Carson School students study at Shakespeare’s Globe in London
calendar icon12 Aug 2019 user iconBy Kathe C. Andersen
Lincoln, Neb.--Eighteen students from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film studied internationally this summer at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, England, thanks to support from the Hixson-Lied Endowment. They were accompanied by Assistant Professor of Practice Wesley Broulik.
Alejandro Alarcon, a junior performance major from Sutton, Nebraska, was one of the students on the trip.
“There is nothing like experiencing Shakespeare in the atmosphere it was meant to be performed in,” he said. “We had some of the most incredible professors teaching us a bit of everything.”
Grace Debetaz, a junior performance major from Houston, Texas, agreed.
“It was a very engaging and empowering experience to study at Shakespeare’s Globe,” she said. “The staff was incredibly professional and treated us like young professionals, which was refreshing. It felt like a dream come true to be studying somewhere I’ve only read about in books, and everyone we encountered had something valuable to teach us.”
Kami Cooper, a junior performance major from Kerrville, Texas, described the experience as “exhilarating.”
“I’ve wanted to visit the Globe since middle school, and it was much more fun than I could have expected,” Cooper said. “It was a landslide of learning new things and geeking out as a performer.”
She also said it was one of the factors that made her choose to study theatre at Nebraska.
“The study abroad program to study at the Globe was one of the reasons I chose to attend UNL,” she said. “Shakespeare is such an important part of an actor’s repertoire, and I know there’s no better place to study it than London.”
Michael Zavodny, a junior performance major from Malcolm, Nebraska, said the history alone was inspiring.
“The Globe Theatre is almost an exact recreation of the original Globe Theatre, built in 1599 and later destroyed by fire,” he said. “Performing and studying there gae you a real glimpse at what life and theatre was like in Shakespeare’s time, and it helped to put Shakespeare, the man, and his work in stronger context. Plus, living and studying in an ancient city like London was so interesting. You’re surrounded by medieval buildings and museums mixed in with modern architecture and modern life, but history is around every corner.”
Debetaz said the class performed in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which is an indoor, candlelit theatre, but they also had the chance to stand on the stage of the outdoor Globe Theatre.
“The experience was pretty emotional for me,” she said. “It felt like a milestone in my life to be somewhere that represented both the past and history of my passion, as well as my professional future ahead of me. It’s definitely a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The indoor theatre made me feel similarly. It became our rehearsal space instead of some mythic stage that only the ‘real’ professionals got to perform on. It made me feel like no matter what stage I encounter, I can make it my home.”
Zavodny said another highlight for the trip was the opportunity to see so much live theatre while they were in London.
“London is one of the theatre and art capitals of the world,” he said. “The ability to see really great professional theatre almost daily was an eye-opening experience for me, especially coming from the rural Midwest, where we don’t have a lot of opportunities to see that kind of work often. It gave me a whole new outlook on what’s possible artistically. The biggest surprise was how inexpensive and accessible it all was. The performing arts and museums are heavily subsidized by the U.K. government, so most museums were free, and most theatres offered show tickets affordable for college students.”
Alarcon, along with senior performance majors Karen Richards and Maria Smal, earned Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for their study abroad to London. The Gilman is a nationally competitive scholarship awarded three times a year by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education.
“Receiving the Gilman Scholarship was such an honor,” Alarcon said. “I am incredibly grateful for programs like this that make it possible for first-generation college students like myself to see things they only ever dreamed of. I never in my life would have imagined myself studying Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre in London, yet here I am with all these incredible tools and memories that have changed my life.”
Debetaz said the experience has taught her to see more theatre and encourages others to do the same.
“One thing I’m taking away from the trip is the habit of seeing shows more often, and I think it’s something everyone should try to do,” she said. “The Nebraska Rep, Theatrix, UNL Opera and Lazzi are just some of the groups constantly creating in Lincoln. Consider supporting your community in this way.”
Zavodny said he will remember many things about the trip, including standing on the stage in the San Wanamaker Playhouse and standing in the pit of the outdoor stage of the Globe to watch The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, Part I.
“I just want to say thank you to all of the people out there who help to financially support these programs,” he said. “The impact on students, both personally and professionally, is life-changing.”