April is often the cruellest month for RIC’s year 13 and year 14; the difficult final choice between university offers to be made, coursework deadlines to be met, a round of full mock exams and the knowledge that the real things aren’t long after. That’s why we welcomed the opportunity to combine revision with relaxation and to take a weekend trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon at the end of the spring term.
Stratford is not only Shakespeare’s birthplace but the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the best place to see their wonderful performances. This year A level English Literature students have been studying The Taming of the Shrew a play which continues to provoke so much debate about gender roles, in spite of being about 425 years old. How does one perform a text, which, at least first sight, seems to be an ode to female submission in marriage? Justin Audibert’s fantastic production has the innovative solution of inverting the genders; the male roles played by women, and female roles by men. Whether students attending their first live Shrew (although many saw another production with college at the Globe last year) or jaded teachers on their fifth, all found this lively and provocative, as well as terribly funny. As well as cementing this crucial text in the minds of the students, it provides them with material to discuss in their exams, where they can debate different productions.
We also had time to fit in another Shakespeare comedy, As You Like It, a trip on Stratford’s new Ferris wheel and a visit to a butterfly sanctuary. The college hasn’t been to Stratford since 2016, but the English department hope to make this a yearly occurrence. Click here for more photos. By David Thornthwaite, Head of English