The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1548  Monday, 21 August 2000.

From:           Sam Small <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 19 Aug 2000 16:20:11 +0100
Subject:        The Globe Upside Down

Timothy Block, an actor friend of mine, called me yesterday morning and
said he had comp. tickets for The Globe in which he was playing.  It was
the opening night of The Antipodes or The World Upside Down written by
Richard Brome, Ben Jonson's manservant, around 1620.  That theatre is
one of my favourite spots in all London, and Tim's invitation to a back
stage opening night party made it an event.  Walking into that
groundlings yard through the half swing doors is almost a stage entrance
in itself.  If I was a man of importance, which I'm not, most of the
seated would see my entrance as clearly as any on stage.  And at that
point I realized what a wonderful place it was for secret meetings of
all sorts, giving the excuse that "we are only here for the play."  And
play itself was a wonderful, rollicking, bawdy social/political satire
on new ideas of world travel - and much more.  The American director,
Gerald Freedman, deserves praise.  See it - and enjoy.  Here is the
Theatre blurb.

"Peregrine Joyless has been driven mad with his obsession to travel the
world and so his family bring him to London for help. A famous doctor
sets about curing Peregrine by pretending to take him to the Antipodes -
or the world upside down - where lawyers beg not to be paid, deer pursue
the hounds, women rule the men, and they keep their cats in cages from
'mice that would devour them else'".

Tim performed admirably in his small part, but of the main players, to
me, the shining light was Mark Lockyer playing Byplay, a conceited
servant to Letoy, (a fantastical Lord)  He had a natural comedian's
timing and wrung much deserved laughter from the packed house.  At the
backstage party I had a chance to thank him and we discussed our mutual
passion for Richard III.

For the Sonnet fans among us I noticed in the yard that Globe staff bore
the sign of "steward" on their smocks.  It brought to mind 94/8 "Others
but stewards of their excellence".  I took the opportunity to ask
another actor, Roger Gartland, if there were stewards in the yard in
Elizabethan time.  "Quite possibly," he said.  "Certainly the man taking
the money at the door would have been a trusted individual, and quite
likely to have been called a steward."  If that be true, Shakespeare was
referring directly to the theatre in that line.  And in the previous
line was he referring to himself and fellow actors?  Ah, but that's
another topic.

Before we went Tim took me onto the great stage itself which was a
thrill.  I cleared my throat, felt a Sonnet coming on, looked up into
the Lord's balcony - but nothing came out.  Heaven be praised.


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