This week we hear from Kendra, Ellie, Julie, and Emma!
Kendra Weingast, Muhlenberg College
Semester Phyiscal Theatre Program
Washington, D.C. to Arezzo, Italy… Things You Didn’t Prepare to be Different
1) Eggs Yolks Here are Orange
- We’re unsure why, but hoping it means the chickens are healthier.
2) Breakfast Food as a Whole Just Isn’t a Thing
- Italians can survive off coffee and nothing else. Breakfast lovers beware and plan accordingly. There will be croissants everywhere, but that’s more of an all-the time thing than it is a specifically breakfast food.
3) Nothing Is Open – Ever.
- Italian shops are either open or closed – and it’s more often the latter. Most shops close everyday for lunch which can span hours, as well as on Sunday. Even then, don’t trust what google says and be prepared to be turned away even if all the lights are on.
4) People Walk Almost Exclusively
- Bring your best sneakers and well broken in shoes or you’ll be left with blisters the size of golf balls.
5) Wine is Cheaper Than Water
- And it’s everywhere. There are stands that sell alcohol the way United States has hot dog vendors. Every place that sells food has a menu of alcohol.
6) Dogs are Not to Be Touched
- They are cute. They all have sweaters. They walk around without leashes. Despite this, you are not allowed to pet.
7) Public Bathrooms Cost Time and Money
- Every public restroom costs a few euro to use, even if it’s just to check what you look like.
8) The Villa You’re Living in Might Be Older Than the Entirety of the United States
- People live and walk by ancient history on a regular commute from work.
Ellie Strayer, Skidmore College
Semester Phyiscal Theatre Program
I’ve been sleeping well
A hike this morning was great
To view Arezzo
Julie Weikart, Muhlenberg College
Semester Phyiscal Theatre Program
Mask Maker, Mask Maker, Make me a Mask!
For those of us in the Physical Theatre program this is the week we have been waiting for… Mask Making! *Alexa play Make Me a Mask* One of our core classes is Commedia dell’Arte, a popular form of Italian Theatre in the 16-18 th centuries. One of the first things we learned was the importance of the mask. Masks are essential in Commedia dell’Arte because they provide an understanding about the different characters you see on stage. There are three different groups of Commedia characters: the masters, the lovers, and the servants. Masters, such as Dottore or Pantalone tend to be known by their older appearances while servants such as Arlecchino tend to have a little bump on their forehead. Typically, lovers do not wear masks because they are young and beautiful – however- if they do it is because they are in disguise.
So how did we go from having plain pieces of leather to beautifully handcrafted masks? With the help of Andrea Cavarra, a talented Commedia Actor and Mask Maker extraordinaire. With over 20 years of experience, Andrea took us through the mask making process with ease! The first major step was making sure our leather was in working condition. We started by soaking our leather in warm water kneading it like bread for 20 minutes. After we attached the leather to our mask molds where we used a hammer and nails to secure it. Once the leather was attached, we began shaping the leather to match it to the mold. This is where we really got to see the mask take shape. From there we let the masks dry a bit before redoing the shaping process. The purpose of this was to give our leather its sheen. Once satisfied we let them dry fully before removing the mask from the molds. As a team we worked to show each other the next steps in the process which was shaving down the extra fabric to make it thin enough to lay gently over the wire. After we carved out our eyes and nose. Which finally meant we were ready to paint our masks! The final step was punching two holes and attaching the band so we could wear our masks. I can’t lie the process for making these masks was challenging. For most of us we were using muscles we weren’t used to using and our hands were calloused by the end of it. However, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. As an ensemble it gave us time to hang out and connect as a group. While learning from the master mask maker about our own unique individual masks.
Kayla Cardenas, Gustavus Adolphus College
The Archeological Dig of Monica’s Office
Let us dig deep into who Monica is based off what we find in her office at the Villa! Let’s talk about how welcoming it is to walk in and see a “Free Hugs Here” desk plate on the desk. You automatically feel the love Monica gives to each and every one of her students. You can see she is very loved back by how much student art, letters, and notes she keeps and frames on her walls and cork board. She is clearly a fan of art and theater as she has framed posters of La Tempesta, and the Whitney Museum of American Art picturing Elvis.
Underneath her black bookcase is essentially her Mary Poppins cupboard of things that makes students feel better when they are sick. The shocking find is her filing cabinet. What does she have in the “Top Secret” drawer? What does she have in the “Middle Secret” drawer? What about the “Bottom Secret” drawer? So many secrets……. I tried asking Monica about the cabinet, but she just responded with a smile. The most important find from exploring in her office is just how geeky Monica is. Star Wars figures, Game of Thrones drawings and King of the North John Snow figure and more live in this office. Bottom line. Monica is AWESOME and the students at ADA love to spend time with her and in her awesome office 🙂
Emma Payne, Fordham University
This past Friday was the perfect day for a trip to Cortona. The morning sun gave me a warm welcome as I hopped off the train and into a shuttle that carried me up the hill to the town gates. From my first step off the shuttle I felt that same mix of awe and tranquility that I get every time I finish hiking a mountain. I could see the world from my vantage point on the hill, yet somehow the world melted away. Any worry was gone from my mind, replaced with gratitude for the wild and elegant beauty that Italy has to offer.
I came across very few people as I walked, or climbed really, through the streets of Cortona. Many times, I turned a corner and stopped walking so I could comprehend the mix of Etruscan and modern architecture before me falling into a wide, clear sky. In other words, I explored the city at the pace of a drunk five-year-old. My conversational skills were about the same. During my slow shimmy down (or up) the streets, the most I got out was “non parlo Italiano molto bene” when people tried to talk to me, followed by a flurry of laughs and gestures and awkward goodbyes.
This quickly changed once I picked up a giant branch and used it as a walking stick. I was hiking up a steep road to the highest point in the city, Girifalco Castle, and I found the branch lying along the path. It looked as though someone had intentionally ripped it from a tree and crafted it into a walking stick, but for some reason found it unsatisfactory and discarded it along the side of the road. It just so happened to be the same size and shape of the stick I’ve spent weeks pantomiming as one of the twenty movements for my Lecoq class. I decided to make this stick my companion for the rest of my journey and continued my slow shimmy up the mountain (full disclosure: I did not actually spend hours shimmying slowly up and down the streets in Cortona, I just find this imagery highly amusing. I apologize for the (false advertising).
I reached the top to find both Girifalco Castle and the Archeological park near it closed and under construction. I chose the highest point I could find to rest for a bit and journal, which ended up being between two graves on a burial mound. As I sat on the burial mound watched the sun also slowly shimmy down to the horizon, the breeze yawned in my face over and over again, its breath reeking of crisp open air and what seemed to be the faint burning of some indescribable material. The birds chirped insistently and the equipment behind me let out an occasional grumble. Yet wedged in between two slabs of stone I felt a calm that was cool to the touch and went straight through my bones. My awareness of the life around me became increasingly heightened.
The air began to nip at my ears, and I made my descent back into the narrow streets, a bit busier now that evening had begun. Happy but fatigued, I walked through Cortona leaning on my stick like I had just emerged from the wild after days of respite to refill on supplies. I grabbed dinner then shuttled back down to the train station. I had about a half an hour before my train back to Arezzo arrived so a wandered into the bar attached to the station. There was no one inside besides a middle-aged man that worked there, who promptly stopped what he was doing and peered at my stick over the rim of his glasses.
“Perche hai questo bastone?” I stumbled through my explanation of my unusual choice in a traveling companion. He started joking that I was a warrior wielding a weapon and we even pretended to duel. As I laughed I realized that I was communicating much better than I thought I could, and that for some reason the ridiculousness of carrying around a giant stick took away the fear of making an utter fool of myself while trying to speak Italian; I already looked foolish, and I found that playing the part of the fool was way more fun.