Today everyone woke with a sense of anticipation as we were off to see the birthplace of the Bard, the Swan of Avon, the Poet, the Playwright, William Shakespeare. The weather was more than cooperative, as we loaded the coaches at a sunny 22℃ and nothing but blue skies on the horizon. We made our way through the freshly mowed fields of the English countryside and winded our way to Stratford-upon-Avon. The city was abuzz with tourists who, like we, had come on a pilgrimage to spend a day reflecting on the life of the greatest playwright of all time, or as Ben Johnson said, “a man for all ages.”
First, we headed up the High Street to the Shakespeare birthplace, which still stands, with relatively few changes, as it did the day Shakespeare was born, on April 23, 1564. The staff regaled us with stories of what it would have been like for the young William as a child, and we saw the room his father would have used as a glover, tanning leather for the local township. Next, we exited the house and entered the gardens, where Shakespearean actors eagerly awaited requests from the students to perform scenes from some of our favorite plays. One of the actresses gave an amazing St. Crispin’s Day speech!After that, we headed to the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) theatre, where we were given a backstage tour of both theatres, The Swan and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Tonight, there is going to be a performance of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. The students were taken to wardrobe, where we saw costumes, wigs, fake blood, and props for the play. We watched the production crew floor the entire stage in a matter of minutes, and were able to feel a sense of what it is like to prepare for a show.Lastly, we took a walk along the River Avon and up to Holy Trinity Church, where William Shakespeare is interred. Walking down the aisle of the church and into the altar area to pay our respects was quite emotional. To think that we were in the presence of the man who has inspired so much emotion and showed each and everyone of us that “All the world’s a stage.” Thank you, William Shakespeare, for such a glorious journey and spending the day with us.The next adventure on our journey… Westminster Abbey and Warner Bros Studios!