Catawba Students and Their Professor Travel to American Shakespeare Center
October 31, 2011
Three of Catawba's students in the School of Evening and Graduate Studies – Crystal Hodges, Katrice Pruitt, and Colleen Smiley – traveled along with the professor of their Shakespeare class, Dr. Aaron Butler, to the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia on October 8-9. The American Shakespeare Center is home to the Blackfriars Playhouse, a re-creation of an indoor theatre used in Shakespeare's day. While there, the students attended performances of Shakespeare's "Henry V" and "The Tempest," as well as "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde.
"When a class is studying dramatic literature, it is valuable to see live productions of plays when possible," Dr. Butler said. "I had hoped that we could go to the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival to see "Twelfth Night," but the legislature's cuts to the state budget meant that the Festival had to cancel its production. I did not anticipate that the students would want to travel as far as Staunton, so I was thrilled when they immediately started planning a class trip after seeing pictures of the Blackfriars Playhouse."
The acting company at the Blackfriars consists of professional actors who have parts in several different plays that are being presented at any given time, and frequently, each actor also plays more than one role within a particular play, as actors did in Shakespeare's day.
Katrice Pruitt was astounded by what she saw on stage: "I knew that actors worked hard and had difficult jobs, but those guys have five active plays right now – I watched three personally – and they handled their different roles with such effortlessness. I have a new and deep respect for the theater and all that must occur before anyone can kick back and enjoy the show."
Crystal Hodges also gained a new perspective through seeing the productions: "I discovered a deeper appreciation for live theater through this experience."
She added, "I was able to see the performers' expressions and to hear their voices project the lines throughout the theater, which added to each play's robust attributes." Colleen Smiley added that it was "an amazing weekend."
"Seeing these productions allowed the students to understand more about the intricacies of a play by Shakespeare and the many aspects involved in creating any theatrical production," Dr. Butler commented. "The performances also helped the students to see that there are many ways one can interpret a play, a scene, or even a single line."
The students are already planning a future trip of their own to the American Shakespeare Center. Katrice Pruitt remarked, "I have new friends that share the same joy and excitement over literature, Shakespeare to be more precise. It was a terrific trip and I hope that many more Catawba students realize just how enriching and rewarding a trip like this can be. The experience was priceless!"