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Judith Hermida’s Thoughts on ‘Shakespeare’s World’

At the meeting on Thursday, 20th July, 2017, we were treated to a most excellent lecture by Kathleen O’Leary, from the University of Liverpool School of Continuing Education, entitled “An Introduction to Shakespeare’s World”.

Kathleen’s enthusiastic and expert delivery kept us enthralled as she explained how Shakespeare would have kept his audiences entertained and satisfied by plays with gripping plots featuring plenty of action, as he was very conscious of the importance of the visual element in his plays. She reminded us of how violent life could be in Elizabethan times, and that his audiences were not at all averse to blood and gore! We learned, for instance, that actors would conceal bags of pigs’ blood under their clothing in order to render the sword fight scenes more authentic and convincing for the blood thirsty audiences. As well, some actors ran the risk of actually being stabbed if the sword fight scenes became over enthusiastic!

Then, Kathleen spoke of the famous Globe Theatre in London, where so many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed. Amongst other facts and information, it was interesting to learn about the absence of any health and safety rules in those times, as literally thousands of people would¬†pack themselves in to watch the performance of his plays. However, the theatre would be closed down during outbreaks of the plague, which was a fairly frequent occurrence at that time in history.

All in all, it was another very good and memorable meeting, and it was followed by a sumptuous cream tea and the opportunity to chat and discuss.¬† We sincerely hope that Kathleen O’Leary will return to deliver further lectures for us in the near future.

Judith Hermida

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