Gigs · Shakespeare

More thoughts about Shakespeare’s Globe (23 down, 15 to go) and other venues

Last week’s trip to see “The Two Noble Kinsmen” at Shakespeare’s Globe prompted some familiar thoughts about venues and performances. There are certain theatres that I have been to many times over the years and whenever I return to them my mind is always taken back to previous visits.

The Shepherds Bush Empire is one of those venues, and one of my favourites. I haven’t been inside the place for over two years, but since attending my first gig there (an exceptional performance by Marianne Faithfull in July 1995) I have seen at least 25 more. I would have gone there last year but couldn’t get tickets for either of the Tony Visconti-related shows that I wanted to see (as mentioned in the opening paragraph of this piece about Andy White). I could go back through my pocket diaries and poorly-organized collections of tickets and receipts to create a definitive list of the shows that I have seen there, but will trust my memory to recount some of the most memorable: Willie Nelson (2005), The Undertones (2007), Tom Petty (1999), George McCrae in a disco-related triple bill in 1998 (Heatwave and Odyssey were the other acts), Jesus and Mary Chain (also 1998), Public Image Limited (around 2010), Magazine (2011), Patti Smith (2013) and Tony Visconti and guests performing David Bowie’s “Man who sold the world”, along with the remaining Spider from Mars (2015). For that Marianne Faithfull gig there was temporary seating downstairs, but usually you have to stand in that part of the theatre. I have stood in 20 different places downstairs, and seen at least one show from each of the three upper levels, where you are obliged to remain seated. Most times when I have been to the Shepherds Bush Empire in the last 15 years I reflect on previous gigs, piecing together a chronology of which acts played when, and visualizing a vague floor-plan of where I was for each one.

Similarly, at Shakespeare’s Globe I generally put together a vague chronology of which plays I have seen there, going back to “Richard II” in August 2003, and an imagined floor-plan of where I have sat (or more usually stood) for each one. Many years ago I figured that, given enough time, you could see The Complete Works (at least one performance of every Shakespeare play) at this theatre alone. If you count experimental and non-English productions you could have seen every play in the summer of 2012. There was a “Shakespeare Olympics” to tie in with the actual Olympic Games happening all over London that year. I took a look at the programme of events and figured that watching, for example, a bold “reimagined” Japanese-language version of “Henry V” wouldn’t be quite the same as seeing a full-blown production with the original text, and didn’t book tickets for any of them.

“Henry V” remains one of the 15 Shakespeare plays that I have not seen, in any form, at the Globe. Returning home from last week’s performance of “The Two Noble Kinsmen”, I counted up to 20 that I had seen, and knew that I was over half-way through the Complete Works. I thought, briefly, of creating a definitive list of plays seen, and when, but didn’t act on it. Earlier this week, I opened a different Excel workbook from the one I intended to, pinned on the File Menu on my netbook, and found that the definitive list already exists. My “Shakespeare2015” file, begun to support this 9,000-word piece about seeing every Shakespeare play in 2003/04, has far more detail and analysis than I remembered, including a worksheet listing the plays that I have seen at the Globe. I spent time earlier today adding to it and now know that I have seen 23 different Shakespeare plays there, and two Globe productions staged in other venues: a production of “Cymbeline” at the Sam Wanamaker Theatre (the indoor venue next door to the Globe) and “Measure for Measure” at Hampton Court Palace in 2004. “Measure for Measure” was especially note-worthy, staged 400 years after the play’s debut, in a hall where Shakespeare himself had performed. It played at the Globe too that summer, and BBC4 devoted a whole evening to a live broadcast, but I only saw it at Hampton Court. Sophie Thompson (sister of Emma, and “Celebrity Masterchef” winner in 2014) was excellent as Isabella.

As noted in many other pieces, beginning here, this Blog is increasingly serving as my Exobrain, or secondary memory, and I will finish this piece with the lists that have been playing on my mind: the plays that I have not yet seen at Shakespeare’s Globe (15); and the plays that I have (23), including “The Two Noble Kinsmen”. The second list appears twice, in alphabetical order and then chronologically. I note that four of the plays in the first list are playing this summer and they’re marked with asterisks. Next time I want to remind myself of which plays I have seen at the the Globe, and when, I can look here, rather than in some half-forgotten spreadsheet.

Not seen yet, 15 plays

As You Like It*
Cymbeline [Globe Production seen 2016 at Sam Wanamaker Theatre]
Hamlet*
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Julius Caesar
King Lear
Macbeth
Measure for Measure [Globe Production seen 2004 at Hampton Court Palace]
Merchant of Venice*
Taming of the Shrew*
Troilus and Cressida
Two Gentlemen of Verona

* = Playing at the Globe during the 2018 season

Seen sometime in the last 15 years (along with year of performance), 23 Plays in alphabetical order

All’s Well That Ends Well (2011)
Antony and Cleopatra (2006)
Comedy of Errors (2006)
Coriolanus (2006)
Henry IV, part 1 (2010)
Henry IV, part 2 (2010)
Henry VIII (2010)
King John (2015)
Love’s Labours Lost (2007)
Merry Wives of Windsor (2010)
Midsummer Night’s Dream (2010)
Much Ado About Nothing (2004)
Othello (2007)
Pericles, Prince of Tyre (2005)
Richard II (2003)
Richard III (2003)
Romeo and Juliet (2004)
The Tempest (2005)
Timon of Athens (2008)
Titus Andronicus (2006)
Twelfth Night (2003)
Two Noble Kinsmen (2018)
Winter’s Tale (2005)

Seen sometime in the last 15 years (along with year of performance), 23 Plays in chronological order

Richard II (2003)
Richard III (2003)
Twelfth Night (2003)
Much Ado About Nothing (2004)
Romeo and Juliet (2004)
The Tempest (2005)
Winter’s Tale (2005)
Pericles, Prince of Tyre (2005)
Coriolanus (2006)
Antony and Cleopatra (2006)
Titus Andronicus (2006)
Comedy of Errors (2006)
Othello (2007)
Love’s Labours Lost (2007)
Timon of Athens (2008)
Midsummer Night’s Dream (2010)
Henry VIII (2010)
Henry IV, part 1 (2010)
Henry IV, part 2 (2010)
Merry Wives of Windsor (2010)
All’s Well That Ends Well (2011)
King John (2015)
Two Noble Kinsmen (2018)

 

 

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