When spring rolls around and you get the first email, your heart flutters. $250 sounds like a lot, but you pay it gladly, knowing that September will be here before you know it and that the Canadian border will be calling your name. For any student who has experienced the Stratford Festival, this scenario probably sounds all too familiar. For those of you who haven’t, here are the reasons why you must:
1.) The town.
Stratford is located in Perth County in Ontario, Canada. If the fact that you have to have a passport and leave the country to get to Stratford didn’t make it cool enough, Stratford, Ontario is one of the most gorgeous little towns you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Taking up about 6 city blocks, for a small town there are a surprising number of things to do there. Every year Stratford vets who make the trip delight in such Stratfordian traditions as coffee at Balzac’s, dinner at Othello’s, the annual Steve Reynolds Classic Pool Tourney at the Pour House (formerly and fondly known as Sid’s), and dancing the night away in The Attic. Not to mention the best thing to do in Stratford, and reason number two to make the trip…
2.) The plays.
The whole reason that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival even exists is because of the amazing productions put on every year by the talented milieu of actors, directors, choreographers and set designers. The actors in the Stratford Company are true professionals. They’ve made appearances on Broadway, in movies, on television, and consistently give some of the best performances you’ll ever see during their run at Stratford. The costumes, the set design, the direction—all of it comes together to give students a fabulous and unique play-going experience every year. While the foundation of the Shakespeare Festival is, of course, Shakespeare’s plays, students can also find an array of non-Shakespeare classic or contemporary plays to choose from. And at the end of every performance, there’s nothing better than digesting what you’ve just seen with people who are just as excited about the experience as you are, which brings us to reason number three…
3.) The company.
This trip is a rite of passage, in a way. In order to fully get the English Major experience, you’ve got to make the journey. Dr. Ty Buckman and Dr. Steve Reynolds, our fearless leaders, are some of the coolest professors on campus (and are pretty unbeatable at pool). [Since fall 2013, the Stratford trip has been lead by Dr. Cynthia Richards and Dr. Patrick Reynolds—also fearless leaders and some of the coolest professors on campus...though their pool table prowess has yet to be proven.] You’ll get to meet many students in the major as well as make deeper connections with the ones you already know. The dinner, the down time, the plays—it’s all made better by the fact that you’re surrounded by people who enjoy life-of-the-mind living just as much as you do. I met some of my best friends through the Stratford trip and had some of the best times. So the final reason every English major should go to Stratford?
4.) The memories.
This is my solemn promise—if you make the decision to fork over that $250 (a small price considering it includes your room, three plays, dinner at Othello’s, and the ride up and back) and take the Stratford journey, you will not regret it. All the inside jokes, all the Shakespeare trivia, all the border checkpoint humor and the Facebook default shots—Stratford is more than a weekend of plays in Canada. It’s an experience that you will never forget, and one that you’ll want to relive every year.
There are so many more things I could tell you about Stratford, but I won’t. The mystery of what exactly you’ll go through is half the fun. Just know this—the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is one of the best experiences you could possibly have as an English major, and you’d be foolish (and really lame) if you didn’t take advantage of it.
- Haily Hall, Class of '11
For more information on The Stratford Festival, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca, and to learn about how you can partake in the adventure, contact Dr. Cynthia Richards: firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Patrick Reynolds: email@example.com. To see pictures from recent Wittenberg trips to Stratford, to visit the English Department website Stratford page.