The Sixth Form trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to visit the home of the “Bard”, but more importantly to see a performance of one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies, King Lear, was the brain child of Imogen Lewis, a Sixth Former who had got the Stratford bug after seeing The Tempest in The Courtyard Theatre the previous year. Once the subject had been broached on a cold, dark Wednesday morning (double English!), her classmates quickly became very enthusiastic, motivated not so much by a love of culture and the arts, but having the rather less altruistic aim of “getting a better grade in English”.
Booking the theatre tickets immediately followed and was surprisingly easily executed. Booking the flights was not so simple as a certain airline seemed to be going out of its way to make things difficult! What do you mean my passport’s out of date? It’s still me! However, after a lot of sweat and a few tears, literally, we were on our way – three members of staff, fifteen pupils and Mrs Lewis, Imogen’s mum.
The journey itself (the outward one at least) was thankfully uneventful and we arrived at our rather luxurious, as youth hostels go, accommodation in time to change and eat, before meeting our guide, Josiah Grub, for the infamous Stratford Ghost Walk! For a man who claimed to have been dead for four hundred years, he was very entertaining and, despite a very eerie walk to Holy Trinity graveyard, was the highlight of the weekend for a number of the group.
Saturday, our full day in Stratford, was of course a William Shakespeare Pilgrimage. Every other Tudor-looking building in the town was visited, including King’s New School, which is today the prestigious King Edward Grammar school for boys. The tour, which was conducted by a rather shy Year 10 pupil who was attempting to raise money for a rugby tour, was very enjoyable, the only disappointment being that the room in which the great Bard was taught has now, very shockingly, become a room for PSE! (No offence Miss Thompson)
The evening performance of King Lear was, of course, the highlight of the visit and we spent a rather enjoyable 45 minutes at the bus stop afterwards discussing , analysing, commenting and criticising The Royal Shakespeare Company’s interpretation of, arguably, Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. Everyone had their favourite moments, though the storm scene and the “real rain” was probably the climax for most.
The trip ended with a relaxing Sunday morning cruise up the Avon on a barge and another not so relaxing “discussion” with our favourite airline staff at Birmingham airport. We all made it safely home though and are very keen to plan our next theatre trip.