Trip offers behind-the-scenes opportunity


Southern students enjoy trip to Ontario, Canada to participate in the Shakespeare experience. Students have visited the annual Stratford Festival since 2014 due to an endowment from the Preble Fund and the sponsorship of the English and philosophy department.  

Many students graduate from college having never been out of the country. However, many Missouri Southern students take advantage of studying abroad to expand on existing knowledge and have some fun in the process.

The English & Philosophy department at Missouri Southern will be taking students to the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. The trip is in the making for its third year. 

“We are currently taking three students,” said Dr. Rebecca Mouser, assistant professor of English & philosophy at Southern. “The number varies based on funding possibilities, as we like to provide as much funding as possible for each student.

The trip is possible through the Preble Fund that was endowed to the English department for scholarships and student travel.

Dr. Bill Kumbier first organized the Stratford Festival trip in 2014.

“I have been a long fan and enthusiastic supporter of the festival, having attended it since I was a high school student in 1968,” said Kumbier, professor of English & philosophy.

“When I had the opportunity to teach the Shakespeare course here in the fall of 2013, I realized that the main thing students in the course lacked was experience of live Shakespeare production,” Kumbier added.

The trip will consist of 3-5 days in Stratford, Ontario. During this time, the group will see five plays and take guided tours of the Festival Theatre. 

“This year, we are also going to see the set change from an afternoon performance to an evening performance of a different play,” Mouser said.

“We are seeing Macbeth, As You Like It, a compilation of Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1, as well as two non-Shakespeare play, one of which is Shakespeare in Love,” added Mouser.

Students will see live performances of some of the plays they will read in class. Upon returning, students attending the Festival will help other students in the course.

“They will provide presentations about their experiences and be able to speak to how performance affects interpretation of the plays for each one that we read,” said Mouser.

Kumbier said that there are films of many of Shakespeare’s plays, but they don’t compare to seeing them live.

“There are countless films and video recordings of Shakespeare’s plays, but none of them come close to the excitement of watching the plays live, with superb actors and stunning set and costume designs, in a world-famous theatre modeled largely after Shakespeare’s Globe,” said Kumbier.

Although not all students enrolled in the Shakespeare course can go on the trip to Canada, Kumbier is glad students have responded to the opportunity.

“Fortunately, we have found students for two years now who are eager to do that and I’ve been very pleased that Dr. Mouser has wanted to continue to offer the trip experience,” Kumbier said.

The trip to the Stratford Festival this year will happen Aug. 1-7. 

Students interested in going must complete an application process. Students should also register for the Shakespeare course in the fall.

“Applications include a letter of interest (why this opportunity would be beneficial to them – why they are excited about participating), as well as a letter of recommendation from a faculty member,” Mouser said.

Applications are due around Spring Break. Accepted students will need a valid passport for international travel.

“I hope that students come away from the experience with an idea of how much work goes into a performance as well as how much a performance can change their interpretation of a play,” Mouser said. 

“We often think of Shakespeare’s play as mere texts, but they have real life on the stage.”

Participants in 2015 included Tabby Johnson, Olivia Ross and Savannah Phifer.