Today’s blog post is by guest-blogger and MATS Summer Intensive Alumna, Melissa Fenton. Melissa is a 2010 graduate of Butler University and now lives and works in Los Angeles.
I remember an immediate respect for the quality of art I saw – not just in theatres – everywhere. Advertisements were glossy and beautiful, the people themselves seriously aesthetic, and everywhere I turned, some street performance was wow-ing a crowd. First impression? Russians were serious about, well, just about everything.
This proved to bode well for our group as we made our way, awkward and American, into the world of Russian Theatre. We bumbled about in ballet class, ached and moaned and human pretzel-ified ourselves in movement, reveled in the absolute joy that was acting class, and any spare time we had left was dedicated to seeing shows. I think we saw over twenty shows while we were there. They were all amazing and alive, like nothing I’d ever seen or felt before. Everything was perfect. Refined over and over and over again, sometimes for years, we were told, until the Russians decided it was perfect. Their standards account for the often-lengthy rehearsal schedule.
But it showed. It was truly an experience I wish for every student of theatre. When I saw what was happening in those theaters, I felt something “click”. I understood why I loved this art form so much and how endless the possibilities were.
One final memory, and I think that will do. I remember this beautiful group of young actors, standing in line to audition for the school. They were 16, 17, some probably younger. All beautifully decked out in their meticulous clothes, personalities shining, the girls in red lipstick and collected brows. There was an air of dignity about them, lined up from the stone steps and on through the narrow corridors. I could tell they were honored to be there. They were there to learn.