Oddly enough, my best experience at Oberlin was not at Oberlin at all, but in London, on the Danenberg Oberlin-in-London program with David Walker.
Every day we gathered in the basement of Fitzroy Square with biscuits and cups of tea, discussed plays we’d read, watched them and sometimes met the actors and directors too. We got flooded in Stratford where we watched a memorable Two Gentlemen of Verona. There was an intimate and torpid Uncle Vanya and a luminous Twelfth Night at the Globe. On the contemporary side, I was very moved by Patrick Marber’s Closer, long before it was made into a film, and discovered absorbing storytelling by Conor McPherson and Brian Friel.
Threading it all together were the conversations gently led by David about and around these plays, supplemented by talk of poems, novels, museum visits, and films, and from these emerged the constant interplay between fact and fiction. All of this is evident in the journal I kept as part of the course. Revisiting it is a visceral step into that world: I can smell the fumes of London exhaust and see the outlines of the trees in Regent’s Park from our slightly dank flat.
It was an immensely rewarding experience, made all the more stimulating by the wide spectrum of people on the course. I doubt that this experience of consciously academic (but also personal) contemplation can ever be equaled.