By AUTUMN TOENNIS/Montana State News

Students’ curiosity about Shakespeare can’t be satisfied by taking a course from the bard himself. But a group of Montana State University students will embark in March on the next best thing.

Over spring break, 17 students will fly to England to spend 10 days touring London and Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s England is an abroad program designed to teach students about the famous playwright’s life and work.

While there, the group will see five different plays, two of which are by Shakespeare himself: “Hamlet,” as performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, and “Macbeth,” starring James McAvoy.

The students will also see performances of Brecht’s “Galileo, a South African retelling of “Miss Julia, and a performance of “Les Miserables.

“The original idea was to see as much Shakespeare as possible,” said Gretchen Minton, an English professor who will lead the group while abroad, “but we’ve widened it into a broader cultural trip, studying the life and times of Shakespeare, and the influencing factors of his time.”

In addition to the plays, the group will be touring many different sites, including the Globe Theater and several London museums, taking a day trip to Hampton Court (once occupied by King Henry VIII) and visiting the birthplace of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon.

All of the students went through an application process that involved a personal interview. They will receive three class credits for the trip.

Amanda Bitz, a second-year graduate student who is also going, said, “I’m hoping to have the opportunity to lead some discussion groups or something and further my experience as a teacher …”

This is the second time Minton has led this trip while at MSU. The first time was in conjunction with the University of Minnesota at Morris.

“What’s so fun is taking students to see top end theater for the first time,” she said. “To be able to show students what good, live theater is like is as good as it gets.”

– Edited by John Kirk Vincent

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