June 1, 2016
“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” -William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 4
And I do indeed feel that I could waste plenty more time in London and be perfectly content.
This morning, we took the long trek back to the Globe theater to take a tour. The “tour” was less of a tour as a class for discussion. We had a Shakespeare “practitioner” take us into the interior of the Globe and give us lots of information about the original theater, its demolition and rebuilding, and the history of Shakespearean theater. After this brief history lesson, we entered a lecture hall on the campus and analyzed a small piece of text from Taming of the Shrew through a series of dramaturgical exercises. It was a very informative time, and the number one thing I took away from it is that consonants house the power of a word, while the vowels hold the emotion. How you speak says a lot about how you feel.
After this, we walked just a few blocks to the original location of The Globe and saw what is believed to be the remainder of its foundation. Just a few blocks more and we came to Borough Market for lunch. I had a lovely chicken, ham, and leek meat pie smothered in gravy and cheese from the whimsically named “Pie Minister.” Delicious. Dessert was a splice of ginger cake, and I also bought a bag of chocolate covered raisins and cranberries. There is just so much to discover at this open air farmers’ type market.
Even longer than the journey to The Globe was that of our walk from Borough Market to the National Theater where we saw the matinee performance of Les Blancs. Due to our early awakening this morning, I was extremely tired and found myself beginning to nod off during the first half of the show in this gorgeous theater space. Nevertheless, it was a very powerful piece of theater. Les Blancs tells the story of a group of European missionaries who have run a small mission and hospital in Africa for 40 years, and to some degree have led to the further oppression of the African people. Now, the African villagers are planning an armed revolt against colonialism. Our main character has returned to his homeland for the funeral of his father after starting his own life in Europe with his new wife and child. He must decide whether or not to join his family in the struggle against racial tensions. This play is a potent and painful reminder that we still do not live in a post racial world.
The set was hauntingly beautiful in its simplicity. Only the wooden bones of the mission building stand on the stage’s turn table. The turn table allows all angles of the mission to be seen, and thus provides the possibility for multiple locations within one set piece. The sound design also stood out to me as a particularly effective element of design. It did not hold an overpowering presence, but was utilized well during dynamic moments.
Following the show, we returned to our hotel to pack my bags! We are leaving for Stratford-upon-Avon tomorrow! I packed my larger suitcase with the things that I won’t be needing for the next three days and took it over to Pickwick Hall, the hostel that we will be staying at for the remainder of our time once we return to London. I’ve opted out of seeing a show independently this evening, largely because we have another early morning tomorrow, and yesterday I found myself quite exhausted by seeing two shows.
But! Since I have a little extra time this evening, I would like to take some time to talk about something that is very near and dear to my heart. Considering myself somewhat of an amateur foodie, I want to tell you about my experiences with London food. I have yet to have a bag meal here, but I do sorely miss something that I get in abundance at home. Salt. It isn’t that there isn’t any salt, there is just much less of it. I have not been to a single restaurant that has had salt or pepper shakers on the table. Indeed it seems that all of the flavors here are much less intense than they are in the States. This may be partially due to the fact that the traditional means of cooking British food is boiling. Boil it until all the flavor is gone and then you know it’s ready. Maybe the British have never experienced the wonders of salty foods? They’re missing out.
Carbs. Carbs everywhere. Most of the readily available foods are loaded with carbs. Pasta, sandwiches, bread. Lots of bread. Probably about half of the booths at Borough Market are bakeries. Tempting, very tempting. The best meal so far has been my gorgonzola gnocchi from Assaggetti’s. Cheers to you, Assaggetti’s. You are hope in a gnocchi-less world.