HWS Alumni/Alumnae and Parent Trip

Aerial view of London

English Culture on Stage and Screen

June 12 - 21, 2014

Trip location: England: London (4 nights) and Norwich (4 nights) with a day-trip to Cambridge

Tour Leader — Lester D. Friedman

"I was glad to be home, but already I knew that before
too long - next spring, summer, or perhaps the spring
after that - I would need to return to England."

     - Susan Alan Toth, My Love Affair with England

Lester Friedman is professor and chairman of the Media and Society program. Before arriving on the HWS campus in 2005, he taught at Syracuse University, SUNY Health Science University, Northwestern University, the Art Institute of Chicago, and American University. England has always called out to Les. During childhood and adolescence, he was enthralled by the heroic deeds of King Arthur and his brave Knights and thrilled by the legendary feats of Robin Hood and his band of merry outlaws. As an undergraduate English major, he immersed himself in the great literary works of the country’s most revered writers. His Ph.D. dissertation explores the works of John Milton and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and he is currently writing a cultural history of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Over the years, Les has traveled with his family and friends as often as possible to various parts of “this sceptred isle” (as Shakespeare called it), sharing with them his love of its exciting cities and magnificent countryside. During the 1980s, as a professor at Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, he taught classes on British literary and visual culture for a number of summers in London, living for 6-8 weeks at a time in various parts of the city. This period culminated in editing a popular book, Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism (2nd Edition, Wallflower/ Columbia University Press, 2006), about the flowering of British cinema during the Thatcher era. While working on this project, Les interviewed important British directors (such as Stephen Fears, Lindsay Anderson, Terence Davies, Ngozi Onwurah, and Issac Julian), worked at the British Film Institute (BFI), and interacted with some of the most prominent English film and TV scholars. In addition to his work on British artistic culture, Les has published books on Steven Spielberg, Ethnicity in American films, The American-Jewish Cinema, Medicine and Movies, American Films of the 1970s, and Peter Pan. Throughout his life, England has remained a second home to Les, a place of contradictions and paradoxes, diverse excitements and challenges, but always of promises and pleasures.

Recommended Reading

Michael Higgins, Clarissa Smith, John Storey (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture (2010).


Given that this trip is being planned a year in advance, those signing up must realize that the organizers cannot be fully aware of what plays and films will be available during our time in England. We will, of course, attempt to attend the best possible theatrical and film productions in both London and Norwich, but a certain degree of flexibility is necessary in order to take advantage of unforeseen occurrences on stage and on screen.

Trip Overview

Our trip will be divided into two roughly equal sections, beginning in London and then moving to Norwich (with a day spent in Cambridge). During our time in England, we will participate as much as possible in the dramatic and visual culture in both a thriving capital and a picturesque city.

Click here for a detailed itinerary.

About London

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."

     - Samuel Johnson

London's West End

London, one of the world’s greatest cultural cities, is a sprawling 600-square mile urban center that dates back over 2,000 years. Home to a vast concentration of both modern and historical museums, festivals, theaters, galleries, opera and concert halls, and movie houses, London hosts a broad assortment of artistic enterprises that vary from brash musicals and mainstream movies to experimental plays and independent films. Walking amidst the crowded streets in the West End or meandering around the diverse stalls that form the Portobello Market, this city teems with fascinating sights ranging from the common to the truly original. British cuisine, once the butt of numerous jokes, has transformed itself into a sophisticated mixture of international and indigenous food displaying a culinary flair envied throughout Europe. Whether your taste runs to bangers and mash, spicy Indian food, or Chinese delicacies, you will find London a place that satisfies your appetites. For the general tourist, the city boasts some of the most well-known landmarks on earth, including: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, The Tate, The National Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museums, The Palace of Westminster, Covent Garden, The Tower of London, Leicester and Trafalgar Squares, Piccadilly Circus, The British Library, and St. Paul’s and Westminster Cathedrals. For those on their first trip to London, time will be allotted to tour some of these famous sights. For those who know London, you will be able to revisit your favorite spots or find news ones to love.

The Globe Theatre, London

Theatre in London

Drama is one of the jewels in England’s artistic crown. London’s first theater (called The Theatre) was built in 1576, but its most famous theater, The Globe, opened on the Southbank in 1597. Famous as the home of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the Globe burned down in 1613. Other important theaters include: The Theatre Royal Drury Lane (1663) and The London Palladium (1910). Theaterland (in the West End) is the home of over 40 theaters and is considered the finest group of theaters in the world. Depending on what is available, we plan to see performances at the new Globe (built as a copy of the original) and the Royal National Theatre and/or other sites.

British Film

Far newer than England’s hallowed dramatic heritage, the history of the British film industry has had a rocky road. Part of this is due to the overwhelming presence of the behemoth Hollywood industry with its lure of big budget productions and worldwide distribution for successful English directors, actors, and other talented moviemakers. As the producer David Puttnam once remarked, “England might have had a thriving film industry if we didn’t speak English.” Yet high spots include the “Kitchen Sink Dramas” of the 1950s, the “Swinging London” of the 1960s, and the “British Renaissance” of the 1980s. While most people are familiar with the so-called “Heritage Films” (think “Downton Abbey”), filmmakers like Stephan Frears, Danny Boyle, Kenneth Branagh, Peter Greenaway, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Sam Mendes, Chris Nolan, and Ridley Scott have provided viewers with a wide assortment of challenging films about a variety of topics. London is replete with movie theaters, from the classic Cinema City to modern cineplexes, from the aptly named Hot Tub Theatre to the Floating Cinema, the city shows everything from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to quirky, little-seen gems.

BBC Broadcasting House

Planned Visits

A few of our special events include a trip to Ealing Studios, the oldest working film and TV production facility in the world and historically famous as the home of a series of 1950s classic comedies, where we will participate in a lecture/discussion with UEA Professor Keith Johnson. We shall meet and interact with one of England’s most famous film critics, Mark Kermode, host of BBC Two Program “Newsnight Review” (think the Roger Ebert of England). We also plan to have a tour of the BBC Broadcasting House, the state-of-the-art multimedia broadcasting center and iconic new home of BBC’s network of TV, Radio, News and Online services.

While our trip revolves around theater and film in England, we will have time to explore some other aspects of the country’s artistic heritage. In particular, time will be devoted to allowing you to explore the Tate Modern Museum, the London Film Museum (and other Southbank sites), the National Gallery, Gabriel’s Wharf, Covent Gardens, the Victoria and Albert Museum Performance Collection, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

About Norwich (City of Centuries)

Norwich, Elm Hill

Often called the most complete medieval city in England, Norwich is a charming blend of the old and the new. Its rich historical legacy endows the city with over 1500 historic buildings and 31 medieval churches—including two cathedrals and a Norman castle—that exist alongside modern commercial areas with a surprising mixture of restaurants, cafes, and pubs and a colorful market place. The architecture spans the Norman, medieval, Georgian, Victorian and modern ages. Some of the city’s highlights include: Norwich Castle, St. Peter Mancroft church, Norwich Cathedral, Cow Tower, Gentleman’s Walk, the Forum, St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cathedral, and The University of East Anglia. Norwich was England’s second city until the Industrial Revolution, and it still maintains a rich cultural vibrancy evident in its museums, art galleries, and theaters, such as The Bridewell Museum, The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, and The Old Skating Rink Gallery. Once described as having a pub for every day of the year and a church for every Sunday, in 2012 Norwich became England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, one of only six in the world, an acknowledgement of the City’s literary heritage and thriving contemporary literary scene.

About The University of East Anglia (UEA)

While in Norwich, we will partner with the University of East Anglia (UEA), an internationally renowned university with outstanding academic, social and cultural facilities for over 15,000 students. UEA is ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions in the world. UEA was also one of the first British universities to develop the study of cinema and television, and in 2004 created the School of Film and Television Studies to continue that innovative tradition. With a broad range of theoretical and practical modules that explore the history, political significance and formal qualities of sound and image, the School prepares students for a variety of careers in the media, archiving, journalism, teaching, etc. The School of Film and Television is among the ten highest-rated research units in the UK across all subject areas.

Sainsbury Center for the Visual Arts

We will also explore the Sainsbury Center for the Visual Arts on the UEA campus. In 1973 Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury donated their collection of over 300 artworks and objects, which they had been accumulating since the 1930s, to UEA. The collection has since increased in size to several thousand works spanning 5000 years of human endeavor, including pieces by Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore (numerous sculptures can be found dotted around the grounds of the university), Alberto Giacometti, and Francis Bacon, alongside art from Africa (including a 'Fang Reliquary Head' from Gabon and the Nigerian 'Head of an Oba'), Asia, North and South America, the Pacific region, medieval Europe and the ancient Mediterranean. The building has received many awards for its innovative design, including the Museum of the Year Award, the 6th International Prize for Architecture, and the Royal Institute of British Architects Award.

Planned Visits

Our time in Norwich will continue our exploration of British dramatic and cinematic culture, but in a more intimate setting and with a local host, Anne-Marie Brunner-Tracey, Study Abroad Manager at UEA. We will start with a Blue Badge tour of Norwich to acclimate us to the city. We will spend two days at UEA and the Sainsbury Center for the Visual Arts, exploring the galleries and screening films. During some of the evenings, we will attend performances at a variety of local theaters, such as the Norwich Theatre Royal, Sewell Barn Theatre and/or Maddermarket Theatre, and/or movie houses, including the classic Cinema City.


We will also take a day trip to the city of Cambridge, home of the world-famous university (founded in 1209), and site of settlements some 3500 years old. Following an open-topped bus tour of the city, we will meander around the town and take in the sights of one of England’s most beautiful country towns with ample evidence of its occupation by the Romans, the Saxons, the Vikings, and various rulers from William of Normandy to Henry I and onward. The city contains beautiful architectural sites, a host of museums and art galleries and the college itself—along with a variety of pubs and restaurants.

Cambridge skyline

Climate in the U.K.

June Average high Average low

Trip Details

Cost: $2500 per person for double occupancy and $3025 per person for single occupancy.

What is included:

Premier Inn Kensington Olympia

  • Guided tours and lectures led by HWS Media and Society Chairman and faculty member Les Friedman
  • Hotel accommodations in standard rooms for eight nights (4 nights in London and 4 nights in Norwich) at the Premier Inn Kensington Olympia in London and the Maid’s Head in Norwich (more details below)
  • Breakfast each morning, 4 lunches and 4 dinners
  • Transfers to and from the airport in London and between London and Norwich
  • A Tube (subway) pass in London
  • All tours, entrance fees, performances and transport in England as indicated in the itinerary

What's NOT included:

  • Any meals not stated above
  • International flights - we will offer an optional group flight through our travel agent. Please wait to book any flights until you see the group flight option.
  • Medical and travel insurance:
    • Every traveler needs to have medical coverage while in the U.K. so check with your current medical insurance provider to see if you are covered abroad. If you are not, you can purchase a short-term travel medical policy online from companies like CMI or Med Ex Assist, to name just two.
    • We also strongly recommend that everyone purchase travel insurance to cover trip cancellation (not just trip interruption) in case you are unexpectedly unable to travel after you have paid for the trip.
    • Some companies offer a combined medical/travel policy if you need both. The best place to start the search for insurance is at http://www.insuremytrip.com/plans/index.html where you can choose medical, travel cancellation or both, and compare policies from different companies side by side.


Maid's Head Hotel, Norwich

Premier Inn Kensington Olympia (closest Tube station is Earl’s Court)
22-32 West Cromwell Road
London, SW5 9QJ
Tel: from the U.S. 011 44 871 527 8668
Trip Advisor review

Maid’s Head Hotel
Norwich, Norfolk NR3 3AP
Tel: from the U.S. 011 44 871 527 8840
Trip Advisor review

Rooms in both hotels have TVs, private bathrooms, wi-fi, tea and coffee making facilities and a hair dryer. Breakfast is included each morning. Be prepared for the fact that hotel rooms in Europe are often much smaller than in the U.S., particularly in London.In the London hotel, we will attempt to book rooms in the main building, but depending on availability, your room may be in the annex across the road, connected to the main hotel by an interior bridge. The rooms are the same in the annex as in the main hotel but it is a longer walk to the lobby and breakfast room.

Note: in the unlikely event that we have to change the hotels for any reason, any substitution will be a hotel of similar quality.

Reserving a place on the trip

  • We can accommodate a maximum of 20 people on this tour, so book early to ensure your place.
  • In order to reserve a place on the trip, you are requested to fill out a booking form online. We will accept reservations on a first-come-first-served basis and we suggest that you reserve as soon as possible, as we expect this trip to sell out. Please note that alums and parents of HWS students have priority in booking this trip. Once we reach the 20-person maximum, we will start a waiting list.
  • Once we have received your online reservation, we will email you Part 2 of the booking form which we ask that you return promptly.
  • Within 10 days of making the online booking, we require a deposit of $750 per person. We prefer payment by check but credit card payment can be arranged by calling Betty Merkle in Alumni House at (315) 781-3771. The deposit will be applied to the overall cost of the trip. The remainder of the trip cost, minus the deposit, will be due by February 1, 2014.
  • Checks should be made payable to "Hobart and William Smith Colleges" and mailed to:

    Stage play in London

    Sharon Walsh
    Center for Global Education
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    300 Pulteney St.
    Geneva, NY 14456

    Tel: (315) 781-3663
    Email: walsh@hws.edu

Cancellation policy

Once you have paid the deposit and/or the full fees, if you cancel the trip, we may, at our discretion, refund your money if we are able to find a replacement for you. However, if we cannot find a replacement for you, then you will be responsible for any fees or deposits that we have paid to vendors on your behalf that are non-recoverable by us. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance (see above under “What’s NOT included.”)

Group Flight

We will provide a group flight option through our travel agent once the fares for June 2014 are available. We expect round trip fares from New York City to London to be approximately $1100 - $1400, not including the fare from your originating city to New York. Our travel agent can also book the trip from your originating city if you wish. You are not required to purchase the group flight, although if you choose to book elsewhere, we suggest that you book the same flight (or a flight that arrives earlier than group), so that you can be included in the transport from the airport to the hotel. If you arrive later than the group, you will be responsible for making your own way to the hotel. Please do not book any flights until we have contacted you about group flight options, so you are aware of the flight times, etc.




Dates: June 12 – June 21, 2014

Cost: $2500 per person for double occupancy and $3025 per person for single occupancy.

Register/Deposit: Complete and submit the online registration form now to reserve your spot.


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