Thursday, August 09, 2007

shocked and appalled

We talked in class this morning about Love's Labour's Lost, which is one of Shakespeare's least performed comedies. The reason why it's rarely performed is that it contains about 240 Elizabethan quips and puns, and about 90% of those are dirty. This is difficult to pull off on stage because either your audience doesn't understand what you are talking about, or they do understand, and they are not amused. But there's no denying that Will was dirty when he wanted to be, and records show that the dirty plays really paid off at the box office.

So it was fun for us to travel to the South Bank today for a little Shakespeare walk. Today if you go to the South Bank you see a lot of chrome and glass flats and the occasional Starbucks. Rewind 400 years? It's a hell-hole. Brothels, open sewers, and the infamous Clink prison. And in the middle of all that stood Shakespeare's Globe theatre, as well as The Rose. If you go to the Globe theatre today you see that it's a brand new building. Sam Wanamaker had it rebuilt in the late 90's - the original burnt down in 1613 when, during a performance of Henry VIII, a bit of fire from a cannon, shot onstage as part of the play, lit the thatched roof, and the whole thing came down. The original site of the Globe is now buried under a cobblestone yard and an apartment building. Even though they've given it a plaque, it's hard to imagine it once stood there, packed with 700 playgoers each performance.

The Rose, however, is a bit more interesting. When a health care center was being built just opposite the Globe site, the excavators found some ruins. Circular, rock mounds which eventually proved to be in the shape of a giant circle, with a square for the stage. This is The Rose theatre from Shakespeare in Love. You can see the ruins now, and it's very interesting. It makes me wonder how much history is right under our feet, waiting to be dug up. I love these old theatres, and I like to think about how disgusting they probably were. I'm glad I never went, though Bear-baiting has a special place in my heart.

We also learned today about the origins of the names of some of London's streets. I'm not going to go into them, because I have manners and this blog is PG-13. But they may or may not involve a word that is synonymous with rooster, and that's all for now.

Speaking of dirty jokes, farting, and filth, (we were, weren't we?) we saw Spamalot tonight at the Palace Theatre. One thing's for sure, the theatres here keep getting grander and grander. Tonight's theatre was opulent - everything gilded and crystal. Really amazing. And then this ridiculous musical onstage with dancing frogs, flying cows, and the Knights who say "Ni!" Spamalot, in case you don't know, is the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I think we all had a fun time at this one, and I especially liked when the little emaciated prince did a dance wearing a Carmen Miranda hat. Also loved the Finland opener, which had special resonance with me. At tonight's performance we were joined by the one and only Kate Kinsell, who is currently a London resident. It was fun to see her.

We walked home through Trafalgar Square, and found a dirty sculpture on Lord Nelson's tower. So all in all it was a day fit for 12 year olds. Dodgy stories, poop, nudge, nudge, and wink, wink.

Well, I gotta go - make sure I catch that tube to Cockfosters!