People Who Have Hearts

By: Keith Kibler

During the trip, I found myself amongst nothing but the ladies. Well, while with them I got to appreciate again. Why I enjoy women’s hearts and minds. Thanks to my two brethren who left me at the hands of the wonderful creatures; I never felt out of place. Or did I.

A Fish Out of the Water

I’m scared they are not.
Do you get me?
I was alone but not alone.
Do you get me?
I was different but not different.
Do you get me?
I am myself and they are themselves.
Do you get me?
I look rough they look gentle and sweet.
Do you get me?
I am out of my element they are fully afloat.
Do you get me?
I have no true feelings yet they are caring, nurturing, and loving.
Do you get me?
I am a male who can’t understand they are females who understand more than me.
I don’t get me.

On the way back home, our vehicle broke down. I must say sometimes our emotions get the best of us. Everyone was perturbed. I for one was not being a nice person. So generally we do and say some things that we can take back in the form of apologies. Only because of certain situations we sometimes let our emotions take the best of us. In short, we are human sometimes emotions are what drive us. We are better people if we acknowledge our mistakes, that’s what apologies are for.

Surrey

I know that I’m right!
I’m sorry.
I know what to do!
My bad.
Don’t tell me what to do!
Forgive me.
What’s your problem!?
I apologies.
Listen to me!
My mistake.
What are you doing!?

Let’s be friends.

me and the broke crew
Our second time breaking down, but it was at a nice shady ice cream place. I really enjoyed that time. Believe me or not.

No worries, for we are human. We all make mistakes. Forgiveness is eternal.

Well, I must say. While away I missed a lot of things. Home, family, and friends. So much is missed. So home we are and a home we be.

Home and Home Away From Home

Home a place that holds it’s own.
Home away a place that has a lot to offer.
Home my comfort zone.
Home away is my new treat.
Home is where the heart is at.
Home away is where new love is found.
Home is where I see my life.
Home away is where my eyes open to a new.
Home is the truth of one’s being.
Home away is the truth of everything.
Home my prosperity.
Home away my new hope.
Home is where you make it.

Bust A Move

Adonis Lemke

            Everyone loves to dance from time to time. For me, dancing has been something I have become much more interested in for the past year. Being able to go on stage and do something that not many other people can even fathom doing is awesome. So, I was ecstatic to be able to do a dance workshop with one of the dancers in the show Billy Elliot, the Musical. Devon Michael Brown is a professional dancer that has been at it since he was 11 years old. I was certain I would learn a lot from him. Believe me, I was not disappointed.

            Throughout the one-hour long workout with Devon, we went through a number of different things. We stretched, we learned the lyrics to the song “Expressing Yourself,” and then learned the choreography for the part we learned. It was awesome! The first thing that surprised me was just how well some of the warm-ups really stretched me out. It was something that I noted mentally to remember so that I would do that before any dance rehearsals that I would have in the future. My favorite was where we lean to one side with one arm over our head (and no it’s not just because that’s the picture I have)

Dance

            The dance was incredible. It was fast paced, exciting and a heck of a workout. As you can see, I worked up a bit of a sweat (mainly because I’m wearing pants and am a sweaty person but the dance caused some of it). The only thing I can say about it that I was disappointed in was that we didn’t have more time. I would have loved to learn more and keep sweating, even though I was sick that day.

Canada

            The dance workout, like many of the other things that I experienced on this trip, gave me so much joy and an increased sense of excitement to get home and work even harder on my own skills so that I can get onto bigger stages like the ones in Stratford. I may never be as great of a dancer as Devon, but it would be amazing to get to work alongside him. He’s a reason why this trip will be so memorable for me.

Dance

Making A Change

Adonis Lemke

            One of the most exciting tours I have ever been on at this point in my life is the costume warehouse in Stratford. Hundreds of thousands of beautiful, hand-crafted pieces hung about the place for our eyes to gaze. As someone who has spent a lot of his time in theatres, it was overwhelming to see the seemingly endless rows of costumes. Not only did we learn about the making of some  of these costumes (materials, what shows they were used it etc…) but we were even fortunate enough to try some of them on. This was one of the best parts of the trip (aside from the shows of course).

Canada

            We walked through this gargantuan warehouse, gawking at these extraordinary pieces. There were military uniforms, dresses from the early 1900’s and Roman armor, among many other things. The most interesting thing for me was learning how normal everyday things were used to give these costumes so much character. Our tour guide told us about how they make dresses look tattered and dirty by using cheese graters, sand paper and knives to tatter is while throwing pain on it to make it look like mud. When you look at the dresses, they look like something that has been drug through the mud and dirt. All of the detail was mesmerizing.

Canada
Canada

            When we finally got to try on the costumes, I was so excited. No surprise to anyone that I was the first person to pull a costume off the hanger and try it on. My immediate desire was to find something fun, but something that also matched my personality. What I chose should definitely not surprise anyone because it looked very “Jesty.” It was so much fun and I feel incredibly blessed that I was given the opportunity to participate.

Canada

Beautiful People

By: Keith Kibler

We come to understand people, places, and things through what we see and experience in our lives. Sometimes we live these experiences through reading books, watching movies and plays, music, or conversations. I found that through this program it brought a true comradery amongst my fellow peers. One of the many things I found and appreciated is the friendship that was made. Through our many long walks to the City conversations were always plenty. 

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A Walk to the City


Come walk with me
As we make our way
Talking frolicking
Get to know me
Get to know you
Always a story
Sites to see
People a plenty
See what I see
See what you see
Eat some food
Drink some drinks
Smell the air
Laugh at me
Laugh at you
Make our way
Cross the street
Come walk with us


Strangely these same street lights have also come to another phenomenon. This one is how we verbally let everyone know when it was safe or not to cross the street. When the red hand was up, we simply yelled: “don’t”. The white lighted up the picture of the long stridden character we yelled: “do.”

Do, Don’t

We walk we walk

Alas the hand that stops us

Don’t don’t

It yells it yells

Wait we do

Around we look

Laugh and talk

Time has passed

Do Do

It yells it yells

Across we go

Happy and content

We cross not looking back

In maintaining the true exquisite flavor of what life brings us. We come across the many things that make us human, that of being judgemental. Seeing feeling and breathing the experiences of theater you come to hate or like certain characters. After the plays, we come together in discourse. What a way to come together and express what we took and comprehended from the many different ideas some stories tell. In an interview with Shannon Taylor and Katelyn McCulloch, in The Crucible. I come to appreciate a character I hated, Abigail Williams. Through our discussion, McCulloch opened my eyes to Abigail’s plight, her reasons for being and doing what she did.

Abigail

Do I care?
Am I the darkness or the light?
What I did, I did for me.
Judge me for what I did.
I don’t care.
Judge me for the wrongs against me.
I am human, I am frail.
I am used, I am abused.
But, I don’t care.
I found my power.
I used it.
I abused it.
Judge me, for I don’t care.
You think I have no feelings.
Deep down you see.
I am a survivor.
I do care.


Food For Thought

Adonis Lemke

First Dinner in Canada

            As a young millennial from a small rural town in Ohio, There are very few times where you can truly sit down with a group of people and laugh, be merry and get to know your friends. People are so stuck on getting food “fast.” While being in Stratford, we have had the opportunity of enjoying a full, three-course meal (in some instances there may be a fourth). We were able to start out this trip with a “Welcome Dinner” that was just that sort of meal. The Bijou Restaurant was the best way to introduce us to what would be considered our home for the next ten days.

Canada
everything crackers with homemade hummus, goat cheese and greens

            At this restaurant, They pride themselves on preparing delicious food in a timely manner to get the guests to their shows on time. Luckily for us, we didn’t have a show to go to, so we took our time, and were rewarded for it with an appetizer of crackers, hummus and greens with goat cheese on the house before our actual appetizers arrived. After the crackers, and the baskets of bread that they sent our way, our paid courses began.

Canada
Escargot &Mushrooms with mozz and an over easy egg
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Roasted duck breast on bed of mixed vegies
Canada
Delicious, Flour-less Chocolate cake

            Their dinner plan comes as a three-course meal with a set price. The appetizer/dinner/dessert combo I chose respectively was escargot with fresh mozzarella mushrooms and an over easy egg, roasted duck with a mix of veggies, and a flourless chocolate cake.

When visiting Stratford, the Bijou is an absolute must place to dine. While a little pricey, I would say that the experience you have along with the “gallimaufry” of flavors will be well worth the money. If I could change one thing about this specific trip though; it would be best to save this restaurant for later on in the trip. This meal may very well ruin all other meals. Enjoy!

I Gotta Get My Head Around This!

By: Jason Vogel

Here I am at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival thoroughly enjoying myself.  I mean really enjoying myself.  Then, it happens.  What happens, you ask?  Well, I see a show that leaves me in such a mental state my mind is just spinning. Perhaps tears are rolling out of my eyes.  I shake my head to stir the neurons in my brain and start the deciphering process for what I just witnessed.  My heart is pounding and searching for a normal rhythm.  Then, I realize, this is theatre, man, and I had better come to terms with it.  When my brain and heart are in this state, the theatre has done its job. 

Stratford Trip

Now, some productions leave me warm and fuzzy like the feeling of being wrapped up in my favorite blanket.  That’s great and I need those productions to maintain equilibrium.  I leave them laughing, or, perhaps, singing (as long as nobody is around to hear me). But let me talk about a couple of productions that stirred my thoughts long after the actors took their bows.  I am not here to give reviews, I just want readers to understand the type of mind-stirring themes encountered at the festival.  

            Little Shop of Horrors looks all cute and funny with this plant that seduces Seymour to feed it human blood.  But I walked out of the theatre realizing that Seymour went to extremes to fulfill his desire for fame and fortune.  Ultimately, he is destroyed by his own will to seek more and more.  More fame.  More fortune. I asked myself while walking out of the theatre, is that what many of us do with our lives?  Do we actually stop at nothing to achieve material wealth? Do we dismiss what we know is right in the world to achieve our own ends?  If a fictional character like Seymour succumbs to the will of Audrey II, is our society such that we are capable of the same?    

            Birds of a Kind is another example of powerful theatre.  Think about a production that includes Israelis, Palestinians, and Germans.  Think about the post WWII era, the historiography of Europe, Palestinians, and the establishment of an Israeli state.  Think of mixing people from all three components into one bowl. Think of believing hate is stronger than love when it comes to your enemies.  Think of the fact the double helix of your DNA does not represent your religion or ideology and the same goes for your neighbor.  Think about your world spinning out of control while elusive answers float beyond your grasp. 

Stratford Trip

            This is not meant to dishearten or discourage anyone from seeing these productions or any like them.  It is meant to encourage us too see all types of productions.  Our thoughts should be provoked, and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an exceptional place to stir all emotions under the sun.  See the shows (all of them), harness your thoughts, and remember the goal of art is to reflect mankind and the environment we inhabit.  

The Fantastic Four (Shops)

Kate Jones

My first day in town at Stratford was a little overwhelming. A new country, a new group of people, and dozens of new shops and cafes to explore. During the free time I had between shows, talk backs, and workshops, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go first. There were so many different options, ranging from bookstores to cafes to quirky antique shops. Throughout the 10 days I spent in Stratford I managed to visit a good number of shops and cafes, and the four following were my favorites to visit.

Fanfare Books

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One of my favorite things to do back home is to go read books, whether it’s at Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books, or a library. So of course, one of the first places I went to in Stratford was a bookstore. Specifically, I went to Fanfare Books. A fairly large shop, I immediately loved the look of Fanfare. Shelves that reach the ceiling are stacked with books of all kinds, from poetry to fantasy to literary criticism to biographies and graphic novels. I even found a copy of Othello in the form of a comic book. 

There’s a lovely small bookstore feel to the store as you walk around, and it’s a little warm from the door being left open to invite people inside. Some days there’s also a few tables full of books outside the store for passers by to peruse, which was how the books store originally caught my attention. And once inside, the books kept my attention. There was a large range, not only in genre but also in age of the books. Some were older but there also current bestsellers such as Crazy Rich Asians and one of Cassandra Clare’s new books. 

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

My go to sweet shop was actually the place I visited the most, apart from the theatres of course. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory first caught my attention simply because of its name. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and this place did not disappoint. From the display of fudge to the rows of ice cream and shelves of candy, the RMCF was full of enough sweets that I could have visited everyday and still found something new to try. 

One of my favorites from here was the sangria sorbet, hough I also really liked the peanut butter fudge.. They also had caramel covered apples and seafoam, both of which looked sweet enough to require a large glass of milk. Their fudge collection was also impressive, with at least 10 different flavors. Some of the more memorable ones were double chocolate, vanilla birthday cake, cappuccino, and maple syrup.

The Pulp 

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The Pulp was another one of the places I visited on multiple occasions. Right next to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, it’s a nice spot for a light lunch or afternoon smoothie. While I was there I would usually get smoothies, specifically the creamsicle. It’s very heavy on the banana flavor, but I really enjoyed it. The Pulp also has a nice busy but not crowded atmosphere, with cute decorations and several Don’t Feed the Plants signs that I loved. They also have recycling bins easily accessible, along with paper straws.

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters

The last place on my list is one of Stratford’s many little coffee shops. This one first caught my eye because of its name and I went in simply because the name made me laugh. However once I was inside I quite liked it. The decorations, desert display, and the back patio gave it a quaint kind of feel. While not quiet, it was never loud enough to make it hard to hear. I particularly liked this place because there was a little table I could write at while drinking lemonade. 

Ghostly Guides

Kate Jones

Ghost Tour
Ghost Tour Group

While we were at Stratford we went on a couple of tours, each of them fascinating in their own way, but my favorite by far was the Ghost Tour.

It started right in front of the Edison Cafe, and I waited both impatiently and excitedly. I’d never been on a ghost tour before, and wasn’t quite sure what it meant. I remember wondering if it meant we were just going to hear ghost stories or if it meant we’d hear about landmarks in Stratford by people dressed as ghosts. As it turned out, it was a little of both.

As we waited outside Edison Cafe, two figures walked toward us just as the numbers on my phone turned from 6:59 to 7:00. As they came closer I realized that the two people were extraordinarily pale and wearing clothing that seemed like it belonged to the Victorian era. A man and woman, and the man was holding a guitar. 

The woman introduced the two of them as Euphemia and Edward Elphinstone, two of the ghosts of Stratford. And then the tour started. 

We began with a story of Thomas Edison in Stratford as a telegrapher. Interestingly, it turns out the cafe used to be called Slave to the Grind, but the name was changed to remember Edison. We then moved on, wandering from beside the river to houses with ghosts both benevolent and not. Our tour guides spoke about everything from prisons and post offices to ghost stories and warnings about crossing the street.  

We stopped at the St. James Anglican Church where Euphemia spoke about the nightmare of being buried prematurely, and how it happened enough that special coffins were made. Some had bells to ring, while others had a connection to a phone. Later we stood in front of the Macpherson home where orphans entered in hopes of loving somewhere better. Yet many of them never left. 

However, not all of the stories were quite so grim. One house we visited held a female ghost who would help the house’s mother with her children, protecting them. Each story and moment was highlighted by Edward’s guitar playing, although sometimes it came too soon or too late. While he never said anything, his groans and expressions when Euphemia spoke of Buckingham were enough to keep us all laughing. 

My favorite part of the tour was when we came to the very last stop and Euphemia talked about Jack the Ripper, whom she had given teasing hints about the whole tour. On the steps of the Perth County Courthouse she spoke about the drifter Almede Chattelle before finally bidding us goodbye. 

Billy Elliot: Movie and Musical

Kate Jones

Before I ever thought of coming to Stratford I came across the movie Billy Elliot on Netflix. Admittedly, I didn’t think much of it when I read the description, but I decided to watch it anyway. And I am incredibly glad I did, because it ended up being a movie I enjoyed so much I rewatched it several times. So when I saw that I would be attending Billy Elliot the Musical in Stratford I was really excited. 

Well, excited and a little nervous. Billy Elliot the movie was released in 2000, preceding the musical version by 5 years. So I wondered how much the musical was going to differ from the movie. After all, in Little Shop of Horrors the movie and musical had very different endings. 

Fortunately, the ending of the movie matched the ending of the musical. Well, mostly. The movie ended showing an older Billy dancing with his father, brother, and Michael watching him. That scene was one of my favorites in the movie, in part because I liked how emotional Billy’s usually stoic father became at seeing his son dance. 

However, there were several changes to the musical that I thought greatly improved the story. One of the things I really liked about the musical version was how it developed some of the side characters without taking away from Billy’s story. Three characters in particular come to mind: Billy’s grandmother, his mom, and Mr. Braithwaite.

Mr. Braithwaite is much more than simple background music in the play. He also helps teach Billy dance and has a connection to Mrs. Wilkinson that isn’t present in the movie. Similarly Billy’s grandmother has a larger presence in the musical, including her own song, Grandma’s song. This song gives more depth to the character, giving more information on her and making her more than just the grandmother with Alzheimer’s. 

However, my favorite character inclusion was that of Billy’s mother. In the movie, she has only a few mentions, enough for the audience to know that she’s dead and her death greatly affected the Elliot household. Yet in the musical she is an actual presence that Billy interacts with, notably in The Letter song, and its reprise. I personally loved both of those scenes; the song was moving in its simplicity and so were the actors’ portrayals. I could feel Billy’s sadness and his mother’s pride, the melancholy and the love. 

Another layer the musical included was a dance between Billy and an older version of himself. While I have no personal expertise on ballet, I thought both actors were incredibly talented and the dance itself was beautiful. The moment when younger Billy soared through the air? Or when he flew across the stage holding his older counterpart’s hand? Heart wrenching in the very best way. There was one moment that I particularly loved. Near the middle of the dance older Billy stands on a chair and uses the younger version of himself for support. There was something striking about that image to me, how it symbolized the importance of the events shaping Billy’s training and foundation. 

There were other interesting differences throughout the play, such as when the miners came together to raise money for Billy’s school tuition, which I didn’t remember happening in the movie. I thought it played nicely into the message of community coming together though, a statement of support that wasn’t quite as evident in the movie. I greatly enjoyed seeing the song where the miners and police were singing, separated only by the ballerinas in Mrs. Wilkinson’s class. It was at once both amusing and sad, to see two clearly antagonistic sides held together in peace by a child in a tutu. These changes, and a few others made the musical stand out as its own entity from the movie. It was clearly the same story, just told with more depth and attention to minor characters. Despite, or maybe because of, the changes made from movie to musical, Billy Elliot was my favorite play I saw during my time in Stratford.

Ohh Dad.

By: Keith Kibler

Coming into Canada had a feeling as if we never left the states. Some things shine more than others. For instance, money is different. English is the same, slight accents throughout, but still the same. Plantlife seems more lush and green, as far as I can tell. Now the area is a lot different from my area where I live so we could basically say the area is different. More people walk around here than back in Ohio. Maybe it’s because it’s a touristy area. Or maybe it’s because it’s so beautiful here in Stratford. Meaning you want to walk to see its splendor. Also, I must say the food definitely has a very different taste, from the chocolate milk to the breakfast sausage. But overall the beauty is disturbingly gripping and well taken in.

Ohh Canada

The feeling of when I first touched your soil

Gripping and holding me tight you will never let me go

The air I breath refreshes and takes me in

Into your soul Ohh Canada you take me

The green existence you bring makes me feel my life and yours

Bring me forth unto your powerful beauty

Ever so more I can see your love 

your fame and your fortune

My walks are never too long

My walks are never too short

A perfect in-between has brought me here

When I awake to the sun I don’t fight it

I embrace it 

So I can see more of you again

Ohh Canada

During the course of our adventures, we come to question an image amongst the road crossing lights. In our wonder why does that symbol look so foreign to us? One person says, “No one walks that way.” Ode to the one who took to mimic what pondered before us. I wondered what do people outside the group, think when they see such a sight. This man who takes such large strides for all to see.

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the light stratford red small

Strides

The red light before me makes my stay.

From inside my horseless carriage, I await.

What is this I see?

A monkey.

Why does he walk this way?

He walks fully exerted in his strides.

Propelled like a giraffe.

Long-winded foot after foot arms a sway.

Trudging forward he goes.

Not gracefully like a Gazelle.

Strange he is, I know not why he does.

Yet he makes his way across with this awkward dance.

A smile on his face gives away his plight.

Baboon he is.

 A smile upon my face he made.

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