English Department Features Magic-Supported Break Trip to London

January 25, 2024
Photo by Bailey Sincox

On the afternoon of Oct. 16, 2023 — cool but sunny in London — students in the seminar “The Purpose of Playing” stepped out onto the open-air thrust stage of Shakespeare’s Globe theater.

Bearing in hand pages of lines from plays they’d read in the course, they performed their selections to the theater’s open central yard and three tiers of wooden bench seating, a theatrical space designed drawing on archival and archaeological research to recreate the scale, sound (unamplified), ambience and sonic signature (English oak and open air) in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries’ plays were performed (in the Globe, by adult male companies) when newly written.

“As Hamlet explains in an often-quoted speech,” noted Bailey Sincox (Society of Fellows; Humanities Council, English, and Humanistic Studies), in a story on the Department of English website. “‘The purpose of playing’ is ‘to hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature, to show […] the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.’”

The course’s fall break trip to London, supported by a Humanities Council Magic Grant, enabled the students to exercise the critical eye developed in classroom discussion in direct encounters with cultural sites designed to preserve Shakespeare (and, occasionally, his contemporaries) for the public.

Read the full story on the Department of English website.

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