Jilly: Travels With Kay

Postage Stamp Depicting the Globe Theatre, 1614

I’m writing this post a little early, because Kay is visiting us here in London. World news is getting scarier at home and abroad, the weather has turned chilly, and our neighbors (on both sides) are engaged in noisy construction work, but we’re making the most.

So far we’ve enjoyed food, drink, a LOT of book talk and a tour around Highgate Cemetery. The sun shone, which was a bonus, even if it didn’t do much for the brooding, gothic atmosphere.

Kay wrote in her Thursday post: I think travel is good for people. It puts you in different and sometimes complex situations that challenge you to see events, places, and people in new ways. It can stimulate your thinking and creativity. And it’s fun.

I think it’s also good to have guests. It prompts you to go to new places and do different things. Plus, you get to experience the familiar through the eyes of a visitor, and it’s surprising how different their perspective can be. All of this is a great way to boost creativity plus, as Kay says, it’s fun.

Last night we went to see Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe. The theatre is in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames, just a few hundred yards from the site of the original Globe Theatre. The building is a replica of an Elizabethan playhouse, the result of almost fifty years of fundraising, campaigning and research initiated by Sam Wanamaker, the American actor, director and producer. It’s as faithful a reproduction of the original Globe theatre as is possible, built of oak lathes and staves and white lime wash. It was constructed using traditional methods and even has a thatched roof—the only one allowed anywhere in the city of London. The only concessions to modernity are provisions for emergency signage and fire protection.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, opened 1996

It’s an amazing venue, and I’m embarrassed to say last night was my first visit. Kay and I made a few concessions to 21st century living—we did not join the ‘Groundlings’—the intrepid souls who stood for three hours in the rain in the open space in front of the stage. We were seated, under cover, with rented cushions to soften the benches and blankets to keep us warm (Kay says it was 90 degrees when she left California so the blanket was a welcome addition). Still, it was amazing to experience theatre the way people would have done in Shakespeare’s time.

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Jilly: Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

Celebrating 400Are you a Shakespeare fan?

Did you know that next Saturday is the 400th anniversary of his death?

To commemorate his life and works, the BBC and the British Council are curating an amazing celebration called Shakespeare Lives, a six-month festival of Shakespeare-related events, which will be available online globally (free!). Many of the UK’s finest arts organisations and performers will be part of the action. The fun starts next weekend with Shakespeare Day Live, which actually runs over two days next Friday and Saturday, 22 and 23 April.

Shakespeare Day Live will be available on a pop-up digital channel offering odes, Hamlet from Shakespeare’s Globe in Bankside, London, features, ballet, opera, songs, movies and best of all, from 10.30pm BST next Saturday (great timing for any Shakespeare fans across the pond), the Royal Shakespeare Company with David Tennant as Richard II.

Find out more about the overall Shakespeare Lives festival here.

Link to the Shakespeare Day Live schedule here.

Maybe you’re not a Shakespeare fan. Maybe now is the time to give the great man a try. He wrote popular comedy, tragedy, historicals and fantasy, and his stories live on today because the characters are so powerful and the emotions so strongly and clearly expressed. You’ll find love, hatred, jealousy, treachery, ambition, humor, bigotry, cross-dressing, spectacular Big Misunderstandings, lots of sex, filthy jokes, and if you’re willing to put in a little work to attune your ear to the language, vivid imagery, deeply pleasing rhythms and truly dazzling wordplay.

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Jilly: Books Lost and Found

Title Page, 1728 quarto edition of Lewis Theobald's Double Falsehood (via Wikimedia Commons)

Title Page, 1728 quarto edition of Lewis Theobald’s Double Falsehood (via Wikimedia Commons)

Could you lose a manuscript? Maybe your first novel, the one you wrote on now-obsolete word processing software, queried without success and put away in a drawer or a storage box under the bed?

Kay posted on Thursday about the upcoming release of Harper Lee’s novel Go Set A Watchman, almost 55 years after the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird. The ‘lost’ novel was actually Ms. Lee’s first book. It included flashbacks to the childhood of the protagonist, Scout, which Ms. Lee’s editor told her to take out and make into a separate story. She did, that book was published to great acclaim, and Go Set A Watchman was forgotten until Ms. Lee’s lawyer re-discovered it last September, clipped to the back of an early draft of TKAM.

A whole novel by a prize-winning author lying forgotten for more than fifty years is a great story. I assumed it was an unusual one, until Continue reading

Elizabeth: Favorite Love Poems

When_I_Saw_YouThis Saturday marked the arrival of a traditional day on the calendar, that’s right, “Clean out the Garage Day.” Well, you may have spent the day in slightly different fashion, but here in beautiful California, where the skies were blue, the weather was warm, and there was a strong, testosterone-based helper nearby, it was the perfect day to reclaim the garage from the mass of belongings that were attempting to crowd out the car. Continue reading