English: Bede’s Pupils Revel in The Globe’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’
While many of Bede’s Year 9 and 10 pupils were busy putting finishing touches to this year’s Junior Production of Noughts and Crosses, Tuesday 11 June saw Mr Cheshire, Mr Gibbs, Mrs Martin and I accompanying 50 Year 9 and 10 pupils to watch The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s South Bank.
To capitalise on the school’s location within the London halo, the Bede’s English department takes several trips to The Globe each year, with recent visits including a Sixth Form trip to Othello and Upper Fifth trip to Hamlet within the last 12 months.
This is in addition to our Sixth Form trip to see Anthony and Cleopatra and The National Theatre in February, the Upper Fifth trip to see The Jungle at The Playhouse Theatre in September, and our regular attendance of events at Charleston.
The particular trip came off the back of the new First Year English scheme of work ‘All The World’s a Stage’, a programme of study designed to enrich pupils’ understanding of Shakespeare’s life, poetry and plays ahead of the onset of their GCSE studies.
With GCSE exams finished for the Upper Fifth, and Sixth Form Pre-U English exams also concluding, this was the perfect time for such an endeavour – and we thought it only fair to open tickets up to our keenest Lower Fifth pupils, who have variously been studying Macbeth, The Tempest, and Romeo and Juliet in their recent English lessons.
We were clearly right to do so, and were overjoyed when we opened up the booking to find the tickets all snapped-up within an hour!
Part of the Globe’s Summer Season, which also features Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part II, and Henry V, this new production of The Merry Wives of Windsor is directed by Elle While and stars Globe mainstay Pearce Quigley at Falstaff with Sarah Finigan as Mistress Page, and Bryony Hannah as Mistress Ford.
These three actors led an accomplished ensemble in the fast-paced, artfully crafted, bawdily hilarious farce, which sees the vain, fat, cowardly Sir John taking a break from leading the wayward Prince Hal into trouble and finds himself short on cash.
In an attempt to continue his debauchery, Falstaff sets about trying to woo two married women who ultimately turn the tables on him – all the while a handful of other hapless suitors vie for the hand (and dowry) of the beautiful and accomplished ingénue Miss Anne Page.
The Globe’s production was staged with a 1920s Jazz Age slant, bolstered by toe-tapping brass accompaniment from composer Frank Moon and riotous dance sections care of choreographer Sasha Milavic Davies.
Bede’s First Year and Lower Fifth pupils were well-and-truly spoiled with some hysterical punning, adept physical comedy and lashings of uproarious innuendo.
Indeed, the children could not have hoped for a better production of a Shakespearian comedy, and we were doubly-blessed with blue skies and streaming sunshine despite recent days having been decidedly damp!
Lower Fifth pupil and Legat Dance Academy dancer Cara Hussey said of the production, “We have recently been studying Macbeth, which is so dark and full of superstition, but this play brought a real smile to my face and was entertaining in a very different way.”
First Year pupil Seb Cooper added, “It was brilliant to see the kinds of ideas we have been studying in lessons brought to life, and I was really surprised. The Merry Wives of Windsor could not be much more different to Julius Caesar, which we were reading last half term, and it made me think about the range of Shakespeare’s writing.”
With this visit marking the English department’s final trip of the year, we are already looking ahead and are planning two residential trips for next Academic Year, including a three-day stay at Stratford in the autumn and a Brideshead Revisited-themed jaunt to Oxford next summer. As such, it is safe to say that our pupils will not be wanting when it comes to cultural enrichment.
Nonetheless, it was brilliant to see so many children getting so much out of the experience, and we are of course incredibly thankful to The Globe for providing us all with a tremendous day of laughter and light-hearted learning.