Oberlin-in-London Blogs

Lying in wait
››› December 17, 2011 | Posted By Prof. David Walker '72

As you can see, life here on the London Blogs has not exactly been a hive of activity in the last few months. That's because (1) um, we're not in London yet, and (2) we've all had other responsibilities and activities to concentrate on this semester. But there's a good deal of pent-up excitement simmering just under the surface, and in a little over a month you should start seeing much more evidence of it here.

This was the first year we recruited all the London students nearly a full year in advance. It's been great--for both students and faculty--in terms of planning ahead: the students could choose their courses for the fall in relation to what they knew they'll be studying in London in the spring, and Marc and I (and our administrative director in London, Donna Vinter) have had lots of useful lead time. Still, it's a long time to wait, and the sensible among us have kept everything in proportion during the summer and fall by fully investing in the present moment and not thinking too much about London.

Needless to say, this does not describe me! Largely because I've been on sabbatical leave this semester, I've had entirely too much time to look ahead, plan, scheme, and otherwise project myself into the future. Part of this has been necessary: I have, for instance, needed to devote a considerable amount of time to researching what plays will be available in London in the spring, in order to decide which ones to take my students to. Since some of them will be produced in quite small studio theaters, and I knew others would be much in demand, I needed to be able to pounce on tickets the day they went on sale. As a result, as of today I've bought tickets for 26 (and counting!) productions for my class.

For anyone interested in theater, this represents a really golden opportunity. You'll be hearing more about what we're seeing and studying later, but the plays range from the classics:

to brand-new work:

to outside-the-box adventures:

The Devil and Mr Punch from Mister Punch on Vimeo.

I'm thrilled about all of this, of course. I know how much of an impact seeing this many plays, and this wide a range of productions, can have on the students, many of whom haven't had the chance to see professional theater before.

(The London Stage course is obviously a central part of the English curriculum this semester. But the Politics students will also have the chance to experience London theater: we've acquired tickets for them to seven plays that pertain to the issues that they'll be studying.)

Just as the course has evolved from an abstraction to a concrete set of plans, there have been other recent milestones that have helped the program come into focus. The students registered for courses, and they got the addresses of their flats--I think being able to locate where they'll be living on a map makes it feel more real. And just a couple of weeks ago, I got together with my students to discuss some last-minute details, as did Marc with his. It was the first time all my students had been assembled, since a couple hadn't been able to make our earlier meetings, and I have to say it felt great. I'm really looking forward to working with them.

The next time we see each other will be the end of January, in London.

Stay tuned.

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