Thursday, 21 July
Today, we returned to the Globe Theatre for the performance of The Taming of The Shrew. I am glad to see this production because I have never had the opportunity to see it performed on the stage. The matinee is at two and we have class before. I am meeting with class in front of the Tate Modern. Though a series of mix-ups class was delayed but finally came off by noon.
Kerri and I then went to the Tate Modern to spend some time in this museum of modern art. I enjoyed wandering the expansive galleries of this incredible museum and this has been the first real opportunity. The first thing that strikes me is (see the photo below for one example) the age of some of the “modern” art. The Picasso dates from 1914. That makes it over 100 years old. At what point is it not modern. I certainly understand it is a term to describe a period in art history but, it is ironic that many of the iconic works of the modern art movement are so dated.
I was also struck by a more contemporary piece titled Babel 2001 by Cildo Meireles. There were a number rather large installation pieces and this was one. I walked into the room and was taken aback by the size but also the aural effect. The tower of radios and other devices tuned to many different stations did not overwhelmed as you might expect. Of course, at first I didn’t know what I was hearing but, the sound was soothing which seemed at odds with what I learned to be true. The artist statement is included. The tower was fascinating and I just wanted to stand and let it relax. Given the statement about information overload and incomprehension I would have expected to be turned off but, instead I was transfixed. The work was very powerful and I am sorry I couldn’t provide more visually or aurally to communicate the fascination with this somewhat futurist and unworldly work of art.
We returned to the Globe to queue up for the show. Standing again and the weather seemed to be perfect for today’s performance. The Taming of the Shrew is probably one of the most difficult for modern audiences given its treatment of women, particularly Kate (the shrew in the title). Many contemporary productions have tried to soften or in some cases change the play to make it more palatable. Katherine (Kate) is a headstrong young woman. She knows her mind and she is not interested in marriage but, her father decrees she must marry before her younger sister – presumably to get his problem child out of his household.
This production was set in Ireland during the Easter uprising of 1916. The first act was a comic romp and the second act became the tragedy of Kate. The setting was not change in the dialogue so, that was confusing. The names of the character didn’t really help (Bianca, Petruchio, Baptista etc). However, the production did work overall. I felt the director changed the tone after Katherine’s marriage to Petruchio to suggest the tragic circumstance of the character. It became not at all funny and her delivery of her final monologue seemed to move the male characters (particularly her father and husband) to understand what they had done to her. I am very glad I got to see this production because it is not easier to understand the difficulties of the play.
After the show Christina, Kerri and I journeyed up to Hampstead for dinner at the Holly Bush Pub and quietly decompressed from the intense show.