Oklahoma Christian University students have the opportunity to earn class credit while attending Shakespeare plays this summer, through the university’s Summer Shakespeare Experience. The ten-day trip from Oklahoma Christian to Canada allows students to appreciate local culture and study one of the world’s greatest playwrights.
The trip not only offers an opportunity for students to earn class credit, but also includes transportation, housing, six play tickets, museum visits and a trip to Niagara Falls.
Hannah Bingham Brunner, a visiting instructor of English at Oklahoma Christian, is one of two faculty members going on the trip this summer. Accompanying her is Nathan Shank, an assistant professor of English.
“We plan the trip, lead the trip, drive the bus,” Brunner said. “We do everything.”
Both Brunner and Shank share a love for the trip but have different motivations that pushed them to become involved. Brunner said her inspiration for wanting to become involved spawns from her appreciation for traveling and the literature being reviewed.
“I went to OC and never got a chance to go on this trip myself, and, being an English professor, anything, where I get to travel and do English-y things, is great,” Brunner said. “I also knew people who went on this trip and loved it, so I wanted to be a part of it, too.”
Shank said he found his inspiration for being involved in the trip rooted in his appreciation for the learning experience offered.
“Experiential learning is the best way to learn,” Shank said. “Students read the plays, take notes on them, present on them, see them performed, talk about them with professors and then write a revised paper on them. These many interactions and different modes of learning teach much more effectively than a professor lecturing over the plays.”
Shank said he appreciates the level of production of the seven Shakespearean plays, which are planned for the summer’s experience.
“These plays are some of the best in the country, but the best part of the trip is getting to experience them with the group,” Shank said. “We feel like we’ve been through something together after having seen the emotion of Eugene O’Neill or the catharsis of Shakespeare performed.”
Grace Cox, a junior who has gone on the Summer Shakespeare experience trip twice, offered advice to people who are deciding whether or not to go.
“Go, just go and know that, yes, it is a fun and easy way to get English credits, but you will not regret going,” Cox said. “It is beautiful, and you will make memories that you might not be able to make otherwise. Go outside your comfort zone or find someone to go with you, but go.”
Cox and Brunner both described their fondest memories of the trip as extremely memorable and unique.
“It is hard to nail down one favorite memory as the plays and attractions, like Niagara Falls, were amazing,” Cox said. “We got to spend time walking around downtown Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake, and both towns are beautiful. There are shops and plenty of gelato, places that weren’t just everyday shops and where you could actually find something really unique.”
Shank said he would give a short and concise pitch for those who do not know anything about the experience.
“Shakespeare. Canada. Niagara Falls. Road trip.” Shank said.