Gearing up

I got the Official Unconditional Offer of a spot in the MA Shakespeare in Education at The Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham while I was at the 8th International Drama and Theatre Educator’s Association (IDEA) Congress in Paris in mid-July (more on IDEA Paris 2013 later). I obviously accepted as soon as I could get to a reliable internet connection, and took my student ID photo to send to them.


Perty, ain’t I?

So once I was registered and whatnot, more waiting ensued. I’d forgotten the blistering pace at which academic bureaucracy works, and it was all I could do to not bombard the poor Institute Administrator with a million email. But I did refrain (yay me) and contented myself by playing with my new email and access to Birmingham’s online library and digital resources.

I have been on summer vacation, and not-so-diligently keeping up with my plan to read a Shakespeare a week in step with Emma Smith’s Approaching Shakespeare lectures from iTunes. I downloaded a paper that I thought would help me understand better a new Academic term I’d learned – Applied Theatre – and had a big reality check…

This MA is gonna be HARD.

I started to read the article, and realised two things…

1) This thing is long…

2) …and I recognise all of these words to be English, but I am only grasping the general gist of the article.

So yeah, I’m out of practice. My brain is rusty.

But then, a week or so ago, I got two emails from the Institute Administrator. One was the syllabus for the Research Skills course, which is 20 weeks across two terms, and for which there is no prescribed reading list – it’ll deal with weekly assignments related to my actual coursework. Aces.

I also got the reading list for my first course, Shakespeare’s Theatre.

I nearly cried.

Then I panicked.

It is 5 pages long.

Five pages of reading.

Now, of those, 4 are “Primary Sources” that I must read (not counting, of course, the 8 Shakespeare plays I need to have more than a passing acquaintance with) and the remaining 4.75 pages of sources are all secondary, meant to help and support my studies of the 8 plays we’ll be working with.

Of course, I have no intention of buying *any* of these books (It might be nearly 20 years since I started my Undergrad and I might be far better off now than then, but I’m still a cheap bastard and I won’t pay for things unless I have to) so I jumped onto the Toronto Public Library’s website to see if I could find the books in question. Of the four Primary books, they had…


So I jumped into the BRAND NEW SUBARU CROSSTREK (I promise that this is the ONLY time I’ll mention the new car gratuitously, but hey, it’s still new) and drove across town to get the book.

And it wasn’t there. It’s gone missing. And the Librarians seemed to be not the least bit upset by this.


So my only other option is to somehow gain access to the University of Toronto’s Library system. It is expansive, and had most of the books I randomly searched to see if it was worth looking into.

Snag: It costs $300 to get a Research Reader card.

IMG_4347Behold my $300 piece of plastic.

So I now have access, for one year from today (someone remind me to renew in a year, will you?) to all of the treasures locked up in Robarts. Of course, no help from any of the Library Research staff, nor any remote access to the digital journals, but still, I can now lurk around Robarts. And take out up to 100 books for 14 days.

And take out books I did.

IMG_4349Yup. Court Masques and Three Late Medieval Morality plays. I can feel your envy oozing through the interwebs.

So I have a library card. An Official University email address. Syllabi and Reading Lists. But I was still missing the really important things…

IMG_4348…and Yes, I spent 30 minutes agonizing over which notebook to buy.

Let the games begin.

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