During this time of heart shaped chocolates, flowers, and romance I feel compelled to reflect on my lifelong partner. My appreciation post this Valentine’s Day is for a companion of mine that has been part of my life since 2000: theatre. I was first acquainted with theatre in Toronto at a production of The Lion King. Since then theatre and I have had a strong relationship. No matter where I go I will always make sure to see theatre. While my passion has continued to flourish in university, as a fourth year student I feel it is now time to expand beyond my comfort zone by experiencing theatre in a new culture, with new friends and as a global citizen.
Since that first encounter in 2000, I have experienced theatre in many different roles. I am always an avid audience member, of course. Every year at Christmas time my family and I see a production at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton. After the production we have dinner and discuss in detail what we saw, from stand-out actors to interesting props or costume choices. At Western, I continue to develop my analytical skills as a student in the Theatre Studies program.
My time at Western has also given me opportunities to be a hands-on part of many productions. In high school I did participate in theatre performances; however they were not as frequent as the shows that are put on at Western and in the overall London community. I have had the pleasure of working on two productions for the English department at Western. For the 2015 production of Women Beware Women I was the Assistant Stage Manager, Props Mistress, and I played small character roles of a servant, citizen and lord. Last fall I was the Stage Manager for the production of Q1 Hamlet. I am currently working on the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council production of Antigone as an Assistant Stage Manager.
Although my relationship with theatre began in 2000, my love for classical Shakespearian theatre began last year in the classroom. In affiliation with Western, this past summer I took courses at the Stratford Festival in Ontario. The classes gave me the opportunity to tour the Stratford Festival Archives, costume warehouse, meet iconic Stratford actors and of course see a lot of Shakespeare. My interest in Destination Theatre comes from the opportunity to explore famous Shakespearian sights, such as the Globe Theatre and in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and to witness a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I also hope my time in England will allow me to engage with new types of theatre that, like my experience with Shakespeare, will help me grow as an engaged audience member who, as Helen Freshwater says in her book Theatre & Audience, “‘link[s] what they see with what they have seen and told, done and dreamed’” (17). Likewise, I want to see how Canadian productions of Shakespeare are similar to yet also completely different from the shows we will see in England.
I will admit my biggest fear is the long plane ride to England. I have never experienced a plane ride longer than two hours! However, I know the destination will be well worth the fearful journey. I have also never travelled outside of North America and cannot wait to experience a new culture. I look forward to the moments England will challenge my comfort zone and help me grow as an individual seeking adventure in the name of my passion: theatre.
Sarah Gilpin is a fourth-year English Language & Literature and Theatre Studies student at Western University and is pursuing a career in education.