Celebrating Shakespeare’s Globe

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

A few short weeks ago, a message that appeared on the website of Shakespeare’s Globe theater gave voice to our current reality brought about by the Covid19 pandemic: “As a charity that receives no regular government subsidy, we desperately need your support, more than ever before.” First opened in 1997, Shakespeare’s Globe is facing its biggest threat in its history.

NPR’s headline on May 19, 2020 read: “Shakespeare’s Globe May Not Survive Pandemic, U.K. Lawmakers Warn”.

We live in difficult and uncertain times, which is being felt across the world. We are in this together. Over the past weeks, I have been reminded that what keeps us moving forward is our creativity and determination to keep focused on the moment. In that spirit, I have been reciting passages of Shakespeare’s plays as a way to commemorate this vibrant institution. Join me as I read, Henry V Prologue

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! 5
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared 10
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt? 15
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls 20
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man, 25
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times, 30
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

26 Comments »

    • I am finding that recitation allows my mind to grasp the message, and to understand the nuances of words and cadence. I find that there are so many ways in which to enjoy literature – reading, listening to audio, or reciting. Each has its variations and benefits – the point is to try all three. Recitations has always been the most challenging for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A wonderful post and a magnificent reading! Steve and I had a tour of The Globe when it was still being built, which was amazing. We also saw several plays there when we were in London, which was an experience, shall we say! Not the most comfortable of ways to be at the theatre but a privilege to have been there nonetheless. 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Liz! What a wonderful experience it must have been. And to have been there at the beginning, to see it being constructed – an unforgettable memory. A few years ago, we listened to the audiobook “Shakespeare: The Biography” by Peter Ackroyd. (It took a couple of months to finish based on family schedules) The works of William Shakespeare took on new meaning. When a historical person is placed on a pedestal, he/she will becomes an idea rather that flesh and blood. When I heard that Shakespeare was a showman, an entrepreneur, and a good friend, he became real to me. That he faced challenges involving business, love, politics gave an understanding of how he chose the subject for his plays. The last time we were in London, the Globe was closed for an minor upgrade. So, it is still on my bucket list.

      Liked by 2 people

      • When I studied Shakespear in college, my professors took pains to present him and his work in its historical context. He wrote the plays to be performed and to appeal to the masses–not as high art. Having Shakepeare taken off the pedestal and discussed as a working writer made such a difference in my appreciation and understanding of him and his work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It was not the most comfortable of experiences because the audience either sits on wooden benches, or stands throughout – just like in Shakespeare’s time. But there is certainly an amazing atmosphere and of course an incredible sense of history.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Haha, you could say that! Although we actually went several times, to make sure we had given it a proper go. One of the main problems is that my husband is very tall, and the space is pretty cramped (C16th people were much smaller than we are today!). Anyway, I have good memories of some incredible performances (Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero a particular highlight). We just don’t need to go again!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Shakespeare always had something good to say, I love his reference to horses and the picture he makes. How sad it would be for Shakespeare Globe Theater to close, one of the sad happenings caused by this pandemic. Lack of finances caused by this trying time has been fatal to many worthwhile institutions as well as small businesses–and larger ones, as well. Thank you for this reading, I enjoyed it very much-so good to hear more from this great author.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Brava! Brava! Your reading successfully brought to life the very attitude to which Shakespeare himself was appealing. Of all playwrights and poets, his works are most enhanced and brought to life through performance. I loved this! Encore!

    Liked by 3 people

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