Upon arriving at the Peretola Airport in Florence, Italy, I was stunned by the congruency of the world I would be living in to not only a certain Diane Lane film, but to my own preconceived ideas about Tuscany. In no way does this incredible place disappoint. Weeks in, I found myself gravitating as much to the people of Arezzo as to the incredible countryside that we inhabit. What is most noteworthy about the people of Arezzo is their openness to interaction, even with those who can barely fumble around their language. The few phrases and vocabulary words that I have learned in class at the Accademia have been put to use in the funniest assortment of conversations, and thanks to the patience of many locals I have found an incredible amount of pleasure in our exchanges.
You know the saying, “Do something every day that scares you”? Well, last week I walked to a salon to get my eyebrows done. Color me terrified. The women at the salon and I spent about an hour working out how to go about the (unabashedly unnecessary) event of getting my eyebrows done, and with the help of their patience, kindness, and a lot of made up gestures we were able to sort everything out. Some days it seems as though I revert to my dictionary for a word I must have looked up a dozen times before, but as time goes on I have been able to build confidence and converse. From negotiating the order of a meal at a restaurant to explaining a typical day at my home college, I have found that with gestural speech, a willingness to ask a lot of seemingly simple questions, and a good sense of humor, acquainting oneself to a new language is indeed possible.
–Rigel Harris, Skidmore College
Numerous times since getting to college have I asked myself why I’m studying art. My initial relationship with theatre was based solely on self-centeredness: I merely sought the attention of others, which I found difficult to obtain in social situations as I’m somewhat of a reserved person. However, I’ve come to realize that this is not a sustainable motive. Studying at Boston University has taught me that my job isn’t to look pretty, but to allow myself to be relatable to my audience. Attending classes at the Accademia dell’Arte has further refined this newfound understanding: our focus on ensemble-based work has reinforced to me the idea that theatre is something bigger than the sum of its parts. There’s something incredibly humbling about that notion to me, as it puts my own sense of self-importance into perspective. I’m excited to continue exploring my craft for the next few months, and even more excited to implement what I’m learning back into my everyday life in Boston upon my return to America.
–Dominic DeMayo, Boston University
This program is so unique in a multitude of ways. It has allowed me to explore how I approach viewing and making art from a completely different standpoint than what I’m used to. The teachers I’ve had here at the Accademia have encouraged me to relate dance back to every aspect of my life, which is not an opportunity I get very often. I often feel like I am one person when I step into the dance studio and another when I leave it. But all the teachers, though they teach very different things, agree that dance is in everything we do, whether it’s inside or outside of the studio. This approach to dance opens up a new realm of possibilities to explore and experiment with. I am looking forward to seeing how my art will change during the second half of the semester.
–Lea Torelli, Muhlenberg College
My view on theatre, specifically my role in it, has drastically changed in the past years and continues to evolve as I spend my time here in Arezzo. I used to think acting was about me and about how well I did. I didn’t consider myself an artist. I did it because it was something I was good at. As my craft grew at university, I began to realize how much more art means to me than just an ego pump. I create art to reach others. To connect to audience members, to grow as a human, to try to understand parts of life I haven’t lived. I don’t matter. What matters is the story, the ensemble, the work as a whole. Whatever I do serves the work. I think everyone in life is selfish, it’s how we are made, but when I found selflessness in my work as a theatre artist, it changed the whole game. Being here, I realize even more the power of an ensemble, the power of trust, the desire to connect and the hope that what I’m doing has a point, a message, a way to make change. Theatre is so much more than me trying to play a character. Theatre is full of endless possibilities to create something beautiful. Something important. Every philosophy class, I leave knowing I need to do more. Knowing and hoping that I can be a part of something larger than myself. Art that matters, not pointless money-making self indulgence. We can use our minds and our bodies to create informed, intelligent art. Intriguing art. Something about the air here makes me feel better about everything. Makes me have hope for the future and calmness about my role as an artist. Calmness, and excitement, because art matters.
–Annabelle Cousins, Boston University