Vail students visit London for Shakespeare class | VailDaily.com
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Vail students visit London for Shakespeare class

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyBattle Mountain High seniors Pearl Burkham, Emma Szindler, Andrea Sancez and Harrison Huntoon have some fun with the famous red phone booths of London. The students were in London to extend their knowledge and appreciation of Shakespeare.
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EAGLE-VAIL ” A visit to London can bring new life to a class that does nothing but read the plays of William Shakespeare.

Several students from Battle Mountain High School, many enrolled in a Shakespeare class, recently spent nine days in London to soak up English culture and to see first-hand the stomping grounds of The Bard.

Naturally, they spent much of their time in the usual, must-see stops in London.

They spent the first day in Windsor Castle, which was exciting because the Queen was “in residence,” the students said. It was here they first realized how young America looks in comparison to the large and ancient stone castles that fill England.

“America doesn’t have all these castles ” everything was so old there,” said student Emma Szindler.

Students even watched the changing of the guards, and of course, tried to elicit a reaction from the notoriously stoic men by making faces and blowing kisses, a rite of passage for American tourists shown in sitcoms and movies.

“One of them rolled his eyes,” said student Harrison Huntoon.

They spent time in the Tower of London, home of the Crown Jewels and the site of probably thousands of torture sessions. It might have been more creepy had there not been so many tourists there, the students said.

They saw the British Museum (home of the Rosetta Stone), the Roman Baths, rode the Tube (mind the gap!), walked across Abbey Road, made famous by a Beatles album cover. Some students chose to seek out Platform 9 and 3/4, the fictional loading platform for the Hogwart’s Express in the “Harry Potter” book series, and others hung out in Camden town, a hub of alternative subcultures.

They saw three plays ” “Wicked,” “Spamalot” and “The Woman in Black” ” which was interesting to hear in British accents, the students said. On past London trips, they’ve been able to catch a play by Shakespeare or one of his contemporaries, like Ben Johnson or Thomas Middleton, but that wasn’t available this time, teacher Suzanne Foster said.

Many of the theaters in London were very old, very small and seemed a lot more intimate than the usual theaters in the United States, the students said. They also visited a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, which is where Shakespeare first put on his plays, and they visited the home and birthplace of Shakespeare.

The students have read a wide range of Shakespeare classics ” “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “Othello” and parts of “Hamlet,” “King Lear,” ” The Taming of the Shrew,” “Loves Labors Lost,” “Richard III” and “Henry V.” Since London has done a good job of maintaining and restoring so many of its historical buildings and communities, the students were able to visualize the time and places they were reading in the stories, imagine how they might have first looked in the Globe Theatre as first performed with young men playing the women’s roles.

“When you go to read a play in class ” you now know where he was when he wrote it and what it looked like. You can imagine the village where it took place. You get a picture of what it looked like back then,” said student Nicole Frye.

The students learned that the English do in fact love their tea. Tea is everywhere; it is their coffee. They of course speak English in London, but students still had a hard time communicating. As George Bernard Shaw said, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”

Foster said this is the fourth time she’s taken students on a London trip.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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