Christian Fernandez is a master of a number of skills. He's good with people. He's good with the pen. He's got a heart for literature and a passion for theatre. And he's a fantastic mock trial coach. An alumnus of the Class of 2016, Christian went on to study theatre and drama at Mary Baldwin University. We had a chance to ask Christian some questions about his experience with the literature program and his time at PHC!
1. What are some of the reasons you chose to major in Literature?
I was initially intending to attend law school, but my real passion and interest was in teaching. Literature was one of my favorite subjects growing up, as I loved story-telling and discovering the different ways authors could best invite the audience into the imaginative world of the story. I was also an avid lover of opera and theater, both of which involved and drew from literature. With my classes at PHC, particularly Western Literature, I realized that teaching literature was not just a passion but a calling.
2. When did you first develop a love for Shakespeare?
When I was a young child, we had a collection of Shakespeare stories designed to introduce children to Shakespeare's works. I first fell in love with the tragedies, such as Julius Caesar and Macbeth. I competed in speech competitions one year with a dramatic one-person interpretation of Julius Caesar that is still one of my favorite performative experiences. From high school into college, I sort of ate up everything Shakespeare related and eagerly visited museums and performances in the D.C. area once at PHC.
3. What was it like being a literature major involved in Moot Court and Mock Trial at PHC?
Even though I was a Literature major, I had a lot of forensic experience in high school. I did not feel that pursuing a non-government major affected my ability to participate in and appreciate Mock Trial and Moot Court. If anything, the creative imagination of literary studies equipped me to approach the cases from multiple angles and present clear narratives in Mock Trial cases.
4. What is the best part about directing works of Shakespeare and other classic plays?
Hands down, it is the stories' combination of grandeur and profundity. Shakespeare masters the ability to craft a world around the characters while simultaneously capturing the motivations and complexities of characters and their relationships with each other. You can stage plays such as Macbeth with large sets and huge armies and still not lose the genius of the soliloquies and intimate dialogues.
5. What is a Master of Letters degree and what are some practical benefits of having this next level of education?
The Master of Letters is essentially a degree in a more theoretical subject that has quite a bit of practicum incorporated into its curriculum. Both for literature and theater, the degree was invaluable for learning, not just the abstract lessons of the subjects themselves, but also what they do. Specifically with theater, my graduate program helped one understand how the page translated to the stage and the methods by which scholars attempt to convey the intricacies of the stage onto the page. Too often, theater texts are examined so much from a social or cultural lens that the practical genius of the authors can get lost; the full respect of their genius comes from realizing how the author's practical creativity with the staging of the play furthered the morals and ideas of the play's philosophy.
6. How did the classes you took at PHC and your time as a student contribute to making you into the man you want to become?
I definitely learned a lot about leadership. From history to government to literature, PHC classes teach students how to appreciate different fields as a strong Christian man or woman. Students learn about great figures who ought to inspire us to live fully and pursue what we are called to, and they learn those lessons through incredible faculty members who themselves stand as respected figures in their fields that students likewise seek to emulate.