Students Attend Shakespeare Play
Five BC students and one professor embark on a road trip to the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.
November 29, 2011
What could convince five students and one professor to cram in a car on a Thursday night and make a three-hour trip? One man: William Shakespeare.
"We legally stuffed six people into Dr. Merritt's Buick,” said Lydia Freeman, a junior from Bristol, Va. “I've always thought that the more people in a car, the more fun it is, and I was right because we laughed and joked and sang the whole way.”
Dr. Rob Merritt, Harli Vance, Carrie Smith, Hannah Spicer, Emily Sears, and Lydia Freeman
BC students Lydia Freeman, Hannah Spicer, Carrie Smith, Harli Vance, and Emily Sears and English Professor Rob Merritt traveled to the Blackfriars Playhouse at the American Shakespeare Company in Staunton, Va. to watch The Tempest. This Blackfriars Playhouse is the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's original indoor theatre. Also, the ASC hosts an internationally acclaimed theatre company that performs Shakespeare's works under their original staging conditions -- on a simple stage, without elaborate sets, and with the audience sharing the same light as the actors.
“Watching the words of Shakespeare come alive at the Blackfriars was truly amazing,” said Hannah Spicer, a senior from Ft. Chiswell, Va. “The actors were very knowledgeable about Shakespeare and the context that The Tempest was written in. They even held a Q & A afterwards and answered questions.”
Three of the students, Spicer, Vance, and Smith, are taking Merritt’s Shakespeare class this semester and had recently read The Tempest. The other English students, Freeman and Sears, had never read the play or knew what it was about. To help catch them up, those knowledgeable acted out the play using table top items (such as salt and pepper shakers, a napkin dispenser, and other seasonings) at dinner beforehand.
“My favorite part of the trip, besides the play itself - obviously, was at the restaurant when Hannah and I acted out main parts of the plot using table top bottles,” said Carrie Smith, a senior from Fincastle, Va. “I feel like they understand what I meant even though I was using a Parmesan cheese shaker.”
The play is a romance with many magic elements thrown in to make it like a fairy tale. There are many familial and royal relationships that Shakespeare is famous for. Watching the play performed was a new experience for all of the students, though.
“Before I went to see this play, I didn't know that I liked Shakespeare,” said Freeman. “I've always thought it was hard to read and understand. Going to see the play helped me understand the reason why people love Shakespeare."
Contributing to this love were the great seats the students were lucky enough to get.
“Sitting in the front row of that play was just awesome,” said Carrie Smith, a senior from Fincastle, Va. “I'm so glad that I got to spend time with people that are part of my major and loved the play just as much as I did. It was so hilarious, and being able to share that with friends made it even better.”
The students enjoyed the play, but they all agreed the entire trip experience made it worthwhile. From spending time with other English majors/minors to talking in British accents with their William Shakespeare finger puppets, the trip was wonderful.
"It was the best trip of my college career,” said Harli Vance, a senior from Richlands, Va. “It was well worth every minute. I loved getting to go with such an awesome group of people and seeing the play was so much better than reading it could ever be."
All of the students were very thankful for the opportunity to watch the play at the Blackfriars Playhouse and credit the trip to Professor Merritt.
“We are in deep gratitude to our professor, Dr. Merritt, for making this trip possible,” said Spicer. “It was worth it even if we all had to stuff into his Buick for three hours."