Before classes started on Day 9, I grabbed a mocha from Paul and walked with Sue and Rhiann to Borough Market. Works cannot express how much I love Borough Market. I bought tea for my husband, discovered Spice Mountain and wanted to stay there all day, tasted Rhiann’s chocolate croissant… And then realized that we had to get ourselves to class.
We began with a debrief of our performances from the night before, and was followed with some practice at cutting scenes. In November, our students will be putting on a production of Taming of the Shrew in Mondavi’s Studio Theater. We have been told that each of our scenes (remember, we’ve divided Shew into twelve scenes) can take no more than 5 minutes. This means we will need to cut–a lot.
To practice, Margo gave us the wedding scene from Much Ado About Nothing, where Hero’s chastity is called into question. We first divided it into mini scenes, and then as small groups chose one of those scenes to cut. We then “performed” each of our cuts to the rest of the group. Margo’s consistent feedback was that we did a great job cutting, but that we probably could have cut a little more.
This idea of “cutting” Shakespeare was, well, freeing. Sometimes I think we look at Shakespeare and think, “Oh. He’s cannon. He cannot be touched.” But really, who says that you can’t pare things down and make it more accessible for your kids–especially if they’ve never read Shakespeare before? Kids need to feel success with something small, before they can build up to something larger. If that means cutting a scene and looking at just that small part in depth, then so be it!
After quickly eating my Waitrose salad, I ran back to Borough Market with the rest of the group. We picked up some French cheese, yogurt, and strawberries to have as snacks during the performance of The Tempest. I also tasted Helen’s toasted cheese sandwich. Apparently, it’s the “best toasted cheese sandwich in the world,” made by Kappacasein. (It was pretty amazing–and I’m not even a huge fan of melted cheese.)
Then we made our way to the Globe for a reward: The Tempest. This, hands down, was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. They really made use of the entire theater. A character descended from heaven. Another came up from under the stage (hell). Characters not only entered through the groundlings, but could be seen in the balconies listening in on conversations. When some characters stood in the upper galleries and threw out flower petals that rained down upon the audience, I was entranced! It even rained during the performance, and I know this sounds silly but I felt like that made it more of an authentic experience.
The actor who played Ariel was Colin Morgan, Merlin on the TV show “Merlin.” I was sitting behind a few rows of British schoolboys, and when he appeared on the stage one of them excitedly turned to his friends and whispered, “Is that Merlin?!” To make my day even more complete, a young woman–a groundling dressed in a bright pink shirt–would sigh and bat her eyes at Mr. Morgan every time he came on stage. For a while I forgot to pay attention to the performance and just watched her for awhile. She was rather amusing.
I had tentatively planned to stand in line after The Tempest to see if I could get return tickets for Macbeth (which would be performed that evening), but after such a long week I could feel the exhaustion hitting me. I didn’t even walk home as usual. I hopped on the bus. Thank goodness Rhiann was with me and kept me talking, because in spite of that I felt myself falling asleep.
If she hadn’t been there this would be a completely different blog post, where I discussed waking up somewhere in the middle of London on a double decker bus and having to find my way home. But alas (for you), I lived the more boring version: doing laundry, packing, eating Waitrose’s tomato and basil (with a touch of balsamic vinegar!) soup, enjoying a snack at the Betsy Trotwood, reading, and sleep.