I’ve been involved with Wivenhoe Open-Air Shakespeare since 2019; I’m playing Polixenes, the King of Bohemia, in this year’s production of The Winter’s Tale. As someone who’d done no drama since school (a long time ago!) I’m always worried about remembering my lines, so I start learning them early. I recite them aloud when cycling to and from work at the University or when out walking.
So if you see a middle-aged woman walking or cycling round Wivenhoe and its environs muttering to herself, don’t be alarmed; I am not mad (?) but reciting Shakespeare. As I’m playing a King this year, there may be the occasional regal gesture thrown in for good measure. I even practised my lines while on a walking holiday in the Derbyshire Peak District with my family over Easter. I would drop behind the rest of the party to declaim (top tip; don’t do this while walking up a 1 in 7 hill; you will run out of puff….!)
The Kingdom of Bohemia teems with shepherds in the play and the Derbyshire fields were full of sheep and new-born lambs, to whom I was able to quote one of my loveliest lines about ‘twinned lambs that did frisk in the sun, and bleat the one at the other’. I am now like Francis Flute the bellows-mender (who played the part of Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) – I can ‘speak all my part at once’ but have no idea about my cues, entrances, exits, or stage movements, so much work remains to be done!