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Shakesperience 2017: A Heightened Experience

T. Rose Seitz-Lavoie, English Major, Sports Studies Minor, Bishop’s University

This course was marketed as an intense course that would cover six plays in a week including a musical, told to be the ‘Shakesperience of a lifetime’. It accomplished exactly that. We started off in a classroom, students from Bishop’s, Acadia, and students at different points in their lives. We spent that day excitedly learning from Dr. Riddell, soaking up as much information as we possibly could.

During the bus trips, to and from the festival, students spent their time comparing their views on plays and characters. It was an eye-opening experience to think of some of these classic characters in ways that some of us had never thought of.

We were all extremely excited for our one musical, Guys and Dolls. We walked out of the theatre and broke out in dance in the hallway! On the way home and for the rest of the week nobody had anything but praise for this production.

Having the opportunity to read three of the six plays ahead of time was most definitely useful, because we used the different lenses that we acquired through discussion to the plays. After each performance one of the most common questions we had asked ourselves was, what did you think?

A question not so easily answered. For myself, I took into account my own lenses, my own biases, and how I had read the play and taking a liking, or not, to certain characters. From there, I thought of how the play performed the story as an adaption of the original play versus how it could stand alone if you had not read the play or known about it before hand.

This course definitely helped broaden my perspectives on English Literature, through the opinions and arguments of my fellow peers, and through the workshops and the hands-on experience we were incredibly lucky to have.

Having already been to the festival with my high school, this was a heightened experience for me. My high school had only focused on a single play, no workshops, and no post-show chats with the actors. Through this course, I had the opportunity to see the play from every angle, the reading, the viewing of the play, seeing backstage, seeing the different costumes and how much time the actors put into choreographed scenes.

This course needs to be at Bishop’s. This course is the epitome of the liberal arts model that our school, and the others in the Maple League, stand for. We had students from business, who looked at Timon of Athens from a Marxist view, had literature students who claimed to majorly dislike Shakespeare, who ended up enjoying the Shakespearian plays more than the others. We had students who were willing to fly out to our little university just to take part in this course.

We could use this opportunity to market ourselves and our liberal arts model to high school students, as well as those coming out of CEGEP. Having this experiential learning opportunity helps our students #bleedpurple and helps grow our social media reach. With the testimony from these students, we could prove that students who take this course actually learn something in comparison from the traditional classroom.

If this is not enough proof that we need this course here at Bishop’s University annually, I do not know what is.

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