18 July, 2014

Loose connections with Shakespeare at Stratford.

Stratford Upon Avon is a town that could hold it's own in the tourist stakes even without its most famous son, the bard of Avon. However it was home to William Shakespeare and makes the most of its heritage, even if some of the places have a rather loose connection. Anne Hathaway's Cottage has more connection than some of the places being the place where Shakespeare's future wife lived.
Anne Hathaway's Cottage
Nash's house and New Place are loosely connected in that Nash's House was where Shakespeare's Lawyer lived: New Place is simply the site converted into a garden - Shakespeare lived there.  Shakespeare's granddaughter married the man who owned Hall Place.  All these places are under the care of the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust.  I did visit the birthplace but it was so crowded I came out again - through the inevitable gift shop.

The highlight of my visit was an unofficial tour of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  My tour included below the stage and the picture shows the old box office of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre which is now on a lifting mechanism over a doorway.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is really two theatres in one and, in spite of appearances really dates from 2010 when it was re-opened to the public with more seats and better sight lines.  The oldest theatre is the Swan theatre the shell of which is Victorian.  The interior is a completely up to date theatre with a modular stage that can be at any height or depth.  The second theatre is inside the shell of the 1932 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, and this theatre is bigger but has the same facilities.  Most of the shared services, such as costumes, properties, wigs lighting and sound are shared.  Actors dressing rooms have a little balcony overlooking the river and actors must love coming to Stratford even if only for the facilities.  Many of the actors have signed their autographs on the wall backstage!

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