This week, we asked our students to reflect on their own breakthrough moments. During a study abroad experience, these happen both inside and outside the classroom walls. An intensive program such as the ADA physical theatre semester asks students to dig deep within themselves and stretch beyond the comfort zone of what’s easy and safe. High risk yields high reward, which bloggers Sophie and Izabel can attest to! Also featured is an inside look into dorm life at the ADA by Matt!
Sophie Goldston: Physical Theatre (Muhlenberg College PA)
I left the United States in September not knowing what would happen in the next few months or who I would become. Being on the brink of your twenties also does that, I think. I had never left the country, or been away from home for that long, and taking a step that big into the unknown is petrifying. My anxiety disorder prevents me from doing a lot and I knew coming into the Accademia that I would face challenges, but what I’ve gotten out of actually just trying to do these challenges is more than I could have ever imagined from myself.
I expect a lot from myself. I’m a little too hard on myself. What artist isn’t? But I keep finding myself saying to people here that I feel like I’ve absolutely grown as a person. So, maybe I can’t do a cartwheel, or sweet crazy acrobatics like some other people here. That’s okay! I’ve been pushing my limitations and finding other ways to feel comfortable and contribute to my ensemble just as much as those impressive physical feats. My work and effort are important and something that I think only coming to then Accademia could have brought me is the satisfaction of being myself. This weekend I went on a spur of the moment trip to Venice with some friends and I was completely overwhelmed by everything. Instead of locking myself in the hotel room and isolating myself, I persevered and got to experience some incredible opportunities like wondering around the city I’ve always dreamed of traveling to and being serenaded by a beautiful gondola man named Marcello about stereotypical Italian food. I miss home but I’m so grateful for my time spent here in Italy.
Izabel Dorst: Physical Theatre (Coastal Carolina University SC)
From the moment I signed the last form to confirm my travels to Accademia dell’Arte, I knew that I would be facing many personal challenges. The ADA was not originally in my four year plan of college, but the more I got into my acting path back at Coastal Carolina University, the more I realized that I could not grow as much as I would like to as an actor because I was always in my head. To put that in laymen’s terms, I was always too focused on “what my character thought; felt; smelled; loved; disliked; etc.” and lost the sense of freedom and play that acting once brought me. Therefore, I was locked inside my head. When I heard about the Accademia and how it focuses specifically on creating things with your impulses, I knew that this is where I needed to be to get out of my rut. BOY WAS I RIGHT.
I have definitely faced challenges, especially at the beginning of this program. Because I was so set in my ways and had my own views of “right and wrong,” I had trouble connecting to the new ideas of ways to create things in my body and voice. I think the thing that really cracked my shell for the first time was in voice class when we first started working on this technique called “Tremors,” which is a way to connect into my natural voice without being able to force and create something false in my body. It was the first time I felt my body and breathe release, and I cried as a result of the intense relief I felt throughout my body. It was the first time I had TRULY let go of EVERYTHING. I realized from that moment that I hold so much more tension in myself then I ever thought, and that is why it was so easy for me to get caught up in the world of words and “what words mean.” Don’t get me wrong! Words are extremely important for an actor or any performer, but Words. Aren’t. Everything.
After this realization it was so much easier to “let go” of my thoughts and expectations of myself, and really just be in “the moment” of whatever I was doing. Because of this I have felt more comfortable in my work and myself as a person more than I ever have. Things I was terrified of, such as improvisation and mask work, have been so FUN, because I have let go of “I need to do this here, and feel this here,” and instead just lived in the moment and let my impulses guide me.
I cannot wait to go back to the states, and back to school next semester, and use what I have learned here to help me reach the next level as an artist. Being here at Accademia dell’Arte has truly been a blessing, and I thank my family, and my professors back at home for encouraging me to come to a place that has truly changed my outlook on art and life.
ALSO! I jumped off a mountain in Switzerland, something that I NEVER thought I would do, but because of all the confidence I have gained in myself this semester, I DID. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Below is a picture of it, because I still can’t believe I did it!
Matt Gill: Physical Theatre (Muhlenberg College PA)
Six Absolutely Filthy Pictures that Prove My Roommates and I Are Too Busy Being #RealArtists to Clean Our Room