Most of this past week was spent in preparation for Friday night’s showcase of our scene work. We did have a few welcome and educational distractions. On Wednesday we had a class on Elizabethan and Jacobean music and its use in the plays of the time. The fabulous Keith McGowan gave demonstrations of many of the instruments used. Keith is a musician at the Globe and often plays in shows. Most of the instruments he showed us are ancestors of many of our modern instruments and some are all together extinct, save special places like the Globe. Even instruments had class ranking in Renaissance England! For example, if an aristocrat decided to take up the hobby of music, he or she would only have a few choices acceptable for his or her rank; such as the lute or harp. To play the bagpipes was very base indeed! Trumpets were restricted to approved personnel because they were primarily used in military operations and matters of state. However, trumpets were used at the theatres to announce the show was about to begin; much like in today’s theatres where the stage manager comes over the PA system and tells you to turn off your cell phone.
Thursday we spent some time with the playwright and actor Che Walker. Che has performed at the Globe but also penned the script for one of the Globe’s most successful productions called Frontline. The Globe incorporates new works into their season as well as the classics. After all, when Shakespeare was writing his works they were new plays. Frontline is an urban story about a dodgy section of the Borough of Camden in London. The area is home to a colorful and sometimes dangerous display of characters including immigrants, the city’s poor, sex workers, drug dealers, religious preachers, gangsters, street vendors and artists. The show was a monster hit last season and the Globe is reviving the production in the coming months. It was wonderful to have a look at the script and talk with Che about his experience.
Friday was show time! We did a few run throughs in the morning and afternoon and curtain was at 6:30. We actually had an audience despite the threat of snow. Of course there were nerves but it was an absolute delight to perform on that stage. What an honor and what a dream. Our RSAMD professors were pleased with our work as were our Globe instructors. But, we could not have done it without the brilliant Trevor Rawlins. Trevor was our director and I have to say one of the best with which I have ever worked. His understanding and care for an actor’s process is second to none. That coupled with his skill and knowledge of Shakespeare’s text made working with him extraordinary. I will miss him a great deal and pray I get the chance to work with him again. Simply amazing.
Saturday brought final one on one interviews with Trevor and a general wrap up. It was sad but we were all beaming with pride. Afterwards, a few of us managed to get over to the London Eye. The London Eye is a tourist attraction that looks kind of like a really large Ferris wheel. Instead of sitting down in a little car, the Eye has enclosed pods that hold up to 25 people. It goes around slowly and gives you some breathtaking views of London. Later Saturday night I went to another West End show called The 39 Steps. It is based on the Hitchcock film and the original book by John Buchan. The show was a fun little comedy; light and fluffy for the end of a very intense week. One actor played the lead and three others played a variety of characters; sometimes in the same scene! Well done to them for keeping it all straight! Good times!
Sunday I had time to go on a bus tour of London. It was nice to get in some of the tourist things for which we hadn’t had time during our commitment to the Bard. And in the evening on Sunday the group assembled at the local pub to toast to our glorious month in London and at the Globe.
We have a week off to recover and then it is back to work. Next up we start applying the skills we learned at the Globe. The faculty is still in debate but, we are either going to do a full production of a Shakespeare play or perhaps extended scene work resulting in another showcase production. Either way it is an opportunity to try out our newly acquired Shakespeare skills. I am looking forward to it!
What a blessing this has been! And to think there is more to come! Yea!!
Until next week…
View of Big Ben and Parliament from inside the Eye
Ben and Me