I am in my fourth year and I cannot imagine a more exciting course to conclude my time at Western. I have been a Theatre Studies student since the program began and Destination Theatre will complete my minor. I have learned how to think critically about performance and production choices and I feel ready to expand and apply these skills in a new setting.
I have seen shows in Toronto, our Stratford, and our London. Therefore, I have never experienced a theatrical performance that is not shaped by the Southwestern Ontario environment. I have been to New York City, but I sadly did not see any theatre. It is a shocking revelation that my theatrical experiences have been very geographically limited. On this trip, we are going to see eight or more shows of various types across the city and beyond. If I were to go to London, England with my family or my friends I would hope to see one show at most. When will I have this opportunity to see this much theatre again? Probably never. I am counting the days.
I learned by reading Jen Harvie’s 2009 book, Theatre & the City, that geographical location shapes productions and vice-versa. I understand this concept, but I am yet to experience what this looks and feels like. I have read the theory, and now I am ready for the practice. My theatre outings are frequent in this London. Reflecting back on the recent performances I have seen, I realize that I almost always know, or at least recognize, someone in a production. I typically see shows at Palace Theatre, The Arts Project, and on campus. My perspective on theatre thus far is extremely localized. I have grown up in London’s theatre community and have never ventured afield, until now. I am excited to learn about spectating in different contexts, and I hope to experience many different forms of theatre while in England. That being said, I also look forward to embracing traditions. I especially like seeing and performing Shakespeare so I am most excited to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and see a Shakespeare production in its country of origin.
My only concern is that I do not have a lot of travel experience. Since I am not a particularly spontaneous person, I prefer to know what is ahead. I feel like I don’t even know what I don’t know! When I think of England, what instantly comes to mind is Shakespeare, Love Actually, and my very outdated knowledge from my Anglo-Saxon Literature course. There are some gaps in my knowledge, to say the least. Kim explained in our first lecture that there will be culture shock in England, even for Canadians. I understand there is much more to England than the tourist stereotypes I know, and I cannot wait to see how it affects their theatre. I know that Destination Theatre will break me free from my London, Ontario bubble and broaden my perceptions and knowledge in ways still unknown, and it cannot come fast enough.
Rachel Flear is a fourth-year English and Theatre Studies Student at Western from London, Ontario.