March 19 – 25, 2018
From Shakespeare to Coward to Pinter to Churchill, theater is and has been embedded in the fabric of England’s identity for centuries. On this seven-day journey accompanied by a New York Times expert, delve into the world of London theater with artists and artisans who work to create and maintain it, and explore the social, political and financial aspects of the theater.
The cultural significance and import placed on theater not just as an art form but as a historical and political mirror is evident from the smallest experimental theater to the stages of the West End. Peek behind the curtains, discuss the institution of theater in London, contrast governmental funding of the arts in the United States compared to England, and meet some of the artists and artisans who are imbued with the enormous task of keeping this incredible tradition alive. With prime seats to performances and exclusive access to venues and people, this is a theater lover’s fantasy journey.
Scott Heller is the deputy editor of Arts & Leisure and the theater editor of The New York Times. He joined The Times in 2010 from The Boston Globe, where he had served as arts editor. Mr. Heller, a Brooklyn native, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he also earned an M.A. in American Studies.
Welcome to London
Arrive in London and meet your expert and fellow Times travelers for a private afternoon tea at the fabled Savoy Hotel. A theater artist or artisan might join you.
Setting the Stage
This morning, meet with your Times expert to delve into the world of London theater. Among other topics of note and in anticipation of your afternoon visit to the National Theatre, discuss the import the government places on arts funding in the United States versus in Britain. The National has been an important source of some of Broadway’s finest plays, including “The History Boys,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” and “The Pillowman.” This afternoon, visit the impressive National Theatre itself for a backstage tour and a meeting with a member of its staff. Following dinner as a group, take prime seats to one of the National’s offerings.
After lunch as a group, take in a matinee performance at one of London’s premier nonprofit venues such as the Menier Chocolate Factory or the Donmar Warehouse. These theaters have ever-increasing relationships with New York theaters, and you will explore these ties and their import from the vantage point of both countries. This evening, attend a performance in the West End. Perhaps you will get to meet cast members after the show. Dinner is on your own.
A discussion of England’s rich theater tradition and its contribution to the world stage must include William Shakespeare. This morning, meet with a Shakespeare director or actor who will take you on a journey into the world of Shakespeare’s text. Then visit Shakespeare’s Globe for a visit to its museum and an exclusive discussion with an artisan who will discuss the intricacies of designing or performing Shakespeare. After dinner, explore one of the Globe’s offerings from prime seats.
Working on London stages requires rigorous training. This morning, meet with a student or faculty member from one of London’s premier training programs to get a glimpse of where actors or playwrights begin their study. Take the afternoon to explore London on your own before an evening theatrical offering. This selection will focus on a contemporary playwright at a venue such as the Royal Court or the Young Vic. Perhaps you will have the chance to visit a pub or Fringe theater such as the one that spawned the comedy hit “The Play That Goes Wrong,” which opened on Broadway in 2017.
The Final Curtain
This morning, meet with your expert for a final discussion. After enjoying one last offering on one of London’s premier stages, bid adieu to your fellow Times travelers with a farewell reception and dinner.
After breakfast, depart the hotel for individual flights home.
Hotel Royal Horseguards
Located in Central London overlooking the River Thames, this five-star property is a prime example of a refurbished Victorian building. There is a fully equipped gym, and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.