Theatre Arts Students Experience a Semester in Germany

This past spring semester, around 20 theatre arts majors took part in a study abroad program to Germany, experiencing European theatre technique in Bonn and Berlin. Students are accompanied by LMU faculty on the trip, and attend classes, participate in intensive workshops, travel extensively, and finally, put on a professional show, staged at the famed Werksttatbuhne Theatre in Bonn.

The program is primarily located in Bonn, and while there, students take various on-hands acting, movement, voice and theatre history classes, taught by the highest quality international faculty at the Academie fur International Buildung (Education). A total of nine classes are offered, out of which six are required and three are electives. In addition to these classes, students attend six to eight intensive workshops both in Bonn, and while on a number of European excursions. An international array of artists from Germany, Russia, England, Croatia and the United States conduct the classes and the workshops.

“I can definitively say that this program is a life changing experience that opens a number of new ideas, possibilities, and pathways for our students,” said Neno Pervan, clinical assistant professor of theatre arts and the program director. “The students learn about new and different ways of training and practicing theatre arts, while immersing themselves into a different culture and new experiences. The program is challenging, however it teaches these young people how to adapt to new circumstances, how to think independently, sharpens their decision-making skills and improves their ability to work, collaborate and thrive across the international borders and often artificially invented limits.”

This year, there were two significant excursions taken. For the first trip, the students spent two weeks in Berlin, where they took part in ten days of acting workshops at the prominent acting school Michael Chekhov Studio, and also visited various professional theatres and shows, Q and A sessions with artists, historical and entertainment visits to various locations, sights and institutions. The theaters the group visited in Berlin are among the most prestigious ones in Germany as well as in Europe, including the Schaubuhne Theater and Berliner Ensemble.

Another notable trip was spending eight days in Zagreb, Croatia, where our students were the guests of the Academy of Dramatic Arts. Here again, they took part in intense acting workshops with various local instructors, visited three professional theatres, including Kerempuh (satyrical comedy theatre) and in ZKM (Zagreb Youth Theatre), two of the leading theatre companies in Croatia. Our students saw numerous shows, and met and talked with well-known local theatre artists. On the last day, they took a field trip to the internationally-known Plitvice Lakes National Park.

The final, and perhaps most gratifying phase of the program is work on a culminating show with professional local theatre artists, which include designers, choreographers, and movement specialists. The show is rehearsed for a period of six to eight weeks, and students work with a full staff and crew. These shows are regularly sold out and are well-publicized locally. This year’s production was famous German original play Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind.

“Work on the show is demanding, intense and exciting, said Pervan. “The idea is that students implement all the training that they have received during the program and exercise their best instincts and talents as young and up and coming actors and theatre artists.”