Anne Johnston reviews The Rover at the RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon Avon

Students and staff from across the School went to see Aphra Behn’s great Restoration play The Rover at the RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, last Wednesday. Second-year English Literature student Anne Johnston reviews the play below. The photo is courtesy of Aman Atwal, who took some great photos for our gallery.  Our thanks to both students.

On a cold night in February a small group ventured out to Stratford Upon Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Rover written by Aphra Benn, England’s first female professional playwright, and directed by Loveday Ingram. As soon as we took our seats we were transported to ‘the fast and furious world of the South American carnival’. While the play is originally set in Naples, Ingram and stage designer Lez Brotherston decided to set the play in a South American port city. This allowed them to use a South American style of music, composed by Grant Olding, which sets the atmosphere and keeps it going throughout the production. The frenzied carnival atmosphere was constantly present, sometimes in the forefront of the production with a flourish of petticoats and rhythmic dances. And sometimes quietly in the background, with a single saxophone humming in the wings – but always present, reminding the audience of the setting as well as keeping the tone of the production at a fun, sensual level. The play follows three English cavaliers who cross paths with three young women running from an arranged marriage, life in a convent and a controlling brother. This Restoration comedy is fantastically witty and full of adventure. It’s about sex, deception and varying types of love. All hilariously intertwined and culminating in an uplifting happily ever after ending – assuming all the marriages end well!    


Photos are reproduced for educational purposes only.

Humanities Activity Week 14-18 March

HM5050 Field Trip to Cordoba. Those lucky so-and-sos. Photo courtesy of Ollie Brown. Follow Ollie on the UoG History Facebook Page.

This week is Humanities Activity Week (14-18 March), and we’re offering a small programme of careers development, Library sessions and a few other events. The main event is taking place in Córdoba, where many students from across our Humanities courses are enjoying the HM5050 field trip, researching Andalusia’s remarkable history and culture.

The newsletter with full details can be found at our Facebook pages.

A pre-Christmas field trip to Wightwick Manor and Gardens

In preparation for our level 5 Scholarly Research Project module on the Gothic, the Pre-Raphaelites and visual culture, a group of Humanities students travelled north to beautiful Wightwick Manor and Gardens (National Trust) near Wolverhampton, shortly before the end of term. The house wore its Christmas decorations and was enchanting.

Photo courtesy of the National Trust

The Mander family bought the old manor house in 1887 and refurbished and extended it in the ‘Old English’ architectural style.  The Great Parlour with its wooden minstrels gallery restored medieval domestic aesthetics, and the stained glass windows, tiled inglenook fireplaces and Jacobean-style wooden carved furnishings add rich darkness to the interiors. Yet Wightwick Manor was from the first a high-tech house, lit and heated by electricity, and with all modern comforts. The house was also ‘modern’ in that it drew on William Morris’s Arts and Crafts notion that houses should be useful and beautiful, and is a glorious example of Morris & Co.’s design as it was meant to be used.  Morris’s textiles, wallpapers and carpets, William de Morgan tiles, and Leonard Shuffrey’s plasterwork, such as the friezes in the Great Parlour and the Billiard Room, combine to create what Oscar Wilde called ‘the House Beautiful’, a total design environment. The house is also a gallery of nineteenth-century art, with paintings and drawings by Rossetti, G.F. Watts, Elizabeth Siddal, Ford Maddox Brown and, of course Edward C. Burne-Jones, whose Love Among the Ruins hangs like an altarpiece at the end of the Parlour.

Photo: Harriet Heathman.

Wightwick is a wonderful place to visit all year round, but it’s especially magical during these quiet Advent weeks. We had the place largely to ourselves and were free to wander around the house and gardens. The superb docents and volunteers know absolutely everything about the house and family history, and we learned so much. But the visit was more than just a study trip; we spent a magical day among art, remembering the pleasures of escape. The low winter sunlight added to the intense beauty of the house and gardens.

Photos: Harriet Heathman

You can see more pictures at our Flickr gallery. Thanks to Harriet Heathman for most of these fantastic photos; and thanks to all the students who came on the trip and made it the success it was.  Merry Christmas.

Photo: H Weeks

Join our field trip to beautiful Wightwick Manor and Gardens this Friday 11 December

We still have some spaces left on the coach to the beautiful Wightwick Manor and Gardens on Friday 11 December. Wightwick (National Trust) is a late-Victorian fantasy house full of pre-Raphaelite paintings and William Morris furnishings and textiles. The house will be decorated for Christmas (the minstrels’ gallery decked with holly and mistletoe…) and it will look magical. This trip is a must for students working on nineteenth-century art, literature, history and culture; and for anyone interested in Pre-Raphaelite arts, William Morris’s work, Arts and Crafts design, domestic architecture, English garden design, and neo-medievalism. Everyone is welcome. Start the Christmas season by treating yourself to a day away from Cheltenham. At £5, it’s a steal. Please book your place now through the Online Store: http://store.glos.ac.uk/.
Inquiries: hweeks@glos.ac.uk

Illustration: Edward Burne-Jones, Love Among the Ruins (1890s), Wightwick Manor; ‘Bird’ textile, Wm Morris, in the Great Parlour at Wightwick Manor.