theater

Student Voices: Christopher Sears

Christopher SearsBFA Theater student Christopher Sears (at left) performed a scene from William Shakespeare’s comedic Twelfth Night as part of the annual Sam Wanamaker Festival, which happens each April at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Here is Sears’ account of his experience, which took place after his one-year immersion program in the city alongside other BFA III Mason Gross Theater students:

Each April, 44 students from top UK drama schools and two from the Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare’s Globe in London are invited to present 23 scenes by Shakespeare and his contemporaries on the Globe stage at the Sam Wanamaker Festival. This year, I was one of the participants.   

My scene partner, Jermilya Davis, and I were quickly spotted as “The Americans” because of our accents and enthusiasm. However, by the end of the first night we had earned a new title: We were “The Rutgers,” the two who had studied at the Globe for seven months in an immersion program that is an integral part of the BFA Theater experience at Mason Gross.  

Each moment of every day I felt I was chipping away at the generalization that Americans don’t have any classical form or method. I hesitate to say it, because I know I’m young and there’s so much for me to learn, but for those few days I felt like a god. I knew everything. The students walked away from the workshops mulling over concepts or still in search of answers, and I was there to help them hash it out, like a spy or really a kid showing his house to the new kids, and sure, I didn’t build it or live in it the longest, but I knew the best hiding spots. I had a student's perspective on the Globe—something no teacher could give.

On the first night everyone was allowed to go on stage and speak a line to the sky. After a stampede of roaring iambic I just spoke my line like I would to you. Afterward one student said that he thought it was brilliant, that he had heard every word, and how did I know to do that? There’s this tremendous upward gust of wind you feel inside when someone asks you a question that you have 50 answers for: because I studied to speak Shakespeare all year; because I've stood as a groundling and heard speaking work and watched yelling fail; because I got to try it out myself on that stage, and it felt perfect.

Watch a portion of Sears’ Twelfth Night performance in London: