Monday, December 27, 2010

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

I'm finally getting back to more about my trip to London, and I'm promising that I'll have more London posts coming this week and next.

One of the highlights of the trip for me (in a trip filled with highlights) was seeing Henry IV Part 2 at Shakepeare's Globe Theatre. At first we were thinking of spending five pounds on a groundling ticket to get the effect of that; we changed our minds after all the walking we did that day. We paid 20 pounds instead for a front row seat and rented a cushion for the show. I recommend that route.

I have been lucky enough to study this play twice - once each in undergraduate and graduate school. However, it was the voice of my undergraduate Shakespeare professor whose voice I kept hearing in my head during the play, reminding me about the colorful personalities of each character and other little tidbits. It was such fun to see the play come to life right before my eyes in this historic place. The play was so much more bawdy than I remembered (or noticed from just reading it rather than seeing it performed), and much more comical than I remembered too. I wrote in my travel journal that night that it was the best play I'd ever seen; however, I hadn't yet seen the other two fantastic plays I saw later that week in London. Since those two, I'd have to rank Henry IV Park 2 as in my top five.

Perhaps the friendliest Londoner we met while we were there happened to be sitting behind us during the play and chatted with us during intermission and after the play ended. She clued me in on the little choreographed jig done by all the play's characters at the end. It was designed, she said, to be performed at the end of all Shakespearean plays per Elizabethan tradition, ensuring that even after a tragic play, audience members would go home happy. I never knew about that before and thought it was wonderful.

From the outside in the daylight.

Here I am, in all my English major excitement.

The set before the play started.

  The balconies and the sky visible during the open-air performance.

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