The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Theatre: One interim class’s trip to London, Stratford and Dublin

By Ryan McCormick

“Students will learn to negotiate international travel, currencies and customs as well as to act as responsible and respectful global citizens,” reads the syllabus for London and Dublin Theatre. While most Lafayette students head home for interim to recuperate from finals week and prepare for the rigors of the coming semester, a few brave souls elect to enroll in interim programs abroad.

As English professors Suzanne Westfall and Michael O’Neill assert in their English: 280 London Theater syllabus, cultural learning is just as important as what is accomplished during lecture.

That being said, coursework for these programs is intense. Professors and students work together to jam an entire semester’s worth of information and learning into three weeks.

This notion could not be more relevant than in English 280. Created to immerse the student in the international theatre scene, the trip included stops in Stratford, London and Dublin. What better way to study the text of a play than a performance? As part of the course, students were encouraged to make observations and find the differences between the text and the happenings on stage.

Chelsea Brill ’13 noticed the difference between page and stage. “When seen live, actors are able to incorporate a certain human element that is otherwise lost,” she said.

“They learned that, to quote the great playwright George Bernard Shaw, ‘England and America [and Ireland] are two countries separated by a common language.’ … They learned that British and Irish theater is far more concerned with political topics than the escapism to which Americans tend to flock,” Westfall noted.

Of course, travelling to Europe is not necessary to see live theater. It is likely that students in this course could have easily stayed right here in the United States to see the assigned plays. However, what could not be replaced was the history and culture. While it is clear that students were expected to develop their skills in analyzing theater, the historical and cultural context was far from overlooked. Professors Westfall and O’Neill encouraged their pupils to be travelers as well as students.

“They learned the values of socialism in public transport, free museums and huge student discounts. They learned how to walk great distances and enjoy the cities, rather than hopping in a car every second,” Westfall said. “They also learned how young the U.S. is in comparison to the thousands of years of history they saw around them in London and in Ireland. They probably learned to appreciate the ‘comforts of home’ more, while becoming more aware of how much more careful the Europeans are to conserve resources.”

While it is clear that these trips are extremely academic in nature, they also offer Lafayette’s student body a far more fleeting experience; the opportunity discover the world for themselves.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

If you wish for your response to an article to be submitted as a letter to the editor, please email [email protected].
All Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *