One week until the final presentation! Read below for some reflections about collaboration and some advice for future students from Physical Theatre Students TJ Little, Tara Ellwood, Autumn McNutt, and Steph Pilavin!
TJ Little, Coastal Carolina University
Being in Italy for a semester, learning to devise theatre can be very stressful. It’s okay. Accept what you are feeling that particular day and do your best to move on. Everyone is shooting for one common goal and that is to present the best work possible. Everyone is learning and no one knows the answer right away. I repeat. No one knows the answer right away. Patience is key. You will learn a lot about yourself. During my time this semester, I have learned how to breath and put life into my work. I have learned to remain open and listen to my fellow classmates within a devised piece. I can now celebrate the artistry in me and bring to the table what I am capable of. I have learned that I am enough.
Tara Ellwood, Muhlenberg College
It’s been really satisfying to be devising a full piece for our final this week! We have so much work that we’ve created over the course of the semester that we can draw from, and mixing the work from both groups has been a lot of fun! While collaborating can be tough, a lot of really interesting work is sprouting up. I’m finding that I am able to draw from a huge bevy of work. Merging our ideas has been a really big source of inspiration for me creatively, even in some ways outside of class. Though not every idea makes it into the show, it’s so cool to hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas. Being abroad in Arezzo means a lot of collaboration, and that can be really rewarding. I also know that, personally, I need some alone time every now and then! It’s a little bit of a balancing act at times, but it’s also a really good experience to learn about yourself!
Autumn McNutt, Coastal Carolina University
Some advice I would give to students in the future would be to always stay positive. It can get frustrating collaborating with so many people at one time but know that everything works out in the end. Always remember to reward each other on the great work you’ve done, take time for yourselves whether together or individually and reflect on your process and what you can do to improve future performances. On another note, it is important to know that it can get very loud in the villa, if you are a light sleeper make sure you bring earplugs, eye masks, or medicine like melatonin to help you get the rest you need, it is very important. Don’t underestimate the work you will be doing here, the days are long and require a lot of energy so make sure you are eating a lot of protein and getting enough rest. Enjoy yourselves, this time is precious, take everything in one day at a time.
Stephanie Pilavin, Muhlenberg College
5 pieces of advice for future students:
1. Bring something warm and fuzzy!
Nights and mornings can get chilly in the villa, and there’s nothing quite like having a big blanket or some fluffy socks to make it feel like home. Wearing a comfortable sweatshirt during the 8 am trek down to the Teatrino for physical prep makes all the difference!
2. The wifi comes and goes, so learn to roll with it.
Sometimes you might only catch wifi in one corner of the living room. But don’t panic! Try reading something fun from the library, doing a puzzle, attempting to juggle, playing around with movement in the Sala Danza, messing around on the guitar with the chord and a half that you know, or going up to catch a sunset from the Teatrino roof (but if you are craving a solid Netflix binge, I highly recommend downloading a bunch of episodes when you get the chance. That way, you can have the tv-in-bed experience without the stress of trying to connect to the wifi long enough to stream).
3. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable!
We’re shown new activities in classes that can seem bizarre or scary every day! But if you embrace being unsure of yourself, you have the chance to make amazing new discoveries. Your teachers and your classmates are always there for support, and you’ll be surprised at what you’re able to do if you have a little faith and try that nerve-wracking new exercise full out.
4. Explore Arezzo!
Traveling elsewhere is fun and amazing, but don’t forget about Arezzo! Take a weekend to wander around the antique fair, see the gorgeous view from the Medici Fortress, and get lost among the side streets.
5. Take a breather.
We are so busy all the time here that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Recognize when you need a moment for yourself. Have a sleepy Sunday where you order kebabs and hang out in bed, or just take an hour to journal, go on a walk, or listen to some music.