Disney World, but make it Shakespeare
Updated: Jul 28, 2019
The happiest place on Earth? Stratford-upon-Avon.
We had an incredible opportunity for a weekend getaway to Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend and it did not disappoint. Visiting Shakespeare's birthplace and where he spent most of his livelihood has been on my bucket list for years, and finally getting to do so was humbling beyond words. Here's a virtual tour of our excursion!
After hopping a train departing London, we were thrilled to arrive at our hotel (read: real beds with real bedsheets). We geared up for the Royal Shakespeare Company's evening performance of As You Like It, following by a quick drink to discuss the show.
As I am playing Rosalind in excerpts from As You Like It in our Edinburgh-bound production, I was particularly excited to see this famous work on its feet. The entire show, from start to finish, was inventive, energetic, and creative to boot. I loved it!
The next morning, I enjoyed a hearty English breakfast courtesy of our hotel and then headed to Shakespeare's birthplace.
Next, I headed to Shakespeare's New Place. This is the estate that he purchased for his family once his writings began to gain speed in London. Complete with gorgeous gardens and impromptu performances around every corner, Shakespeare's New Place reminds me of a historical exhibition space.
Next, I walked over to Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. It in impossible to explain how the energy of the space became different as I stepped into the chamber holding Shakespeare's body. I got goosebumps all over my body as I read the rhetoric on his tomb (written in iambic pentameter, of course).
I took a lovely walk across the river to visit the Stratford Butterfly Farm (BIG Kacey Musgrave energy here 🦋)
After some R&R in a local park (studying lines, as per usual), I enjoyed a lovely dinner with the group before heading to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for the evening performance of The Taming of the Shrew.
I'll be the first to admit that The Taming of the Shrew is my least favorite Shakespeare play written. I love you Willy, but you messed up with this one. Frankly, I'm just not interested in a story built around the notion that women must be tamed by their husbands until they are obedient and desirable by society's standards.
However, the Royal Shakespeare Company performs this play as you've never seen it before: 100% gender-bent. Yes, a male Kate is wooed and tamed by a female Petruchia. Set in a matriarchal society, this interpretation of Shrew is dynamic, interesting, and honestly much more tolerable than the original. Although this play is still very ~problematic~ it was certainly an enjoyable experience.
The next morning, we returned to the same park mentioned before to perform out Shakespearean monologues as a class. Performing Shakespeare's text literally just hundreds of feet away from his body is an experience I'll never forget, and I feel so blessed to have even had the opportunity to do so.
Don't be surprised if you see me back in Stratford-upon-Avon in the (not-so-near) future! With antiquated architecture and a true small town feel, our excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon was the vacation-from-a-vacation that I didn't know I needed.