Amy brings to life the Shakespeare: Perspectives Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon from earlier in the year, and talks about how it inspired her to find out more about Shakespeare. Read here her response to the Royal Shakespeare Company performance of As You Like It, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust post-performance talks, visiting the house Shakespeare was was born in, and going backstage at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
This year, I went on the Shakespeare Perspectives trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Although I didn’t do the module itself, places opened up, and Revolution and Response students were asked if they wanted to go. Having studied Shakespeare both on this module, and in previous modules, I was really interested in going on this trip so booked as soon as possible. On the trip, we did many things packed into the short amount of space of two days, meaning it got very busy and tiring, but yet being surrounded by lovely individuals who I share my course with the two days were great.
We went to the Royal Shakespeare Company to watch one of Shakespeare’s comedies, As You Like It. I knew nothing of the play beforehand other than the title, having not studied it or even picked it up in a shop and yet, I was excited. I was excited to delve into the world of something new and ready to have a good time.
The company clearly used meta-theatre which was the great choice, as those who know the play well or even those like me who didn’t knew the most famous quote ‘All the world’s a stage’. Through this use, the intimacy level was upped, as the actors engaged with the audience throughout, even at one point bringing members up to the stage themselves which added greatly to the comedic effect.
In our post-performance discussion at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with Dr Nick Walton, many members of our group mentioned the roles of Rosalind/Ganymede and Celia in a lively discussion. While some felt Celia overpowered Rosalind, which is contradictory to what her role is supposed to do, I personally felt that Rosalind was the true star. Lucy Phelps, who portrayed her, gave the character an energy that made her easy to love and easy to sympathise with. Her humour was perfect: her character made me laugh the most because of the way that she presented this lovable person, this lovable woman.
The play defied all expectations, the characters were likeable, the actors even more so. It felt like an evening with a family rather than a crowd of strangers.
Another thing we did on the trip was visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace which was an amazing experience as the house in which he was born had so much history behind it. I could see this in the way it was presented and the ways in which the staff interacted with tourists and members of the public, giving them extra information, and really immersing them into the world and time in which this iconic playwright lived. We also got to watch amateur actors performing certain scenes from different Shakespeare plays outside in the garden. This was an amazing experience as it was brilliant to see other ways in which Shakespeare could be performed. The two actors were incredibly talented and gave off just the right emotion and power to once again immerse you into the plays.
Probably one of the most exciting things we did on the trip was get a backstage tour of the theatre. This was incredibly insightful as the way the plays are done is so incredibly clever. We saw things such as costumes, lighting and all sorts of accessories used such as fake blood! This was so amazing as you really saw how much work is put in to performing Shakespeare in a modern-day setting. In Shakespeare’s time, you can imagine the way in which it was performed is much different to how it is today, so to see the way in which time has developed is brilliant in being able to immerse yourself fully into the plays.
The trip was brilliant also in the social aspect of things as I got to be with a lot of my friends that I didn’t do modules with but that were on my course. I also met and got to talk to new people which I found really incredible. I also met Saffron properly, who I’ve never met and haven’t been taught by but it was amazing meeting her and to be inspired by her love of Shakespeare. Julie’s tremendous love of Shakespeare also inspired me and having these two incredible dedicated women leading us on this true Shakespearean journey was an incredible experience.
If anything, the trip mostly made me wish I had done the Shakespeare module and has inspired me to go on to try read other Shakespeare texts with my specific interest now being Hamlet and a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, which I have already purchased and am ready to read!
In conclusion, thank you to Saffron, Julie and York St John University for giving me the chance to go on this insightful, brilliant trip and also the chance to write for this blog. This trip really helped me expand my love for Literature even more!
All images (c) Amy Langton apart from the final performance image (c) RSC