Witness To ‘Witness For The Prosecution’

Have you ever sat in on a court case where a man is on trial for murder, and if found guilty, will be sentenced to death? A situation where you have no idea whether the man is innocent or guilty and who else may have been involved. An instance where all you can do is sit there, patiently waiting, and offering your best guess as to what really had happened when in reality, you do not have the slightest clue. I had the privilege of watching Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie at the London County Hall; an actual courtroom. I was able to sit directly next to the stage, and it was one of the most immersive experiences of my life. It felt as though I was a part of this trial, as I was right there, next to all the actors (although in this case, they did not feel as such). I was able to catch every single one of their facial expressions; lip twitches, frowns, even tears, something you could not experience in a dark theatre, with one thousand seats. It felt as if both the defense and the prosecution were trying to convince me, specifically that the man on trial was either innocent or guilty. The immersive nature of the show itself allowed myself to give every ounce of my attention to every nuance and every little detail on the stage.

The nature of Agatha Christie’s stories is that they are meant to deceive you and keep you mesmerized by having you guess as to who is responsible for committing the crime. This play did not fall short of these expectations. The fact that I had no idea what the ending would be, kept me engaged. It kept me curious in my desire to get my answer. Deception can keep entire audiences involved in the show, because the audience want to see if their guesses were correct all along or if something else happens entirely. The fact that the show was played in an actual courtroom and not a traditional theatre gave the play a certain authenticity that you would not have gotten otherwise. The Guardian mentioned that “the play’s appeal lies not just in its mystery but in its courtroom formality.” This review supports the fact this play wasn’t impressive due to the fantastic acting and the underlying mystery, but also on the fact that the courtroom, which in itself is a very theatrical event, allowed for a complete show experience. I walked out of the theatre with my jaw-dropped, in absolute shock as to how it had ended, and I attribute that to not only the plot, but also the way the plot was presented to me.

Theatre is supposed to keep you entertained, and always keep you wanting more. It should have moments that just make you say, “Wow. I can’t believe that.” Witness for the Prosecution, at the London County Hall allowed me to have a continuous, two and a half hour ‘wow’ moment that escalated to immeasurable heights right as it ended, because after waiting for that long for my answer, I had finally received it. In such a spectacular way no less. If you are reading this, and are in London in the near future, make it your priority to see this production.


Notes from the field about “Notes From The Field”

On the evening of June 23, I had the absolute privilege (I’ll return to this in a bit) of seeing the final London performance of Anna Deavere Smith’s one woman show “Notes From The Field” with my Destination Theatre class.  This show was a collection of performed personal accounts from interviews Smith conducted herself, all centred around the topic of the “school to prison pipeline” in North America. She interviewed around 250 people in total for this project, which began in 2011, and was first performed in 2015.

Smith defines this “pipeline” for us on her website, which I highly recommend visiting by following the associated link:

“Basically, the US Justice Department released statistics that show that poor black, brown and Native American children are suspended and expelled more frequently than their middle-class and white counterparts, and that these suspensions and expulsions are directly linked to the likelihood that they will be incarcerated at some point in their lives.”


I am myself a middle-class white female who grew up primarily in North Carolina, but near communities that only upon reflection do I now realize mirrored some of those depicted in Smith’s performance. I remember having a school safety officer, a large white man with a badge who we’d see wandering, or patrolling, the halls. These were my younger years, mind any reader. And there were students, children, who brought drugs or weapons into the school as early as grade 6, who were being indoctrinated into gangs because that’s just what someone from their own communities was accustomed to. These children were generally African American or Hispanic. Maybe there was a precedent for our safety officer, but there is no doubt that there were underlying social mechanisms at play concerning who was at risk of becoming criminalized at a young age and why.

So, privilege. When I was a kid in that school with the safety officer, I felt safe. I had nothing to fear. But other students did, and I was blissfully unaware of how much more there was, or should have been, to student discipline. That there was a story or a reason behind misbehaviour, and more intervention may have been required than a reactionary punishment. That the reactionary punishment was possibly an overreaction, and damaging in some way to the student. It was my privilege to not have to worry about these things, and it was imperative that I learned that I should worry.

If this is something that I, at 21 years old, remember from my childhood, then it is obviously something that has been happening for years, likely beginning far before I began elementary school, and potentially lasting far into our future as well. This is something that can be stopped though, and this is what Smith is trying to do, in her own way. Through using such an emotionally accessible medium as her performance is, Smith raises awareness and educates her audiences on this “pipeline” problem. Often, theatre isn’t a physically accessible medium though, for such demographics as those depicted in her show (good news though, a filmed version is now available on HBO). It is most accessible to relatively privileged communities, but these are the people who need to learn about these social injustices, because the people affected by them already know. So upon learning and leaving this show, I hope that others like myself will move forward recognizing our privilege, and using it in a way that means something. Ask questions, demand answers, and stand up for your neighbours. And share your HBO Go password so everyone can see this vital piece of theatre.

When Theatre Transforms Spaces

Studying how the city of London, England and theatre interact by examining research papers, novels, essays, and first-hand accounts from those who have visited before is nothing to one’s own experience of the city. When I arrived in London, England at Gatwick Airport, in order to get to my destination, Queen Mary, I had to take a train and it was the view from the train that struck me first. As the train slowly pushed through the countryside, small communities lingered in my sight line. Graffiti, crumbling infrastructure, and overgrown plant life filled my view until I entered the city at Victoria Union Station. These communities did not receive the benefit of the tourism that has transformed the London city centre. As the train trekked deeper into the heart of London, lots of scaffolding entombed buildings and cranes littered the skyline. From this image I learned that the city is always changing, building on the ground and legacy that came before. London, England is a hub for monumental historic and theatrical spaces.

While travelling in the underground subway stations, I was astonished by the abundance of advertisements promoting shows. This abundance is lacking in London, Ontario. In London, England there are theatres considered to be West End, some outside of West End, and another dozen belonging to the off West End category. Each day and night there is a large quantity of shows to be seen. There is such an abundance that there are small shops/kiosks selling tickets at a discount the day of the performance to fill the thousands of seats belonging to the many theatres in London. As the class explored the city, Professor Kidnie explained to me that theatre was playing a significant part in urban regeneration. The relationship between the city and theatre is what interested me most. London and its theatre culture were deeply intertwined and woven in such a way that it is inescapable like the oxygen we breathe.

The area which I would like to closely examine is the environment and location around the National Theatre, and the re-constructed Globe Theatre that has drawn millions of viewers and Shakespeare enthusiasts from across the globe. As I walked along the Southbank of London, England I saw food trucks, lounge chairs, coffee shops, monuments, benches, restaurants, and play spaces for young children such as an elongated sandbox. Children can climb up a bright orange sculpture that can also be used as a slide. A colourful carousel dominated a small portion of the Southbank, and not far from that there was a skatepark covered in layers of graffiti. Professor Kidnie explained that twenty years before, the now thriving skatepark that allows individuals to explore their own creativity with graffiti and push their skateboarding skills further, was home to countless homeless people underneath the overpass. Row after row of individuals living in poorly constructed outdoor places of residence. However, as theatre and the arts continued to grow on the Southbank, there became no place for these individuals who had no home in this area. Those who had called the area home for an extended period of time were pushed out by commercial spaces taking advantage of the theatre goers nearby. When theatre transforms spaces, in some circumstances it does not benefit the local communities and the individuals that live within it. The area becomes condensed with tourists and commercial shops are pursued instead of pushing for more affordable housing and/or resources for those who are disadvantaged. Theatre’s transformative nature can be beneficial if they communicate with the community and focus on goals for educational opportunities, inclusivity, and support for those who need it most.

The Power Struggle: Modernization vs Replication

Studying theatre has always been an interest of mine, but I never thought to consider theatre as more than a performance on a stage before a hopeful audience. Since reading Palgrave’s Theatre & series, I’ve been reminded to keep an open mind towards, not only what theatre is, but what it has the potential to be. The proceedings in a court room, a sacred religious ceremony, or even a lecture from a professor are examples of performances in the real world.

Since taking the Destination Theatre course I’ve been observant of events in my life that have performative aspects. Since arriving in England, I have immersed myself in London’s rich and ubiquitous theatre scene. So far, I’ve seen sensational shows like Young Frankenstein, Witness for the Prosecution, and A Winter’s Tale. By the end of our 14-day adventure we’ll have seen a whopping ten performances in different theatres, but hundreds of performances by ordinary people within the city.

A recurring complication of the performances in London is the persistent power struggle between a replicated production and one that will please the majority – the tourists. Whether these presentations are within a theatre or in the real-world there is an unceasing desire to please the high-paying consumers. With this desire comes the decision to reproduce original performances or modernize them. This decision can severely influence the audience’s reaction towards a performance.

Two productions from this trip are highlighted in my memory when it comes to modernizing an English performance. The changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and AWinter’s Tale at the Globe Theatre undertook the challenge of modernization with some success and failure.

A Winter’s Talein the Globe Theatre was a performance accompanied by high expectations following our day of extensive programming concerning the elaborate costumes and theatres within the facility. The Globe Theatre is a reproduction of the original Elizabethan playhouse that was destroyed by fire in 1613. The Globe’s desire to replicate most aspects of Shakespeare’s vision is present, but the reality of a budget often takes precedence and impedes their efforts. Employees continue to make a valiant effort to ensure visitors have an authentic experience of the Globe, but in the case the case of their production of A Winter’s Talethe authenticity was almost completely lost in their efforts to modernize a Shakespearean classic. The production used modern-day clothing and props in order to differentiate members of the cast from Bohemia and Sicilia, but I personally found that this decision restricted my comprehension of the entire show.

In contrast, the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace was a huge success for all audiences looking for an authentic and modern mix of an English production. The performance started with the traditional guard routine followed by two English marching bands that presented perfected pieces. And to my surprise, one of those pieces was “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. The use of this song allowed most of the audience, especially younger spectators, to connect to an element of the long traditional ceremony. I personally felt the performance maintained a perfect balance of authenticity and modern entertainment.

I believe that maintaining the authenticity of a performance is the surest way to achieve success. In the case of the Changing of the Guards ceremony, a small modern twist captivated the attention of audience members of all ages. As for the production of A Winter’s Tale, their attempt to modernize a classic led to an overall degradation of the quality of their production.


The Jokes’ Asses––regarding Chicago (London, Pheonix Theatre, 2018)

Consider: satire might be thought of as a sardonic, refractive social commentary––a beam of taint-light, say, cast from a writer, toward and against and from a mirror, and into an audience’s delighted eyes. But we sometimes forget that the subject of satire is us, the audience; we are derided and ridiculed by the satirical play; we are seen and scorned (and chuckle). We are the jokes’ asses. (“Hey, suckers,” Roxie begins Act II, rippling a giggle through the crowd.) And to those whom, after laughter mellows, reflection pursues, witnessing satire seems to be a healthy process, like––should artists be the immune system of society’s body––the inflammation, or aches, or boils of an embodied disease illuminating itself with agglutinations of white blood cells.

Through the lens of this performance of Chicago, and with a little knowledge of recent American history, that hill-top city seems to have inverted into a dark pit writhing with lustful, celebrity-worshipping, uncritical fools. (The satire’s perfect audience, then, likewise bears these adjectives.) The pit’s ribbed with falling tributaries of snake-oil, eddies of hucksterish priests, outcrops of beleagured proletariats, anonymous housewives, congested jails, and battered ideals––today thinkable-of as fragments broken from Plymouth Rock (which type of rock, by the way, typifying the mammoth contrast between America’s words and America’s deeds, is poetically called glacial erratic)–– as well as host to, lest we forget, sitting as the current comma upon the sentence of the world, a president most personally recognizable to the populace as a fucking reality-show host.

“It’s all showbiz,” says Billy Flynn, played by Cuba Gooding Jr.––a hollywood actor, remember, best known for the line (which he’s doubtless heard multiply daily barked through him by (in?)complete strangers in the film celebrity-crazed America we know and regret) “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”––who, himself, perhaps, upon the extended self-reflection and critical awareness of one’s impression on public consciousness caused by past work, which is perhaps necessary to empower a serious actor’s trajectory, epitomizes the performance (con-)artist playing to an obliviously enrapt American audience, regarding whom Flynn asks, “How can they see with sequins in their eyes?”.

Casting Gooding Jr., outclassed as a singer though he was, strung a rope ladder, festooned with tributaries of snake oil, from the pit’s lip to its nadir.

And perhaps American audiences, perhaps even global audiences, have opted for sequins because humans need belief, require fiction, to exist. We evolved, after all, into our unique capacity to navigate, bludgeon, and beautify ‘our’ world by means of the languages we developed to tell stories, to reflect the world we inhabited, through narratives which prepared us for the infinite set of dangers and pains we would face therein. And so story we innately prefer––aware as we are of our susceptibility to death, to the pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office––to reality.

Story, then, we used to avoid the variety of fatal traps our mortal coils couldn’t govern. No wonder that we ended with story’s fullest evolution, fantasy, and were depicted in this production as boiling in the kind of deadly trap we first took shape to avoid.

Everything is Theatre?

“Everything is theatre”. It is a refrain we have heard again and again throughout this course. At first it was a statement I found difficult to accept. Yes many things involve a performative act, but do all things have the carefully calculated finesse that is theatre?

While I still find the statement slightly cynical, I have come to realize we do each play a part in the bigger story that is the world.

And it is the world itself that provides the various stages on which we must act.

In London, I felt the above to be most true when we entered Southwark cathedral. The grandeur of the inside was designed to impress. Like those elaborate theatres of the West End, that claim society appreciates the arts, this building acts to say our society appreciates and decorates morality.

The scene is set by a lavish altar and intricate architecture. After a few moments of appreciation, the minister grabs our attention from this altar. He demands an audience and we are not able to refuse him in his placement of power. We are guests (though we did not buy a ticket) and we must watch this performance.

After he began to speak, however, it quickly became evident to me that we were not spectators but actors ourselves. We were part of this grandiose play of morality, and I had forgotten my lines.

We were told to sit down, and as we proceeded to sit or kneel we all agreed to participate in this production. As the minister spoke a prayer, I felt incredibly uncomfortable. This was not a play in which I was meant to have a part. Why had I agreed to take part in it? How had I become an actor when I had only intended to be a spectator? Why did I think there would be a divide between actor and spectator in such an immersive intimate space anyway?

Ultimately, I chose to stage myself out of sight of the alter as the man spoke. I sat, I did not kneel. I kept my eyes open and did not move my mouth or say “amen”. If I was being watched in a production all these signs would tell you how I felt about the proceedings.

Finally, the minister at the altar told us all to “say a prayer together in our own tongues”. At this moment I was the actor who had forgotten all her lines and he was a stage manager putting the words into my mouth. As everyone around me recited the Lord’s Prayer, I tried to remember my lines but could not recite the lines I never knew.

As we continued around the city, to Westminster that same day and to St. Paul’s a bit later, I saw how the marvellous buildings performed. How they created awe, inspired a sense of belonging, and shaped the performance of people as they act out their lives.

In the end, we are all acting an identity everyday, whether it’s true or not true. As such, we must remember to be aware of our surroundings and analyze our journeys as we would a piece of theatre. For in this we can find the hidden meanings, the hypocrisy, and the truth that otherwise evade us and leave us without a spotlight.

Never forget “all the world’s a stage and all the people merely players”.

“Diana: Her Fashion Story”: exploring performance through costuming

During our trip to London, I visited the “Diana: Her Fashion Story” exhibition at Kensington Palace, where I was expecting to see some pretty clothes owned by a woman I grew up loving, even though she died before I was born. My mom was obsessed with Diana when she was my age, and still pretty much is today, so I suppose my love for “the People’s Princess” was a genetic inheritance passed down through years of books and storytelling. However, after viewing the exhibit, I feel as though I’ve learned so much more about her life and the purposes of her fashion choices.

I said multiple times throughout the tour that I felt like I was walking through someone’s home, which, of course, I was, but it was still an odd feeling to not get the museum-like feel to the space that I was expecting. The entire time I was in that house it was as though I could feel Diana’s ghost following behind me down the hallways, telling me her story, as if I was just looking through her closet rather than viewing her iconic outfits through bulletproof glass. It is this feeling of intimacy that is at the heart of the performative aspects of the exhibit.

On the Kensington Palace website, the exhibit is described as an opportunity to “trace the evolution of Diana, Princess of Wales’ style, from the demure, romantic dresses and other outfits of her first public appearances, to the glamour, elegance and confidence of her later life.” This exhibit tells a very compelling story, one that people around the world know well; there is a natural progression within the space that makes one feel as if one is watching a staged performance, with beginning, middle, and end.

Costuming plays an essential role in theatrical performances, as we’ve learned from our workshops at Shakespeare’s Globe and our viewing of Anna Deavere Smith’s “Notes From The Field,” where character is intrinsically connected to pieces of clothing. What an actor is wearing and how they choose to, or are told to, wear it are crucial elements to the performance as a whole. Although I’ve spent years learning about Diana and her work, I never realized just how significant her clothing, or, rather, her costumes, were to how the world saw her.

Elizabeth Emanuel, fashion designer for Diana, said in an interview, “there is this language of clothes, and Diana really got to understand that. You can make a real statement and show what you’re feeling at the time [with your fashion choices].” While the world may have admired her and watched her every move through magazines and news stories, it becomes blatantly obvious that her clothing choices were meant to say much more than simply “wow, what a pretty dress,” particularly when they are all laid out in one space for spectators to view. Diana’s fashions choices change dramatically following the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles because there are now protocols and expectations that she must abide by as a member of the royal family. She has just taken on the most important role of her life as wife of the future king of England, and this shows in the clothing choices she begins to make.

Mark Hudson, for the Telegraph, writes in his review of the exhibit: “while Diana, with her fondness for baseball caps and George Michael’s music, might have, on the one hand, been the most modern of royals, her image, as demonstrated here, was founded on the same historical traditions of princely grandeur: traditions which Diana updated and brilliantly, if sometimes unwittingly, manipulated to her own ends.” Her voice is ever present in the decision-making process, as becomes evident by the notes made by Diana on the designer’s sketches hanging on a wall in the exhibit. And yet, at the end of the day, she is told what to wear and how to wear it, and she is forced to build her character within these strict guidelines.

As Eleri Lynn, exhibition curator, states, “following from the separation from the Prince of Wales, she decided she wanted to be known as a workhorse rather than a clothes horse, so she deliberately started to dress down.” Again, Diana’s clothing changes alongside her role within the royal family.

Each time she puts on an outfit, whether it be a luxurious evening gown in which to dance with John Travolta or a bulletproof vest in which to visit minefields, Diana is making a statement; she is saying something about who she is as a wife, a mother, a woman, an activist, and a human being. She uses her clothing as physical symbols of her intentions, much like costumes and other props might be used in staged performances, such as when she deliberately removes her gloves before shaking hands with an AIDS patient. Her ever-evolving character is put on display under the guise of “fashion” as a way of navigating both the expectations placed upon her by her family and society, as well as her own desires and preferences. Whether it be on stage or in real life, the first thing a spectator will judge someone by is their outward appearance, and Diana knew how to play her role well.

Works cited:



Our First Day in England

On our first full day in the real London, we were exposed to two very different, yet similarly structured performances outside of the theatre. The day began with our first tube ride to Buckingham Palace to witness the changing of the guards, and ended with a gripping photo session at platform 9 and ¾ from the famous Harry Potter series.

We got to the Buckingham Palace gates very early with a perfect view of the left corridor. We believe that this traditional event helps shape the cultural identity in London. We stood waiting at the front of the gates, unsure of what to expect from the traditions of the culture. The culture of a city is greatly shown through the “ideologies (or systems of belief) the city enforces” (Harvie 4). We noticed a small group of military soldiers emerging from the side of the building while marching in a structured formation, followed by an intense inspection from the higher ranks. Then, we heard music in the distance as the marching band approached the Palace gates. They entered marching by following a similar structured formation used by the military soldiers. After this, another marching band approached the Palace, this time followed by the guards in red uniforms to signal the start of the ceremonial changing of the guards.


Another tube ride later, we arrived at the King’s Cross station (a well-known tube station for Harry Potter fans AKA Potterheads). Upon arrival we were shocked to find a line of approximately one hour to take a photo against the platform 9 and ¾’s wall. Both of us were unfamiliar with the franchise and as a result were able to see through the performance given by the employees, as they reacted like that wall is truly magical. During our time in the queue, the employees enforced strict rules, while still trying to create an immersive environment for the patient Potterheads. Once we made our way to the front of the line we were asked which Potter House we were part of and they wrapped a scarf around our necks to represent our selections for the photo. After collecting our magic wands, we took our place for the photo as an employee threw the scarf up to create a hovering effect. Following the photo, we were immediately rushed into the gift shop and encouraged to purchase the photo that had been professionally taken.


We are aware that both of these events are examples of performance beyond conventional theatrical spaces, and we are interested in how their ideals of structure differ from, or are similar to, conventional theatre. In Theatre and the City, Harvie claims that “drama has articulated the changing conditions of urban life, be those changes social, material, structural, religious, economic or ideological” (22). We especially saw this when we observed these events as performances for an accepting audience.

The performance of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace followed a rigid and traditional structure. While the audience was free to come and go as they pleased, the guards were required to follow specific steps and patterns of movement in perfect unison. The ceremony has remained unchanged to respect the tradition it represents. This contrasted heavily with what we witnessed at King’s Cross. The performers were free to move around as they pleased to guide the audience and take their photos, however we as audience members were confined to the queue needing to follow the instructions given to us.

Although the structures weren’t the same, it was noticeable when they were broken or disrupted. For example, during the changing of the guards, the strict and prestigious marching band broke into Bruno Mars’ hit single “Uptown Funk”. All the pieces played previously by the band had a traditional and classical sound, so we immediately noticed this interruption to the structure. We believe this disruption was to entertain the audience who may have gotten restless towards the end of the long ceremony. We found that the audience’s role connects to Harvie’s idea that “theatre is a port of urban processes, producing urban experience and thereby producing the city itself” (7), as traditions are beginning to be slightly altered to urban cultures. Another example of interrupted structure happened during our time in the queue at King’s Cross. Unaware that the line continued outside, we cut into the inside line and were aggressively informed that we were not in the correct space. The employee quickly changed his performance from cheerful and welcoming to strict and firm as we, the audience, had broken the structure we were required to conform to.  In this performance it was clear that there was “the possibility that the response of the audience may influence the delivery of the performance, the live presence of spectators and performers in shared time and space (Harvie 15). Even after returning back to the original structures, we as an audience were able to see that an unsteadiness still remained throughout the rest of the performance.

These two events strongly influenced the way that we think about performance outside of the theatre for our remainder of our stay in England. They were a great introduction to the city and helped shaped our views on the remaining cultural aspects.

Destination Theatre: Another Challenge

At first sight, Destination Theatre looked like too big a challenge for me. It took me a great deal of time considering if I should take this course or not. But in the end, I decided to take it. After all, coming to Canada from South Korea and studying at Western was already a challenge for me. In fact, everything I had to go through in Canada was a challenge. Not only studying and doing assignments, but also going to restaurants and trying to order things without stuttering, calling the bank to figure out what happened to my money, and of course, seeing plays and never figuring out what the characters are saying to each other. Such challenges are stressful, but they never are impossible to overcome, and in the end they improve me. So why not go through another?

The reason I was attracted to Destination Theatre was because I thought the course will allow me to experience studying theatre abroad with a whole group of other students (and a professor) with a common interest (I am technically already abroad, but you know what I mean). It is a rare opportunity to meet a group of people that are interested and passionate about theatre, and discuss the plays we were able to see together. It seemed like an opportunity I should not miss. I hope to hear from a lot of different perspectives, and share my perspective as well.

The first thing I hope to get from our time in London is the courage to continue studying theatre. I am of course very much interested in theatre, and have been planning my career in the theatre industry. However, as an art-loving woman from a country that is misogynistic and does not encourage art, an inevitable depression has clouded me lately. I hope the experience in London, UK will ignite my passion once more and give me the strength to keep on my path.

Another thing I hope to get is friends. It is not easy to find people with common interests, but I think it is even more difficult when your interest is theatre. This is a precious chance to spend a lot of time with people who are not only insightful, but also are in love with theatre. I hope that we will get a lot of time to talk and become friends with each other.

My biggest fear is that, because of my lack of proficiency in English, that I might not be able to understand all the performances we are going to see. It is an obstacle I find very difficult to overcome, and I am afraid such difficulties will keep me from contributing insightful thoughts to the class or even understanding what the class is discussing in the first place. For the same reason, I am also concerned that I might not be able to understand the contexts of some lines in the plays. I hope I will be able to overcome at least a portion of it by engaging in more conversations with my classmates.

Art Over Adversity

I have always wanted to study internationally for a while, however I noticed that there weren’t many worthwhile abroad opportunities for humanities students. One morning I came across a promotion e-mail from the department of humanities at Western. My first reaction was like ummm this sounds dope! I honestly didn’t even think that my application would be considered as I am not in the Theatre Studies program at Western. But I thought ah what the heck, let me give it a shot! And about a month later I got an e-mail with my acceptance to the course! It sounds pretty silly that I was so excited for a course – but like, it’s THEATRE… in ENGLAND.

I have to be honest, after taking in that I was going to UK… I got a little hesitant. There’s an uncomfortable amount of Islamophobia and hate crimes in that part of the world, which for me, opened room for doubts about this trip. However, as a student eager to learn more knowledge from all different parts of the world, no matter how challenging – I know travel can be very empowering. There are bigots and racists everywhere in the world, and as a person of colour, I know I have to be prepared for that – and growing up as a visible racial minority, certain upsetting encounters have already prepared me for the most part. It’s unfortunate to see that a place as beautiful as England, with all of its artistic and literary glory (I wouldn’t say fully attractive – as romanticizing imperialism and exploitation is never cute!), has major social setbacks… but I guess that can be said about most places.

On a more positive note! One thing I will definitely be observing is the art and culture throughout London. While I am looking forward to just enjoying the art for what it is in the moment, I will have to be taking lots of photos for my final project so I have some content and authenticity to work off of (stay tuned to see some dope art visuals created by yours truly!).

I travel quite a bit and one thing I have noticed over the years is that I tend to compare different cities… a lot. Comparing the diversity or lack thereof, the warmth one may or may not feel from its people, the hustle n bustle or slowness, the billboards, the quirky advertisements, the independent coffee shops, the number of stray cats I can spot, subway musicians playing all sorts of instruments that I never knew existed, hidden art murals, vintage record shops… OKAY, you get the picture. That being said, I’m hoping to find a little bit of beauty in both London and Stratford – which I am sure will not be hard to come across!

Although this trip definitely put a strain on my finances for the year, I know it will all be worth it! I’m looking forward to spending time with my classmates and getting to know them better as well. One of my English professors at Brescia told me that I must check out The Tate Gallery as it has a TON of breathtaking art – so if anyone wants to tag along with M.J. and me, please do! Overall, I am super pumped to soon be in England and can’t wait for the opportunities in store for all of us!