Our third day in London was basically all Shakespeare all of the time. The last time I brought students to London in March 2103, we had a tour of Shakespeare's Globe, but we couldn't see anything because the season hadn't started yet. Since then, the company has opened the Wanamaker Theatre, which emulates the indoor experience at Blackfriars. All performances in the winter months now happen in a smaller, indoor theatre lit by candlelight.
We started the day with a tour and workshop, where we had a chance to actually get on stage, speak text, look at into the audience, and experience what it's like to be an actor on stage at The Globe. Then we moved into a workshop space, and our facilitator Mary took the group through a series of exercises that examined the plot and characters of Cymbeline, the play we saw later that afternoon. The exercises focused primarily on understanding what makes up a romance, the genre of the play Cymbeline. It focused on Shakespeare's technique as a storyteller with this particular genre rather than simply on the text of the play, and that choice made a significant difference in our experience of the play in performance. When we got to the outlandish circumstances of Act V, when all of the coincidences and twists of fate need to be explained and revealed to Cymbeline, I felt more apt to accept them, rather than scoff at them and think of the play as problematic. It was a great lesson for me as a teacher of Shakespeare.
I personally had an amazing time watching the performance of the play, and the space is intimate enough that I could see my students enjoying the play as well. It was a great experience, one that I won't forget, and I hope to return there in the future to see more productions by candlelight.