Actors From The London Stage

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Pictured, clockwise from top: Sir Patrick Stewart, Michael Thomas, Vivien Heilbron, John Burgess, David Rintoul, Philip Voss, circa 1975.

Actors From The London Stage (AFTLS) was founded in 1975 at the University of California, Santa Barbara, by Professor Homer “Murph” Swander and the renowned stage & screen actor Sir Patrick Stewart, best known as Captain Picard on TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Professor Xavier in the X-Men film franchise. 

The AFTLS company ethos and mission is simplicity at its finest. Five actors take the stage, with minimal props and costumes, and direct themselves in a performance of a complete Shakespeare play, with each actor portraying multiple roles.

But the performance is only part of the experience. The company tours to colleges & universities across the United States twice yearly, with each tour organized and administered by Shakespeare at Notre Dame. Each company of five actors leads classes and workshops throughout the residency week.

The goal: to interpret Shakespeare’s text as a blueprint for performance, lifting the words off the page as Shakespeare originally intended.

"It felt like my classroom was getting bigger. My students clearly felt their creative minds expanding in the actors' presence." – Rebekah Maggor, Vanderbilt University

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How does it work?

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The AFTLS company tours twice a year, with a different cast on each tour. They arrive at your school on Monday, and leave on Sunday. During the week, they present up to 3 full-length performances of a Shakespeare play. They also teach classes and workshops throughout the week.

Read more about AFTLS in this article from the Irish Rover: "All the World’s a Stage, but these Players Come to Notre Dame"

Download our Frequently Asked Questions for more in-depth detail on the residency week. 

"Superior involvement, meaningful activities, and thoughtful feedback to the class. What expertise and energy they brought with them; we would welcome AFTLS back any time." – Donell Stines, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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I'd like to book a tour. 

Terrific. Just contact Alliance Artist Management for more information on dates, rates, and availability.

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I'd like to audition for an AFTLS tour. 

AFTLS auditions take place twice yearly in London by invitation only. Email us today to learn how you can be a part of the AFTLS experience. 

Touring soon:

  • Fall 2024: Twelfth Night
  • Spring 2025: Hamlet
  • Fall 2025: The Winter's Tale
  • Spring 2026: As You Like It
  • Fall 2026: The Tempest
  • Spring 2027: Julius Caesar

Actors From The London Stage Board:

Founder: Dr. Homer Swander
Academic Director: Peter Holland
Founding Directors: Tony Church, Lisa Harrow, Bernard Lloyd, Sir Patrick Stewart

Associate Directors: Bruce Alexander, Peter Bray, Matthew Davies, Caroline Devlin, William Donaldson, Tim Hardy, Evvy Miller, Richard Neale, Paul O’Mahony, Michael Palmer, Claire Redcliffe, Alison Skilbeck, Annabelle Terry, Jack Whitam, Jennifer Winter

Emeritus: David Acton, Gareth Armstrong, Vivien Heilbron, David Rintoul, Eunice Roberts, Chris Staines, Lucy Tregear, Alinka Wright