Traveling to Odessa this past month for a high school reunion harkens me back to a time and place where I had my first-ever real “paying” job.
I was a 16-year-old whippersnapper hired to be a part-time summer tour guide for The Globe Theatre of the Great Southwest --- the most authentic replica (at the time) of William Shakespeare’s original 16th century Globe Theatre in London.
The original Globe first opened in 1599 on the banks of the River Thames and was the site and venue for the debut of a number of Shakespeare’s plays. In the mid 1960s, in a effort share another type culture to West Texans, high school English teacher (and later professor at Odessa College) Majorie Morris took it on as an area-wide project to research, raise funds and build a two-story octagon shaped structure fashioned after the original Globe in England.
It would serve as place for local community arts/theater performances (and annual Shakespeare festival), and hopefully lure Shakespearian enthusiasts and other tourists to Odessa as well.
Completed in 1968, it has 441 seats, a wrap-around/full-view balcony and an apron-styled stage which only enhances an atmosphere of intimacy reminiscent of the Bard’s dramas produced in early 1600s London.
So there I was, all decked out in my Elizabethan era costume waiting for interested parties to show up and request a tour. The thing is I was just praying I did not know anyone who might come. I mean, I was a “wannabe” footballer now attired in a ruffled pink long-sleeve shirt, tight tapered vest/jacket and multi-colored trunks (puffy shorts with accompanied black hose).
To top it off, I had to don a Shakespearian-style actor hat with a feather in it! Not exactly the image I was hoping to portray as an athlete-in-the-making. But, hey, I was making a whopping $1.50 an hour.
Most days I’d only have a handful of people show up for a tour. Some days no one came, but I still got paid. I was beginning to understand how this “work thing” works.
One day there was this family of four from out of state that showed up and wanted a tour. I took their $5 payment and led them around the theatre, giving them my well-prepared 15 minute spiel while pointing out some of the historical aspects of the original Globe and how the one in Odessa measures up quite nicely. We ended our tour in the balcony and I casually asked if anyone had any questions.
The husband said, “Yes, I have one. Have you had any trouble with ‘acoustics’ in the theatre?”
I’m thinking, acoustics? What’s that?
My answer came out something like this: “Uh, well... uh no... not really. We, uh, had the place sprayed for ‘em last week and the exterminators assured us right off that there acoustic problem was all taken care of just fine and dandy.”
As far as I can tell, the Globe Theater in Odessa must have addressed any concerns with acoustics early on and has faced no lingering issues with any such vermin. To this day The Globe of the Great Southwest is still ongoing in the venue for Shakespearean/drama performances as well as community plays and concerts all the while bringing with it a little touch of European culture and English literature to the oil patch and the good folks of West Texas.
Just as Majorie intended in the first place.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at email@example.com.