Over the last few days the entire 4th floor at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts has been buzzing with the constant conversations about where the juniors are studying abroad. It is typical for a second year junior in the School of Theatre (SoT) to head off to London, England or Arezzo, Italy to go and experience theatre in some other way. There are always those who choose to spend their semester away from these concrete walls in some other way, but in about 2 ½ months you will find the majority of the juniors taking Europe by storm.
(© Accademia dell’Arte)
I am fortunate enough to be joining my fellow SoT kin in the great city of London, England. At this moment I am so very excited to head out to a land that currently seems fake. From as early on as I can remember London has always been described as this theatre mecca of sorts; and the fact that I get to spend four months completely submerged in this culture still hasn’t quite set in.
When I first found out I was accepted (after calling my parents and posting the standard Facebook status informing the world that I was “officially accepted to the London study abroad program”, of course) I realized I knew a whole lot less about the theatre scene over there than I thought I did. So, I quickly opened Google Chrome© and searched “theatre in London”. As you can image, I got a very broad, tourist focused search results page. I ignored those results and tried again, this time I came to a more reliable looking source. I clicked on the link and found the information that I had been searching for. This website brought me to options. I started perusing the site. After about a solid hour of reading reviews and learning about various theatres seasons, something dawned on me. A lot of what I was reading sounded similar to what I would read if I opened the New York Times Arts section. Similar is the key word here because something felt different about these shows than the articles written in the NY Times. The shows that I was reading about where all primarily shows that I see included in many seasons around Boston and New York. But the difference was that these classic texts that are universally performed are being adapted for the audiences of London. These directors, playwrights, designers etc. are all adjusting these plays to speak to their audiences of a more current time. Now, I am not saying that we are not adapting and making changes here in the US, I just feel that our changes are safer. The shows that I was reading about in the varying London press are shows I have seen before and know well yet they are grabbing my attention. I have a strong desire to see these shows!
This is when it hit me, again. This is a lot of why I am going to London. I am going so that I can compare and learn from a different culture. I am going to another continent so that I can experience another way to do theatre. It is not that there is a right and a wrong (well, personally I think there is… but that is another blog post) there are just different approaches to things and sometimes the best thing you can do for your artistic process, your creative mind, and you as an individual is go somewhere that pushes you out of this box. Going abroad is so much more than just going to see or experience theatre in a different place, it is about getting the opportunity to learn and be taught by a group of people who have been doing this a little longer than we have and who probably have a different perspective on things.
So, as we, the SoT class of 2015, gear up to pack our bags and fly across this ocean remember to be open to all ideas that come our way; go out and look at a piece of art in a whole new style; and remember that there is no better or worst, there is just different. Get excited about all the new things that are coming your way and prepare yourself for a challenge!