I Survived: IES Abroad Showcase!

Mariana Considine headshot
Mariana Considine
December 28, 2023
A group of students are lined up on the left of screen, braiding each others hair. Another student sits on the right, playing guitar.

After weeks of classes, it was finally time for our group of IES Abroad students to band together and strut our stuff for the rest of the school. While we spent the rest of our term in combined classes with the rest of the students, it is a yearly practice at the end of term for the IES Abroad students to prepare a showcase separate from the other students.

Going into this process, we were all a bit frustrated. We had hardly gotten to meet, and due to circumstances out of anyone’s control, we switched our faculty advisor for the show last minute. On top of that, we were bummed that we had to spend our very last day of classes separated from the rest of our friends to rehearse. Coming into our final meeting before our Friday all day rehearsal, we were all a little annoyed, and without any scenes or work to showcase. After some discussion, we decided that Friday morning, we would each bring a brief piece of text about a moment from our term, and an item from our apartment. From there, we would see what inspired us. It didn’t sound like much, but we agreed that the primary thing we had all learned that term was how to create something from nothing. 

Friday morning, we all walked into the rehearsal room a little nervous. As we all gathered, a small pile of items formed in the center of our circle. Among them, an inflatable guitar, an audio recording device, string lights, and a piñata. We then each selected a random piece of text from our pile of submissions and read them aloud anonymously. Some were poetry, some stories, some funny, or sad. Then, we pulled out a few common themes from each. Many of us reflected on the feelings of togetherness we felt while abroad, and the importance of both chaos and calm in such a busy program. 

Now we had all these ideas, we had to somehow form them into a 40-60 minute showcase. Yikes. We had some ideas to begin, but after creating about 5 minutes of content, we were at a loss. Turning to our director for help, he shut us down with a wave of a hand, and, ‘just keep going.’ We had spent enough time in his class to know that ‘keep going’ could mean he would leave you to improvise for a full 40 minutes, and didn’t care where it ended up. So, we continued making things up while he watched. 

Without a script or plot to guide us, we found ourselves just existing on stage. The discomfort and expectation of trying to ‘do improv’ left after a while, and we just played as ourselves. We sang songs, told jokes, asked each other questions, and played with our objects strewn about the room up until shortly before lunch. After lunch, we planned out the structure a bit more, and wrapped it up with a clear ending. I found myself still nervous that the piece wouldn’t make any sense, or that we wouldn’t be able to replicate it, or that the other Gaiety Students would think it was so boring. But overall, it went really smoothly. And the audience, consisting mostly of our classmates and tutors, seemed to have a great time. 

Despite our fears and frustration going in, it ended up being a really special experience to finish out the term with the 8 other students who I had started it all with. The piece felt like a love-letter to our time together, and was a huge learning experience is how to give to others while onstage. And of course, we had the whole night afterwards to celebrate with the rest of our Gaiety School friends. 

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