Students travel to Virginia for break
While some students chose to go home over fall break, others traveled to the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) at The Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.
On this trip, Gannon University students saw five shows in four days in-between attending workshops, touring the town and discussing the shows they watched.
Douglas King, an associate professor of English, said he decided to plan this trip after attending the Blackfriars Conference last year.
He said it was “so cool” and the theater was “so beautiful and wonderful” that the first thing he thought was, “I have to bring students here.”
After that, King said he researched and found that ASC has programs for students that could be personally designed for the group.
He proposed the idea of the trip to the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, an associate professor of theater, who was excited about the idea and helped King work it out.
During the planning process, King said he and Clerkin worked together to design a program based on the shows that would be playing over fall break. Afterward, King said they worked out the logistics of pricing with lodging and transportation.
Sarah Sgro, a junior French and international business major, went on the trip along with a group of 18 other people. She said she liked everything about it.
Sgro said the way ASC chose to perform was an interesting way to look at shows.
The company gave the audience the opportunity to sit on the stage and interact with the cast members of the different shows.
The shows also had an authenticity that can be difficult to find, Sgro said.
They did everything they could to perform the shows the way they think Shakespeare would have intended.
Sgro said that one of her favorite parts of the experience was the workshops with the actors. She said she also loved sitting on the stage during the shows.
Her favorite show, Sgro said, was “Cymbeline,” which she said surprised her a bit. She liked the fairy tale aspect of the show as well as the plot twists.
Also, she could see a lot of connections from other Shakespeare shows in “Cymbeline.”
Sgro said she also like that the show had a happy ending, after which she won a poster autographed by the whole cast, which she said was really exciting.
“I would go on the trip again in a heartbeat,” Sgro said.
Sgro was not the only one who had a positive experience with the trip. King said that everyone who went on the trip, including himself, was delighted with it.
King said he liked everything about the trip from the weather to the beauty of the wonderful small-to-medium sized town, to the theater company itself.
He said ASC is arguably the best Shakespeare company in the world and it’s only a seven hour drive from Gannon.
One of his favorite parts, King said, was seeing the students have the experience and enjoying everything, especially sitting on the stage. He said it was just incredible.
King also said he loved the music before the show and during intermission. It was entertaining and it adds a lot to the production.
Something really cool about the experience, King said, was that the shows the students saw weren’t necessarily popular plays, but they were still fun.
King said he would definitely take students to Staunton again.
At first he was thinking of going every other year when there wasn’t a conference, until 12 hours into the trip when students asked him if they could go on the trip again next year.
He said his arm wouldn’t need to be twisted if students wanted to go every year.
Students who don’t necessarily love Shakespeare, King said, would have a blast.
“Bottom line,” King said, “it was fun.”
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