Oh don’t let the reputation fool you. You hear Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s old stomping grounds and you think quaint little houses with Swiss siding and thatched-roofed pubs right? Sure, there’s that. And there’s also people in leather corsets and leather pants, donning whips and nipple clamps, stumbling around drunk and bondage at every turn. Of course, I’m referring to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Measure for Measure, modernized to include all manner of lecherous dress.
But first, a recap! Our program’s last trip (sad face) was a three day excursion in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s home before he deserted his family and went off to London to write plays featuring emo, suicidal teenagers. It’s a teeny little town, more commercialized than I had pictured in my mind, and gorgeous at night with all the Christmas decorations. Now, English majors will want to crucify me, BUT….I didn’t go on the tour of the Shakespeare properties. I saw the building where he was born, but didn’t go see where he’s buried or Anne Hathaway’s cottage. I’m just gonna justify that by saying I wanted to absorb the spark of the town, see if I got some kind of literary inspiration? (Naw.)
We stayed in little bed and breakfast inns, that had some strict rules about noise, using towels to wipe off makeup and eating food in your room? They gave us a good breakfast in the morning with that glorious British bacon I’ve become so fond of. Everyday we attended pre-performance chats about the plays. The first night was a new play called Written on the Heart, which is about the Reformation and the history of the Bible. The actors were great…butttt you can’t make that subject matter very enthralling. I spied a few people actually sleeping! But the SECOND night was amazing, a modernized version of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a play about a man being sentenced to death for having sex. His sister, an intended nun, tries to save his life by appealing to Lord Angelo. He basically says ok sure, but only if you do the dirty. Chaos ensues. The modernized version had the powerful lords wearing leather pants and leather corsets, and I must say they looked amazing. The second scene involved s&m, nipple clamps and raunchy music. Fishnet tights…leopard print dresses….gas masks, the works. Needless to say the audience enjoyed it a lot more than the history of the Bible.
After two days in Stratford, we went to Warwick Castle. It was so tourist-y but I loved it, we got to dress up in medieval clothes and take pictures with wax figures. We also saw the castle’s dungeon, which reminded me of the mummy vaults in Dublin. You had to climb down verryyy steep stairs to get to the drafty dungeon, where iron cages hung from the ceiling. Solitary confinement was a teeny hole in the ground with an iron grate covering it, big enough to curl up in but not stand up. There was a bird show, where a man showed off two adorable baby owls and talked about how he trained them, and how they were trained wayyy back when.
It was a great little break right before final exams this upcoming week. I fly home Saturday