Monday, 1 September 2008

London - The Globe!

here's another deviation from the intended purpose of the trip, and another Shakespeare pilgrimage. 

I was so exhausted when we left Manchester - was probably really rude to people who wanted to chat when all I wanted was to disappear into a hole on my own. 
However, I got a message from Richard, saying he'd got tickets for Midsummer Night's Dream and did my spirits lift! Will must have been pulling strings for this devoted fan from Oz! 
So we arrived at Heathrow, got the tube to Gloucester Road, walked 5 minutes to the Hotel, and even though I was visibly shattered (comments from others in the group), I showered, changed and headed off on my own to the Globe Theatre, Bankside, London. It's 200m down from the actual site of the two 17th century Globe Theatres, the first of which burnt down after a spark from a cannon lit the thatched roof on fire. The second became derelict when puritan Sir-Somebody closed all theatres down later in the 17th century. Then it got pulled down two years later. I got all this from the tour I managed to get in for, during which we sat in the stalls while the theatre was being prepared for the performance I was about to see. They seem to swap stages daily, with multiple shows on each week. So they were nailing down the blue floor, attaching wings from the stage out into the groundlings' area and hoisting a balloon moon into the open space above the audience. 
Dinner in another pub, and a cold carbonated beer - I'd had enough of the warm flat English ales by this time, I'm afraid! - and then back to the theatre, just in time to hear the drums. The musicians sat where musicians would have sat in Shakespeare's time, and they were wonderful. Bit jazzy, and with clarinet, so I was happy!
Our seats for the performance were at the front of the second box on the left of the stage as you face it. These are the seats that the doctors and lawyers of Shakespeare's day would have sat in, in order to be seen more than to see! (you miss a bit of action because of one of the pillars holding up the roof over the stage). I wasn't disappointed, because it was a great point from which to soak up the atmosphere, watching the audience and the actors. I could see the moon bouncing around with the breeze, too. 
Richard had never seen a Shakespeare play, and it was great to witness his enjoyment of the mechanicals' play! My work there is done! 
Richard led me the long way to the station, over the millennium bridge and past St Paul's. Scaffolding has just come down from the front of the cathedral, and it is quite clean at the moment. I was struck by its hugeness - very imposing building. Richard kept telling me all these things I had to see - but I only had one morning left! We caught the train together, he got off at Victoria and I got off at Gloucester Road. I'm very proud of my confident negotiation of the London tubes alone!!

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