King Lear at Stratford

Kian Akhavan, Sixth Form, writes: Last week, IB candidates took a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of legendary English playwright William Shakespeare. Stratford was initially a market town in the middle ages and was officially founded in 1196. Some years later, in 1564, Shakespeare was born, reminders of which are omnipresent throughout the town.

We were greeted in Stratford by sun and warmth, a great start of a great day ahead of us.Our trip started with a fascinating tour of “The Other Place”, a rehearsal space and costume store for Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors. In the 1970s, it was a large tin shed used as mentioned. Midway through the decade though, RSC artistic director Buzz Goodbody turned it into a small, secondary theatre to be used as a testing site for new, experimental productions.

After the tour, we made the brief trek to the historical Henley Street, the site of Shakespeare’s family home. Our tour of the old town began and we learned many interesting things about Shakespeare, Stratford’s history and local architecture. The fascinating journey ended at a small pizzeria for a delicious Italian dinner.

Finally: the climax of the trip. We headed to the Royal Shakespeare Playhouse buzzing with excitement and anticipation to watch Antony Sher (as Lear) in one of Shakespeare’s quintessential works. The theatre was packed with nearly 1100 people waiting to watch this tragic masterpiece.

We sat restlessly until the play started. Although the performance was over three hours long, it seemed as if it should have lasted for longer. Time flies when you’re having fun! One of the most engaging and memorable moments of the play was the scene where the Duke of Cornwall gouged out the Duke of Gloucester’s eyes. The stagecraft was masterful and transitions were seamless. The entire audience was immersed in the original storyline of a timeless work of literary genius.

Overall, this trip was absolutely unforgettable and I look forward to more excursions of the sort!

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