Sunday 6/30: Globe & Tate Modern

Sunday began with 2 miles around the track, breakfast, and a shower, as usual. Then we were off to London where, I belatedly discovered, we would be delving into the International Shakespeare Globe Centre & Theatre before having a look at the Tate Modern Gallery.

The bus ride was quiet and relaxing. I read a bit of my new book, Lucky Kunst: The Rise and Fall of Young British Art, by Gregor Muir. It’s an interesting find, and unique in that I kinda sorta bought it by accident; when I’d been picking out my final selections in the book shop on Friday, I’d actually intended to purchase “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” by Antonia Fraser, but by a lapse in scrutiny, I instead handed this one over to the cashier, underneath my other pick. Oh well. I am really enjoying it. It provides a helpful context for everything we’ve been learning in the past week. There’s lots of discussion of the economic climate of London (and even globally) throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and embellishment particularly on policies, politics, and revolution, through the critical eye of an artisan in the interim of a shifting creative era. I’m trying to read 10 pages a day; should take about 24 days, 20 as of now.

We arrived relatively early and killed some time on the pier, taking photos and giving our aching feet some brief solace. The sun on our faces and wispy clouds boded well for our rain-dreading American mentalities.

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Also some great shots of London from Bankside, across the Thames.

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So we entered with the promise of an hour of exploration, and I ambled along, reading up on as many exhibit pieces as possible and filing away the information in some distant corner of my mind, for when I could later cross-reference it with my authoritative Shakespeare: The World a Stage audiobook.

Currently under construction is the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (so named after the project’s founder), an indoor theatre that will seat 340 and open on January 9th of next year with John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Loads of information available about this project in the exhibition, as the Centre is trying to up the hype, I’m sure.

On display was a timeline of Shakespeare’s written works, ordered by year of completion. Despite the noisy design, it was very interesting to see the historical events surrounding each.

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I was also captivated by this quote, as it seems to epitomize the true scope of Shakespeare’s influence:

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(There was a small-scale poster version of the quote in the gift shop, but the price was too high to appeal to my Oxford University sweatshirt-craving sensibilities.)

Shakespeare’s Will was also on display–lovely to see as I’ve heard a lot about it but never viewed it myself. My gaze flicked straight to his signature at the bottom right-hand corner; curiously enough, he signed this one under the name “Shakspeare.” This is one of only six discovered records of his penmanship, all of them nearly illegible signatures, and none of which are spelled in the “conventional” scheme with which we are familiar. This being said, funny that we should spell his name the way we do.

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Some other pieces in the exhibit that caught my eye:

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A model of the frost fair held in the winter of 1621 over upstream of London Bridge on the Thames when it froze over was exhibited. Climatologists called it the “little Ice Age” of the early 17th century.

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A few shots of the building…

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And then the tour. The Theatre was so cool. Of course, it wasn’t an exact replica–for starters, it’s located several hundred yards from the site of the original Globe–but as far as imitations go, it was pretty darn close.

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The stage was set for an afternoon performance of Macbeth at the time. The Theatre puts on shows every day from April through October. (And when the Playhouse is opened, shows will be available to audiences through winter as well!) I loved that the band came out and practiced during our tour, the traditional music really took me back in time. Also, the guide made sure to place special emphasis on the fact that, yes, it is possible to pull of Shakespearean productions with a stylistic twist–for instance, modern costuming or the use of a hip-hop soundtrack! I’ve seen one or two of these “New Age Shakespeare” productions before, and absolutely loved them.

Well, I’m very, very, very tired, so I’m going to sleep now. I will complete Sunday’s reflection tomorrow, along with today’s. Our plan for tomorrow is to visit Oxford University–fingers crossed for an affordable sweatshirt!