After a hiatus due to the pandemic, 13 students from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film returned to study this summer at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, England. The students were in London from May 16 through June 4.
Shakespeare’s Globe is a world-renowned theatre, education center and cultural landmark located on the south bank of the River Thames. It is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan-era playhouse for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays.
The students will share scenes from “The Merchant of Venice” at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 in the Lab Theatre, Temple Building, Room 304. A question-and-answer time with the students who studied abroad will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
“Our team of actors had an intensive three weeks with a whirlwind of activities and a plethora of instructors and perspectives — all of which the group took in stride while finding ways to enjoy their personal interests in their free time,” said Ann Marie Pollard, assistant professor of practice, who accompanied the students. “It was a formative experience of diving deeply into an itinerary built around absorbing as much as possible, while experiencing the highs and lows of being away from home.”
Pollard said students had a wide variety of experiences in London.
“There was enough inspiration to reflect on for months to come,” she said. “London’s vibrant cityscape offered us a thriving theatre scene. Long days with the faculty at Shakespeare’s Globe provided a space to try things out and learn about different ‘ways in’ to the craft of acting, while also supporting and furthering the ongoing training back at home. Teaming up with our Emerging Media Arts colleagues [who were also studying in London] for a 72-hour film festival was great fun and offered touchpoints for discussion and integration.”
Pollard said the round-the-clock opportunities available in a city like London help refuel an artist.
“One of my favorite things about this experience is hearing our young actors enthusiastically recognize the reason why they love theatre while also building a discerning eye for what works for them and what doesn’t,” she said.
Brannon Evans, a senior theatre performance major from Omaha, said studying at Shakespeare’s Globe was an “amazing experience.”
“It was incredible to be doing theatre in a city so full of theatre and art, and to be doing it at such a renowned place,” she said. “It was very inspiring, and the professors were wonderful.”
Evans said attending so many performances was a highlight for her.
“We saw a devised piece, a musical, an experimental immersive show, a National Theatre show and two Shakespeare shows—all fantastic,” she said. “We also saw a lot of scenery and beautiful art.”
Gage Boardman-Allgood, a junior performance major from Valley, Neb., said the experience of studying at Shakespeare’s Globe was not like anything he had experienced before.
“It’s always a really fun experience learning from a new teacher, but getting taught by professionals in a different country with different perspectives was really exciting,” he said. “Overall, it was incredibly inspiring. Seeing the shows, meeting actors and working hard with your classmates and friends all for the same purpose is my favorite part of theatre.”
Boardman-Allgood said stepping onto the Globe stage was special.
“I just remember my classmates and I were just speechless for a few moments as we stepped through the entrance onto the stage and saw just how big the space was,” he said. “You could feel the energy, and there wasn’t even anyone in the audience. It was really cool to be in the space that hundreds of years ago was the birthplace for a lot of the modern theatre we see today. Breathtaking.”
Evans said she was overjoyed to step onto the historic stage.
“I had been to London previously with my family, and we didn’t see the Globe, we only took pictures outside,” she said. “To then go from seeing it in pictures in class to actually walking on the stage—my jaw was on the floor. It was incredible. We had also seen a sneak peek of one of the shows the day before we went to be up there, and that was incredible to me to then walk where they had.”
Mar Hermosillo, a senior performance major from Cozad, Nebraska, learned to appreciate Shakespeare after taking a class with Assistant Professor of Practice Rafael Untalan in the Carson School and knew she wanted to study at the Globe.
“Before I truly knew anything about Shakespeare, I hated him,” she said. “After I took Rafael’s Shakespeare class, my whole mindset changed. I fell in love with Shakespeare and his works and language. I knew I wanted to study abroad as soon as I came to college, and one of the main reasons I was attracted to this theatre program was its study abroad program. So after discovering my new love for Shakespeare and always wanting to visit London, this trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me.”
It was her first study abroad experience.
“Studying abroad can help gauge new and different perspectives than the ones we are used to,” Hermosillo said. “It can help open our minds and horizons into trying new things. Seeing how beautifully different our world is from one another.”
Hermosillo said the experience also helped her make connections.
“Not only did Shakespeare improve my training, but the connections I made at the Globe Theatre will help my professional career,” she said. “In this industry, networking is just as important as the training we do for our craft. Studying at the Globe allowed me to create connections internationally.”
Boardman-Allgood said this experience pushed him further as an actor.
“We had intensive class days, and I would usually return to our hotel rooms absolutely exhausted,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I was always just happy to be learning and happy to be growing. And if I take that same train of thought with me professionally, or even back into class, it’s really going to help me succeed. It’s all worth it because it’s doing what I love.”
Evans said the experience helped her find a balance.
“This helped me find a balance between being disciplined and having fun and playing,” she said. “I got to see firsthand what living in a big city doing theatre is like, and we talked to some professional actors and got tips and insights. I definitely am going to apply the work we did with our professors on voice, movement and text in my classes.”
Boardman-Allgood said studying abroad is something every college student should do.
“We get so stuck in our own ways and perspectives sometimes, and so to see a completely different country just opens up your mind to so much more,” he said. “Especially as an actor, I felt really open creatively.”
The students recommend the study abroad experience in London to other theatre students.
“It was daunting at first, and I didn’t know logistically how I was going to make this trip work, but I would say definitely do that program if you can,” Evans said. “Save and apply for as many scholarships as you can, and things will fall into place as time goes. If Shakespeare is intimidating or if you don’t think you’ll enjoy it, come anyway.”