Though not being the most prolific reader of Shakespeare, I couldn’t resist a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon when offered. As always, my love for literature and history found themselves closely tied, and walking around what used to be a medieval market town fascinated me to no end.
The town itself is stunning, full of beamed buildings for even the most standard shops, something I was glad to see because lord, how I hate modern buildings in comparison. Quaint, cobblestoned streets bustling with people going about their day to day lives, we probably couldn’t help looking like the tourist types the locals are no doubt used to by now.
Our first stop was Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and of course I couldn’t resist adding a new book to my collection. I picked up this special Shakespeare Inspired Penguin Classic bind up of his sonnets, with hopes that I can gradually dip in and out of the pages and come to know them well. While I’ve only read three of his plays so far (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and King Lear), I’ll have an entire module dedicated to him next year at university, so ideally my comfort with his works will grow over time.
While seeing Shakespeare’s Birthplace was interesting, I have to admit my amazement came from the two people performing in the courtyard outside (see first photo of post). On command, they could perform or recite any Shakespeare play and sonne. And not only to the level of reeling off his words – oh no, they’d fully perform with accents and props, getting the audience involved if need be. Imagine that? Imagine having such a specific talent. I mean, I wonder how you fall into having that as a job…Either way, I could have sat and watched them perform all day.
“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
― William Shakespeare, As You Like It
While in Stratford we also visited New Place and Hall’s Croft – with a slight detour to a secondhand bookstore, of course – before watching an urban retelling of Romeo and Juliet performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I didn’t know what to expect from the show, but it didn’t take me long to fall into the urbanised Shakespeare – and I was especially glad to see their attempts at diversifying the story’s characters. Plenty of companies find it all too easy try using the “diversity wasn’t as common back then, it’s authenticity!” excuse when it comes to the limited diversity in their own company, so I’m glad that wasn’t the case here.
A sunny day spent in a picturesque town full of literary background, is it really any surprise I enjoyed this day? Still, we were on a time limit, so I hope that someday in the future I’ll be able to return and do a bit more exploring of my own.
“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
― William Shakespeare,
Until next time,