400 Years of Shakespeare: For King and Country for Students, Too
By Cece Bellomy, BA Student
Thanks to the department’s partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, over 160 students, myself included, got to experience Shakespeare’s great Henriad—Richard II (staring David Tenant), Henry IV & and Henry V in one epic weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York this April.
Not only was it an incredible opportunity to experience theatre in New York for the cost of food and (copious) souvenirs, the weekend exploded my love of Shakespeare to a new level. Never a fan of the histories for their action-packed fight sequences and dearth of female characters, I was blown away by the familiar humanity Gregory Doran’s productions delivered when David Tenant’s Richard meekly admits to wasting his life, when Antony Sher’s Falstaff stares blankly, for once at a loss for words, after the newly-crowned Henry has just denied knowing him, when the victorious Henry V (Alex Hassell) woos the French Catherine with all the awkwardness of an indie rom-com. Of course, the humanity was in Shakespeare all along, it is what he does best, but these productions brought out those elements in a way that made the plays relatable and impactful, especially to myself and my fellow students.
As I enter my senior year and decide where to go next, I will remember my weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as one that solidified my belief that Shakespeare at its best can meet each viewer at the center of their humanity, whether it’s 1616 or 2016.