My next three blog posts will be all about a visit to Stratford upon Avon on May 19th. It was a warm sunny spring day, perfect for the Royal Wedding going on in Windsor. In the play Romeo and Juliet in Act III, Scene 2 Shakespeare wants to create the illusion that Juliet is head over heels in love with Romeo. At the time Juliet would have been played by a young boy and the two actors would have spent very little time in each others company so Shakespeare needs all the powers of persuasion that his pen can create. The bare boards of the Tudor stage are not fair Verona and the characters are all played by actors who would have been performing in other plays and quite possibly seen by the same audience a few weeks earlier. However, such was Shakespeare's genius that even today over 400 years after Shakespeare's death audiences are still drawn in and captivated by his plays. So to Juliet in Act III, Scene 2 she says " Give me my Romeo and when I shall die take him and cut him out into little stars. And he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun". These words so inspired the artist Steven Follen who in 2016 created an image of Romeo's face in glass stars. This image is upstairs at the Swan Theatre and is on public display.
I am rather fortunate to have one of the stars which my wife bought from the RSC shop in Stratford to help finance the project. The stars are made of silvered glass and have a central hole to enable them to be threaded on cords. When the light (from yonder window) shines on Romeo's face the result is amazing and my photo does not really do justice to this amazing creation.
There are actually lots interesting Shakespearean things to visit and see in Stratford upon Avon that are totally free; both inside the theatre and outside in the town. Even without seeing a play performed at one of the RSC theatres and without spending any money at all (apart from the car park) it is possible to have a very interesting day out in Stratford that will enhance anyone's understanding of Shakespeare.