Over the course of one week in June, Shakesperience (a 3-credit course) immerses students in the full experience of theatre, combining the best parts of the page and the stage. Featuring an eclectic group of students, alumni, and faculty from Bishop’s University and other Maple League Schools (Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier, and Acadia University), Shakesperience participants spend time studying and analyzing several plays before traveling from Bishop’s University to the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario – a nearly ten-hour drive.
In Stratford, the world becomes the classroom. Students will eat, breathe, sleep, and dream theatre! They are engaged in many aspects of theatre that they may never have been a part of before. Students watch six plays featured at the Stratford Festival, in different genres.
The Shakesperience of a Lifetime: Bishop’s University’s Experiential Theatre Course Takes the Stage at the Stratford Festival
Attempting to teach theatre in an English Literature course must be a daunting prospect. A far cry from the highly individual experience of reading a novel or poem, theatre is both a visual and communal spectacle; this medium is a challenge to capture in a traditional lecture-based classroom and harder still to convey this three dimensionality to undergraduate students. Putting on a theatrical performance takes an enormous number of people, all with different roles and contributions. A theatrical production requires actors, directors, stage hands, lighting technicians, costume, prop, and set designers, voice coaches, choreographers, stage managers… and the list goes on. Encapsulating an experience of this magnitude through classroom lectures and close reading play texts is nearly impossible.