Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Just had a week with husband and kids in Stratford-Upon-Avon for half term. I'm doing research for the new novel (book 6, if you believe that?!)which I can't say much about except that it involves a certain Mr. William Shakespeare! It was useful for Sacha too as he is prepping a new movie which also updates a Shakespearean tale. We had a great time even though it drizzled so much I thought it was some kind of Twelfth Night reference (The rain it raineth every day!) We went to all the Shakespearean houses, such as the Birthplace,where a troupe of talented young actors wearing Elizabethan dress would do extracts from any play you asked for on request. I was very impressed with their recall! We asked for a bit of Midsummer Night's Dream, as our son is doing it at school. The actor playing Oberon involved him as Puck, plucking a flowerbud and giving it to him as Love-in-Idleness, and telling him not to fail in playing their trick on Titania. Another highlight was New Place, which is doing an archaeological initiative for kids called 'Dig for Shakespeare'. They could mess around in trays of sand and mud finding artefacts, and could actually clean and date coins that were found on site. We also visited Shakespeare's 'grave' where there is a disappointingly mundane and portly memorial to the great man. I had heard the rumour that his tomb depicted him with a woolsack and it was only replaced with a quill long after his death. Which brings me on to the authorship question. I found it interesting, in all of the extremely well-presented tourist attraction s we visited, that there was no more than a cursory discussion of who actually wrote Shakespeare. We'd just seen a very interesting documentary on Sky Arts, where such Shakespearean luminaries as Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance and Vanessa Redgrave were putting forth a very strong case for the Earl of Oxford. I suppose that since the 'Stratford Man' is the town's lifeblood, you can't blame the place for downplaying the controversy. Every landmark lays claim to the playwright, with a touching pride. Even our hotel, the Alveston Manor, was said to be the location of the first performance of Midsummer Night's Dream, which was set in and around the enormous cedar tree in the grounds. I was delighted with this discovery - the kids were more interested in climbing the tree!