Tag Archives: Globe Theatre

London Is My Everest

31 Aug

Joseph Millson as Macbeth

Joseph Millson as Macbeth © Ellie Kurttz

The necessity of finishing my tale has been hanging over me all week; I cannot write about anything else until the story is finished.  That won’t be today; maybe tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.  It’s creeping in at a petty pace from day to day, probably to the last syllable of recorded time.  Don’t forget, it is a tale told by an idiot.

At about quarter-past the pizza, a cheerful young woman allowed us into the Globe’s outer yard, maintaining the queue order, so that we were able to mock those who left it too late to get the best spot.  Spud and I took turns going to the loo in the thirty minutes before we were allowed into the theatre courtyard.  We were amused to notice our tame writer’s partner leaning on the stage during the final waiting period, still reading his book.  Clearly not his first visit.

It was not the first visit of the young Michigan student standing next to me, either; but she had brought along her family, over here on a visit while she was at a London university as a post-graduate*, to experience the wonder.   That was more like it.  None of your jaded theatre-goer world-weariness for me, thank you very much.  YMS’s father could have done without the whole thing, Spud suspected; but he obviously loved his daughter enough to endure the tedium. Not to worry: in theatre-going accounts, Spud and I enjoyed it enough for a thousand bored fathers.

*Strangers spend five minutes chatting with me and find themselves exchanging Christmas cards for life.

Spud and I had selected our spot during the morning’s tour and we made straight for it.  Here is my view of the stage, taken at my eye line:

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It was perfect.  In case you are wondering why the Hub was too stingy to splurge for seats, let me explain something…on my previous visit to the Globe, during my Open University Shakespeare course summer school, the OU bought a bunch of tickets and we sat at random.  I had a great view of the stage and even a cushion for comfort, but I spent the first half of Othello envying the groundlings (cash-poor people who stand in the yard to watch) and how close to the stage they were.  During the interval, I forewent my toilet break in favour of squeezing into a minute gap, up against the stage.  It was everything I hoped it would be.

When the Hub asked me where I’d like to sit this time, I insisted on a groundling ticket.  The great Sam Wanamaker,

The image of American director and actor, Sam ...

The image of American director and actor, Sam Wanamaker (1919-1993) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

when he conceived of the Globe, insisted that there should always be 700 tickets at a fiver each, so that no one would be precluded by price from enjoying the Bard.  What a visionary he was; and how disgusted the Hub was that my great Golden Birthday treat only cost him a tenner.  

Fortunately, as I might have mentioned, I made up for it by hammering his credit card while I was away, which made him feel much better.

The play began; as did Spud’s initiation into the wonder that is real, live theatre, complete with interaction between actors and audience – two separate actors spoke directly to him; and he was particularly thrilled when the drunken Porter raised a huge laugh, by pointing Spud out as a fool.  DSCN1860

Apart from one actor, who shall remain nameless – even though I could name him because it’s not like a poor review from a semi-anonymous blogger is going to have any effect on his career, is it? – the acting was superb.  Macbeth was edgy, intense, manic and eventually unhinged.  Good-looking, too, though the Hub disputes that.  Funnily enough, the Hub never agrees with me about good-looking men: for some reason, he is incredulous whenever I describe another man as good-looking.  How peculiar.

What was not attractive about Macbeth was his bodily fluid – much of which we ended up wearing as he enunciated and emoted liberally across the whole stage. It must be why so few people tried to jostle to the front.  Joseph Millson’s Macbeth was snotty, drooly, spitty and weepy.  Three more fluids and he’d have had his own set of dwarves.  But he was mesmerising.  He was Macbeth.  Despite an almost bare stage and just a couple of props, we were there with him, feeling every emotion, sharing in the horror of the murders, the fear, the paranoia….  The play was also funny in the most deliberate but unexpected way.

Fabulous.

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The music was excellent; all live, played on the balcony; helping to create the atmosphere.  I loved the unexpected movements at the end of the play, performed by all of the actors and eventually becoming the jig.  

This jig is from Richard II but it will give you an idea of what happens:

I had not mentioned the jig to Spud, wanting it to be a surprise (if you don’t know, all theatre at that time ended in a jig, presumably to send the audience home in a good mood).  He loved it.  He loved the play, he loved the theatre, he loved the whole experience.  

I wish I had taken a picture of him in that moment, to show you the joy and wonder on his face; it was the best birthday present the Hub has ever given me.

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Girl, Reading

29 Aug
Simone Martini: Annunciation - Uffizi - Florence

Simone Martini: Annunciation – Uffizi – Florence (Photo credit: russellmcneil)

The last time we talked, I was sitting on a pavement between the Thames river and the Globe Theatre, eating pizza and chatting to a writer.

We had a good long natter (read: Q&A session in which I remorselessly picked her brain.  I would say ‘brains’ but don’t we all have just one each?) about the merits or otherwise of traditional versus self-publishing and the value of regular blog posting (guilty of not doing which I presently am) in creating a platform from which to sell your masterpiece.

My first question, naturally and not at all tactfully was, Have I heard of you?  

Polite reply: Probably not.  My name is Katie Ward.

My second, What have you written?

The answer: A novel, Girl, Reading.

Reader, I downloaded it.

It is reasonably priced on Amazon at just over a fiver; eight-fifty in the States. While I have been unwell this past week, I devoured it.  I have a…I wouldn’t call it a ‘chapter’, exactly; a section, perhaps; to go.  The book is not a novel in the traditional sense; but neither is it quite a collection of short stories.  It is something in between.  I don’t know what that might be, but I don’t believe it matters.

Here’s what some of the experts say:

Hilary Mantel: Girl Reading is a debut of rare individuality and distinction.

Viv Groskop: This is a real wow of a first novel.

The Telegraph: An impressive debut … each vignette is a masterfully drawn miniature.

The Guardian:  This debut should appeal to a wide but discerning readership. Not for Katie Ward the coming-of-age first novel starring a barely disguised over-sensitive heroine airing her resentments: Girl Reading reads as though its author is five books down. 

Washington Independent Review of Books: Let me echo the book’s last word: Engrossing!

Angelica Kauffmann, ‘Portrait of a Lady’ c.1775

Tate Britain

It is a literary novel of a girl reading – seven girls, actually; in seven separate stories.  The overriding theme for me was that of female choice – whether she has it; how she has it; what she does with it.  Each tale suggests the story behind a work of art, in which girls are reading in various forms, from 1333 to the present and beyond.

Once I had overcome the shock of the missing punctuation (a deliberate device which, ultimately, works; and I say that as a punctuation pedant), I couldn’t put it down.  I am a ruthless reader: life is too short to waste on reading bad books, so I don’t.  This is a good book.

My only frustration is also a compliment to the author: each tale was too short for my liking.  I want to know what happens to the characters once their story ends.   This novel embodies the adage, always leave them wanting more, in the best possible sense.  Definitely recommended.

Incidentally, the author, Katie Ward, is a very nice person, if the three hours we shared on a cold floor are anything to go by.  Visit her website if you’d like to know more.

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The Laughing Housewife received no fee for this review (sadly).  She just loved the book.

 

London Day 2: Oh What A Beautiful Morning

16 Aug

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After a fitful night for Spud and a deep sleep for me, I woke him with a cup of tea (provided).  It had rained in the night but was trying to clear.  As our seats were standing in the yard, we fervently hoped it would succeed.

After showering, we went down to breakfast.

Open to the public during the summer months, the B&B is actually student accommodation for the London School of Economics, with the emphasis on ‘economic’ – £41 each for a London room, 3 1/2 minutes from where we wanted to be, and with a cooked breakfast thrown in. Talk about good value!  The party in the bar across the road stopped before it got too late; scenery included TV production trucks & trailers on the doorstep. We could see into one trailer from our room and Spud only just stopped me from wandering into it thinking it was some sort of diner: I could see people at tables and what I thought was a waiter, wandering up and down with mugs of tea.DSCN1773

Our room was basic and clean; no TV but the shiny white towels and shampoo sachets made up for that.   Who needs TV when the whole of London is on your doorstep?  Not us.

We had until 10:30 to check out but we wanted to fill every minute so we were out by 9:20 and entering the Globe at 9:25.  The Hub had paid for the tour and exhibition and a tour was just starting.  It was fascinating and I couldn’t help but be the annoying person in the party who puts up their hand and asks a million questions.

It was one of those few times in my life when I really didn’t care what people thought of me: I wanted to know stuff and I had the opportunity to find out; I wasn’t going to waste it.

DSCN1781Did you know the Globe – with only legally required health & safety additions – is made entirely of wood – even the pegs which hold it together?  That it moves and seasons and is a thing of great beauty?  That thunder storms were made by rolling cannonballs around in the attic?  That, as far as possible, costumes, props, the building, are as authentically Shakespearean as they can be?  That the names on the paving slabs in the outer yard are those of everyone who contributed to building the new Globe?  Well now you, me and about thirty other members of our tour group do.

We had to be silent at one point because the musicians were rehearsing on stage (and they all signed my programme!).  It was fun to see the difference between the rehearsal and the performance later on.DSCN1794

At the end of the tour we were encouraged to make a donation.  Anything was welcome, from £1 for a red rubber bracelet to signing over your first born child as an indentured servant.  It was worth our £2 because the nice lady at the donation table warned us to queue from twelve at the latest if we wanted to be certain of a place in front of the stage.

Then we hit the shop.  Last time I was at the Globe, all I could afford was a pencil with a Shakespeare head; this time, I was armed with the Hub’s credit card.

DSCN1810I had warned him that if they had notebooks, no matter the price, he was buying one for me.  I was on notebook number 60 last week but this week’s number 61 is red and flimsy and one on which I would never normally have spent £6, but it has ‘Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’ indented on the cover and I had to have it. The Hub also bought two postcards (one for Spud; one for me), a pack of playing cards (for Spud), a t-shirt (for Spud), a badge (for Spud*) and a souvenir book of the history of the Globe.

*I have to say, Spud seemed to enjoy my birthday almost as much as I did.

We headed back out and round to the exhibition entrance.  More fun was to be had. We went into a booth and Spud played Lady Macbeth, recording his performance and playing it back to our great hilarity.  I don’t think Shakespeare would have approved of the accidental inclusion of the word, ‘mate’, but we won’t tell him if you won’t.  Here’s some of what we saw:

 

Why The Globe Is The Best Theatre In The World

13 Aug
Shakespeare's Globe, London (rebuilt 1997)

Shakespeare’s Globe, London (rebuilt 1997) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We interrupt our scheduled post to bring you this breaking news:

The Globe rocks.

Before we went to London, the Hub phoned the Globe on the QT and asked them, as it was my fiftieth birthday treat, if they would arrange for the cast to sign my pre-paid-for Macbeth programme.

The Globe said it would see what it could do.

I used my voucher to collect my programme in the shop instead of the box office, not knowing about the Hub’s request.

The Hub asked me about my programme when I got home: cue sadness all round when the plot was discovered to have gone awry.

The Globe, being the Best Theatre In The World, wasn’t having that and, without a word from us, popped the programme in the post.  It arrived this morning.

The Globe really does rock.  And so does the Hub.

Click on the photos to see close ups.

Globe Trotter

31 Jul

And so the 50th birthday celebrations continue!

First of all, an illustration:

You’ll find more illustrations like this at Mark’s blog.  Hit the pic to access it.

That’s my way of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who offered me a place to stay if I could get there.

I can’t tell you how touched I was by your generous offers; or how desperately the Hub tried to make it happen (a little too desperate for my liking; but that’s an earbashing for another day).

Finances, however, want me to celebrate in modest style; and so I will have to decline your kind offers.  I’m so sad about that.  Thank you, thank you, thank you all!

The Hub, keen to get me out of the house, won’t let me be sad for long,  He has managed to make me deliriously happy on a budget and without Maltesers: I’m going to London to visit the Queen.

The Scottish Queen, that is; from centuries ago: Lady Macbeth.

Okay, that was a long-winded, round-the-houses, you-readers-have-a-life-you-know way of saying that I’m going to watch Macbeth at the Globe!  The Globe! The Globe!

A reconstruction of the Globe Theatre in Londo...

A reconstruction of the Globe Theatre in London, originally built in 1599 and used by Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been once before and it is on my bucket list to do again.  In fact, it will always be on my bucket list; I will never get enough of the Globe.

The Hub is not going with me, but fear not – I won’t get lost in London because Spud will be there to hold my hand.  We will take the train (a two-hour express) down next week Thursday; see some sights; and then book into our hotel-come-hostel-come-student digs thing (told you we were on a budget).  We could have saved more money by taking our own bedding but I don’t want to carry it for two days.

I will get no sleep because I’ll be too excited but I’ll manage the breakfast they promise; and then we will head to the theatre for our tour and exhibition (pre-paid), before standing as groundlings.  Groundlings pay a fiver to stand (often in the rain) to watch the show.  It’s the only way to experience the Globe – I had a seat last time but gave it up to be a groundling, squeezing in to lean on the stage during the second half of the performance.

I have so much to look forward to: flea pit hotel; theatre pit in the rain; smelly armpits if it’s sunny (menopause symptoms stink).  

I have the best husband!

 

1.2.3.4.

15 May

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who left a comment on yesterday’s post.  You have given us loads to work with, which is exactly what we need.

We aim to re-launch the website in September; I will update you when it happens so you can see the fruits of your labour.

I have the Number 1 readers in the blogosphere, and that’s a fact!

Secondly, if you happen to be in the London area this week, you can visit the Globe Theatre for £2.50!  I have lifted this from the Arts Council website because I think it should be shared:

Come and support Latin American theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe!

“Globe to Globe” is the innovative, ground breaking and jaw droppingly ambitious global theatre festival presenting all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different languages!

Each day a new theatre company from around the world presents one of Shakespeare’s classics on the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe, Southbank. Not only is it hectic, innovative and brilliant fun but it is a truly unique opportunity to see the best of the world’s theatre and celebrate theatre and language in all its diversity. Anyone interested in theatre should come and see what the world is making. Anyone interested in language and global community should come and see what the world is saying.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we have “Henry IV Part 1 and 2” from Mexico and Argentina and we are making incredible ticket offers to see both these productions! Quote ‘PCDYARD241’ to get two tickets for £5, and get the best seats in the house for £10 for the Tuesday matinee by quoting “PCDMAT10”.

We have more to come this week from the Belarus Free Theatre, the National Theatre of Armenia, Georgia and Brazil. Watch this space: www.shakespearesglobe.com/globetoglobe

It’s part of the Olympic celebrations and a fabulous opportunity.  How I wish I lived nearer.  If you do go, please blog about it and I’ll try not to hate you.

Third on the agenda: I think school is a little more dangerous than it used to be, if this Manchester Realcycle request is anything to go by:

WANTED: Human Skull

Hi!  My son is in need of a human skull for an art project at college.  It can be real or artificial !  Can collect at your convenience.  Thank you.

I’m tempted to give her the Hub’s but he claims he’s still using it.

And lastly, an event so rare, my flabber was ghasted: I logged on to my site stats and there was a perfect number.  It’s the first time in [hang on; let me check.  I can’t remember how long I’ve been at this] three years of blogging that I have found a perfect number on my stats page, so I had to share it.  Has it ever happened to you?

And you made it happen.  Thank you!

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