Theatre director takes the stage

Natalie Herzig

     For any true theatre fanatic, a cost-free trip to London to study Shakespeare at the Globe Theater is a dream come true. For CPHS’s very own theatre director Jerry Blake, this is a reality. Blake received a $7000 grant for her summer trip in February of this year.

     Upon receiving an email with news that she was the winner, Blake was understandably emotional.

      “I was stunned,” said Blake. “Stunned, honored and thrilled!”

     Unfortunately she was also confused. CPHS was not the school named in the email for the winner.

      “I was like, well then is this really me?” Blake said, “Then I got another follow up email in another few minutes. I was squealing as I ran downstairs to tell my husband.”

     The confusion cleared and Blake was indeed the winner. She was one of many theatre directors personally chosen to apply for this scholarship. Blake had to go through a rigorous and competitive process to receive it.  First she had to write a long, thorough paper stating how she would use the scholarship to benefit her teaching and what qualifications she could contribute for the award.  Then she interviewed at UT with three experienced Shakespeare experts.

      “It was a very scary interview! There was this huge long table that they were sitting down at and I sat on the opposite side five seats away from them.” Blake said. “They all took turns asking question, writing notes– the interview lasted 25-35 minutes –it was long! But I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

     When she arrives at the Globe in July she will begin taking classes. Blake will be working with 24 other teachers from all over the Unites States along with many other talented Shakespeare professionals. Most of the learning will be through performance. Blake will be assigned a scene partner at the Globe and at the end of the week she and her partner will be able to perform their scene on the Globe stage.

      “It will be very exciting to put on my resume that I performed at the Globe Theatre,” Blake said. “My five minutes of fame!”

     During the summer, their focus will be on Henry IV, Henry XIII, and A Comedy of Errors. Participants are expected to study these plays before their arrival. They will also be visiting historical sites that will help put all of Shakespeare’s work into historical and political perspective.

      “[It’s going to be] like going back in history!” Blake said.

     Blake is most excited to learn new skills to bring back to the CPHS theatre department. In the fall she wants to put on a full length Shakespeare performance in the courtyard at night.

      “We’re going to try to make arches and create the feel of a theatre outdoors—we might ask culinary to join us for intermission to serve turkey legs and cider and maybe have the improv troupe performing in a Shakespeare comedy insults contest,” Blake said.

    Here at CPHS, we all wish her the best of luck on her journey to London. In the spirit of Shakespeare: “parting is such sweet sorrow!”