While looking through old documents on my computer, I stumbled upon a letter I had written for class upon traveling abroad to Belgrade, Serbia and Herefordshire, England. Upon re-reading this so many years after the event, I found this to be a pretty remarkable piece that addressed our process and lives as we found ourselves living and studying theatre over in Europe. I thought it would be fun to post this, seeing as how I’m going back to Europe for the first time since these events in two weeks. I hope you enjoy!
Study Abroad- Serbia and England June 15, 2009
Dear Janet, Thank you so much for giving me this wonderful opportunity. In so many different ways this has been life-changing. It completely affected my work and my life. From the streets of Belgrade to the fields of Kinnersely, I wouldn’t have changed a single moment of this incredible journey for the world! I have to say, when we first started driving in that bus from the airport to our apartments in New Belgrade, I realized how different this experience would be. I was absolutely shocked to see how similar but how different life in Serbia was. I couldn’t believe that there was graffiti all over everything, and I was astounded that there were still buildings, such as the Chinese Embassy that Marita showed us, that were in ruins from the bombing. It took me a while to adjust to the fact that we had no air conditioning or hot water where I was staying and that mosquitos would randomly swarm in the living room. I realized how lucky we had it at home. After a while, though, I was completely used to it, and none of those factors even phased me at all. It was a nice change to who I was to accept that and learn to live like that. So, needless to say, in Belgrade, I learned about my work and my life.
I realized how strong I could be. I was able to push myself past physical limits that I didn’t know I could cross, and it felt fantastic. The first time we did Chi-gong, I thought that I was going to fall over. My muscles started shaking. It really felt like such an accomplishment to hang in there until the end and to realize that it wasn’t even hard to do it by the end of our trip. It was just an everyday thing. Along with this physical achievement, the Dah showed me how important movement is in acting and gave me training that would apply to my work. I took musical theatre, so I don’t have as much movement training as I should. I feel that Dijana’s training on moving separate parts of your body at different times plus the drum training plus three step all really helped me get into my body. They put us through those training exercises on a daily basis, so it’s now an impulse of mine to turn my eyes before my head or my head before my body. More importantly, though, I learned that it is so beautiful to combine different forms of art to make a show through watching the Dah’s shows. Their shows have dancing, singing, acting, and actual art in them, and they are the most powerful things that I have ever seen in my life. In fact, they are unbelievable! “The Story of Tea” literally left me breathless. After “The Story of Tea”, I sat in the audience with my tea cup filled with emotions that I couldn’t even describe. It was baffling. I realized after a long time of sorting out my thoughts that: I sing. I dance. I paint and sculpt. I act. Why haven’t I ever combined those talents? They’re all art forms. Combining different forms of art into one masterpiece creates beautiful finished products. I mean, when we were left observing that “sculpture-like” set left behind from The Story of Tea, we had to just sit there to soak it in. There were literally twenty people that just sat in there with me for about ten to fifteen minutes after the show had ended just staring at the set or the candle in their hands. That’s fabulous. That’s art that changes lives…makes change. I hope I am being clear. To make sure I am… to sum this up, theatre and art don’t need limits. Once you’ve trained yourself, you should be as creatively free as you possibly can be. That’s the Dah. They are the most creatively free and limitless group of people I’ve ever met. The more free you are, the less limits you have. The less limits you have, the better the outcome or final performance winds up. This was a life-changing epiphany for me, and I’m so glad that I experienced it.
The other little silly thing that I was learning to deal with was my fear of planes. We took four plane rides, and two of them were ridiculously long. I can’t say I’m completely better, but I am getting used to riding on planes, and I’m not fearing for my life on them anymore. When we went up the first time on the plane in the beginning of our trip, I didn’t breathe all of takeoff. I held my breath and did not breathe again until we were up in the air. I almost cried when we hit turbulence then, too. However, once we made it to the last plane ride, I was okay with the whole ride. I was a little uncomfortable, but I’m getting better. I was very sad to leave our trip, because it was like a fun, different life in Europe. It was an experience I will never forget, and I wish that it didn’t have to end; however, I did need to get back to my life. It was such a weird adjustment coming back. I feel as if I came back to the states as a completely different person. My craft has evolved and become stronger and richer. I feel more mature and more aware of things (and the world) around me. I needed this experience for my craft. It shaped me and got me ready for a new chapter in my life. I cannot completely express what I felt and learned and experienced in words, but this is a start. I feel as if I have learned so much, but I will continue to realize and learn more and more about the trip by looking back on it in the future. Thank you so much for everything, again. I am different in much better ways after this great trip. I will always remember it, and I really hope that we can go back again next year like we were talking about!
Sincerely, Malorie Mackey