A Shakespearean Ad: IA Takes On Stratford

By Divya Suresh (’20)

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On October 15th, a group of seniors, along with Ms. Clancy, her parents, and Mr. Woods, took a trip across the border to Stratford, Ontario to attend the Stratford Festival. The day started bright and early, departing from the IA at 7:15 am, as the group set off for Stratford. 

  At the Shakespeare festival, the group saw “Othello”. The story surrounds deals with a theme of jealousy and revenge, and well… Shakespearean tragedy. The play revolves around Othello, a Moorian general in the Venetian army, and his newly eloped wife, Desdemona. One of Othello’s close friends, Iago, is extremely upset that a younger man named Cassio was promoted above him by Othello. So, when he stumbles upon a gentleman named Roderigo, who is desperate to win over his long love Desdemona, Iago sets up a revenge scheme against Othello and Desdemona. The story builds off of this fired-up rage in Iago and Shakespeare works his magic to create this well-known tragedy. 

The students who went on the trip received a pre-show treat, as they were able to attend a prologue to the show. The prologue consisted of meeting three of the cast members, practicing some acting exercises, and playing some theater-related activities. The actors began with a summary of the play and then engaged with the audience through several activities that they did before they act. For example, they led the students through a set of exercises that prepare your voice for a performance, and exercises that get your body warmed up and ready to act. Afterwards, they played a quick activity with the students that taught them how to speak in iambic pentameter, a rhythm used by Shakespeare. The session ended with a Q & A, in which the actors discussed a bit about their other roles and their experiences at the Festival Theatre.

After concluding the prologue, the students got a chance to explore the Stratford city area. Everyone got to choose a restaurant to have lunch before the play started. As is proper, a photoshoot was necessary to complete the trip, once everyone reconvened. The pictures captured the beautiful Stratford landscape and were a perfect representation of how much everyone enjoyed the trip.

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Once everyone made their way back to the theater, the show begun. The Stratford Festival’s performance of Othello was magnificent. The actors were extremely talented and were able to grab the audience’s attention for the whole show. The production mixed modern ideas, such as weapons, costumes, and projection of the set, while also maintaining the play’s original text. The actors were extremely skilled at drawing the audience in during the emotional and violent parts of the play, and also gave plenty of room for laughter. Furthermore, the stage was angled so there were three “fronts”, and the actors optimized each side perfectly and made sure everyone had the same experience, no matter where they were sitting. All in all, the production was phenomenal and re-enacted Shakespeare beautifully. 

Once the show was over, sadly, the students had to return back home. The experience was one of a kind in experiencing the different pace of life in Stratford, while also witnessing an extraordinary production. Every year, IA makes the trip out to Stratford, so if you have the opportunity to go to the Stratford Festival, you must! You cannot miss seeing this wonderful production, exploring the artistic city, and taking in the beautiful Canadian landscapes. Most importantly, you cannot turn down enjoying the delicacies of an authentic Tim Horton’s!

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