Instructors work to prepare many things about a course, particularly a study abroad course, but the one thing we can never fully control is perhaps the most important: the capacity of each individual student to fully commit and be part of a “travelling ensemble.” The students in this course have been spectacular at forming such a cohesive group, and it has made travelling with them a delight! They have listened carefully to one another in discussion—even in the midst of presenting very different responses to the theatre we’ve seen; they have extended helpful advice and invitations to one another; they have, each in their own particular way and style, shown themselves able to “mind the gap” in both literal and symbolic ways.
In the course of 21 days, we have seen all manner and type of British playhouses—from the ornate Haymarket Theatre to a simple black box where we saw a modern adaptation of the Theban tragedies. In Scotland, we saw The Lion King in the largest theatre space in the U.K. (3000 people), and in Stratford we were treated to the newest version of the Swan Theatre’s thrust stage. And of course, we began with a tour of the Globe, where our guide led us out to the front of the stage and asked us to imagine what it would feel like on a summer’s day to take center stage. The range of playhouses has been its own kind of drama.
We’ve seen plays that show us a prince who grows into a king (Henry V), a boy who doesn’t want to grow up (Wendy and Peter Pan), an “American Psycho” a floating princess, a young woman who defies her king, a British civil servant asked to “draw the line” in 1947 between India and Pakistan. We delighted in our immersion into the traditional British Christmas Panto in the medieval city of York. Throughout the month, the theatre has been astounding, but equally exciting, for us, has been the chance to be with such a lively and good-spirited group of students. In the tradition of the Panto, we are ending the show with a shout out: THANK YOU one and all for a fabulous month!
- Kristen and Nancy