A kingdom for a stage II

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Part 2 on where Shakespeare’s plays were acted. Part 1 is here

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This is the very painting of your fear

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Well it’s nearly Halloween, and that can only mean one thing. Staying indoors and eating all the sweets you bought “for trick-or-treaters”…

On the other hand, since I have just finished re-reading Wyrd Sisters, Macbeth is muchly on my mind. I think this has to be the most creepy – and the most supernaturally charged – of Shakespeare’s plays*.

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A kingdom for a stage I

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So this is the first post in a series – about Shakespeare in London, and the places where his places were originally performed.

Shakespeare must have come to London in the 1580s – by 1592, he was being insulted as an “Upstart Crow” which indicates some level of success (and fame).

There were already a number of purpose-built theatres scattered around the outskirts of London, The Red Lion in Whitechapel was the first, followed by the Theatre (1576) and the Curtain (1577) in Shoreditch, and the Rose at Bankside (1587), the first theatre-house in Southwark. They were built outside the city, as the Mayor and Corporation of London had banned plays as a measure to prevent the plague. It seems likely Shakespeare’s early plays were put on by a number of different companies – the title page of the 1594 edition of Titus Andronicus showed that it had been acted by three different companies.

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The teeming autumn big with rich increase

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October is normally one of my favourite months of the year – I’m a fan of cool evenings, falling leaves, and even rain (in moderation). This month hasn’t got off to great start – and not just because I’ve failed to get tickets for Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse. So I tried to cheer myself up with Shakespeare’s views on the month and apparently he doesn’t mention it once by name in the entire canon. Well that’s just an extra kick in the teeth. It’s all April and May – and maybe December if he’s in a bad mood – but nothing at all for poor October. The best I can do is a bit of Antony and Cleopatra – “For his bounty, There was no winter in’t; an autumn ’twas That grew the more by reaping.”

See, this is why I like autumn. Pretty things.

See, this is why I like autumn. Pretty things.

All the world’s a stage I

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I have tickets booked! The fifth Shakespeare play of year is going to be Henry V*.

I’m going to see an all-female production in Waterloo East. Alas, I haven’t managed to get tickets to see the all-women Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse beforehand – that would have been an awesome accidental double-bill.

The venue is apparently underneath a railway arch, which should make for an interesting atmosphere (and seating is unreserved, which gives me some qualms – I normally like to be able to pick the end of a row). I’ll report back in November on what the show is like!


*It’s actually the 11th time I’ve gone to the theatre this year. That’s more times than I’ve been to the cinema. I have accidentally become cultured.

 

I prithee sit by me awhile

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I was hoping to write a long piece about the Shakespeare book bench (I have really loved the whole book bench concept), with details of the buildings on it and why they had been chosen, but when I went to take more detailed pictures, I found the bench had already been removed – and alas I don’t think my piggy-bank will stretch to my successfully buying it at the upcoming auction…

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