Actors from London visit ND for the week
Becky Hogan | Thursday, January 24, 2008
After 33 years touring nationwide, the Actors From the London Stage will be returning to Notre Dame this week to perform “The Taming of the Shrew.” The company, which is based in London, tours American colleges and universities through the patronage of the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. The University initially established the partnership in 2000, company manager Amy Atkinson said.
“The University administers the program throughout the United States, serving as the company’s American home and the touch point for the actors as they move around the U.S.,” Atkinson said.
The AFTLS performs two different Shakespearean plays each year – one in the fall and another in the spring semester. Past performances have included “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet” and “The Merchant of Venice.”
In addition to the performances, the actors present workshops throughout their week spent at the University.
“Faculty members request actors to come into their classrooms and the actors then determine who among them is best suited for each class. They then go into a variety Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s classrooms to explore not only Shakespeare, but language as a whole,” Atkinson said.
She explained that these educational residencies are geared to help students convey the meaning of words – which can range anywhere from analyzing a text in an English class or developing public-speaking skills in a business class.
The troupe’s wide range of experience isn’t just limited to theatre performances. This week, they will also meet with students interested in film and television for an informal discussion about these industries.
“We can’t send students to New York, L.A., and London – the centers of film and television – and it’s difficult for students to be able to get in touch to those kinds of places, so bringing them here is invaluable,” said film and television professor Christine Becker.
“This gets students in direct contact with professionals who are doing what our students are interested in [pursuing].”
AFTLS tours 10 universities in the fall and eight universities during the spring. Besides Notre Dame, the current tour of “The Taming of the Shrew” will travel to Massachusetts, Texas, California and Mississippi, Atkinson said.
Many of the actors in the troupe have been trained at prominent companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
“While we do not tour internationally, AFTLS actors present two performances in London following their time in the United States,” Atkinson said. “These shows are held at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and enable the actors’ colleagues and countrymen to see their work.”
The actors are cast in Britain where they rehearse for several weeks before coming to the United States, Atkinson said.
The AFTLS makes minimal use of props, lighting or sets in its productions.
The Actors From the London Stage will perform “The Taming of the Shrew” tonight and Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall.