Monkeys are smart. Though they haven't created cars or trains or weapon, they are educated through simplicity. They flourish on what they have, and if something doesn't work, they don't give up, but they evolve to overcome it. Like monkeys, Shakespeare had no thesaurus, no dictionary, no laptop and no editor. But when he came to a spot where he was at loss for words, he made up his own words. Through practice, perseverance and certainly trial and error, he created works that will last forever.

I am a 13 year old kid who is trying to read and attend live performances of all 37 Shakespeare plays (plus 3 possible collaborations) in 2 years. This is a record of my experiences.

I am now a 19 year old college freshmen at Northwestern University, pursuing a degree in Theatre. The spark of love for Shakespeare that began this blog has grown into a roaring fire. That fire burns a little bit brighter each day. This is where it all began.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, Shakespeare's Globe, London, 30 July 2010

20 (12)

Shakespeare’s Globe was a magical theater. When it was demolished (by Puritans in 1613), and replaced by tenements), it was a true tragedy. But the modern reconstruction (1993) is almost as amazing. The layout is three floors, with a "common" in the middle so that some people can stand. There is an overhang above the stage to project the sound. The experience is magical. Because most theaters are made or set up to fit the play, so there are some small changes. But when done in the same setting that he set it for, the play really comes to life, as if it was the 1st time anyone had ever performed the play. It is always great to see Shakespeare's most colorful character in his most authentically English play. The pubs and jolly fat men are like a trip back through time.

Many consider Falstaff to be Shakespeare’s greatest character. But it is much harder to play him that it seems. You can interpret him any way you see fit. But no doubt, when he is done well, there is nothing better. It is amazing to see a good Falstaff. And at London’s Globe Theater on July 29th, I saw a great one. Roger Allam. He played Falstaff to the crowd. The role can also be played darkly or non-chalantly. But Allam didn’t dawdle at all, everything was snap-snap. He almost didn’t have a dark side. He was amazing at warming the crowd. People were laughing so hard they were crying. The direction also was very good, because it utilized the entire stage. Many people place rings of characters around the star, but this director made the star bounce around, and sometimes he was alone while everyone else was spread around the opposite side. It sounds easy to do this, but it takes true genius to be able to format it all and make it work. Directing a play may sound easy, but is one of the hardest things to do.

Hal was very prince-like. He acted like royalty gone wrong, but kept in on a human level. It's hard not to overdo it and turn into the superhero-prince that many have attempted. He was like a puppet, though. He seemed rehearsed. It was as if everything he was doing was controlled by someone else. He was funny, but like a mime is funny. He was sort of empty. Poins was like also a crowd-pleaser. He was extremely flashy, wearing a suit entirely gold! He and Hal made a hilarious duo though. Their pranks on Falstaff made the theater shake with laughter. King Henry was also impressive.  He was a realistic king and disappointed at his son. He raged around the stage in a state of near hatred. It takes real talent to weave in and out of emotions like that Percy was very funny with his wife, and a beast on the battle field. He roared like an animal. Falstaff was great without stealing the show. The interpretation was also very interesting, because instead of Falstaff and Henry IV both flip-flopping bad father-good father, Falstaff was always bad and vice-versa.

I would definitely try and see Shakespeare’s globe’s production of Henry the Fourth Parts I and II!


  1. This was a perfect match of play and place: Seeing Henry IV 1-2, acted in this interactive way, in a traditional setting, before an audience so intimately engaged through the architecture of the theater, really changed the way I think about these plays.


  2. I'm going to see the play next week. Looking forward to it.

  3. Yesterday night, I saw Henry IV Part I. It was raining buckets. Since the Globe is an open theater, about half of the audience got soaking wet. Everyone was freezing. So you'd expect the audience to disappear slowly, at least after intermission. Yet almost everyone stayed and watched the play until the very end. In the end, there as roaring applause. This tells you a lot about the magic of the performance. I agree with "monkey" that Falstaff was just great. Especially in Part I where the character, although central to the play, leaves all of the other characters enough room to develop and shine.

    But I got the impression that Part II hinged too much on Falstaff, which is why, as "monkey' observed, the other characters seemed a bit stiff (although I think Hal was much better in Part I). The notable exceptions were the hilarious "Shallow" and the "Hostess."

    If I had to choose, I'd definitely go for Part I. Overall, however, it was a great experience.