Over four hundred years ago Shakespeare embarked on a journey from Stratford to London. He wanted to showcase his writing in a liberal, vibrant theatre on the south side of the River Thames: the Globe. He worked there for fifteen years, during which time he wrote some of his most famous plays including Hamlet, Othello and King Lear.
On Wednesday 4 July the English Department took 16 students to the Globe to watch a live performance of As You Like It and to learn more about our dear Uncle Bill. Students heard how the first Globe theatre burnt down when a spark from a cannon that was used during a performance of Henry VIII ignited the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving accounts of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale. Students also heard what it was like to be a ‘penny stinker’ (the name given to the poorest audience members who paid a penny to stand in the stalls) and the ingenious devices that were used to create dramatic spectacle on stage during Shakespeare’s time.
Students thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching a hilarious Shakespearean romp in a traditional open-air Tudor theatre. The performance was followed by a sunlit stroll down the South Bank and across the Millennium Bridge where students took in the view of Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard before a cosy encounter with rush-hour commuters during a journey on the tube. The trip was an inspirational once-in-a-lifetime experience that gave students a valuable insight into what it was like to write and produce a Renaissance play.
‘I loved the exhibition and, of course, the production itself. Also, having so many chances to explore the area around the Globe was exciting as I hadn’t been there before. What impressed me the most was how well organized the event was and how smoothly the travelling went.’ Maria McLeish
‘I enjoyed the amount of things we managed to include, i.e. the tour, exhibition, play, a nice meal out, and time to ourselves to explore and be independent. Thank you for the chance to go. I thoroughly enjoyed it!’ Hannah Branston
‘It was a well-structured day and we had plenty of time to look around some of the amazing places that were nearby. I loved the tour of the Globe as it gave deeper insights into Shakespeare’s world and helped us understand the play we are studying for our A level exam.’ Aaminah Ahmed