A Shakespearience in the UK
Funded by the Cater Society of Junior Fellows, Maegan Clearwood ’13 spent two weeks in London this January, investigating the production history of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Working at The Globe Theatre and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Maegan got hands-on with the subject of her research.
“I examined prompt books, photographs, programs, notes, reviews and recordings of more than 10 plays,” she says. “I tried to immerse myself in each production as much as possible, so I took pages of notes about everything from costuming details to placement of the actors onstage.”
Maegan is fulfilling her senior capstone experience by completing a dramaturgy thesis focused on the upcoming production of Shakespeare’s finest tragedy. “The nature of my work at The Globe and Birthplace Trust was primarily to gain a better understanding of how King Lear has been represented onstage in recent years,” Maegan says. “Dramaturgy is a really tricky concept to define, but one of my jobs is to contextualize our staging of the play within the entire production history.”
Before Maegan went to London she had already laid some groundwork. “I was doing production history for my thesis early last semester and meeting a lot of dead ends,” she says. “Most of the research was based on play reviews from old productions, and they’re oftentimes not very helpful while trying to recreate a specific performance.” Working with English Department chair and resident Shakespeare scholar Kathryn Moncrief, Maegan gathered the resources she would need to secure the Cater Society grant.
Maegan says her time at Washington College has served her well, with her coursework providing an “overarching, comprehensive understanding of production criticism and analysis. My drama theory courses have helped me gain a sense of why theater matters and how theater professionals work and think.” In addition to studying the history of theater and how a play goes from text to stage, as a drama major called upon to master every facet of stage production—from acting to set design, she has also acquired hands-on experience with “practical skills like welding and how to handle a screw gun.”
Maegan, who also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the campus newspaper, kept a blog – This Great Stage of Fools – detailing her experience during her research trip. If you are interested in the works of Shakespeare or theater you will definitely want to check it out.
— Otto Borden ’14