London – Historic English theatres: from Shakespeares Globe to Gilgued’s Old Vic

7 Jan

Program Director: Odai Johnson ~ Drama
Dates of Instruction:
August 25 to September 18

London is the theatre capital of the world today, but it was even more important in the last four centuries, when politics, performance and celebrity shared the city and the city’s greatest theatres.   Come to England and tour the historic theatres in their own centuries.  

Watch world-class performances of Shakespeare’s plays in the reconstructed Globe theatre, visit Stratford-upon-Avon, the Banqueting House where Charles I held his court masques and in front of which was publicly beheaded, tour the restored 18th century theatre at Richmond, watch the 19th century popular repertory still played at the historic Royal Theatre, Bury Saint Edmunds, and browse the greenroom of the Old Vic where Gielgud shared a stage with Olivier.   Watch representative plays of four hundred years staged in the landmark spaces that hosted the works of Shakespeare and Sheridan, spaces in which the great actors of the English stage – Richard Burbage, David Garrick, Ellen Terry, John Gielgud– built their careers.

We will visit the Globe, Covent Garden, The Royal Haymarket, The Banqueting House (1640s),  Richmond Yorkshire theatre (18th c), The Theatre Royal at Bury St. Edmunds (1819),  the Old Vic, and the Newcastle theatre at Tyne, (1864).  In preparation for each site visit, we read the plays, study the genres, and explore the remains of period neighborhoods still bordering the theatres:  the southbank of the 17th century, the coffee-house and market district of Covent Garden of the 18th century, the provincial circuit of the 19th century.  Side visits include the Roman theatre site at St. Albans, the Sheldonian at Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Leeds, and Richmond, in the Yorkshire countryside.

While in Richmond, we will also be attending a symposium on historic theatres hosted by the Society for Theatre Research. The weekend gathering brings together artistic directors from historic theatres around Great Britain. It also includes tours and a gala performance at the Richmond theatre.

londonThe intent of the seminar is to explore how the history of the space shaped the experience of performing and witnessing the theatrical event, then and now.  In this regard we consider not just the theatrical site, but its environs, and how those have changed across the centuries. .  What was the bankside like in 1600?  What was it like in 1980 when the reconstruction was first proposed?  What did it mean to go to Covent Garden in the 1740s?   Or for an American actor like Kevin Spacey to take over the artistic legacy of the Old Vic?  We are, in essence, walking the city across the centuries looking for traces of its past still preserved in its present experience of theatre-going.

Itinerary & What’s Included: The first two weeks will be based in London, where students will be housed at the University College London dorms, which includes breakfast, and touring theatres by day and attending plays in the evening.  The second half will be spent touring the provincial circuit, staying at guest houses while on the road.  Rail transportation to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Oxford, Richmond, Leeds and Newcastle, as well as the day trips to St. Albans and Bury St. Edmunds, are all inclusive in the program fee, as is the conference registration at Richmond.  Also included in the program fee are eight theatre tours and thirteen tickets to the best English theatre on the planet.

Participants will earn 5 credits of DRAMA 494, or CHID 471 Europe Study Abroad (I&S).  Participants should check with their advisors to determine how these credits can count towards departmental requirements.

Student costs:  
$3,275 Program Fee
$200 IPE Fee
Additional costs include: roundtrip airfare to London, most meals, local transportation, insurance and personal spending money.

Apply Now - Click here for application


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