Much Ado

For weeks now I’ve had writer’s block and I just Googled how to get rid of it and it said you have to write shit on purpose. So here I go!


Last night I went with a friend to the Globe Theatre. I went to see a play called Much Ado About Nothing. I didn’t know what the play would be about. I thought about reading the plot on Wikipedia first to help me understand it, but then I decided not to. Not knowing would make it a more similar experience to what people would have had 400 years ago when the play was written.

The Globe is a very pretty building. It’s big and white and round and it has a thatched roof. I like thatched roofs because they remind me of the countryside and the past. I like things that are made of wood. I dislike things that are made of plastic. I like things that are made of stone. Things that are made of iron are on the cusp.

I’ve never seen a Shakespeare play live. I’ve seen Romeo and Juliet on video. I watched it in English when I was 16. I don’t remember much about it. I have Macbeth on my bedside table but I’ve only read ten pages because I don’t understand what’s going on. I want to like Shakespeare because I’m a writer. I feel stupid when I try to understand Shakespeare.

I’m writing this sitting wet in a bath towel because I just got out of the shower and decided that maybe I could trick my brain to be creative by interrupting its usual flow. Never written in a bath towel before. I’m concerned the damp from the towel will spoil the fake leather of my desk chair.

The Globe inside is magical. Three tiers and a standing crowd in the middle. We were standing. There is no technology in the Globe. The actors have to project their voices very far and speak from their diaphragms.

It was hard to stand up for two and a half hours but only because I hurt my back lifting weights the day before. It rained at one point and this was bad because the Globe has no roof. I have never been rained on while watching a play before. I liked it. I also liked it when I could feel the wind. I noticed the wind blowing the hair of the man in front of me and I thought that was cool because it sort of looked like we were indoors and there shouldn’t be any wind, but if you looked up you could see aeroplanes flying over.

The play was very good. I liked all the actors. Benedick was my favourite because his voice was loudest and his mannerisms had punch. I laughed my head off even though I didn’t understand much of the dialogue. My brain is bad at listening to abstract things. That’s why I’m bad at listening when people talk about their jobs or about friends I’ve never met. If I can put an image to them I’m much better.

It was funny to laugh at a 400 year old play while standing in the rain. It made me feel emotional and glad to be alive. It made me feel safe. I never really feel safe in cinemas because they’re booming and dark and always too hot or too cold. I thought a lot about time. I thought a lot about death. I thought a lot about writing and my life and whether I’m good at writing and whether I’m ever going to get a book published and whether I’ll ever produce any really really good writing.

I felt grateful to live in London and I felt impressed by how realistic and textured the costumes looked. I listened more intently every time the guy playing Benedick was on stage. I liked how the characters in the play sometimes came onto the stage from weird angles, through the crowd. Don Pedro shook my hand as he passed. Everyone else passed by after him throwing flowers. I always think about the divide between viewers and actors when I go to the theatre. As soon as they stand on a stage I put a mental barrier between myself and them. They disappear: they are not real. They become hyperreal. I don’t know. But in the Globe they get down off the stage and touch you. You don’t just watch the story – you’re in it.

I thought the girl who played Hero was pretty and I thought the girl who played Beatrice was exciting. I thought the guy who played Claudio looked innocent and the guy who played Don Pedro had enormous hands. I liked the guards. I liked how the actors seemed to be having fun. I liked how they involved the audience. I liked how the audience knew when to laugh because of the actors. I liked how universal laughter is. I liked how I genuinely belly-laughed.

A few times I laughed in a high pitch by accident and felt embarrassed.

I was grateful that you are able to go to the bathroom whenever you like, not only at the intervals. I was grateful it didn’t rain more than it did. I was grateful that it rained a bit, because I was curious what would happen when it rained. Nothing happened when it rained. But they sell macs outside just in case. My hair got a bit wet.

Mostly I thought about William Shakespeare. I wondered how he did it. Whether he ever found himself lost for words or uninspired or feeling stupid. I wonder if he ever had to do writing exercises to un-stick himself. I wondered how he was so good. I wondered what it felt like to write like he did. Like clouds. Or vines.

I felt the ache of envy and longing. I want to do more with what I have. I want to not always feel tired when I finish teaching for the day. I want more gas in my tank. I want inspiration to linger, not to tease me when I’m busy and then slip away when I finally get some free time to write. How to bottle it? How to nurture it? It has to be fun – has to interest me. Can’t be too much stress on being any good. Fun is more important. But surely that’s not how Shakespeare did it. Or did he?

The climax of the play was happy and there were flowers everywhere and kisses and cheering and clapping. The music was all live, with a band playing instruments. One guy was playing the clarinet. Another was playing an old instrument I didn’t know the name of and had never seen before. I wondered if they learned their instruments because they wanted to play at the Globe, or if they just saw a job advert one day and thought ‘finally’. I wondered how long it would take me to learn a weird instrument and find a job at the Globe.

Today more than anything I keep going back to the image of a plane flying over. If the passengers could have looked down, out the bottom of the plane, they would have seen all the lights and roads and skyscrapers and bridges of London, and in amongst it all they would have seen a small wooden O, open to the sky, with a cluster of people around a square of wood, and standing on that wood, a man dressed as a prince, holding a sword, making a speech about love, laced with randy puns, written by a ruff-clad bard a half-millennium ago. A little portal into the past. That’s as close as we’ll get: laughing at the same jokes for centuries. Falling in love for centuries. Broken hearted for centuries. A little bit of magic, hidden among all the bright lights. I think that alone is enough to make me love London forever.

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