Theatre Historiography Goes On Tour!
One of the modules I’m studying this year as a final year Theatre & Performance Studies student is called Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Approaches to Theatre Historiography. It’s a really exciting theory-based module which looks at how theatre history is created, documented and preserved. Our classes over the first few weeks of term have been focused on theatre archives so this week our usual seminar was swapped with a trip to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon where we got to explore some material from the Shakespeare archives!
After a quick stop at Procaffeinate in Leamington Spa (one of Leamington’s many cute cafés), we hopped on the train to Stratford. It only took about thirty minutes to get there from Leamington and it’s really easy to get to Leamington from the campus – despite being a campus university, Warwick is close to lots of interesting places (Kenilworth, Warwick and Birmingham to name just few!) and has great transport links which makes it easy to go on study trips or to visit somewhere new when you get the chance.
Once we’d arrived in Stratford, we made our way to the Shakespeare Centre and Shakespeare’s birthplace on Henley Street. There are lots of beautiful historical buildings in Stratford so it really feels like stepping into the past. As well as the Shakespeare Centre, Stratford is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Company – as a student, being so close to the RSC provides a really exciting opportunity to see high-quality performances and even get involved with workshops.
At the Shakespeare Centre, we visited the reading room and were allowed to look at some of the documents from the archives including various photos, reports and scripts. I’d never been to an archive before so it was really interesting to get first-hand experience of working in this kind of research environment and to try out a completely new way of researching. Being able to handle documents that had been created by the theatre-makers of the past was really special and I felt really lucky to be able to access such precious historical materials.
Getting off campus and putting your skills into practice in the real world is a great way to remind yourself why you love your subject and to think more about the kind of work you could be doing in the future. Going on the trip has reignited my passion for Shakespeare and I’m really looking forward to learning more about theatre historiography and exploring more archives as I continue researching for my dissertation. I hope this post has given you an insight into the kind of opportunities available to you as a Theatre student at Warwick as well as the places that are waiting to be explored beyond the campus itself!