Whispers from the Wings

Leaving Stratford

July 30, 2012

And now, the end is here And so I face the final curtain... Hang on, actually its not the end, it's not even the beginning. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

In which other blog do you get quotes from Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill? I am far too good to you. I refer, of course to the end of our Stratford run. But although it feels like the end because we are leaving what has, in effect been our home: it is actually just the start. The show will change. Sometimes dramatically. Hopefully, always for the better. But we will lose some elements that will be sorely missed.

We really felt at home at the new RST. (By the way, I always liked the old theatre. I never played on it so my opinion may not count for much; but it was the first place, as a seven-year-old that I heard Shakespeare. It was dear to me.

Especially since we have had it all to ourselves for the whole of the run. Normally shows go into rep (repertory) so you perform in one space one night then another play or space the next and then have a break for a day or two. We have been in that wonderful new space every day except Sundays. It has been home. But all things end.

I will miss Stratford. It is an incredibly pleasant size to get to know in a short amount of time. Beautiful in an almost picturesque way with the soft river and the noble, greedy swans and the luscious trees (50 shades of green).

Stratford seems to make one speak in iambic the minute you roll into town. I lived on Waterside so I saw the wonderful moment as people made their way into the theatre. As joggers steamed in the chilly morning air. As the market slowly built itself on a Sunday morning. I loved it. Some, I imagine found Stratford a little... small. When used to the bustle of London, the gentle pleasures of Barry the Butcher can be lost on the young. Maybe that makes me old. Maybe.

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: (in Stratford town)

Forgive me for the cheesiness. That was the first of Shakespeare I ever memorised. The brackets are mine, but I believe it still scans!

I wish I could remember everyone's name who I met whilst there. Especially those who work in the theatre. Gosh, they were extraordinary. I wonder if they miss us? There is so much history in Stratford. After an evening's performance, one can invariably meet someone who saw Olivier or Scofield or Gielgud. One cannot help but wonder where one ranks. Do we drift into the deep fog of the past or will the staff of Carluccio's say with pride, 'That was a great production!' One can hope.

So bye bye Stratford. See you soon. You were good to us. You were where my son was born. Bless you.

by Andrew French  |  No comments yet

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Teaching Shakespeare