Theater Studies Program: Studying at RADA

Paulina Morera Quesada headshot
Paulina Morera Quesada
December 10, 2023
The picture depicts six of the seven students in the Theater Studies program at Shakespeare's Globe.

As you may know (hopefully you do, most of my blogs go along this vein) I am in the theater studies program of IES Abroad London. This is the first time during my four years at college that I have taken a full theater semester. A very special characteristic of this program is that we get to train with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) for six weeks. This short-course program is called “Ages & Stages of English Drama," and as its name suggests, it has everything to do with English Drama. We got to learn about the historical context of the many different theater periods, both in theory and practice. 

A typical day at RADA consisted of a voice, movement, or design workshop, followed by a lecture of the specific period we were studying, and finalized with the practice and performance of a specific text of the period. We had so many opportunities to collaborate and to learn from each other, it really helped our tiny theater group to become closer. 

To train with RADA was definitely not on my 2023 Bingo Card, I never imagined I would be able to train with such a prestigious institution. I was definitely pumped. However, I must be honest and paint you the whole picture. While I learned and understood a lot of the “whys” in theater through this course, I did not necessarily feel a big leap in my acting skills. The analogy I use to describe this course is that of a summer camp. It felt like theater summer camp: our participation was one of the most important factors influencing our grades.

I did not feel lots of changes from one week to the next and we did not necessarily focus on the existing acting theories, but more on the history. However, whenever we had our practice/performance section of the day, we had excellent professors who gave incredible notes with excellent direction. It was certainly empowering to connect with the characters simply by the questions that some of our professors would throw out into the air. Annie Tyson, particularly, would add interjecting questions between every line delivered such as “She just lied to you, what are you going to do about it? How does that make you feel? What are you going to do?". These were so helpful to understand the text and connect the lines to my emotional plain. In my case, I knew a scene/monologue went well, because I felt it in my diaphragm. I felt the story was projected through my voice and grounded through my body, such a rewarding feeling. 

Looking back at those six weeks, I would not change them for a thing. It was a one-in-a-million opportunity that I know I would have been able to afford under other circumstances. I feel so honored and thrilled to have had the chance to train alongside incredible mentors and actors for six weeks. It is truly special to think that my last-first day as an undergraduate student was at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. 

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Paulina Morera Quesada

My name is Paulina, I am a artist from Costa Rica. I attend St. Olaf College, where I study Inclusivity in the Performing Arts. My life mission is to create inclusive spaces for people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals in the performing arts.

2023 Fall
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