London Theater (summer 2016)

PROFESSORS: Peter Decherney (email) & Michael Billington

TIME:  class Tue/Thursdays 10am-12pm; plays are 7:30pm

PLACE: 45 Russell Square

READING: Guardian Reviews (check regularly); suggested: Shakespeare Online


1) Class participation (40 points)

2) JOURNALS due by email before 1pm every Monday. (40 points). Each week we will see three plays. Choose one of the plays to REVIEW. Reviews should be no more than 500 words. See below for some guidelines. In addition, you will write a 250-word JOURNAL ENTRY about each of the remaining plays. That is a total of three entries each week (one review and two journal entries). All due by email (please paste the text into your email and do not send your reviews as attachments).

3) SHORT ESSAY due by email August 12th (20 points): Write a 1500-word essay reflecting on your London theater experience. Write about one large claim you can make after seeing a season of plays in London. You should refer to specific plays but try to think about the big picture. Can you draw conclusions about the city of London, British culture, the function of theater in society, or the summer of 2016, etc.?


1) Make every sentence count.

2) Don’t summarize the plot but tell us what it is about.

3) Pay attention to the acting, direction, and production design.

4) What is new or different about this play (if anything)? If it is a revival, how does it diverge from expectations?

5) How does it relate to the current moment (artistically, politically, culturally, etc.)?

A different take.


June 20) Henry V (Regents Park Open Air Theatre)

June 21) The Invisible Hand (Tricycle)

June 22) The Philanderer by GB Shaw (Orange Tree Theatre)

June 27) Three Penny Opera (National Theatre)

June 28) Blue Orange (Young Vic)

June 29) Vassa Zhelexnov (Southwark Playhouse) (starts 8pm)

July 4) Taming of the Shrew (Globe)

July 5) It’s Easy to Be Dead (Finborough Theater)

July 6) Cuttin It (Royal Court)

July 11) The Deep Blue Sea (National Theatre)

July 12) Orwell’s 1984 (London Playhouse)

July 13) Boys Will Be Boys (Bush Theatre)

July 19) Tour of National Theatre (meet at 12:45pm)

July 20) Unreachable (Royal Court)