In June we hosted a small group of students from the University of Georgia at the first stage of their Transatlantic Shakespeare summer program. One of the students, Abigail Berquist, was gracious enough to share her experience with Shakespeare thus far:
I’ve come from a rich Shakespeare background due to private school teaching
me a play-a-year starting in about 3rd or 4th grade, to living in London a year which allowed time to go to Stratford and the Globe Theatre, yet I have always been intimidated by it. The language prevented me from fully understanding the play. When I’d read a work by the great playwright for class, I’d summarize as I read; that was my main objective so I would fully understand what seemed complicated to me.
I chose to come on the Washington-Oxford Program with the University of Georgia to study Shakespeare because I love English, so I felt I should gather a larger understanding of Shakespeare, our dear adopted playwright. I am not going to be an English teacher, and I am not a theatre major, so many would ask why would I, a Public Relations major, want to study Shakespeare?
At first, I thought I had chosen the wrong program. The workshops were more teaching-based, and I believed I could gain nothing from them since they weren’t in regular English course structure – but I was wrong, extremely wrong. The workshops helped me delve into the text of Shakespeare’s plays in ways I would’ve thought wouldn’t work. It was very hands on in a way that made the words come alive. No longer was I focusing on the words we don’t use as much anymore, but I was focusing on the humor and the meaning behind the words. Not only did the hands-on, acting-geared workshops help me understand the text, but I realized I actually love to act in a comfortable environment. The staff made sure to quickly acclimate the students into a comfortable classroom setting in a way that would cause us non-theater majors to enjoy the acting and activities.
I have a newfound appreciation of Shakespeare, and I can even say now that I would be willing to read and watch a Shakespeare play on my own time. I didn’t realize his works would not intimidate me so soon into this program, but I stand here exactly that confident. If I were to teach, I would do it the way the Folger has laid out; people will not fear his works, but enjoy them proficiently.
Abby Bergquist is a third year student at the University of Georgia who is a Public Relations major with an English minor. She is a new Shakespeare convert, who has loved English as long as she can remember, but has just added a whole new element to her love of literature.