Hiram College

Written by Isabel Petkiewicz ’22

This blog post is written in response to Hannah’s spring 2019 3-week trip to the United Kingdom with Professors Paul Gaffney and Brittany Jackson.

Of all of the experiences I have had in the United Kingdom, seeing Shakespeare performed live was by far one of the most unique and memorable. Although I have always loved theater, I have never actually seen any of Shakespeare’s plays performed live. The first play we saw was As You Like It, and I think this was an amazing introduction to Shakespearean theater. The show was cast gender and color blind, but for this play, I think it really worked. There was something so unique and thought-provoking about a lesbian couple being depicted in a play written at a time when homosexuality was illegal. I think the way that Shakespeare is performed today, to appeal to modern audiences, shows how far we have come since a world in which almost exclusively white men and boys could perform onstage. The fact that theater companies are actively trying to update centuries-old plays to fit a modern audience is amazing to see. 

As You Like It was not only the first play we saw, but also my favorite. I could not believe how pleasantly surprised I was by the dramatic scene change between the court world and the green world. More than any of the other performances we saw, I truly felt like the director was trying to send a message – the fake turf being ripped away, the back of the stage being exposed, the actors changing costume onstage – all of it contributed to the message that Shakespeare had been trying to portray centuries earlier when writing the play. I did not mind seeing a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company instead of the Globe. Maybe it’s because of the generation I was born in, but I really do prefer sitting down to see a show. To me, as cool as the Globe was, it didn’t strike me in the way I thought it would. Maybe part of me knew that it was not the original and that took some of the magic out of it. It was truly a beautiful building, but I could not help but wonder what it would have looked like in its original place. I’m sure I would really enjoy seeing a show at the Globe during warmer weather, as well. However, I do truly believe that as someone who loves theater and has an appreciation for Shakespeare, seeing his works performed in the Globe Theater is a necessary life experience. I think anyone that has the means to travel to England and visit the Globe should, by all means, do so. It is so unique and unlike any other theater I have ever been to that I really will never forget my time there. Altogether, what I learned from these experiences is that seeing Shakespeare performed live is actually much more enjoyable than I thought it would be, regardless of whether the play is at the Globe or not. To me, the play itself, including the actors, costumes, and set, is more important than what theater it is taking place in.