Student Lyle Cross writes:
On Friday 1st March, I was part of a group of English Lit students which travelled to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace. Upon arrival, we went to listen to a lecture on the Tempest, from one of the volunteers from the Shakespeare trust, which focused primarily on the historical and theatrical context of the play. The idea that the first scene was necessary to capture the audience’s attention in an open air theatre was especially interesting, as it reinforced the idea that the play is first and foremost a performance, rather than a static text, which can be lost when studying it in lesson. After the lecture, we were given a free hour for lunch before visiting Shakespeare’s childhood home, which still looks authentic despite several repairs. Walking through the room where Shakespeare was born was slightly surreal, as it was strange to feel such proximity to a figure like Shakespeare, whose humanity can often be lost to his iconic status. It was also interesting to see the window that had been part of his house, which people had signed; the idea that people would be allowed to sign such a precious item seems unthinkable now. There were also actors on the grounds who would recite any Shakespeare scene they were given, and performed Trinculo’s entrance in Act 2 very well.
The day ended with a visit to New Place, which Shakespeare moved to and has been turned into a museum to his memory, with a line from each of his sonnets engraved on the ground, which seemed a fitting way to remember them. The timeline inside was interesting, as it is easy to forget just how productive Shakespeare was; I did not know he had written King Lear and Macbeth in the same year. At the end of the day, we were given an hour of free time, during which we visited the church where he is buried. I noticed it says “poet” on his grave, when I have always thought of him as a playwright, so I will from now on approach his dialogue as poetry. Overall, the day was a useful insight into the everyday life of life of a man who can be revered but can also appear to be intimidating.