barbican, cumberbatch, cymbeline, delacorte, globe, hamlet, new york, richard II, shakespeare, the american series, the London series, theatre
Not three days ago I was standing in the house Shakespeare was born in. I walked the streets of Stratford Upon Avon all day under skies threatening to rain. I went to his daughters house where I ate from a mulberry tree over 150 years old, grown from a cutting from her fathers garden.
Not two weeks before that, I was watching Benedict Cumberbatch deliver an epic Hamlet. His Hamlet (I hope). I’ve only just written up my journal from that performance, but won’t write it here. I don’t know how to summarise those 12 pages and as the show is still in preview and tweaks are ongoing, it doesn’t serve any purpose.
The week before that I saw Richard II at the Globe itself in Bankside. Tremendous. The way the Bard did it himself.
And now, first day in America, I wander through Central Park to rest the senses and happen upon a line of people waiting for free tickets to the very last performance of the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park season – Cymbeline. I’m on holidays, so what’s an hour or two standing in the queue to me? The people around were lovely and chatty and once they knew I was here for the first time, they were full of recommendations for the creative arts they encouraged me to see or do before leaving. I loved that and am very grateful.
It was a lovely walk back up to the Delacorte Theatre (in the middle of Central Park) for the 8pm start. Just on sunset. Gosh the cast have some fun with this. The opportunity to play multiple roles – or indeed the one role pretending to be another one – was seized with both hands. Terrific pace, playing to the crowd in the best tradition of Shakespeare and those voices! God the company can sing.
If you’re ever in New York – and they are playing at the Delacorte – I’d encourage you to queue for the tickets. It’s sponsored by donations, so all 1800 seats are free. By the people. For the people.
A late finish would normally have little old me a bit nervous about a walk back to the hotel – but check out my body guards. Never safer 🙂
Shakespeare wrote some of the most extraordinary lines that – even 399 years after his death – we can say off by heart. The truest of them all for me, especially this trip seems to be, that “all the world’s a stage”. I seem to find my way amongst those who love him wherever I’ve gone.