Forces Voices

Lockdown Written Word / Audio: Under 18s Honourable Mention

Here is one of the honourable mentions for the under 18 written word / audio category in our Forces Voices creativity competition

During the height of lockdown we asked you and your kids to get creative in photography, arts & crafts, videography and written word / audio as part of our Forces Voices competition.

All written word / audio entries were judged by Amanda Prowse, a forces wife and International Bestselling author who has had twenty-four novels and six novellas published in dozens of languages around the world. 

Here is one of the under 18 honourable mentions and the story behind it. Click here if you want to see more creative masterpieces. 

Oliver Radley: Off To See Hamlet

"I was inspired to write this story after a school trip to Stratford upon Avon and learning about Shakespeare.

I would love to go to the Globe Theatre one day so I imagined what it would be like to go there in Shakespeare's time."

Oliver Radley: Off To See Hamlet

The harsh wind swept across our faces as we marched along the road.

The Thames slapped the shore bringing more rotting carcasses along with it.

I can smell the foul gut wrenching excrement littering the road.

I should be used to that by now but I can’t get my head round it. I could see it now, the thatched roof of the theatre appearing over the houses.

My hands twitched in excitement! We were only about five minutes away now so mother made sure we didn’t look as poor as we are.

John, my brother, kicked at my heels to try and annoy me which he's very good at.

Fathers always hated John, complaining about his level of maturity for a seventeen-year-old. Sometimes he gets so fed up he just leaves mother to deal with him.

It’s a hard time for our family, father is always working and earning very little and not much food to go around. We all have to give up little things to help.

They still manage to send us to the local school every day though. They say it’s good for us but I want to be an actor so what’s the point in learning all the endless sums in maths!

We go to the theatre about once a month. It’s always our family day out but we haven’t been in ages because we can’t scavenge enough money to go.

Yesterday, we finally managed to save enough to get four tickets to Hamlet. The ticket seller said today was special because Hamlet was showing for the first time.

We were all very excited because it's very uncommon to get tickets to a brand new play. We're very lucky because we live about a fifteen-minute walk from the Globe so as often as I can, I stand outside and try to identify the play they're performing.

Mother dragged me out the way once just as a horse and carriage rolled past!

As I stepped over a dead rat, I came into view of the most stunning magical place on Earth, the Globe Theatre.

It towered above me in such a fashion my legs began to tremble. I could just imagine being an actor in the theatre, putting my costume on, preparing the stage, how incredible could that be? We waited outside in the mile-long queue to pay for our tickets and after what felt like hours we paid our four pence and entered the grand theatre as groundlings!

The big clock on the wall read ten minutes to two o’clock. It should be starting soon. The theatre was predominantly built of a dark wood with thatchings here and there.

I looked towards the gallery where all the rich lords and ladies sat. They were dressed in gold embroidered dresses and wigs bigger than me.

They looked down on us like we were rats that didn't belong here and that we should go back to the crude streets! Behind the large oak doors, the actors were waiting to come and perform their new play. People fidgeted, anxious to see what was going to happen on stage.

There had been rumours that Shakespeare himself might be performing on stage which was a big honour to be in his presence, let alone see him acting in the theatre.

The curtains were drawn open and the audience fell silent. Shakespeare’s acting troupe (The King’s Men) rushed onto stage and began to perform the story of Hamlet.

As the play went on I began to recognise many of the actors like Richard Burbage for instance who was playing the role of Hamlet, I had recognised him from past plays like Othello and King Lear.

We had also been learning about Shakespeare’s acting company at school. Also to everyone’s amazement, William Shakespeare had the role of the Ghost King of Hamlet.

He was marvellous, never missing a cue, speaking with such passion and exclaiming every line to its fullest!

I noticed that the sun was becoming increasingly hotter throughout the afternoon. I could tell the audience were getting more uncomfortable and agitated as the minutes rolled by. It became harder to see because everyone was trying to shield themselves from the scorching oven-like sun.

About three quarters way through the play, a boy about ten-years-old with a torn waistcoat and curly ginger hair collapsed to the floor.

This wasn't unusual in hot weather, many people just cannot stand up for that long in the scalding heat. I remember about a year ago now, a boy not much older than him fainted and fell face first straight into the dirt. He had a big cut right in the middle of his forehead. He didn’t get up for about ten minutes!

That always made for a good story.

Another thing I love about watching Shakespeare’s plays is the combination of the band working together with the actors. The music always takes you by surprise, one minute it can be tranquil and peaceful and the next it can be fast and raging. Also, the combined efforts of all the instruments makes a remarkable noise!

The contrast of the loud blaring French horns and trumpets to the soft piano and the violins makes such a good tune.

I always had a habit of getting hungry during the play.

No matter how much I tried to eat at lunch I always felt like I needed a snack. I noticed every Saturday there was a market on the south bank of the River Thames.

I would always try and make sure I got there at the busiest time in case anyone saw me stealing. I’d always tell mother I was going to play sack with Matthew so she wouldn't ask many questions. Everyone went to the market in the morning so I always made sure I was up and ready to go.

I steal whatever is on show that was easy to take. Usually, it’s fruit but if I get lucky sometimes it’s bread. Then I always hide it under my bed until we go to the theatre.

I remember I have a bit of bread in my pocket that I stole last weekend and I eat that as I keep watching the last half an hour of the gripping performance.

As the play came to a close and Hamlet had been stabbed by the poisonous sword an eruption of applause rose from the theatre.

The King's Men stood on the stage and did their bows and then retired backstage. I stood under the blazing sun disappointed that this marvellous performance had to finish but also honoured to have seen it for the first time in action.

I was full of adrenaline from watching the master himself William Shakespeare perform in his own tale of tragedy and sorrow.

I could not wait to see the next play he had written. Would it be a story of death and villainy or of happiness and romance? I knew I had to see more of his wonderful plays to experience The King's Men again.

But with a heavy heart I slowly shuffled my feet through the dusty entrance and through the wooden doors I looked back and said to myself I would be back again.

You can view more lockdown creative masterpieces here


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