Friday, May 11, 2007

Global warming

Paid a visit to The Globe on our London trip - the reconstruction that is the brainchild of actor Sam Wanamaker, who was apparently scunnered to find on a visit to London that there was nothing more than a miserable plaque to commemorate Shakespeare's south bank theatre. I'd often wondered what it'd be like to be a theatregoer on a wet day in Elizabethan times, and now I know: wet. The rain poured down on the area in front of the stage, where the "groundlings" paid a penny to stand; interesting enough you can now share this experience by paying the £5 that is reckoned to be the current equivalent. Maybe if there's the capacity 500 crowd your legs stay dry ...

It's a fascinating experience even to make the tour ("Othello" was booked out for the only day we could've gone), sitting in the two penny balcony (hard seats) and seeing where the gentry would go - I never knew they even shared the balcony above the stage. It'd rather cramp Juliet's style, to have some toff preening himself next door.

But that was perhaps the point. I'll need to get to a performance there, but I got the feeling of how closely players and audience would have been related in these conditions. It must have felt like entering into another world, with none of the distancing that happens even in the darkest cinema - let alone in your living room watching telly with all the distractions of ordinary life all around you. Apparently, however, heat was and is a problem. On sunny days the audience in the galleries are issued with sun visors because of the glare, and people have been known to faint. Must've been even worse in the pre-deodorant/daily shower/washing-machine days - when Shakespeare could write of the crowd which "uttered such a deal of stinking breath" that Caesar fainted.

I'll settle for some modern distractions.

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