Let me preface this post by saying I’m not normally a theater goer, I’ve never been a reader of Shakespeare and I knew next to nothing about the play I was going to see. To say my expectations were low is an understatement.
Early on during my week staying at the Dover Castle Hostel in London’s Southwark neighborhood I did what I normally do in a new city. I went for a walk. It’s one of my favorite things to do upon arrival because it gives me a feel of the city layout (which is sometimes difficult to do from a map alone) and a feel of the city vibe. It helps me understand the public transportation options and lets me see a lot of the sites along the way.
After a couple of hours I found myself on the south bank of the River Thames. This eclectic area is a mix of trendy, historical, and touristy attractions, restaurants, hotels, and shops. It’s a nice walk even during the frequent London drizzle (which I found out a couple of days later) and while exploring I happened to come across Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Adjacent to the Tate Modern
Art Gallery, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is a modern recreation of the original Globe Theater which was associated with William Shakespeare and burned in 1613.
Not being an avid theater fan, going to a play has never been high on my things-to-do list but I decided to go see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater for a few reasons:
- It’s kind of the touristy thing to do
- The ticket was surprisingly cheap (5 pounds for a standing ticket in the Yard, the best view in the place)
- Seeing a play written by Shakespeare being performed at Shakespeare’s Globe at midnight of the summer solstice seemed damn cool to me
My ticket was for Friday, June 21st, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Queuing about 10:45 near the front of the line that night allowed me access to a front row spot in the Yard. When I say front row I mean close to the action, elbows on the stage…front row. Of the 700 groundlings in the Yard and 1500 people attending the sold out show I was one of about 30 with the best (and cheapest) ticket in the house and I wasn’t even a theater fan. In the final minutes before showtime, talking with a steward who has been working at the Globe since it’s opening in 1997, I thought if any situation could change that fact, this is it!
I was there to see ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ and the all female cast took the stage one minute before midnight, one standing literally right above me (I could have touched her shoes). She played several characters including one of the leads. If you are unfamiliar, as I was, with this comedic play, It’s about trying to marry off 2 sisters. One of which (the shrew) is notoriously difficult to deal with. All 7 actresses were multi-talented; singing, dancing, all played at least one musical instrument (many 2 or 3), and of course acted…with brilliant comedic timing. It was a perfect night for an outdoor event and watching it from the Yard where you can almost interact with the cast makes this one of the most memorable things I did while in London.
So yes, seeing this play in this space with this cast in the middle of the night definitely made me at least a casual fan. And it’s not just because I had the lowest of low expectations. The mainly avid theater going audience, and I, had the cast come out for 3 curtain calls. My problem now is it’s all downhill from here. I don’t know if the next show I’m able to see will measure up. But I’ll find out.