My feet started to ache as I danced and sang along to YMCA as it pulsed out of the speakers. Various characters frolicked across the stage in flashy costumes ranging from Godzilla to a traditional Queen Victoria. Even though I had been standing for a few hours, I was having so much fun that I didn't care. It's safe to say that this wasn't what I had expected from Romeo and Juliet performed at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
London is amazing place for anyone to experience theatre in a variety of ways that make it accessible for people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Whether you enjoy classical plays, entertaining musicals, or cutting edge shows, there is something to see. Going on the London Performance Study was a unique experience that allowed me to be immersed in a new culture of theatre and begin to understand how drama can affect personal life.
Being an English or Theatre major, or even a self-proclaimed drama fanatic definitely helps to make this experience even more impactful, but I truly believe that this abroad trip would be enjoyable to almost everyone. Sure, a three hour Shakespeare show may not be your cup of tea (it is one of mine!) but the artistry that goes into these productions is fascinating to witness. Alongside that, the history of many of the theatres in London is intriguing to learn about.
Almost every theatre that our abroad group went to see a show in had some sort of story behind it. Many people know the famed tale of The Globe burning down due to a production using real fire in a theatre with a thatched roof, which is still an integral part of the current design but has since been made fireproof, but there are dozens of other theatres in London with just as interesting histories (though I won't spoil them before you go abroad!) One of the most captivating parts of these theatres was the architecture and design. Intricate sculptures painted with gold sprawled across the walls, and luxurious curtains sectioned out boxes where the rich or nobility used to sit during shows of the past.
On the more academic side, London Performance Study is a very personalized class that incites a path for discovering your own personal aesthetic. With class discussions and lessons about the shows we had seen and what went into them, all of us students were able to clarify what specific things about drama we liked and why. And of course, the fact that all of the shows counted as class time was a plus too.
For me, this experience was a big step in understanding who I am as an artist and what I truly enjoy doing and creating. This is an important step for anyone. I have always been someone with a wide variety of interests, and this abroad program helped to facilitate and encourage differences while still getting down to the core of everyone's interests. Knowing what you like and the impact it has on your life and ambitions is key to living happily and making the most of your time and skills. So, if you are a theatre nerd like me or just love history and art, the London Performance Study is a fantastic way to learn more about drama as a whole, and how it affects you.
*Lauren Arzbaecher is an English and creative writing major at the University of Iowa. She will be spending her summer in London on the London Performance Study Program.
Student blog entries posted to this International Accents page may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UI Study Abroad and International Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.