Friday, September 30, 2011

Shakespeare Walking Tour

Highlights from today's walking tour directed by Johnathan Milton.

The American fountain/clock monument this stands in the market square on Rother Street and was donated by George W. Childs (1829 -1894), of Philadelphia, an American publisher in 1887 to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The large Gothic Clock Tower, with sculptures of eagles and lions is an imposing example of design and architecture of the period. The original tower incorporated a fountain which is now no longer functional. You will see not only American Eagles but also English Lions and a fairy from A Midsummer Night's Dream as part of the stonework. Portrayed above each clock face is a representation of a fairy inspired by Shakespeare in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.   

William Shakespeare grew up here and he played here. He ate meals in the hall and he slept and dreamed in these rooms. Shakespeare also spent the first five years of married life in this house with his new wife, Anne Hathaway. For millions of Shakespeare enthusiasts worldwide, the house is a shrine.

Thomas Rogers of Stratford-on-Avon, father of William Rogers, was a bailiff and alderman. Actor, David Garrick revolutionized acting and brought new audiences to Shakespeare during his life.

15th century chapel built for the Guild of the Holy Cross.

It is often known simply as Shakespeare's Church, due to its fame as the place of baptism and burial of William Shakespeare.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taming of the Shrew in Performance

In our weekly seminar, we were joined by esteemed director Lucy Bailey, who is set to direct January's production of The Taming of the Shrew at the Royal Shakespeare Company. In order to aid her research of the play, several fellows of the institute lectured on various points concerning the neighboring texts, domestic duties of the 16th century and sources related to the play.

First, Michael Dobson explained the "neighboring texts" of the time - most notably The Taming of A Shrew, The Woman's Prize or The Tamer Tamed (1611), Sauny the Scott or the Taming of the Shrew (1667), A Cure for a Scold (1735), and Catherine and Petruchio (1754).

Next the lovely Tara Hamling spoke a bit about domestic duties of the time and the implication of furniture in the home. What I found most interesting is the concept of a person's bed being symbolic of wealth and representative of a person's life cycle. You are born in bed. You sleep and fornicate in your bed. Ultimately you die in your bed. This is a concept that will be explored the the upcoming RSC production which will include a literal or figurative bed as part of the stage design.

Martin Wiggins finished up the findings with an extensive list of sources Shakespeare likely used to compose The Taming of the Shrew - All of which are a little outside my knowledge base and have prompted me to conduct a massage Google Search on the subject.

This particular topic of the week has sparked my interest and I may investigate how to incorporate such dramaturgy products into my dissertation work.

Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company brings their first performance in the remodeled Royal Shakespeare Theatre to life, with Michael Boyd's Macbeth. The play has been re-envisioned in a way that illuminates the prophecies of the play.

Although Jonathan Singer was cast as Macbeth after performances as Richard II and Richard III in the award-winning 2006 – 2008 Histories Cycle, it was Aidan Kelly who graced the stage as the title character. Kelly attacked the role with vigor, although his relationship with Lady Macbeth lacked passion and intrest.

David Boyd's most controversial reworking of the play is his replacement of the weird sisters with ghost-like children. SPOILER: Later in the production it is revealed that this prophetic youths are actually a projection of Macduff’s innocent children, brutally murdered by Macbeth's minions. Although the concept worked in the world of the play, it seemed an unnecessary addition that in turn eliminated much of Shakespeare's text.

Most noteworthy was the performance given by Daniel Percival as Macduff, whose tragic losses were felt in the last row of the upper circle.

The RSC's Macbeth is truly an unforgettable production, though a mixed bag of greatness and ineffectual intensions. Although, being back in the newly remodeled theatre melted away many disapointments of the day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

1st night in my new flat!

Today was very adventurous. We had out first official meeting at the Shakespeare Institute.  I met my main professors and the new director of the institute, Michael Dobson. Dobson is a comical character and a very knowledgeable individual. He has already charmed his way into my heart and I look forward to speaking with him more about my studies.

I think this is going to be a very work intensive, but fun year! This semester I am taking 3 modules (classes): Research Skills, History of Performance and Plays & Poems. Classes start tomorrow and continue through Thurs. We also were given a tour of the Institute Library which is very extensive.

After our first meeting we went to the tower at the RSC to view the entire county of Warwickshire. It was an amazing view on a beautiful summer day. It was actually very warm out today with plenty of sun. I hear that the good weather is suppose to continue through the week. Perfect for a California girl like me.

In other news, my mattress arrived today. I have all the pieces of my bed frame on the floor of my bedroom to put together tonight. Yikes! I hope I can figure out how to put this thing together.

Picture to come soon!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Public Bus Adventure

This morning Jean had breakfast ready for us at 9AM. We had a proper English breakfast which included eggs, bacon, and sausage, with orange juice and tea. My stomach is a little off-kilter which made it difficult to eat all of my food. I also remembered that asking for scrambles eggs in England isn't a good idea. They do not cook them through like we do in the states. Also, their bacon is what we call Canadian bacon and looks a little more like Ham.

Jessy and I finished up at breakfast and then went down to the Visitor’s Center to meet with our good friend Barbara. Barbara has been a great help to us, setting up our travel arrangements and even purchasing cell phones for us.

Barbara said that the best way to get Jessy to Coventry was to take the National Express, which we bought tickets for at the Visitor's Center. Unfortunately after walking back to the Bed and Breakfast, then to the bus stop, we missed our bus by less than 1 minute. We then had to walk back to town and take a regular city bus.

We rolled into Coventry a little past 2PM, over an hour later than our predicted 1PM arrival. We located Priory Hall, the dormitory Jessy is staying in. She went to check in and found that she needed a passport picture to get her ID card and keys.

Jessy then went down the street to a local grocery store that had a passport photo booth, while I waiting back at the dorm with her luggage. There was no way we were dragging that back down the street!

After check in, we had to stand in a long line (queue – sound like “Q”) for the elevator (lift). Yes, there was one elevator for the entire building! - With a million parents and students trying to use it!

Finding Jessy's room was not easy. The hallways were maze-like and difficult to keep straight. But in the end it all worked out and Jessy had a private room with a shared bathroom and living area.

I then attempted to catch the National Express again at the main bus station, but failed yet again. The bus station was rather large and I did not know which platform to stand on. Also, since it is Saturday there was no one to help me.

I then walked back to the other bus station and took a different city bus, #16, back to Stratford. This was a 72 minute ride through Warwickshire instead of Lemmington. The only benefit of this was that I was able to drive by Warwick Castle. I did not arrive back in Stratford until almost 6PM. Just in time to grab a bit to eat and head back to the B&B before dark.

I am exhausted! I hope there is time for some household shopping tomorrow before my 3PM meeting at the institute. Wish me sweet dreams!

Friday, September 23, 2011

11 hours on a plan +1.5 hours on a bus + 20 minutes in a taxi cab = My arrival in Stratfrord

What seems like days ago, I hugged and kissed my Mom goodbye at the airport. It was a bitter sweet moment for me. Obviously I am very close to my folks, but I also have a dream of living in the UK and studying Shakespeare - A dream that will be fulfilled this weekend. Luckily I have my good friend Jessy with me to ease the journey.

I diligently tried to sleep on the plane flight, but was unable to do so. In between naps I watched a few movies in flight: X-Men Origins, Red Riding Hood, His Highness. All were extremely disappointing.

Jessy and I arrived in Heathrow at a little past Noon, UK time. I easily slipped through customs with my Student Visa and Offer Letter, but Jessy had a little more trouble as the customs agent seemingly found her suspicious and asked her a variety of questions. Of course, all was well and we made it through just fine.

At the baggage claim we picked up out luggage. Note: in the UK they call it the "baggage reclaim", which is probably more correct. We then made our way in an underground walking tunnel to the Central Bus Station to pick up our National Express.

After a long bus journey in which my body finally decided it wanted to sleep, we were me at the Warwick Station by Peter, our taxi driver. Peter took us to our Bed and Breakfast, Green Gables. There we met Jean, the owner of Green Gables, who quickly showed us around. She is a charming and good-natured woman and I think we will like our stay here.

Next it was off to visit the ATM to get cash at Barclays. Then off to meet Jude, my roommate, at my new flat (they call them flats rather than apartments). Our apartment is very clean and newly refurbished. I am very happy with what Jude has pick out, although one bedroom is much smaller than the other, so I suppose there will be some negotiating at a later date to determine who gets what room. It all looks very bare and empty right now.

Unfortunately my mattress, which I ordered online, has not arrived. However, the bed frame and duvet are sitting comfortably in the hallway. This was sad news, as it probably will not arrive until Monday, which means an extra day at the B&B, or a nice sleep on the floor.

I then took Jude to the Dirty Duck for dinner and drinks. We were met later by another student at the Institute, Liam. Everyone is very pleasant and personable. I am eager to meet more students and make new friends on Monday at our first meeting.

Jessy and I are now settling into bed. We have an early start tomorrow as we need to get her to her University in Coventry by 1PM tomorrow. Sweet dreams everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go...

After much turmoil and a few tears I have my 2 suitcases packed with all of my worldly possessions, all weighing less than 100 lbs total. Fshew! Thanks, Mom! No one can pack like you can!

Tomorrow evening I will leave LAX with my dear friend and travel companion, Jessy, to embark on a journey across the pond. I am very excited to travel with Jessy who is like a sister to me (only without the annoyances) and one smart cookie! Jessy is going to be studying at the University of Coventry for a semester. I am grateful to have her in the country with me. I am sure that we will find plenty of opportunities to travel and site-see together. Jessy is also writing an exciting blog during her time in England - So get reading here!

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Studies

A few people have asked me about my program of study, so I thought I would include the description provided by the Shakespeare Institute. Enjoy!

MA in Shakespeare Studies

The programme provides an unrivalled opportunity for graduate level study of all aspects of Shakespeare, drawing on the specialisms of a team of Shakespeare scholars. One of the programme’s areas of specialization relating to its location is performance study, and students will be able to see Shakespeare performed at the Stratford theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and use the RSC archives at the Shakespeare Centre. The combined resources of the Shakespeare Institute's own library and the library of the Shakespeare Centre provide an impressive and rarely equalled resource. The MA in Shakespeare Studies has a strong reputation both in Britain and abroad, and has provided a gateway towards research and an academic career for many of its students, as well as a valued qualification for enhancing employability in a variety of areas including teaching and the arts.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My New Flat!

Thanks to my lovely new friend and roommate, Jude, I will now have a roof over my head. We secured a flat together in Stratford-upon-Avon on Birmingham Road. It has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a washer! What more could a couple of girls want?

It is unfurnished, so when I arrive I will have to order up some furniture for my bedroom. Jude seems to have a living room set available, but instead of sleeping on her couch the first few nights, I will be staying at a bed and breakfast until I can order myself a bed. The reality is starting to set in and my excitement for the trip is building. I cannot wait to begin the journey.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The World Shakespeare Festival Launches Today!

PRESS RELEASE - 6 September 2011
The World Shakespeare Festival is launched today, supported by BP as Founding Presenting Partner

What is the World Shakespeare Festival?

  • A celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright
  • Over 50 arts organisations
  • Thousands of UK and international artists
  • 7200 amateur theatre makers and thousands of teachers and young people
  • 70 productions and exhibitions, plus events and activities, right across the UK and online
  • One million tickets on sale from 10 October
  • Plus new research from the RSC and the British Council which shows 50% of the world’s school children study Shakespeare

  • The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare’s Globe. It runs from 23 April to November 2012 and forms part of London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012.

    Thousands of artists and over 50 arts organisations have come together to take part in the Festival, a collaboration of extraordinary scale and ambition. Over a million tickets go on public sale from 10 October for close to 70 productions, plus events and exhibitions across the UK, including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Brighton, Wales and Scotland as well as online.

    The Festival includes a major exhibition Shakespeare: staging the world - The BP Exhibition at the British Museum (in collaboration with the RSC and supported by BP) which will explore the world through the eyes of Shakespeare, his players and audiences in the changing world of the 17th century.

    As well as showcasing the best of UK and international creative talent, the World Shakespeare Festival encourages the creativity of young people, emerging artists and amateur companies. Over 260 amateur groups involving 7200 people (aged from 6 to 90) are taking part in Open Stages, sharing skills and working with the RSC and nine partner theatres to perform their own interpretations of Shakespeare everywhere from castles, parks and village halls to pubs, churches and a coffin works. Some of the most exciting amateur companies will perform at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home as part of the World Shakespeare Festival in the summer of 2012.

    Further programming, including free events, broadcasts and a major digital project allowing people all over the world to become involved, will be announced in the autumn and the new year. Stayed tuned for more information!