On a fair (we were excited to be seeing live theatre) – and foul – (it was drizzling) day, our Year 10 and Year 12 Literature students were happy to be on a school outing to the Globe theatre. We boarded the coach and arrived at the theatre in good time – with enough to spare for a quick visit to Starbucks just opposite the venue.
Refreshed, we took our tour of the Globe theatre and were shown this unique space: a modern reconstruction of the theatre from Shakespeare’s times. With its open roof, standing-only area for ‘groundlings’ or ‘penny-stinkers’ and its in-the-round design and stage, symbolising the earth, heaven and hell – it was a treat to have this inspiration to imagining theatre as it was in Shakespeare’s day.
From here we made our way to our workshop venue where our students were led in several theatrical activities designed to give a greater understanding of Macbeth’s characters, themes and the staging of the play. Our workshop leader was Jessica, an actress who told us that she remembered being five when the Globe as it is today was re-opened. Our students produced a series of tableaux to tell the complete story of Macbeth in still pictures and also looked at the ‘persuasion’ scene between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in an exercise designed to focus on Shakespeare’s word choices. Even those who felt a bit shy made a great effort to engage and take part.
Having explored the play for ourselves, it was time for lunch, followed by the performance in the Globe itself. We were fortunate to have seats in the round and so not get drizzled on – though it did add to the dark atmosphere of the play. It was an interesting interpretation with some original choices: the witches were played by men in hazmat suits with bird-like masks, child actors featured heavily in the production to show the loss of innocence and a shirtless Macbeth, spiralling out of control, certainly captured the audience’s attention!
On our way home we were treated to some surprisingly harmonic singing on the coach, and it was a very worthwhile and pleasurable day.