Oh Shakespeare! How do I Love Thee…

I always dreamt of becoming an actress. I think that is what led me into teaching.
Everyday, I get to step out onto a different kind of stage and my audience is always young and lively. I act out scenarios in several different genres and I get to create my own script. Teaching and acting are explicitly linked. Every school day is another live performance. I hoped that witnessing a Shakespearean play at The Globe Theatre would provide entertainment and education, and I was not disillusioned.

We arrived at the Globe Theatre at 6:15pm. The playlist for that evening was Timon of Athens, and it began at 7:00pm. Although it was not one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, the dark humour was right up my alley. In the play, Timon wastes all his money on false friends who forsake him when he goes into debt. He flees Athens to live as a hermit in the woods. When he stumbles upon gold in the wilderness, he gives it away in the hope that it will make his enemies miserable like him. The connection to modern day society would make the audience think that the play was recently written. I would have preferred to see Romeo & Juliet or King Lear, but just being inside the Globe Theatre was a big enough treat for me.

We were presented with a variety of seating options when we entered the Globe. Tickets ranged from £15 pounds to £33 per seat. There was also an option to stand in the courtyard for £5. Being the cheap person that I am, the £5 option fit me like an old glove.

The play opened with dark, mysterious vultures crawling on the net above our heads. As they hissed and clicked their tongues, I felt drawn into the surroundings and engrossed in the play. The characters were perched in rope netting and they occasionally tumbled to inches just above our heads. Their greed knew no limits and not even gravity could stop them.

Our standing position allowed us to be engulfed in the action of the play. We were first-hand spectators when one of the characters messily and bloodily had his throat cut, and we were splattered with water and chocolate coins as the actors gave the performance of a lifetime.

There were glimpses of humour embedded in the vicious and savage attack on the accumulation of wealth. The connection between wealth and corruption is made shockingly humourous when Timon’s gold is mixed with his own realistic excrement. When a main character struts proudly across the stage in his Birthday suit, the audience was consumed with fits of laughter and surprise.

I thought three hours of standing would make me feel weak and strained, but the endurance paid off. When the actors swung above my head or stood at the edge of the stage, I didn’t feel like part of the audience; I felt like I was an extra in the play. I was finally given the opportunity to be an actress.

The £5 option makes the Globe Theatre accessible to travellers on a budget. The price coupled with the audience involvement makes the courtyard the ideal choice. I did not envy the people that were seated. I honestly think they envied us.

I wished I had another night to spend in London after leaving the play. I wanted to experience every play that was offered at the Globe Theatre. My faith in teaching English was renewed though the vibrant acting at the playhouse. I would have gladly stood another three hours if another play was offered that evening. As we walked back to the train station that evening, I found a place in my heart for Shakespeare’s London.

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80 thoughts on “Oh Shakespeare! How do I Love Thee…

    • It was one of my most desired locations during my Europe trip, and it was well worth the visit. I hope that you make it there someday.

      What grades do you teach? How long have you been teaching? It is the most rewarding, and challenging, career. Since I was a child, I could never imagine doing anything else.

      Thank you for your comment; please keep them coming.

      Lesley

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  1. I’ve been there once and it was worth it. I wanted to See Timon of Athens a few years ago but didn’t get round to it – ended up seeing Romeo & Juliet (which I hate) but the theatre and atmosphere are worth experiencing though not when planes are flying over or when it’s cold.

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    • Funny, at the I would have preferred Romeo & Juliet, but after seeing Timon of Athens, I would most likely change my tune.

      Are you from England? I was visiting during the summer months and the weather was fairly warm. We did get rained on briefly, but it actually felt nice after standing for two and a half hours.

      Thank you for reading and commenting; it is appreciated.

      Lesley

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  2. Hello,
    It is serendipity that I found this post as a friend and I have been discussing a trip to London. I have never been, but my friend’s daughter visited there this past summer and highly recommends it. Your students are fortunate to have such an engaging teacher! Thanks for sharing.
    Renee

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  3. Lesley, I hope you have a chance with your baby back pack to visit Shakespeare’s Stratord (upon Avon) one day. I moved here a year ago to work with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and I feel incredibly lucky to be at the centre of Shakespeare’s world, with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the doorstep. As you are a teacher who seems to love Shakespeare, I thought you might be interested in our new project to speak up for Shakespeare before the new film Anonymous hits the screens and convinces everybody that Shakespeare was really the Earl of Oxford. http://60-minutes.bloggingshakespeare.com/. The project will include a new free online course called Getting to Know Shakepeare, coming next month.

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    • The course sounds interesting and I will check it out for sure.

      You are blessed with a wonderful career. I grew up imaging myself surrounded by Shakespeare, but you actually are.

      Thank you for reading and posting; it is appreciated.

      Lesley

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  4. Great! We thought about a play at the Globe the last time we were in London but they were only offering some heavy KIng plays and our 6-year-old voted thumbs down. He had LOVED Taming of the Shrew at the Shakespeare festival in Ashland, Oregon. The theater is a recreation of the globe, complete with the open to the sky concept….wonderful!

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    • I can see why your 6 year old would be hesitant; it’s too bad something more appropriate wouldn’t have been playing because it is an amazing experience. Midsummer Night’s Dream is usually a children’s favorite because of the fairies and comedy. I love that at six, he is already exposed to, and enjoys, Shakespeare!

      We have a recreation of the globe here in southern California too but I haven’t made it there yet. I’ve lived in California for almost a year now but there is so much to do and see that it’s impossible to fit everything in.

      Thank you for reading and commenting; it truly is appreciated,

      Lesley

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  5. When I lived in London I was lucky enough to go to the Globe to see several plays. I also went to a Corporate “do” (dull) but then we were given a tour and I got to spend quite a while chatting with the, then, artistic director. Shame on me, I can´t remember his name but it was magical. An unforgettable experience. I think attending a performance at The Globe would convert even people who think they don´t understand Shakespeare.

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    • That sounds like a wonderful experience. Although you forgot his name, I’m sure you cherished the experience. (I’m quite forgetful with names myself).

      There is nothing like witnessing an actual Shakespearean play at the real Globe. I hope to return someday.

      Thanks for your comment; it is appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

    • I, too, was shocked at the price considering the cost of everything else in London; I think that the low cost was something always offered at the Globe.

      I hope you make it back someday to experience a play and the Globe itself.

      Thanks for reading,

      Lesley

      Like

  6. Back in the late 80s, while in college, I visited the site of where the Globe was to be built–there was a festival-like atmosphere, and I still have some of the souvenirs I purchased that day. I have longed to return, to attend a play. My theatre professor would be proud.
    Thanks for sharing your photographs and memories,
    E.

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting Elizabeth. England has so much history and culture to offer, but it is the Globe Theatre that will make me return.

      I hope you make it back for a play someday.

      Lesley

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  7. i saw “the tempest” there many years ago… it was so cool to think about how old the theatre was and how many generations of people had sat in those seats and stood in the audience! if you haven’t gotten to go, you have to go to the town where shakespeare lived and tour the town and his house! it’s a very cool piece of history!

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  8. Wonderful post, fantastic pictures- you really made the Globe come alive for me, which was great. And of course you will be able to keep having travel adventures and new experiences with a baby! Can’t wait to hear how you do it.

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  9. I’ve been living in London for nine months and only got around to going to the Globe a few weeks ago. We saw Doctor Faustus (which it isn’t Shakespeare but has a very similar vibe, I picked it because Arthur Darvill was one of the leads 🙂 and it was brilliant! I was so impressed with the sets, costumes and music, and Timon of Athens sounds even more impressive. I’ll definitely have to go back next summer to see something else.

    By the way, we went for standing room tickets as well but I actually felt really ill and faint just before the interval – I looked so off the attendants took me outside for fresh air. It was really weird because I’ve never fainted or felt close to fainting before, I think it was probably due to the fact that I hadn’t drunk much water that day and was probably quite dehydrated. So I’d offer that as a tip to anyone else planning on standing up for 3 hours (especially if it’s a warmish night) – make sure you’re well hydrated!

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    • If I lived in London, I would be at the Globe every other weekend.

      Another lady next to me actually fainted during the play. Standing for that long can be taxing. It’s hard to balance drinking and staying hydrated with not running to the bathroom every five minutes, especially during a long play.

      I hope you make it back again soon. It was one of the most memorable moments during my trip to Europe.

      Thanks for reading,

      Lesley

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    • Thank you for the beautiful comment!

      The Globe was definitely on my “To Do” list while in Europe and I hope that you make it there soon. It is a worthwhile venture.

      Good luck with your blog and thanks for taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

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  10. I remember going to the Globe when I was very young – young enough that I don’t really remember anything. There wasn’t a play on, we just went for a visit. I live on the outskirts of London, so it’s quite easy for me to go there, though I never have. I’m not a massive Shakespeare fan but I have just started reading Hamlet, and I hope to see it at some point.
    I noticed you ‘liked’ a post on my blog, and clicked on it to come over here. Thanks, by the way! How did you get there? I’m intrigued 🙂

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  11. Love Shakespeare! I had the chance to see a play in Stratford-upon-Avon years ago when I visited England. I regret that I didn’t get a chance to visit the Globe. But I will one day and thanks to your post, I’ll make sure to get a courtyard “seat”.

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  12. I had the same experience when I visited the Globe last summer–I bought the cheap standing tickets and realized that it was the best way to truly experience the play. I even stood close enough to be in the shade while those seated in the stands sat directly under the hot sun! I saw Henry VIII and it was magnificent. Thanks for checking out DailyOmnivore!

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  13. On my visit to the globe a number of years ago, I splashed the cash and took the ‘midrange’ price option. I did indeed spend the entire three hours desperately envious of those on the floor below me.

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  14. It’s funny, isn’t it – I’ve lived in England my entire life, and remember reading about them re-building the Globe threatre, but have never visited it.

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  15. Hello Lesley, Thanks for sharing, it must have been great. I’ve been in England several times and I like the country. I’m afraid I’ve never seen a Shakespeare play, though. Visit my WordPress blogs, I’ve got four of them.

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  16. Wow! Seeing Shakespeare in the Globe must have been amazing. I don’t get to London much and the last time I saw Shakespeare was A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park when I was still at school. I think the Globe was closed then so Regent’s Park was the next best thing, I guess. I have also seen The Taming of the Shrew at the Barbican in London by the RSC.

    Having read Becky’s post (she’s my step-daughter) maybe I’ll have to meet up with her for a trip to the Globe.

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  17. Thanks for liking my blog post on The Hour For Tea! I traveled to England in 2000 for a summer study abroad program just before I graduated from university. I didn’t get to see a play in the Globe, but I did visit Stratford and saw Romeo & Juliet by the Royal Shakespeare Company while there. We had seats in the back row of the top balcony, so we couldn’t see facial expressions or anything, but it was still a great and memorable experience. I have a friend who also stood in the “pit” for a play at the Globe several years ago, but she had a less comfortable time of it, as I remember! Still enjoyed the play, but I think the sun shone on her the whole time … One day I’d like to get back to England and get inside the Globe for a play. It sounds like fun!

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  18. I’m always heartened when Americans take ‘our Will’ to their bosom. I still remember my first Shakespeare play – “That Scottish play” as thespians are wont to superstitiously describe it! – at The Crucible in Sheffield, with Adrienne Corri magnificent as Lady Macbeth. There was a wonderful moment when Banquo’s ghost simultaneously stepped into view at all the exits in the gallery – chilling! I’ve never visited The Globe, living now in Spain, but hope to one day.

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  19. I love England and Shakespeare! I haven’t been to the Globe Theatre, but I visited Shakespeare’s birth home along with Anne Hathaway’s cottage. It was brilliant.

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  20. Thanks for the ‘like’ on one of my World Travel posts. Much appreciated.
    I see we’re both teachers, too. Though I’m past my full time working days, teaching was, for a long time, a rewarding, taxing experience and often as much about acting as it was about imparting knowledge.
    Our world travels have been quite different to yours – particularly the pot-holing. No Chance!

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  21. I’m glad you enjoyed the Globe! I don’t think many people realise that the standing tickets are the best, its how it’s meant to be done!

    I love your blog, you’re very inspiring! xxx

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  22. This sounds like a really amazing experience. London is definitely one of the places I want to go after I graduate since I’m a lit buff, and the Globe Theatre is one of the top things on the list. I’m glad you enjoyed your experience enough to share it; now, I want to go even more! ^_^

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  23. Visiting England and experiencing one of Shakespeare’s plays in the Globe is very high up on mine and Tina’s ‘bucket list’. After reading of your wonderful adventure and seeing the beautiful photographs, I am even more determined! Timon of Athens sounds delightful!

    Thank you so much for sharing! ^-^

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  24. Lesley, I’ve lived in England all of my life like some of the others commenting here and I’ve never been to the Globe. Your post really makes the experience of seeing a play in this theatre come alive – I can see that this is something that I’m going to have to check out for myself.

    Unexpected, marginally relevant fringe benefit – I can relive one of my favourite “Doctor Who” episodes, “The Shakespeare Code”, as I do so!

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  25. Just randomly chose this post to start reading (since I live in England) and I went to see Timon of Athens, too!! It was when my fiance’ and I started dating, and to celebrate my 30th birthday he took me to a few places in London I hadn’t been and the Globe was one of them.

    We were some of the chumps in the seats, definitely not as fun as being on the floor, which I did finally last summer for All’s Well That Ends Well and although my legs and feet were SO SORE from standing (because the ushers kept grumbling at everyone to keep standing, stop leaning against things, etc., which I *didn’t* like), it was a much better view 🙂 I busted out laughing too when the one actor streaked across the stage – wasn’t expecting that!

    Did you make it to Stratford-upon-Avon? The main stage was shut the one and only time I’ve been, but we still were able to see the Royal Shakespeare Company do (I think) Much Ado About Nothing. Definitely worth a visit! Gorgeous town.

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  26. As a person who lived in England up until a year ago (I now live in South Wales) I feel a bit ashamed for never visiting The Globe. I will make sure I do next time I’m visiting! £5 is a bargain!

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  27. I will never forget watching Mark Rylance, the Globe’s maverick founding Artistic DIrector, playing Prospero in his swan-song. The whole play was little more than a three hander, and Rylance performed all of Act one, scene one alone on the stage. It was crazy, electrifying stuff.
    Watch out for an all male group called Propeller (http://propeller.org.uk/). They tour internationally, so there’s a chance that you might catch them. Their blend of anarchy and utter respect for the text is a joy to behold.

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  28. I can’t believe I missed out on the opportunity to see a play at the Globe while I was living in London. But I have put it on the list for the next time I go there. And it cost only 5 pounds? Unbelievable! Glad to hear that there are more teachers who do their job as if playing a role or more. They are always the best and most fun ones!

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  29. I love this article!

    My husband and I are going to England next week! Our first stop will be to Stratford – upon – Avon where we will see Richard III.

    I’m a teacher too. I teach Speech Communication and Theater!

    Love, love, love this article and your energy.

    Like

  30. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Having just moved to London, my first stop on your blog was the UK page where I found your entry on The Globe. We walked by it yesterday on our guided walk! Didn’t think much about it but after your review, I’ve added it to the “Must Do in London” list.

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  31. Hi Lesley! I love your blog! Teaching and travel are important to me too, although I am only just starting out in both these things really. As I’m from England my first stop was this page to see what you had experienced here. I’m so pleased you enjoyed your visit to the Globe. I love Shakespeare and it’s my goal to see a performance there, ideally King Lear (after watching the film with Ian McKellen I was inspired to see it performed for real, but haven’t managed to yet!) I, too, recommend a trip to Stratford upon Avon where you can visit Shakespeare’s House and also see performances in the Swan Theatre. Also good on you for taking the £5 tickets and standing for three hours, it sounds like it was worth it! I’m hoping to visit the Globe and you’ve inspired me to take this option too!!
    You sound like a wonderful person and I’m so happy I discovered your blog. It seems like it will give me a lot of ideas and inspiration.
    Jo x

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  32. Hi Lesley
    Thanks for looking in on my blog – I spotted this on yours. Can I tell you a short story about the Globe? As you are interested in the theatre, you will have read that it was a project started by an American actor called Sam Wanamaker who lived in England, and was (i think it’s fair to say) fixated with recreating Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank of the Thames. Money was always a problem for him and he kept running out (well, the project did). My most magical evening there was many years ago when an English actor called Mark Rylance took a touring company round England performing The Tempest where Ley Lines intersected – and he was told or he decided that one of these intersections was the site of the Globe. The theatre project had stalled again but there was a concrete slab ready for the rest of the theatre to go on top of it. And there we sat (pretty stiff and sore afterwards) in the dusk and the gathering darkness on what passes for an English summer evening while Mr. Rylance and company unfolded the play round about us.

    Best wishes

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  33. When you visit the fine county of Yorkshire pop on over to Manchester too, London is fine but the rest of the country has lots to offer the intrepid traveller. We even have theatres and proper hotels.
    I see a lot of American tourists in the hotel where I work and they all say the same thing – they wish they had booked a longer stay in the North because they didn’t know it had so much to offer.
    H’mm I’m not a travel agent so thats enough of that.

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  34. So glad you liked London, especially the Globe! You should definitely come back again, but this time look out for smaller theatres, like the Fortune Theatre – Shakespeare is second to none, but if you loved the acting, I’m sure you’d love the higgledy-piggledy style of the smaller, back-end theatres too! Great blog, really exciting stuff!!

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  35. Hi – thanks for liking my post, as I’m in the UK I started my tour of your blog here! When I went to the Globe, I sat right near the top – I hired a cushion and everything! I was absorbed by the mix of the (recreated) Elizabethan style, and the modern buildings nearby that you could see from your seat. There’s something really magical about the architecture of it all.
    EJ 🙂

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