Across the pond

Sam Flood

(Sam Flood)

I wish that I could tell the story of an epic Tube ride where I witnessed a knife fight, or give you some deep insight into the culture and ethos of London Life – with capital letters! – but I can’t.
Halfway through my journey abroad, I have learned a lot, and wasted a lot of time, and visited tons of museums and watched some wonderful shows and all around have had a great time. I’ve spent more time alone in the city than anyone else here and it is one of those long afternoon excursions in the city that brings your tale from Across the Pond this week.
Shakespeare. Good old Willy Shakes. Some of you may know – and many of you probably don’t – but he was born on April 23, 1564 – that’s the common guess at least. it’s a long story – and died 52 years later to the day, in 1616.
Given that he is England’s national poet, and only the greatest writer in the history of the world, his birthday is understandably “kind of a big deal,” as Ron Burgundy would put it. But his birthday also falls on St. George’s Day, the holiday that celebrates the patron saint of England, and this means that his celebration gets somewhat muddled into the mix.
That is, it does if you’re not the Globe Theatre. I happened to notice on a flyer in the Tube that the Globe was putting on a day of fun and festivities on Sunday, April 18, and I was determined to go.
Aside from the usual exhibition and stage combat demonstrations, workshops were being held for the adventurous visitors – an introduction to Henry VIII, a tour of the theatre, etc. – and I was determined to sign up for one, just to make the most of my visit.
And I just happened to notice that one of them was “Go On-Stage at the Globe.” Well, that sounded promising, so I asked if there were any spots left for the 1:45 slot. Lo and behold, there was just one left, and I got it!
I had half an hour, so I went into the theatre – which was much smaller than I expected it to be – and watched the variety show going on. Performers from the company had hapless tourists on stage playing “Blind Date” while pretending to be characters from Henry VIII. It was good for a laugh.
Then it was time to report. They whisked us backstage and briefed us. We were given line cards and many of my 20 compatriots were assigned groups. By standing around and letting all the “witches” get assigned elsewhere, I managed to snag a Banquo card. At this point, the butterflies whizzed a bit through my stomach, and the old pre-performance nerves took hold. For good reason.
Soon we were onstage, the crowd clapping, and group by group, the actors from the company introduced people to read from their lines. Before I knew it, a woman beckoned me forward and shouted, “This is Sam!”
I believe the capacity of the globe is about 1,000 now – it used to be 2,000 – and it wasn’t full, but there were probably 800 people watching as I stepped to center stage, all by myself, and gave the lines. I did my best to project and use everything an LU theater major has taught me in the meager six lines they gave me, feeling adrenaline course through me and threaten to make my hands shake.
Then it was over, just as quickly as it had begun, and I started grinning like a fool as I bowed and stepped back. Now I can say – with complete honesty – that I have performed on the Globe Stage. That I, alone in center stage, delivered a monologue to 800 people. And that a member of the Globe Theatre Company said to me afterwards: “Brilliant! Nice job.”
And even if that’s a slight glossing over of the details, I’m thoroughly proud of it.

(Sam Flood)

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