Monday, July 12, 2010

The Globe

This Sunday, I went to the Globe to see a production of Shakespeare's King Henry IV, Part 1. It was great fun: the building was true to the original, as were the sets, and the director went a long way to ensure that the tone of the play was also faithful to a 17th century production.

Working in a library, visiting libraries, it's easy to forget that the the printed word, for all its ability to capture and preserve histories, feuds, and plays, is not always the supreme medium. When I first encountered King Henry IV in the printed form, it seemed a little formal and dull.

That is not the case in the actual production. A bawdy mummer's play began the production and songs bracketed the acts. Even with minimal sets, the actors brought both the humor and the conflict in the story to life. After seeing this performance, I am now convinced that a place like the Globe that keeps the tradition and art of performing these plays alive is just as valuable as the First Folio in the British Library's Treasure Collection.

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