Out and about in London with the 2nde 5

 A visit to the Globe or the Royal Shakespeare theatre at Stratford-upon- Avon are the two trips that all international pupils really  should aim for. These places bring the great Bard alive in a way that other thea tres do not. All English pupils have Shakespeare on their programme, right from 6e level and so many interesting activities are on offer provided by specialists – all we have to do is cross the Channel!

The 2nde5 travelled to London from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th May to see a performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe theatre in London. We finished s tudying the play on the Wednesday and left La Baule at7h44  the next morning for London on the TGV via Lille and the Eurostar !  Mr Sau teron kindly took up his position as group vanguard and official photographer and Mr Guerer and Emily joined us at very short notice to replace Mme Giraud and Christopher who were unable to come at the last minute.

  At the splendid newly-renovated St Pancras International station we bought group tickets and braced ourselves to face the challenge of boarding London tube trains, in rush hour, as a group of 28 with suitcases (one of the reasons for taking a ‘small’ suitcase, although definitions of 'small' were open to discussion!) Wheels were good on the bigger cases as the tube, like the metro, specializes in long labyrinthine corridors that seem to go on forever. Nevertheless, we finally arrived at Palmer’s Lodge, a five minute walk from Swiss Cottage tube station, although the heavens opened in a splendid English summer downpour just as we arrived;  water streamed down the stairs and our scout came back soaked! So, we waited five minutes and then sprinted to the hostel. Settling in was a relief but after dinner a walk to the Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded certain records was voted onto the programme. We set off with the men leading and with some of the girls wishing they’d gone for chilly evening wear rather than disco fashion. Once at Abbey Road, the Beatle fans tried to walk across the famous crossing, although buses, taxis and cyclists made it rather a challenge.

The Globe is a splendid reconstitution of Shakespeare’s original theatre, destroyed by fire in 1614 but rebuilt  and completed in 1997. It is an open air theatre with a thatched roof and wooden seats. It is a magical place and a trip there at the end of the school year is a well-deserved reward for hard work in the classroom. The Globe are specialized in performing Shakespeare’s plays (of which there are 37, so there is plenty of variety!) and perform three or four each season. Sometimes they are all-male casts, as in 17th century, sometimes all women but usually the costumes are period onces.  If they correspond to the texts studied they are an invaluable complement to class work and a cultural bonus. This performance of Much Ado was excellent and we got to meet Hero and Claudio the two young lovers in a 'Talking Theatre' session after the play. We also did a workshop with a Shakespeare Practitioner called TChoo who had played Queen Isabella of France in an earlier production. He led a brilliant workshop in a new teaching building. The work was as hoped, both great fun and very rich and stimulating, although the favorite activity was definitely 'Zombie' which works on group communication and team work and is A LOT OF FUN!!

After a quick recharging of batteries at Starbuck's, we set off on the tour of the Golden Triangle: the most famous sites in London, all within walking distance of Big Ben. Churchill's pidgeon-free statue, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, the Cenotaph, Horse Guards' Parade, St James' Park, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge and finally Strada restaurant.(See album)  Mr Sauteron estimated 12 km when we'd finished and feet and legs confirmed this. Walking gives a chance to be part of the London scene and meet and greet the locals.

 

Saturday started with a leisurely stroll along the canal to Camden Lock, temple of shopping for all under 20s and many prize buys were exhibited at the lunchtime rendez-vous. Then off to Bankside for the performance of  Much Ado which was excellent, Beatrice and Benedick being exactly as they should be and we got to meet Hero and Claudio the two young lovers in a 'Talking Theatre' session after the play. Back to the hostel for tea and football and ready for an early start.

 

The return journey was exciting - we all remember with gratitude the Eurostar assistant at St Pancras who got us onto our train with a full 10 minutes to spare before departure. A splendid experience and a marvellous group, special mentions to Dorion who is definitely the best map-reader, navigator and hive of information, to Antoine for his communication skills and to everyone else for their efforts, good humour and hard work.

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Mrs Blasco

(this should have been a student report, but we ran out of time, so just this once it's my homework!)

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