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SUMMER SHAKESPEARE

Summer Shakespeare: Shakespeare Studies in Britain, 2003 - 2019 (five tours)

 

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

—William Shakespeare, As You Like It, II.vii

 

This summer study tour consists of on-site performances, tours, workshops, and lectures in Stratford-upon-Avon of the relevance of Shakespeare’s work to modern audiences, emphasizing unique thematic and cultural interpretations which broaden students’ understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s plays.

Students after having enjoyed food and fellowship at the White Swan Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

Coursework includes pre-trip meetings; attendance at all Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) productions in Stratford; attendance at all Globe Theatre productions in London; participation in all workshops, lectures, and tours by Professors Jennifer and Andrew Cognard-Black, the Shakespeare Centre faculty, and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors/directors (including voice and movement workshops with RSC directors; lectures and discussions with world-renowned Shakespeare scholars; talk-back sessions with RSC lead actors; and tours of all five Shakespeare Trust museum properties); participation in a dramatic read-through with professional actors at the Shakespeare Institute; and visits to all Shakespeare Trust properties. In England, group activities will last for 15 days, followed by a free weekend for further study or travel on an individual basis.

Plays at the RST and Globe run the gamut of Shakespeare’s oeuvre, including the most popular (Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III, and Romeo and Juliet) and the little known (Cymbeline and Measure for Measure); the RSC also performs other plays as well, including Restoration dramas and even modern texts. As part of this course, students will read and discuss each play with Professors Jennifer and Andrew Cognard-Black as well as with members of the Shakespeare Centre faculty before attending any plays. After viewing a production, students will further study the text as a moment of Shakespeare’s performance history, including talk-back sessions with RSC actors and directors.

I came to Stratford-upon-Avon admiring Shakespeare, and I left knowing him.
— Sam Ives

This upper-level course is offered through St. Mary's College of Maryland and is open to students from any college or university as well as any high-school or college teacher interested in studying Shakespeare in performance in Stratford-upon-Avon. For more information, please contact Professor Cognard-Black at jcognard@smcm.edu.


Student testimonials from the Shakespeare Summer Tours

I enjoyed myself immensely on this trip. Not only did it expand my knowledge and appreciation of Shakespeare’s life and works, but it also allowed me to create friendships I otherwise might not have had. The diversity of students on this trip enriched the experience and brought together a spectrum of personalities and interests. To quote the Brits, these weeks have been ‘brilliant’!
— Kelsey Branch
Before this trip, I thought I might be in the right place as an English major and wasn’t quite sure whether I liked Shakespeare very much at all. Afterwards, I am sure I am an English major, and I have a new and burgeoning love not only for Shakespeare but for theater in general.
— Alex Swope
Students with Dame Judi Dench.

Students with Dame Judi Dench.

Shakespeare Studies in Britain is, to quote the Bard himself, “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful, and yet again, wonderful” (Celia, “As You Like It”). Every moment of every day is genuinely fulfilling, with engaging events, lectures, and discussions held at the Shakespeare Centre, vibrant productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company theatres as well as at London’s Globe Theatre, an amazing play reading with RSC actors, and so much freedom to explore Stratford on your own. Brimming with Bardophilia, Shakespeare Studies in Britain is a rare, beautiful experience to share—like some Midsummer month’s dream!
— Zach Pajak

Summer Shakespeare: Branding Billy, 2016

Illustration by  James Steinberg  for  Boston Globe Magazine .

Illustration by James Steinberg for Boston Globe Magazine.

Focused primarily on the branding of Shakespeare—particularly in the year of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death—this study tour considers the importance of consumption as represented in Shakespeare’s plays but also in how Shakespeare has been “consumed” through commodity and culinary cultures. Beginning with moments of commodity exchange and food imagery within Shakespeare’s own texts, students will further consider consumption as a metaphor for writing and staging Renaissance drama as well as for modern novels, narratives, and cookbooks produced under the Shakespeare “brand.” Even further, students will examine the workings of consumption in Stratford itself, from enjoying a cream tea at “The Food of Love” on Henley Street (an anachronism, given that tea wasn’t a ritual in England until the 18th century) to “reading” gift shops filled with Shakespearean swag as provocative commodity texts. Included in the tour are lectures with world-renowned scholars, performances at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) and the Globe Theatre in London, talk-back sessions with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors, acting workshops with RSC facilitators, and visits to the five Shakespeare Trust museums. All of these activities will be linked to additional lectures, day trips, and writing assignments focused on the stage, the shop, and the restaurant as loci of identity formation via all things Shakespeare, meaning “identity” both for individual citizens and tourists as well as for the British nation as a whole. As such, the tour will include, among other activities, an afternoon at Mary Arden’s engaging in 17th-century cooking and farming techniques as an example of “living history” Shakespeare; a display of original Renaissance cookbooks and herbals juxtaposed against contemporary Shakespeare books for produced and packaged for self-styled foodies; and a lecture on the commodification of Shakespeare to sell everything from mugs and t-shirts to chocolates and playing cards.


Summer Shakespeare: Billy's Kitchen, 2013

 

“Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.”

—William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2.7

 

While based in Stratford-upon-Avon and focused primarily on consumption in Shakespeare’s plays, this course thinks about the importance of food and foodways in the creation of British literature and culture from the Renaissance through the present day.  Starting with moments of material consumption and food imagery within Shakespeare’s texts, students further consider consumption as a metaphor for writing and staging Renaissance drama as well as for producing and reading British novels, memoirs, and cookbooks.  Students also examine the workings of consumption in Stratford itself, from enjoying a cream tea on Henley Street (an anachronism, given that tea wasn’t a ritual in England until the 18th century) to partaking of high-end Indian food on Sheep Street (a post-colonial culinary experience).  

Students at Anne Hathaway's Cottage, the farmhouse where Anne Hathaway (the wife of William Shakespeare) lived as a child in the village of Shottery, Warwickshire, England.

Included in the tour are lectures with world-renowned scholars, performances at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) and the Globe Theatre in London, talk-back sessions with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors, acting workshops with RSC facilitators, and visits to the five Shakespeare Trust museums, all of which will be linked to additional lectures, day trips, and writing assignments focused on the kitchen and table as dual loci of identity formation, both for individuals as well as for the British nation.  As such, the tour includes, for instance, a Renaissance cooking class, an afternoon at Mary Arden’s engaging in 17th-century farming techniques, and a display of original Renaissance cookbooks and herbals, among other events.  Coursework covers pre-trip lectures at St. Mary’s campus for one week prior to leaving for England, and—once across the pond—group activities last for 15 days, followed by a free weekend for further study or travel on an individual basis.  

Plays at the RST and Globe run the gamut of Shakespeare’s oeuvre, including the most popular (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, As You Like It, and King Lear) and the little known (King John, Cymbeline, and Measure for Measure). As part of this course, students read and discuss each play with Professors Jennifer and Andrew Cognard-Black as well as with members of the Shakespeare Centre faculty before attending any performances. After viewing a production, students further study the text through performance history, including talk-back sessions with RSC lead actors and voice and/or movement workshops with RSC staff.  In addition, students also read British food texts that connect to, yet also move beyond, the Renaissance, including Victorian domestic manuals, British novels with recipes, and modern-day cookbooks that (in an updated format) echo Renaissance constructions of the kitchen.  And, finally, students regularly eat and cook together—thereby participating, themselves, as literary-culinary adventurers within the national foodscape of England.

See more photos from Summer Shakespeare Study Tours →