I know that can be a frightening concept. I know, especially as a solo young woman, that is a potentially dangerous thing to suggest. But I can also tell you that as someone who has traveled for a cumulative month alone, I was anything but that. I think, as theatre artists with varying political agendas, it is essential to our craft to break from our BFA bubble and engage with others who are far from familiar to us.
I hiked the West Highland Way in Scotland two summers ago on my own. I met and befriended people from four different continents, for no other reason that we were all solo hikers. I helped save a young boy’s life as he was having a severe asthma attack in the middle of the Highlands, and I was the only one who spoke fluent English and could understand the first responder’s thick Scottish brogue. I then sat down for soup with several of the other hikers who were also taking care of the boy. We talked about art from our own countries, from America, Brazil, Paris, and Australia. How else would I be able to meet such an array of individuals in only ten days time?
Traveling solo in Rome, I befriended the owner of a successful restaurant and was invited back the next day to open the place with the rest of the staff over wine and pesto. This all happened once I told the owner I was a writer, and he sat with myself and another solo traveler and we shared stories. In Florence, I met a woman who’s partner heisted her family’s artwork years after they were forced to flee their homeland. She never shared her name.
Even if only for a day trip, spend some time flying solo. Tell people from other countries you are a theatre artist, track their reactions. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much respect that can garner you depending on who you speak to. Share stories, and then share them again once you return to the US in your work. If all the world’s the stage, then go see it for yourself, and report back to your audiences.
To those of you going abroad: there is no better way to learn about who you are then to travel somewhere where nobody or nothing can identify who you were.