What a performance!

It’s been a difficult week in London with the riots in several areas of the capital but we are really hoping these disturbances have finished now. Londoners are carrying on as usual as much as possible – it’s the way we do things here!
I’ve been going to the theatre several times recently and there are some great performances to tell you about. Firstly there was the trip to Shakespeare’s Globe, the extraordinary building which is a faithful representation of the original Globe where Shakespeare’s plays were performed in the early 1600s. The American actor Sam Wannamaker launched an amazing campaign to build this theatre on the South Bank as he was astounded there was nothing to mark the site of the Globe. After overcoming major battles the work started although it was not completed in his lifetime. The result is wonderful from the outside and also as a place to perform – only the sound of passing planes disturbing the sensation of being back in history. You can sit in the wonderful galleries or stand as a ‘groundling’ for just £5.
We went to see Ann Boleyn, a riveting play which kept us royally entertained and made us forget the strain of standing for 3 hours! Incredible performances from all the lead characters and a fascinating telling of a familiar tale. By standing you are so close to the stage you really feel you are in the action. Before the performances start, you can take a tour of the Globe to learn more about its history and workings and I took one a few weeks ago which was fascinating, especially to hear about the awful conditions of the groundlings – open to the elements and no toilets!! I’ll say no more… You can also see the actors warming up for the performance, testing their voices and positions on the stage which is a real treat.
Photos are: the evocative exterior of the Globe; the wonderful galleried seating and standing areas; the actors warming up and a scary noose (!); and, the stage set for Ann Boleyn,
Performance is not just theatre! I was invited to a private evening of performance typewriting – how amazing is that! The talented Keira Rathbone was doing live typing of people’s eyes – you just sit in front of her and using an old manual typewriter she will skillfully and rather mysteriously manage to type your eye so you can recognise it. She also does more substantial work such as a triptych of Hammersmith Bridge or whole faces. Have a look at the photos showing Keira at her typewriter in front of a subject and an eye emerging on the typewriter from the flying fingers.
Some theatre is staged in the most unlikely settings and this was certainly true when we set off to see an outdoor performance of The Tempest in Coram’s Fields. This is no ordinary park and during the daytime you must abide by the sign which says ‘ Coram’s Fields is not a public park and adults may only enter if accompanied by a child’! Thomas Coram was shocked by the state of children in London and in 1739 set up the Foundling Hospital to care for their health and education. The site of the hospital is now a huge 7 acre space is the park which is also used for theatrical performances and a makeshift set of tents became the backdrop for Shakespeare’s The Tempest, although the cast also ran around the park and at times through the audiences by climbing over the seats. Photos show the stage before and during the performance which was full of fun. One more performance to tell you about, but without photos this time, is War Horse. This is the story of a horse and a boy who trains him and what happens to both of them in the First World War. It is amazingly told using moving models as horses – a small one for the pony and a huge one for the fully grown horse which is strong enough to carry riders. The life sized model has people within it so it can move around the stage and they make the horse noises too. It’s a sad and shocking tale of the horrors of war but well worth a visit for the brilliance of the horses which really get to you. Tears have been known all around the audience…
Bye for now,