Standout Shakespeare Troupe Returns to Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall for Ninth Season

October 9, 2014
5 actors on stage

Actors From The London Stage (AFTLS) is one of the oldest and most respected touring Shakespeare companies in the world, and this week, they will bring the Bard’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing to vivid life for three performances only at Wellesley: October 9, 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. in Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall Auditorium.

Much Ado About Nothing’s Beatrice and Benedick are two of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters. Their tale of mismatched love, loss, and witty repartee is told in AFTLS’ signature minimalist style, and the troupe delights with verbal, physical, and theatrical dexterity.

The Much Ado About Nothing ensemble includes tour veterans Paul O’Mahony and Jack Whitam, with Al Barclay, Claire Redcliffe, and Georgina Strawson completing the cast.

Coming from such prestigious venues as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre of Great Britain, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, these classically trained actors are equally dedicated to presenting first-rate professional performances at American colleges and universities, and to working with students to bring Shakespeare’s work alive. Part of their stated mission is to “get students up out of their chairs and act with them to learn how Shakespeare’s texts become scripts, words become actions, and actions become meaning.”

And get up they do. As expressed by Erin Nealer ’15 of the Shakespeare Society: “For all four years I've been here, we've gone en masse to see their performances—usually more than once—and then invited the actors back to the Shakespeare Society's house to decompress and chat. They are always so excited to meet young people who are interested in talking about theater, Shakespeare, and life as an actor, and we've ended up sitting around the kitchen table quoting speeches at each other on multiple occasions.”

AFTLS will be at Wellesley for a weeklong residency, October 6-11, 2014. In addition to performing, they will teach workshops for Wellesley’s Theatre Studies Program and English Department students during the week.

"It is the most successful, exciting, and thoroughly professional experience we could wish for our students,” says Nora Hussey, director of Wellesley’s Theatre Studies Program. “In the classes they teach and the workshops they offer, they are the high point of the academic year for the Theatre and English Departments. Every year we are graced with artistry and dedication that is inspirational and life affirming. The work extends far beyond the public performances to the very fabric of college life."

This will be AFTLS’s ninth visit to the Wellesley campus. Past productions include the IRNE award winning production of Othello, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, Macbeth, and Hamlet.

The Wellesley College Theatre Studies Program and the Department of English, with the generous support of the Committee on Lectures and Cultural Events, the Frye Martinson Fund, the Finnegan Fund, the Wilson Fund, the Harman Cain Family Foundation, the Treves Fund, and the Ruth Nagel Jones Fund, present these free performances.