Shakespeare in Stratford

One of my favorite classes this semester has unquestionably been my upper level Shakespeare course. The class consists of four students and the professor, Nick (B.A. York, M.A. Sorbonne, D.Phil Cambridge-wow!), is outstanding. Last Thursday he took us to Stratford (Shakespeare's hometown) to see Henry VI part II. He gave us a quick tour of the town--where Shakespeare was born, his house, his resting place, and some history about what his upbringing would have been like--then we headed to The Dirty Duck for some pre-theatre refreshments; the next stop: The Courtyard Theatre.

We had fantastic seats and the play was spectacular! I knew that it had gotten great reviews, but I was unprepared to be absolutely mesmerised throughout the entire play; this was, after all, Henry VI part II, quite possibly the driest of all Shakespearean plays. The cast was phenomenal with Margaret stealing the show (though I was truly blown away during Henry's big soliloquy) and the troupe held the audience's attention during the less than exciting moments by pulling people on stage and making them part of the act. At one point, they pulled a very nervous young man on stage and began rummaging through his bag. When encountering a copy of Richard III, the actor promptly claimed to have seen it, that it was shit, and ordered the poor student's head to be chopped off; I had difficulty regaining my composure until the scene ended. It was an evening that I will never forget.