To write a play that endures time, is one thing.
To write a collection of plays that endures time, is a whole other thing.
To write a collection of plays and sonnets that withstands time and change and all manner of things, is unheard of.
Oh wait, it’s not. William Shakespeare has done it.
Let me reiterate: to write a collection of plays and sonnets that are still celebrated, re-told, adapted and cherished, 402 years after your death, is something to aspire to.
402 years people. Can you even begin to imagine the breadth of this genius?
Doth you protest such excellency?
Ok, so I am no Shakespeare, since he would have written that line soooo much better.
In case you are not aware, William Shakespeare is a literary genius that has transcended time and age and geography and language, with his collection of plays and sonnets, that tell stories of tragedy, drama, comedy, and of course love.
I was immediately enthralled by the news late last year, that a pop-up globe theatre showcasing a selection of Shakespeare’s plays, would be ‘popping up’ as it were, alongside the Sidney Myer music bowl in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens for a several-month run.
I had been hanging to go there since, but alas time and distance and life were not on my side. It was an effort, a struggle, and a lot of pushing on my part, but finally I got my God damn Shakespeare play day today.
I headed into the city alongside Hubbie and baby girl, and as they ventured off for lunch and park wanderings, I walked the winding path around the Botanic Gardens, until I saw an exciting sight sitting atop the hill just ahead of me.
The play I watched today was Much Ado About Nothing. I wanted to see this one particularly, because it was re-done in recent years by famed Buffy-Angel-Marvel Universe creator/director Joss Whedon, and despite recent revelations about his ill choices in other areas of his personal life, I still have to give incredible thanks to the guy that brought Angel into my world. Creatively speaking, it is one of the best shows EVER. And if he chose two Buffy/Angel characters to star in a modern-day adaptation of a Shakespeare play, then that play must be pretty damn good.
I haven’t actually watched Whedon’s re-take… but I have read the original play in all of its hysterical glory. And crazily enough, I had even forgotten I had read it, since it was so long ago… I just went into it today, knowing I really really wanted to watch Whedon’s take on it after seeing the theatre guys today. And as I stood there, listening to the characters quick wits, hilarious remarks, and the beginnings of a very twisty-turvy tale, a part of me said “this is familiar… does Shakespeare like presenting such strong-willed females?”
I soon realised, in a similar Shakespearean humour, that I was a fool (as he would say), and I had already read the tale. Duh, Benedict.
A tale of love prevailed over 2 and a half hours, with themes of jealousy, scandal, trickery, but most dominant comedy, keeping us all thoroughly entertained and gasping for air in wonder and laughter.
But let’s place this all in context shall we? The history of the globe is that the theatre was planned as a one-off project in Auckland, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death in 2016. Following from two massive seasons, with hundreds of thousands of people flocking to the shows, another pop-up globe was planned for our fair city of Melbourne, and is running up until February 3.
The globe itself is a reconstruction of the second Globe, the theatre that Shakespeare and the company he worked with built in 1614 following a fire that burnt the first Globe a year earlier. Although based on rough proportions of the original, it is slightly smaller than the 1614 Globe, which would have sat 3000 spectators compared to today’s reconstruction.
Annnnddddd back to today’s play. With the pop-up globe having done its run first in New Zealand, there were native themes dabbled in throughout Much Ado, such as ceremonial mourning and nuptial dances and songs, New Zealand actors, and an amazing Maori routine at the end of the performance that had me, and the rest of the audience, in absolute awe. Such passion and love and dedication was so apparent in the Globe today, however I am sure it was not only reserved for my eyes on this January Sunday.
I had tears of laughter during comedic moments, tears of sadness in truly mournful ones, and tears of pure elevation and extreme gratitude, at the end when watching the performers do their final act and perform for the people in the Globe. They bowed for the audience 3 times, and I could swear the room was going to explode from sheer love at the happy drama that had unfolded over the past couple of hours.
It was the best thing I had done in a long time, and I was soooo happy I had managed to get over there for the Melbourne season. The first Melbourne season hopefully, as I am keen to watch more of his plays in a replica of the original Globe as many times as I can, as it just added so much to the feel and vibe of the story.
I was a ‘Groundling’ today, a true commoner as would have been the case in 1614, and stood close to the stage seeing everything unfold in utmost clarity. Having said that, the space of the Globe is small, and all seats within provide wonderful vantage points.
A sole Groundling ticket is approximately $28 including online processing fees, with seated areas going up substantially, however I ended up paying double quite accidentally, since there was an error as I ordered the tickets online, and I ended up with two.
But to have paid $56, for what I saw today? Priceless.
I went home with a little souvenir… a Shakespeare Pop Up Globe tote bag. And you just know what my reading material will be as I walk about town with it…
Only the best.