I've been writing most of my articles about my travels to places other than Ireland and about visiting places in Ireland that aren't Dublin... which is a bit strange, since Dublin is the city that I've been studying in this term. So, I thought I'd finally get down to business and tell you a little bit about how lovely it's been to study in good ol' Dublin once and for all.
As you may have seen in my bio, I'm studying at The Gaiety School of Acting, which is The National Theatre School of Ireland. When I found out that I had been accepted to study abroad at such a notable acting school, I sort of freaked out. It wasn't because of the alumni. It wasn't because it was just plainly "notable" and that was it. In fact, it was the curriculum that I was so gung ho about in the first place.
I go to a wonderful liberal arts school in the states that prides itself on giving a very well-rounded education, integrating all fields of study into your curriculum. It's definitely the sort of studies that have you dissecting sharks one minute in biology class and then giving a presentation of the importance of sexuality in Middle Eastern culture in your Humanities class the next. You really get that feel of being able to learn anything you can about a wide variety of things. Think... a buffet for education, if you will. And whilst I've always loved this approach to learning (Why not know about as much of the world as you can?), I have been craving a conservatory style training for a veryyyyy long time.
When researching what program I wanted, I knew I wanted something intense and fully immersive. I also knew that I wanted something abroad-abroad... not just a program where I could travel a few states away. I wanted to do the typical abroad journey that I had seen my friends and their friends and their friends friends talk about: to see the world, to eat lots of yummy food, and be absolutely merry in their studies & new culture-shocked lives. I think The Gaiety fit the bill 100% in this regard.
So, I just thought I would make a list of things that anybody else wanting to study at GSA (or who knows they WILL be studying at GSA... Yay!) should know!
1) Be Prepared for Long Weeks
Part of this intensive style of performance training is the fact that you are in class all week long; 5 days a week and usually from 8am-7pm, with a few small breaks in between. This is not to scare anybody, but I feel like people could've been better prepared to know what the days would be like during a school week. We take classes in just about everything (even Mime and Stage Combat!). Ultimately, the school is preparing people to be working actors who are going to be working extremely long days, at times. It's all part of the job and I think GSA does this very well. To be fair, it really brings to light if being in this field (the acting field, entertainment field, etc.) is truly for you. That being said, the weeks are very fun, and if you are in it to learn an abundance of knowlege about your craft? Keep on reading. This place is for you!
2) The Classes Help You Grow
Though most classes start off with a gentle warm up or some hilarious theatre games (cue 'Fuzzy Duckers' and 'Show Us How To Get Down'), they are also genuinely useful in growing as an actor. Before coming to Dublin, I felt like I was a bit pigeonholed in the type of roles I was being considered for. I always seemed to play the funny/musical person. I got the opportunity to try out many different genres, styles, and characters within all of my classes. All of our classes teach us very specific things about how to take care of ourselves and accentuate our strongest qualities as actors/actresses. We take Acting, Voice, Dance/Tap, Movement, Audition Technique, Mime, Stage Combat, Theatre History, Improv, Viewpoints (a specific technique based on kinesthetic response), and Manifesto (more on that in a second!) All together, these classes add up to the perfect cocktail of lessons to keep your mind, body, and spirit in tip top shape.
3) You Get To Create Your Own Work
This is where the Manifesto class comes in. Manifesto is the BEST class, in my opinion, that I have ever taken in terms of an intensive course that gets you out of your head (but in your head at the same time)... Let me expand.
The premise of the class is the challenge of making your own work. You'll get a topic, word, phrase, or just something that you have to focus on. You'll get a bit of criteria (it has to be a minute long, no dialogue, etc) and then you're told: "Okay. Make something." This may seem daunting (and it sort of is at first). However, it teaches you to get out of your head and start making theatre that means something specifically to you (hence, getting in your head). I ended up doing Manifestos about love, the power of women, the questions you can't quite answer all at once, and Marilyn Monroe. And, all of those pieces gave the audience (my fellow peers) a glimpse into what I find fascinating or important to talk about. It doesn't have to be meaningful. Don't try to make it anything. It should just be truly and utterly you.
4) You May Get Very Vulnerable -- And That's Okay!
Acting school is an emotional whirlwind. I mean, you are training to become a vessel for the emotions of others whilst incorporating your own emotions into another person's story. It's quite mad, if you think about it. I remember one of my favorite director's telling me that choosing to become an actor is the craziest thing someone can do. You are humanity incarnate. It's insane. But, on that note, it's extremely beautiful. Expect loads of unexpected cries, laughs, and bursts of emotion. It's all natural in this process (especially in Voice class, which may seem odd, but will make sense, trust me).
5) There's a Very Specific Dress Code
It is as follows:
1) All Black clothing (Or grey or navy, if you're feeling extra snazzy.)
2) No accessories (No earrings, bracelets, rings, septum piercings, nada)
3) Movable shoes (A black pair of tennis shoes is perfect, with minimal logo-ing)
4) No makeup (The Gaiety Actor is "a blank slate", so makeup just gets in the way of everything/seeing yourself more truly. This was a bit difficult for me at times, just because I feel like makeup expresses who I am a bit better; it's an art form! But, I am now absolutely perfect with having no makeup on. It's kind of healthy, really, and gives your skin a break to breathe.)
I don't want to spoil too much about GSA, but I have to say that it has been one of the most transformational experiences I've had. I feel so much more confident and open in my acting (as well as my ability to write and direct my own work).
I don't have many pictures in school (since we technically aren't allowed to have our phones). However, I do have a few to share that gives you a glimpse into what daily life looked like... as well as a few scattered pictures of lovely Dublin!
This is the lobby at The Gaiety School of Acting! As you can see, it has a bit of festive flair this time of year (with the added tree and presents delivered by Santa himself). Every morning, I would go in at 8am sharp for a 15 minute intensive yoga-based warm out. It involves a lot of planks and push ups, which may not seem the most enjoyable at first... But, trust me! Once you get into the swing of warm ups, all of the work in the early morning helps you feel energized and ready to tackle absolutely anything that comes your way!
This is a photo of me performing in my final Manifesto performance at GSA. I chose to do a character study of Marilyn Monroe (based off an interview that she had with the Editor-In-Chief of Marie Claire in 1960). It was a really difficult time in her life and a lot of what happened around that time led to her death in 1962. I studied her movements, voice, attitudes, views on the world, and even the way she did her hair/makeup around that time to get everything as accurate as I could. It was a really proud moment for me (and for everybody else performing that day) to put together a final work based off of all that we had learned during the term. We all felt really accomplished in what we did and our Manifesto's really showcased who we were as people.
Another picture from my final Manifesto. Really interesting work!
This is a photo of The Gaiety School of Acting from outside. This little street holds so many memories of walking in the cold breeze of Dublin to class in the early morning, purchasing 2 euro sausage rolls and carrot cakes from "The Bakery" across the street, and impulse buying Rupi Kaur's newest book during an acting exercise outside (yes, you go outside for acting exercises... and if you have my acting teacher, Kristian Marken? Get prepared for some very experimental outdoor scene work!)
Just a quick Tayto break in Studio 3. The last day of classes our Manifesto/Text/Viewpoints teacher, Donal, had given all us Americans a pack of Tayto potato chips as a token of his appretiation. He "wanted to send us off in a very Irish way". Pro Tip: The cheese and onion Taytos are known, objectively, as the best flavor. This is followed by sea salt and vinegar and then bacon. Take notes, everybody!
This is a hilarious photo. This was before we saw a group of Manifestos. My friend Leslie and I were participating in my friend Reilly's Manifesto piece and had to wear all black and hoodies. We joked that we were some Gaiety School version of The Blue Man Group. Oh, and that ghostly figure in the center? Just a balloon hanging from a thread with a sheet over it for my friend Conrad's Manifesto piece; an elaborate commentary on what paranoia is. Welcome to The Gaiety School of Acting.
This is a photo of my acting class going on an outdoor field trip in Temple Bar to work on some Oscar Wilde scenes. Never a dull day at GSA.
This is the lovely neon sign of The Gaiety School of Acting logo above the lobby of the school. It looks super cool at night, but was still just as awesome during the day. It was the little details of this school that really gets me remembering how awesome it was to be a part of it all, even for a term.
This is a picture of some of the 1B's on break on the last day of class. We were reminscising over the term and how much we would miss each other. I still miss everybody in this group so much and love them for all of their special personalities/talents. One thing to note when going to The Gaiety: The people you get grouped with? They are a part of the ensemble. You are a part of the ensemble. And you become a big, close family by the end. It's hard to leave them, but you'll always have them as friends for the rest of your life.
This is a photo of my friends Julia and Diego waiting for singing class to start on the last day. I think this picture captures everything so perfectly. We all got along super well and learned to work together as a team every second of the day.
This picture is interesting because it was actually taken during a Viewpoints exercise! We had to take the blank space of Studio 3 (which is a big, open dance-style studio) and "dress the stage" however we wanted. We could bring in couches, vending machines, and absolutely anything that we wanted to set the scene (which we did). Couches were spread, food was thrown on the ground, and jackets were maticulously placed on chairs. Then, we had 5 students (who hadn't dressed the stage) come in to a surprising scenery. Viewpoints is all about doing whatever your body feels on impulse in relation to the space, people, and things around you. I had left my phone on the stage playing music and one of the actor's felt like taking a picture on my phone of the rest of the class watching on! This basically sums up the fun and unexpected nature of conservatory acting training.
A photo of my friend Amelia and I chilling out during a break. I was reading a book called Sacred Seduction and she was reading people's Tarot cards. This is definitely a great snapshot of the essence of the 1B's.
This is photo I took of the beautiful blue sky in Dublin on a walk back from GSA one afternoon (I had an especially long break so I went back home for a bit). I miss the scenery of the city so much.
This is a park outside of Dublin Castle on an acting field trip. We did sight specific works in a museum and other areas nearby!
And, finally, a beautiful picture of Dublin Castle from the park behind it. Dublin is a very special city, indeed.
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<p>Hello all! My name is Francesca Mouery, but a lot of people call me 'Franny'. I am a rising Junior at Denison University, which is located in a quaint, historic town called Granville, OH. Though I go to school in a very Midwestern area, known for it's farmland and pleasantly cloudy days, I am originally from sunny Orlando, FL. Now, I am ready to journey on my next adventure to Dublin, Ireland to seek out an amazing education in conservatory-style performance and theatre making.</p>