After studying Romeo and Juliet in class and researching a brief history of the Globe Theatre, the year nine pupils embarked on an English outing to London. An early meet time (7:00) meant that we had plenty of time to travel to London. After the uneventful journey, we walked a short way along the Thames to reach the third recreation of the Globe Theatre. Then, we assembled into our groups and met our tour guides who showed us around the theatre and explained its history. Originally the Globe had a strict system of where you were seated based on how much you paid. The poor, referred to as groundlings, were packed tightly into the pit which was open to the elements because there was a giant hole in the roof which let natural light through. however, with an extra fee, slightly richer could sit in the lower galleries which normally cost two pence (and they had a roof!) For even more, people could sit in the upper galleries and the most exclusive seating area was behind the stage. Although it didn’t have the best view, it was a chance to be seen by everybody and to show off affluence. We then had the chance to participate in a dramatic workshop.
The workshop was led by an actor who regularly has parts in productions at the Globe and therefore she knew just how different performing at the globe was to a conventional theatre. The seating was three hundred and sixty degrees and large pillars holding the stage roof up meant that the actor would always have their back to someone and there would always be an obstructed view or ‘blind spot’. Our warmup was to pace around the room, completely filling the space whilst obeying simple instructions such as: stop, start, clap, and jump. We were then told that an actor must stay alert but energetic at the same time so she told us that we must reverse the action that was called. For example, if clap was said, we should jump then start became stop and vice-versa. Following the warmup, we were grouped into twos and this time, we were tasked with keeping as close to our partners as possible whilst they were trying to get away. We later understood that this was to replicate the scene in which Romeo must get away from Verona as he was banished from the Italian town. But Juliet wants Romeo to stay because of her undying love for him. As if by magic, we were each given a short extract from this scene and talked through various techniques in which we could use to add emphasis to certain words and to keep the audience captivated. We did this to mirror the amount of energy that actors at the Globe must use in all their performances. By changing volume and the emotion in our voices we learned to strengthen any word we choose and simply by stepping forward or back could determine the longing Juliet has for Romeo. We combined all we had learned in the session to create a final performance which concluded the drama workshop.
The performance of Romeo and Juliet that we saw on Friday was a production by the RSC, who are all very good at their jobs. The actors did well to get the different objectives of their roles across and showed the story through fluid transitions between scenes and well-spoken lines. At the beginning of the play the actor’s energy levels were high and remained high throughout the performance, this helped us, the audience, to stay engaged in what was happening in the play, at all times. The Globe has seating all around the stage, but the actors managed to talk to everyone by use of energetic movement and expression through gestures. They also often made eye-contact with members of the audience to show where Shakespeare had made some soliloquies. I thought that it was an excellent and surprising start, as the trapdoor and loud bang managed to get everyone’s attention but at points, they could have done a bit better to get the audience’s focus (especially when two people fainted!) I also thought that the costumes and minimalist set were interesting but effective.
Overall, we believed the trip to be fun and educational with many highlights and worth missing school for!
Sam Barwise and Harvey Morse, year 9