Despite its rowdy roughneck persona, Odessa has been expanding its horizons in many ways over the past few years. We’ve experienced the recent culinary creations this town has to offer but one thing we’ve never checked off the list is a cultural hot spot on this side of the petroplex. That was until we headed to Odessa College and came across The Globe Theater.
“OC has a really good fine arts department just all around, and the theater is a big part of that,” said Randy Ham, the Executive Director of Odessa Arts, an organization that promotes the arts in Ector County. “It is by far the best job I’ve ever had, and I like to brag that I have the best job in Odessa because I get to dream about things, and I get to make them happen,” said Randy.
When it comes to facilities that galvanize the creation of expression, The Globe Theater is their crown jewel. “We have Stonehenge, and we have the Globe,” said Randy. “I like to say that the two colleges are competing for the award of best Anglophile in Odessa.”
Now if you aren’t into the Renaissance, poets, plays, or just history in general, The Globe is a reproduction of William Shakespeare’s famous theater in London, England that was first built in 1599. The Globe in Odessa was completed in 1968.
The original Globe Theater could fit around 3000 folks, the one in west Texas fits a tad under 400 but the layout is so close to the original that when the Globe was rebuilt in London in 1997, they came to Odessa to see how us Texans totally nailed it. “When Shakespeare’s Globe burned down and they were rebuilding it, one of the things that the architects did was fly to Odessa, Texas and spend a week in our theater taking measurements, taking photos, looking at the blueprints, because, while it’s not to scale, is one of the most accurate replicas of the Globe that’s been constructed,” explained Randy.
There’s even a replica of Shakespeare’s wife’s home here. “So, this is the Anne Hathaway Cottage. It was built in 1988, so it was in addition. And that’s also when they added the courtyard here,” said Randy.
This whole Shakespearian complex all started with a local teacher, Marjorie Morris. Her west Texas tenacity got this crazy idea done. “Marjorie Morris was an English teacher at Odessa High School in the 1960s and basically woke up one morning, deciding that what West Texas needed, more than anything else, was a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe,” explained Randy. “And she went out and made that happen. Marjorie came to every opening night until the day that she passed away. And she sat front row center in a gold lame gown and a tiara on her head and just basked in the glow of her success,” said Randy. “She was the Renaissance woman of West Texas for sure.”
Twice a year, Odessa College puts on a production here, but the biggest bash is the Shakespeare Festival held every November. “When you see 3000 students come through the doors of the Globe for the Shakespeare Festival, and they see professional Shakespeare performed in a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe, you see how theater and the arts can really impact a life in a positive manner,” said Randy. “For me, it’s a really good way to reintroduce Shakespeare to the masses.”
For whom would not enjoy such a display? With such a wide wealth of range you’ll find here. Tis impossible not to enjoy it. “It’s hard to decipher iambic pentameter on the page. But if you see it in the context which it was written, which is on a stage with actors and costumes and sets and things, you would be surprised at, number one, how much of it you understand, how funny some of it is, how tragic some of it is, and how relevant it is still today,” said Randy.
While not everyone is into Shakespeare, there’s no doubt you’ve used one his phrases. Some say Shakespeare contributed more phrases to the English language than anyone else and chances are you’ve heard some of them on this show. Like, ‘a forgone conclusion,’ ‘all of a sudden,’ ‘all that glitters is not gold,’ ‘bated breath,’ ‘in a pickle,’ and ‘Et tu, Brute.’ Alright I don’t think I’ve uttered that phrase before. Either way seeing this incredible stage dedicated to one of the great storytellers of all time is well worth broadening your horizons for on The Texas Bucket List.
“Theater teaches us something about ourselves. We see something that we relate to, or we see a situation, and we see how the characters respond to different situations, and we can collectively experience something that nobody else will experience. No matter how many times you come to the Globe, each theatrical experience is unique because the audience is different, the cast is different. That group of people will never be the same again,” said Randy.