As many close to me know, and as one close friend has declared, I am a “huge nerd” when it comes to history. I so enjoy walking around and learning more about the place that I am in, especially when it is a place of importance not only to that location, but to the world. This love of history is half of what drew me to this trip (apart from my being a “total geek” about theatre). London is an incredibly vibrant city, and has been home to some of the world’s foremost philosophers, artists and writers. The opportunity to come to London and experience some of this history was too great to pass up.
Yesterday, we went to the Globe Theatre, and the history nerd in me combined with the theatre geek in me to form one magical (although admittedly dorky) experience. The feeling of being on the Globe stage and wondering at what great actors had worked there (although, this Globe is only a recreation of the original Globe and was built in 1997) is staggering. The practical side of me was also amazed at the relative intimacy of the space: even though the theatre is giant (seating over 3,000), I felt as though I could see every seat clearly from the stage. We were lucky enough to take a tour and learn more about both Elizabethan culture and Shakespeare himself, which was incredible.
After the Globe, some classmates and I wandered around the bank of the river, getting lunch before deciding to go to the Tower of London. I was incredibly excited about this: I know very little about the London monarch lines, and the Tower is, of course an incredibly important historical landmark. Unfortunately, the Tower was closed, so we walked on. And then I realized one incredible thing about London. Right next to the Tower of London, erected hundreds of years ago and made of the most gorgeous stone stands the Tower Bridge, a magnificent, modern bridge.
And then I realized what makes London such an amazing place to be in: the ties between the past and the present. More than any city I have ever been in, there is a definite sense of holding on to the great elements of the past while simultaneously looking forward and creating new history. This can be seen especially in the theatre world, even with the two plays we have already seen: Henry V is a Shakespearean history, which ties the London theatre scene to its theatrical roots, while One Man, Two Guvnors is a comedy very much for a modern audiences. Both shows are incredibly popular, exemplifying London’s commitment to celebrating both the old and the new, and finding what common ties there are. Which is, of course, the purpose of both history and theatre.