The Standing Challenge

The Globe on London’s South Bank is a replica of Shakespeare’s famous theatre, recreated as faithfully as possible and sited near the Elizabethan original. It has no seats so the audience must stand throughout each performance.

Zoë and I passed it the other day and she said, ‘It might be because I’m lazy, but I wouldn’t really fancy standing up for ages.’ I said I wouldn’t fancy it either and then, joking, added ‘Obviously standing for 2-3 hours would be perfectly achievable for me.’ This got us musing on how long I could stand unaided and we resolved to answer the question with a standing experiment.

Tonight we set about our mission. It’s a non-scientific trial for which there’s no ethical approval and which stands a very real chance of ending in disaster. We’ve taken some precautions – crash mats, beanbags, helmet, gloves, and plasters at the ready.

So here goes…

We started by setting the rules – I had to have both feet on the ground and Zoë had to start the timer the moment I stood up. At the beginning I said best of three but it quickly turned into best of ten.

My ten times ranged from 3.7 seconds to my personal best of 5.8 seconds. I was disappointed when I realised my times were all in single figures because each time I stood up it felt a lot longer. I was grateful for the crash mats and beanbags when I face-planted several times.

Before I fell my standing was often firm and relatively stable. What I’ve learnt in this exercise is that seconds really do count. I know from my day-to-day experience that being able to stand even for a moment makes lots of tasks much easier than they’d otherwise be. These include pulling my knickers up after having a wee or getting in and out of my wheelchair.

I enjoyed my standing experiment. Perhaps standing all the way through Hamlet would be a bit ambitious, but I reckon Sixty Second Shakespeare might be achievable (eventually).

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