Globe Education Academy: Day 10

Our last day at the Globe started with iambic pentameter.

Margo had us start by galloping around the rehearsal space.  Literally.  Gallop to the left!  Gallop to the right!  Gallop some more!  And now lay on the ground and feel your heart.  She had us tap out our heartbeat on the ground as we lay there.  She explained that there is a rhythm in our bodies, one that we have heard our entire life.  This is the rhythm that Shakespeare chooses to use in his writing.  She then had us stand and stamp out our heart beat in unison.  dum DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum DUM.

She then told us, “We stress the words we want the world to hear.  Let’s use that sentence.”  So we stamped our foot on the stressed syllables: “We stress the words we want the world to hear.”  Then, we looked at lines from Shakespeare, again stamping our foot on the stressed syllables. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” “But hark! What light through yonder window breaks?”  

Margo explained that it’s much more interesting to look at when lines deviate from iambic pentameter, and to look at why.  She passed out Macbeth’s famous “Is this a dagger which I see before me” soliloquy.  Each of us were given a line from the soliloquy.  Going around the circle one-by-one, we would each read our line, stamping together on the stressed syllables, and determine whether it was in iambic pentameter or not.  If it was too long, we would stand.  If it was perfect, we would kneel.  It if was too short, we would lay down.  In the end, it created a cardiograph of sorts.  This provided us a visual that we could use to look at the soliloquy and start to analyze why Macbeth would deviate from iambic pentameter.

To provide a second way to analyze what’s going on in Macbeth’s mind as he speaks, Margo had us read the soliloquy while walking, changing direction on the full stops.  She then had us repeat the process, but change direction at all punctuation.

The rest of the day involved logistics or saying goodbye.  We met for awhile to finalize plans for our students’ performance of Taming of the Shrew.  We finalized which teachers would be in charge of what pages of our script.  We discussed logistics like how long we get, how many students we can bring, costumes, etc.  We then completed final reflections.

P1080519We had had a brief amount of free time before celebrating our accomplishments with a reception at Theo’s and a final banquet at The Swan at the Globe.  Later one of these receptions, I would learn that David Tennant was married at the Globe and that his reception was at The Swan.  But before that knowledge was bestowed upon me, a group of us decided to take one last walk along the Thames, enjoying the damp London weather and the view of St. Paul’s.

Later that evening, we would take one final walk home from the Globe.  The Millennium and Blackfriar’s bridges were lit up.  The dome of St. Paul’s was likewise aglow.  It was a Friday night, so restaurants, pubs, and cafes were still bustling at that late hour as we made our way back to Farringdon Rd.  It was the perfect walk back on our very last evening in London.

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Re-reading Macbeth

When I first read Macbeth, it was in Mr. Morrish’s English class during either my junior or senior year of high school.  I remember vividly his “Evil Chart” that he created on the board.  He argued that Lady Macbeth was the most evil of characters in the play.  After this second reading–my homework for the Globe Education Academy–I think I might have to disagree with him.

The most evil characters in my opinion?  Definitely the trio of witches.  I first had this inkling while reading, but that inkling became conviction after viewing the 2010 version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart this afternoon.

Don’t get me wrong.  Lady Macbeth is just not a nice woman.  She’s ruthless, ambitious, and manipulative.  The first time we meet her, she’s already plotting the king’s death, wishing she were a man so that she could just do it herself.  (Honestly, I wonder what’s holding her back.  She seems more than capable in the desire/lack of scruples department.)  She’s utterly frightening as she manipulates her husband into killing King Duncan and setting up the guards.  The thing is, at the end of the play Lady Macbeth’s conscious troubles her enough that she takes her own life.  If she was truly evil, she would not have been as troubled by these pangs of conscious.

The way I see it, though, Macbeth may be the puppet of Lady Macbeth, but they are both the puppets of the witches.  Don’t let their sing-songish rhymes and apparently bearded faces fool you into thinking that they merely a cartoonish plot device.  These “weird sisters” are the source of evil, manipulation, and temptation in this story.  Their words change the course of every characters’ life, and bring many to an incredibly bloody–and in the case of Macbeth, headless–end.