I got a present in the mail this week from my husband: a DVD of the Romeo and Juliet production we had seen at the Globe when we went to London to see friends and sightsee a few years ago.
As we watched the beginning of the performance today in class, I remembered being there. We had purchased groundling tickets and stood right in the middle of everything.
I could feel how warm it was with all of us there together on that summer day. I remember laughing when it began to rain because it answered the question my students always had about what happened – easy: you get wet. And so do the actors. I also remember how heavy that camera bag felt and how sore my legs got as the “two hours traffic of our stage” edged closer and closer to three hours. That still wasn’t enough to keep me from being absorbed in the familiar words being acted out in front of me.
I also remember thinking how lucky I was to have a husband who was willing to go on all these mad excursions to satisfy my English teacher curiosity. Taking a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral. Stopping in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey. Staring wide-eyed at everything on display at the British Library’s Gallery – especially Jane Austen’s writing desk and Samuel Johnson’s dictionaries and some of the firsts folios of Shakespeare’s works. Being at the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London – and visiting later to see the Henry VIII exhibit and the crown jewels. Climbing the stairs to the top of a turret at a castle. Soaking up every minute of our time in Stratford-upon-Avon. Seeing the most magical stage production of The Winter’s Tale while we were there.
We did get in some more modern shows – Billy Elliot (WOW…if you get the chance to see this, GO.) and Wicked – and the requisite Jack the Ripper tour and a stop at the British Museum and National Gallery.
It was a whirlwind 10 days. And so much of it came rushing back to me when I saw the video.