All Drama & Theatre students have the opportunity to Study Abroad during the second year of their degree. We have relationships with world-class Universities in Europe, the USA and Canada. We asked current second year Theatre student Imogen Sutherland to write to us from her semester of study at Keene State College in New Hampshire:
Dear York St John,
So, to be completely honest I’m not too sure where to start. I have now been in the states for just over 2 months, with 6 weeks to go and the time has flown by far too fast.
First of all, I have become a coffee-drinking-Starbucks lover, something I never thought I’d say! The caramel Macchiato has become a vital part of my week, and I now have my own Starbucks reward card!! (I am actually sat in Starbucks, with a caramel macchiato as I write this) I have also become a vegetarian, however with Thanksgiving just round the corner, turkey and stuffing may be too much of a temptation.
University life in the US is very different to my UK student life. For starters drinking alcohol is highly illegal until 21, and seeing as some students become freshman at the age of 17, student parties are a police fest. All accommodation is also catered for, meaning that food is unlimited, whenever you want it. Which is actually really dangerous because the food is amazing!!
An important part of my time here is the academic side. The structure of the week is very different, with much more set lecture times and classes repeated in the week. An 8am start on a Monday and Wednesday is a bit early for me. Midterms and pop quizzes are also very real, very scary things. Essays are also based on amount of pages rather than words, having handed in an 8-page midterm and an 11-page midterm already this semester I am now dreading finals. The work is fun, my recent research paper looked into the role of the British suffragette movement on the 21st Century feminist movement. 3 out of the of my 4 classes are acting/theatre based with the fourth being a sculpture class, which has actually become a bit more of a visual arts module which is good fun (and possibly worth the 8am beginning). My favourite module overall is my ‘Gender and sexuality within the Theatre’ (which my feminism paper was part of), it’s take me slightly out of my comfort zone but incredibly interesting.
Culturally I immersed myself fully into American life. Having a roommate has been a major part of that, of which I have been incredibly lucky. I have climbed a local mountain, been to Walmart, attended a pumpkin festival and Halloween in Salem (as in witchy Salem), apple picking, tried pumpkin flavoured everything, visited an actual thrift store, had the chance to go to Boston on many occasions (and experience Americans driving in Boston, I am definitely thankful for my life)and am heading to NYC next weekend. Then i’ll go to the Ben and Jerrys factory, have Thanksgiving, shop on Black Friday, go to an Ice hockey game, i’m busy and happy.
Overall, I am having an amazing time here and it’s sad to think I only have 6 weeks left. I am, obviously, missing my YSJ family a lot though (Skype and facetime are wonderful things).
I hope you are all doing amazingly, and I look forward to seeing you all for our Poland Field Trip in January!!
Through fragmented images, snatched conversations and half remembered events, York St John’s second year theatre students have created their production as a reconsidering of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. It has been composed in response to the student’s recent secular pilgrimage to Auschwitz; to try and answer the question “how will we remember when all the witnesses are gone?”
Every year Level 1 BA Theatre Students make a three-day visit to Featherstone Castle, an historic building near Haltwhistle, Northumbria. This field trip allows students to make site specific theatre in response to the building, its grounds and its history. This years work notably featured a haunting array of spooky devised work, performances that concentrated on theatre images, sound and space and moved away from dramatic representation to create environments for audience to experience the live situation as a presentation of tasks, gestures and text. Two students, Alex Kaniewski and James Harris have provided reflections on their experiences (below).
“After being told that we were going to make theatre in an old, semi derelict castle in the middle of the Northumbrian countryside, most of us did not have a clue what to expect and little did we know what an amazing experience it would be. To have free reign of an entire Castle and the ability to explore its vast network of interesting rooms, corridors and stairways was nothing less than exciting and enchanting. The aim of the trip was to create work in response to the space around us, with most groups playing with the ideas of supernatural spirits, the history of past occupants and the general creepy atmosphere of the place. It was a very interesting place to work, as sound and movement could be very effective without the need for much verbal communication, a simple whistle was enough to have our audience frightened and disorientated. It was also a great opportunity to get to know each other, and the friendships we have developed by working with new people will be invaluable as the course progresses. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Featherstone Castle, and the experiences that I have shared with my course mates I feel has brought us all closer together.” (Alex Kaniewski Level 1 BA Theatre)
“A memory that I will always treasure was walking to the river. In my hands I held a glass full to the brim with water and a small stone inside. Was this a representation of life; a tiny stone in a vast sea of water? We were asked to throw the water and tiny gem back into the river and speak a meaningful word aloud or to our selves. Almost as if we were giving an offering to the gods. I screamed ‘Mercy’. I questioned my self, why did I say that? Nothing. Its no mistake that a site can contain a flood of emotions and memories, especially when you’re driven hours away from home. Featherstone Castle, like most odd looking places, was brought back to life by some measly looking theatre students for three-days and I will always remember it.” (James Harris, Level 1 BA Theatre)
The first of this semesters Performing House series began last week with a performance by graduate theatre company Verb Arts. Performers Amy Camsell & James Norris presented ‘A Mothers Trace’ a work that questions one’s ability to parent – or ‘mother’. ‘A Mothers Trace’ uncovers a traumatic past and discusses the repercussions of parenting from parent to child, Camsell & Norris took a scrupulous and unforgiving look at their own potential as compassionate and caring parents.