British theatres One of the world’s major centers for theatre, Britain has a centuries-old dramatic tradition and about 300 theatres. There are several thousand amateur dramatic societies in Britain. The Royal Shakespeare Company performs in Stratford-upon Avon and at the Barbican Centre in London. A modern reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, close to its original site, is under way. Most cities and towns in Britain have at least one theatre. There are 500 youth theatres in England alone.
The Unicorn Theatre for Children and Polka Children’s Theatre, both in London, present plays written specially for children, and the Young Vic Company in London and Contact Theatre Company in Manchester stage plays for young people.
Until recently the history of the english theatre has been build around actors rather then companies. It was hard to find any London theatre that even had a consistent policy. There is no permanent staff in British theatres. A play is rehearsed for a few weeks by a company of actors working together mostly for the first time and it is allowed to run as long as it draws the odious and pays it’s way.
Another peculiarity of the theatres in Great Britain is as follows: there are two kinds of seats, which can be booked in advance (bookable), and unbookable ones have no numbers and the spectators occupy them on the principle: first come – first served. The performances start at about eight and finish at about eleven. Seats are expensive and a night out at a theatre is quite a luxury for the average Londoners.
Most theatres and musical halls have good orchestras, with popular conductors. Contemporary British playwrights who have received wide recognition include Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bannett, Caryl Churchill, David Hare, and Tom Stoppard.
The musicals of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber have been highly successful in Britain and around the world. The centre of theatrical activity is London, where it is concentrated mainly in London’s West End. Theatres are very much the same in London as anywhere else. If you are staying in London for a few days, you will have no difficulty in finding somewhere to spend an evening. You will find an opera, comedy, drama, musical comedy, and variety. The first theatre in England “The Blackfries” was built in 1576, and “The Globe”, which is closely connected with William Shakespeare, was built in 1599.
Speaking about our times we should first of all mention “The Royal National theatre”, “The Royal Shakespeare company” and “Covent Garden”. The Royal National Theatre (generally known as the National Theatre and commonly as The National) in London is one of the United Kingdom’s two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company. Internationally, it is styled the National Theatre of Great Britain. Since 1988, the theatre has been permitted to call itself the Royal National Theatre, but the full title is rarely used.
The theatre presents a varied programme, including Shakespeare and other international classic drama; and new plays by contemporary playwrights. Each auditorium in the theatre can run up to three shows in repertoire, thus further widening the number of plays which can be put on during any one season. The NT has an annual turnover of approximately ? 54 million (in 2008–09). Earned income made up approximately 54% of this total (34% from ticket sales and 20% as revenue from the restaurants, bookshops, etc. ).
Support from the Arts Council and a number of smaller government grants provided 35% of this income, and the remaining 11% came from a mixture of private support from companies, individuals, trusts and foundations. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon. The company employs 700 staff and produces around 20 productions a year from its home in Stratford-upon-Avon and plays regularly in London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and on tour across the UK and internationally.
As well as the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the RSC produces new work from living artists and develops creative links with theatre-makers from around the world, as well as working with teachers to inspire a life-long love of William Shakespeare in young people and running events for everyone to explore and participate in its work. The RSC is currently celebrating its fiftieth birthday season, which runs from April–December 2011, with two companies of actors presenting the first productions designed specifically for the new Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatre stages.
The 2011-season began with performances of Macbeth and a re-imagined lost play The History of Cardenio. The fiftieth birthday season also features The Merchant of Venice with Sir Patrick Stewart and revivals of some of the RSC’s greatest plays, including a new staging of Marat/Sade. The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply “Covent Garden”, after a previous use of the site of the opera house’s original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel’s first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there. The current building is the third theatre on the site following disastrous fires in 1808 and 1857. The facade, foyer, and auditorium date from 1858, but almost every other element of the present complex dates from an extensive reconstruction in the 1990s.
The Royal Opera House seats 2,256 people and consists of four tiers of boxes and balconies and the amphitheatre gallery. The proscenium is 12. 20 m wide and 14. 80 m high. The main auditorium is a Grade 1 listed building. British cinema In England the cinema is usually called “the pictures”. The American name “the movies” is sometimes used. The first performance or “showing” as it is called, begins about two o’clock in the afternoon and the show goes on from then until about half past ten. You can go in at any time and leave at any time.
There is usually one main film, a shorter one, a news film, some advertisements and a “trailer” telling about the film for the next week. Cinemas were more popular in the past than they are now. Many people went to the cinema two or three times a week, but today people like to stay at home to watch television, especially if it is cold and wet outside. The prices of cinema seats outside London are lower than the prices in London. Cinemas in England are usually larger and more comfortable than the theatres. Often there is a restaurant, so that it is possible to spend a pleasant afternoon and evening there.
There is a stage behind the cinema screen; so that the building can be used for concerts and other performances. In some British towns the cinemas are closed on Sunday. In cinemas you can see films of all kinds. Films are given classification. “U”, “A”, or “X”. An “U” film is suitable for general exhibition, so anybody can see it. Children can go to an “A”, but they must be accompanied by an adult in the evening. An “X” film can only be shown to people over the age of 18. The United Kingdom has had a major influence on modern cinema.
The first moving pictures developed on celluloid film were made in Hyde Park, London in 1889 by William Friese Greene, a British inventor, who patented the process in 1890. It is generally regarded that the British film industry enjoyed a ‘golden age’ in the 1940s, led by the studios of J. Arthur Rank and Alexander Korda. The British directors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean are among the most critically acclaimed of all-time, with other important directors including Charlie Chaplin, Michael Powell, Carol Reed and Ridley Scott.
Many British actors have achieved international fame and critical success, including Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Michael Caine, Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Vivien Leigh, David Niven, Laurence Olivier, Peter Sellers and Kate Winslet. Some of the most commercially successful films of all time have been produced in the United Kingdom, including the two highest-grossing film franchises (Harry Potter and James Bond).  Ealing Studios has a claim to being the oldest continuously working film studio facility in the world.
Despite a history of important and successful productions, the industry has often been characterised by a debate about its identity and the level of American and European influence. Many British films are co-productions with American producers, often using both British and American actors, and British actors feature regularly in Hollywood films. Many successful Hollywood films have been based on British people, stories or events, including Titanic, The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean and the ‘English Cycle’ of Disney animated films.
In 2009 British films grossed around $2 billion worldwide and achieved a market share of around 7% globally and 17% in the United Kingdom. UK box-office takings totalled ? 944 million in 2009, with around 173 million admissions. The British Film Institute has produced a poll ranking what they consider to be the 100 greatest British films of all time, the BFI Top 100 British films. The annual British Academy Film Awards hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts are the British equivalent of the Oscars.
There is a great number of film festivals in the United Kingdom. The most famous of them are the London Film Festival, East End Film Festival and Leeds International Film Festival in England, Belfast Film Festival in Northern Ireland, Edinburgh International Film Festival and Dead by Dawn in Scotland, Cardiff film festival in Wales that was later replaced by a new International Film Event for Wales. The London Film Festival is the UK’s largest public film event, screening more than 300 features, documentaries and shorts from almost 50 countries.
The festival, (the LFF), currently in its 54th year, is run every year in the second half of October under the umbrella of the British Film Institute. The East End Film Festival is one of the biggest film festivals in London. Taking place annually in various venues throughout East London, the festival screens UK, Eastern European, and Asian independent features each year, along with hundreds of short films from up-and-coming filmmakers. The Leeds International Film Festival is the largest film festival in England outside London.
Held in November at various venues throughout Leeds, West Yorkshire it shows over 200 films from around the world, commercial and independent. The Edinburgh International Film Festival is an annual fortnight of cinema screenings and related events taking place each June. Established in 1947, it is the world’s oldest continually running film festival. It aims to present both UK and international movie premieres and to exhibit the work of film-makers. Dead by Dawn is a film festival in Edinburgh, Scotland specifically devoted to horror films.
Established in 1993 by Adele Hartley, this is a discovery festival showcasing mostly independent films, both short films and feature length films. Dead by Dawn is a member of the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation and occurs once yearly, usually in mid-April. The Cardiff Film Festival was an annual film festival that took place in Cardiff, Wales. It had previously been called the Cardiff Screen Festival. After 2006 the Film Agency for Wales subsequently decided that the festival would be replaced by a new International Film Event for Wales.
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