by Wela MbusiAs we enter the winding roads of Wellesley College leading us through its bucolic setting, we gradually make our way towards the theatre for our first briefing by the faculty.
As we enter the building with its ornate interior you can’t help but notice the largesse the building exudes. Then, we were immediately met by nearly life-sized portraits of prominent female public figures, strewn strewn across the corridors who once were and still are huge advocates of female empowerment even in the arts.
The faculty were as excited as we were about sharing our experience as actors using Measure for Measure in their classes ranging from the basic tools of speaking text, to utilising art to speak truth to power.
My first lesson was with an English writing class that was interested in how the play can be interpreted through varying cultural spaces and cosmologies, and the best way to do that was to get them on their feet and see if they could shell out possible ways of using or breaking Shakespeare’s form to explore the themes in the text; using not only the language but their bodies, and any other cultural experiences they might have had as it was a class filled with internationals.
The space we were about to perform in was a thousand seater and making dramatic adjustments to our delivery became a reality we just had to embrace. Our first audience was so enthusiastic as it was filled with young Shakespeare aficionados who followed the play intently. We felt lucky and encouraged having such a dedicated audience and couldn’t have asked for a better opening night.
We were also briefly hosted by the Shakespeare society with their unparalleled and enviable dedication to all things Shakes. By our last night, we were starting to enjoy the play and appreciating the freedom we had found with the form of the convention and looked forward to Austin, Texas the city of cowboy boots and hats.
So we had the most wonderful week in Wellesley, we were greeted with a gathering and a lobster supper, being a bit squeamish about my food, it was a bit of a challenge but I did manage my dissection although I wasn’t sucking out the crevices like my instructor! During the week when we weren’t teaching or doing the show we were able to walk round the amazing grounds, made more
stunning by the changing colours of the autumn leaves. The show went down really well and one night we were invited to join the members of the Shakespeare Society in Shakespeare’s House, who would have thought Shakespeare used to live in Wellesley! Anyway we had a lovely evening. The ladies of the society are putting on their own version of Romeo and Juliet on the 14th-17th and 21st-24th of November, I wish we could be there to see it and hope it is a great success.
After Wellesley we headed off for The US Naval Academy, Annapolis. I have to say it wasn’t my favourite journey, to start off we were delayed for over an hour, the reason being bad weather on route, we managed to avoid most of it but there was one point in the journey that was particularly bumpy, and I spent most of that bit with my head in my hands chanting ‘ I don’t like this! I don’t like this! ‘ until I was reminded by Jack who was sitting across the aisle from that ‘nobody liked it’ – sorry to everyone who was in hearing range!!
Anyway we made it and had another great week. We only had 2 shows in the beautiful theatre on Campus but we had the most amazing reception, we were nearly blown over backwards by the applause and cheers at the end and considering a lot of them had been up since 5 in the morning, nobody I could see had fallen asleep so we have done our job!!