Looking back on the trip, one of the best/worst nights was at The Globe Theatre, where it poured all through the performance of As You Like It. Here are some of my pictures:
|I thought it would be entertaining to take pictures through my poncho before the show started at The Globe. Above is one of Natalie De Luna and Megan, looking like ethereal snow angels. While I was taking these I was hoping that the plastic in front of my camera's lens would make the images look like they were stills from those ghost hunting shows, but instead they just turned out cute.||Above is Jeremiah Choi, aka JereBear, in a rare moment in front of the camera instead of behind it. He looks amazed because his boat shoes are holding up surprisingly well in the downpour. We suppose that's why sailors wear them.|
Read on: A look at the actors, and what happens to feet in Globe puddles.
Aug 28, 2009 Matt Stevens
It's been incredibly difficult to rank all these wonderful experiences, but here's the third and final part of my top 10 list of the highlights of the trip.
4. The special presenters
Let's not forget about the actual learning taking place in class. In these four weeks, I had the privilege of seeing several members of the RSC and other theatrical geniuses speak about their craft. In a nutshell, they opened up an entirely new way for me to think about these texts: as plays meant to be performed, not books meant to be read. We spent a half-hour talking about how to voice the prologue to Romeo and Juliet, we asked actress Kate Stephens how she interprets Rosalind, and we have had a popular writer blow up our conceptions about reading Shakespeare, and replace them with thoughts about how to speak it.
3. The Palace of Versailles
Bigger, grander, more beautiful than anything imaginable. It's impossible to describe its majesty, but let's leave it simply at this: Versailles' horse stable is bigger than the whole of Buckingham Palace.
2. Learning through conversation Drumroll, please: No. 1
Even more important that the wonderful classroom knowledge I have gained, has been the cultural knowledge I will leave with. Much of this has come through simple experience, but the best has come from talking with random people. The hotel concierge from Nigeria, a British couple celebrating their 10th anniversary at the Dirty Duck after an RSC performance, and an Australian woman, with a son my age, taking six weeks off to travel the world are only a taste of the sorts of curious and pleasant people I've encountered. All of them helped me further realize my place — and my country's place — in this large world. It's probably the most important thing I could have gotten out of this trip.
Aug 20, 2009 Kelsey Comes
1) Swans — are reallyawkward on land. They would sit on the lawn in front of the hotel andwe would go on "swan stalking" missions to get pictures close to them.They would run away from us on their black feet in a most ungracefuland unbecoming fashion.
2) Peacocks —are actually as vain as the saying suggests. At Warwick Castle, we sawone attacking its own reflection by repeatedly hurling itself at amirror.
3) Goats — stick their tongues out when they say "baaahhh!" It's absolutely hilarious. Also, loud.
4) Rabbits —apparently are a pest in parts of the countryside and are shot to keeptheir numbers down. The reason I know this? During the RSC's performance of As You Like It, the shepherd character skins one of said rabbits onstage. One of the actresses came to visit our class after theperformance and stopped our "real-or-not?" debate, confirming that itwas real. Ew.
Aug 20, 2009 Matt Stevens
Other bloggers have already mentioned Michael Fentiman (here and here),but he warrants multiple posts.
Michael is the assistant director of the RSC's production ofAs You Like It, which we saw Saturdaybefore exiting Stratford. To put the performance in perspective, I'm toldsecondhand that Professor Post called it one of the best productions of As You Like It he has seen in the last25 years. High praise, and deserved.
It's no surprise then that Michael was dynamic and profoundwhen he came to speak with us. The journalist in me took down some of hisnuggets of wisdom: "We don't really know that we're talking about — wejust try to discover it," and "Actors are like children. We play."
But what really stuck me was Michael's description of a productionof Romeo and Juliet he did. Taking a major risk, Michael decided to stage Shakespeare'sclassic love story using only a dozen professional actors alongside more than 60gang members off the streets of London.
Saturday night, we saw our final RSC performance, As You Like It, at The Courtyard Theatre. We saw the same play put on at The Globe in London, but because that one was mostly drowned in the rain, I was really glad for a repeat performance.
The tickets for each of the plays we've attended are always randomly distributed amongst us students, so I was super-excited to finally have a seat in the front row. Even being on the side of the stage is good when there's no one's head to block your view.
And the RSC did not disappoint. I mean, yeah, it's not like they could ever outright fail when it's the RSC ... but still. I think this production may be my favorite of the trip thus far. They kept a lot of the songs from the play in their performance, and the actor playing Jaques, the exiled lord who has the famous "All the world's a stage" monologue, had a really good voice. He also had one fingernail painted blue and was rocking the guy-liner — it was like As You Like It: The Rock Opera.
Read on: We get pulled into the show.
Aug 18, 2009 Alison Hewitt
Read all about the latest play the bloggers attended — the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance of As You Like It at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford
— in the newspaper reviews of the same show. Catch yourself up on the story by reading the RSC plot synopsis
, and compare the critics' thoughts to our bloggers' reactions
.Reviewed by the London Evening Standard
There should be lots to charm us in this delightful comedy of disguised identity and wooing by proxy but here too much is strain and struggle. ... [The] production shifts gradually from traditional to modern dress ... [the] tedious design makes an IKEA-look white backdrop for the court scenes open partially to reveal stacks of straw for a tree-less forest, a peculiar decision when a key plot point has Orlando (Jonjo O'Neill) carving his love poems ... on the trunks. No wonder O'Neill looks as though being in love is a hassle he could well do without.Reviewed by the Guardian
Duke Frederick's court is a tyranny where black-costumed Elizabethans move in regimented order against an imposing, white-panelled wall. ... [Set designer Tom] Piper's back wall slowly opens up like an advent calendar to give us glimpses of a flowering countryside ... [Director Michael] Boyd gives us the play's dark side, but, as shown by the way we discover Orlando's love letters strewn on the streets around the theatre, he captures the profligate ecstasy of passion, too.
Aug 11, 2009 Alison Hewitt
The students are attending popular, high-end performances of plays during their time abroad — and so are the critics. Immerseyourself a little deeper in the travel-study experience by reading reviews ofthe plays these Bruins bloggers have seen so far. This time, read up on the second performance they attended: As You Like It at The Globe Theatre
. Compare the reviews to the students' impressions
.Reviewed by The Telegraph
...almost continuously enchanting ... At this address one always feelsespecially close to Shakespeare and individual lines take on a suddenresonance. When Jaques delivers his great Seven Ages of Man speech,beginning "All the world's a stage", it seems to have been writtenexplicitly for the Globe.Reviewed by The Guardian
[Director]Thea Sharrock serves it up exactly as I like it: a production of suchsweet humour and wit that you find yourself surrendering to it just asRosalind allows herself to surrender to love. ... There is a growingphysical abandon in [Naomi] Frederick's performance [as Rosalind] asshe lets love in. Watching her makes you feel a little giddy.Read more reviews...
Aug 10, 2009 Kelsey Comes
Never in my life did I think that I would stand in thepouring London rain, stationary in two inches of water, for an hour and ahalf ... and love it.
Let me back up. Last night, we went to the Globe Theatre (Ilove British spelling!), which is set up in the same outdoor-amphitheater styleas it was originally built in Shakespeare's time. People who could afford towould sit in the covered bench seats in three levels around the outside edge ofthe amphitheater. Poorer people, or "groundlings," would stand in theopen, uncovered center of the theater, right in front of the stage. Thesestanding tickets were, and still are, considerably cheaper than the sittingseats — £5 (about $8) versus £33 (about $55) today.
Translation: after I walked to the Globe, getting wet alongthe way because I didn't bring my umbrella (it wasn't raining when I left, OK?),I stood in the groundling position and got even wetter. I bought a poncho beforethe performance started, but I was already wet by the time I put it on, andstanding in the puddle that was the groundling area made water wick up my pantsto my mid-thigh.
Read on: And it was totally worth it.
Ohhh yes. The Globe. In the rain. Now that's an experience to callhome about. And then talk about again and again thereafter. Becauseit's hilarious. And sad. But mostly hilarious.
I'll just skipover the minor details and say that upon arrival at that historic,open-roofed theater, the deluge coming from the London sky was a forceto be reckoned with. Umbrellas aren't allowed in this magical place —just your own water-resistant clothing and the garbage-bag ponchos (see Karen's photo) theysell to you for £2 (about $3.30).
As You Like It,on it's own, was a great performance — full of humor, wonderful acting,vibrant clothes. For the first hour or so, I didn't mind the poundingrain, or the ever-deepening puddle that surrounded every groundling'sfeet.Read on: I'm not lying. That puddle got DEEEEEP.
Being a groundling (standing section at the Globe Theatre) isn't asfun as it seems when it's pouring rain against your plastic poncho.Although I confess, the players were so great, I found myself laughinghysterically, caught up in the conversations of the play, completely(well, for the most part) forgetting that I was standing in a puddle ofrain. Luckily, for the second act we switched sections and thegroundlings became as I cleverly like to call it, "seaters." During themultiple marriage scene, everyone from the heroine Rosalind to court jester Touchstonebroke out in dance, which was more than amusing. I found myselfclapping along, thinking, "What's a little soaked shoes for a greatperformance in a such a historic theatre?"
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