o There are theaters in most towns and villages, which show both professional and amateur productions.
o The West End of London is known as Theatreland is well known world-wide.
o The Mousetrap, which has been in the West End since 1952, holds the record for longest initial run in British history.
o Music theatre has a long tradition in Britain.
- Gilbert & Sullivan (19th century) wrote comic operas including Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber has written music for shows which have received worldwide notice, including Cats, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar.
o A particularly British tradition is the pantomime. These shows are often performed at Christmas. They are light-hearted stories based on fairy tales and are considered family entertainment.
- A traditional character is The Dame, a woman that is played by a male actor.
- Another traditional character is a horse or cow, that is usually played by two actors sharing a costume.
o The Edinburgh Festival takes place in Scotland each summer. It is a series of art and cultural festivals. The largest and most well-known is the Edinburgh Fringe (The Fringe) which is mainly comedy and theatre work.
o The Laurence Olivier Awards take place annually in London. They are a series of awards given for various theatre accomplishments including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. They are named for Sir Laurence Olivier, later Lord Olivier, who was well-known for roles in Shakespeare’s plays.
o During the Middle Ages art was mostly religious in nature, particularly paintings in churches and illustrations in books. Much of this was lost after the Protestant Reformation.
o Wealthy families began to collect other paintings and sculptures.
o Many painters and sculptures working in Britain came from overseas, including Hans Holbein and Sir Anthony Van Dyck.
o There are galleries across UK including:
The National Gallery (London)
Tate Britain (London)
Tate Modern (London)
The National Museum (Cardiff)
The National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh)
o The Turner Prize, named after Joseph Turner. was created in 1984 and recognizes contemporary art. It is considered the most prestigious visual arts award in Europe. Four works are selected each year and are displayed in the Tate Modern before a winner is announced. Previous winners were Damien Hirst and Richard Wright.
o Middle Ages
- Many cathedrals and churches were constructed, some of which still stand, such as the cathedrals of Dunham, Lincoln, Salisbury and Canterbury.
- The White Tower in the Tower of London is an example of a Norman castle keep.
- As the Middle Ages came to a close, the country was more peaceful and some landowners were wealthier. They began to construct elaborate houses, such as Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire.
o 17th century
- Inigo Jones designed the Queen’s House at Greenwich and the Banqueting House at Whitehall
- Christopher Wren helped develop a more British version of the ornate styles popular in Europe. He built the new St. Paul’s Cathedral.
o 18th century
- A simpler style became popular.
- Robert Adam, a Scottish architect was an influence in the UK, the US and Europe. He designed the interior décor as well as the building itself, as in Dumfries House in Scotland.
- Lancelot “Capability” Brown was a premier landscape artist, designing the grounds of country houses so that they had a natural look.
o 19th century
The medial gothic style regained popularity. Since this was a time of expansion, many public buildings were built in this style. Some examples are the Houses of Parliament and St. Pancreas Station.
o 20th century
- Sir Edward Lutyens was influential throughout the British Empire. He designed New Delhi as the governmental capital of India, as well as many war memorials after World War I, including the Cenotaph.
- Gertrude Jekyll worked as a landscaper with Sir Lutyens, designing gardens around his houses. Gardens continue to be an important part of British homes.
- Other modern architects are Sir Norman Foster, Lord Richard Rodgers and Dame Zaha Hadid.
– Fashion and Design
o Britain has a history of many accomplished designers including:
Thomas Chippendale (furniture)
Clarice Cliff (ceramics)
Sir Terence Conran (interior design)
Alexander McQueen (fashion)
Vivienne Westwood (fashion)