Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Living Abroad Matters 19 - Moving On

Last Hurrah in London!
Thanks to a tip-off from our good friend Gael, a lover of culture and history and her adorable husband Danny Spooner, the folk singer extraordinaire who featured in previous reports, we find ourselves at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre one chilly afternoon on the Thames. What a brilliant lead it proves to be, ensuring we discover this not-to-be-missed London attraction.

The Globe is a circular open-air theatre, an exact replica of Shakespeare’s theatre which opened in 1599 and thrived as the core of social life throughout the early 1600s. Located close to the original site, today’s Globe is a vibrant venue that pulsates with vivid memories of those uproarious times when the Great Unwashed of London came together with the showy Elizabethan Aristocrats in unbridled revelry to heckle the latest plays, gossip, drink and cavort in the wings.

An exciting exhibition transports you back to those bawdy times when the young Will was the toast of the town prolifically churning out entertainment; profound tragedies, sparkling comedies, political satires and bourgeois farces to the insatiable appetites of the early theatre-goers. And these days a thrilling array of Shakespearian plays runs from April to October. You can stand in the forecourt up close to the stage for just five pound a ticket or squeeze onto a timber bench in the gallery. The modern-day audience is encouraged to interact with flamboyant actors in a dynamic exchange.

The day we visit a rehearsal is in full swing and we watch with fascination as the actors practise their lines for the evening performance. I am reminded of how much I relished studying MacBeth in my final year of high school, enthralled by the poetic language and perplexing issues.

Every year 750,000 people tour the Globe and attend plays and more than 90,000 people of all ages and nationalities participate in workshops and courses. I can imagine how exciting it would be for an aspiring actor to study Shakespeare in this authentic setting. Justine will be in her element in this creative hub when she hits London in January.

The Globe, across the river from St Paul’s Cathedral, was the dream of pioneering American film-director and actor, Sam Wanamaker, who devoted more than 20 years of his life to building the theatre, which opened in 1996, three years after his death. The faithful replica with a wooden frame and thatched roof was constructed at a cost of £30 million harnessing an extraordinary mixture of passion, determination and painstaking scholarship by hundreds of Shakespeare enthusiasts and building experts. Yet again, I am amazed at what people can achieve when gripped by a worthy obsession.

Thursday sees me in professional mode with my trusty Canon SLR slung around my neck doing a photo shoot of three incredibly spunky young men, Daniel, Marcus and Glen, for the XL international business magazine. I want to portray the guys in typical London scenes so I capture them outside Fulham Broadway Tube Station, in front of a double decker bus and in powerful poses with a dramatic street sculpture and then we stroll to a nearby park and I snap away at the trio seated on a park bench in various configurations and we even do an Abbey Road line-up.

The guys are getting bored with the male modelling routine after about 200 shots so we head for their office and unleash the camera on the unsuspecting staff at work at their desks. Triumphant Events will now have tons of photos to use for their publicity. My work here is done! But all this Blue Steel posing develops an appetite and the guys generously take this old girl to lunch. It is so much fun being part of Daniel’s success in London and I am feeling teary knowing we will be leaving soon.

But not before I explore another lead, this one from mum’s friend Marj, who has sent me a letter in the old-fashioned way, by snail-mail, encouraging me to visit Sloane Square and drop in on the Peter Jones store, where she worked in her glory days in the fashion department, dressing models and pandering to the Rich and Famous.

Simultaneously I hear from Sunshine Coast gal pal, the ravishing Miss A, who has just arrived in the UK after whirlwind travels in exotic locations. So we meet Saturday outside Sloane Square Station and hug and squeeze each other in disbelief that we are such Women of the World who can rendezvous in atmospheric drizzle in a trendy part of London. It’s a long way from the Sugar ‘n Spice Café at Mooloolaba beach, where we first met and exchanged life stories!
We find a corner in a café and talk non-stop before wandering around Peter Jones, in honour of Marj, without a break in the conversation, then we find a market that’s selling delectable international cuisine and we chow down on Caribbean nosh, still not pausing to draw breath as we regale each other with our mad adventures.

Alvia, it turns out, with ipod photos to prove it, has cruised the Greek Islands, hiked in Peru, danced on a bar in Nashville, made a quick dash to Canada and ended up in her hometown of Surrey, where she is catching up with old friends. I am gobsmacked and mightily impressed by all she has managed to pack in and I make a Mental Note to Self to be just as adventurous when we travel the States!

That Saturday night I meet up with Andrew and our Slovakian friends Jan and Bea and dad Gustav and Sandra from Brazil and we dine at a vegetarian Thai restaurant in colourful Soho. I am feeling so international and I love being multi-cultural and feeling like the world is so accessible. For Australians who are so isolated from the rest of world, it is heartening to know the world is really a warm and friendly place and it is possible to be a Global Citizen.

This is the last missive I will fire from London as we pack up and head for a three month tour of the States. I will be writing Travel Matters enroute and sharing our personal experiences of the psychology courses we will be doing in Personal Growth Matters. Stay tuned. And thanks for coming along on the journey so far. It’s a big wide wonderful world.

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