Saturday, September 29, 2012


Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious Sumer by this sun of York.
The sun of England shone today and we were at the Globe to see Richard III, unabashedly rhetorical, performative and thrilling. Mark Rylance as a funny, wheedling, smarmy duke on his way to an unhappy kingship. Things moral and historical, as we know, catch up with him at the end, and what a shame. He's so entertaining to be around!

We sat in the Lords' rooms right over the stage!

Southwark Cathedral: tombs, history, no pretensions of being St. Paul's. loved it. This is the medieval poet John Gower.

And then, at the site of the Rose Theater, where Marlowe's plays were acted, in a tiny room above the excavated foundations, another strange excavation, the play 'Cardenio' by Shakespeare? fletcher? Who knows? Spoiler: ALL the characters were dead at the end.

This is the underground excavation, the outlines of the original Rose in red lights, lurid and dank like the play.

Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new. Well, not actually: another Jacobean tragedy, Duchess of Malfi.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

London, day 1. Three cool things

One. St. Paul's reigns over the skyline of London as usual. I think of it as the original London Eye.

Two. Near there at the National Theatre, a bizarre, disturbing production of Timon of Athens, Shakespeare's least-read, least-liked play. Brilliantly acted by Simon Russell Beale although the production had problems. Did we need a rebellion as 'Occupy Athens?' Relevance but not enough scariness to the threats of the rebels to do nasty things to Athenians. The play is nasty enough without my saying more about those nasty things.

Three. The Wallace Collection, of decorative art (end tables to beat even Ikea!) and painting, in the house of the people who collected it, a house that is beautiful in itself. And such paintings! Hals, the laughing cavalier, Rembrandt, Boucher, Bonington... The galleries are newly papered with the most gorgeous silk, and hung in such interesting ways. Now, how do I get my Oberlin students past the opulence, which is pretty intense, to the payoff? ( note, in the picture, the dad earnestly talking with his, maybe, eight year old about...Canaletto! Home for nerds. I love it)

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