Greetings from Stratford! We have finished our short stay in Stratford-Upon-Avon and are now traveling back to London, where we will be the next 10 days. For those of you that don’t know England’s history well, Stratford-Upon-Avon is the town where William Shakespeare was born. We started our adventures in Stratford by touring Shakespeare’s birthplace. We saw the place he called home growing up, the history behind his childhood, and even original artifacts from the time when he grew up. We toured every room of the house, and some of us geeked out and even bought souvenirs from the Shakespeare gift shop.
Acting Workshop with the Royal Shakespeare Company
We also had the opportunity to experience first hand how actors feel while performing Shakespeare’s plays by attending an acting workshop before seeing The Tempest. This workshop challenged students to step out of their comfort zones and into the shoes of various characters within the play. The instructor, Debbie, was an enthusiastic actress, who was passionate about theatre. Her enthusiasm made acting out the characters fun and provided a safe environment to discuss how students read the play and understand the different roles. Debbie might be the person to challenge Eric for the most amount of energy!
Seeing a piece of Shakespeare’s work in his birthplace was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Tempest brought up a variety of ethical issues like power, ambition, and moral authority, that we discussed the next morning. I thought that the production was beautiful. The actors were passionate about their production and were able to fully commit themselves to the play. The director used many special effects to portray the scene and characters, which I thought was “brilliant” (as the English say). Since this play was a part of our pre-course material, we were able to be attentive to ethical issues without being too distracted by the special effects.
It is safe to say The Rover, which we saw the night before, caught many of us off-guard. Not having read the play in advance we weren’t sure what to expect, and the daring material of the play definitely held the audience’s attention. It was set in the first part of the 17th century. It had musical numbers as well as sword fights to impress us all with the intense choreography. The Rover was about the expression of love and sexual desire, as well as an examination of rape culture. The majority of our discussion surrounded rape and how the presentation of it caused the audience to feel uncomfortable. We talked about the value of that discomfort and its power to make us think about unpleasant realities like sexual assault. We also discussed forgiveness, or lack of forgiveness, and when it is appropriate to express it.
Back to London
We finished off our fun two-day extravaganza in Stratford by having a class dinner at Wildwood. The food was delicious, especially since most of us got dessert as well! It was a great way to finish off our packed two-day trip. As we write, we're on the train back to London for more adventures at Shakespeare's Globe tomorrow!
Makayla and Ashley signing off!