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Opinion please - Henry VIII at the Globe Theatre

Opinion please - Henry VIII at the Globe Theatre

Old Mar 24th, 2010, 08:07 PM
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Opinion please - Henry VIII at the Globe Theatre

I am looking for some advice. I will be in London at the end of June with my husband and two kids (10 & 12). I am considering buying tickets to see a performance at the Globe, which will have either Henry VIII (likely choice) or MacBeth playing.

We never go to the theatre, so I am not sure if this is a good first play to see. I have not read Henry VIII, is it reasonably appropriate for kids?

We live in Quebec, and there has been no Shakespeare in school (thus far), so the kids have not read any of his works. I will likely suggest a bit of background, at least for the older one, any recommended intro Shakespeare? My high school english years were filled with mostly American and Canadian authors.

Should I choose a different theatre production or venue? I don't want to see the Lion King (and neither do they).

Would Henry VIII at the Globe be a good choice? Thanks for your comments.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 08:38 PM
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I've never seen Henry VIII on stage but Macbeth would probably appeal to younger kids more. (Murder, witches, lady driven crazy--cool stuff!) Although quite honestly yours might be a bit young. But to have the Globe experience might be a once-in-a-lifetime treat. You know your kids. I'm an English teacher, who homeschooled her kids, and who loves Shakespeare (I'm actually about to teach 3 of his plays this spring) but I doubt if I would have taken any of mine when they were 10 to see either of these plays (if there was a comedy playing, maybe). But I certainly would not want to talk you out of it if you think they could benefit from this. Lamb's Tales of (or from?) Shakespeare is a classic retelling of Shakespeare that works well for kids (and adults, too). If this is something you really want to do and you think your kids would be able to sit for nearly 3 hours, (on rather hard benches) then yes. Something lighter might be more "fun" but maybe fun isn't the goal. (And I think there are times fun should be and times it shouldn't be the goal--you're the parent making that call.)
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 09:19 PM
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Any play would be worthwhile watching at the Globe. It is the experience that counts. But I do agree that Macbeth might be more appealing to children than Henry VIII.
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 09:29 PM
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I was thinking of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare too, and I would probably pick Macbeth over Henry VIII.

Lee Ann
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Old Mar 24th, 2010, 10:47 PM
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Personally, I don't think any Shakespeare's suitable for a modern 10 yo. It's barely comprehensible, and most of the historical plays have very, very tortuous plots with extraordinarily complicated references to people you've never heard of. If you don't go to theatres, and would like your children to want to go to theatres, for many children there's a real risk plunging them straight into conventional Shakespeare will turn them off for life.

And don't delude yourself that the Globe will be different: the sort of drama with a participative football crowd the guide books pretend. Audiences there are as deferentially repressed as anywhere else: just more uncomfortable. The tourist-guide myth that the modern Globe reproduces the raucousness and ebullience of an Elizabethan audience is downright barmy.

But why accept my judgement? They're your children and you know them best. Read the play for yourself and decide. There's even a synopsis before the full text at www.shakespeare-literature.com/Henry_VIII/0.html
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 02:44 AM
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If you don't normally go to theatres, I think that I would take them to see the Globe building, but then I'd take them to see something in one of London's other theatres.
It doesn't have to be the Lion King
They would enjoy the atmosphere and you wouldn't end up with a stiff back.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 03:17 AM
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I would pick Macbeth over any history play, and I would read the play first. You could do a family reading out loud at home. Have the kids read a summary of the story first. Use an edition with notes explaining the vocabulary. Everybody reads one or more of the characters. See how they do it differently at the theater.

I found the performance we saw at the Globe lively and fun. There were acrobats on ropes flying over the theater and original incidental music. Different play, and each production might be more or less entertaining (I wouldn't expect acrobats, but give this just as an example of one production). We deferentially repressed types enjoyed the heck out of it.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 03:27 AM
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I agree with MissPrism, you can see the Globe Theatre on a tour which is interesting but go to see a different play in another theatre. I went to see a Shakespeare play in Stratford upon Avon when I was 20 and didn't understand a word - it's all in English but not the English that you or I readily understand. Your kids might be bored silly, I would be concerned about putting them off theatre for life.

The Half Price Tix booth in Leicester Square has cheaper tickets, you can only buy for that day's matinee or evening performances.
http://www.tkts.co.uk/tkts-leicester-square/

There are lots of other ticket agencies in that area but this is the official one.

Kay
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 03:51 AM
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I agree - Macbeth before Henry VIII (which is not his best and constrained by the politics of his time), and Macbeth only if you do a lot of preparation as Nikki suggests.

But if you stroll along the river past London Bridge and cut down to Tooley St just before you get to City Hall (opposite the Tower) you will come to the Unicorn Theatre, which is focussed on shows for children:

http://www.unicorntheatre.com/

http://www.unicorntheatre.com/
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 04:07 AM
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Many libraries have books on tape or CD - you could listen to Macbeth with the kids as you drive.

When I was younger I wanted to study Shakespeare but I found reading the plays to often an arduous (sleep inducing) task. An alternative I found was to hang out in the school library and listen to plays on vinyl.

A nice alternative you often find at local summer Shakespeare festivals is the "Abridged Works", a modern rendition where all 38(?) Shakespeare plays are condensed into 90min. It's a hoot for kids and adults alike. All the history plays are covered in a span of about 5min - most of the play is spent on Macbeth and R&J.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 05:22 AM
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A couple other things to remember about Shakespeare's plays which are very different from what we in the 21st c. expect from drama--they didn't go to "see" a play but to "hear" a play, I've read, AND the audience knew the stories/plots pretty intimately. (I know in some ways there are still no new stories, just re-tellings and re-mixes, but it seems that Shakespeare's audiences might have had that mindset even more than we, going expecting to not have to strain to follow the plot but to enjoy what new things were done with the language, the character development.) This may not add anything to your decision-making process, though!
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 05:26 AM
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Thank you all for your replies - I think we have a consensus!

I bought the GBHP yesterday and was looking at the sites included in London, found the Globe, saw that there was a possibility of attending and thought I'd ask. Good thing I did. After posting here I googled Henry VIII (which I should have done first, I know) and saw that it would be much too complicated without a whole lot of history lessons prior. When reading the Globe's description, they say, "Famous in its own day as Shakespeare's most sumptuous and spectacular play, Henry VIII is a gorgeous pageant of masques and royal ceremony; a blaze of fireworks, cannonfire, red satin and cloth-of-gold." I thought it might be fun. As Flanner posts, I was under the delusion that there was some audience participation, which would keep the kids interested. The goal was not to turn everyone off for life.......

We will tour the Globe on the GBHP pass, but I will skip a performance. I will buy a copy of Lamb's Tales too.

Thanks again.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 04:47 PM
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The GBHP doesn't cover many sites in London, if I remember correctly. I don't remember your itinerary, but if you're going to be traveling around the UK, you might want to wait to activate the pass at a location outside London.

Lee Ann
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 05:12 PM
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The GBHP is very light on London sites, and would be a very poor choice if not leaving the city. I will activate it on the third day (of five), and that way will have it for the duration of my trip when I have a car. It still doesn't cover some of the cathedrals I want to see, but at 168 pounds for a 15 day family pass, delivery included, I think it is very reasonable. And I will probably go to a few places I otherwise would not have gone.
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Old Mar 25th, 2010, 06:16 PM
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I would still take your kids to a theatre production, especially if you've/they've never been before. It's an amzing experience that even children (perhaps especially children) can appreciate. I saw my first production much earlier than 10 and fell in love. There are many amazing plays in London. Lion King is supposed to be amazing but if you're not into check out some others. I saw Wicked there last summer (not sure if it's still playing) and I loved it. I highly recommend it.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 08:47 AM
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flannerUK's response pains me. I must acknowledge some truth to it; on the other hand, my 9 yo son has gotten hooked walking through a room while I was watching Kenneth Branaugh's movie versions of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Love's Labours Lost (not so much re Hamlet). Admittedly battle scenes may be more compelling in the movie version than on stage, and Branaugh's Love's Labours Lost is a musical (with 30's pop songs interwoven), but to some extent kids don't get hung up on trying to understand all of the words, and they certainly like the slapstick parts.

That being said, we'll be in London the same time as the OP and as the only choices are MacBeth and Henry VIII, and the Globe's program for kids (Childsplay) is not running the weekend we are there, we will not be taking in a performance (also here in DC we have lots of opportunities to see Shakespeare performed).

OP, don't dismiss Lion King. We've seen it on Broadway and it's an amazing show for kids and adults alike.
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Old Mar 26th, 2010, 08:55 AM
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Consider the Woman in Black. It's a ghost story, we saw it over 20 years ago and it's still running. Might be good for kids the ages of yours.
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Old Mar 27th, 2010, 02:04 PM
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Too bad Regent's Park Open Air Theatre is not doing "Midsummer Night's Dream" this summer. We took our daughter - age 13 - to see it three summers ago and we all loved it. This was a matinee full of elementary school children and they were all mesmerized and laughing at all the right parts. As a family, though, we enjoy plays in general and Shakespeare particularly. This summer we are going to see Macbeth at The Globe, as there are no comedies showing while we are in London. We have all read the play and hope we'll enjoy it despite it being a bit dark.

What about "Wicked"? I can't imagine a child - or anyone - not loving it!
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Old Mar 28th, 2010, 05:33 AM
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crazy,thanks for the mention of Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. They're doing Comedy of Errors at the end of June:
http://openairtheatre.org/pl115.html
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Old Mar 28th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Thanks very much for the Regent's Park idea. It seems like a good possibility.
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