Thaddeus is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2017, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A BFA major at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, he is studying abroad in London this semester.
In this week's post, Thaddeus ventures off to Brighton and reflects on the theater scene in London.
After a tiring week of classes, I was in desperate need to see the sun. The BFA course schedule often starts us off from 9 am to 10:30 pm, so I definitely needed to find some time to let myself be free from school and studying for a day.
I was off for Brighton at 5:30 am on Friday, early—and I almost regretted it until I stepped off the train and wandered through the sunrise lanes of Brighton. Everything from the white houses to the paler white commercial buildings made the sunshine glow even in some of the smallest always streets in the Lanes.
I sat by the water for a good while just taking in the ocean. It's a very peaceful change of scene out of the fast-paced London schedule. I took a lot of time to write about some of my experiences this week in my personal journal, and it was a very good way to summarize and find reflection on some of the questions I have had about this week's work.
A lot of those thoughts had been about the inspirational work I saw at the Globe this week performing Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing.' The production for me was the perfect culmination of design, topics, creative storytelling, and honest use of the text. And as my acting company and myself are trying to find the most beneficial technical ways to put Shakespeare on a stage with effective storytelling, it was a relief to see some proof to the daily questions and challenges we have to overcome whilst learning that craft.
I think so far the London theater scene has been very intense, and many actors show that intensity and craftsmanship in their performances. So far I have not seen one piece of theater here that I have disliked—because actors are giving their full selves to their work with care for the storytelling and not indulgent artistry. This London theater community seems to thrive in that mentality and vigor and is something that I would like to bring in my work when I return to the United States.
But that mentality threads out well to the rest of the city and how people go about their days. To speak frankly: London is a city that revels in vanity. I think it has to do with the history of the culture and those living here. I don't mean to say that vanity is a negative influence, but it is something that drives culture here. Theater can sometimes feel that way in its attendance, especially since tickets can default to over 60 pounds for one seat. I think that is because the theater has become more of a privilege here in the U.K., rather than a necessity for a community.
The wealth this city wields is still very supportive of its ability to make theater accessible to the majority. So with these price premiums and theatrical vanity, it is sometimes hard for me to keep thinking of integrity to my community as an artist.
I think that is possibly one of the greatest challenges of what I am studying—the truth of it is that it will never be as blissful or truthful as anyone thinks it can be, because theater now lives in the realm of being a privilege to hear stories rather than a right to hear stories.
I am interested to explore more of this idea as I travel and see global performances and how that thought may alter in my travels outside of the U.K.
Until next time.
Thaddeus's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.