All the Globe’s a stage for local actor

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When local actor Chris Ginesi left Sonoma and flew off to school in Glasgow last fall, his primary motivation was not merely educational.

And it was perhaps even more exciting than just the opportunity to study theater at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

From the moment Ginesi was accepted to the prestigious theater program in the United Kingdom, the locally-raised founder of Narrow Way Stage Company was drawn by the indelible call of William Shakespeare. As part of the training program in Scotland, Ginesi would be engaged in an acting residency at the legendary Shakespeare’s Globe, in London, England.

Such an opportunity is a dream for any serious actor – and last month the dream came true for Ginesi

After several months studying in Scotland, his class relocated to the very city where the Bard practiced his craft over 400 years ago. For what it’s worth, 2016 will bring the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, on April 23, 1616. Ginesi admits that all of that is part of the pleasure of training – and then actually performing in one of Shakespeare’s plays – on the storied stage of the Globe.

“I’ve done a fair amount of Shakespeare,” says Ginesi, “but within the first two hours of class at the Globe, my mind was blown a dozen times over. That trend continued on a daily basis for the full length of my residency there.”

Shakespeare’s Globe is a detailed, reconstructed version of the Bard’s original home theater. The new edifice was built 750 feet from where the original stood, before it burned down the same year Shakespeare died.

As part of Ginesi’s full-immersion UK acting experience, he performed the part of Silvius in a performance of “As You Like It,” right there on the stage. Ginesi, who will continue his studies in the UK for at least the rest of the year, says that the experience has taught him far more than he hoped for. He’s come to understand, for example, that even 400 years after Shakespeare’s passing – even there in London at the global epicenter of Shakespearean studies – people are still discovering new things about the man who is synonymous with theater and classical English stagecraft.

For one thing, Shakespeare – always a crowd-pleaser in his day – knew a thing or two about giving an audience what it wants. Being there at the Globe has made that lesson all the more potent.

“I really learned to appreciate the audience during my time at the Globe,” says Ginesi, now back at school in Glasgow. “It’s a unique space, in that the audience is lit just as well as the actors, and the seating surrounds the stage, so there’s no escape.”

In a sense, he says, the audience at the Globe becomes another character in the story.

“I think that’s true of all theater, regardless of the venue,” he says. “For two hours or so, we all agree to go on a journey together, and that shared experience is exactly what makes theater so special.”

Eventually, Ginesi says he hopes to teach acting and Shakespeare back here in the states. But the time he spent so close to Shakespeare’s legacy has reignited his love of acting.

“The Globe theater simply has an intoxicating energy, as if it’s retained a piece of every person or every performance it’s ever seen,” he says. “There were moments during my time there when I thought I’d never want to perform anything else, or anywhere else. That notion has passed, but just as I’ve left a bit of energy in that space, I’ve taken some with me as well – and it serves as a kind of affirmation that this is what I’m meant to be doing.”

Contact David at david.templeton@sonomanews.com.

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