• English Theatre: Mirror of Society and the Human Condition

Much Ado About Stratford

Shakespeare: a name that evokes a range of emotions between love and hate into the heart of everyone. Whether you're an actor, writer, theater enthusiast, or simply a student, Shakespeare can be an intimidating poet to learn. For those of you who don't know, we've spent the past two days in Stratford, which is the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare

Our trip started out arriving at our hotel (which is a huge step up from our last hotel-- there are bathtubs and everything!) and we immediately visited the Shakespeare house, where William was born and grew up. The house was restored to be the same layout and I was surprised to see how large his childhood home was. I hadn't realized that he grew up so wealthy (until the age of 11, when his father fell into debt.) His father has been a town merchant and mayor, which explained how the Shakespeare family could afford things like an extra bed.

Shakespeare

After touring the house, we went outside and were greeted with a raised circular platform, where some students from our class chose to get up and preform monologues of their choosing from memory. One of our trip leaders, Kristen, even got up and did one! As a non-actor, I'm always amazed how someone can turn into a character as if turning a switch inside his or her mind.

Shakespeare

The next day we visited Shakespeare's gravesite, located at Holy Trinity Church in a quaint neighborhood of Stratford. It was surreal to walk in the same church that William Shakespeare attended every Sunday. Once the short walk of the church gardens was over, we walked quite a ways to the cottage of Anne Hathaway. One quick note of clarification: This particular Anne Hathaway was William Shakespeare's wife-- Not the American actress. Her cottage was beautiful, with expansive gardens and a quaint thatched roof.

Shakespeare

It's still surreal that we've spent the past two days walking where William Shakespeare walked, seeing the same river he saw, and making the same trek over to Anne Hathaway's house that he would have made. Every nook and cranny is packed to the brim with traces of a poet that has so greatly influenced the theater of today, and we are all so grateful to be able to visit this historical landmark. Although I'm not a theater major, I have still been astonished by the importance of William Shakespeare on modern literature, and the traces he has left behind are apparent today.