Yesterday (25th April), Millman Street Community Centre hosted the first taster workshop by RADA’s Elders Company. The tutor was Ingrid, and she was assisted by Diana and Jean. We at HCA hope that this initial session will inspire a regular series of workshops at the Centre.
Our members were taught warming-up exercises, and then the RADA actors read lines from Anthony And Cleopatra (a 17th century play by some bloke called William Shakespeare, apparently). Our members each recited a line from the play, culled from a speech by Domitius Enobarus, and the thesps explained what each line meant in modern parlance. To this reporter’s great dismay, no one could recall their explanation of the couplet “The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne/Burned on the water: the poop was beaten gold…”
One can only hope that the ‘poop’ referred to the poopdeck of the barge…
As is often the case at the Centre, a dearth of information about what occurred during the workshop meant that research had to be undertaken in order to flesh out an otherwise threadbare article.
It seems that Domitius Enobarus was a real historical figure; a general and politician in 1st Century BC Rome. He ‘probably’ played no part in the assassination of Julius Caeser (15th March, 44BC). We can probably rule him out as a suspect in the Kennedy assassination in 1963 (AD), too.
As for this William Shakespeare chappie, according to Camden Libraries’ Tudor (an authority on Elizabethan Holborn), Shakey’s Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed at a long-gone playhouse in Gray’s Inn.
While this has precious little to do with the RADA workshop, it is a first-rate example of padding out a blog for want of information. Similarly, the identity of the “Sweet swan of Avon” (a nickname invented by fellow playwright Ben Johnson) has been a matter of speculation for centuries. Some, unable to accept that a mere glover’s son from Warwickshire – much less someone with no university education – could have authored the plays and poems ascribed to Shakespeare, have nominated various other candidates over the years. These supposed wordsmiths include The Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon (no, not the 20th Century artist famed for his 1944 triptych Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion), and even the first Queen Elizabeth herself.
In order to clear up the supposed mystery once and for all, your HCA hack turned sleuth, embarking on an all-expenses spared expedition to Stratford. Not the Stratford in Warwicksire, sadly, but the one in East London.
While in the East End, he also had a go at identifying Jack the Ripper, and believes he has also solved that long-standing mystery: it turns out that Jack the Ripper is the name of a pub in Whitechapel. Research within said establishment led to, er, “general fuzziness”, a condition to which hacks and other blighters who ‘interpret’ research seem particularly prone. Consequently, the hapless hack concluded that the Bard’s aforementioned sobriquet – “Sweet swan of Avon” – indicated that Shakespeare was an Elizabethan Avon lady. This reporter now considers the matter closed…
Relax, regular readers: The captions for the following slide-show are of the usual, ahem, ‘comic quality’…
- RADA’s Elders Company is a community initiative designed for people who are interested in developing drama skills in their retirement. They also work with a comissioned writer and stage a production in one of RADA’s theatres each December.
- Holborn Community Association would like to thank RADA’s Elders Company for providing the workshop for our members. We hope there will be more.
For more information on the Elders project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Sarah; rambling report by Notes Smudger