Despite the rain, pupils started their trip at the Globe Theatre with a guided tour of the structure, which helped put previous History lessons of the Theatre and the original performance conditions, into context. The significance of the building, being more than a museum, was brought home in exciting detail, when pupils were privileged to watch the rehearsal with the Director and actors refining costume changes, completed in a very short time, which takes place during the action of Henry IV. With the Director in the Groundling’s Yard, and the actors protected from the rain, if not the cold, pupils saw how challenging outdoor performances can be.
The Theatre and Performance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum led to another guided tour. Highlights from the collection, originally created by Gabrielle Enthoven, included the original three-man Joey puppet from ‘Warhorse’, a costume designed for Dame Judy Dench to show the sub text of Chekov’s Madame Arkadin, and some abstract set designs inspired by Edward Gordon Craig. An added bonus was a short running exhibition in the Leighton Gallery called ‘Behind the Curtain’. There were portraits of the all the Visiting Professors of the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, by Francis Hamel where the pupils could identify all the most significant theatre practitioners of the current era.
Performance, history, context and inspiration, pupils experienced it all in one day!