top of page
latinx theatre, latinx plays, latinx Shakespeares, mexican shakespeare, chicano shakespeare, bilingual theatre

 

BLOG # 3

March 7, 2023

Guest writer Yvette Chairez researched and visited the Globe of the Great Southwest in Odessa, Texas, which has been a landmark in the region for nearly sixty years.

 

 

The Globe of the Great Southwest

The Globe of the Great Southwest, or the Odessa Globe Theater, on the campus of Odessa College, a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in rural West Texas,[1] holds the honor of being “[t]he most authentic replica of the Globe that we have in the United States.”[2] Along with  the exterior being a wondrously faithful facsimile (see Figure 1), the stage provides the requisite six acting chambers, including a heaven section where two Juliet balconies flank cottage-style windows above, and a hell section where the stage floor opens down below to accommodate the passing of props and the disappearing of characters. There is the familiar half circle of seats, both groundling and balcony, which total 410. Due to its octagonal shape and its wood and plaster construction building materials, the theater has “excellent acoustics.”[3] Like the original Globe theater in London, the amphitheater remained seat-less and roof-less for nearly a decade before its founder, English teacher Marjorie Morris, surrendered to the realization that, due to the desert climate and societal norms, West Texas audiences were not comfortable with an exposed venue. Red opera chairs (now blue) and a roof were then added. In the foyer of the Odessa Globe, next to a bronze bust of the Bard himself, hangs a gilded portrait of Morris donned in red and white early modern garb.

 

The idea to erect a replica Globe Theatre is credited to an unnamed student in one of Morris’ courses at Odessa High School in 1948.[4] Morris, herself a dedicated Shakespearean whose doctoral thesis focused on contemporary productions at the Globe Theater in London, was reportedly fed up with living in the “artistic wasteland” of the dusty oil town of Odessa, designed a “Build the Globe” campaign to fundraise for the project,[5] which came to completion in the 1960s. Architect and designer J. Ellsworth Powell “charged no fee, [and] has contributed more cash than any individual.”[6] In 1966, when construction was not finished, director Paul Baker brought his production of Julius Caesar from the Dallas Theater Center to six sold-out performances at the Odessa Globe.[7] The Odessa Globe opened in 1968. In 1988, a replica of Anne Hathaway’s cottage was added, which serves as a library and costume shop.[8]

 

Currently, 66% of Odessa College’s 5,562 students are Hispanic/Latino, 24% are white, and 5% are Black.[9] According to Technical Director Amanda Fuquay, during auditions for original productions students from Odessa College are given priority for leading roles. Additionally, Fuquay says, “[w]e have student directors, designers, carpenters, stage crew, [and] stage management teams”[10] and the college’s theatre courses are conducted in the Globe’s black box space. This majority “Hispanic/Latino” production crew certifies the Globe of the Great Southwest as a site of Latinx Shakespearean theatre.

 

Under the direction of Fuquay and Theatre Director Joshua Rapp, the Odessa Globe is home of the annual Odessa Shakespeare Festival, the Odessa Brand New Opree, and the Permian Basin Opera. It is open to the public for scheduled tours as well as serving as a location for bridal, prom, and graduation shoots.[11] Students from the surrounding area are often bused in for tours, shows, and educational activities.[12]

 

Notably, the Odessa Globe stages (white) western classics—Murder on the Orient Express, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and The Glass Menagerie, all in the last year—performed and produced by a group of predominantly Latinx artists. They have also hosted work by artists of color, such as “Oye Mi Canto,” a night of Latin American Baroque and Folk Music, “Frame by Frame,” a devised piece created and performed by students, and the jazz saxophonist Tom Braxton Quartet, all in the spring of 2021. The Odessa Globe’s Fall 2022 season kicked off with a student-led Dracula in October, followed by performances of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Texas Shakespeare Company for the Odessa Shakespeare Festival taking place November 14-19. In December, the featured Christmas programme was Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.[13]

 

The Odessa Globe is located 350 miles west of Dallas and over 280 miles east of El Paso, surrounded by little else one would find on a tourist map. As The New York Times reported back in 1966, “There is no historic connection of any sort between this area and Shakespeare.”[14] But Morris and Powell ensured that the outer wall had stones from six southwestern states, creating a literal melding of Shakespeare and the American Southwest.[15]

YVETTE CHAIREZ

MARCH 2023

 

The Globe of the Great Southwest

Photo by Yvette Chairez

Courtesy of Yvette Chairez

[1] Data USA, “Odessa College,” Data USA. Accessed August 2, 2022.

[2] Klepper, Bobbie Jean, “Globe of the Great Southwest,” Texas State Historical Association. Accessed August 5, 2022.

[3] Klepper.

[4] Klepper.

[5] “Shakespeare, Texas.” The Irish Times. January 24, 2001.

[6] Howard Taubman, “Globe Theater Is Re-created in Texas Field: 18-Year-Old Dream Comes True for Odessa Teacher,” The New York Times, 15 April 1966. P. 46.

[7] Howard Taubman, “Shakespeare as a Texan: Odessa’s New Theater, Globe of Great Southwest, Stirs Imagination,” The New York Times, 20 April 1966. P. 44.

[8] Damian Barr, “Drama in the Desert,” The Independent, 10 June 2002.  Accessed 5 January 2023.

[9] Data USA. “Odessa College.”

[10] Fuquay, Amanda. “Globe Visit.” Personal email exchange, July 2022.

[11] Fuquay, Amanda. “Globe Visit.”

[12] Fuquay, Amanda. “Globe Visit.”

[13] Fuquay, Amanda. “Globe Visit.”

[14] Taubman, “Shakespeare as a Texan.”

[15] Taubman, “Globe Theater.”

bottom of page