For our fourth day in the city of London we journeyed to St. Paul’s Cathedral and explored all it had to offer. The first thing I noticed in the cathedral was the breathtaking mosaic ceiling. William Blake Richmond created the ceilings by taking jagged and irregular sized pieces of glass and putting them at differing angles. The differing angles cause the lights to reflect off the glass and cause a shimmering effect. The blues, greens, reds, and golds were absolutely beautiful, and since we were not allowed to take pictures in St. Paul’s Cathedral, I would recommend looking up pictures to see the beauty for yourself!
Next our group noticed videos playing on one wall of the cathedral. This happened to be the first permanent video art installation in a cathedral. The art piece represented martyrs who were killed for their faith. Each screen represented a religious issue concerning earth, air, fire, and water. Once again, we were not allowed to take pictures so I will try to explain the images we saw in the video. There were four people, one on each of the four screens that were hanging up, and each person was suffering something different. There was a person tied up by their feet and water dumped on them, representing water. The second screen has a person enduring the flames as it consumes every inch of the screen, representing fire. The third screen has a person who is tied up by both their hands and feet while being pelted by strong winds that twist and turns the helpless body, representing air. The last screen was filled with a man covered in dirt, representing earth. The videos were very touching and showed so much suffering.
We also gathered around the memorial of John Donne that is located in the cathedral. The memorial survived the great fire of London, and if you look very closely you can still see the scorch marks on the bottom of the statue. Donne was a preacher and poet, as well as the Dean of the cathedral from 1621-1631. We gathered around and listened to Dr. Clark read one of Donne’s poems while looking at the death shroud-covered John Donne.
After visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral, it was time for the performance of The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe! First and foremost, we had to wait in line to ensure our front row standing space. For anyone who has never seen pictures of the Globe, there is a pit in which audience members get to stand, and are then called “groundlings.” We wanted to be front row and leaning against the stage, so we waited in line two hours before the performance.
Thanks to being early, we were FRONT AND CENTER for the performance and had the chance to lean on the stage as the actors interacted with us during the play. Especially Petruchio, who liked to flirt with the girls in the front row, (we are basically getting married.) The actors interacting with us only added to the play, and the play was amazing. Simply amazing. There was just the right amount of humor, sadness, and happiness all rolled into an incredible performance. The Taming of the Shrew deals with a lot of misogynistic undertones that can make the play a touchy subject, but when done right, like at the Globe, the play shows the strength and abilities of women.
The new artistic director, Emma Rice, is the first woman to take on this job at the Globe. It was interesting to see her twist on how she thinks The Taming of the Shrew should be performed and interpreted. She decided to base the play in Ireland during the Rising of 1916. Women were fighting for their rights, and we could see the female roles in The Taming of the Shrew trying to break free from the patriarchal society they were in. Rice was very passionate about having equal roles of men and women in her plays, even if this means gender swapping roles to make it fifty-fifty for the genders.
Overall we LOVED our experience at Shakespeare’s Globe and would recommend being a groundling if you ever go!