The ongoing period of COVID-19 has created a number of challenges to the Higher Education experience of students and staff across the country. At Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) the English Department Team have risen to the task of finding innovative and adaptive ways for students to interact and learn socially as Dr Amy Albudri, Lecturer in English at BGU, explains:
The university experience is about so much more than what we do in the classroom
“Since the university experience is about so much more than what we do in the classroom it is important to seek out ways of coming together during the current pandemic. It was with this in mind that BGU’s English department hosted ‘a night in with Shakespeare’ in which we dressed up, watched, and discussed the Royal Shakespeare Company’s newly immersive production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all from the comfort of our own homes!
William Shakespeare was a man of great vision who would no doubt have approved of this breakthrough in dramatic execution. The production uses live motion capture to take the audience on a journey through the forest with Puck (actor and avatar EM Williams) performing in a motion capture suit upon a virtual stage. The brilliance of the RSC actors’ performance was matched on this occasion by their spectacular fusion of technology and verse. Having lived through several outbreaks of bubonic plague (which resulted in the closure of London’s playhouses) Shakespeare would be delighted to know that we have found a way to keep theatre alive during lockdown!
At BGU we experience the great Bard’s work as he intended, ‘on stage’ as well as ‘on page’. He never expected his plays to be studied in solitude: at The Globe Theatre his stories united old and young, rich and poor. Our night in with Shakespeare brought us together in much the same way, albeit digitally, to enjoy this reimagining of a classic work. Melissa Bryant, a first-year English student, notes that ‘in the current time mental health is especially important; it was nice to socialise by watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream in production together’.
The performance has also supplemented our academic studies. In our ‘Shakespearean Worlds’ module we consistently question whether it is important to remain true to the dramatist’s original lines or whether adaptations should reflect the cultural contexts in which they are produced. In the spirit of fusing old and new, Emily Gee, an English undergraduate, has created a beautiful piece of digital art inspired by the ethereal online production.
We look forward to returning to theatres when we can enjoy Shakespeare’s plays as he intended…but for now remain grateful for the opportunities that technology and the RSC have enabled.”
Article image: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by Emily Gee
The department English at BGU was recently ranked 22nd in the UK in The Sunday Times Good University Guide along with receiving 100% satisfaction in the latest National Student Survey. To find out how you can create your own successes in our collaborative learning community, visit our website, speak to a member of our Enquiries Team or join us on one of our Open Days.