An Irish Girl In Stratford II: The Berlin Decision, or What You Will

This is pretty much a post-Stratford update, if you will. I didn’t come back to Ireland with a broken or amputated leg, a curse having been put upon me by a vengeful gypsy, or having accidentally blown anything up, so by those standards the expedition went rather well. Stratford, as I’ve probably reiterated over the past few days to anyone who’s asked, is really quite lovely. In size, it’s comparable to Galway, and it’s remarkably easy to get around. It’s CLEAN too (it’s a tourist town, so I guess it has to be).  And having located the Shakespeare Bookshop and Waterstone’s, the place adequately fulfils The Bookshop Quota. So all that’s grand.

The main reason why I came over (other than checking out where I’m going to be living for the next year or so) was for the BritGrad conference at the Shakespeare Institute. The Institute host this conference every year, which is organised by graduate students, and allows graduate students to show off their work and get feedback. As well as that, they manage to bag rather amazing plenary speakers (and this year didn’t disappoint. You can listen to some of them here). Now, Galway is great for meeting drama folk, and I’ve met a lot of them through studying theatre and English or through Dramsoc. I love being able to sit in a café, a seminar, or anywhere around town or college to discuss theatre with those who care about it as much as I do. If there’s one thing I’ll miss about theatre-going in Galway, it’s going to see a performance and arguing about it afterwards with dear friends over tea in Java’s till the wee hours. But what Galway lacks is a proper contingent of Shakespeare heads, and that’s what BritGrad provided in spades. That’s not to say that Everyone In Galway Hates Shakespeare (there are a good few who love him too, including the dashing WordOtter), but it was a nice change to refer to Cymbeline by its proper name rather than as ‘a really obscure play of Shakespeare’s’. Hell, there was a fascinating paper on the play last weekend, which made reference to Maradona’s Hand of God.

what’s a Thierry Henry?

This was all in an institution where people shared the same enthusiasm for the same interests. And also the same infectious excitement as gosh golly, well Professor Whatsername IS GIVING A PLENARY TODAY. In short, it was just wonderful being around people who love Shakespeare as much as I do, and that’s why I’d encourage any postgraduate working in that area (or general early modern drama-ness) to get their tushies over there for next year’s conference. Ah you will. You will now. ‘Gwan. They’re all LOVELY.

An Inept Tourist’s Guide to Stratford-upon-Avon:

a) Shakespeare’s House and Gardens: I regretfully didn’t visit Hall’s Croft and the rest, but there’s a lovely exhibition (voiced by PATRICK STEWART and… some other actress who I can’t remember as I’m terrible at recognising voices) where you get to see a copy of the First Folio (another is in Oxford, and not even Katherine Duncan-Jones is allowed to touch it) and get to potter around in his digs for a bit. The best bit is seeing the performers outside, especially on a very sunny day.

b) The RSC: Pretty much goes without saying. I’d recommend Richard III at the Swan, by the way. And there is such a gorgeous green outside the theatres, with a huge scrum of folk relaxing underneath the trees or buying ice-creams off the boat vendors.

c) Holy Trinity Church: Where you can see Shakespeare’s grave, memorial, etc. I didn’t get a chance to go here, despite being advised to. I’m sure they won’t move it to Shelbyville before I return.

d) The Real Tea Café: Because it was cheaper than Anne Hathaway’s. Well, this *is* supposed to be an inept guide of sorts.

In other news: Double First Class Honours degree, howrya?

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In which our heroine finishes her undergraduate degree, discovers the beauty of Sherlock, and reflects on Seth Cohen.

As of eleven o’clock on Monday 14th May, I handed up my last pile of written work, and thus completed my undergraduate degree.

Woo, I’m a graduand, funtimes, c’est fini, etc. It’s a strange feeling to get used to, one I’ve tried to explain in terms of one having a cup of tea. Usually, one has a cup of peppermint in the midst of a study break with a friend amid the woes of an essay due this week, an essay due the week after, and oh wait, haven’t you forgot that presentation in between all of that? (Trust me, there have been PLENTY of that. And tea, to alleviate said woes). Now, the great thing about being finished is Not Just All The Tea, but You Can Have The Tea If You Like, When You Like, And As Long As You Want (basically, not having to scurry back to the library afterwards). If you’re not a final year student, you’ll see what I mean by at least… the middle of October. And sleep. Cherished, long-sought for, long neglected, beautiful sleep. Oh my, the sleep is not to be sniffed at. And then there is the Reading For Pleasure:

this is what I’m currently reading. Yer man’s mode of seduction is… ‘interesting’ to say the least

So now I’ve talked about undergraduate freedom in terms of tea, books, and sleep. But also, this has been after four years knocking about the same town with the same people (I don’t mean this in a derogative sense), and of course it’s hard to encapsulate those years into one brief sentence. And after these four years, whether they are staying in Galway, moving to somewhere else in Ireland or indeed abroad, everyone is going their separate ways very, very soon. That hasn’t sunk in just yet.

But in the face of such… things, there is SHERLOCK. Huzzah for Sherlock. Laugh at my inability to keep up with television trends all you want (I have never watched The Wire nor Boardwalk Empire, have never watched an episode of The West Wing and only one or two of Mad Men and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the many memes and references to Game of Thrones that are EVERYWHERE on Facebook go over my head. It seems the only commitment I make is to a man in a flying blue box), but watching the first and second episodes over the past two weeks has me converted.

yes, Sherlock warrants a paragraph. look, he even plays the violin for flip’s sake

Speaking of television, does anyone remember The OC? I look back on it now as a pretty formative element of my generation’s teenage years, back when we had all the boxsets, the numerous compilation albums (it was a Big Deal that a band got onto the show), the endless ‘Ryan-Seth-isn’t Luke a bit horseyfaced’ debates. As far as I remember, the first two seasons were fantastic before dipping in quality (WHY DID THEY KILL JOHNNY HARPER etc. I’m sorry, that was more devastating than when they killed off Marissa. Maybe it was because I had switched off by then). Now that I think of it, rather than lusting after Seth Cohen, I more so wanted to be him. The fellow was in high school, listened to decent music, read comics, and was considered a ‘nerd’ by everyone around him — and he still got all the ladies. Lucky sod. That is, when he and his friends weren’t all emoting to Coldplay or Phantom Planet or Bell x1 or impassively swaying to The Killers who have somehow been booked to play in their local nightspot.

Some have all the luck, or if you’re Seth’s dad, have all the amazing eyebrows.

Telegraph from the front line

Hello and greetings from the latter end of February, a month so wet and wild not even my boots can muster resistance.

And this blog hasn’t been updated since July at the latest, so I may as well fill in some gaps or cavities…

a) I’ve been busy in the midst of final year studies. That is all. It certainly is a demanding enterprise, but when you get to write about the contemporary performance history of Cymbeline for your dissertation, all complaints fall by the wayside. Plus it just proves that I can’t shake off Shakespeare.

Cymbeline at Shakespeare's Globe, 2001, or Mark Rylance running around in his jammies for three hours. YES I AM WRITING ABOUT HIS JAMMIES FOR MY DISSERTATION. Or something.

Also, Innogen or Imogen? You decide, mainly because I’m too lazy.

b) As further proof that I just can’t shake off Shakespeare, I’ve also been accepted onto a MA course in Shakespeare & Theatre at the Shakespeare Institute, as part of the University of Birmingham. It just happens to be in Stratford-upon-Avon (and yes, I said that to get your attention). Nevertheless, I’m very, very excited about the prospect of moving over to the UK again for a while, and completely immersing myself in Shakespeare all over again. Dissertations on Cymbeline are NOT ENOUGH to satiate me.

Plus, did I mention the lovely, lovely archives they have over in London and in Stratford? *drools*

Also, there is Tetley’s. I don’t care if it’s available here in Ireland (though not much), I associate it with over there. It’s not the same, totally different, etc.

c) Peppermint tea, all the while, remains an exemplary drink.

d) THE MUPPETS HAVE YOU SEEN THE MUPPETS GO SEE THE MUPPETS IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE