Shakespeare Class Takes a Field Trip

By: Jorge Quintana

Dr. Goddard’s Shakespeare & His Time’s class is going on a trip this week. The class will be visiting Hillsdale College to catch a live performance of The Merchant of Venice. The students have been studying various plays from the Shakespeare era this semester. There has, however, been something lacking from the experience. Dr. Goddard explains the importance of viewing a play, rather than just reading a script. 

“The experience of reading it can be really challenging because of how plays are put together. It’s not something that we are used to reading and, with watching it, you get to see it with other people, and you get to see the interpretation that the director has put together,” Goddard said, “And usually it's a lot more fun and a lot more engaging. Especially with Shakespeare. 

The Merchant of Venice is a controversial play and a difficult one to unpack. There are countless interpretations of the play that are possible. Dr. Goddard talks about the difficulties with performing a play like this one.

“One of the things I’m interested in seeing is how they portray Shylock. He's actually kind of a problematic character. There is a lot of scholarly discussion as to whether the play is antisemitic because of his presence. So, it’s interesting to see how modern interpretations deal with that challenge,” Goddard said.

As mentioned earlier, the performance will be taking place at Hillsdale College. The play will be running most of the week and Dr. Goddard’s class will be attending the October 2nd performance. The play will be directed by James Brandon, who is the Chairman and Professor of Theater and Dance at Hillsdale College.

Along with going to the play, students will be developing an analysis of the interpretation they have seen. They will dissect particular parts of the play. One focus will be Shylock’s portrayal and how sympathetic he comes across to the audience.