I came across a playbill from our July trip to London… and it got me thinking that we just might have another experience or two worthy of a post. (Yes we DID manage to do more than just hang out at BAFTA!)
Well in advance of our trip, a Canadian friend living in Essex kindly offered to arrange an evening of dinner and theatre together for our single Saturday night in London. Sounded just right!
Before the performance, to get into a theatrical frame of mind, we met near the Tate Gallery and then took a little stroll along the South Bank to glimpse Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
My friend shared trivia of how the theatre was originally on the other side of the river. At that time called simply ‘The Theatre’, it was built in 1576 and owned by the Burbages. However the land on which it was situated was held on a 21 year lease. Seeing its popularity and disapproving of theatrical productions, the landlord raised the rent to an exorbitant amount on renewal. To which the theatre company responded by dismantling the structure and rebuilding it on the other bank!
And thus the Globe Theatre was born! To be burnt, rebuilt, banned then demolished before being recently reconstructed.
Our theatre going feet continued our wanders to enjoy a delightful meal at the Green Room… then the National Theatre of London. Combining three theatres in one, this complex boasts an enviable list of theatrical products, talks & events plus the wonderful Clore learning centre.
Our evening theatrical treat was a restoration piece “The Beaux’ Stratagem” by George Farquhar. Set in Lichfield, Staffordshire, 1707 it was a largely light-hearted romp around class with fops falling on hard times, their aim to solve their plight by marrying for money and strategies to escape an unhappy marriage.
While a more bawdy comedy than the current fashion, given it is from over 300 years ago, it was surprisingly refreshing in its support for divorce, apparently taking its cue from John Milton’s tracts divorce from 1643-45.
Just a wee reminder of the role theatre can play – past or present – in opening a dialogue on society, choices around the human condition and more.