Shakespeare acting group visits ND classes
Megan Valley | Friday, February 13, 2015
Members of the Actors From The London Stage (AFTLS) group visited Arts and Letters classes at Notre Dame this week, holding workshops while they were on campus for their five-person performance of “Macbeth” this week.
Peter Holland, associate dean for the arts and professor of Film, Television and Theatre (FTT), said Notre Dame has been the United States home to AFTLS for more than 15 years.
“We had booked their tours to visit us regularly before that, but when they were looking to shift from their previous home, we were thrilled to be able to take it on,” he said. “We have the responsibility for creating the tours, working with the Associate Directors [in London] who cast the shows and organize the rehearsal period.”
Holland said AFTLS members act as ambassadors for Notre Dame as they travel across the country for their U.S. tours.
Ben Warwick, one of the actors, visited Holland’s Shakespeare and Film class, where he gave feedback on students’ performances of scenes from “Much Ado About Nothing.” Holland said this workshop is offered every semester, and it is always a class favorite.
“Every semester, when I ask my students what have been the most useful and enjoyable sessions in the semester, they pick the AFTLS visit — and that after 31 sessions with me,” he said. “That stops me feeling too good about my own teaching.”
Holland said the experience was useful because it offers a unique perspective for students.
“I think they get the insights into how to turn text into performance that only an experienced theatre professional, like Ben, can provide,” he said. “Of course I’d love it if he could come back many times in the semester but they’re on tour.”
The actors didn’t just visit FTT classes; Warwick also led an acting workshop in Fr. Kevin Sandberg’s theology class titled Discipleship: Loving Action for Justice. Sophomore Catherine Wagner, a student in Sandberg’s class, said it was a nice break from the usual class format.
“I really enjoyed how he made connections between [Martin Luther King Jr.], Hamlet and Job — not three topics easily intertwined,” she said.
Wagner said it was interesting to see the theatrical side of her classmates, and she loved the advice that Warwick gave them.
“It praised the art of acting because while it can be nerve-wracking being on a stage in performance, it is because of this vulnerability that we enjoy the theatre,” she said. “Our class today experienced a small bit of this vulnerability by trying new things, but we came out better because of it.”
The last AFTLS performance of “Macbeth” will take place tonight in Washington Hall, and $12 student tickets can be purchased at performingarts.nd.edu