Before arriving in Italy, most of what I’d heard about European professors from friends who’d studied abroad before was rather… alarming. Common themes included uptightness, strict adherence for rules, and harsh grading systems. Well, we’ve been in class for a solid month now and I can definitely say that any kind of rigidity or coldness has been completely absent. Any sense of strictness and discipline that exists is purely in place to help me and my classmates work as hard and effectively as possible, and, really, the teachers have been some of the most warm and open that I’ve ever had.
Most of the time, my relationship with teachers and professors feels like that of a colleague, not a student. Classes are structured as collaborative, ensemble based experiences, with the teacher just as valuable a part of that ensemble. In our voice class, Kevin is just as eager to jump in the middle of our crazy vocalizing circles as we are, and when we pair up in movement class, Stella often pairs up, too. Criticisms are given not as mistakes being pointed out, but as a conversation with valuable advice being shared between an experienced, professional actor and a group of young, emerging actors. This is a contrast to many of the more traditional American acting classes I’ve had, where I feel a much stronger sense of being “below” my teachers in terms of what I had to bring to a conversation. There is an especially strict adherence to attendance, class participation, and outside work, that is at times more demanding than an American equivalent, but this has only pushed me to work harder and grow more.
This is particular to the ADA, but the student life environment actually contributes to the close feeling between students and teachers. The hall we all live in is actually in the same cozy villa as many of our classrooms, studios, and even our dining room and kitchen. We eat our meals with professors and teachers, where we’re freely able to talk about anything ranging from classroom topics, to art and performance in general, to everyday life and jokes. Times like this, feel like I know my professors as real people, even as friends. It contributes to the overall feeling I have that the Accademia is a community of artists, not just a school.
– Alyssa Hanning
Well I guess the simple answer is it’s just dramatically (HA, theatre jokes) different from anything I’ve experienced in the states. The main thing that I’ve noticed is this critical difference in the respective pedagogies: Most of my American instructors have told me that there is a right way and a wrong way to do something. I’ve never felt that way since I’ve gotten here. I have never felt like a value judgment has been placed on anything that I’ve done in classes. There isn’t a right way and a wrong way to do the things we are being taught; there is only a “YOU” way. That’s a really good feeling to have: no matter what you do, you can’t be wrong. It’s very empowering and it encourages me to pour that much more effort and energy into each of the classes.
– Jakeim Hart