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23 October 2008 @ 05:20 pm
UK Vacation Day 9 - Stratford-Upon-Avon, England  
Thursday morning I was still pretty high from the events of the previous night. I delighted in sharing my brief, but definitely enviable, David Tennant encounter with the woman who sat next to Billy and me at breakfast. She was old enough to be his mother, but she still hated me for my good fortune.

After breakfast, Billy and I had tickets to get a tour of the Courtyard Theater. Our guide gave us a history of the actual RSC Theater and explained that it is currently undergoing extensive renovations.
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The Courtyard Theater we were currently in (the one I’d watched both Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost in the night before) is actually just a temporary structure for while the official theater is out of service. It will be torn down within a year of the permanent theater's completion.

Below are some pictures of the Courtyard Theater. In the first one you can see some of the chandeliers that come down from the ceiling during Hamlet
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The shiny black stage is designed to enhance lighting effects. This was used in both of the shows I watched, but most memorably in the very first scene of Hamlet, where the royal guards bounce their flashlight beams off the shiny surface to set an appropriately eerie mood.
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The mirrors at the back of the stage were used for effects as well, creating illusions of larger spaces and more actors than were actually there. The cracks in the glass behind me were only on side of panels that swiveled from side to side. They were only shown to the audience after Hamlet shot Polonius. As the play went on the cracks spread across almost the entire background.

Here’s a closer shot of the broken glass. The swords in front of the mirror were used in Hamlet and Laertes’s final fight scene and Hamlet.
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Lots of the props from the shows were still lying around. I saw the fencing masks David Tennant (Hamlet) and Edward Bennett (Laertes) wear. You can see the swords used in that same fight in the picture above and a chair from the party scene in the one above that. Below is a picture of the carpet brought in during the party scene for David to walk all over in his bare feet the traveling to perform their incriminating drama on.
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After our very informative tour of the theater, Billy and I walked around town for a little bit. These lovely pictures of the Avon River were taken right across from the Courtyard Theater.
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These swans were lovely, but they quickly lost interest in us when they realized we didn’t have any food to share.
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We had lunch at the Dirty Duck, a popular place for the RSC actors themselves to go to. The food was lovely and the atmosphere even lovelier (the restaurant’s theme is appropriately Shakespeare), but alas, it being Sunday there were no actors to rudely stare at during lunch.
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t_eyla introduced me to pear flavored cider the previous night after Hamlet and it was so yummy I decided to get another one.
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After lunch we went to Stratford-Upon-Avon church where William Shakespeare is buried. It is a gloriously beautiful building and still an active church. Sadly, they need 800,000 pounds for badly needed renovations. Patrick Stewart is generously giving a poetry reading at the church next week in order to raise funds for that purpose. I’m really bummed that I won’t be in the country anymore by then.
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This is a first edition King James Bible, originally bound in 1611.
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After visiting the church we went to the house where Shakespeare was born and spent his childhood. They didn’t let us take pictures inside, but here’s one from the back garden.
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Later that evening I was blessed to be able to meet swankkat, who is amazingly lovely both inside and out. She brought me some of her artwork to keep! I now have three pins featuring the Doctor and Rose and a bunch of stickers too. The two of us, accompanied by Billy and swankkat mom, went out for dinner at a Chinese buffet (yum!). After dinner we sat in the lobby of our B&B, chatting about everything (Doctor/Rose) and nothing (you know, all that real life stuff) for hours. It was great!
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