Stratford week (or more aptly, The Three Days in Stratford) was a chance for us to take a break before finals in Shakespeare’s hometown. Our programme put us up in bed and breakfasts with random roommates. Luckily my roommate for Stratford was Maddie’s roommate Kinaya, and we got along just fine. The B&B itself was quite nice. We had lovely rooms that reminded me of proper hotels, complete with a kettle for warm beverages and chocolate. Breakfast was customized to our particular preferences and waking times, and was so filling that I was never able to finish it all.
For our first day, we visited the birthplace of Shakespeare, the highlight of which was getting to see Shakespearean actors act our pieces from plays suggested by the audience. It was great spontaneous fun.
That night we saw our first piece of theatre for the week, the Duchess of Malfi. It was a particularly tragic and bloody performance (the stage floor was literally covered in a pool of stage blood) and featured a giant carcass ominously present for the duration of the play. It emphasized very timely themes of the consequences of toxic masculinity and trying to control women’s sexuality. This was particularly well done, and was probably my favorite play of the week.
We had several hours to explore Stratford-Upon-Avon, including finding a beautiful trail along the river. The town itself has a distinct architecture, much older and distinctive from the Georgian work we’re used to seeing in Bath.
We then had the chance to visit the house of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife. The grounds were beautiful, and we were able to wander about and frolic for a while.
Our second play was a period comedy called The Fantastic Follies of Mrs. Rich. The costumes were sumptuous, and I loved the intro of saxophone wielding musicians in period dress. The comedy itself was not necessarily my type of humor, but I could appreciate that it was still a good production.
For our next day, we got to visit Kenilworth Castle, another example of a structure that had been partially demolished.
We were given free reign to explore the historical grounds and ruins (Queen Elizabeth I herself had visited).
After visiting a pub that claimed to be the oldest in Startford we saw our last play, the classic Romeo and Juliet. At this point I’ve become quite good at following the plot and dialogue, having seen many different versions over the years. This performance specifically aimed to highlight issues of knife violence in the UK (a fascinating problem from the lens of an American used to gun violence being the topic of conversation).
This ended our time in Startford, and we took a late night bus back to our flats in Bath.