All Her World's a Stage
A Shakespeare aficionado creates a Globe Theatre replica from her kids’ Legos
Text and Photos by Maire McArdle
Sanders’ cleverly constructed rendition of the exterior of the Globe Theatre, shown above, conveys the scale of how large her Legos project really is.
With a quirky knack for keeping things fun, Suzanne Sanders shyly smiles as she describes her lifelong quest to know a little something about everything.
Reminiscing about raising kids — Ty and Tjasse, both grown — Sanders recounts designing Halloween costumes, baking crazy-decorated cakes, building forts, silly dancing, and making up games, stories, and songs. As a dedicated dabbler, she enjoys freelance writing, jewelry design, volunteering, playing the ukulele, and gardening. Yet, one particularly unusual hobby inspired her to take up teaching at Chesapeake College, the Institute of Adult Learning, and Chesapeake Forum.
“I’ve collected Tarot cards since I was a teenager. Each deck is like a mini art museum. A couple years ago I turned my hobby into a class. I organized it as an overview of history and art seen through the lens of Tarot decks over the past 600 years.”
After the Tarot class success, Sanders felt encouraged to pursue another major interest — her love of Shakespeare. Having attended countless plays throughout her life, this Shakespearean aficionado created a class called “Friending Shakespeare” to share her understanding of Elizabethan speech, the humor, the passion, the costuming, and the staging.
“Because Shakespeare wrote for everybody — all classes, all levels of education — he was a blockbuster hit in his day. I’m convinced we can enjoy it just as much now with a little help over the obvious language bumps and such.” Sanders offers more on her latest teaching endeavor, “I just finished doing ‘Macbeth: The Scottish Play’ with John Miller as a co-facilitator for his class at Chesapeake Forum.”
Like so many of us forced to stay home in the spring of 2020, Sanders set out to tackle the daunting task of cleaning out their attic, never imagining that she would encounter her most ambitious creative project yet. Huge storage tubs full of 30 years’ worth of Legos blocked the way. They were so heavy she couldn’t budge them. Her solution was to separate them into smaller containers so she could continue organizing the attic. Listening to the TV while sorting, she heard some upsetting news.
“When I learned back in May that the Globe Theatre in London might never reopen after the pandemic, I was devastated. I’ve dreamt for years of one day going to see Shakespeare plays there. I felt compelled to do something. I gave a donation, of course, but I felt that wasn’t enough. There I was, up to my elbows in tiny bricks…morose over the prospect of losing the Globe. Then, I had a magical thought — if I could build it, it could not disappear!”
Sanders donned the imaginary hats of an architect, a stage designer, a construction worker, and theater producer. She started with the longest Lego beams to work out a 36” x 32” foundation on an old table in their family room. The toughest task was figuring out how to engineer a sweeping curve using all right-angled blocks. By the time Sanders had created most of the stage and the first level, she discovered that her design plan would not align correctly at the top. She had to go back to square one.
Sanders’ clever determination to create specific characters from the thousands of Lego pieces at hand lead her to humorous challenges like: “How do I construct a Hamlet? Could I use Luke Skywalker’s blond head on the racecar driver’s black body? What about Falstaff? Do they even make fat mini figures?”
When her pursuit to dig up just the right pieces from the attic for key characters like Shakespeare himself, Julius Caesar, a judge, and several female characters fell short, Sanders took a ride to the Lego store in Annapolis when it reopened in August 2020. She was able to purchase new pieces to finish the missing characters and replenished her supply of white, black, and brown bricks, which would serve as hints of the half-timbers and thatch roof of the original Globe Theatre.
The Globe Theatre in London, was painstakingly
replicated with Legos by Easton resident Suzanne
Sanders over many months during the pandemic
Delighting in the details, Sanders has made tiny cook pots on the fireplace, water in the horse troughs, a patchwork quilt for a bed. She tried to build a bear from scratch for “Exit, pursued by a bear” in “The Winter’s Tale.” She had to admit defeat and buy one online. “At least I managed to make the guy look terrified!”
What’s next after the Globe Theatre Lego masterpiece is finished? Sanders’ husband, pediatrician Dr. Richard Fritz suggests, “What if you do a whole Shakespeare play as a stop-action movie?”
“Well, maybe I will!” she replies with a laugh. “There are plenty of people who make entire movies with just Legos. There’s even an app to do stop-action animation using your iPhone. And it’s easy enough to put videos online. If this quarantine stuff goes on much longer, I may become a movie mogul. At least, a mini-mogul.”
So, what would Shakespeare have to say? “I’m with Hamlet,” says Sanders. “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space.”
To see this Lego creation in person, Sanders’ Globe Theatre will be on display at the library: 100 W. Dover St., 410-822-1626.