Aiming to broaden perspectives while teaching students about performing arts, Oklahoma Christian University faculty and students are currently preparing for the annual Shakespeare Trip to Canada this summer.
The trip provides students with the opportunity to gain course credits, including English composition II, perspectives in literature or a drama elective, while also exploring Canada. The group is scheduled to view six plays, experience a backstage tour and attend two festival theaters, among other excursions.
According to faculty sponsor Hannah Bingham Brunner, the purpose of the trip is to see great plays and gain valuable experiences while also giving students opportunities to get course credit.
“Both theater festivals that we visit, the Stratford festival and the Shaw festival, are some of the only festivals of their kind in North America,” Brunner said. “It is exciting for students to see and understand theater and these plays in a new way by seeing such high-quality productions.”
Brunner said this year, the group also plans to visit the Detroit Institute of Art on their way to Canada, and, while in Canada, they will tour the small towns they stay in, spending a full day at Niagara Falls.
“Last year, we took the cruise under the falls and it was nothing short of amazing,” Brunner said. “In Stratford, we will go shopping, but we will also tour the prop warehouse, and in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where the Shaw festival is held, we will have a behind the scenes experience before we see ‘The Magician’s Nephew.’”
Sophomore Grace Cox went on the Shakespeare trip last summer and will be joining the group again on this upcoming trip. Cox said this experience is a way to see outside of one’s daily life and to consider the different circumstances or different ways people live.
“It’s just sort of an outside perspective you’re able to gain by not just staying in your own little area,” Cox said. “Even if it’s not actually in Canada that you get the bigger perspective, being on a bus for so many hours gives you the chance to see other people’s lives. You see how they’ve grown up and how they lived.”
Cox said she would recommend the Shakespeare trip to students who want experience outside of the U.S. or who need to make up college credits.
“Even if someone just needs to take more classes, but can’t fit them into their fall and spring semesters, it’s a great opportunity,” Cox said. “If they want to do a general education class, then they can do this without having to do a full study abroad program, which would cost a lot more. Even if they’re not interested in plays, per say, but they’re interested in art or architecture, there’s just a lot to see when you’re on the trip. Niagara-on-the-Lake is where we’ll go for a few plays, and it’s beautiful.”
Nathan Shank, another faculty sponsor for the trip, said the Shakespeare Trip provides students with a unique learning experience in a context in which they may be unfamiliar.
“The interactivity is just way beyond what you’d get in a normal semester class, which to me is the best reason for going from an educational point of view,” Shank said. “It’s not just that you’re going to do this in the summer and it’s fun. You’re actually learning in methodologically superior ways than just sitting in a short class.”
According to Shank, studying abroad lets students see their own reality and world in a fresh light, hopefully bringing a little bit of critical perspective to their worldview.
“There’s the value in appreciating cultures you didn’t know anything about before,” Shank said. “Not only Shakespeare and Shaw have these excellent works in drama, but just seeing the Canadian country side was almost revelatory for me. I think because you are outside of your regular context, the memories are imprinted more strongly. I can do something here at OC a hundred times, but if I do that same thing during study abroad, I’m going to remember it.”