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Tony Grist

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Stratford [May. 25th, 2008|08:39 am]
Tony Grist
We just got back from the Open University Shakespeare Society's day school in Stratford- where we work-shopped scenes from King Lear and a Midsummer Night's Dream. Acting Shakespeare- even if you're doing it really, really badly- is a magical experience. And I'm using "magical" in its technical sense. The way I felt after playing Puck- after a single scene in which I spoke half a line and otherwise kicked my heels and pulled faces- was how I used to feel after doing a Wiccan ritual. Shakespeare takes you into another world- where you are transfigured and bound in close fellowship with the other actors- and it's a harsh experience coming back. 

We did the tourist thing. We walked along the river, visited Holy Trinity- which is a lovely church and well worth visiting quite apart from its Shakespearian connections- and had a very good dinner at The Vinter- allegedly the oldest restaurant in town and the place where Shakespeare used to buy his wine. Stratford is this curious combination of quaint old country town and cosmopolitan centre. I was prepared for it to be tacky, but it's not. You can't cheapen Shakespeare; he's bigger than you are- and this town belongs to him.





 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-05-25 10:57 am (UTC)
The workshop sounds like a great experience. I can imagine you as Puck, actually.
I was also fearful of Stratford being a type of tourist trap but you are right. It's just not. It's lovely, and yes, there are shops, but it's all in good taste mostly and the Shakespeare presence is so strong and alive. I need to return as we had only a very short visit there.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-25 06:31 pm (UTC)
We're booked to back later this summer- and this time we'll actually be seeing a couple of plays.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-05-25 01:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you for making a lovely place *more real* to me.

It sounds like you had a great time!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-25 06:35 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it. We're booked to return in August.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-05-25 07:25 pm (UTC)
It is truly lovely! How fortunate you are to be able to get there for vacation. The UK is number one on my must see list if an whenever I have money for travel. And Stratford? To see Shakespeare performed in his own town? Heaven!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-26 08:58 am (UTC)
This was only my second visit to Stratford- but we're going again later this summer- and this time we're booked to see a couple of plays.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-05-25 08:22 pm (UTC)
What a charming picture of the girl and the swan!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-26 08:58 am (UTC)
Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: wyrmwwd
2008-05-26 12:25 am (UTC)
I have never actual ACTED Shakespeare, but I have experienced it as I believe it was meant to BE experienced. I had a group of friends several years back that were all actors at the local Renne Faire. I hung out at director's house sometimes while they rehearsed. I laughed and joked with them. Shared food and drink. Then, at Faire, I went to see them perform, day after day. There was something magickal about that, too. I got to know Midsummers Night Dream like I NEVER would have gotten to know it otherwise. It was a personal experience for me, much loved and much cherished.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-26 09:04 am (UTC)
I acted in Shakespeare at school. My starriest role was as Antigonus- the guy who "exit(s) pursued by a bear" in A Winter's Tale. That was a wonderful experience. It wasn't a great production- but we had a director who was marking time as a schoolmaster before moving into the professional theatre and we all put our hearts into it.

A Winter's Tale remains my favourite play in the canon.
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From: ext_100436
2008-05-26 02:40 pm (UTC)
It's been an age since I've been to Stratford; my favourite part is the butterfly centre, they always love my mum and she ends up with massive blue butterflies sitting on her shoulders. I love the canal too, but then I've got a bit of a thing about canals. :)

We ate at the Vinter on our first visit and it was very mediocre (and expensive!) so wee took our own lunch the next time. tastier and cheaper!

Glad you had a good day :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-26 04:11 pm (UTC)
I suppose there may have been changes at the Vinter- or perhaps you hit a bad day and we hit a good one. It wasn't cheap, but I didn't think it was exorbitant. And- seriously- they gave us one of the best meals I've eaten in ages- unpretentious but beautifully cooked. :)

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[User Picture]From: clindau
2008-05-26 07:23 pm (UTC)
In 1974, I went on a Christmas-break trip to London and Stratford was one of the day trips in the package.

Oh. My.

We did the touristy thing--The Church, The Home, The Hathaway Home, The RSC building. No plays, sadly, but I still remember the day well. It was the first time I'd been out of the USA, and I was amazed to discover that there were places on earth that were *green* on the first day of January. I come from the northern US, after all; January means there must be feet of snow on the ground and below zero(F) temps.

I should go back--I'd appreciate it much more now that I have some miles under my belt, Shakespeare-wise.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-27 09:28 am (UTC)
The English climate- thanks, I suppose, to global warming- gets milder and milder. Snow is becoming an ever rarer experience. This past year we had hardly any snow over the winter- followed by a few unseasonal flurries in early spring.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2008-05-27 01:44 am (UTC)
You can't cheapen Shakespeare; he's bigger than you are- and this town belongs to him.

I sang in Stratford, in high school; I remember that, and Canterbury, and Chartres, particularly.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-27 09:30 am (UTC)
I was at university in Canterbury- and my sister used to live there- so I know it well. I've visited Chartres a few times- but not recently.
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