Jack Hrkach

Professor Emeritus, Theatre Arts

Title

The Ithaca College London Center

 I write this section in order to help educate future IC theatre students about the exciting semester they can spend at our London Center (ICLC). I write also for current students who may be unsure if they should go to London or not. If you want visuals, just click on my photo galleries on this website and you'll see more than 40 pics of some of what you can expect in a semester at ICLC. By the way, if you are reading this and have completed a semester at ICLC, you might want to join my facebook group Long Live the Ithaca College London Center, which has nearly 400 members! I'll begin my description of ICLC by offering a slightly amended version of the description of the ICLC experience on our department website:

The Ithaca College London Center (ICLC) program is a vital part of many theatre students’ experience during their four years at Ithaca College, offering the chance to experience the rich dramatic heritage of one of the great theatrical capitals. Theatre students usually attend the London semester in their junior year. In order to ensure that balanced numbers of students attend ICLC and that balanced numbers remain at the home campus in order to build, cast, and otherwise staff plays in our theater season, design/tech students and management students consult with their faculty on a year-to-year basis. B.F.A. acting majors go to ICLC can go in the fall or spring semester, and B.F.A. musical theater majors attend only in the spring semester. B.A. drama majors head to London either semester. 

Most students center their curriculum around a nine-credit course called Interrelationships: British Drama and Cultural Life. This exciting, experiential class features lectures, discussions, intensive readings of British drama, as well as weekly theatrical walks through London streets, theaters, and museums. In addition, students see plays approximately twice a week, and guest lecturers enhance the learning experience. The course is currently taught by a professor who holds a Ph.D. in theatre AND who is a certified London tour guide. In this sense it is unique among study abroad courses in London.

Other courses in the core theater program include Stage Combat, Introduction to British Styles of Acting, geared for B.A. drama majors, Styles of Acting for B.F.A. performance students, and Applied Voice for musical theater majors. A program requirement for most theater students, Shakespeare, is offered regularly. Internships are available in several areas including management, technical theater, and stage management. Design students frequently enroll in British art and architecture classes. And a variety of other classes are available at ICLC.

For students who may not want the intensive 9-credit experience offered in Interrelationships, or for those who are double majors and need to take courses outside the theatre curriculum during their stay in London, ICLC offers a 3-credit course called Drama and the London Theatre (DLT). This course is open to non-majors as well as theatre majors. Students go on some outings, and see 9 or 10 plays in the course of a semester. What this course lacks in intensity, it makes up for in freedom to choose several other courses, in and outside the theatre curriculum during their stay in London. For certain students, then, it could be appropriate to choose DLT over Interrelationships.

While most courses are not required by the department, up to two classes (6 credits) of requirements for the B.A. degree in Drama can be satisfied by going to ICLC. Variations on this are true for other programs in Theatre Arts. Potential students, ask the person interviewing you to explain this aspect, current students, ask your adviser." 

Particularly if you are a potential student, have a look at the following facebook profile/group/pages:

Ithaca College London Center: http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/Ithaca-College-Lond…

Long Live the Ithaca College London Center!: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=29838513069  

and at these two blogs, the first written (and illustrated with excellent photographs) by Lucy Gram, A BA Drama student attending the London Center in Fall 2010; the second written by the powers that be (Bill Sheasgreen, director, Sarah Davies, office manager, and Claire Mokrauer-Madden, administrative assistant and IC theatre alum):

http://www.ithaca.edu/see_london/  

http://theiclc.blogspot.com/

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In summer 2008 I conducted a survey of ICLC theatre alums who attended the Center between 1992 and 2008. I received well over 200 responses and learned a lot, including that the theatre program is undoubtedly the program most praised by former students than any other in the college!  Rather than rambling on about my own assessment of the program, I'd prefer to use quotations from these responses to give you an idea of how positively students feel about ICLC. I have used many quotes from BA Drama students, but have also felt free to include remarks from students in other theatre degree programs. I have attempted to break the responses down into categories, but as you will see, many overlap and repeat the most important points. The semester and year next to the alum's name and degree program refer to the semester/year they were in London, not the year they graduated. In case my abbreviations are unclear, here is a breakdown:

ACT = B.F.A., Acting

BA = B.A., Drama

MT = B.F.A., Musical Theatre

TAM B.S., Theatre Arts Management

TPA = B.F.A., Theatrical Production Arts

Short Enthusiastic General Statements:

It was the best part of my college experience. Jay Cohen BA  fall 2003

YES...go abroad! Amanda Curry BA spring 2000

YES!!!! Absolutely! Best thing I did in my whole college experience! Shelly Mazzanoble, BA spring 1993

 I had such a wonderful experience. I learned so much about myself and the world!! Thank you!! Amy Monroe BA spring 2002

It was a life changing experience. Rebecca Sumsky BA fall 2000

It changed my life. Chris Mollica BA Spring 2002

Its life-changing! Jeffrey Schara MT  spring 2008

One of the best things I have done in my life. Allen McCrae BA spring 2002

Studying abroad at the ICLC was probably the best experience of my life! Erik McIntyre TAM fall 07

Going to ICLC was the best experience of my life. Krista Woltersdorf BA spring 2003

It was the best 4 months of my life, and the greatest preparation lesson i could have received before graduating. Janelle Velasquez MT spring 03

 Long Live London and Its Center of Greatness! Larry Mudge BA fall 2004

That tall, narrow building is a hallowed place for those of us who attended. Allison Nega ACT spring 1999

People need to get out and see the world... nuff said. Kirsten Carter BA spring 2002

Interrelationships:

Interrelationships was a great class, helping me learn all about the history of London, and the history of British theatre. Janelle Velasquez MT spring 2003

I felt that Interrelationships was a turning point in my understanding of the function of theater in society, nothing really drives that home like standing in the exact place where a historical event occurred, connecting the past and the present all the while being immersed in the thriving contemporary London theater scene. Kim Tierney fall 1999 BA

I think that Interrelationships was one of the best courses I've ever taken, both academically and personally. I really learned a lot about London theatre and really enjoyed seeing all the plays and the walking tours. My Interrelationships Journal is something that I will treasure forever... Mo Tantawi BA spring 2001

Where else can you read an Oscar Wilde play, visit the house where he wrote it, and then see the piece performed professionally by some of the best actors in the world--all in one day? Abby Church ACT fall 2005

Practical Applications/Growth as an Artist:

I work with British actors, designers, directors and playwrights all the time and it is vital that I have that understanding I gained at ICLC. Carly DiFulvio TAM fall 2005

The London Semester is amazing in every way. The city is a hub of international theater excellence, and the chance to see nearly 30 plays over 16 weeks is a dream come true, every IC theater arts student should jump at the chance to study there. Kim Tierney BA fall 1999

The London experience really changed me and helped me to develop into the artist I am today. It also gave me much needed perspective on how theatre is integrated into the culture throughout the world. Many of the elements I focus on now in my life and my career -- especially with community building, quality of the work I do, and how that work is done -- were revealed to me during my experiences in London. Patrick Shearer, BA fall 98

The London center allowed me to explore a different country with safe and wonderful guidance. It allowed me to think in ways I had not before and develop more fully as an artist. I look back on my year in London as one of the highlights of my life so far. Robin Betzhold BA full academic year 2003-04

A New Environment, a Different Focus:

So many of us end up so wrapped up in productions while we are at IC (which, of course, is another strong point to the IC theatre program), that it is nice to be able to spend a semester learning in another way. Most of us leave college to spend the rest of our lives going from one production to another - it's great to get away and learn somewhere else for a little while. Teresa Gozzo BA fall 2002

In the course of our training we spend a lot of time in "producing" theatre: in our output. I think it is vitally important to be filling up your tank artistically, taking in new theatrical experiences, especially of the caliber constantly on offer in London. Kaitlin Stilwell full academic year 2003-04

The experience of being away from home and from the school environment - I mean the Dillingham environment - allows quite a bit of maturing, both personally and artistically. And it grows confidence and self assuredness in a foreign urban environment, which is important. Brendan Farley ACT spring 1997 

It is invaluable to learn about the theatre from another perspective, in another part of the world and to realize that American theatre and its methods are not the be all and end all of theatre. Christina Pickard BA spring 2002

The Wisdom of Hindsight:

I was there for a year, and it would make me so sad if someone chose not to go because they didn't think it would be important. It affected everyone I know who went-- myself foremost. Ali Rivera ACT full academic year 2007-08

You don’t realize how much it has benefited you until you are back home. It gives you an opportunity to see the world. I think in the four months we were studying at the ICLC I learned more about myself as an individual than in the three years studying on the home campus. It was and experience I will never forget! Jeffrey Schara MT spring 08

The Expense:

It was amazing... and I can't emphasize enough... that even though I was coming from a financial background where this was just giving me lots of student loan debt. London was worth EVERY penny. When else in your life will you be that free to live abroad and have basically only the responsibility to yourself to learn? Amazing. Dan Petrotta MT spring 2004 

Eye-opening/Personal Growth:

It was a huge growing experience for me. Studying aboard truly changes your perspective and contributes to your character. Finding housing in a foreign country within a week was a huge challenge and fantastic learning experience, in retrospect, at such a young age. My whole semester in London, study, travel, friends, experience, made a very big impact on my life as an adult. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life.  Lesley Anne Stone BA spring 01

To be immersed in such an old and established culture thousands of miles away from home really teaches you a sense of global awareness you didn't have before. You get a first hand understanding of how small this planet really is and you find yourself caring about issues and causes that would have otherwise never crossed your mind. For me, it was a huge eye opening experience. Sarah Schetter TPA spring 2001

The whole experience of being outside the states for the first time in my life was eye-opening. It gave me a different perspective on the world at large, myself and my strengths as a person. It invigorated me to grow into the person I am today. I was a loved child and always taken care of - and being in a country where I didn't know anyone, in a program with no familiar faces, presented with a task of having to stand alone with no established support system, and find a place to call home physically and within my own self is something you can never plan, and something everyone should experience. Stephen Graybill ACT spring 2000

Diversity of thought, challenges to cultural assumptions, exposure to non-(US)-traditional teaching methods, and the chance to do nothing but theatre for an entire semester - how can you beat that? Christine Manuel Conners TAM spring 94

It broadens your perspective of theatre, the world, your place in it, how we are viewed as Americans. Life changing. Jessica Schwartz Goldstein TAM

ICLC made me grow as a person. It opened my eyes to the world around me and because of it I haven't stopped looking. Since then I've been traveling different parts of the world, trying to see as much of it and the people in it as I can. Alexis Randolph BA fall 2005

Experience London, Experience the World:

You cannot replicate the experience gained by going to London, both culturally and educationally. The theater, the architecture, the history, the experience is unparalleled. I've recommended Ithaca College to several prospective students and ICLC is a primary motivator for the recommendation. Leon Gersing MT spring 1999

My experience at the ICLC changed me for the better. I was exposed to a vast array of culture, art, food, and new friends. The friendships I made in London are still strong to this day, and over many a pint we have reminisced about the fabulous time we had across the Pond. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and would go back now if they let me! Nicole Orne BA fall 2002

Much of my learning can be attributed to the pure experience of living in London. It was my first time living in a metropolis, and despite many challenges (roommates, weather, money) I fell in love with the city, the country and the school. I suspect many share this sentiment. You can't beat the culture, the history or the beer. I also spent a great deal of time on my own, and it turned out to be an important period of growing up for me. Jeremy Pickard spring 2004

If a student is fortunate enough to be able to take part in such a program they absolutely should. It will open their eyes to new experiences and a different way of life. This ranges from living in a one bedroom apartment with two other roommates, to learning a whole subway system, budgeting for food, rent and activities with a hefty exchange rate and soaking in as much of the culture as humanly possible. Krista Woltersdorf BA spring 03

And one last comment that sums up a good bit of the experience:

I would just like to reiterate how much my semester in London changed my life. That may sound cheesy, but my time in London and my travel in Europe helped me grow up (at least a little) :). It also gave me a thirst for travel that I hope I never lose. I recently completed a tour in Asia that reminded me yet again how much I learned about traveling and experiencing other cultures during my time at ICLC. It is easy as a young person in America to be completely closed off from the rest of the world--living in London challenged my beliefs, opened my eyes to other political views and lifestyles, enriched me culturally, and encouraged me to step of out of my safety zone--every single day. When I think back to my time in Ithaca, many of my fondest memories are of my semester in London. Abby Church ACT fall 2005