Enchanted by London’s Theater Scene

by Kathryn Jones on March 27, 2018

I grew up in a very artistic household. Everyone in my family plays an instrument, we all are avid singers, my sister and I draw, and my father and I write. I was not only surrounded by creativity growing up, but I was actively encouraged to explore these artistic urges.

And that’s what I’ve done. Music has always been the most important artistic endeavor for me. I have sung all my life, played the French horn since 3rd grade, and now I minor in Music at Arcadia. My love of music spurred me to try out for musicals during high school. I loved being in theater so much that I went to a summer theater camp at Cortland Repertory Theater (near my home in Cortland, NY) for five years. It’s where I met some of my best friends to this day.

The culture surrounding art and performance in London is so positive, inviting, and cheap that even those who might not have considered themselves lovers of the arts will still be spurred to experience it.

- Kathryn Jones

The last show I was in, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, was during the summer before I left for college, and I was sad to know I wouldn’t have time during my first semester at Arcadia to take part in a theatrical production. With theater, music, and art playing such important roles in my life, I was more than eager to experience London’s rich arts culture while on FYSAE.

When I was looking over the courses FYSAE students could take in London, one caught my eye: “The London Stage in Text and Performance.” I immediately knew I wanted to take this class, because I would be able to see shows in London for free!

Throughout the semester, we see five shows (four plays and one musical). The class is structured so that we see a show every other week, following our regular class time. In class, we closely read the texts of these shows, analyzing them for dramatic story, characterization, themes, and theatricality, among other elements. We also discuss what the writer’s message was. After seeing the shows on stages around London, we come back to discuss their impact on us and the world today.

Taking this course has greatly enhanced my experiences with theater in general, both watching and performing. A lot of the discussions in the class include practical advice to actors on how to understand the characters they’re playing or a play’s message as a whole. Sometimes we even do acting exercises to better understand what each character’s motives are and where they stand in relation to one another.

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Even if you don’t take a class like mine, it’s quite easy to get tickets to shows in London. London has a diverse and thriving theater scene, so finding a show that suits your mood or style is no hassle. Tickets are usually pretty cheap, too. Unlike a Broadway show, the average price is about £25 (or $34). Even if tickets are a bit expensive for your taste, most theaters offer student discounts, online discounts, group discounts, and standby tickets are sold at box offices before performances at a discount. I’ve seen two other productions outside of class, and neither my wallet nor my heart were let down.

The culture surrounding art and performance in London is so positive, inviting, and cheap that even those who might not have considered themselves lovers of the arts will still be spurred to experience it. I encourage all those who visit to see a show, even if you think it’s not your cup of tea. You might end up feeling the love of theater in your blood, too.