Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference
Since this is my first blog post, I am going to be doing a little bit of preliminary information on myself. My name is Tara Costello and I am a Junior Drama major from San Francisco who is currently spending my spring semester studying at the London Dramatic Academy. This program is an intense fourteen weeks that is meant to be similar to the three year training British actors generally receive in drama schools such as RADA or Guildhall or countless others. And when I say intense, I mean incredibly intense. No acting class is complete without someone crying through a speech. Throughout the course of these fourteen weeks, we will all take around twelve classes ranging from Period Dance to individual Alexander technique sessions to Shakespearean acting. The group of people in this program is small (21 people, 6 from CUA) and therefore allows for a lot of one-on-one time with our incredible teachers, all of who seemed to have acted at the RSC. This small amount of people has allowed for all of us to get to know each other very well since most people are coming from different schools around the US. This is exactly the kind of environment I want when I am in an acting program that is meant to stretch your limits as an actor. And no acting program would be complete without seeing British theater! Since I’ve been in London, I have managed to see thirteen plays ranging from the Donmar Warehouse’s critically acclaimed, all-female Julius Caesar to Theatre 503’s less successful fringe show Desolate Heaven. London is incredible about having rush tickets or cheap tickets for any show one can imagine from the West End to fringe theatres. The ability to go out and see all kinds of theatre is helpful to my growth at LDA because I am able to see how the techniques I am learning can be implemented. I would love to go into more detail about shows but I will save that for my other blog posts.
Right now, I am in my ninth week and it’s the second week back from our half term break. My half term break was the only time I am able to travel in the program because we are truly “studying abroad”. That means finals week level of work all semester. So I decided for my half term break that I would travel to places I’ve always wanted to go in Europe. I spent it in Paris and Berlin, which was a great experience. Paris is beautiful and super easy to get to from London. All me and Laura O’Brien, a Junior Musical Theatre major at CUA, had to do to get to this European gem was take the Eurostar out of St. Pancreas station and within two hours, we were across the Channel and in France. This is the incredible thing about Europe. Within an hour, a traveler can be in a different country that speaks an entirely different language then them and uses a different currency (if that traveler is, like me, coming from the UK to any other European Union country). We did all of the typical tourist things in Paris such as the Louvre and Versailles. It snowed the entire time we were in Paris but it made the city even more beautiful.
Berlin was an incredible city to see not because it is beautiful but because it is historical and pivotal to the 20th century. We spent most of our three days on the side of the city that was formally East Berlin and when we finally made it over to the former West Berlin sector, we noticed that it was drastically different then the East side. The most exciting moment I had in Berlin was when we accidently came across the Berliner Ensemble, which was Bertolt Brecht’s (one of the most famous German playwrights) home theatre. I screeched and yelled so loud that I am sure every person within that block knew that it was Brecht’s theatre. I was sadly unable to see any performances there but was just thrilled that I got to see this important place in theatre history. While traveling to these two different places was fun and challenging, I found that I was homesick for London and my fluency in the English language. We were gone on our journey for seven days and then returned home to begin the second half of our term.
In other blog posts, I plan to go into more detail about my classes, British culture, and London itself. Since I was only traveling that one time, I figured why waste such an incredible trip when I shan’t have any more! I look forward to telling you all more about the second half of the term and will keep you updated on my progress here at LDA.
Tara Costello is a Junior Drama Major at the Catholic University of America