Two Weeks in: Class Descriptions

We’re two weeks through the program, and I feel like it’s about time I give you the rundown of my classes:

The only class we have every day a week is acting, and we have that for 2.5 hours. We begin every class with a group etude. An etude is essentially a scene that’s a slice of life where something happens to change all of the characters in the scene. Because we’re 24 people, our teacher, Sergei, divides us into four groups of 6, so we begin every class with four group etudes. After the group etudes, we typically do some attention/coordination exercises, and then we do individual etudes, where so far, we’ve been animals and human animals. I love acting class but it can really make or break my day. If Sergei likes my work on a given day, I usually feel great, and if he doesn’t sometimes it can be hard to persevere and keep my spirit high. I’m learning to take criticism in a way that is productive and healthy.

Every weekday, we have two morning classes which can be any of the following: Russian Language (3 times per week), Movement (2 times per week), Singing (2 times per week), Ballet (2 times per week), and Stage Combat (1 time per week). On Saturdays, we have a 3 hour Russian Cinema history class in the morning. On Mondays and Fridays, we have theater history and design classes respectively.

I have been enjoying Russian Language class because it’s a time where I can not think about acting and what my body is doing. It’s more of a traditional language class that’s geared more towards “survival Russian” as our teacher likes to say.

Movement is whack. We do a lot of jumping and crawling across the floor. We also do a lot of isolation movement, where we’ll move just our hips or just our chest, etc. I’m sure I’ll mention this class again as time goes on. It makes me sore.

Singing is really fun. We’re gonna learn an actual 4 part song eventually, but so far we’ve just been warming up and then working individually with the teacher on our respective songs. I’m singing Empty Chairs at Empty tables.

Ballet is geared towards extreme beginners. I am just about as beginner as you can get, so it has been really good for me. I think some of the actual dancers in the class are not thrilled by the slow pacing, but it has been perfect for me at least.

Stage combat, so far, has been playing a lot of games based on balance and also learning some kicks. We don’t have this class that frequently, but I’ve really enjoyed the two classes we’ve had so far.

Theater history has mostly been review for me so far because the teacher talked a lot about things that were inĀ My Life in Art by Stanislavski, which was part of our reading list, but I look forward to learning more in the future.

Design has been humbling. The designers work so hard, and the design students do some incredibly impressive things from a composition/engineering standpoint. I foresee I’ll talk more about design in the future.

Finally, cinema history has been a little boring for me just cause I have trouble staying focused during a 3 hour lecture. I can acknowledge that a lot of the info is interesting, but it hasn’t quite clicked with me. The films we’ve watched have been pretty weird though.

Anyhow, that’s all my classes.

This Program is Bonkers

This is probably going to be a fairly short post because it took me 30 minutes to get to this blog website to work. This website is blocked in Russia and my VPN was giving me troubles.

Anyhow, this’ll probably short; I’ll post again hopefully later this week because a lot has happened, but I just want any and all who are reading this to know this program is nuts.

We were being animals and now were being animals that have been turned into humans, and as these human animals, we are supposed to try to blend in with humans, but also the animal characteristics must always be present? I don’t know.

This is a real note our acting teacher gave someone:

“It was more of a rat than a mouse”

What is school? This place is wild and I’m glad I’m here.

Orientation

Hi readers,

TL;DR: Got to Russia; saw some theater; have class tomorrow; excited and nervous.

A lot has happened in the past two weeks. Long story short, I’m in Moscow now and start classes in less than eleven hours. I’m excited and nervous.

The first few days of MATS (Moscow Art Theatre Semester) took place at NTI (National Theater Institute (I checked and they spell it theatre in the program and theater in the name of the institute. Weird.)) in Connecticut. They gave us a lot of information, most of which I have since forgotten. Here’s a brief list of memories that I have: Russians are soft-spoken; theater is cheap and with our mxat (Moscow Art Theater School) IDs, we get into most theater for free; don’t talk about politics in public; Just because people don’t smile at you doesn’t mean they hate you; etc.. However, I think most of what we were told, I will come to discover on my own in the next three months.

In addition to many meetings, I also met all of the people with whom I will be studying for the semester. They seem lovely. I’m sure I’ll mention them later on in this blog.

After our NTI orientation, we had our flight to Moscow. My friend Tatiana (a nice woman from Belarus, whom I met on the plane) said it was the fastest flight to Moscow she’d ever been on. It was 7 hours and 45 minutes. We were told it would be 9, so that was a pleasant surprise. I watched a Russian animated movie called the Three Heroes. There was a talking horse. It was great. I also slept for 5ish hours.

We landed in Moscow and got bused over to our dorm, which is super nice. I saw a show with three other students the same night that we flew in, which was yesterday. Wild. My body clock is all over the place. We got to the dorm at around 3pm, and three other students and I saw a show last night at the Stanislavsky electrotheatre. It was so well directed and a student directed it. It made me feel like actors and directors in America are simply bad (that’s harsh, but Russian theater slaps. I’ll say it). Oh, also, before we saw the show, we went to this boujee restaurant that was attached to the theater, where at least two of us had the nicest meal we’d ever bought ourselves. I had halibut on a smelt risotto, and another person got braised lamb shoulder with a polenta and spinach puree. Both of these were under ten dollars. I wish I had a picture. Food is good and is cheap. Also, for the first time in my life I wasn’t at least 20 years younger than the average age of people seeing theater. Young people see theater here it’s awesome. After our outing, we went to bed.

Today we had a short orientation with the head of MXAT and the head of the MATS program. They were funny and told us to be cheerful. We were all nervous they’d have us do our monologues; in reality, they both talked for 5 minutes and then left. We also ate at the cafeteria which is dumb cheap and dumb good.

After our time at MXAT, we went to patriarchs pond which is a big part of Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, one of our required reading books. It was great. Afterwards, I went back to the dorm and chilled. Finally I recently got back from getting blinis at a Russian fast food place. Super good. Now, I’m gonna not proof read this and go to bed cause I am tired and have class in few hours.

G’night!