Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Tomorrow And Yesterday And The Day Before And Tonight

20 Nov

The Tree of War is no more.  Now it’s death in Macbeth.

Alex is playing Macbeth.  Here he is in rehearsal:

Photo (C) Cog Photography

That boy knows how to commit to a part.  So much so, he passed out briefly last night when the Witches yanked his head back while he was hyperventilating. Fortunately, the Witches were the only ones who noticed.  He said he came to, mumbled for a moment, then went straight back into his line.

He’s a physical actor.  He bruised his hand quite badly in The Tree of War, punching a piece of wood each night.  He also hurt his back a little, falling (as per the script) from the wall going over the top.  He didn’t say anything until after the run because he didn’t want any of that ‘health and safety rubbish’ putting a stop to his performing.

Here’s the Macbeth trailer:

An interesting fact: WordPress spell checker suggested ‘machete’ for Macbeth.  Who knew blog hosts could be so Freudian?

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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Joke 871

11 Aug
Dangit. This book is great.

Dangit. This book is great. (Photo credit: Brendan Lynch)

  • I’ve just taken up speed reading. Last night I did War And Peace in 20 seconds.  I know it’s only three words, but it’s a start.
  • I went to the book shop earlier to buy a Where’s Wally book. When I got there, I couldn’t find the book anywhere.  Well played Wally, well played.
  • I’ve been thinking of writing a mystery novel.  Or have I?
  • I went to Waterstones today to get a book about conspiracies.  They didn’t have any.  Coincidence?
  • Breaking News: Archaeologists digging at the site of Shakespeare’s house have uncovered thousands of monkey skeletons.
  • I’ve just published a book on DIY.  It’s blank and comes with a free pen.

From funnyjokes.

 

Joke 869

9 Aug

Today’s jokes are in honour of where I am today.

Cartoon from Savage Chickens

William Shakespeare walks into a pub and the barman says, “Oi, Get out of here, you’re Bard!”

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Said Hamlet to Ophelia, 
“I’ll do a sketch of thee.
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B, or not 2B?”

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What’s the difference between William Shakespeare and Walt Disney?

Shakespeare writes and Walt Disney.

(Try it in a Scottish accent)

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From Yahoo

 

Joke 868

8 Aug

Some jokes from So Much Pun, in honour of where I am going to be tomorrow.

I'm Wearing Glasses All The Time, Anyway...

They're Always Cheaper During the Off-Season

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Neighbors

And this one from Yahoo.

Because Shakespeare was so deeply absorbed during the writing of his tragedies, he put almost impossible strains on his bladder. To make matters worse, the tiny hooks and eyes that his tailor had placed on his pants slowed down the process considerably.  The playwright demanded that the tailor make larger hooks and eyes.

After a few days of trial, the Bard reported back, “Truly, ’tis speedier these larger hooks and eyes, but still and all, when I’m in a hurry, ’tis not quick enough.  I want you to redesign my trousers using leather ties.”

The tailor did exactly as he was told and Shakespeare jumped into the pants without delay.

Exactly one week later, however, the playwright was back at his door.

“Truly the leather straps are faster than those hooks and eyes, but even so ’tis still too slow.  I propose that you throw away the straps and just cut me a little hole.”

The tailor bounced to his feet.  “You ask for hooks, I give you hooks. You ask for straps, I give you straps. But holes? Holes! You of all people ought to know that . . . there’s no holes, Bard!”

 

The Tempest

18 Mar

This is going to be a long post, literally: there are lots of photographs of Spud’s school’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  Expect gushing: I burst with so much pride after watching him, I think I lost weight.

The play sold out and with good reason – it was a fabulous production, full of life and noise and rage.

I suggest you play the video while you read: it is the music from the production and it really helps to create the mood.

Prospero and Ariel, creating the tempest.

Ariel was a cast of thousands, it seemed – about twenty in actuality.  The effect was – dare I say it? – magical.  Ariel is a spirit who enables Prospero to work his magic.  Mrs Moffat, the director, was inspired in her use of many actors as one character.  The sense of Ariel being all over the island, as the text suggests, was brought vividly to life on a simple yet effective set.  The actors shared Ariel’s lines, which enhanced the effect.

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No fancy set building, just the clever use of props, sound and lighting.

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A tender moment between Prospero and his daughter, Miranda

Spud studied the text, watched selected scenes from other productions, discussed the character with Mrs Moffat and decided he was going to be an angry Prospero, hating those who usurped his position as rightful Duke of Milan but prepared to put that aside for the sake of his beloved daughter.

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How now, moody?

A stern Prospero, putting Ariel in its place.

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Potential suitors, beware!  

Are you listening, Ferdinand?

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The evil Sebastian (on the left)

The King’s brother – slightly camp, wholly malevolent and brilliantly played.

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Be not afeared; th’isle is full o’ noises…

The spirits torment Caliban

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You are three men of sin…

The Harpies 

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My son’s performance aside, this was my favourite moment in the play – the Harpies were truly terrifying.

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The moment they advanced on the bad guys and let out a collective scream, the whole audience jumped in their seats.  I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

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Prospero, sad and reluctant, abjures his rough magic and frees Ariel at last

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Spud in the coat which he’d really like to have worn as Prospero

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I can say with no bias and complete honesty – what a night of oblectation!

For more photos on the school’s website, go here.

Proud Mama

14 Dec

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alex001

I have two gorgeous sons.  That’s not why I’m proud, though I am proud.

They are kind and generous and hard-working.  That’s one reason I’m proud.  Or three, to be accurate.

I have a post coming up about Tory Boy; today I’m going to tell you about Spud.

From the age of four, Spud wanted to be an actor.  He played the lead in many a school production, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar – his Munch munch, munch munch was Oscar-worthy, in my opinion – and Jonah and the Whale.  I must try to upload the video of his singing I Need A Boat.  Adorable.

The Hub and I were convinced he was going to make a career in acting.  We were anxious but accepting, because he is a natural.  Then he went to high school and discovered rugby.  Rugby practise clashed with drama club and drama club lost. Our flab had never been so ghasted.

Rugby was abandoned after three years – too many wet and freezing early Saturday mornings and not enough aggression on his part to be a serious player. He was enthusiastic but nice – not a winning combination in rugby.  I was relieved when he gave it up, especially after the time he was knocked senseless for a minute.  I couldn’t watch him play; it hurt me too much.  I have plenty of photos of his scrapes and bruises if I feel nostalgic.

He never went back to drama, however.   We couldn’t convince him.  He has a full week with long school days, hours of homework each night and weekend, and his Manchester City season ticket, so we didn’t push it.  He said he wanted to concentrate on his GCSEs, knowing that no parent is going to argue with a child who claims he wants to work hard to pass his exams.  Did I mention he was clever?  And a little manipulative?

In September of this year he entered Sixth Form.  For my non-UK readers, that means two years of tough exams which must be passed to enter university at eighteen.  However, universities require more than good exam results; they want to see evidence of extra-curricular activity.  Spud became a mentor for new pupils starting high school; joined the climbing club; volunteered to help at school open events (we have always had to press-gang him into this; we insisted on it, because of how much the school is spending on him.  He just wanted to stay home and do homework.  Yeah, right; we believe you, Spud); and – wait for it – auditioned for the school’s Classics play.

Considering it has been five years since he’s done any acting to speak of, he did well to get the part of The Messenger, the third-biggest role.

It wasn’t enough for him.  A sign went up in school:

Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’  – auditions.  

The auditions took the form of workshops, then call-backs for the bigger parts, then more call-backs (this school takes its drama productions seriously).  Spud read parts of the text, had me drill him in the story, and watched clips on You Tube.  He couldn’t find a complete version on the internet, or he’d have watched that as well.

Spud desperately wanted to win the leading role of Prospero.

Prospero and Miranda from a painting by Willia...

Prospero and Miranda from a painting by William Maw Egley; ca. 1850 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spud won the leading role of Prospero.

That’s not why I’m proud, though I am thrilled.  I am proud because of something that happened in one of his auditions.  The teacher had the students read different parts together.  Spud and his partner finished reading and the teacher said to him, ‘Thank you.  You were excellent.’  

Spud was pleased to be complimented, of course, but mortified for his partner.   He immediately made a point of telling the teacher that if he was any good, it was thanks to his partner working with him.

I’m proud because he made sure to give credit to his friend, and because he was embarrassed to be singled out at the expense of someone else.

I don’t want my children to boast about themselves.  That’s my job.

 

23 Sep

 

It’s that Tinman again, doing for Shakespeare and Harry Potter what no man has done before.

 

Worth Doing Badly

This week’s Daily Post Writing Challenge is “Stylish Imitation”, so here is the world’s most famous playwright telling the world’s most famous story…
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Alarums, fanfares and trumpets. Enter Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Harry: When shall we three meet again?

Hermione: Next term at Hogwarts.

Harry: Oh, true. (they exit home for the holidays)

Enter He Who Must Not Be Named.

Voldemort (oops, sorry): Fast fare thy failure, Potter, with thy stupid scar
I’ll kill thee fore you can say, er “Nascar”.

Ghost of Nearly Headless Nick enters.

Voldemort: Sodeth off, thou twerp. (Nick exits, pursued by his career).

First Day of New Term. Enter Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Hermione: Grave news. (Holds up skull). Dobby is not to be.

Harry: Alas, poor Dobby. I knew him well.

Hermione: Not well.

Harry: I can see that.

Hermione: No, the word “well”…

View original post 297 more words

So Many Jokes, So Little Class

21 Sep

I made the mistake last night of wearing winter pyjamas in autumn.  On top of which, the Hub tells me, I flat refused – in my sleep – to share the bedspread. Rolled up in layers, it was inevitable that I would have bad dreams; I always have bad dreams when I’m too hot.

 

I am grumpy this morning because I haven’t had enough sleep because the bad dreams woke me up; and I’m not in the mood to write.  Instead, I present you with a cobbling of two posts from September 2010.

Enjoy.

If you want to stay out of my bad books.

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I spotted this job today, from The Arts Council:

Wanted: Executive Ass.

‘Executive Ass’ as in ‘Executive Assistant’.

An ass is also a bottom.

The picture above is of Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Bottom (one of the earliest transformers in literature) became an ass.  Bottom was a bit of an idiot.

Executives are often idiots, therefore the Arts Council ad could read:

Wanted: Idiot’s Idiot.

A synonym for executive is brass; the ad could also read:

Wanted: Brass Ass.

Some other synonyms, courtesy of thesaurus.com:

  • Chief Ass
  • Controlling Ass
  • Head Ass
  • General Ass
  • President Ass
  • Upstairs Ass
  • Bureaucratic Ass
  • Official Ass
  • Presiding Ass
  • Ruling Ass
  • Supervising Ass

I’m just having fun, but it is entirely possible that at some point these were all genuine jobs advertised in The Guardian.

From Wikipedia:

Ass may refer to:

  • DonkeyAmerican English informal term for buttocks
    • Asinus subgenus
    • From the above, slang forstupid person”
  • Arse Old English word for buttocks, from which the American English ‘ass’ is derived. Arse is nowadays used as an informal term for buttocks in British English

According to Wikipedia, a male donkey is known as a jack.  All donkeys are hard-working.  Hence, when Abigail Bartlet calls Jed a ‘jack ass’ in The West Wing (more than once, I might add), she is not really insulting the greatest fictional American president who never lived, but reminding him of how industrious he is.

A female is known as a jenny and her gestation period is twelve months.  She’s a ninny because it’s longer than for a bunny or a nanny goat though she’s canny because expectant mummies tend to be bonny (despite often needing the dunny) and without even a whinny she will regain her figure because vegans tend to be skinny and I’m stopping now because this is no longer funny.

Hee haw.

 

Shakespeare, Facebook & Spam

26 Jun

Spud taught me how to download pictures from Facebook!

Shakespeare does the Hokey-Cokey:

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A recent Facebook status written by Spud:

“The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their validity.” – Abraham Lincoln.

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The photographs of my poems from the Bolton Arts Trail post are too small for you to read.  If you are interested, I posted them on my poetry blog.

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And finally:

The name of a spammer in my spam box today – possibly my favourite piece of spam ever:

Home made penis extenders

My mind has never been so boggled. Roll out the chopsticks!

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WordPress Prompts Catch-Up

30 Oct
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Image via Wikipedia

 

Do you think Shakespeare existed?

Yes.

But does it matter?  It doesn’t make any difference who wrote the plays: the words are all that count.

Bill, I’ve got your back.

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What makes someone beautiful?

An offer to clean my house in one hand and a bag of Maltesers in the other.

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Where is the most relaxing place in your world?

Underneath the Hub’s hand as he strokes my hair.  I’m out before he can shout, ‘Shut up and go to sleep, will you!’  (His alternative method of inducing repose in his beloved consort.)

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Have you ever had to fire someone?

No, but I was once tempted to stick a catherine wheel where the Hub’s sun don’t shine. 

I say ‘once’… 

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Whirl-fire

Image by Loving Earth via Flickr

Do you like surprises?

Yes, and if anyone wants to throw me a surprise birthday party when I turn fifty, I promise to enjoy it.

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How do you know when it’s time to go?

I get a little damp patch around my lower-middle area.

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Pigeons Everywhere!

28 May

I can’t believe the week I’m having; the good news just keeps on coming: I have a job interview next Thursday.  Better than that – it’s with my beloved Open University.

A little background history for my newer conscripts: I did a part-time degree with the Open University, from 2003 to 2008.  It was part-time only in the sense that I worked for it at home.  I attended tutorials and day schools and two glorious summer schools – the first one in Manchester, where I made some great friends who have stayed in touch to this day; and one in London, where I got to visit – I still get all wobbly when I think about it – Shakespeare’s Globe. 

One thing in particular that I learned at summer school is that it is not actually required to venerate the Bard: he had duff moments, and it’s okay to say so.  Mind you, I think I am one of the Few: one retired man in my summer school tutor group happened to mention that he thought Shakespeare was very much a commercial playwright but not necessarily an intellectual genius.  A roomful of students rose as one in outrage and there was almost a lynching in a third floor classroom of Queen Mary University.  While someone went in search of a rope, I had to admit that, though I didn’t completely agree with him, I thought he had a point.  Luckily for me, the heretic was at one side of the class and I was at the other, so the body of Outrageds between us didn’t hear me and string me up as an accomplice.  Our tutor that day acknowledged the ‘commercial playwright’ point (Shakespeare retired a rich man); but on the ‘not an intellectual genius’ point she looked as if she’d found a slug in her cereal.  Mr Foolhardy of Takinyurlifeinyurhands, brave man, was completely unabashed and even had the temerity to keep attending the lectures.

On the day of our visit I woke up feeling queasy, so I had cereal and fruit instead of my usual cooked breakfast (it’s not that easy to get a figure like mine, you know; I have to work at every sausage, bacon, beans, egg, toast, hash brown and pineapple breakfast to maintain it) because I was determined that nothing was keeping me from going to the Globe that day.  We had tutorials in the morning but finished early for lunch.  We were provided with a packed dinner of cardboard sandwich tasting of the plastic it came in (I hate those things, they are vile), a large packet of crisps (ready salted, so everyone could eat them – unless you suffer hypertension, of course), a Granny Smith apple (euggcchh), and a bottle of water.

We then had a lecture on Shakespeare and the London Stage, which was interesting, before dashing for the coaches.  To be fair, I was the only one dashing; I could have given Linford Christie a run for his money (I was going to make a joke about lunchboxes there but it came out too rude): I was so desperate not to be left behind that I abandoned all the friends I had made that week, and dived head-first into an empty bus seat, strapping myself in before the rest of my tutor group had even left the classroom.  I hope I never take part in a flood here in Stockport because my poor family will clearly be on their own as far as I’m concerned.

The journey cut through London and took about twenty minutes.  We passed half of the Monopoly board, and the Tower of London.  There was a pub across the road from it called The Hung, Drawn, and Quartered.  What a great name!  When we arrived, I was amazed to see that not only was the Globe not round or anything like all of the pictures I have seen, but it was also right on the Thames (well, not right on, obviously, because it would sink; but on the riverside).  The river was brown and yukky and it was horrible to think that I once swam in it as a child.  The Globe looked like an ordinary city building and I can’t tell you how crushed I felt, but I was puzzled by the pictures and models of a twenty-sided ‘O’ that were everywhere on display.  However, I was soon distracted by being herded into a lecture theatre with everyone else.  We were privileged to be given a hilarious lecture on the Globe by Patrick Spottiswoode, the Director of Education at the Globe.  When Sam Wanamaker (the American actor and father of Zoe Wanamaker, who plays Susan in My Family) envisioned its rebuilding, he insisted that it be a place of education as well as entertainment, and it had to be accessible to all, which is why there are 700 tickets at £5 each available for every performance.  If you ever find yourself in London, you should go.

After the lecture, Patrick conducted an interview with the American director of Othello (the play we saw), Wilson Milam.  He once directed an episode of the old Dr Who series.  He was as tall and lanky as they come, and, coupled with his laconic speech and in contrast to the energy of Patrick Spottiswoode, my abiding memory is of a large paper man draped over an uncomfortable chair.  Finally, we were split into three groups and carted off to different rooms, and an actor led us in a very physical session exploring Shakespeare’s language.  Our actor was Yolanda Vasquez (who has appeared in Holby City, for those of you who watch it) and she was excellent.

Once that session was up, we had a break until the evening performance.  Unfortunately, no-one had actually said so to us, and consequently there were 150 supposedly intelligent mature students milling around in rising panic and lowing, ‘What do we do?  Where do we go?  Is it a break?  Can we leave the theatre?’  I’m convinced it was the result of the sheep mindset that sets in when you are given a timetable that tells you when to study, when to eat, when to drink tea, and when to listen.  As nobody came to tell us what to do, we eventually figured out for ourselves that we were free for ninety minutes, and many of us made our way to the gift shop.  I had intended to buy souvenirs for everyone but it was so expensive that I came away with only two 50pence bookmarks for the boys and a pencil topper of Shakespeare’s head for me.  DVDs that I had bought in the pound shop in Stockport were going for £19.99 each at the Globe.  After the bookmarks and pencil toppers, the next lowest price of anything was a fiver, and there wasn’t much stuff available even at that price.  I understand that the Globe gets no government funding and has to be self-supporting, but they really could have done with a few lower-priced items for hard-up visitors like me; they’d sell way more stuff.

However, coming out of the gift shop, which is upstairs, my disappointment disappeared, because there in front of me through large windows was the wooden O.  Idiot that I am, it never occurred to me that the theatre would stand separately from the box office and educational and shop and everyday business part of the Globe.   And once we went back out through the front entrance and round the side, it was clearly visible from the street.  In fact, I and those of my friends who had caught up with me, had our packed dinner sitting on the steps next to the Thames and gazing up in adoration at the Globe (actually, I think that last part might just have been me).  To be honest, I was so excited I could barely eat (yes, you did read that last sentence correctly), so it didn’t matter that my sandwich was inedible. 

While sitting there not eating, two smartly-dressed women and a ditto man gave us some money and asked us to give it back to them.  They were on a treasure hunt of sorts, and had to be videoed doing all manner of strange things around London, including singing on the street to passersby and being given money for it.  They hadn’t had much luck, so decided to cheat, which is where I came in.

After not eating and pretend-paying total strangers to sing, we went through the wrought iron gate entrance to the courtyard, where we were able to rent a seat back and two cushions for £4.  The seating is all benches and not very comfortable, apparently.  I can’t say I noticed. 

On the way to the loo round the back, I stopped to chat to a fellow student.  I say ‘chat,’ but it was more of a high-pitched gabble on my part, because I was in a frenzy of anticipation by now.  Fellow Student was standing with some people who turned out to be BBC crew, filming for The One Show.  The presenter, Adrian Chiles, is from Birmingham, and the following Friday was something like ‘Be Nice to People With Brummie Accents Day,’ so they were asking visitors to the Globe to quote Shakespeare in Birmingham accents (Shakespeare was from that general area, so he’d have had that sort of accent).  I tried to decline but they wouldn’t believe that I am rubbish at accents, so they filmed me in a state of total giddiness, not speaking Brummie.  I kept telling them they were wasting their film, but they asked me to say ‘My name is Adrian Chiles from The One Show on BBC1,’ or something like that, so I gave it a go.  I couldn’t get past ‘My name is…’  It was like my mouth wouldn’t work, but I eventually burst out in a cockney accent, ‘My name is Michael Caine!’  Don’t ask me where that came from.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be appearing on telly that Friday night after that performance, and I was right; but I obviously gave the BBC crew a good time, because they were shaking with laughter by the time I was done.

And then it was time to take my seat.  The OU must have bought whatever seats were available, because we were spread all over the theatre.  I was in a £26 seat on the middle tier; some students were in £19 seats up at the top at the back.  Some people were in the most expensive seats on the bottom tier.  I’m not complaining, because I had a fantastic view.  My seat number was A1, so I was at the front of the box looking down onto the stage.  I believe the view is excellent wherever you are, though.  The play was wonderful.  Othello is a tragedy (no offence intended to those of you who knew that) but the way it was played there were lots of laughs in it.  Tim McInnerny (Lord Percy and Captain Darling in Blackadder) played Iago, and he was good.

Apologies in advance for the scary woman in this next photo:

The £5 tickets are for a place with the groundlings, who stand throughout the performance.  There are no allocated places; it’s a free for all, and it was interesting to see them milling about throughout the performance.  The cast often made their entrance through the audience, and addressed us directly during soliloquies, so that the audience is part of the whole experience.  In the interval I went down to the ground floor to take photos, and there were lots of empty spaces because people were taking comfort breaks, so I watched the second half as a groundling, leaning on the stage and looking up at the actors.  It was fabulous.  There were some disgruntled teenagers next to me, who had to squash up to fit in the friend whose space I had pinched (I assume), but I didn’t feel guilty because they talked and texted all the way through the performance, and didn’t seem too keen to be there.  Tim McInnerny gave them a dirty look at one point, but a look from Lord Percy wouldn’t bother this generation of teenagers, would it?

The Globe is an open-air theatre, and we were incredibly fortunate because it had rained or been cloudy all week, but on that Wednesday afternoon the sun came out and stayed out, so we were able not only to eat on the pavement but to enjoy the play without discomfort.  All in all, it is in my top five life experiences.  And I speak as a woman who knows the value of a Malteser.

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Today is Big Tent poetry prompt day; the prompt is ‘aphrodisiac’.  I post my senryu with an apology to the Hub, who it is NOT about.  My inspiration came from my moaning friends (who won’t be my friends much longer if they find out what I have just called them):

The Housewife’s Aphrodisiac

You want me trembling
with desire for you? Offer
to wash the dishes.

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Reminiscing about summer school reminded me of this senryu I wrote way back; it is almost verbatim the instructions found in the student information booklet:

From the University Book of the Bleedin’ Obvious

Action in case of
fire: on discovering a
fire: please shout FIRE

Bill ‘n’ George’s Excellent Adventure

23 Apr

I have the day off today.  Yesterday was good again, particularly my home-made lunch of chicken & coleslaw sandwiches and a pudding of jelly (sorry, Tory Boy; but you forgot to take them with you and they have a sell-by date).  I haven’t eaten jelly for years; it was delicious, if mushy.

It was while eating lunch that I overheard this: ‘I have to clean three times a day, every day; I think I caught that OCD off me mate.’

I have learned some stuff this week, so it has been worth the effort of getting out of my pyjamas before ten.  I am a bit slow on the uptake, though: it was only yesterday that I realised the course has an actual name, Launch Pad; we are ladies who launch.  It also clicked that everyone except me is a single mother.  That explains the three-hour session on childcare provision and benefits.  I was wondering.

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I thought last night’s leaders’ debate was much better than last week’s; we saw some blood and guts, at least.  David Cameron’s problem is still that he’s too polite, however; that’s the problem with being well brought up.

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Today is St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s purported birth and death days.  As one sounds like a great story and the other wrote a great story, it is fitting that they share a date.  I will be out waving the flag in our local park tomorrow; I wonder if the George Formby Society will be present?  Nothing says ‘English’ like a bunch of old men on ukuleles.

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This prompt is a wordle:

 

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If you haven’t come across it before, a wordle is a picture of words, like a category or tag cloud on a blog.  You put in a whole bunch of text and it makes a picture, with the most-used words appearing bigger than the least-used words.  Here’s a wordle of what I have written so far:

 

Um, scrap that…I’m on the Hub’s computer and I’m not allowed to change anything without his permission and Wordle wants me to install thingies before it creates a wordle for me and I dare not on pain of prolonged tickling of the feet, so you’ll have to have a go yourself.

We were supposed to use one or all of the words in the wordle.  I went with ‘reverberate’ because I was thinking of ‘the shot heard around the world’ which exemplifies the meaning of the word, but I left it out in the end, because it didn’t work in the poem.

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Why I Left South Africa

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A bullet cudgelled

a child’s skull,

forcing hatred from me.

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Joe’s Got The X-Factor!

14 Dec

I was thrilled last night that Joe won the X-Factor.  He has a wonderfully melodic voice and seems like a genuinely nice guy.  I felt sorry for Olly, but he seems like another nice guy and was gracious in defeat; and these days, runners-up tend to do as well if not better than winners, so I’m crossing my fingers for him.  Poor Stacey went out on Saturday night.  I thought she gave the performance of the weekend in her duet with Michael Bublé.  They had real chemistry, and she looked fabulous in that dress – for the first time in years I felt nostalgic for my figure because I have never worn a dress like that, and now it’s too late.  Still, I won’t give up hope, because Michael Bublé still hasn’t met me yet.

What annoys me is the nay-sayers: I have read around the blogs this morning, and so many people are complaining about the blandness of the X-Factor and that type of show and how it’s the rise of mediocrity, that it makes me wonder who of the ten million who voted last night dares to disagree.  Well – I do, being one of the 6.1 million people who voted for Joe to win.  There have always been tv talent shows; the X-Factor is simply the latest incarnation.  Mark Lawson (a critic with whom I usually agree) irritated me with this: ‘…the victory of McElderry and Cowell is a defeat for admirers of high-quality or public service television…’  I don’t think talent shows come much slicker than the X-Factor; do you?  It is high-quality television in that it is well-made and entertaining.  Yes, it’s not brain-stretching telly, but so what?  It’s Saturday night and I want to settle down with my family and enjoy myself without having to think.  I would also say it is public service television: the 200,000 who applied to be on it and the twenty million who watched the final would probably agree with me.  This is just snobbery: what does Mr Lawson think Shakespeare was writing, if not entertainment for the masses?  And what would I, Mark Lawson and the 9,200,000 Google results I’ve just found have to write about this morning if it didn’t exist?

Britain’s got the X-Factor! 

 

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