25 July Matt Wolf Othello

Today’s class is our final guest speaker and I always enjoy listening to this man. He is Matt Wolf and he writes for a variety of publications: online and print. Perhaps most notably the New York Times and on-line Art’s Desk. He always brings a mature point of view to the conversation about the British theater. Today was certainly no different. The students asked several good questions before we left for the Globe Theater and our last production of this tour.

We walked along the South Bank to the Globe which is a fairly quick walk. Today is going to be hot. The last few days have been very warm by British standards and it looks like it will be that way until we leave. My room last night took a while to cool down. Anyway, the shady path along the Thames was enjoyable as we walked to the theater.

We went to pick up the tickets and then for water. We are queuing early since this production included Mary Rylance. Christina has convinced me to stand against the edge of the stage. I have agreed with some reservations. We took our place in the line before noon for a 2 pm show. This time passed quickly although sitting on the concrete began to wear on my backside. Since I was going to be standing for at least 2 hr 30, I figured I should sit as much as possible.

About 1:30 they moved us into the courtyard and then in short order into the theater. Against the stage we were in the sun. I was glad I watched the play from this vantage point. It is truly in you face. In fact, Iago (played by Mark Rylance) murdered Rodrigo within 6 inches of my face. It was thrilling. The production was overall wonderful. This is the first live production of Othello I’ve seen. Rylance is almost a legend at this theater. He was the first artistic director and has since moved onto a successful film and television career. Andree Holland playing Othello is an American actor whose films include Moonlight, 42 and Selma. I loved the costumes because they, while based in a reality, did not adhere to a period. Yet, they suggested another time and place. There were elements of the Italian Renaissance and other nods to historic accuracy but, the designer created a world of its own. I want to be able to do that myself more easily. I was trained and to some extent, feel it is part of my own aesthetic to make everything as authentic as possible. It doesn’t have to do that. Being that close, I could see construction details very well and they were not these exquisitely constructed garments. They were well made but no hesitation to take short cuts.

The other thing I love about this theater is the endings of all the plays are a joyous dance and sometimes song. Even with the tragedies, the actors come on for their bows and dance. It is a great reminder that you are watching a play and we are all here for a good time.

I keep forgetting to mention that the dorm is next door to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts).

We join up with Ohio State group and share some of our guest speakers. Today’s speaker Matt Wolf is one of those shares. We travel down to Waterloo Station and meet in the basement of this old church (which seems to be undergoing constant repair and renovation).

Today’s speaker Matt Wolf.

The walk along the River Thames to the lobe Theater.

Our group in the queue for the show. At this point, we still have about and hour and a half until show time.

I don’t believe this acknowledgment was here the last time we were in London. Most people aren’t aware that it was a “crazy” American actor that wanted and worked to get the Globe Theater built.

One last photo before the show. I actually stood against the stage. It’s doubtful I will ever go to the back again.