is weird by Derek Miller
The rural town of Stratford-upon-Avon
in Warwickshire, England went for hundreds of years as just that. It was
a country town with a market for the local farmers and traders to sell
their wares, with shops, businesses, trades and agriculture being the usual
income for local people. Situated on the pretty English River Avon and
surrounded by villages of thatched cottages, the people who were born in
Stratford-upon-Avon generally had a pleasant countryside existence.
came the craze for Shakespeare.
Gradually over a number of
years this little town has transformed itself into a place of culture and
is now the second largest tourist destination in England. Scholars of English
always knew that William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, but it was
only in the 20th Century that serious moves were made to re-popularise
his plays, so much so that a new theatre was built in his town of birth
to immortalise the "Bard" in 1932.
This new theatre on the banks
of the Avon became a Mecca for scholars, students and theatre audiences.
By employing well known as well as unknown actors, actresses, directors
and staff Stratford soon became the best known Shakespearian theatre in
The Royal Shakespeare Company
was able to expand in later years, and bought new property in Stratford
to open small, intimate theatres, where the actors could talk directly
to the audience. The very best actors, both in England and abroad, were
often trained at the RSC in Stratford, and love to come back for a season
from time to time.
RSC now performs both Shakespeare and many other authors all over the world,
and is still considered "The Best" by many of even its sternest critics.
So, what happened to the
little market town in the centre if England? It's now a big town with a
small town centre and no market. The people of Stratford have largely been
pushed out of town by the incredibly high property prices. Stratford has
become such a success that more than half of the smaller houses are weekend
homes for the rich, and leaves many local villages dormant during the week.
in the middle of town is a lovely half-timbered old house which is now
trampled over by a million tourists every year. The town is within 2 hours
of about 20 million day trippers living in England. The houses that belonged
to William's relatives do not escape either. You can tour the whole lot
on double-decker buses along what were, recently, country lanes that are
now covered with various coloured lines in the middle and on both sides.
The really bizarre reason
to travel to Stratford-upon-Avon is to see if you can find a local person.
Particularly during the spring, summer and autumn seasons you won't find
many. Japanese, German, American, Korean, Swedish, Dutch, French etcetera
Yes. But a real Warwickshire accent? Unlikely.