Sir Francis Drake's Ship, The Golden Hinde
This is a reproduction of the original ship. Random note; a chair in the Bodleian Library was made from boards of the orignial Golden Hinde.
The day started early... a little too early for those of us that were still adjusting to the jet lag. Breakfast was served promptly at 6:45 so that we could all be on the bus to London at 7:10 in the morning. We had already been warned that the beautiful weather was coming to an abrupt end with the advent of a light rainstorm.
The British Library felt more like a museum than an actual library. We learned that only very recently had they opened their doors to more casual researchers/ the general public. The first thing that strikes you as odd, is that there are very few actual books visible in this library. Besides the "Treasure Room" where priceless, ancient texts are kept under glass and under low lighting, the only other obvious evidence that this structure is a library is a square glass pillar that reaches through all levels of the library filled with decorative, old leather volumes. This collection belonged to one of the English kings and given to the collection with a few stipulations. One was that the books be displayed to the public.
The library functions completely on a request system. When you go
to the library, you are able to look up what you wish to read, request it, and have it delivered to a special station when the book has been collected from the underground depository. The process really is extraordinary; if you tell them your seat number in the library, a little light signals the delivery of your book to the pickup station.
The "Treasure Room" really was the coolest part of the library. This is where they keep Shakespeare's first folio (I've finally seen the earliest copy with my own eyes), William Blake's journal, the earliest copy of Beowulf, and the remants of the Magna Carta. Several international texts are also present including some Japanese illustrations and maps and a very early version of the Koran. I was disapointed not to have a chance to learn more about the method of restoring these texts. Those who are well acquainted with me know that I enjoy crafty projects where I am able to work with my hands. Being able to restore old books has always been a interest of mine, even though I know I would not be qualified for such a career path. I found myself imagining what it
might be like to work for a similar organization or company, daily being able to restore fragile and beautiful volumes of knowledge that would otherwise be lost to humankind.
Upon being set free I went immediately (with Jeanne and Heather) to the original Shakespeare Globe theater. After a momentary confusion involving the London "tube" (i.e. subway), we were able to easily find the trail that lead along the River Thames. I learned in this trek that you can't walk around London without
running into a historical, significant monument of some kind. I was instantly facinated with the replica of Sir Francis Drake's "galleon," which basically looks like a pirate ship.
The production of Midsummer's Night Dream
was easily the best I'd ever seen, played in the reproduction of the historic theater. I knew the theatre was round and had traditional paintings of the "world" and famous plays on the wall; what I did not know is that the center is open air. The players are protected by a protruding roof and the seats are also under a cover, but the middle standing space (for the groundlings) is covered only by a huge, white balloon that bobs
The Globe Theater, stage
A reproduction of the original Globe theater, the painting is representative of the heavens. The world is the stage (mirroring the famous quote, "all the world is a stage"), and hell is represented by the trap door in the stage where demons and things would arise from. A minor note: the groundlings are below the stage as well... take that as you will.
up and down in the open space throughout the play. I later learned that this huge balloon was meant to symbolize the full moon and is not used normally during the Globe's productions.
A small symphony of musicians perch in a little window above the players and seemed of some great skill to my untrained ears. The most remarkable instrument was a horn that was played smoothly and richly in the background, but there was also a "choir" singer that belted out little "oohs" and "uhhhs" along with the music. Being a production of midsummer, a bell, a triangle, and another instrument i could not identify was used to give a "fairy" sound. The third instrument makes that distinct "nails against the chalkboard" sound often used in horror movies. Almost a metallic plucking sound?
It was, of course, a pleasure to the ears to hear Shakespeare spoken by real life Brits, giving it the sound I imagine Shakespeare intended it to have. The character, Bottom, was the real star of the show, stealing every comical moment in the spotlight, causing the audience to erupt in laughter quite a few times. I even noticed one of the actors fall
out of character during one of the "ham-it-up" moments that really stole the show.
Sometime during the begininng of the play, it began to quietly drizzle, rain falling in straight, neat little sheets over the groundlings. A surreal moment, especially when Helena has her speech about how Demetris "hail'd
down oaths that he was only mine; And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers
of oaths did melt" (Act I scene 1, line 24).
Tot: 2.686s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 6; qc: 48; dbt: 0.0435s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 16;
; mem: 1.4mb