We all boarded the bus for a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. Everyone seemed to be ready for a break from the hustle and bustle of life in London and the quiet 2+ hour trip came at just the right time.
After lunch we made a visit to the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive where we were greeted by the friendly and effusive staff. Our tour guide Maddie was full of information and anecdotes about this fabulous facility. The library and archives were opened in 1864 and the first librarian was hired in 1873. The collection continues to grow rapidly and is replete with numerous treasures. The library houses the memorabilia of the Royal Shakespeare Company including prompt books, costume and design sketches and plans, video and audio recordings and much more. As Maddie said the collection is "enormous" in that it also includes 250,000+ photographs. The library also houses the local collection and including tax and government records and genealogical information.
After a brief tour we met with Jo Wilding of the Centre in the upstairs conference room. It was a treat to peek at the numerous pieces of Shakespeare memorabilia which she had laid out for us to peruse. These goodies included playbills, costume sketches, photographs, and several beautiful leather bound volumes to which Shakespeare may have referred during his period of writing. The biggest treat was the up close viewing of another First Folio! To see one of these treasures is a privilege, but to see two in as many days was a special treat.
We exited the library to gray skies and drizzle so I sought out the local public library for some research. This Carnegie Library was built in 1905 and serves as the "major library for Warwickshire" as explained by Jan Dawson, a specialist in reader development with the library. Ms. Dawson spoke with me about events for children especially the "Dragon Quest" Summer reading program. I found loads of good info for my research paper and headed out as they closed for the day.
Christina, Jessica and I met on the High Street and walked down to the restaurant Oppo for dinner before the theatre. We had a yummy meal in half-timbered surroundings and ended our dinner with a delicious treat of sticky toffee pudding!
The RSC was performing "As You Like It" and our seats on the balcolny provided us a wonderful view of the action. The performance was interesting and stirring but I would have voted to eliminate the skinning of the rabbit that started the action in Act 2!
The bus carried us back home and we arrived, after a long and fruitful day, at 1:30 a.m.