Amateur London

In June, we will literally be in another London. Another parallel is that we will be seeing two shows in the real London that I am currently working on in this London. I am in the process of rehearsals for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the Palace Theatre, which we will be seeing at Shakespeare’s Globe. Also, I am working on an in class presentation of Edward Albee’s The Goat, which we will see at Theatre Royal Haymarket. I am excited to see these professional productions, but my favourite aspect of amateur theatre is that it is working for feeling, not for money. The people I know who are involved in amateur theatre are volunteering their time because theatre is their passion. This is not to say that professionals are not passionate, as I am certain they are, but I am going to speak from my experience about the “emotional pay-off” of amateur theatre (Hurley 1).

In Theatre & Feeling Hurley writes that “three-quarters of the arts events people attend are amateur productions…they are events put on by those whose artistic practice is founded, by definition, in love (the French amateur literally means ‘lover’)” (2). It is true most of the theatre I see is amateur. In the past month, I have seen three amateur shows, all in which I know some, or most, of the people involved in the production. Being involved in amateur theatre has introduced me to a community of people that share my passion. Community theatre is commonly perceived as a hobby and as a tier far below professional quality, but I have seen amateur productions with great acting. Some recent examples that have stood out in London include Calithumpian Theatre Company’s The History Boys and Theatre Western’s Twelve Angry Men.

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Martin and Sylvia (the Goat)

There are varying levels of amateur, though. My in-class presentation of The Goat was not born from passion or love, but from a syllabus. Although I have a great group, we are passionate about putting together a good adaptation in the hopes of a high grade in return. Everyone in the class is interested in drama, but not everyone considers themselves an actor.

On the other hand, most of the production team for Twelfth Night and some of the actors have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre. Theatre is not their job yet it is far from a hobby. There are ten hours of rehearsals each week for our upcoming production, and those hours are beginning to increase as we get closer to the run of the show. Although we are all working tirelessly, no one involved is paid. The theatre and the theatre company make a profit off of amateur shows but the “feeling-labour” of the actors is not for monetary compensation (Hurley 9). Hurley writes that, “people attend the theatre for its emotional pay-off” and I believe that is what actors in amateur productions gain as well (Hurley 1).

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The Cast and Crew of Twelfth Night at our First Read-Through

Works Cited

Hurley, Erin. Theatre & Feeling. Palgrave, 2010.

Rachel Flear is a fourth year English and Theatre Studies Student from London, Ontario.

 

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London Local Ready for New Destination

I am in my fourth year and I cannot imagine a more exciting course to conclude my time at Western. I have been a Theatre Studies student since the program began and Destination Theatre will complete my minor. I have learned how to think critically about performance and production choices and I feel ready to expand and apply these skills in a new setting.

I have seen shows in Toronto, our Stratford, and our London. Therefore, I have never experienced a theatrical performance that is not shaped by the Southwestern Ontario environment. I have been to New York City, but I sadly did not see any theatre. It is a shocking revelation that my theatrical experiences have been very geographically limited. On this trip, we are going to see eight or more shows of various types across the city and beyond. If I were to go to London, England with my family or my friends I would hope to see one show at most. When will I have this opportunity to see this much theatre again? Probably never. I am counting the days.

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Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario

 

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Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon

I learned by reading Jen Harvie’s 2009 book, Theatre & the City, that geographical location shapes productions and vice-versa. I understand this concept, but I am yet to experience what this looks and feels like. I have read the theory, and now I am ready for the practice. My theatre outings are frequent in this London. Reflecting back on the recent performances I have seen, I realize that I almost always know, or at least recognize, someone in a production. I typically see shows at Palace Theatre, The Arts Project, and on campus. My perspective on theatre thus far is extremely localized. I have grown up in London’s theatre community and have never ventured afield, until now. I am excited to learn about spectating in different contexts, and I hope to experience many different forms of theatre while in England. That being said, I also look forward to embracing traditions. I especially like seeing and performing Shakespeare so I am most excited to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and see a Shakespeare production in its country of origin.

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Western Summer Shakespeare’s 2016 Production of Much Ado About Nothing outside of Talbot College on Western’s Campus. Photo by Whitney Bolam.

 

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Regent’s Open Air Theatre in London, England

My only concern is that I do not have a lot of travel experience. Since I am not a particularly spontaneous person, I prefer to know what is ahead. I feel like I don’t even know what I don’t know! When I think of England, what instantly comes to mind is Shakespeare, Love Actually,  and my very outdated knowledge from my Anglo-Saxon Literature course. There are some gaps in my knowledge, to say the least. Kim explained in our first lecture that there will be culture shock in England, even for Canadians. I understand there is much more to England than the tourist stereotypes I know, and I cannot wait to see how it affects their theatre. I know that Destination Theatre will break me free from my London, Ontario bubble and broaden my perceptions and knowledge in ways still unknown, and it cannot come fast enough.

Rachel Flear is a fourth-year English and Theatre Studies Student at Western from London, Ontario.