I mentioned a few days ago that I was off to the Cheltenham Lit Fest to hear RTD and John Barrowman. In fact, there’s rather more to the trip than a bit of fangirling.
I’ve been thinking of returning to some kind of postgraduate study for a good few years now. It’s a bit of a daunting prospect since I graduated back in 1981 and haven’t done much in the way of formal learning since. I’m the kind of person who gets wild notions and then they tend to wear themselves out and I move on. However, there is something seriously like a plan coalescing now in my mind.
I’m an English grad, and like many Eng Lit grads I was overexposed to Shakespeare in my teens and twenties, and eventually reacted against it. That began to shift after I saw “The Shakespeare Code” and it led to visiting the Globe last summer for a performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost. I found it thrilling to see a Shakespeare play in its contemporary staging and it fired me up to start reading about The Bard again. James Shapiro’s book “1599” riveted me with its lively portrait of that particular year of Shakespeare’s life (the one where he probably wrote “Hamlet” in fact) in its political context.
Then, around 4 weeks ago, came Stratford and “Hamlet”. I was indeed riveted by DT’s performance, that’s why I went. More surprisingly, I felt I’d come back to my spiritual and intellectual home. I realised how much of my life and my creativity has been shaped by an abiding love of Shakespeare’s work and it was very, very hard to leave. I’d gone because I love an actor. I left loving a town.
And suddenly the penny dropped. I want to study Shakespeare. So I looked at courses and discovered The Shakespeare Institute, affiliated to the University of Birmingham, and their wonderful collection of MA courses. They offer part-time and full-time options and they are based in Stratford.
This is what I want to do. Since then, I’ve enrolled on a course in Restoration Drama at Manchester Uni, where I’ll be studying “Hamlet” and three contemporary plays in depth, plus a day school in “Macbeth and Richard II – the Politics of Power”. I’ve been out of study for so long, I need to build up to it again.
When I booked the Cheltenham Lit Fest gig, I realised I’d be geographically close to Stratford so it would be fun to see if I can pick up a return ticket for Love’s Labour’s Lost. What took rather more courage was to approach the Institute and ask if I might visit. Anyway, it now looks as though I’ll be dropping in on one of their seminars and talking informally to them on 10th October.
I feel like a new chapter in my life is beginning and I can’t deny I’m rather excited. And in some ways, I have David Tennant to thank for it, because it started with “TSC”.
I’ll let you all know how I get on.