Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

The Outsider’s Perspective of Theatre in London

September 22, 2010 · No Comments

Like some of you (but unlike many of you), I have never had significant experience with theater (re?) before our time in London. Well, okay, I was a penguin in my local theater’s production of Mary Poppins when I was in third grade, but other than that, I didn’t act, sing, or dance in school plays, high school or college, I was never on a stage crew or in a costume shop, and I didn’t make annual trips to Broadway as a fun family outing. There’s really not much theatre in my town. So, for me, the best theatre experience I’ve had in London was actually our crash course in West End shows by Dickinson alum Rick Fisher.

Rick’s story about his passion for theatre was inspiring, and I remembered it with every production I saw (Les Mis, 39 Steps, etc). I thought of him not only in an attempt to notice aspects of production I wouldn’t have caught before – notably lighting – but because after RIck spoke to us, I realized how many people go into a single production, even when the actual cast is, like in 39 Steps, quite small. Learning the differences between Broadway (from what I knew of it) and the West End was edifying as well, if only so I could feel slightly smarter for having seen a West End show. And while Les Mis was the most fun I had at the theatre, and I wasn’t a huge fan of The Habit of Art, it was nice to try something new, something of a more serious tenor, that I certainly would not have given the time of day in America. (The backstage tour of the National Theatre was definitely educational, but I really didn’t need that detailed of a background about what actually happens backstage – the “here is the revolving drum” stuff doesn’t appeal to me. What I liked was learning about the mission and history of the National Theatre, and looking at the actual venues to hear about why they’re designed that way.)

I didn’t come to London a theatre buff, and I’m not leaving London a theatre buff. But I like to think I’ve expanded my horizons by combining the more pedagogical yet also personal approach by Rick with the actual experience of seeing the plays. Without Rick’s background, I’m not sure I could have enjoyed the productions quite so much. It’s also helpful to be around people who are interested in theatre, and encourage discussion about it after the show (thanks, guys).

Categories: 2010 MaryKate · Theatre

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