On Monday 31st July the Phoenix Masters and the Firebirds broke new ground with our very first jointly arranged visit, to the Globe Theatre on the South Bank. As a joint visit, this was open to either or both members of a couple, and over 40 members of the two associations attended.
The Globe Theatre is a reconstruction, as faithfully as possible, of the theatre, ‘the wooden O’, for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays over 4 centuries ago. As well as being a fascinating piece of historical and architectural recreation, the theatre is also a live performing venue, and regularly puts on Shakespeare’s and his contemporaries’ plays in the season.
Our tour started with a short talk on the theatre and its construction and then we toured the theatre itself. We learnt of the heroic efforts of the late American actor, Sam Wanamaker to raise the money, get all the permissions and organise the building of the theatre to be an authentic reproduction.
But for most of us, the highlight of the tour was a masterclass and demonstration of Shakespeare’s use of stage fighting, and specifically sword fighting. It is not perhaps well known that some of our best sword fighting coaches for the actors are themselves, former Olympic fencers. They, in turn, may well have been inspired in their youth watching swashbuckling screen legends like Errol Flynn or Stewart Granger and so it goes full circle.
The party then repaired to the Doggett’s Coat and Badge public house overlooking the Thames by Blackfriars Bridge. Our visit was only a few days after the running of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Rowing Race on the Thames which sees young Watermen apprentices contest the sculling race for the Doggett’s Coat and Badge. For almost 300 years, there has been an amateur rowing race on the Thames, from London Bridge to Chelsea. It was originally organised by Thomas Doggett, an actor who became manager at the Drury Lane Theatre, then the Haymarket Theatre before becoming a politician and wit. After his death, the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers took over the running of the race.
The pub also claims to be the original Gin Palace where Nicholson’s Gin was served. But we Phoenix Masters and Firebirds prefer wine at lunch time and were under strict instructions from Phoenix Events Secretary John Nugée to drink enough so that we did not have to pay for our private room. This helped to wash down a fine buffet. Our thanks must also go to Isobel Pollock-Huff, Hon. Phoenix Secretary, and Eleanor Moss, Firebirds Events Secretary, for their efforts in making it all happen.
18 September Phoenix AGM and Dinner, Girdlers’ Hall
6/7 October Joint Visit to Harvey’s Brewery, Sussex
11 November City Lord Mayor’s Procession, with Phoenix float
6 December Phoenix Tour and Tea at Mansion House, with Lord Mayor