Lindsay Wagner ’09 now knows she has the endurance and determination to pursue a professional acting career after participating in the theater study abroad program last spring semester.
“If you want to be an actor, an intensive four-month acting training like this will really test if you’re meant to do this for the rest of your life or not,” said Wagner, a theater major.
Along with 24 classmates, Wagner spent the first month in Bonn, Germany, studying theater history, philosophy, media ethics and German at the Academy of International Bildung. In addition to their studies and absorbing the German culture, the students attended two to three theatre performances a week.
“The plays were hard to understand because they weren’t performed in English. I had to watch them from different perspectives rather than just getting caught up in the story,” said Wagner.“It really opened up my mind and my critical thinking skills.”
In February, the students arrived at the Moscow Art Theatre. They studied acting, movement and dancing in a conservatory-style environment. A typical day could last 10 or 11 hours.
“It was like boot camp, for actors, and definitely kept me fit and alert,” Wagner said. “I learned to be much more open, which helped me become a better listener and performer in the moment.”
The students then returned to Bonn to rehearse a play that was performed at the Bonn Schauspielhaus, Theatre am Ballsaal, in May. The play featured interwoven portions from three of Tony Kushner’s plays – “Angels in America,” “Slav’s” and “Bright Room Called Day.” Wagner found her “Intro to Acting” course taught by Diane Benedict, professor of theater and faculty adviser for the program, was the perfect preparation for the trip.
“Diane’s acting class was a great foundation for the type of work we did abroad. She employs some of the same teaching methods and exercises,” Wagner said. “We came in with that knowledge so they didn’t have to go back and teach us the basics.”
Wagner learned other valuable training in addition to her acting skills: “Studying in another country and exposing yourself to a different culture really helps you learn so much about yourself and your role in the world,” Wagner said. “This was definitely one of the most eye-opening experiences that I have ever had.”