Drama club takes trip to England


March 26, 2011
LITTLETON- Eleven Littleton High School drama club students have returned from their school vacation trip to the land of the Bard with stories to tell, including one of William Shakespeare's own in a regional drama festival Saturday.

"Not a lot of people can say that they went to London in high school," said Joe Kratman, one of the student travelers.

The students spent five days in England last month during their break from school as part of a drama trip organized by Director Deb Harris. The drama club presented Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare's comedies, in the winter, and plans to perform an abbreviated version of the work this weekend at the New Hampshire Educational Theatre Guild Festival in Plymouth. Much of the time abroad was devoted to learning more about the playwright's life and the theatre culture from which he came.

One of the highlights of the week was a visit to Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Though a delayed flight prevented the students from attending an evening performance of King Lear by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, they were in time for a backstage tour of the company's 19th-century theatre, as well as a full-day workshop.

"We used the same exercises they do," said Hannah Smith of the experience where the students actually worked with the company's actors to explore Shakespearian themes and performance tactics. The students noted that the English accent during Shakespeare's time actually had more in common with their New England accent than the current English one.

In their time in Stratford, the students also visited the cottage of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife; the birthplace of Shakespeare; and the playwright's grave. The students were quick to rattle off facts garnered over the course of the trip; they were particularly excited about the superstitions of Shakespeare's time. Joe Kratman volunteered that the some people used to sleep sitting up, afraid they would die if they spent the night lying down. Allison Marsh explained that some used to dress their baby boys as girls, as the devil liked to steal little boys.

While many saw differences between England and the United States, Kratman saw similarities between the quiet town of Stratford and northern New Hampshire.

"It was more like where we live," he said, adding that he would have spent another week and a half in Stratford if he'd had the chance. "London was hectic and busy."

London also had its fans among the club. During their time in the capital city, the students explored the fabled squares of the city, the British Museum, the Royal Opera House, and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, as well as visited Buckingham Palace. One student even found time to buy a prom dress she managed to fit in her suitcase.

One of the highlights of the trip for many was the performance of the West End musical Wicked.

"It brought me to tears," said Sarah Bean of the production. Bean was also a fan of the London Eye, a giant observation wheel towering over the River Thames.

"The London Eye was the coolest thing I've ever been in," she said, and many of the other students agreed. Though some had traveled to other countries before, others in the group had barely left the state. Annie Negron flew for the first time during the trip.

Harris said the students were often commended for being very polite and well dressed.

"We had a lot of compliments on our behavior," said Harris, pleased with the group. Harris already has plans to make the trip again next year, tweaking the itinerary based on the group's experiences this year. She hopes to keep the group small like it was this year, though judging by the number of graduating seniors who have already volunteered to chaperone, this could be a problem.

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