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Annual Stratford Theater Festival trip a success

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Three days for six plays, the ultimate challenge for students who attended the annual Stratford Shakespeare trip last weekend.

In just over 72 hours, Carthage students and faculty attended six plays at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The annual trip is organized by Associate Professor of English, Theater and Great Ideas Maria Carrig and Pay roll Systems Manager Justin Zahn. The trip this year took 22 students, as well as plenty of faculty and alumni, across the Canadian border to Stratford, Ontario.

The itinerary gave the Carthage theatergoers four different opportunities to see Shakespeare live. Everyone on the trip attended Shakespeare’s comedy “As You Like It” and tragedy “Macbeth.” Additionally, the group was given the choice to see “Breath of Kings: Redemption or Rebellion,” a two part take on Shakespeare’s histories.

“As You Like It” was modified to take place during the 1980s in Newfoundland and was met with mixed reviews from the Carthage group. The following morning, however, the group attended “Macbeth,” which provoked a much fonder response.

“I’ve seen multiple productions of Macbeth,” said Mei Smith, ’18. “This one really takes the cake. The lighting and the effects were amazing. The lightning and the thunder were so realistic. It was amazing. I was really impressed.”

On a similar note, Colin Boie, ’18, described being mesmerized by the production. “At the end, the audience was so quick to stand up and start clapping. I was shocked they could even move because the ending gave me chills. It was so haunting to see [Macbeth] live.”

The admiration and love for Shakespeare within the community of Stratford would have been obvious to any passers-through. Patrons could buy Shakespeare related items from almost all of the shops, whether it be special-edition books, t-shirts commemorating the plays or other souvenirs. The Scottish shop in ton, even, had a Macbeth themed photo booth that they appropriately named the ‘Macbooth.’

That being said, Shakespeare is not seen by all as entertaining or user-friendly, and several students who attended the trip acknowledged this fear of Shakespeare.

“Don’t be intimidated by Shakespeare. My first year, the only reason I wanted to go was to see ‘The Sound of Music.’ I thought Shakespeare was only for people who understand it,” said Alyssa Andren, ’18. “When I saw ‘Hamlet’ that year, my opinions changed. Now Shakespeare is more of an enjoyment. Don’t be afraid to go on the trip.”

Maggie Damaschke, ’16 added, “No one understands Shakespeare at first. When you see Shakespeare live, it’s easier to understand because the actors give you context, tone and expressions.”

While Shakespeare’s plays are widely anticipated and proudly featured in Stratford, the itinerary does in fact include plays not by the Elizabethan dramatist. On this trip, the group saw the musical “A Chorus Line,” the drama “John Gabriel Borkman,” the children’s show “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the farce “The Hypochondriac” and the comedy “Shakespeare in Love.”

“Every year I say ‘Oh, I’m not going to go and save some money.’ But then I see what plays the trip is going to see and I have to go,” said Damaschke said. Damaschke has been attending the trip for the past three years.

The cost of the trip for students this year was $475, which includes the price of all six plays, a hotel room for two nights including breakfast, and the bus trip to and from the festival.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for financial aid because there are plenty of scholarships,” Smith said. “Also the prices in Canada have been very reasonable.”

While not at the theater, the play-goers perused boutiques and bookstore and spent time in candy shops and cafés, all throughout the quaint downtown of Stratford. The trip also included tours of the costume warehouse and backstage the Festival theater for those interested in seeing behind the scenes.

“Definitely come on the trip because it’s an experience you don’t want to miss out on,” said Damaschke. “Even though you don’t get a lot of sleep, you’ll not regret it.”

If you were disappointed having to miss out on this opportunity to be a part of live Shakespeare, you need not wait another year for the Stratford Trip. Professors Rick Meier, Alyson Kiesel and Maria Carrig all from the English department, recently announced their new amateur-acting group, the English Players. Any and all students are welcome to come participate in performing Shakespearean. Meeting on Thursdays from 11:40 am to 12:20 pm, students will receive roles from either “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” or “Macbeth.” These scenes will then be performed in the spring during Carthage’s annual Shakespeare Week Sonnet Festival.

Last year, we recognized the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, but his words and work are alive and well on the Carthage campus. “All the World’s a Stage and all the Stratford Theatergoers Merely Players” P

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