Taking a Risk: Destination Theatre

To begin, I will say that I’ve never been anywhere. Anywhere that is deemed important enough to exclaim that one’s been there. The furthest I’ve come to ‘travelling’ or ‘exploring’ is going to Toronto or Niagara Falls. Travelling is never something I thought I’d be able to do. Not because I do not have the courage to go, but because I lack the funds. I came to Destination Theatre in the hopes I would be able to travel at least once in my lifetime and this would be my chance to do it with the support of the University. Travelling to London, to me, is much more than just travelling to London. This trip is a symbol of my academic accomplishment and self-driven success that will allow me to experience theatre and a city I always thought I would dream of. To say the least, I am very thankful for this opportunity to learn and immerse myself in a theatre culture that is much different than the one in London, Ontario.

In travelling to London, I want to wake up before the sun rises in the hopes of witnessing London in a way that tourists do not ordinarily see. I love photography and since it has been something placed on the backburner while I pursue my studies, I hope to be able to engage with it once again. For the two weeks I am there, I hope to capture some amazing moments that reflect the grand nature of London, England.

As I study Media, Information, and Technoculture, I am very interested in class struggles and power relations between institutions and the populations they oversee. During the trip, I’m excited to explore how architecture plays a physical role in encouraging or preventing certain classes from engaging with theatre. When developing spaces and real estate for theatre, developers usually benefit some individuals while putting others at a disadvantage (like most things). In this case, space and architecture can be political. This political nature of theatre, or the theatre space to be more specific, is what I’m interested in looking at most. Susan Bennett would describe it as the outer frame of theatre, all the cultural elements which create and inform the theatrical event.

Some of my fears of this trip relate to doing too much and doing too little at the same time. Like I have said before, funding, and my financial situation, is little to none, therefore if I do too much, I put at stake not being able to pay my bills over the summer. If I do too little, I’m missing out on experiencing and learning so much while in London, England, something I’m not likely to experience again (unless I do extremely well and find a great job, which is also unlikely).

While going to school here at Western, I never imagined that taking a second-year course in Theatre Studies with Margaret Jane Kidnie would push me to develop my theories in class struggles and relations through the experience and study of theatre.

“All the world’s a stage”: Finding My Way to Destination Theatre

If you had asked me to participate in this course a year ago, I would’ve told you that you were nuts; I am a total introvert and have always steered as far away from being the centre of attention—and, thus, theatre—as possible. When I saw the email for this course in my inbox, I immediately disregarded it because there was no way that I was going to be taking a theatre class. And then my friend, Adrianna, brought it up one day in the fall and we started researching what the course actually entailed, and, within a week, we were applying to go to London.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had dreams about travelling the world, and I suppose the fact that I’m an English major, and have always had a deep love for books, has eternally steered my heart towards England. Some of the greatest stories in human history have come out of this country and, if I did nothing else before I died, I had to get there. I had to experience the world that my favourite authors experienced; I had to feel the magic of standing where they stood.

When I started to think about it, I realized that this desire also translated over to theatre; going to Shakespeare’s birthplace is kind of an English student’s dream come true. To see these timeless plays performed live in the place where it all began, to see those actors repeating the same words that have been said for centuries, to hear and see the action rather than simply reading it will be an experience unlike any other. I can’t even imagine what it will feel like to sit in an auditorium so close to where Shakespeare himself penned it all, and get to experience what it was like to be one of the first ones to have heard his words.

While I may not want to be the one on the stage, I’ve always been fascinated by live performances. I don’t know what it is but every time I see a live performance, it’s like this magical, out-of-body experience. To see how the cast and crew set up a scene, to see all their hard work come to life in this indescribable way, is something that never ceases to take my breath away. I’ve seen quite a few plays and musicals over the years, both amateur and professional, including all my high school’s performances and a couple of Broadway shows (go to see Cirque Du Soleil: Paramour if you ever get the chance; it is astounding!), and each and every time, I am left speechless. There is something so transformative and authentic—ironic, I know—about real people on a real stage with a real audience watching their every move.Cirque du solielAs for what I am afraid or unsure about, I can honestly say that this is the first time I have not had any serious worries about going to a foreign country. In high school, I went on exchange to France and, being the first time I had gone abroad and the first time I was away from my parents for so long, that was absolutely terrifying. The next year I went to Ireland and, while it wasn’t as nerve-racking since I had previous experience, there was still that stomach churning, heart racing nervousness. This time, however, while it will be the first time I am flying without my parents, I can honestly say that not even that scares me that much. I feel like I have been waiting for this trip for my entire life, and I am so ready to get to the place where my heart belongs.12



An Opportunity of a Lifetime… I hope: Destination Theatre

Coming into my first year, the options for students interested in furthering their knowledge of drama and theatre were very limited. There were no classes available for first years. I decided that the best way to learn theatre was to continue being a part of it, and take on any opportunity I could to act. I didn’t get an opportunity to be in a show at Western until second semester of my second year, where I had a minor role. Finally, first semester of third year I took on the role of Malcolm, in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.   This is where I found out, through fellow cast mates who did Destination Theatre, that there are other opportunities to educate myself on theatre and be a part of something as exciting as this. My theatre knowledge was limited to the several productions I had taken part in, in the past, but other than high school drama, I have rarely sat down and learned about what theatre actually means, and I haven’t had much opportunity to watch shows, and break them down in terms of how they were done. I figured I could finally take a course that will allow me to do so.

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When I decided to take this course, I thought about the possible benefits I could get out of it and the list was endless. First of all, as mentioned before, it’s an opportunity to actually take a course on theatre and find out what it’s all about, in a classroom environment. Second, what better way to learn about something than actually experiencing it? This was an opportunity to be able to go to England, one of the world’s theatre capitals, and be able to watch a plethora of shows by the world’s best actors. An opportunity to be able to experience several workshops with popular actors and coaches, tour the city and actually experience the impact theatre has on the city, and finally, be able to digest and discuss what we had seen the previous night with a well-educated professor and a group of peers that have the same passion for theatre as myself. Furthermore, it was an opportunity to experience a certain culture and way of life that I have never been exposed to. I saw it as a way to be a part of something that I have never been a part of, and an experience that I can not only learn a lot from, but also find a great deal of enjoyment in. It’s always been a dream of mine to experience European culture, and this could not be a better way to do so.

Despite my excitement, there are several things that I am somewhat apprehensive about. As with any new adventure, you don’t know what to expect and it can be frightening taking on something by yourself, or with very few people you know. It is also frightening knowing that I am stepping out of my comfort zone for this new experience that I am hoping to get the most out of, but despite this, I am unclear as to what will happen because I’ve never done anything like this in the past. Regardless, I firmly believe that the joy and experience you get from doing something you’re not 100% sure of has to do with what you put in to it, and this is an experience of a lifetime that I am very excited to be a part of.


My Journey to Destination Theatre

It was a few days before school started that I randomly decided to check my school email account. In my inbox appeared one of the many mass emails that are common throughout the year, usually from faculties and departments that have nothing to do with my own. Reflexively I went to hit the delete button when the subject line caught my eye. As I read through the email I started imagining what it would be like to stroll the streets of London with new friends and take in world-class theatre.

I quickly shook the thought from my mind though. I was a science student; surely I wouldn’t be able to participate in an opportunity like this, having nothing to do with my degree. On top of that was the cost of the trip, which I wasn’t sure I would be able to afford. All of this aside, I decided to look more into the opportunity before making my decision. As you can probably tell, I decided this once in a lifetime opportunity was too good to pass up, leading me to the beginning of my Destination Theatre journey.

My formal experience with the study of live performance begins and ends with a single musical theatre class I took last year on a whim, after needing to fill a time slot for a class I wanted to drop (I was desperately trying to escape organic chemistry). It turns out that course had a much bigger impact on my life than I ever could have imagined. While I always enjoyed watching my friends perform in our high-school’s productions, I had never seen a professional show. Shortly after seeing a professional show together as a class for musical theatre, I found myself looking to see what shows played nearby and soon had a stack of tickets sitting on my nightstand.

I have mostly seen musicals, so one thing I am hoping to get from this course is the experience of viewing a broader range of live theatre. Of course I do hope we get to see a musical or two while we are in London! Another thing I hope to gain is a greater understanding of the general study of theatre because I do not have much formal experience with this. I am also looking forward to being surrounded by classmates who are all just as excited about the shows we will be seeing as I am, and am looking forward to group discussions to help me gain insights I wouldn’t have had on my own.

While I am super excited about Destination Theatre, there are some things that are making me nervous. Being from London, Ontario I have always lived at home during school and have never had to live on my own away from home before. I have also never flown alone before and I’m nervous about finding my way to Queen Mary after landing in London. I am hoping to find some classmates with the same fear so we can tackle this challenge together!

Overall I know this will be the experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait to see what England has in store for us!