An American Ichabod in London: Spring break travels

Andrew Shermoen

Many Washburn students spent their Spring Break traveling, but a group of theatre department students embarked on a week long tour of London. Faculty members Paul Prece of the theater department and Tracy Routsong of the communication department, chaperoned the trip.

From March 16 – 26, the group visited London to take in the sights, food and historic theater district. Alex Laughlin, senior theater major, took part in the trip and remarked upon his experiences.

“I went to Big Ben, House of Parliament and the National Theater. I’d been to London before so I’d done all the tourist things, so my time was spent walking around the city and admiring the architecture,” Laughlin said. He was impressed by Egyptian glyphs housed in the National Museum and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear” in the Courtauld Gallery.

Laughlin partook in the local cuisine as well as the city’s art and history. “I pretty much ate fish and chips for every meal,” said Laughlin. “I also tried calamari for the first time. I didn’t like the texture, but the taste was really good.”

The group spent a long time staying at the Ambassador Hotel in central London, and then stayed at a bed and breakfast in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon for a few days.

Stratford is known as being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Stratford-Upon-Avon is like a modern town mixed with historical,” Laughlin said. “We ate at a restaraunt built in the 1600s and it kept the style. It has a small town feel to it, but it definitely feels like a small village with a larger modern city built around it.”

The group also took a tour of Shakespeare’s boyhood home and then went to visit his grave. “For some reason, Shakespeare’s head isn’t at his grave because scientists of the time experimented on his brain to see if there were patterns from other geniuses of the time that matched,” Laughlin said. The group got to see a production of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays “Julius Caesar” at the playwright’s hometown.

Along with “Julius Caesar” Laughlin also watched “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” “Amadeus,” “The Lion King,” and “An Inspector Calls.” Laughlin said the sets used were unlike anything he’d ever seen, especially the set for “The Curious Incident.”

“It was a box made of screens and a grid manipulates images on the screens with computers,” Laughlin said. “I’d never seen anything like that. Compared to American theatre, England theatre likes to take risks because Europe is a lot older and they know what they can and can’t do.”

Laughlin said the experience was an absolute treat for him and would recommend it to his fellow students. “It’s important to travel and experience how other people live and understand that people come from other walks of lives. That’s the most important thing our generation needs to realize,” Laughlin said. “Get out there, go travel, experience other cultures and compare it to your own.”