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BWW Blog: My Summer at The Stella Adler Self-Generated Theater Intensive

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BWW Blog: My Summer at The Stella Adler Self-Generated Theater Intensive

As my Freshman year of college came to a close, I began to look for summer theater programs where I could further practice my craft. I was very aware of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting which is known by many as being in the likes of the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute and The Actors Studio as well as for having a plethora of famous alumni. However, when I did further research on Stella Adler, I learned that the school has a major focus on social justice and creating theater for a change. This is something that I'm particularly passionate about within theater. I then noticed that among its summer offerings was a Self-Generated Theater Intensive. There, I would have the opportunity to take a variety of hands on, interactive classes that involved me creating my own theater pieces while even incorporating the school's focus on theater for a change. This further intrigued me. I would be able to take charge in a number of projects as well as collaborate with others on original pieces. This was enough to sign me up and plan to live in New York City for a month.

On my first day, I was nervous as I usually was back then when it came to opportunities like this. I was going to be nearly on my own in the city and taking classes at one of the most notable acting schools in the country. Nevertheless, I knew I was soon going to get over my nervousness and have the adventure of a lifetime. When I first went up inside the studio for orientation, I was soon gathered with my fellow members of the intensive for a group picture. We were actually one of the smallest if not the smallest intensive there. The standard acting conservatory that they were offering must have had hundreds of people as they were split up into at least five different groups. That didn't bother me though. A smaller group meant a tighter bond. That was immediately proven to me in our first class that day. Within twenty minutes to half an hour, we were already having someone trust the rest of us to lift them in the air. This was only in the beginning of a thrilling month at Stella Adler in New York City.

BWW Blog: My Summer at The Stella Adler Self-Generated Theater IntensiveThe classes that we all took were Morning Movement, One Person Show, Composition (Where we made theater pieces based on movement exercises and snippets of writing and music), The Business of Theater, Writing From the Heart (Where we wrote theater pieces based on parts of our lives) and Creating Theatre (Where we devised longer group pieces that we eventually got feedback on). I was always being pushed beyond my limits both physically and mentally for the better. I gained more confidence in developing and workshopping my ideas both as an individual and as a team. I learned how I can bring my work to the next level. I was even able to show my vulnerability. The two greatest examples of such was when I spoke out about my aunt's passing all while eventually showing my true emotions and holding on to things that reminded me of her and presenting my one person show in our final showcase where I revealed that despite my impressive accomplishments in life, I still sometimes consider myself to be a failure and I'm actually a bit self-conscious. Yet this was all in a safe, comfortable space and I had the support of my teachers and classmates. We even had the opportunity to talk to visiting artists who are well respected in the city for creating their own theater works and companies. We learned how they got started and what advice they would give us as we start our own individual journeys. These were a number of classes that explored a huge variety in how we can present original work to what can one day be a large group of people, but already we were feeling the impact.

Now, the class that was by far the most life changing was Outreach. For this, we traveled to Rikers Island every Wednesday and participated in acting lessons and eventually a showcase for a small audience with a group from the women's prison. Each time we went, we had to go through multiple, intense security checks in order to go inside and witnessed just some of the insane living conditions that these women had to go through every day. However, we didn't see these women as prisoners, we saw them as human beings. We came together to practice the art of acting and have discussions about poetry that we were inspired by and what drove us to be in the room that day. We were a collective and it has inspired me to want to continue such work and prove that regardless of our circumstances, we can come together as one through theater.

In what was really a short amount of time that was spent with one another, we actually managed to create deep bonds and lifelong friendships. Not only did we spend long periods of time with each other through hours of classes five days a week and rehearsals for our projects afterwards, but we also frequently hung out outside of the studio as well. We went out to meals together, saw shows that a few of us were working on outside of the intensive and even celebrated our last day together with a trip to a karaoke bar. I have the upmost respect and admiration for all who were in the intensive with me. They're amazing artists and human beings and I'm always eager to see what they're now up to in their quests to take over the world with their art.

Of course, I was also thrilled to have the opportunity to explore New York City on my own in my free time. Whether I would be shopping and visiting cultural institutions or going to Pride and just walking around, I learned why so many people call the city home and why it's so renowned. I even lived in an NYU dorm and bonded with my two roommates who were in the city for internships. While my money probably went down the drain, I wouldn't trade the experiences I had for the world.

If one has the means to, I definitely recommend the Stella Adler Self-Generated Theater Intensive. It deserves so much more attention that it already has. Not only are you in the land of opportunity, but you also explore who you are as both an artists and a human. You get to fully express yourself as both and the growth will be so rewarding by the end. My summer with the intensive is one that I will never forget.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Brigid Pfeifer