Accademia Autumn: A Fall 2018 Newsletter
We are gearing up for another exciting semester at the Accademia dell’Arte! In the spirit of collaboration, creation and community, the ADA is offering as many opportunities as possible for our 44 Music and Physical Theatre students to share practical studio work facilitated by various faculty to feed their creative process.
On top of the Collaboret, both Music and Physical Theatre students are working together on a Collaborative Final that will be presented towards the end of the semester. In addition to consistent practical classes in Movement, Commedia dell’Arte and Voice and Ensemble Performance, physical theatre students will have intensives with both Paola Bianchi on Movement and the Word and Sam McGehee on Devising Practices. These workshops are just two in the many ways students will begin to connect the trans-disciplinary approach of our collaborative pedagogy.
Music students are traveling to Florence, Venice, Milan and also taking an Art Tour around Tuscany, while Physical Theatre students will work with the professional company, EN Knap, in Ljubljana, Slovenia. We are also looking forward to hosting several events that will be offered in conjunction with the Collaborative Arts Lab including a music experimentation concert by Tomaz Grom. Make sure to stay tuned into our social media platforms and the ADALife blog to see the adventures our students will be experiencing over the next few months!
– Dory Sibley (Director of Short-Term Programs, Inter-Program Associate, Core Faculty: Voice and Ensemble Performance)
First Impressions of Training at the ADA
When students come to study at the Accademia dell’Arte, they begin a three month journey of intensive physical theatre training, which may be dynamically different than any training they’ve experienced before.Two and a half weeks into classes we asked Mary Kate Korbisch (Coastal Carolina University) and Emma Payne (Fordham University) about how the training has impacted them so far.
Can you choose one class that you feel most engaged in, that keeps you thinking about the material even after you leave the classroom? Why this class?
EMMA: The first one that came to mind is the movement class. It’s really inspired me to keep exploring outside of the classroom. The content on contemporary physical theatre that we have seen in our contemporary performance seminar, which compliments the movement class, has really blown my mind. On the one hand, what we’ve seen and discussed so far has been so foreign to me, but on the other hand the way of communicating that it portrays makes a deeper kind of sense to me. There’s just a part of me that I really see within that work that I’ve never seen reflected back to me before.
MARYKATE: Voice. The first voice class I took it was spring my freshman year and I struggled so hard with the work. I wasn’t understanding it and felt like I couldn’t open myself to the work. There was such a block there. I struggled so much in the class and I don’t know why, but I knew the work was really important and it was working for other people. I don’t think it was the right time for me to take that kind of class. So being here it’s nice that it’s my favorite class and I’ve already learned the most from it. I’m finally able to be worked on in through the voice in this way. The voice work also teaches me so much about my body it’s mind blowing. The beginning of this summer I focused myself a lot on fitness and learning about my body in that way, and now learning about my body through voice work it feels like all coming together in a way I can really understand now.
How does this class differ from the training at your home institution?
EMMA: When I’m training at my home institution I’ve felt more pressure to create a product whereas with this class it’s about the process and the process is so playful. It doesn’t even feel like work.
MARY KATE: It feels like here you have more time to truly explore each exercise for yourself. At Coastal you would read a chapter at home from the voice book and try to do an exercise at home, but you don’t know really what it means and what it should be. Here there’s a lot more time for understanding.
Can you describe a moment from the class that resonated with you?
EMMA: Last night the screening we watched. My mouth was just wide open the whole time. I don’t think i’ve ever had that clear of a moment of that’s what I want to do.
MARY KATE: Even just the first day hearing Dory’s philosophy. She opened with the Frank Ottiwell quote “Though we are not often enough aware of it, each and every action we engage in is an action of our whole self” and she told us that’s how she tries to lead every day. I feel like all my own philosophies are being reflected to me in this work.
An Inside Look into Living at Villa Godiola
The students are quickly adjusting to new routines and the schedule of living at Villa Godiola. To get an inside perspective on what it’s like to be a student at the Accademia, we sat down with music student, Mary Pauline Sheridan-Rabideau (Furman University), and physical theatre student, Jonathan Fleming (Muhlenberg College), to hear about their living experiences.
What is your favorite thing so far about living at Villa Godiola?
MARY PAULINE: I love how close everyone is to each other and how community based studying and hanging out and meals are. Everything is so intertwined with the people we have classes with and also people we wouldn’t know otherwise. A lot of theatre kids we’ve gotten to know since we live on the same hall and because we have meals together.
JONATHAN: One of my favorite things is to sit on top of the Teatrino and look out at the sunset because living in Italy it’s a completely different landscape than back home and so to look out at the rolling hills of Tuscany and the sunset is so beautiful and creates a visceral reaction of pure joy, that’s the only way I can describe it. Living in the villa with everyone and getting to work day in and day out is exciting because I feel like our work never stops in the best way possible. I feel like I’m constantly being challenged to continue my work and collaborate with everyone whether it’s inside or outside of class so to be doing that all day every day is really exciting.
Has anything surprised you about living at the villa?
MARY PAULINE: Something that has surprised me is that even though we don’t spend a lot of time in our rooms necessarily we still spend a lot of time together. I kind of thought our rooms would be locations to hang out with each other, but usually we spend a lot of time in common areas.
JONATHAN:Everyone says you’re living in Italy that must be so cool to work and live with your best friends. But something that surprised me is having to take a step back and recognize where I want to go and the artist I want to become and the person I want to become. This requires a lot of time by myself. I had the expectation that you constantly have to be on all the time. The thing that’s surprising is that I’m allowing myself to take that time I need to not constantly be positive and to not demand myself to have fun every second. On my off days I allow myself to take time and process what’s going on and how I feel.
What about the town of Arezzo, how has it compared to any expectations you had before arriving?
MARY PAULINE: In terms of living in Arezzo, I would say I’ve been to Italy before and when I went to Rome and it was very touristy and so I was expecting more of the same in Arezzo, and I’m really glad it hasn’t been that way. In some ways I was expecting it to be touristy, but then because I knew it was a small town I was expecting maybe less tourists, but it’s kind of been in the middle. I think the middle ground in terms of tourism in Arezzo is a really interesting place to fall because usually people travel to either a really touristy place to try to get a glamorous experience or they travel to a remote place for an in depth experience, but this seems more realistic. More like real life.This whole experience seemed really distant and imaginative but all of a sudden being here in a real life place has made me realize how similar places are and the way people live even if they’re thousands of miles away from each other.
JONATHAN: I think the thing that’s stuck out to me is how similar it is to my lifestyle back home. I came in thinking that everything would be completely different. But there’s still similar things. Feel good restaurants that remind me of America or really nice restaurants that I can indulge in the Italian fine food. I love the culture of walking around and I feel like there’s a pleasant feeling. Back home everyone is so invested in social media and it feels stifled. Here I think people allow themselves to show affection and make deeper connections between each other. And to make those connections with people in town but also amongst the accademia too is great.
A Student on Student Interview
With both the Physical Theatre Program and Music Program in full swing, it can be hard for students to find time to understand the work their peers are doing in another program. To help bridge this gap, we asked Shalick Smith (Music Program, Furman University) and Elizabeth Templeman (Physical Theatre Program, Muhlenberg College) to interview each other about their respective programs and their experience so far this semester.
SHALICK: How has it been working with Italian and European teachers?
ELIZABETH: I wouldn’t say it’s completely out of the ordinary for me because I’m a language student so I’m used to having teachers who speak different languages, but I do think that here especially there are some times when the context is not completely understood. There is a learning curve in that you have to understand what the teacher is trying to explain to you and there are different ways that you could interpret what they’re saying but I wouldn’t say it’s been completely difficult. It’s so much more interesting and you can learn a lot about different perspectives from them. Their outlook and what they’ve learned and their experience is definitely something to look up to. So what would you say is your favorite class so far?
SHALICK: My favorite class I think is Italian because I love languages too, and I’ve already taken Spanish and French and taking Italian is really cool. Next I want to take German. So I’m really getting a well-rounded feel for the different languages I have to sing in.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, I was actually going to ask that, is that part of why you’re so into linguistics because you sing in different languages and styles?
SHALICK: Yeah. That’s a big part of it.
ELIZABETH: What would you say is your favorite language to sing in?
SHALICK: That’s actually weird because my favorite language to sing in is Italian, but my favorite language to speak is French. It’s hard singing in French. How do you feel about the collaborative opportunities? Like the Collabaret…have you gotten to work with any musicians yet?
ELIZABETH: Not quite yet. I’m really excited to, but I think getting everyone together and doing that has been a difficult process, but obviously we can learn a lot from each other and what we do in our own studies. We saw this musician this past week in Slovenia, and he was a base player, and he started warming up, he was going to have a concert for us, and he was warming up and he was playing and plucking, but then when he started playing his actual pieces he wasn’t playing with the bow on the strings he was knocking on the instrument, and using different objects to make sounds and make music. He took this rock, this boulder, and he scratched it on banjo strings and it made the craziest plucking eerie sound and it was absolutely insane. Then we had one of our students, Emma, go up and improvise a dance through what he was doing, and then we had another student, Ben, do a shakespeare monologue and do an improvisation between the bass and the shakespeare monologue. It was absolutely insane, so I think that we just need to get to that point where we’re able to let loose and allow that to happen because there’s absolutely no limits to what we could create. But I think we’re all caught up in making something fantastic, but if we all let go and see what happens I think we could create something really amazing. What do you think about the collaboret?
SHALICK: I’m excited for it. I went to an arts high school, but we were never given the opportunity to all get together to create something, at least not in formal setting. So to be able to do this it’ll be formal but also informal. Like there is structure to what we’re doing but it’s not a big commitment. It’s really nice to be able to be part of that.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, that’s so true. To have a structure, but no structure.
ELIZABETH: That’s kind of something that we’ve been learning in a lot of our classes. A lot of the stuff we’re doing is based off of instinct and listening to yourself and impulses. Except for Commedia haha. Apparently there is some right and wrong things to do in Commedia. Anyway, yeah I think this is something that we’re taught in general education to stay away from. Our intuition, our impulse is there’s something that’s right and something that’s wrong, but can’t there just be something that is? And to use that to drive your creativity.
SHALICK: Hmm, that’s interesting. I have a question, what was your biggest shock coming to Italy. Like what were you not expecting, what were you excited for?
ELIZABETH: Hmm. I’m not sure. I might have to think about that. How about you, maybe if you say something, I’ll get an idea.
SHALICK: Haha, okay. It’s really interesting seeing that everyone in town dresses similar. No matter what the age is everyone seems to sort of follow the same trend. I’ve seen young and old, even young children dressed like that. It’s really cool to see that.
ELIZABETH: Yeah! You made me think of something. When I see children out at like 10 or 11pm with their families that’s crazy to me. Also there’s SO many mopeds. I mean I knew there were gonna be a lot but there’s actually a lot. Last weekend we went to Naples and I swear every five seconds a moped drove by me and I had to leap to the curb. Oh how would you describe your classes and what you’ve been doing so far?
SHALICK: Well a lot of it just follows the curriculum of Furman. All the classes I’m taking here I take at Furman minus Italian Arts and Culture, which is a really cool class because we each do presentations on a church that we’re going to go visit within the next week or two. We’ll learn about the art, architecture, the music that was performed there (if there was music at all) at the church. That’s the only difference. I’ve taken music history before. Conducting is new, which is cool because you gain a lot of respect for your conductors who lead your ensembles because you have to think about a lot, but not make it seem so.
ELIZABETH: Yeah you gotta be subtle, but you know you have a lot to pay attention to. That’s so interesting. So you take conducting, italian culture and arts, and what are your other classes?
SHALICK: Music History and Italian.
ELIZABETH: Nice. And then how many, I know from walking around the Accademia I hear everyone practicing all the time, but how many hours would you say you practice per day. I know you’re a vocalist.
SHALICK: No more than about an hour, just so I don’t tire myself out. A lot of practicing can be just you studying the music, going over text, making sure you have a feel for it, a natural flow in your speaking pattern of it, and then adding that in your singing. It makes a big difference. You can tell when someone’s really studied the text. But I really only spend like an hour max. Not every day. Gotta take a break.
ELIZABETH: Yeah you gotta save the voice. We have a voice and ensemble class where we talk a lot about the spine and the articulation and how that effects the breath and stuff like that. Is there anything that you’ve learned as a vocalist to help with projection? What kind of tactics do you use for good airflow?
SHALICK: Less is more. Don’t expel too much air because then you’re not going to make it through a phrase and then you’re going to have to break and take in more air. Try to get through it if you can. It’s of course not good to break a phrase. Just really staying connected to the breath and the spine alignment is very important. You have to make sure that your back muscles are activated and you’re taking in the correct amount of air because you can take in too much and have a lot of tension. So just really making sure your spine is aligned and you’re connected on the breath if that makes sense.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, totally. Well said.
SHALICK: So do you guys like practice outside of class? How does that work?
ELIZABETH: I wouldn’t say we do a whole lot of practicing outside of class. We have classes until 6:30 at night, so we have a lot going on during the day. But everyone has stuff that they do outside of class for themselves. I know a few times I’ve gone to the Sala Danza to practice movement or done some of the spinal articulation that we do in class. Then also just when we’re all hanging out together we’re doing our own version of improvisation, kind of like what we do in Commedia. This is a much more relaxed setting than what we do in class, but it’s almost like when we’re together hanging out we’re practicing because we’re working off of each other, we’re working off of each others’ energies, and we’re getting accustomed to working with one another.
Celebrating 10 years with Monica Capacci
Almost everyone who has graced the doors of the Villa Godiola has fond memories of Monica Capacci. Over the years I have seen Monica deal with anything and everything. She does it with grace, balance and with a profound love for our students and the ADA. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such a strong, intelligent woman as a big part of my adult life. I am in awe of how Monica cares so deeply for the development of this unique institution and for the young artists that make this their home. – Dory Sibley (Inter-Program Associate, Director of Short-Term Programs, Core Faculty: Voice and Ensemble Performance)
DORY: Are you ready for your 10 year-anniversary interview?
MONICA: Hahahaha! You know, I remember when I met you.
MONICA: Yeah. You were sitting on the front steps. Your hair was much longer!
DORY: Hahaha! True. And I remember that it was my job to “train” you and I quickly realized, actually I just need to show you where everything is!
MONICA: Ha! We shared an office for quite a long time.
DORY: That’s true!! We quickly figured out that was not gonna work when I had to leave every time a student needed privacy. I think I’m the only office buddy you ever had.
DORY: Well, let’s get to it. How is the Accademia different from when you began?
MONICA: Over the past ten years the Accademia has become home. When I started I had colleagues and now I have friends. The students first arriving and then returning as alumni are such a big part of my daily life.
DORY: What are some of your favorite moments?
MONICA: I love students’ performances. One of the funniest moments though was creating the “Lonely Boy” video with the entire ADA.
DORY: How do you think the ADA will continue to develop?
MONICA: I think the Accademia has a bright future. I see more programs, more students and more people making it a big part of their lives.
DORY: Describe your job in one sentence.
MONICA: Problem solving and support giving… if “ready to retire” doesn’t count… Just kidding!
Monica Moments – Thoughts from Alumni, Faculty, and Staff
How did Monica impact your time at the ADA?
– The best way I can describe Monica Capacci is probably “Tuscan Mary Poppins”, primarily because she seems to have an incredible Capaccità (see what I did there?) for cleaning up messes. As a living, breathing, walking mess myself, it’s impossible to imagine what my time at the ADA would have looked like without her. Like the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia, she has eyes and ears all over Arezzo, faithfully reporting on the escapades of her students. But like Glinda from the Wizard of Oz, she is truly a Good Witch, who, also like Glinda, can help her little loves find everything they need: from shoe advice to directions down the cobblestone roads. I know she would float down to the Questura in a giant bubble if she could, but even without bubbles and wands, Monica makes magic happen at the ADA. – G. Ben Fred (Alumnus, Former Student Life Coordinator)
– I recently applied to be a mentor in Chicago’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and one of their screening questions was to inquire about a mentor figure I’ve had in my life. Without missing a beat, my answer was Monica. Monica is the kind of mentor who effortlessly leads by example, who has taught me so much about myself simply by being her authentic self.
Monica served as a font of knowledge and resources when I was a student, turned into a wonderful supervisor as I moved from intern to staff member, and her friendship withstands time and distance. Monica helped me learn to advocate for my needs, to choose my battles but fight the chosen ones through to the end, and always to live with integrity. In her office, I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried, in her company I’ve cried so hard I’ve laughed, and there is no student at the ADA who has not been made better for Monica being there. (Some would disagree, but once they grow up they’ll come around.)
I’ve gotten a little bit deep, so let me also state that Monica is the Brain to my Pinky. She is fun-loving and strange, a complete and total nerd, and for that we love her all the more. I would literally vomit rainbows all over her if I could. Monica Capacci is the coolest chick around, and I will never have a better boss. Rock on, girl! – Genevieve Durst (Spring 2012, Student Life Coordinator 2013-2015)
– Monica is the queen of all things student life. As a student, I loved her memes in the Facebook group, her tour of Arezzo, and her lessons on the culture of Italy and what different gestures mean. As a staff member, I appreciated Monica’s ability to make me laugh no matter what, her love of Game of Thrones, and the fact that I could come to her with any problem and she’d know exactly what to do. She was the most supportive boss I ever had and I learned so much from working with her. – Kristen Wendt (Fall 2013, Student Life Coordinator 2015-2017)
– Monica does such an amazing job of taking care of our students that they frequently and affectionately call her “Momica”. I am constantly inspired by the way she can dive head first into any situation with authority, tranquility and determination. When Monica is around no matter what the situation is I know that everything will be okay. – Becca Canziani (Fall 2015, Student Life Coordinator 2017-present)
– Monica was always the Mama Bear for me. She would be the first to jump in if you needed her, but didn’t take any of your crap. She was the guiding light I would go to when I had no idea what I was doing, which was often, and she always had the answer I needed to hear. Mama Bear always took care of her cubs, and I would have been lost without her. – Emily Pfieffer (Spring 2016)
What’s a memory you have of Monica that jumps out?
– Once as a student, after food poisoning sent me to the emergency room in Arezzo, I woke up to see Monica standing over me, like my guardian angel, but probably better dressed. Noticing the IV in my arm, I immediately asked, “How much is this going to cost my father?” She smiled. “Welcome to Italy!” It was all free.
Welcome to Italy. From the moment the students touch down in Florence or Rome, Monica is fully committed to making sure they feel welcome in her country. She makes the students feel so welcome and cared for, in fact, that when she is off the clock, she literally has to go into hiding, so that students accustomed to the advice “Just ask Monica” don’t turn her full-time job into a 90-hour week with their last-minute casual questions. Nevertheless, on one of my visits back to the ADA after my time as a student and employee of the school was over, Monica came to surprise me at my birthday dinner. It was like getting a visit from Judy Dench. I was star-struck.
Monica’s intimate knowledge of American culture makes her perfectly-suited for her role at the ADA, but if she ever gets tired of dealing with the extensive laundry list of young American artists’ problems and wants to find an easier job in her future, perhaps she could become Secretary-General of the United Nations. Still, as I really can’t imagine the school without her, I hope she’ll agree to stick around, at least until the winds change and her successor, umbrella in hand, comes flying in. For tolerating my nonsense for 3 months as a student and 2 years as an uncoordinated coordinator, I am grateful for her patience, and dedication to helping me and my colleagues see Italy at its finest. Auguri, Monica! Sei un tesoro! – G. Ben Fred (Alumnus, Student Life Coordinator)
– I have two. One is slightly more sentimental, and one is slightly more Monica.
Sentiment first: Cera Una Volta, some students at the ADA were involved in a weird dramatic love triangle. (I know, you’re surprised.) As student life coordinator at the time, this was strange for me, and I went to Monica for advice. (She knew everything about it without me telling her, I know, you’re surprised.) In response to my befuddlement and confusion in the midst of all this angst, she simply said, “Well… they’re young, and the world is full of people.” It’s been blowing my mind ever since.
And the most Monica of Monica stories: I started reading the Game of Thrones series when I was Student Life Coordinator, and I got really sucked in to the series. I read the first two books in just under a week and started having bizarre dreams. I reported to Monica that I needed to back off because I had been sucked in and then went off and had a merry weekend. The following Monday, Monica came into my office with a grave look on her face. “I have done something,” she said to me. What had she done? She had, over the weekend, watched the ENTIRE Game of Thrones series, for the very first time, from start to finish (this was about four seasons in). And of course she had done that. Of course her response to my GoT overload was to get completely sucked in to that fantasy world. I just shook my head. It was so Monica. – Genevieve Durst (Spring 2012, Student Life Coordinator 2013-2015)
– My favorite Monica memory is the day I hid in a giant cardboard box in the hallway for like 20 minutes just so I could jump out and scare her when she walked by. She tried to be mad, but she couldn’t hide the laughter. Also, I loved to pop into her office singing songs I knew would get stuck in her head, like “Maria Salvador” and “Andiamo a Commandare.” – Kristen Wendt (Fall 2013, Student Life Coordinator 2015-2017)
– On my first day as the Student Life Coordinator a new episode of Game of Thrones had just come out. When I arrived at the office and said I hadn’t watched the new episode, Monica told me to turn around and go watch the new episode before coming back to work, so that we could talk about it later that day. I willingly obliged. – Becca Canziani (Fall 2015, Student Life Coordinator 2017-Present)
– My favorite memory of Monica was from her history tour through Firenze. I was in awe of her extensive knowledge, and I learned so much about the Medici family that trip, that I felt like I was Cosimo’s best friend for a day. She used her amazing Monica essence to transport us through time and into the lives of these influential powerhouses. I loved seeing her excitement for sharing her knowledge with us. I will always hold that journey in my heart. – Emily Pfieffer (Spring 2016)
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