The best commute to work EVER.
I have been blogging a little bit for Shakespeare's Globe and Liverpool Everyman about the adventures we've been having on the Two Gentlemen Of Verona tour! There is a blog/forum for local schools that the theatres are connected to. They can send us in questions, and we have been touching base with them every now and again with our Lambanana's throughout our travels! Anyway here are some musings on Denmark!
Our last European tour date was in Denmark. Specifically Kronborg Castle in Elsinore; most famously known as the home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. When we first arrived I don’t think I managed to take in the breathtaking setting or appreciate the history of where we were about to play, because the heavens opened up and the rain began to pour; so as we did our get-in and sound check we were all trying (and arguably failing!) to battle the elements.
Our amazing hosts, Hamlet Scenen, had an exhibition showing in the castle entitled the ‘Shakespeare Hall of Fame’; where they had photo’s of all the actors who have played Hamlet/Ophelia at Elsinore. One picture in particular resonated with me - a photo of a group of actors performing Hamlet in 1916, exactly 100 years ago, in the Courtyard where we are performing. It reminded me how unbelievably lucky we were to be performing in a place with such rich history, and how we too are going to be a part of that legacy.
Its such an incredibly unique life experience to be able to say you have performed a Shakespeare at Elsinore Castle, a prospect that became even more mind-blowing when the people at Hamlet Scenen told me that we are the first recorded company to perform Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Castle!
When I think about the history of Shakespeare, I always seem to hark back to Jacobean times and try to imagine it being performed at the Globe with lots of funny looking people wearing Ruffs, but I’ve never given thought to Shakespeare being performed in more recent history: 50 years ago, or even 100/150 years ago! However after leaving Denmark, I feel like I’ve had a massive perspective shift. Thinking about that performance of Hamlet in 1916 and how it would have been received by its audience ... Would we have laughed at the same jokes now? Admired Shakespeare’s use of language and poetry in the same way? To think of what has happened in that space of time, two World Wars, the immeasurably fast evolution of technology, the internet, the Spice Girls; it’s really quite magical to think we still share this same, seemingly simple experience, of performing his text in this courtyard.
I really feel that I am just beginning to understand the true legacy and impact of Shakespeare’s work, which lies in contrast to the ephemeral nature of creating a theatre production. In 2016 a group of 15 people came together to create a production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, and after this job finishes, this assortment of people will probably never come together again in this exact permutation. Yet, in telling this story; we have all laughed at the same clever jokes; been incredibly moved by the eloquence and strength of certain characters and been disgusted by the weakness of others in the same way that people have across hundreds of years. I cannot help but marvel at how Shakespeare’s body of work has stood the test of time, how he really captured so much of what it means to be human, and I feel incredibly privileged to share the story of Two Gentlemen of Verona with the wonderfully brilliant and diverse audiences we’ve had over the past few months.
I wish I could hop in the Tardis to the summer of 1916, where a hundred years ago, a group of actors got together to tell the story of Hamlet in the Courtyard of Kronborg Castle, where we performed in the summer of 2016 and what a performance might look like in 2116!
I shall finish this long ramble on an awesome story the Hamlet Scenen Squad told us. The King Of Denmark would host very lavish parties in the great hall in Kronborg Castle (the biggest hall in Europe with no pillars!) Whenever he wanted to make a toast, he would raise his glass and the numerous royal drummers standing to attention along the length of the hall would start drumming. As the hall was so big the sound would reverberate around making a hell of a noise, which would then alert the Royal Trumpeters who were placed at the top of the tower above the hall. On hearing the thunderous drums, they would start to play a fanfare; this would then alert the soldiers in the Canon Tower who would fire the canons so that everyone in Denmark would know that the King was making a toast!
Shakespeare is thought to have potentially visited and experienced this himself or he would have heard directly from two of the Lord Chamberlain’s men, who visited and performed Elsinore! This particularly quirk of the eccentric King is described by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet!
Aruhan is currently playing Silvia in Shakespeare's Globe production of Two Gentlemen Of Verona