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5 Reasons You Should Study Theatre in London

This post is part of our #PAA5Years Scholarship celebration.  In honor of 2016 being our 5th year of operation we’re offering scholarships to favorite programs in FIVE different destinations.  Today we’re highlighting London where our RADA and West End Training programs are both eligible for scholarships up to $1000.  Click here for more information.

OK, let’s just be honest. I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here. I’ve been acting professionally and in school for over a decade, and I think I can safely say that there is a higher concentration of anglophiles in the Theatre than any other profession. Maybe it’s Shakespeare, maybe it’s the long history of amazing British actors, maybe it’s the BBC dramas we all watch, or heck, maybe it’s just the cool accents, but we all want to go to England. Well guess what? You absolutely should. Not just to visit—to study!  To study theatre!   So, preaching to the choir notwithstanding, here are some reasons you should totally go.

  1. Move over Broadway, London is officially the Theatre capital of the world.

national-theatre copyYes, you read that right. The Great White Way may dominate the American psyche as the cornerstone of (especially Musical) Theatre, but according to a recent study, London has a bigger theatre audience. Bigger than any other city in the world in fact! Live theater generates more revenue that cinemas, and shows that start in London get exported around the world. You want to go where Theatre is sewn into the fabric of life more than anywhere else? You’ve got to go to London.

  1. Tickets are cheaper…

This one is especially on my mind because I’m going to New York City in a couple of months, and I thought I my try to see a show on Broadway while I’m there. Why not check out what’s popular right now? After looking into it I decided I didn’t want to spend twice the cost of my plane ticket on a single seat in the nosebleed section. Broadway tickets are crazy expensive, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to buy them from the theatre itself. When you have to turn to one of those second hand ticket sellers, it can get downright obscene.

Meanwhile, the average ticket price for a West End show is $70—significantly cheaper than Broadway—and people there are freaking out about how high that is. If the cost of tickets gets too high, so they say, only the older and more affluent will be able to attend and that’s seen as a huge problem.  Gee that sounds like it would be terr–wait a sec.

3. …which means a much wider cross section of the population attends shows in London.

When I went to London I saw at least one show every day from large to small venues and I was amazed at the age range of the audiences—at least compared to the US. It has a lot to do with those lower ticket prices (I’ve written about this before, but the government subsidizes non-profit theatre, so even the big commercial theaters have to keep their prices lower to compete) but it’s also just a cultural thing.

According to research done by Ticketmaster:

Theatre is more popular than attending sports events or concerts – 63% of the UK population has attended theatre in the last year, compared with 53% for concerts and 47% for going to sporting events.” And “16-19 year olds are more likely to attend the theatre than any other age group.”

There’s actually quite a lot more where that came from; you should check out that whole article here.

As I said last time: “It’s cheap enough that people—like, regular, normal, real people—can go. It sounds like a magical fantasyland from over on this side of the Atlantic.”

  1. History

I’m amazed I’ve been able to restrain myself from talking about this dude for so long:

Shakespeare shades

This is what comes up when you search for “Badass Shakespeare.”

It should come as no surprise that the country that invented the language has gotten pretty good at writing and speaking it. I’m proud of America’s playwrights and our contribution to English Drama, but come on. Shakespeare was spittin’ verse a century before we (as a country) were even born, and they haven’t stopped since.

badass shakespeare

Also this

  1. It’s not like America hasn’t produced many fine actors but…

Look, I’m not dissing American actors. We’ve got greats like Brando, De Niro, and Hoffman. I’m just saying when they cast a wizard in a movie, they’re not gonna call Al Pacino if you know what mean. ianSeriously, what is the deal with the gravitas those Brits have on stage and screen? It’s not just the accent; it’s a different style and philosophy of training. A style and philosophy that you can learn at places like RADA (yes this has officially turned into a plug.) Basically, go! Go study in London and see what it’s about!


Ben Abbott is the Outreach Coordinator for Performing Arts Abroad, so if you have some reaching out to do…he won’t do it for you, but he can help coordinate it.

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