"Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart." - William Shakespeare
As an English major, I have appreciation for the words of William Shakespeare. Yes, he is an integral part of every high school curriculum, but nothing compares to experiencing his works in his hometown. Last week, my program went to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Shakespeare productions and tour around the town. It was a full three days of Shakespeare overload, but rewarding in the sense that we all witnessed the roots of Shakespeare.
When we arrived in Stratford, I was struck by its quaint market town feel, which is exactly how it felt during Shakespeare's time. Two of the professors for my program led lectures about the two Shakespeare plays we were seeing, "Antony and Cleopatra" and "Richard II", as well as Moliere's play "Tartuffe". Their lectures were really interesting, even though we were always a bit tired from the long days of sightseeing.
The first play, "Antony and Cleopatra" was an amazing production. I wasn't too familiar with this play of Shakespeare's, but even without a lot of context, the acting, and production as a whole was phenomenal. The set had water in the background, which was used throughout the play. The actors and actresses all took on multiple roles, except for Antony and Cleopatra. I was intrigued how they could manipulate the different characters, as I am no actress myself!
|Set of "Antony and Cleopatra"|
The second play we saw, "Tartuffe", isn't a Shakespeare play, but a play written by Tartuffe. We traveled to Birmingham for this show, and it was a special treat for a lot of us since the man who played Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies was the main character. Guilty as charged, I was definitely starstruck! I had no expectations of the play, as I honestly never heard of it before. In our lecture, we learned it was a comedy, so I was looking forward to possibly something more light-hearted. Indeed, this play delivered. I found myself laughing throughout the play, as it had some very raunchy humor with a definite integration of British humor. All the characters had spunk and sass, and it broke up the two Shakespeare plays that carried more of a heavier tone.
|Set of "Tartuffe"|
The last show we saw was "Richard II", one of Shakespeare's historical plays. David Tennant was the star of this show for any Doctor Who fans, and extremely enjoyed this play. I had read it before, though it's a experience to see it in person, let alone in the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford. The use of the set, which was minimal in design, but complex in its usage, brought the production to life. It was haunting in a sense, as I felt myself drawn into the emotions of each character.
During these three days in Stratford, we all did some Shakespeare related sightseeing. We visited Shakespeare's birthplace, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, and New Place, which is the home that Shakespeare bought once he acquired some fortunes. Unfortunately, it no longer stands, but there are beautiful gardens that grace the area now, and we got to look at some artifacts that were dug up at the site.
|Gardens at New Place|
It was a definite whirlwind experience to go to Stratford for three days, but it was definitely a three days well spent. I couldn't have asked for a better time, as this is something I probably would've done otherwise. It's these kinds of trips that have made my abroad experience even more memorable and unforgettable!
P.S. If anyone makes it to Stratford, you have to go to Blue Cow Milkshakes. Here, I was reunited with my love of Reese's in milkshake form and it was a beautiful thing!