Department of English

Actors From The London Stage

Actors From The London Stage, now housed at the University of Notre Dame, is an educational and theatrical program that brings a troupe of five classically trained actors from major English theatres to college campuses for week-long residencies.  During their week at the University of Texas, the actors teach approximately 30 classes and workshops and perform minimalist productions of a full-length Shakespeare play – three times at UT and once at Winedale.  Begun in 1975 by Professor Homer Swander of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Patrick Stewart, the British actor, AFTLS's unique program of performance and education has had approximately 350 residences on 150 campuses, including UT Austin in 1979, 1983, and 1999 to present.

The London actors explore the relationship of page and stage, language and meaning: "rehearsing" students in scenes from Shakespeare and other playwrights, helping them to examine the many ways scenes can be understood and performed, leading them in analyzing and speaking verse, teaching them about metrical stresses and rhythm, cues, blocking, stage breathing, and the like.  The actors work with English and drama majors; students in foreign languages, communications, speech, music, history, classics, psychology; as well as with high schoolers and members of the community.  Their one-actor shows have been performed in residence halls and retirement communities, in auditoria and open areas, in coffee houses and student unions.


Actors From The London Stage at the University of Texas at Austin is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English.  The full-length plays with five actors playing all the parts are minimalist in terms of props and staging, intimate and compelling.  The performances emphasize language, characterization, and dramatic energy; the results are startlingly clear and powerful, even magical, for audiences of all ages in a way that large-scale productions in the big theaters of Stratford, London, and New York can never be.

The residencies not only add a unique dimension to UT's education mission, but also strengthen other programs that depend on UT's links with the English theatre, since many of the same people are involved with those as well.  For example, one of the Austin AFTLS performances takes place in Winedale's theatre barn, and the students in the Oxford Program's Shakespeare in Performance course attend Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre productions in Stratford and London which often have AFTLS actors in them and then meet in workshops with them. 

If you would like to request an actor to teach a class for you, please fill out the AFTLS Faculty Request Form. Please note that a request does not guarantee an actor for your class (we often receive more requests than there are teaching slots), but we will accommodate as many requests as possible, giving preference, if necessary, to those received first.  If your request is accepted, you will need to attend a supper meeting with the actors on the first Monday of the residency to discuss the teaching assignment.

For more information on the AFTLS residency in the fall, contact Professor David Kornahber or Liz Fisher.