“I DON’T believe there is any other spot on earth where you can get so close to a man of genius.”
The ‘spot’ is Stratford – the ‘genius’ Shakespeare – and the statement comes from a former town mayor Dr Roy Lodge.
A scholar of medicine and theology, Roy did not focus his studies on the Bard when he was a young man.
His real appreciation of Stratford’s most famous son came later – sparking an idea which now benefits more than 100 students each year.
Roy is the force behind an annual Schools Lecture – supported by Stratford Town Trust – which sets out to inspire students as they study Shakespeare.
It was during Roy’s mayoral year in 2006 that he struck upon the idea – to coincide with the annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations and inspired by the RSC’s Complete Works Festival of that year.
Ten years on and the Shakespeare Schools Lecture continues to benefit Stratford’s students every April.
The lecture is open to all Sixth Form English Literature students in the town, those studying at KES, Stratford Girls’ Grammar, Stratford School and Stratford College.
They are invited to the Town Hall to hear a lecture by one of the country’s leading Shakespearean scholars and to then take part in a Q&A session with the speaker and a panel of Shakespearean academics.
The lectures all reference the texts being studied as part of AS/A levels – which can be as many seven in any one year. This year’s lecture was given by Dr Vivian Thomas who is a specialist in Shakespeare studies with numerous publications to his name.
Roy explained: “The idea stemmed from my time as mayor, which coincided with the Complete Works Festival and so inspired me.
“From the very beginning my intention was to bring together the town’s students to listen to the leading academic scholars in the country. That in itself inspires them.
“We have here the town in which the world’s greatest dramatist was born, baptised and brought up; where he went to school, where he fell in love, where he became an influential church warden and a man of property and where his mortal remains lie in the church and where, in the theatre named after him, his immortal works continue to delight new generations of play-goers.
“I don’t believe there is any other spot on earth where you can get so close to a man of genius.”