasing. I think in that first tweet I said that, “It would be great to stay connected and creative.” I think that was just something that really resonated with people and that they really responded to. It was hundreds and hundreds of actors got in touch. So we very quickly had to start putting some form of infrastructure together to handle this deluge of interest and take it from an idea and turn it into a project.

[CLIP from The Show Must Go Online, created by Robert Myles. Robert Myles is speaking.]

ROB MYLES: Hello, good evening, and welcome to the first ever The Show Must Go Online—a weekly livestream working through the complete works of Shakespeare in the order they were believed to have been written. I am Robert Myles, actor, writer, director, and creator of the Shakespeare Deck. I want to begin by saying thank you.

BOGAEV: And now, when you think about theater companies forming back in normal times before all of this, how does that compare to what your experience was? I mean, did you have to do things differently from what’s always done when you start up a company?

MYLES: Yeah, I think we did things very differently, and, you know, I haven’t started a theater company before, this is my first crack at that. So I don’t necessarily know how other people do it, but the companies that I’ve been involved in up until now have certainly been almost always friends putting things together.

With this we almost leaned too hard in the other direction. We said, “Well actually we’re really interested to meet people that we’ve never met before, we’ve never worked with before.” So what we did was get in touch with some friends of ours. One is heavily involved in mentoring schemes within universities, and the other one is a data scientist. Between them, they helped us design forms that could be inclusive to people with a whole range of different needs and representations. Because there are ways that you can so easily exclude people without even realizing that you’re doing it just from how you design forms. Which is not something that I necessarily knew, but something that we very quickly came to understand.

So, very quickly within, I think, six days of the original tweet going out, we had our first show on the air, with a cast from multiple countries. And it’s only kind of grown from there, really.

[CLIP from The Two Gentlemen of Verona of The Show Must Go Online, created by Robert Myles. Nick Leos is Valentine.]

VALENTINE:
Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus.
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits.
Weren’t not affection chains thy tender days
To the sweet glances of thy honored love,
I rather would entreat thy company
To see the wonders of the world abroad.

BOGAEV: When you say you sent this out to anyone who loves Shakespeare, do you mean that you have amateurs or even first-time actors among your casts?

MYLES: Oh, absolutely, yeah, yeah, 100 percent. We believe that Shakespeare is for everyone and that means not only should everyone be able to watch it, but everyone should be able to participate in it as well and to be able to say it out loud.

Similarly we’ve had academics who study it rather than performing it, who actually want to be able to say the words with meaning, and with feeling—if you like—for the first time. And similarly, we’ve had actors that have never done Shakespeare before. We’ve had other people that aren’t actors that have never done Shakespeare before, on the show. So that everybody gets the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be in a Shakespeare production in 2020.

[Clip continues. Disa Andersen as Third Outlaw, Beth Burns as Speed, Jes Gislason as First Outlaw, and Jennifer Glover as Second Outlaw.]

THIRD OUTLAW:
Stand, sir, and throw us that you have about thee.
If not, we’ll make you sit, and rifle you

SPEED:
Sir, we are undone; these are the villains
That all the travelers do fear so much.

VALENTINE:
My friends—

FIRST OUTLAW:
That’s not so, sir. We are your enemies.

SECOND OUTLAW:
Peace. We’ll hear him.

THIRD OUTLAW:
Ay, by my beard, will we, for he is a proper man.

BOGAEV: Wow, so much fun. Do people get paid?

MYLES: People don’t get paid, sadly, no. What very quickly got established, however, was an opt-in hardship fund, that is funded via Patreon. So, all of our viewers—and we have viewers from over 60 countries—get to donate as little or as much as they want to per month. Then we ask actors to opt-in to receive their share. And then everyone that opts-in gets one share per show that they were involved in.

BOGAEV: Okay, so those are the nuts and bolts. You’ve got this amazing response from actors, and then other people flooding in who want to take part in this. Could you now talk about the look of your online production? It’s on Zoom, so if you could describe what—you know, for people who haven’t seen it yet, who are listening to this—what do you see of a Shakespeare play on Zoom, and how did you decide to present it in this way? I mean, whether it was immediately apparent that this would be a Zoom theater. So first describe it for us, please.

[CLIP from Julius Caesar of The Show Must Go Online, created by Robert Myles. Russel Proctor as Flavius.]

NARRATOR:
Enter Flavius, Marullus, and certain Commoners over the stage.

COMMONERS:
Caesar! Caesar! Caesar! Caesar!

FLAVIUS:
Hence! Home, you idle creatures, get you home!
Is this a holiday?

MYLES: We livestream these shows on YouTube via Zoom, and Zoom is a teleconferencing platform for those who are maybe not familiar. I don’t imagine there’s many people in the world now that haven’t heard of it, but just in case.

BOGAEV: I don’t know where we’d find that person. But, yeah.

MYLES: Exactly that. You never know, they may be listening. If they are, this is for you. But, no, they have several different options, and those can be used in different ways. We use what’s called “gallery view,” so that, then, everybody that is in a scene, you can see them all at once, and they’re all looking into the camera. We treat the camera on people’s laptops as the eye line between the person that’s speaking and the person that’s being spoken to. That’s kind of how we do it, really.

We take inspiration from… there’s a British tv show called Peep Show, where the cameras are kind of the actor’s eyes, if that makes sense. And the cuts are seeing one person from the other person’s point of view, and then, reversing that. We used that as our inspiration, so, what it does is put the audience right in the middle of the conversation that’s being had.

[Clip continues. Miztli Rose as Cassius and Dan Wilson as Brutus.]

CASSIUS:
Brutus, bait me not.
I’ll not endure it. You forget yourself
To hedge me in. I am a soldier, I,
Older in practice, abler than yourself
To make conditions.

BRUTUS:
Go to! You are not, Cassius.

CASSIUS:
I am.

BRUTUS:
I say you are not.

CASSIUS:
Urge me no more. I shall forget myself.

BOGAEV: Yes, I’m so glad that I asked you to describe it, because that is exactly right. You did it so well. You feel right in the middle of this production. Also, what I noticed right away, I watched your Timon, which was on when I was looking last week. And it seemed as if all of the actors had brought their own props and their own costuming ideas. And please, I mean this in the best possible way; it reminded me a little bit of when my children would put on shows in the neighborhood.  

MYLES: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Yes, and that’s something that we actually take deep pride in. There’s a movie called Be Kind Rewind by Michel Gondry. There’s a thing called “sweding,” yeah. And sweding is this idea where you have no resources, but you try and recreate your favorite films.

In a way, that’s what we’re having to do, because, everybody’s spanning the globe, thousands of miles away from each other. And because we’re doing this for free, we certainly don’t want people spending loads of money on elaborate costumes. We pride ourselves on our resourcefulness and ingenuity, and it does bring out this really childlike sense of play. Which I think actually, in times like these—where, you know, things are quite dark, and quite intense, sometimes—a little bit of that silliness goes a long way, with the suspension of disbelief.

There are other Zoom theater outfits, that rely really heavily on virtual backgrounds. We don’t do that because we believe that Shakespeare is a shared light experience, it is meant to be experienced in the same environment that the audience is in; and that is their living room. So we show you the actors in their living room, because they are in lock down, exactly the same as you are. And we hope that that helps to create a sense of relationship.

But, our master of props, Emily Ingram and myself and our production team, we have weekly research and development calls, where we look at, “Okay, so, we’re doing a Roman play this week, how can we do togas out of bedsheets? How can we create Roman armor out of cardboard and tinfoil?” And things of that nature. Then Emily goes away and produces tutorials that allow the actors to create things from homemade materials that nevertheless, develop the sense of a shared world.

BOGAEV: It’s this wonderful feeling of wonder and delight. Yeah, you really get that. And, kind of, can-do enthusiasm.

MYLES: Moxie, I believe you Americans sometimes refer to it as. Yes, absolutely.

BOGAEV: Exactly. And that is both the wonderful thing about Zoom, and a drawback. It could be very distracting. And very frustrating with those awful pauses and delays, which I just don’t hear on your production at all. How do you get around that?

MYLES: First of all, thank you so much for that. You don’t know how much that means. That is a big compliment because it’s something that we really, really strive to overcome. Zoom does have momentary lag, and it is the bane of our existence when trying to produce urgent feeling theater. Because, the first and last note that I give at the start and end of the process right before we go live is, “Don’t waste the audience’s time with meaningless dead space.” And, unfortunately, Zoom wants you to do that, and begs you to do that, and craves for you to do that.

Because, you are waiting for half a second to a second—depending on where in the world you are—for that line to come through for you to respond to. So, what we really rigorously train our actors to do in the limited time that we have, is to anticipate the last word of the line, and to actually start speaking while the other person is annunciating their last word. By doing so, you collapse that Zoom created gap in between the dialogue and create the illusion of flow for the audience. So it’s actually a bit of a magic trick.

BOGAEV: Do you mean you’re doing this live? I was assuming you edited this.

MYLES: Oh, absolutely not, no, no. Believe me, if you watch closely and you see all the shows, you’ll see the times where we would have edited it if we could.

BOGAEV: That is amazing though, if you’re doing it live. I mean really.

MYLES: Oh, yeah, 100 percent live. For me that’s such an important factor in it, as well. Because I’ve seen other people using either Zoom or mobile phones, and editing them together in post. But it just doesn’t give you the same feel.

And, it’s quite an intangible thing—live performance—in terms of what the difference between that is and something that’s pre-recorded. But, what I think you really get is the actor’s knowledge that they are live. That gives you the sharpening effect of adrenaline, which I just think always rocket fuels the emotional stakes, and the tension, and the reactions, and all that kind of thing. In a way that really can’t be simulated. So, yeah, no, it’s very important to us that we do everything that we do live.

[CLIP Romeo and Juliet of The Show Must Go Online, created by Robert Myles. Evangeline Dickson as Romeo and Andy Mcleod as Friar Lawrence.]

ROMEO:
O, tell me, friar, tell me,
In what vile part of this anatomy
Doth my name lodge? Tell me, that I may sack
The hateful mansion.

FRIAR LAWRENCE
Hold thy desperate hand!
Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art.
Thy tears are womanish; thy wild acts denote
the unreasonable fury of a beast.
Hast thou slain Tybalt? Wilt thou slay thyself,
And slay thy lady that in thy life lives in thee,
By doing damned hate upon thyself?
What, rouse thee, man! Thy Juliet is alive,
There art thou happy. Tybalt would kill thee,
But thou slewest Tybalt: there art thou happy.
The law that threatened death becomes thy friend
And turns it to exile: there art thou happy.

MYLES: Because you’re trapped in the middle of the conversation, I’m sure everyone’s had that experience of being at a family dinner gathering while two people have an argument; how cringe worthy, and awkward, and tense it makes you. Well, when you have two Shakespearean characters going at each other—hell, for leather—and you feel trapped in the middle. It’s a really quite extraordinary visceral experience.

[Clip continues. Sulin Haso as Juliet and Michael Bertenshaw as Capulet.]

JULIET:
Good father, I beseech you on my knees,
Hear me with patience but to speak a word.

CAPULET:
Hang thee, young baggage, disobedient wretch!
I tell the what: get thee to a church o’ Thursday,
Or never after look me in the face.
Speak not; reply not; do not answer me.

BOGAEV: Another thing I wanted to ask you about is, you have pre-show lectures.

[CLIP from The Show Must Go Online, created by Robert Myles. David Sterling Brown is the speaker.]

DAVID STERLING BROWN: Thank you Rob, for that introduction and for creating this monumental online theatre space. And thank the cast for the work you’re doing today.

MYLES: It really came from a desire to replicate, I suppose, the program that you would have in a regular theatrical show; where, if you were interested you would be able to take a deeper dive into the play, its plot, its themes, and so on, before it actually gets started.

[Clip continues]

BROWN: Shakespeare calls attention to the white, masculine crisis that is the crux of what is rotten in the state of Denmark. Thinking about rot, visualizing the literal process of something decomposing actually lead me to conclude that in Hamlet the play…


MYLES: I think all that stuff just gives people little hooks and little anchors, that if they’re starting to feel like they’re getting a little bit in the deep end with some of the language, they can hold onto those things and go, “Oh, yeah, that’s that thing that was mentioned. I can see that.” And just that little bit of recognition, I think, goes a long way.

BOGAEV: So you’re assuming that your audience members—some of them—are coming to a Shakespeare performance, but they don’t really know Shakespeare. Is that the case?

MYLES: Well, it’s not necessarily something that we’ve had explicitly in feedback. But it’s always good practice for me to start everything as if people are starting from scratch. Every show that we create, the first thing that we strive for more than anything else, is clarity in the text. Because I think the biggest barrier to popular adoption of Shakespeare is that, when verse isn’t delivered with clarity as the focus, it can leave the audience behind.

The other thing that really needs to be said is, of course, when we were starting this, we were putting things together very much on the fly. And I was very lucky to be contacted by Ben Crystal, who’s an amazing luminary in the Shakespeare world. Just because he showed an interest in it, I wanted to get him involved. I said, “What do you think would be a good way, a positive way, for you to be involved in this first show.” And Ben said, “Well, why don’t I give an introduction.” And because it’s Ben Crystal, I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I was like, “Certainly Ben, let’s get you in to do an introduction.” And he’s since curated all of our introductory speakers as well, which is fantastic.

BOGAEV: Oh, that’s how you got people like Simon Russell Beale. I opened up my computer and went to watch my first performance of yours. And there Simon Russell Beale was, one of the most famous Shakespearean actors in England. I just almost fell out of my chair.

MYLES: Me too, and I was there. Absolutely. No, it was an extraordinary honor to be able to get Simon on the show. Yes, Ben has been curating the introductions since the beginning. And, you know, he’s really proactively tried to respond to the times that we’re living in as well.

So, we started out by trying to center younger female presenting academics, and then of course the Black Lives Matter movement exploded onto the scene once again, and rightfully so. And so we wanted to try and center as many academics and actors and performers of color as well. Which is something that we’re also trying to do with the productions. We’ve just finished our all-female and non-binary version of Macbeth. And we’re about to enter our all global majority production of Antony and Cleopatra.

BOGAEV: Really interesting though. And I’m just thinking how much freedom you have when you put on this kind of home-grown production. To go down those alleyways.

MYLES: Absolutely. To have the world as your casting pool, I think is something that is a privilege that very few directors have ever had and will ever have again in quite the same way. You know we’re going to have actors—our Macbeth last week, our witches were on three different continents. So their witches’ circle, was, literally, the world, and that’s not something that you can say in any other medium.

It is really a privilege to be able to work with people from so many different backgrounds, so many different countries, and bringing so many different perspectives to the table when we create the work. We really want our actors to be able to take ownership and to have agency over what it is that they’re doing. But also to be able to be a part of a production that they feel speaks the language that they want to speak and says the things that they want to say to the world, at this singularly challenging time, when it feels like certain things need to be said.

BOGAEV: Well, maybe you’ve already answered this in your last answer, but, I’m curious what you’ve learned about the plays? Whether there have been any surprises for you personally, or confirmations, or challenges that stand out about Shakespeare as you’ve worked through the canon? Worked through it in this unique way and in this time.

MYLES: Oh, absolutely, yeah. Where to begin? I mean, certainly, surprises. I think Henry VI, Part Two was probably the first play that just absolutely blindsided me. I had no idea what was coming when we started reading that. Because—I will say as well—a lot of these plays, or certainly a fair proportion of these plays, I am coming to for the first time. I’m not someone that has an encyclopedic knowledge of these plays. But this process is allowing me, to an extent, to develop one. That has been incredible, and, you know, an unbelievable challenge, and a strain—a mental strain—as my brain tries to absorb these hundreds of thousands of words of verse.

BOGAEV: So you didn’t know what a kind of blockbuster, the Cecil B DeMille production of Henry VI, Part Two is? I mean, it has everything, right? Ghosts and witchcraft and pirates.

MYLES: It has absolutely everything, yeah. It’s amazing.

BOGAEV: Yeah. Romance.

MYLES: Witchcraft, pirates, romance, beheadings, betrayals, intrigue. It’s like, Game of Thrones is probably the nearest thing that you could kind of liken it to in modern production terms. Yeah, it’s an absolute smash.

And a variety show, you know; there’s a miracle in there at one point as well, which turns out to be a fraud. Then the guy who did the fake miracle gets whipped and chased off in the middle of an argument that’s taking place while they have falcons out and they’re doing falconry. It’s like, how can you have these two completely novel events happening simultaneously as comic relief, in the middle of a wider story that, as you’ve already said, has pirates in it chopping people’s heads off? It’s bizarre.

BOGAEV: Now I’m really curious how you’re all doing this in people’s living rooms. 

MYLES: Absolutely, yes, yeah, 100 percent. That’s been one of the great joys actually, is when Shakespeare throws a gauntlet down to us and we go, “All right, Shakespeare. I see what you’re trying to go for here. How do we do this with no money and no resources on a webcam at home?” And actually it’s been absolutely fascinating to see the ways that we’ve been able to do those things. We’ve had great creative contributes. You know, Enric Ortuno and Yarit Dor our movement and fight directors on quite a number of the shows, have enabled us to be able to chop off Lavinia’s hands and tongue live. We’ve been able to drown Clarence in the Malmsey butt for instance.

BOGAEV: Have you done things, tricks that were used in Shakespearean times? A red handkerchief unfurled as blood.

MYLES: Oh, I see what you mean, yes. We’re actually yet to debut the red handkerchief, we’ve been keeping it up our sleeve for when we run out of any other ideas.

BOGAEV: Whoops. Spoiler alert.

MYLES: Yeah. No, but we’ve actually been using a combination of readily available blood recipes. I think we have about eight different blood recipes depending on what the wound is and whether it needs to be machine washable or not. Because of course, our actors are wearing their own clothes most of the time, so we don’t want anything that stains.

BOGAEV: This is so Shakespearean. I mean costumes were so expensive back then, and you didn’t want to get the most expensive one all bloodied up. So they had to figure it out.

MYLES: Absolutely. I mean, that’s why in Macbeth it’s always the bloody hands. Because they didn’t want to have to get the blood anywhere else. Yeah, absolutely. So, in many ways—inadvertently or deliberately—we’re treading parallel paths to those that Shakespeare was taking in his own time.

But also encountering difficulties that maybe Shakespeare wouldn’t have experienced. So, for instance, our Macbeth had two bloody hands. How do they scroll the script? Definitely some unique challenges involved in doing things this way.

BOGAEV: It’s just remarkable how you describe that this project just had a life or has a life of its own—has taken on a life of its own. I guess my question is, what has most surprised you about how it’s evolved?

MYLES: I think what’s most surprised me has been the cumulative effect, I suppose. Because, when we very first began we were doing Two Gentlemen of Verona, which is a very simple play and relatively easy to stage. But there are still devices from that that we use to this day.

Because we had to figure out how to pass a letter from one screen to another. And so, we devised that system, where you almost pass it in forced perspective through the side of the camera, and then it gets shoved through the side of the other person’s camera. With the right timing it creates the illusion that this thing is being passed fluidly from one person to another.

Once we got into that, it became, “Well, okay, so how else can we evolve this technique.” So then, suddenly, in Henry VI, Part One, we had the man who is being kissed by Margaret, painted his nails red so that they would look like her hands, and stroked his own face as he was being kissed.

BOGAEV: That’s great. That’s smart.

MYLES: And so, things like that I’ve just kind of gone on this incredible roll. Then the next thing that came in was camera work. It was like, “Well okay, we need to show how people can be on castle walls.” So, we’re like, “Well if you stand above your camera, and have your camera looking up at you, it will make you look really tall; as if you’re on a wall. And if you put a bit of cardboard in front of you and the camera, that can look like the top of the wall.”

But then, by the time we got to Midsummer Night’s Dream, we had the actors running around with their laptops in their hand in their respective bedrooms. We had people getting dragged out from underneath their mattresses where they were hiding, by another character, who was on their mattress. And so, by them both being on their bed at the same time, we crushed this gap of literally thousands of miles—because one was in London and one was in Toronto—and made it seem like they were occupying the same space.

Really it’s a testament to the individual ingenuity of the actors, and also the cumulative ingenuity of our creative team. Who, when we’ve seen it done, and we’re familiar with it, and we’re comfortable with it. We think, “Where can we take this next?” And then, we say to the actors, “This is what other actors have done in this medium before, how do you want to use it? How do you want to take ownership of it?”

And there are still actors coming to us with new ideas and new things to try that we haven’t necessarily thought of yet. So, again, it’s creating a sandbox, really, that allows people to play within it. And the individual imaginations of the more than 450 different actors that we’ve had involved in the project since we got started, has meant that there’s this constant flow of creativity.

While we as a production team might be getting pretty exhausted at this point, it was so hard. The actors come into it fresh, and they’re so excited and enthusiastic and that puts fresh wind in our sails. To keep going and say, “Oh, wow, actually, yeah, there is a great way for us to take opportunity of that. And if we take this little bit from this show and this little bit from this show and maybe we put them together in this way, that’s going to be amazing.”

It’s always a surprise to us, because, you know, after we finish this interview we’re going to go into our R & D call for Antony and Cleopatra. With no idea how we’re going to do the play, and in four days' time, you’ll be watching it. So, you’ll find out how we got on with it then.

BOGAEV: I absolutely cannot wait. Before I let you go, I have to ask you, how did your actors solve the problem with the bloody Macbeth hands?

MYLES: So, what they did was employ the help of a glamorous assistant who actually scrolled their text for them while they were keeping their hands free to act. So they managed to get in a key-grip, if you like, or an auto-queue jockey.

BOGAEV: A page turner, if you’re in an orchestra. That’s what I was picturing.

MYLES: Absolutely, yes. That’s a great example, yeah, exactly that. An orchestral page turner was deployed for the first time.

BOGAEV: Rob, thank you so much for the production and for talking today. It was really fun, and really just a pleasure. Thanks for taking the time.

MYLES: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute delight to speak to you. I love the work that the Folger does, I love the commitment that you have through this podcast to being able to tell people about all the exciting Shakespeare that’s going on out there. So, it’s been an amazing experience just to come on here and say hello and be a part of it.

BOGAEV: Well, thank you for that, and take care of yourself.

MYLES: You too, thank you so much.

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MICHAEL WITMORE: Robert Myles is an actor and performer in Glasgow, Scotland. Since March 2020 he has presented weekly performed readings of Shakespeare plays under the title The Show Must Go Online. He was interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

New Show Must Go Online productions happen every Wednesday at 7 PM British Standard Time. To find out more, to contribute, and to watch all their past performances, go to robmyles.co.uk/theshowmustgoonline/. One word.

Our podcast “Kindly to Judge Our Play” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

As always, please rate and review Shakespeare Unlimited in the Apple Podcasts store. That’s the best way to let people know what we’re doing here.

Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, folger.edu. Thanks for listening. For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.