The beautiful underside of the roof covering the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe, a recreation of the Elizabethan theatre made famous by Shakespeare’s work. As a groundling, I paid £5 (~$8.00) to stand in the Yard within two feet of the front of the stage. Yes, the play was nearly three hours long, and standing for the entire time became a game of how still you can be so you don’t notice the nagging pain in your lower back, but the experience itself was unlike any I’ve had in a theatre before. I went for a performance of Richard III on a cold day in October, and during the performance, the relationship between actor and audience, though in a very large space (the Globe seats 3,000), had an immediacy and an energy that was a joy to experience. Over the course of three months, I was able to attend thirty theatrical productions, ranging from Shakespeare to Hip-Hop storytelling, for very reasonable prices. And though not all of them had that same immediacy or energy, the sheer number of shows was astounding, and the variety inspiring. Being surrounded by a culture that values the theatre as much as England’s does was a wonderful change from America’s, and gave me a taste of what a society that values the arts can be.
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