Forever Young: John Simmons at the Globe Theatre

Oh the terror of appearing on stage! So thought ten Dark Angels when script writer, director, producer and star of the show John Simmons told us he needed a ‘choir’ to help him finish his ‘Forever Young’ talk at the Globe in November. Hearts in our mouths, we arrived 15 minutes early, fortified by a few swift glasses in the Globe’s delightful bar overlooking the river, to be told our fate.

Knowing nothing more than that John would be expanding on themes from 26’s latest book, The Bard & Co, about the relevance of Shakespeare to modern life and business, the possibilities for public humiliation seemed limitless – particularly when we remembered the fiendish exercises John and his fellow tormentors set us on the Dark Angels writing course.

We needn’t have worried, however. John had done all the hard work, and just needed us to add a few (carefully scripted and choreographed) words at the end of his talk. So, rather than hovering nervously in the wings, hoping somehow John would avoid mentioning the Scottish play, we sat back comfortably in the lecture theatre in the depths of the Globe and waited for enlightenment.

And enlightening it certainly was – whether or not you’d read the book, in which 26 writers each wrote a piece inspired by one of Shakespeare’s plays and one of his original company of (26) actors. Relating Shakespeare to modern business writing might seem a rather arcane exercise, but as John revealed in a fascinating exposé, the principles of good writing remain the same whatever the medium, as each of the book’s essays demonstrated in different ways. It seems we could all do a lot worse than turn to Shakespeare for inspiration.

So what of the angelic choir? Well, it was the Globe after all, so how better to conclude than to perform a sonnet? Not just any sonnet, however: a 14-line verse in Shakespearian rhyming couplets expounding the ten principles of good writing by one J. Simmons, Esq. No doubt to become another fiendish exercise for next year’s Dark Angels.

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