Jolien van der Burgt is from the Netherlands, studies in Belgium, and was a PAA Technical Theatre Intern in London this summer. Since I’m probably the only living person on this planet who never read 1984 by George Orwell, I…
Explore the wide diversity of theatre in London, using the city as your classroom and receiving 5 academic credits in three weeks from the renowned University of Roehampton in a course called “Introduction to the London Stage.” You will engage with a wide variety of theatre, from the major subsidised companies, through the commercial West End to smaller fringe venues and productions. Weekly visits to new or recent events in the capital are introduced with a critical context and are discussed the following week within seminar groups. As part of the seminars, you will explore a range of strategies for analysing dramatic texts in production and reading live performance.
During the course, you will be introduced to a range of dramatic forms, conventions and aesthetics, which are employed on current London stages. You will be encouraged to identify trends in productions and analyse the social and cultural contexts through which they are formed and constructed. You will explore the relationship between contemporary theatre practices and specific periods of theatre history, i.e. the influence of earlier dramatic forms, conventions, contemporary stagings of classics, and contemporary responses and reworkings of the canonical texts/productions.
The course will focus on plays which are currently running in repertory in the London theatre, and you will have an opportunity to visit the latest productions of major subsidized companies such as the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Globe Theatre, new-writing theatres such as the Royal Court, through to smaller ‘fringe’ theatres and productions at alternative venues.
Just one unforgettable experience. I made friends for life and I discovered what kind of path I want to make in my career. I also discovered things about myself I didn’t know before. I wish it never ended.
Performing Arts Points of Interest
One of the many famous West End theatres, Queen’s Theatre is in the Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square area of London. The theatre is most notable for housing the world famous musical Les Miserables since 2004 after its run at the Palace Theatre for 19 years prior.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by William Shakespeare’s company the “Lord Chamberlin’s Men” and was rebuilt in 1614 after a fire destroyed the original. The latest version of the theatre, renamed “Shakespeare’s Globe,” opened in 1997. Travel back in time and attend a Shakespeare play in the unique open-air theatre.
Royal Court Theatre
Hailed by the New York Times as “the most important theatre in Europe,” the Royal Court Theatre is located next to the Sloane Square Station. The theatre is known for being a huge proponent and supporter of local playwrights in order to cultivate an authentic, diverse selection of plays for the public.
“The undisputed epicenter of new writing in this country.” -Time Out
“It’s hard not to rave about the Royal Court.” -Guardian
PAA Home Base
Throughout your program in London, your home base will be the University of Roehampton. You will stay in a single room and attend lectures on campus, although much of your learning will happen in the theatres of London as you attend a wide range of performances. Roehampton is located about a half hour commute from the center of London, tucked away on a beautiful campus near the tennis club where Wimbledon is played, complete with green fields, quaint ponds, and families of geese roaming the grounds.
About the Location
London is one of the most important cities in the world for theatre, with more performances per capita than any other destination where PAA runs programs. Perhaps no other area in the world can boast the variety and quality of theatre performance and technical skill one may find in the theaters of London.
London’s exciting energy is contagious and will have you hooked the moment you arrive. In addition to the vibrant theatre scene, you will have the chance to explore the historical, political, and cultural landmarks of the city with other participants. From Big Ben to Westminster Abbey, learn what it means to call London home. London is a worthwhile destination for even a short visit, and the ideal place for a three-week course exploring London theatre.
You will be immersed in the life of a British student by living in student villages right on campus. You will have your own room (with most rooms having their own ensuite bathroom) in a six to eight bedroom campus flat that you share with other British and international students. You will have a spacious common area as well as a full kitchen. Take advantage of this small group setting to build friendships and community while you study abroad. Classroom buildings, the student center, and restaurants are all nearby. Enjoy the independence of living in your own room while still creating lasting relationships with other students.
All rooms are single rooms on this program, so no need to fret about a roommate! You will share other amenities such as a kitchen (and in some cases a bathroom) with other summer students. For your cultural excursions led by our Site Director Anna, you will be joined by over a dozen other students and interns who are in London for a variety of programs. London is Performing Arts Abroad’s most popular destination and summer is the most popular time to go. We have up to 50 participants in the city throughout the summer, joined by even more participants from other study abroad partner organizations. You will have no shortage of friends to make and fellow performing artists to meet!
A Day in the Life
The Participant Experience
Enjoy the perfect balance of bustling city life and the retreat of a serene university campus. Your homebase during the program is the many beautiful rolling acres of the University of Roehampton, tucked away in northern London near Wimbledon stadium. Most days however, you will take the short bus ride to the heart of the city to explore the wide variety of theatre venues and performances. Plenty of free time gives you the chance to cross off any bucket list items, such as evensong at Westminster Abbey, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, or the Harry Potter Studio Tour where you can see the incredible movie sets and tiny universe of the Harry Potter universe.
You will book your flight to arrive at Heathrow Airport in London (LHR) between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on the arrival date. A PAA Roehampton representative will be waiting at a pre-arranged meeting point, and you will be directed to a Roehampton bus that will take you to campus.
Upon arrival on campus you will be given your room key and taken to your housing by Roehampton staff. Your first afternoon will be a chance to unpack, settle in, meet other students, and join a Roehampton welcome dinner. The following day, Roehampton will lead several on-site orientation activities so that you will be prepared for your experience in London and can begin to get to know other students. The next day, PAA’s Site Director Anna will meet you to take you out for a Welcome Meal and an additional orientation. This orientation will include important information about the city, an overview of British culture, information about the performing arts scene in London, food, transportation, and other need-to-knows. During this time Anna will also answer any questions you have and will provide you with a Hop-on / Hop-off bus pass so you can explore London on your own, including tickets to a boat tour on the iconic River Thames that runs through the heart of London.
A Typical Day
The following few days will include additional pre-class activities, until classes begin on June 11th. For the rest of the program, you will be living on campus going to class and exploring the city as a student in London. We will provide excursions and cultural activities throughout your three weeks, which you will attend with other students on the program.
Broaden your understanding of the stage, and the history of performance and international theatre with this summer study abroad program. Professors at Roehampton specialize in all areas of performance studies, and this course uses the city itself as its classroom. PAA students benefit from small class sizes and are immersed in the courses with local Londoners as well as international students. Roehampton University is located 20 minutes from London’s bustling downtown, offering diverse courses and filled with historically picturesque buildings. Thanks to Roehampton’s unparalleled international student support and its friendly, lively campus, you will feel at home the minute you step on campus.
Founder and Executive Director
Reynolds graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008 with a degree in Theater and African and African American Studies. For an honors thesis Reynolds filmed, edited, and produced a full-length documentary in Kenya with Haba na Haba, a group using performance for education and social change in the slums of Nairobi. This project earned him the Forum on Education Abroad Undergraduate Research Award. A year later, Reynolds organized a trip to bring Haba na Haba to the United States for a tour of St. Louis and Washington University. Immediately after graduation, Reynolds worked in Rwanda as a filmmaker for Millennium Congregations, an interfaith organization connecting communities of faith in the United States with development projects in Rwanda’s Bugesera District. Reynolds then served two years with Teach for America, teaching in the South Bronx and receiving a Masters Degree in Education from Hunter College. He completed a second graduate degree in African Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington, and his Masters thesis focused on the impact of donors on the creative process of Theatre for Development (TfD) groups in Kenya.
Reynolds has traveled extensively in Africa, spending time in Ghana, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also studied acting, voice, and movement at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Reynolds is a two-time Rhodes Scholarship finalist, the inaugural recipient of the Dred and Harriet Scott Award for the Advancement of Human Rights, and the winner of two research fellowships. He was also a Dialogue Fellow for the Xenia Institute, has twice served as the co-director for the Roosevelt Institution’s International Diplomacy Center (Washington University branch), and was president of the Graduate Students of African Studies (GSAS) at Indiana University.
Reynolds lives in Northampton, MA with his wife Julia who is a professional costume designer and all around wonderful person. In his free time Reynolds likes to play his guitar, go hiking, act in local productions, hit the karaoke bars, sing with his dog Captain (the best doggy singer in the universe), and play various yard games such as KanJam, cornhole, “cups”, and Kubb.
London Site Director
Anna supports all participants on our programs in London, acting as the main point of contact throughout their stay in the United Kingdom. She coordinates airport pickup, arranges housing, leads cultural excursions, and manages the 24-hour onsite emergency phone.
Anna holds a B.A. in English and German from Ca’Foscari University of Venice. The Italian village where she was born was never enough for her and from a young age she decided she wanted to see the world and meet a lot of people from different cultures. Fascinated by foreign languages and traveling she first studied abroad in London when she was in high school and then at Humboldt Universität in Berlin a few years after. New York City holds a special place in her heart, ever since she was an intern at the Italian Cultural Institute there.
After volunteering and working for the not-for-profit association AFS Intercultural Program helping hundreds of high school students enroll and prepare for their experience abroad, she moved to London and focused on working with university students. She loves West End musicals, fashion, drinking green tea, spending time at the V&A museum, studying Korean and backpacking throughout Southeast Asia.
London Program Director, Roehampton
Rhys acts as the university contact for PAA students studying at Roehampton on semester or summer programs. He finalizes course schedules, coordinates university orientation events, provides academic advising, and acts as a liaison between PAA and Roehampton’s academic departments of dance and theatre.
Rhys is the Study Abroad Manager at the University of Roehampton. He graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in Modern Languages having spent a year researching the televised media and working in France, and volunteering in Ecuador. Rhys and his team work closely with Performing Arts Abroad throughout a student’s time in London to ensure they return home having had a transformative experience.
Despite a Tony-worthy performance in a school production of a TS Eliot play, Rhys today finds himself much more at home seated in front of the stage rather than performing on it. A long time resident of London, he enjoys the performing arts across the city from world-class productions at the National Theatre to exciting new works off-West End. Drop by the office to discuss cheap ticket strategies.
Rhys firmly believes there is no city quite like London and no campus as friendly as Roehampton. He can’t wait to meet you in person.
My semester at Roehampton was a life-changing experience. With the incredible help of PAA, I was able to spend five indescribable months studying theatre in London. I met people from all over the world, saw game-changing theatre all over the city, and learned so much not only about theatre, but also myself.
“I had a great time while studying abroad. I learned so much. I would honestly do it again if given the opportunity. I met a lot of amazing people and I hope that what I learned serves me well in the future.”
“It was amazing to meet people from all around the world that share with me passions and dreams. This goes over any cultural difference. The city was great and the classes very interesting and useful, I hope to have the chance to do another program like this again!”
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There are no sessions of this program currently available for enrollment.