Tag Archives: The Globe

On London’s loving reminder….Anno Domini 66/100

dsc_0001_422016 has been a tough year. I’ve mentioned that often. And the result of the US election about did me in. Having said I was going to go to bed early, as I, like most of the world, thought I already knew the outcome, I ended up staying up all night, watching with shock. I stumbled bleary eyed and sad to the gym the next morning. “My wife has been crying for hours. And we aren’t American!” one of the lovely trainers told me. I felt defeated and drained. And fed up. I decided to turn my back on the world. Not the correct reaction, I know, but nothing seems to be right at the moment. Turn my back on the world, but a quick trip to the theatre first. For I had tickets for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to see a new version of Milton’s masque, Comus. The Globe, and it’s indoor theatre Sam Wanamaker, are places I consider to be sacred (posts #8 & 25 ), a refuge when everything seems wrong. I went alone, not sure that the exhausting combination of no sleep and reality wouldn’t send me straight back home. Instead, I sat mesmerized by the play, loving every word. And re-wrote my pledge. Not turn my back on the world, but move, at least temporarily, into a impenetrable bubble of culture. Went into a self-imposed exile, stayed off social media, and when I did engage with others it was only over art or theatre or anything Harry Potter. Even London herself was kept at a distance. I spent hours at home alone, finishing tasks I had started years earlier. I cleaned up rooms and cleared out closets and caught up on all the family holiday photo books. I was quiet and dull and looked at life only through the very hazy lenses of paint and poetry. And you know what, it has been bloody great. I think I am going to stick with this lifestyle a while longer. But London, knowing me as she does, has given me the occasional wink, the gently blown kiss, the silent connection. Because connection there still is, and connections, all round, there still are. On Wednesday afternoon I learned that my son Joseph’s wonderful trumpet teacher, Sandy Hooks, had not only written a Christmas musical, Anno Domini, but that it was being performed that night at St Paul’s Covent Garden, the Actor’s Church. I decided to go. And London smiled slyly.

St Paul’s, built by Indigo Jones in 1633, is an oasis of calm at the edge of manically busy Covent Garden. Due to its location in the West End, it has long had a connection with the theatre community. Last December, I was lucky enough to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) Christmas Carol service at the church. A glorious evening of Christmas-related readings and gorgeous hymns. Funny, irreverent, traditional and simply beautiful, it showed off the wide range of the students’ talents. In the warmer months, plays, often Shakespeare, are performed at the church. I have yet to make one, but it is on the list!

I didn’t know what to expect of the evening, but I was ready for a little Christmas cheer. What I got was something much, much more. A beautiful, thoughtful, moving re-telling of the Christmas story with Mary, a vulnerable, frightened, scorned Mary as the central character, with a soul swelling West End musical score. That alone would have been enough to lift my spirits. But this is London. Of course there is more. The actors on the evening were an impressive collection of stage and screen talent. With gorgeous, incredible singing voices and fabulous accents from…..everywhere: east London, Manchester, Nigeria, posh, Wales, and more, the stunning voices that make up this City I love.  And suddenly I felt London’s gentle poke to my ribs. Reminding me that for all the misery that this world makes for itself, London still holds a glimpse of the world I wish to live in. A world full of theatre and music and diverse accents and hope. Most of all, hope.

Anno Domini will be performed again at the Clapham Omnibus, in December. Tickets available through Eventbrite.

Instagram: @mylondonpassion





All the world’s a stage….The Globe 25/100

10390099_875151299178259_5671869620774940874_nThe Globe season has opened. The Globe season has opened. The Globe season has opened. Such has been my (silent) mantra for the last several days. As for baseball fans in the United States, Opening Day has become an occasion to be celebrated, because it promises months of superb theatre at not second-mortgage needed prices. And I love it. And so should you. Now, now, don’t shake your head and say “alright for you literature boffin types…” because I so wish that were the case. Instead, like most of my passions, it is one of atmosphere over intellect. I still gets pangs of envy when anyone casually says “oh, yeah, I did (insert Shakespeare play) for O levels.” Sadly, I did not attend a secondary school that offered Shakespeare, or literature in general for that matter. Staffed by sad, exhausted teachers wanting only to lurch to the smoking lounge (of course we had one, two actually, one for teachers, one for students. It was a classy institution) as quickly as possible, Shakespeare was something I discovered on my own. And for decades, it was only the gorgeous Franco Zeffirelli Romeo & Juliet film, which has much to offer, but limiting in terms of experience.

And then I found the Globe. Because I wanted to show off for an out of town guest, I booked tickets for As You Like It. Sat in restricted view near a post I had to occasionally look round. And I printed off the Wiki synopsis to read on the Tube….I fell madly in love with the entire experience. The beauty of the building, the humour and skill of the acting, the gorgeous words, most of which I didn’t understand, tumbling out, melodic line after melodic line, the dancing, the laughing, the roar of the crowd, the enthusiasm for a story written 400 years earlier….I was totally and completely hooked.

Joseph Marcell with my Joseph

6 years on, not much has changed. Too many plays to count later, I still sit in the restricted view (proper value for money), I still have to read a synopsis everytime, and I am still transported with each and every performance. The acting is always of high standard, and I am often delightfully surprised at casting choices. Many years ago, I recognized Hero’s father (Much Ado about Nothing). Swelling with pompous satisfaction I decided I was so “in” with the Globe I was now starting to recognize some of the “regulars”……and then the actual penny dropped. I recongized Joseph Marcell because he was Geoffrey on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Nevermind. I have since seen him on stage twice and can only hope the residuals from the above allow him to spend much more time treading these famous boards!

But of course The Globe is more than exceptional plays. There is a museum filled with a variety of Shakepeare and his time stuff. There are concerts and readings and classes and meet the cast opportunties and fantastic outside-the-box events. I have listened to sonnets in Klingon. I have encouraged strangers to accost me on the street and act out Shakepearen scenes. I have enjoyed Othello reworked into raunchy American hip hop. I have watched young actors learn to fight in a realistic and brutal style. And I have observed, with great interest, how calmly and quickly the staff remove the fainters from the Yard. 10488218_917069191653136_5951168746448689860_nAnd on those rare, warm English evenings, when the sun streams through the open roof and the actors are bathed in light and the groundlings are packed together glutching beers and everyone is laughing at a joke first told in 1603…well, I must be the luckiest girl in the world.

Reveling with Shakespeare, on the streets, Sonnet Walks 24/100

Petruchio and Katherina (Taming of the Shrew)

“Get in the car, Kate. Get in the car now!!!!” shouts the young man, brandishing his car keys outside St. Helen’s Bishopsgate. Kate stands firm. “No.” We stop. Is this real? Are we just eavesdropping on a romantic falling out? Or…or….”O Kate, content thee, prithee be not angry…” and so a scene from Taming of the Shrew begins.

Edmund (King Lear)

An attractive, but agitated young man, dressed in a trendy black suit, approachs the group. “Do you have a light? Do you have a light? Doesn’t anyone smoke anymore? I had to come outside for a smoke. You will NOT believe what Edgar has posted on Facebook…” a nice segue into Edmund’s impassioned speech on the injustice shown him,

“Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?…”

IMG_20150419_114410And such is the fun and delight of the annual Globe Sonnet Walks. First held in 1994 as a way to celebrate the Bard’s birthday, they have remained thus, growing more popular every year. The concept is simple: a starting point, a handout with historical tidbits and directions, a long stemmed rose, for identification purposes, and an enthusiasm for seemingly spontaneous acting on the streets of London. At various spots along the route, scenes (of late, rather than sonnets) are acted out for your pleasure. With a modern twist that proves just how relevant Shakespeare still is today. And of course, always a sense of humour, because no one does clever quite as cleverly as the Globe.

Emilia (Othello)

The young woman swearing that female infidelity only mimics that of men, delivers this speech with an almost empty bottle of Blossom Hill rose clutched in her hand….oh honey, we’ve all been there.

Marc Antony (Julius Caesar)

A rousing sing-along of “Holding Out for a Hero” following Marc Antony’s “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend me your ears” speech causes bewildered tourists to toss the busker a few coins.

One of our group is asked to complete the impossible task of folding a festival pup tent back into its bag, while we are all reminded that “I see a man’s life is a tedious one…”

Lady Macbeth (Macbeth)
Viola (Twelfth Night)

A stiletto-heeled Lady Macbeth with burning cigarette leaves a bright red lipstick kiss on the cheek of her Macbeth of the moment. Viola is disguised as a builder working on a demolition site in Shoreditch. A gym-kitted Courtesan rages that Antipholus has gone insane. And so its goes….All the actors are superb, convincing, funny, engaging, each performance its own stand alone special treat. With the great landmarks of London as stage set.

The Groundling Gates

The walks are timed and ticketed with the choice of an East or West route. Both end up at the gates of the Globe, where many chose to entwine their rose in the beautiful wrought-iron, white and red together, like the Tudors these plays entertained. Perfect day.