ACM London & Florence–Week 2, Feb 6-12
Where can you find the most majestic moss in the world? It might just be Shakespeare’s birthplace. I’ve never felt so surrounded by moss before–moss in every crevice, moss covering the tops of stone pillars like happy green hats–I feel like I’m being attacked by moss. And there are so many adorable thatched roofs that I just wish I could pet them all!
Stratford is both quaint and not quaint. There are thatched roofs everywhere, but this place is bustling with tourism and unexpectedly heavy traffic. Perhaps it’s a quaint village with city traffic, or a city posing as a quaint village. Either way, I really enjoyed the unique and engaging atmosphere.
After all, it is the world’s first theme park, as our professors called it. I had to work my mind around this idea because there aren’t rides here–but I came to understand that there’s a sort of commercial parallel–there was a man who started the effort to make Shakespeare’s origins a destination for tourists, and now this entire town is Shakespeare themed. Our B&B was literally on a street full of B&Bs. I’ve never seen so many B&B’s in my life, nor a town with a theme. For the people who live here, the ethos and reality of Shakespeare is a part of their everyday life.
We visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Hall’s Croft, Shakespeare’s New Place, and the Church of the Holy Trinity where Shakespeare is buried. There were docents dressed according to the era in each of these houses, and they were best docents I’ve ever encountered. They new so much about the era and the people who lived in the houses that we almost ran out of time to see everything.
While in Stratford, we watched two incredible plays (Two Noble Kinsmen and The Rover), and someone from the Royal Shakespeare Company HE WAS IN BOTH OF THE PLAYS WE WATCHED actually met us in our B&Bs and chatted with us. He used his diaphragm so well just when talking normally–it was incredible to be in the same room as him and get a sense of his views on the performances and to hear about his energetic life. His name is Gyuri Sarossy.
The air was chill and moist the entire time we were in Stratford, but the pub was nice and warm.
The day we got back to London we came to this place–Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre itself, rebuilt as accurately as possible. We got to stand on the stage and experience for ourselves how actors were able to see the faces of and be heard by every single audience member. Afterwards we even did an acting workshop–which involved dueling each other.
Somehow this all happened in three days.
—Sunny Zhao, Grinnell College student