Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Part the XXXII: Where Nick Visits Stratford-Upon-Avon

  Paid a visit to the home of William Shakespeare as part of a trip with our program.  It lies about two hours by coach from Bath along the same River Avon.  I have to say that it really was a very nice little town.  Everything important is no more than fifteen minutes away when walking.  We left early on the morning of Tuesday the third and arrived just before noon.  After orientation with the town and lunch, we had a meeting with the resident Shakespeare experts in our program and were briefed on what to look out for in the performance of Macbeth we were going to see that night.  The performance was quite good and included a few actors who had appeared in smaller roles on film.  While not a huge fan of Shakespeare's tragedies, I did like the performance and found the use of the space to be creative.  The main stage of the Royal Shakespeare company is based roughly on the Globe Theater.  The thrust stage comes out into the crowd and the viewers not on the ground sit in a semi-circle around it on what felt like football terraces.  Afterwards, we went to the Dirty Duck Pub to talk and watch the actors come on.  It is basically a people-watchers paradise.
The RSC Main Stage.
  Afterwards we returned to our B&B.  I stayed with a few of the other fellows in our program at the Adelphi House B&B.  Martin and Ellie, the proprietors, are some of the nicest people I have ever met.  I strongly suggest to anyone thinking of going to Stratford to look into staying here.  They are helpful and guided me to whatever I was looking for.  More importantly, they have numerous awards to the Best Breakfast in Stratford.  Every morning they had two eggs, two sausages, two bacon, toast, beans and tea ready for me and had extra if we were still hungry.  Just perfect!
The Adelphi

  The next day was a bit of a day off.  We had a short talk about the play we had seen the night before.  Some people seemed to really be tearing it apart.  I dunno, I thought it was fine.  The telegraph and times gave it five stars and I think it was worth at least four.  I ended up spending the day doing some sight-seeing.
Shakespeare's Birthplace

The Chain Ferry known to locals as "Malvolio".  I used it to cross the river.

There on the other side I caught the end of Stratford-Upon-Avon Cricket Club laying into another team.
  We capped off the night with a ghost tour around the town.  Even if I leave Gettysburg, I still can't get away from the ghost tours.  

The last day, we left town for a while and went to Kenilworth Castle about half an hour away.  Although now mostly a ruin, it provided some beautiful views.

We capped off the night by seeing "The City Madam", a play by Philip Massinger, a playwright from shortly after Shakespeare's time.  I can only hope that someday someone performs this in the States.  Never before have I laughed at a play quite as much as I did at this one.  Plus it was opening night so it was really special.  This is a play I would suggest to anyone who liked Shakespeare's comedies.  We left Stratford at 10:30 and arrived back in Bath at 12:30 Friday morning.  The last thing I remember is staggering up Northampton Street Hill and crawling into bed realizing I had to be up to catch a nine o'clock train to Taunton the next day to see a cricket match.  That, however my friends, is a whole other post...

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