Young Harris College English students attend Shakespeare’s “Tempest”

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
General College

Young Harris College English students attend Shakespeare’s “Tempest”  

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — English students at Young Harris College were treated to a taste of English culture recently both in terms of food and drink and a stage performance as they traveled to Atlanta to see William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

A class of English students traveled to see the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s (ASC) performance of “The Tempest” at the Shakespeare Tavern. In addition to the play – one of the last written by Shakespeare – the students also enjoyed a meal featuring English staples like mead and shepherd’s pie.

“It was a great opportunity for the students to not only see one of Shakespeare’s plays, but also get a literal flavor for English culture,” said Dr. Daniel Helbert, an assistant professor of English at Young Harris College. Helbert arranged and organized the trip for the students. “The students are tasked with researching and writing about the ways contemporary society has incorporated Shakespeare into their culture, despite the fact, Shakespeare wrote over 400 years ago. The language is also an older form of the English language that contemporary speakers usually find very difficult to understand.”

Seeing “The Tempest” was also a challenging assignment for the students as it is one of Shakespeare’s works that is often difficult to assign to a particular genre of work.

“The play itself was performed excellently by ASC, but The Tempest is difficult to pinpoint a perfect genre; it’s a comedy in the sense that people get married in the end – a stock feature of comedies in Shakespeare’s day – but it also has many elements of fantasy,” Helbert said. 

The students who attended were Allie Killer, Katey D’Ambrosia, Kody English, Kamar Hooker, Katelynn Rash, Eli Smith-Foot, Payten Calvert, and Bryanna Meister.

The plot follows an exiled Italian duke, Prospero, who lives with his daughter on an island otherwise inhabited only by spirits and fantastical beasts. Prospero is able to control these creatures through magic and he uses them to engineer a shipwreck of the Italian king, his son, and Prospero’s evil brother who originally had Prospero exiled in the first place. 

“Over the course of the play, Prospero uses his enslaved spirit, Ariel, to guide the king to his palace where he reclaims his dukedom from his brother, foils a coup against him by some of his enslaved supernatural creatures, and arranges for his daughter and the King’s son to fall in love with one another.”

“I had so much fun going to Atlanta's Shakespeare Tavern to watch ‘The Tempest’ in person,” said Allie Killer. “Seeing it performed live gave me a much better understanding of the material we have been reading in class, and it was also just a lot of fun. We also happened to see two YHC alumni while we were there, which was an awesome experience. I hope to have more opportunities like this in the future!”

In an interesting turn of events, the YHC students ran into alumni at the play: Myrna Reagan (née Green), class of ’72, and Montaeo Bailey, class of ‘23. Bailey was part of the ASC cast, playing two roles in the show: a boisterous “Boatswain” who is in charge of the King’s ship during the storm that causes it to crash, and “Francisco”, one of the lords accompanying the king on his travels over the island. 

“The field trip was a wonderful experience. Not only was the food amazing and the play extremely entertaining, but it also helped see the play we were studying in our minds' eye,” Katelynn Rash said. “And honestly, what’s the point of having a Shakespeare class and NOT seeing one of one of his plays being performed in person? It helped us view Shakespeare's audience’s perspectives, putting us in their shoes – laughing so hard you cried and cheering on the ‘hero.’ It was a memorable trip that I will suggest to others forever.” 

About Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science, and Technology; and Professional Studies. Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the Conference Carolinas. For more information, visit yhc.edu.

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YHC students meant two alumni at the play - Montaeo Bailey, class of ‘23, who was part of the cast, and Myrna Reagan (née Green), class of ’72, who was in the audience.