Saturday, 8 June 2013

'The Tempest': My Trip to the Globe Theatre

by Sophie Whitehead

James Garnon as Caliban
(source: Times)
When I was asked to write this article about my trip to the Globe Theatre to see The Tempest by William Shakespeare, many aspects of the day sprung to mind. London is, after all, a very large place. However to make my life (as well as the lives of those who are fortunate enough to be able to read this) easier, I thought it best if I just began periodically, hence at the beginning. So here goes…

The day began at around 8:30. We arrived at our tutors', as per the usual school day, and even attended Period 1. So far, so good. The only mere criticism I could say, so far, was the fact that we had to be in school uniform rather than home clothes, which, to my mind, would have made the day even better, and certainly more comfortable seeing as we had a two-hour bus drive there and back to go so far. I always think arriving in home attire also gives the day an air of excitement as well; for the simple fact that it is a different thing to wear.

Anyway, moving on swiftly. After leaving Period 1, we gathered our belongings to meet promptly by the Arch ready for the coaches to take us up to London; after a quick registration to make sure we hadn’t lost anyone yet (always a good idea before going on a trip), we were on our way. Now coach journeys are all pretty much the same no matter where you go, so I won’t bore you with the details on how that went. All that needs to be said was that, by the time we arrived in London, I would say a good half of the world’s confectionary supplies had been eaten. There was certainly no risk of us falling asleep for a while.
As soon as the bus arrived and we had registered for a second time (we hadn’t lost anyone, the teachers were relieved to find), we gathered for an hour and a half’s lunch break. Pure heaven. In this time we were allowed to do whatever we fancied. So what do we do? Well food momentarily won the war over sight-seeing, so the map on the phone came out and ‘Starbucks’ was typed in. We were delighted to find there was actually one exactly two minutes away from where we were, so, I am slightly embarrassed to say, we made our way there very quickly. 
The Globe Theatre
(source: Wiki Commons)

Then, tickets handed out, cushions bought, and in we went to see the play. The Globe Theatre really is beautiful and its ancient ancestry only adds to that. Originally built in 1599, it was the theatre of many of  William Shakespeare’s plays, yet it was burnt down; therefore, in 1997, a modern reconstruction was built in its place, named ‘Shakespeare’s Globe.’ It has an open-top roof and is of circular shape with white walls and beams. Inside, two mock marble pillars hold up part of a ceiling which covers part of the stage, leaving the other part of it exposed to British weather. Around the edge, three levels of seats accompany it, with people also allowed to stand on the floor. The idea of this is to model the Shakespearian era when people would pay less to stand, allowing all classes of people to come and view Shakespeare’s plays. Some even say that that was the beauty of Shakespeare's work, that his plays would appeal to all audiences.

Colin Morgan as Ariel and Roger Allam as Prospero
(source: Radio Times)
Anyway back to the play itself which was again a huge success. We soon discovered that Colin Morgan, who played Merlin in the hit TV series was starring as the spirit, Ariel, so it was interesting seeing him in a different light. The scenery was quite elaborate, with rocks and other props situated around the stage, and the actors covered the stage with ease, often involving the audience. The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s most humorous plays and the audience would often laugh at the dry humour portrayed throughout the play. It is again a marvel that, even four centuries later, we can still understand and enjoy Shakespearian plays, almost as much as audiences would have back in the time of Shakespeare himself. The play lasted for about three hours with an interval in between the two acts. This gave us time to grab a drink ready for the next scene. It also gave the actors a little time to relax and change costume (after all they had been acting none stop for about an hour and a half).
I would personally say the second was the better half of the play, simply because it focused less on the past of the characters and more on the present. I also loved the final act because that is when Prospero finally renounces his ‘magic.’ With the help of the beautiful costumes, not to mention the amazing music played by Stephen Warbeck, one would not think that it was Shakespeare’s last play. It is undoubtably one of his best and I would recommend the day to all those who love Shapespearian plays.

All in all a great day and we left reeling from the experience, feeling very happy indeed.

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