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Honors students attend Shakespeare festival in Canada

Alexander La | Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thousands of miles from Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon, Glynn Family Honors Program students attended its namesake event, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Ontario, this weekend.

The students saw performances of “Camelot,” “Merry Wives of Windsor” and “The Homecoming” at the Festival, in addition to visiting Avon Theatres, two of the four venues at the festival.

Sophomore Brett Ubl said the Festival Theatre’s layout offered an interesting vantage point and a unique theatrical experience for the audience.

“I felt like there was a personal touch to being there,” he said. “The way the theatre was set up allowed for interaction between the actors and the audience.”

All students in the program, not just those interested in or pursuing majors in theatre, were invited to attend.

Freshman Wendy Liu said she did not consider herself a fan of theatre before the trip, but was glad to have attended.

“Normally I don’t watch plays, so I was apprehensive at first,” she said. “In the end, I really enjoyed all the plays that I saw.”

Ubl said the experience of Shakespearean times was not confined to the stage. The town itself is meant to resemble the architecture of the period.

“Every single building there looks like it’s been around since the 17th century,” he said. “It’s got gorgeous scenery.”

Ubl said he was surprised by the wide array of patrons drawn to the festival. While there, he met a couple visiting for its “second honeymoon” and a ’59 Notre Dame alumnus.

In addition to meeting Shakespeare fans, Liu said the trip was an opportunity to get to know other students in the program in an unusual setting.

“It was a great bonding experience,” she said. “I realized [other program students] were in my classes, and I actually see them around a lot, but never really got to know them until now.”

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is the oldest Shakespeare festival in North America and is famous for its continuous performances, which begin in May and go through October, according to the Glynn Family Honors Program’s website.

“I learned the term ‘festival’ is misleading,” Ubl said. “It’s more like a marathon.”

The festival trip is a tradition for the honors program, and Ubl said he hopes it remains so. He said programming like the Stratford trip is what makes the Glynn program so unique.

“We definitely appreciate the alumni who keep the program going,” he said. “It’s very characteristic of Notre Dame.”