The Cast of Arcadia‘s Field Trip to the Huntington
By A Noise Within
October 20, 2016
by Chloe Bates, Marketing and Events Assistant
A few weeks ago, the cast of Arcadia and a few ANW Staff members took a field trip to the Huntington Gardens and Library to learn more about the 1800’s English countryside in which Tom Stoppard’s play is set. We are so excited to share the amazing pictures and stories from this experience.
The tour began with a walk through the Munger Research Center, a scholarly conservation space reserved for PhD residents, guests with special permits, and now… actors!
Among the pieces that the Huntington staff set out for us were an incredible array of delicate books, colorful illustrations, and early edition literature annotated by hand.
We were delighted to see “Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton” by Humphry Repton, the great English landscape designer and successor to Capability Brown. The book contained a proposal for changes to the garden pavilion at Brighton, and showed before and after sketches via a folding opening like the one in the show. Pretty amazing for 1822!
Among the other items were a 1820s geometry book (like the one Septimus would have used to tutor Thomasina), a 1787 catalogue of books taken by a maid or house caretaker in an opulent country home similar to the Coverly’s, and a handwritten poem by Lord Byron (a principal character in the play although he is never physically seen).
However, the cast’s consensus favorite was a 7th edition script of Arcadia with which Tom Stoppard himself had worked. The margins were filled with scrawled notes and large sections of text were crossed out, never to see the bright lights of the stage. Sue Hodson, curator of literary manuscripts, shared with us her unique relationship with Stoppard, whom she met him several times and witnessed his writing of Arcadia first-hand while on a trip to England.
Susan Angelo (who plays Hannah Jarvis in the show) was particularly excited to see what Stoppard had originally written and decided to change or omit. Susan even discovered that her character was originally written as a divorcee—she had always thought Hannah had just never married!
After spending time in the Research Center, the cast was able to explore the rest of the grounds, including beautiful collections of British and American art and the 120-acre botanical gardens.
Along with director Geoff Elliott, the cast had such a wonderful time creating a special connection with the items and artwork. The chance to explore tangible relics of the world that Arcadia is set in makes it much more real and provides vital historical context for our production at A Noise Within. Thank you, Huntington Libraries, for sharing with us!
Special thanks to:
Kate Lain for organizing the event!
Vanessa Wilkie – William A. Moffett Curator of Medieval & British Historical Manuscripts
Stephen Tabor – Curator of Early
Sarah S. “Sue” Hodson – Curator of Literary Manuscripts
Claudia Funke – Head of Library Collections
Kevin Durkin – Managing Editor for the Office of Communications and Marketing