Monday, April 10, 2017

History meets art at Shakespeare's Globe - #AtoZChallenge

The word Shakespeare reminds us of so many things, the legendary plays, dialogues, characters he has made immortal but most importantly the legacy he has left behind in the form of timeless plays which are still as rich and meaningful as they were about 400 years ago. Although I am not a Shakespeare scholar, his work has always intrigued me and so when I came to know about Shakespeare Globe - a reconstructed building resembling the original one, a few yards away from its original location, I grabbed the opportunity.

In the first few minutes of our visit, we realised that the place was not only about the man himself but a time travel to the London of 16th century, the political scenario, culture and social paradigms about many things including theatre, dressing style, washing clothes and bathing too often, that's right! The place and guide, both were full of anecdotes helping us peep through the time windows and understand how people walked, talked, behaved and thought in those days. He literally took us back in time, making it easier to imagine what London looked like and why people did something e.g. replacing water with beer during plague outbreak thinking that there was some problem with the water and that how Queen Elizabeth I was criticised for bathing too often, i.e. once a month. Some of those anecdotes were a reminder to us as to how fortunate we are, with the convenience and comforts of water supplies to our homes and all the modern day amenities available without much of trouble. People back then had to fetch water from wells or rivers, carry it back home, heat it over a wood fire to take bath. The only form of a bath was to immerse oneself in a large bowl of water and probably hence the avoidance of doing it too often.


There also was a demonstration of the clothes worn during those days including the restrictions of colours and type of fabric as per the social ranks. The women's clothing, in particular, looked so complex that I instantly thanked god that we don't have to dress up like that anymore. I found it hilarious that women wore a ‘bum roll’ tied round their waist under the skirts, to make them look large. I bet large bums have been fashionable since then ;) . For me, the mystery of those perfect look of the gowns' cone shape was solved when I saw the Farthingales. I couldn't help but wonder how much time and external help every woman must require for wearing all those elements every day and how could they carry all that throughout entire days, I would probably feel suffocated within few minutes. But again, it all was part of women in wealthy families and they didn't have to do any household chores wearing all that, all they had to do was dress up and look pretty!

The theatre premise itself was very different from the standard ones we are used to seeing. Again there was a clear distinction between classes here too, as the poor people had to stand around the stage throughout performance while rich people had designated seats assigned to them. It was a shame that we couldn't catch any play at this iconic venue, but we could imagine how lively the atmosphere must be when it is on. Funny, the work we consider timeless and legendary today was controversial back then; theatres were considered by the church as immoral and dangerous and hence were banned from the city. They gained popularity and approval with Queen Elizabeth I enjoying those.

P. C.

We finished our visit with a quick bite in the cafe and a souvenir from their shop - a 3D model of the globe itself, which is still waiting in our cupboard to be built and showcased.

You can find more information about Shakespeare's Globe at

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  1. Lots of interesting information in this post. I agree with you that I would have felt suffocated having to deal with all that women dealt with back in the day. And a bum roll? Eek! It would be fun to see a show at the Shakespeare Globe, though! :)

    With Love,