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).


            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.


            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.


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. 


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.


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.

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.

Escargot &Mushrooms with mozz and an over easy egg
Roasted duck breast on bed of mixed vegies
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.  

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.

the light stratford small
the light stratford red small


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.




Behind The Scenes At The Stratford Shakespeare Festival

By: Jason Vogel

While attending the Stratford Shakespeare Festival one cannot help but notice true talent and determination exhibited by the actors on stage.  The actors are remarkable, along with the stage settings.   But now, let us look into the ancillary components of the festival. Let us go behind the scenes of the stage and enter the belly of the beast that makes up the festival infrastructure.  

Stratford Trip

            Hard work and dedication got this extraordinary festival off the ground in 1953 and it has been kept alive for 66 years.  The current Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino, has been working at the festival for 32 years and has been the big cheese since 2013.  His dynamic and intelligent nature, along with his background in theatre, make him the right man for this position.  

Coordinating all the details that make up the festival is a herculean effort.  The folks managing this event year in and year out take organizational skills to the highest level.  Currently, the festival is operating on a $65 million-dollar yearly budget of which approximately five percent comes from the Canadian government.  It’s safe to say Antoni does a lot of fundraising.  Let’s consider also that the festival has approximately 120 full-time employees and approximately 1,200 seasonal employees.  No rest for the weary souls keeping track of the ins and outs all year long.  

There are three main theatres to operate: the Avon Theatre, the Festival Theatre which was built in 1957, and the Studio Theatre.  In 2020, a new theatre named after the founder, Tom Patterson, will open.  The new theatre will become the “central beehive” for the festival according to Antoni Cimolino.  It will also be, of course, state-of-the-art, with a projected price tag of $100 million-dollars.  Nothing is a small effort up here in Stratford and truly a testament to the people in charge. 


Aside from theatres, there are other facilities that are just as important to the operations.  The costume warehouse is a prime example.  Big enough to fit six hockey rinks under its roof, it houses over 65,000 costumes and 10,000 pairs of shoes, along with props and scenery.  The tour guide at the costume warehouse spoke of costume changes that occur during productions on stage.  She said that some costume changes are done in 4 to 8 seconds which is nothing short of a marvel.  A costume change during a production rivals only a pit-stop at a Formula-1 race in its time of completion and degree of accuracy.  This building also houses all festival archives housing all records dating back to the beginning of the festival.

Day 0-1

By: Keith Kibler

Anticipating our trip has caused me some worries, some anxiousness, basically everything that comes with a huge trip. Sometimes we overdo our thoughts and make them more than what they need to be. Can be good can be bad. Sometimes it just has you thinking. Why do we do these crazy things to ourselves, to get us so overworked?

Day 0

Need a passport.

I check my e-mail trying to figure out my game.

Look, look, an appointment with the class, to debrief and plan.

All laid out, methinks I am ready to go.

Next, papers in order then pack, pack, pack.

Where is my passport?

I pack, what do I need?

Clothes, school supplies, toiletries, pack, pack, pack.

Tight fit everything packed.

Money, money, let’s not forget.

My pocket the passport.

Do I have everything I need?

Clothes per day, money calculated, I think I’m ready.

Questions, questions, look around recheck.

Papers, computer, everything I need.

Where is my passport?

Hmm, let me slip in my Xbox.

Ohh wait, got the room for some movies.

Look here, a speaker for music.

Hmm, what else would I like to take?

That passport was right here.

Where is everything I packed? 

Everything is gone. 

Not cool a panic I will be.

I’m scared, everything’s gone.

I wake up the passport in hand.

Whew, it’s but a dream.

A new start today.

Awaiting my ride to leave for Canada.

My ride is here.

Now, where did I put that passport?

After all the stress and finally getting everything situated. I finally get to the day to leave. I really enjoyed this day. A trip that felt great and was something to remember. Even though we all take something different away from each person’s point of view. For the most part, I think we can relate to a degree of what we experienced amongst each other.

Day 1

I awaited my ride, looking out the screendoor tense I am. My bags laid out before me ready and eager to leave. The sun whispered its morning heat. Looking around I made my final checks. Passport and money being the first. Then bags and gear next. Ring, ring, a text from my ride. I exhale into the morning of the new starting day. I hear a commotion outside, singing? My ride is outside the car opening the trunk singing out loud in the A.M. No worries from me, just a bit different. Petting and sharing my love with my two kids before I leave. As I prep my stuff outside my front door I realize. A pillow would be comfortable for the ride to Canada. I run inside to grab one and head out to my musically inclined host. I hand over my bags with a greeting to everyone and take my seat in the back. Goodbye house, see yah in ten or so days.

Riding in the back I made myself comfy for the long ride. Music blaring behind me as they talk and jest. This day went by relatively quick. Three hours in seemed like only thirty minutes as I wake up sporadically here and there. Ohio is beautiful, my thoughts tell me, I took in all I could. Watching out the window as the trees and grass are waving goodbye to us as we made our way into Michigan. Short-lived though this city, as Detroit, said hello/goodbye to us entering and leaving. 

Making a stop before the Canadian border I put my phone down, not paying too much attention. I exit the car, b-line to the restroom, then grab an ice cream for the road. Panic mode as we leave the gas station, the phone is not where I thought it was. Someone must have taken it, my thoughts exactly. After having someone in the car try to call me numerous times. I finally hear the buzzing in the car. I let them know it’s in the car to keep them from calling any more. After that, it took me fifteen minutes to find it was buried in a bag of chips. How the heck did that happen? We now are making our way to the large bridge connecting the USA to Canada. The heat now reflects heavy as can be as the broken airconditioning reminds me of how much I want it working.

We make our way to the border with strange questions that were answered in truth. Why would we bring drugs illegally from our country, into a country where it is legal. Guess things happen. As we leave the border my remark of “See, you can lie and still get through.” left only myself laughing without a standing ovation. Seems my joke was only funny to me.

Did we actually get into Canada? Methinks the resemblance is way too close, and wow these Canadians speak English and don’t have antennas on their heads. What was I thinking? If I was ever tensed or overly excited I am now relaxed and relieved of stress. I can truly say it was well worth it now. Traveling through this new place, I am enveloped by her beauty. One that makes me say. “Ohh Canada.”

Let’s Go To Stratford!

By: Jason Vogel

My wife said, “You should take that trip to Stratford.” So, I did.  There were no expectations.  This is my first “Study Abroad” trip.  Typically, before I travel, maps are laid out on the kitchen table, I tune into Google Earth for a street level view, I open my Oxford World Atlas so I can see where my destination lies relative to the rest of the world, and then I embark.  This trip is a little different.  The end of the summer semester warrants time with my nose in the books leaving little time for planning.  Liking my trip to a military campaign, my clothes are neatly arranged in my suitcase, food for the initial phase of traveling is thrown into a Marie’s Candies bag, the class loads up in the van, and I then while away the time slouched in my seat as the van whizzes by blurry green cornfields traversing its way up north through Michigan and on to the land of congenial Canada.

            There are ten of us on this journey, plus our seasoned professor.  She has made this trip many times and I can tell we are in good hands.  The professor is also a good driver which I have always felt is a sign of good character. As we cross into Canada, anticipation starts to percolate and we roll heavy into Stratford, Ontario.  My initial impressions: quaint town, I wonder what the population is, nice homes, how and why was the town founded, where are we staying, Shakespeare Festival – never been to one, my goodness – I haven’t met my roommates for the ten-day adventure; I hope they don’t stink!


            My roommates don’t stink.  In fact, they are quite pleasant.  Eventually I find some time to research this great little town.  The railroad provided the catalyst for an influx of people and wealth in the later 1800’s.  Some industry moves in as well, and boom, the town expands, becomes a hub for the Canadian Railways, people thrive and city leaders, citizens, and  entrepreneurs create a town they can be proud of. After WWII, however, the bottom dropped out of the railroad industry and the town was on a path of decline.

Fast forward to why we are here.  The Stratford Shakespeare Festival.  Started in 1953, it is a major reason this town has remained vibrant.  The town’s population hovers around 32,000 people, but on weekends during the seven-month long festival, the population can increase by as much as 9,000 people. Great food and nice accommodations exist for visitors.  Our class is staying at the Arden Park Hotel which sits atop the site of the former Kroehler Furniture factory.  Once a behemoth of a factory, but due to changing tastes in quality furniture, the Kroehler factory is no longer a part of the town’s landscape.  Torn down with one lone brick from the factory perched on a shelf in the lobby of the hotel.  The staff at the hotel is extremely courteous and lively. 

Stratford Trip

All in all, Stratford is a fine destination whether you are studying abroad or just want to see some world-class theatre. 

6 Reasons to Avoid this Study Abroad Trip

By: Katie Croft


Don’t come to Stratford if you tend to snooze
throughout your best friend’s art show.
You’ll see paint on building, sidewalks, and pipes
alike. We get it. We lose
you right here, but please resist your urge to throw
a tomato at all the little tykes.

If you don’t like to see color pop
on sheds and random walls in alleys
I suggest you don’t go into this shop
and maybe also stay away from Cali.

But most importantly…don’t go to Stratford. 


Don’t even dare to come around 
if your motivation can’t seem to be found
because you will be left in the round. 
We like to dance, and we like to sing.
And when we fancy…we like to dress like a bloody king. 

If you aren’t a fan of learning
about all of the planning and rehearsing
try to keep your yawns to yourself. 
Because if you found you’ve fallen asleep
we might dress you up like an elf.

If these don’t sound like your thing
just stay away from Stratford. 


If you don’t support the arts this trip will be a doozy. 
10 plays in 10 days isn’t for the faint of heart. 
You might come away feeling slightly bougie,
but there’s always a chance they’ll tear your insides apart. 

If this doesn’t feel like your scene
there is no need to be obscene. 
Just take the moral high road
and turn yourself into a toad. 


Or…just don’t come to Stratford. 


If solitude is how you spend your time
and like to avoid the twinkle and shine 
of an eye full of tears of laughter
you might not even want to open this chapter. 

Because we have inside joke
after joke to help keep us woke 
and may be used as a cloak 
to mask the intended hurt of the plays. 

If this is your thing, consider it a ‘do,’
but if it’s not don’t follow through. 

Tea, Coffee, and Food (Oh my!).

Try to avoid a trip to this city
if you can’t stand to be called a hippie. 
Because this bowl right here
gives hope to the deer
who want to stay out of the stew. 

And don’t get me started on the coffee scene. 
The number of shops that have sprouted from this bean 
might to some be considered obscene. 
Why have these shops when you could partake in poutine? 
But of course, you might prefer a sardine.
To that I say, go get some caffeine. 

And keep yourself out of Stratford. 


The Festival Theater

If you can…think back to when you were young,
and try to remember if Shakespeare had you holding your tongue
because you thought it was a pile of dung. 
Or perhaps it had you busting a lung
because we find that the laughter has rung
about the theater throughout each show of this trip. 

If you have no respect for the Bard
you might find this trip especially hard. 
He’s in the theater and in someone’s yard.
I even glimpsed him on a large man’s back lard. 
He is on a meter, the back of a playing card, 
and you can detect him in every script. 

For your sake I hope you can handle 
hearing the man mentioned on every channel. 
But if you can’t it’s okay. Just avoid the scandal
and keep yourself out of Stratford. 

But as for me, I just adore
every lesson and opportunity provided. 
So decide for yourself if you can ignore
all of the things that might make you sore.
It truly is a beautiful place to be.