“London isn’t real England,” my host Peter told me at breakfast Sunday morning in the Ambleside Guesthouse dining room. “This here is real England.”
As I looked out the window at the calm, idyllic streets of Stratford-Upon-Avon, chewing my jam and toast and remembering the tea and biscuits I enjoyed in my cozy room number 6 after an evening of Shakespeare, I began to think he had a point. London is amazing and exciting, and has all the iconic “English” sights, but spending so much time in the city, I realized I wasn’t quite getting the quaint English countryside experience that’s also part of this country. And Stratford was definitely scratching that itch for me.
I had arrived in Stratford-Upon-Avon the previous night a little after six. The sun had long ago gone down and I was running through the night streets constantly referring to Google maps on my iPhone until I arrived at the guesthouse sweaty and out of breath. But I was greeted at the door by the friendliest Englishman I had ever met. He ushered me in to warm up and gave me a condensed tour of the house so I would have plenty of time to make it to the theatre. Before seeing me off, he even showed me a shortcut on a tour map and recommended an Italian restaurant if I got hungry before the show.
Speaking of which, I could go on forever about Richard II. I mean, it’s the Royal Shakespeare Company, so of course they’re going to be amazing! And seeing my favorite actor David Tennant playing Richard live right in front of me was a religious experience. Months ago, I had made a promise to myself that I would see this show. It’s even mentioned in my first blog post! All the effort that went into buying the ticket and booking the coach and the guesthouse room led up to that night. And nothing had felt quite as wonderful as sitting in that theatre relishing in the fulfillment of that promise.
I went back to the guesthouse after the show, and, let me tell you, I don’t think I’ll do hotels any more. The kind of care and attention I was given as a guest, and the simple, cozy environment, not to mention the delicious breakfast, made my stay in Stratford just as memorable as the Shakespeare production.
After breakfast, Peter point out all the prime sights to see in town and the best order to see them in before I had to catch my coach. I had the rest of the morning to myself to see Shakespeare’s birthplace, his grave at Holy Trinity church, and stroll down the riverside past families walking their dogs or feeding swans. It was a side of England I couldn’t find in London, and I found myself speaking in iambic pentameter on the ride back.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Chase Wheaton-Werle. I'm a musical theatre major from the University of Tulsa. Outside of my major, I enjoy creative writing and poetry. In the fall of 2013 I'm attending Mountview Academy for the Theatre Arts. This will be my first experience out of the country, and as someone with a passion for theatre and British culture, I couldn't ask for a better destination. I hope this blog can provide not only some insight to the intensive curriculum of an actor in the theatre center of the world, but also some good chuckles.</span></p>