This past August, the largest assemblage of theatrics of all shapes, sizes, and kinds convened in Edinburgh, Scotland. This festival, known as the Fringe, was the once in a lifetime destination for 32 members of the RHS New Players Company.
The first two days of the trip were spent in London, where students acclimated to the time difference and visited the famous sights that the UK’s capital had to offer. Some went to see the London Eye and Tower of London, while others fully immersed themselves by traveling via the Tube or strolling around London’s cobblestone streets. To cap off the New Players’ final day in London, the students and chaperones engaged in a master class taught by a professionally trained Shakespearean actor and watched a new play, entitled The Heresy of Love, at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The visit to the Globe was particularly special for the New Players’ Artistic Director, Dr. Schaefer, who earned her doctorate in Shakespearean studies.
¨The Globe Theatre was really moving to me,¨ said Dr. Schaefer, ¨I was taken by surprise by the level of emotion I felt just being in the same space where he was and where those incredible plays were first produced just sort of took my breathe away¨. By ¨he¨ Dr. Schaefer means Shakespeare himself, for whom she clearly has a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation.
After those foggy days in London Town, it was time for the New Players company to travel to Scotland. Once in Edinburgh, the true size of the Fringe festival, and what it meant to be performing Shakespeare’s ¨A Midsummer Night’s Dream¨ in the UK, became apparent to the company.
The city of Edinburgh has a population of roughly 500,000 for the majority of the year, but during the Fringe Festival the population grows to 1 million. There are over 300 performance venues featuring theatrical performance from 9:00 am to 2:00 am the following day. For nine days, the members of the Company stayed at the University of Edinburgh, performed for crowds, and took in shows, some of which were performed by other high school theatre companies.¨I felt like the company squeezed everything they could have possibly squeezed out of the experience,¨ said Dr. Schaefer. ¨They were all so responsible and reliable¨.
When asked if she would do it again, Dr. Schaefer replied, ¨If we are invited back, which I have no reason to think we’re not, I sort of decided this has to be a once every three year thing. I would love to be going again in 2018.¨ She also added that anyone interested in should New Players Company should ¨at least come see a show. I would absolutely encourage kids to get involved by auditioning for Concert or doing stage crew.¨ This trip to Scotland created lifelong memories and experiences for the New Players company, and with any luck, in three years time, the RHS New Players may bring their signature talent back to Edinburgh.
Pictures courtesy of Sofia Gambardella