This past summer, several Niagara University students participated in a six-week study abroad opportunity in London, England, a unique opportunity designed for theatre majors and open to all students.
The London study abroad program offered two different, exciting options for the students. Theatre performance majors/minors participated in four acting classes, earning 12 academic credits, and performed Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the Live Lit Company. Theatre design and production majors took part in an internship with a professional theatre company, and worked at several different theatres helping with the production of shows.
During their time in London, students lived in flats with their classmates and were free to go explore the whereabouts of the city. Some of the excursions included a backstage tour at the National Theatre, where they got an inside look into set building, rehearsals, and costume design; the Victoria and Albert Museum, which showcases original costumes and scripts of Shakespeare; and seeing the classic sights of the London Eye and Big Ben, as well as other historical sites. They also attend professional theatre in London’s West End, Shakespeare’s New Globe Theatre, Olivier’s National Theatre, and Stratford-Upon-Avon.
“Every student that’s gone has come back saying it was life changing, the best experience of their college career,” said Terri Vaughan, chair of the theatre and fine arts department. Vaughan stayed during the first week of the trip to get the students settled into their new environment. She describes this once-in-a-lifetime experience as an incredible motivator for the students, as well as inspiration for them to continue on to bigger, more exciting things after graduating.
“This study abroad experience really inspired me to look at each new day as a way to grow and evolve within my personal life and as an artist,” said Michael Kelleher, a junior theatre performance major who played “Oberon” in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” “Every day in London, I got to experience and learn something new. It taught me to treat each day back home the same, because there are new opportunities around every corner--it is just the ones you decide to take advantage of,” he said.
“Going on the London study abroad helped me immensely in looking forward toward a career,” said Lindsey Pastuszynski, who is pursuing a double major in liberal arts and theatre performance. “In being able to partake in an internship at a theatre in London, I was given the learning opportunities necessary for me to make a decision to go to grad school in order to pursue a higher education.”
Niagara University’s theatre and fine arts curriculum is uniquely designed, fusing a conservatory approach to theatre training with a liberal arts education. All programs culminate in a bachelor of fine arts degree, and students may choose from three areas of concentration: performance, design and production, and theatre specializations.