A STUDENTS VIEW FROM THE STALLS by Sandra Walster - SHAKESPEARE COURSE AUGUST 2017

On Monday afternoon old and new friends and their guide dogs gathered at Bankside in London.  The hotel provided comfortable study bedrooms with meals served in the canteen.  The hotel runs efficiently, but the best thing is the location just by the Millennium Bridge and very near the Globe Theatre itself.  I was paired with Howard and found him very good company.

After our dinner we started our course, taught by Dr. Yvonne Oram.  She was a thought provoking lecturer who spoke on Shakespeare's language and context.  Throughout the week she gave us informative talks on Tudor women and politics.  On Tuesday there was a visit to the Tate Modern, just next door to the hotel and I heard good reports from other students.  I had been to the Tate before so Howard and I took a Thames ferry in the sunshine and visited the Lambeth Palace Museum of Gardening.

On Wednesday we went on a tour of the Globe led by an enthusiastic young Spaniard.  As well as learning about Sam Wanamaker's vision we had a wonderful handling session from the costume department and also a close look at the very tactile wrought iron Groundling Gates.  In the afternoon we returned to the Globe to see Much Ado About Nothing.  Fortunately Sally, one of our guides had described the complicated production and handed out programmes so the guides could read the relevant paragraphs giving an explanation for the Mexican setting.  Our seats were near the stage so most of the speech was clear despite the low flying aircraft over the open air theatre.

The production has been controversial and this was certainly the case within our group.  It was ueful to be able to discuss what we all thought and Yvonne fielded the controversy very well.  I was also jolly pleased she went over one of my favourite Dogberry scenes which had been mangled at the Globe.

We also visited the London Dungeon which proved to be a tour where various actors tried to terrify us with their walking ghost train.  We endured the gunpowder plot, the plague, Sweeney Todd and finally Jack the Ripper.  I think it was aimed at teenagers but you have to try these things if only once.

The evening brought musicians from the Globe with a wonderful collection of Tudor instruments which they explained, passed round and then played.  It was a privilege to be at such an evening.  The course ended all too soon and I went home slightly exhausted but having learned lots.