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Shakesperience 2017: Combining Voices and Experiences

Darcie Talbott, English Student, Bishop’s University

This class, ENG225, left a mark both on my educational life as well as my personal life. I developed a deeper respect for those who make their living in the arts, not just on stage but behind the scenes. I learned to expect the unexpected in life and the immense importance of respecting other opinions, especially those that don’t line up with my own. I have learned more here than in any other classroom in my entire life, because it combines the voices and experiences of so many professionals with the spoken words of Shakespeare, Middleton and other marvelous playwrights that we lived and breathed religiously for one week. I have learned more about myself, about the world, about Shakespeare and humankind. The journal we were encouraged to keep helped me develop introspective thoughts to develop a greater understanding of myself and how my experiences in life have shaped my views. Talking to my peers helped me to understand the importance and power of multiple voices and learn to respect them without making them wrong. Having Dr. Riddell as our fearless leader was eye opening to the world of repertory theatre, Shakespeare knowledge and female power. There is no one better suited to lead such a group of rag-tag renegades of all different backgrounds and interests into a new experience together.

The variety of plays we experienced sparked intellectual debates that were a highlight of my experience. Learning became fun and intractable in a way that I have never experienced before. I wanted to listen, and I wanted to participate and I couldn’t get enough. I’ve spent my entire life hating school and this experience forced me to see learning in an entirely new way, leaving a sizable mark on my life and understanding of the way that I learn best. I laughed and cried and critiqued with a group of strangers that very quickly became respected colleagues, who now share a tiny part of my heart and soul, by being the only ones who were there with me through every second of the amazing ride.

In a perfect world, all University students of all different trades and learning styles would have the opportunity to experience learning through this class, because although the study of Shakespeare’s language is primarily an English Literature focus, there is so much more to the Stratford festival. The history itself is preserved in the Festival Theatre in its tent like shape, hundreds of people are employed in the costume warehouse, the props department, the wigs. There are managers and sound designers and stage combat teachers. There are social media managers and directors and interns. Everyone works together in making the entire festival run smoothly, and this is why it is the perfect setting to interested not only the English and Drama majors, but also the Business, Economics, and Politics Majors as well as the Sociology, Women’s Studies and History majors and every other major under the sun. I am halfway through my degree and this has been my favorite class experience by far, and I hope it gets the attention it needs to grow into something much bigger, allowing many more people to participate.

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