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Thursday, May 26, 2005

LONDON NOTES: Art and Theatre

'London, thou art the flower of Cities all'
William Dunbar 1465-1530 London Refrain.

There are just so many cultural activities and things to see around this city. We were on the go all day today looking at everything from art to attending the theatre. And we took in a couple of London's beautiful churches as well, including the magnificent Westminster Abbey.

The highlight of Ingrid's day was seeing the Turners and Constables in the British Art Museum. She's studied art and so this was quite a thrill for her. I've been there a lot of other times although I do enjoy having a look now and then. My favorites are still the French Impressionists. I'll never forget the very first time I walked into the Gallery and saw VanGough's 'Sunflowers.' I burst into tears.
Today I was looking at some of the Italian Renaissance painters although I find their work is detailed and heavy.

We walked down the Mall and had a little picnic in St. James Park watching the various waterfowl who come begging for scraps. Then around by the palace (which I've also seen a zillion times).This is all first-time for Ingrid so we let her choose the destinations.

After a quick trip to Covent Gardens we went to Westminster Abbey and Ingrid and I went in to look around. It's intersting to see who is buried there and of course all the ornateness of the place. Too bad we missed the choir practice which is what we'd really have liked to hear.

Then, down the Thames and across by foot on the Milenneum Bridge to the New Globe Theatre. We had a delicious meal at the Anchor Tavern (roast beef, Yorkshire pudding etc) as well as a couple of pints of Guiness. Then, off to the theatre.

The New Globe is a fascinating look at what the original Shakespearean theatres were like. It has a open ceiling and the cheap tickets are standing room on the floor in front of and around the stage. The stage and the tiers are covered so the shows go on rain or shine. We had a good seat up on the tiers but there were a couple of pillars blocking some of the view. The performance was 'The Tempest' and it was a very different version than I've seen before. There were only 3 actors (male) who played all the parts, 3 female dancer/sprites (MJ thought they were biker girls because of the way they were dressed in jeans and black jackets) and a 'choir' up in the 'god's box'. The acting was brilliant but it was confusing trying to keep track of the characters especially for MJ who didn't really know the story well. I kept dozing off because I was so tired from jet-lag and walking, but came to later on and managed to pick up the threads more or less. Mainly I just listened to the amazing monologues and the way they were delivered. It was an entertaining play, even if you didn't have a clue, and a really good insight into how the Shakespearan plays might have been presented. I got lots of good pictures of the interiors and the audience.

Tomorrow morning, early, we're off to Cheptsow and hopefully my feet will hold out for the 5 mile walk to Tintern. I managed to hurt my back and put undue pressure on my feet by foolishing packing too heavy a back-pack. But I think by tonight they are much better. So, it's off to bed now and perchance to dream...

'We are such stuff as dreams are made on, andour little life
Is rounded with a sleep.' William Shakespeare The Tempest

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