Virtually since its beginning, the Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont has put a major emphasis upon the theater arts. The Program in Theater offers instruction in acting, directing, playwriting, stagecraft, and design, with an eye to the relations among theater, teaching, and literary study. The program provides opportunities for Bread Loaf students to act in major productions, to direct one-act plays, and to perform in student-directed plays and scenes.
At the Vermont campus, the professional actors of the Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble perform multiple kinds of literature (poetry, narrative, nonfiction, as well as plays) in Bread Loaf classes as a powerful vehicle for interpretation. In addition, the Ensemble stages a major theatrical production every summer, along with smaller staged readings or events; students may attend rehearsals and participate in the productions in a number of ways.
In recent years, major productions at Bread Loaf have included William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's The Changeling, and, this past summer, Thornton Wilder's “Our Town.”
This year, the Ensemble will stage productions of James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie and Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
At all three Bread Loaf campuses, there are many courses in theatrical literature.
Theater in Oxford
Bread Loaf's Oxford campus offers a rare opportunity to see some of the best theater in the world. London is about an hour and a half from Oxford by train or bus and Stratford-upon-Avon is just a little farther. Each summer, the whole school makes excursions to see two Royal Shakespeare Company productions (the cost of tickets is part of student tuition). In most summers this means one trip to London and one to Stratford.
There is a lively summer theater scene in Oxford itself, and in past summers Bread Loaf students have enjoyed both professional and Oxford student productions.
Each summer the course "On the Page and on the Stage" brings Bread Loaf students into contact with theater professionals—directors, costume designers, actors, and others—as they study plays in production in London and Stratford.