All the world’s a stage

The audience at The Globe settle into their seats before a performance of Henry VIII. photo by Kamilla

My first memory of William Shakespeare is the Wishbone episode of The Tempest.

The first Shakespeare play I read was A Midsummer’s Night Dream in fifth grade and in sixth grade, I saw my first Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet preformed live.

Since seventh grade, whenever I go to Vancouver, I attend Bard on the Beach, a summer Shakespeare theater-festival.

I thought my relationship with the Bard was cemented my freshman year of high school when I dedicated 8 months of my life to performing Romeo and Juliet with the theatre department.  (For anyone wondering, I was Watchman 1.)

But I was wrong.

On June 21, 2010, I took my relationship with Shakespeare’s plays to the next level;  I saw Henry VIII in The Globe

But I have a confession to make.

Until this trip, I didn’t know Shakespeare had written a play about Henry VIII. After all, Shakespeare was under the patronage of Elizabeth I, Henry’s daughter and James I, Henry’s grandnephew.  I couldn’t believe Shakespeare would be so foolish to write a play about such recent history.

I understood at the end of the play how Shakespeare got away with it.

The last ten minutes of the play were spent exonerating the newly born Princess Elizabeth and prophesying the greatness of her reign.

Shakespeare was either and excellent publicist or just really wanted to get on the queen’s good side. (I don’t blame him).

And while Henry VIII isn’t my favorite Shakespeare play –the historical plays are more about events than true story arc– I loved how the play was staged and the music written for Shakespeare’s lyrics.  I loved the fact that the characters were referencing places I had walked past that day. I also loved that I had a seat.

For £5, you can watch a Globe performance. The catch: you have to stand.  Fortunately, the IU journalism school paid the extra amount so we could sit on the wooden benches.  Unfortunately, not all seats at the Globe are equal.

The Globe, as it’s name suggests, is a round theatre. The half-circle stage juts into the audience so ¾ of the stage is surrounded by the audience.  If you sit at the top of the circle, this is your view of the stage:

If you sit on the circle’s side, this is your view:

In the beginning of the play, I was a little put out that I couldn’t see the performance very well.  But by the second act, I didn’t mind much at all.

After all, this was The Globe and this was a Shakespeare play and I am in London.

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