Watch Free Plays from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth & More

As depress­ing arti­cles about the upcom­ing Sum­mer of COVID-19 begin to pro­lif­er­ate, our hopes for beach days, con­cert series, and sum­mer camp begin to dim.

Here in New York City, the Pub­lic Theater’s announce­ment that it is can­celling the upcom­ing sea­son of its famed Shake­speare in the Park was met with under­stand­able sad­ness.

You don’t have to like Shake­speare to enjoy the rit­u­al of enter­ing Cen­tral Park short­ly after dawn, pre­pared to sit online for sev­er­al hours await­ing noon’s free tick­et dis­tri­b­u­tion, then return­ing to the Dela­corte lat­er that night with snacks and sweater and wine.

Per­form­ing a quick Inter­net search to brush up on the plot can enhance the expe­ri­ence, but—and I saw this as some­one whose degree includ­ed a met­ric heinieload of The Bard—it can be equal­ly sat­is­fy­ing to spend the final acts enjoy­ing an impromp­tu, al fres­co nap.

Bonus points if a rac­coon runs across the stage at some point.

Alas all this must be denied us in the sum­mer of 2020, but it’s still with­in our pow­er to repli­cate that sum­mer feel­ing in advance of the equinox, using the past pro­duc­tions that London’s Globe The­atre is screen­ing on its YouTube chan­nel as our start­ing place.

First up is Romeo & Juli­et from 2009, star­ring Ellie Kendrick and Adetomi­wa Edun, though accord­ing to the Inde­pen­dent’s Michael Coveney, the show belongs to Pen­ny Lay­den as the Nurse:

Far removed from the fuss­ing tra­di­tion of com­ic gar­ruli­ty and the Patri­cia Rout­ledge fac­tor, Lay­den plays her as a scrubbed, mid­dle-aged, sen­si­ble woman car­ry­ing a his­to­ry of sad­ness. The bawdy assault on her by Philip Cum­bus’s melan­choly Mer­cu­tio is both shock­ing and plau­si­ble, and she retains her qui­et dig­ni­ty while at the same time mourn­ing its sac­ri­fice.

Back to New York City…

Pri­or to start­ing your screen­ing, you’ll want to approx­i­mate a seat at the Dela­corte (which, like the Globe, is authen­ti­cal­ly cir­cu­lar in shape). I rec­om­mend a met­al fold­ing chair.

Sprin­kle a table­spoon or so of water onto the seat if you want to pre­tend it rained all after­noon lead­ing up to the per­for­mance.

Def­i­nite­ly have some wine to pour into a plas­tic cup.

Slather your­self in insect repel­lent.

Silence your cell phone.

If your housemate’s cell phone goes off mid-per­for­mance, feel free to tsk and sssh and roll your eyes. Hon­est­ly, how hard is it to com­ply with the famil­iar instruc­tions of the house manager’s speech?

At inter­mis­sion, stand out­side your own bath­room door for at least 15 min­utes before let­ting your­self into a “stall” to use the facil­i­ties.

Doze all you want to…. arrange for your house­mate to tsk and sssh at you from an appro­pri­ate dis­tance, should your snor­ing become audi­ble.

You have until Sun­day, May 3 to stum­ble sleep­i­ly away from the screen, and pre­tend you’re wan­der­ing to the sub­way with 1799 oth­er New York­ers.

Then make plans to wake up at 5:30 and sit on the floor with a ther­mos of cof­fee for sev­er­al hours, hop­ing that they won’t run out of tick­ets for The Two Noble Kins­men before you make it to the top of the line.

(Spoil­er alert: they won’t.)

Oth­ers in the Globe’s free series:

Mac­Beth, May 11 until UK schools reopen

The Winter’s Tale (2018), May 18 — May 31

The Mer­ry Wives of Wind­sor (2019), June 1 — June 14

A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream (2013), June 15 — 28

Click­ing the red “dis­cov­er more” lozenge beneath each show’s pho­to on the Globe Watch’s land­ing page will lead you to a wealth of sup­port­ing mate­ri­als, from pre-show chats with the Globe’s Post-Doc­tor­al Research Fel­low Will Tosh to pho­tos, arti­cles, and a stu­dent chal­lenge specif­i­cal­ly tai­lored to the times we find our­selves liv­ing through now.

Sub­scribe to the Globe’s YouTube chan­nel to receive reminders.

Donate to the Globe here.

Amer­i­cans can make a tax-deductible dona­tion to The Pub­lic The­ater here.

via My Mod­ern Met

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe The­atre in Lon­don

A 68 Hour Playlist of Shakespeare’s Plays Being Per­formed by Great Actors: Giel­gud, McK­ellen & More

A Free Shake­speare Col­or­ing Book: While Away the Hours Col­or­ing in Illus­tra­tions of 35 Clas­sic Plays

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Depend­ing on how long this thing goes on, she may look into giv­ing Pen­ny Lay­den a run for the mon­ey by live-stream­ing her solo show, NURSE. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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