I am exhausted. I’m hoping that this will be the night that I finally really sleep, so I am going to make this short and sweet:
Today did not start at the Globe. Rather, we were given the task to travel around London searching for images of William Shakespeare. We would find him commemorated in stone, stained glass, alabaster, oil, and print. His image would be found in churches, pubs, libraries, galleries and squares. He would be remembered all throughout London. In the end, we were to determine the following:
- Who is the “Shakespeare” that each artist is seeking to remember?
- How does the medium shape or influence each artist’s message?
- How apt and appropriate are the locations in each representation?
- Which image in your view comes closest to the actor/poet/playwright/theatre owner/landlord that was William Shakespeare? Why?
Bradley, Connie and I formed a group and traveled to our list of locations:
- The copy of the Roubiliac Statue of Shakespeare in The British Library
- The First Folio Engraving (British Library)
- The Bust at the Shakespeare Head Pub
- The Shakespeare Statue in Leicester Square
- The Chandos Portrait at the National Portrait Gallery
- The Shakespeare Monument at St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe
- The Shakespeare Gallery at Sir John Soane’s Museum
- The Plaque at Park Street, Southwark
- The Shakespeare Monument and Window at Southwark Cathedral
It was fascinating! (And I apologize for my lack of photos. I have no way to get them off of my memory card and onto my iPad. I’ll be posting photos once I’m back in the States.) My group later argued that the bust at the Shakespeare Head Pub comes closest to the real Shakespeare, because his writing and his plays were for everyman, and what better location to represent everyman than a place where anyone can gather: a pub. The churches represented the religious. The galleries, museums, and libraries were highbrow. A pub, though? That’s where we can all gather together regardless of class or education or religious affiliation. We also loved that the bust is located outside above the crowd, looking down and observing. And isn’t that what Shakespeare did? He observed and wrote about those observations of people.
Besides images of Shakespeare, I saw the Magna Carta. I learned about John Soane. I saw the music for Handel’s Messiah. I saw the portrait of Princess Diana. I sat quietly and took in the magnificent architecture of the Southwark Cathedral. I ate fish and chips. I saw Jane Austen’s writing desk.
And I also got quite good at navigating the Underground.