Studying British Theater in London | Abigail Connolly | Theater & Journalism & Design

Abigail Connolly (she/her), Theater and Journalism + Design ’22The above image is a professional headshot of me against a turquoise backdrop.

Project Description
In May of 2022, I studied abroad in London, England, for 4 weeks. Through CIEE, I was enrolled in a British Theater History course. During my 4 weeks abroad, I became a much more experienced actor, writer, scholar, and overall person. I got to see fantastic theatrical productions all throughout London – including at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I learned a tremendous amount of theater history in England that isn’t touched upon in American curriculums. For example, we learned about Suffrage Plays put on in the early 1900’s to support the women’s suffragette movement. This unit stuck with me, and I will even be carrying that knowledge with me into my senior capstone project, a live reading of one of the suffrage dramas I read in London. I was reminded how theater is a fantastic medium for bringing about societal change, something that occurred a lot in London. I met brilliant artists on my trip and feel that in those 4 weeks, I grew as an artist as well. It was an incredibly enriching, beautiful and tantalizing experience that I will never forget. I will forever be grateful to Lang college for the opportunity.

What Form will your Final Project Take?
Event series

Who was supporting you in with work?
Jennifer Riegle, but I learned about this grant from Jenna Campolieta in my internship class.

How did you work with your mentor or faculty/staff/success advisors?
I communicated with Jennifer Riegle throughout this process. As a last minute applicant, Jennifer was very helpful in assisting me and making sure I was not only prepared for my trip, but prepared to absorb the experience in the best way possible. Halfway through my program, I checked in with Jennifer to let her know everything I had been learning about, and how I found life abroad. It was a great opportunity to gather my thoughts and reflect on the benefits of this experience.

How has this project has been impactful or transformative — for you personally or for those this work has impacted:
The personal growth that I feel I’ve made while studying abroad is tremendous. Although I knew since my freshman year that I would want to study abroad, I was still hesitant. The only other times I had been to a different country were when I was with close friends or family. In this case, I was all by myself, entering a program with no one from my school and not a single person that I knew in advance. To have lived there and navigated so much of the city on my own is a proud accomplishment.

In addition, my love for theater and studying it grew even stronger. My program teacher was incredibly passionate about every single unit she taught and it really rubbed off on me. Watching all of these talented actors perform in the productions I saw was a reminder of why I want to pursue a career in the arts.

I’m also so thankful to have found inspiration for my arts senior capstone on this trip. I was worried for a while that inspiration for the project wasn’t striking, until we entered our suffrage play movement in London. The plays we read made we desperate to share them with my American colleagues.

What would you do differently? How would you advise a student who is going to do something similar?
I don’t know if there is anything I would’ve done differently. I was extremely satisfied with how I spent my time abroad. I would advise students who are going to do something similar to stay as present as possible while abroad. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and feel as though you’re not squeezing everything into the trip as you would’ve liked. It’s imperative to remember that being abroad is a privilege in and of itself. It’s nearly impossible to ‘waste time’ abroad as long as you’re choosing to immerse yourself in the experience every single day.

Are you going to publish or print your work? If so, where?
I will be incorporating some of this experience in my senior capstone project.

This image is me, standing alongside a red London telephone booth with Big Ben in the background.

Short summary
My experience was fantastic. I’ve gained so much knowledge as both a person and scholar while studying abroad. The experience as a whole was unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I had the time of my life.

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