As the Fall 2015 Semester rapidly approaches its end, we asked four physical theatre students to reflect on how they’ve grown, and what lessons they’ve learned about themselves since stepping off the plane in September. Also, we asked them to provide insight and advice for future ADA students! Read on to hear from Taylor, Jane, Jake, and Felice.
Taylor Beckman (Muhlenberg College, PA)
I feel that it is unfair that as a group we have to reflect on our time here at the Accademia because it is so difficult to put into words how I feel about this place. In these short three months, I have changed for the better. Some could even say that I have changed for good. When I have FaceTimed with my friends at home, they say that I am different but it’s more than just the five consecutive push-ups that I can do. My outlook on theatre and on creating art has changed in a way that lets me know that everything that I make has a meaning and a purpose. Statements need to be made that affect how others see the world, and what better way to do that then through the instrument of the body?
For anyone planning on coming to the Accademia, I could give you advice, but the point of coming here is making the experience your own. If you take advantage of all of the opportunities that are offered, you will tailor the program to the things that you are passionate about. Do you see people doing headstands and telling stories full of emotion with their bodies and think, “I could never do that?” First of all, that’s not true. Second, this is what I thought before coming here, but if you are willing to work hard and push your mind and body past foreseeable limits, then you most certainly can achieve your goals.
I don’t want to get too gushy, but I am so honored to have had this experience and to have made the wonderful friends that I did. This supportive environment has helped me grow as a performer and I hope that I have also helped others reach their full potential as actors. This was such a great ensemble to work with and I am so appreciative of their hard-working attitudes and dedication to strengthening their craft.
Jane Bertelsen (Muhlenberg College, PA)
I have learned so many lessons here at ADA, but I think one of the most important ones has to do with how I view myself. When I arrived here at the beginning of the semester I was very much in the mindset that I was going to have to change myself in order to become a better performer. And while I have absolutely changed in ways during my time here, I have come to realize that my growth as a performer has more to do with learning to use the tools that I already possess. This program has really helped me feel a freedom to express myself artistically in ways specific to me, and my performance styles. The pieces I created here especially helped me see that while I am a unique performer, that does not by any means I am a less valuable performer. Overall I am so grateful for these lessons and many more that I have learned here and could not be happier with my study abroad experience.
Jake Parisse (Muhlenberg College, PA)
This semester has been a whirlwind of growth. Personally, I had a lot of expectations for the Accademia, and it turned out to be a very balanced mixture of expectations happily met, as well as occurrences I could have never predicted. For future students, the biggest piece of advice I can offer, is WORK HARD. When devising materials work never really ends, so the more pieces you devise, the more out of class rehearsals you will need. Plan for that as the semester continues, you won’t want to – but travel as early possible, before the rehearsals become overwhelming. Working with European instructors also places emphasized responsibility on the students to advocate for themselves if they don’t understand a note or instruction. Tackling the language barrier is a two way street, and is not the sole responsibility of the instructor or the student.
Felice Amsellem (Muhlenberg College, PA)
It’s nearly impossible to sum up my experience here at the Accademia; I’ve learned more about myself in these three and a half months than I ever could have imagined. If I had to pick one piece of advice to pass on to the future students here it would be this: Don’t be too hard on yourself here. You’re here to learn and grow and have an incredible time, and as much as it’s important to be critical of yourself as a performer and as a person, it’s even more important to let yourself enjoy and have fun. This applies to both in and out of class. In class, take yourself and your work seriously, but try not to let it control you. Especially when it comes to doing something you have never done before, like Commedia or a crazy devised piece. Try to find the bright side if you’re struggling with something because trust me, it will get better. And outside of class, make sure you set aside time to get your work done, but also make sure you make time to travel. You’re going to be living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, so take advantage of it while you can. Take advantage of everything this country, this program, and this beautiful community of people has to offer you because if you have an experience anything like mine, it will change your life in the most unbelievable ways.