Tuesday, 20 November 2012

All The World's A Stage

Tomorrow, I'm escaping my daily lessons - much to the chagrin of my Theology teacher - to hijack a trip to the Globe Theatre in London, to see an all-male cast do an authentic production of "Twelfth Night". Being the unashemed nerd and Shakespeare fangirl that I am, I'm beyond excited - not in the least because the brilliant Stephen Fry is playing Malvolio . . . I can only hope that the sight of him in tight yellow stockings doesn't send my brain into fits of disturbed hysteria.

However, as it's winter and the British weather is being true to form and blasting us with merry deluges if wind and rain every other second, the performance takes place in the Globe's indoor venue. I've seen the London Royal Shakespeare Company at work before, this summer, when my grandad took me to an open-air production of "Henry V".

It was one of the most brilliant evenings of my life. The actors were stunning, the costumes brilliant, the lines delivered with perfect pitch and timing. The audience, from the "groundlings" to the seats in the Gods, were invited to stamp along and cheer and roar as the combating armies of England and France. There was even a particularly amusing moment when "Henry" was busy lauding accolades on a "stout Englishman", only for the aforementioned to state quietly "but ... I'm German."

The look of false horror on the retreating monarch's face was a truly golden moment.

But it's not just the plays that bring millions of toursits flocking to Britain's most famous theatre every year. While I may be a devotee of The Bard, I was definitely the youngest person in the audience that night.

What makes the Globe special is its heritage, and what it means for people on the whole.


The Globe is a beautiful theatre, and the exhibitions in its cellar are among the most incredible I've seen anywhere - even though the audio guide had a horrible habit of loosing very loud trumpet noises at unexpected moments. Everything down there is authentic, and created with such an obvious passion and eye for emphasis and effect, that you can tell whoever set it up was positively barking mad about their job.

The displays aren't just about the plays themselves, either. They're about London, the London that Shakespeare and his companies lived and moved in, the people they met, the things they did and saw and smelt.

Every costume you see was once worn by someone.

Every rusty knife was once nestled in someone's pocket.

Every coin was once cursed over when it slipped from someone's purse.

And the Globe brings it all to life. You'll see replicas of those costumes, that knife, those coins, passing between the hands of the actors on stage just as they were a hundred years ago. And it makes it all so much more real.

It's not just men in tighst prancing about spouting colourful insults at each other. It's our past, acted out in front of us, complete with funny accents, even funnier swordplay, and jokes so lewd you wonder how people could ever call Shakespeare "sophisticated".

It's the present, bringing the past to life.

~ Charley R

13 comments:

  1. I would love to go there someday. I didn't know they still did this. It must be wonderful to see.

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    1. It's incredible - if you ever get to London, make it a top priority spot!

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  2. Stephen Fry as Malvolio?! Joy unbounded! I can only imagine how great that will be! (The idea of an all male cast is also funny. Twill be hard for Orsino to keep a straight face as he tells a male Olivia how beautiful she (he) is.)

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    1. Haha, I'm sure it will be! Never mind the actors - they're professionals and been doing it for months - how are the AUDIENCE supposed to keep a straight face and take the love story seriously! I may just die laughing!

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    1. I'm glad it is! Tis well worth the fulfilment.

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  4. Oh wow! LOVED the pictures, and as I was reading (in a very sleepy state of mind) I realized I'd read a book called the *Shakespeare Stealer* and it mentioned the theatre The Globe. I think. Maybe. I might be very mixed up, but in any case, I think the whole experience sounds amazing!! Have a blast!

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    1. It was brilliant! Laughed myself into fits. So happy.

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  5. Jealous of you. Still looking for a live production of Hamlet I can go see that I can actually afford the tickets to, ehehe. I've never seen it in a theatre.
    I went to the Globe once, I think. A long time ago. I was about six. I don't remember it.
    And I went to Shakespeare's house too, in Stratford-upon-Avon. That was in... hmm. 2004 or something? So I was pretty young then. I don't remember that much, either.

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    1. Haha, the Stratford productions are absolutely incredible, but there's nothing quite like seeing something at the Globe, or even the Apollo (where we were). Just keep an eye out for when they do Hamlet again - tickets go fast, you have to book months in advance sometimes!

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  6. That's awesome! O_O

    I'm reading Twelfth Night right now... I really like it. :D

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    1. It's great, isn't it? All the identity confusion and tricks and . . . ah, it's even better on stage, believe me!

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  7. Okay... Now I HAVE To have a stop in London next year and I HAVE to drag my hubby to this (or let him pub crawl while I drool over the exhibits...) *Is now praying she hasn't jinxed her 10 year anny trip with that* :}

    Now if I got to see a play there, I think I'd be in 7th heaven.

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