2011 Excursion “Shakespeare’s London and Shakespeare’s Globe”

An Overview

In 2011, the excursion started on a Sunday afternoon in August inside Liverpool Street Station with general issues of the trip, such as transportation through the city, settling in at Bankside accommodation [http://www.lsevacations.co.uk/residences/bankside.htm] which has gained descriptions such as: “Very convenient. Very appropriate, nothing to criticise”, and: “Greatest place I have ever stayed at in London!”, finding the closest food markets, etc. followed by a first brief stroll, entitled “Saints & Stews”, through the surrounding quarters. This included looking at Cardinal Cap Alley and the bishop’s brothels, the Rose Theatre [http://www.rosetheatre.org.uk/] , the site of the original Globe Theatre, The Golden Hinde [http://www.goldenhinde.com/] , and Southwark Cathedral [http://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org/visit/virtual-tour] before an end-of-day refreshment at a local hostelry.

The second day, fittingly entitled “Ancient & Modern”, included visits to London Bridge and the River Thames, the Monument (to the Great Fire of London, 1666), the Tower of London [http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/] , All Hallows by the Tower [http://www.allhallowsbythetower.org.uk] , and Great St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate [http://www.st-helens.org.uk] . The programme then led the group to St. Giles Cripplegate [http://www.stgilescripplegate.org.uk] , the Barber Surgeon’s Hall, the Museum of London [http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/London-Wall/] , Love Lane and Gardens & the Guildhall, along with Cheapside and St. Paul’s Cross & Churchyard, among other locations.

Day three – true to the motto “Sacred & Secular” – started with a walk to St. Paul’s Cathedral (old and new), Blackfriars Monastery, The Playhouse & Shakespeare’s Gatehouse, and the Inns of Court: Middle Temple, Middle Temple Hall, Temple Inn [http://www.middletemple.org.uk] , Lincoln’s Inn [http://www.lincolnsinn.org.uk/index.php/history-of-the-inn] , Gray’s Inn, and Staple Inn. The tour continued with visits to Holborn, Ely House & St Etheldreda’s [http://www.stetheldreda.com] , St. John’s Gate, the Red Bull Playhouse, and Smithfields Market – interrupted by lunch at an ancient pub named Ye Olde Mitre [http://yeoldemitreholburn.co.uk] . The day ended with a look at the Charterhouse [http://www.thecharterhouse.org] & Dean Rees’ house, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital & the site of the Fair, and the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great [http://www.greatstbarts.com] .

The trips on the first three days were mostly not accompanied by guided tours – the websites linked above give information about a number of the places which were topped off by additional information provided by the teachers and the students themselves. 4 out of 5 students afterwards admitted that more thorough self-employed preparation prior to the excursion would have been sensible. Regardless, the experience was well-rated by all students and one even states that she “cannot think of any place that was not great to see[…]”.

Days 4 and 5 were rated as the highlights of the excursion. The fourth day – a Wednesday – saw the group attending a lecture on “Early Modern Theatre Buildings and Companies”, followed by an exploration of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre described by one student as “interesting and useful”). Afterwards the first two-hour practical workshop took place, directed by Philip Bird, a Globe Education Lecturer with years of experience on the stage for the Globe’s education activities, see http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/education [http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/education] ). In the second half of the day the students had their first “groundling” experience, watching All’s Well that Ends Well in the Globe from the perspective that common theatre-goers in Shakespeare’s time would have shared – standing at the foot of the stage one student claims that “being a groundling is part of the Globe experience”). This was followed by a Question & Answer session with members of the cast. Thursday was structured similarly: a second practical workshop with the delightful and entertaining Philip Bird, followed by a visit to the Rose Archaeological Remains, and another performance in the afternoon – this time Much Ado About Nothing. The workshops were received very well by the partaking students, one of whom says: “The workshops helped me a lot to get a deeper understanding of Shakespeare and what is in his texts and I am very grateful for this experience.”

On Friday, the sixth day, students had the choice whether they wanted to be left to their own devices in the city, visit the Tower of London & All Hallows by the Tower before noon and wander off in the afternoon, or, after a morning visit to the Tower of London, spend the afternoon walking around Parliament Square and Downing Street before boarding a river boat at Westminster Pier for a trip along the Thames to Greenwich. The day of departure back to Bremen was Saturday.

Overall, the students’ feedback for the excursion was enthusiastic and showed that the tour was impressive on many levels. One says: “Considering all the great things we did and in comparison to the prices in London, it was great value for the money.” Another states that “[t]he class is a great chance to acquire a great amount of information on a topic that is central to English studies in a comparably small amount of time. It does not only support the development of confidence into the language but also offers several points of view on Shakespeare and his works. The students are given the unique chance to work with scholars and experts not only from their home university but also from Great Britain. However, the project does not only contain excellent teaching but also makes the students participate actively to contribute to the success of the project.” And, specifically concentrating on the way the excursion influenced her confidence to use English, she goes on: “I gained confidence, in particular in speaking and also in listening because I never had the chance to use the language that constantly before. It helped me to speak more without thinking too much before.”

Sample Chronicle, written by one participant Katalina Kopka)