I first heard about the French Theater Intensive Course Abroad during my freshman year at Goucher. I was thrilled-two of my passions combined? What could be better? So, when the opportunity arose to go on the program myself the summer after my sophomore year, I took it. I've been acting since I was little and I've studied French for years, but I had never had any experience with French acting/French theater before. 13 of us, including our two wonderful professors, went to France for three weeks. First, to lovely little Avignon, whose streets we walked until we knew them, then to colorful Marseille, where we formed fast friendships with students from the renowned Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique de Marseille, and finally to Paris, where we saw amazing productions and relaxed in our quaint Parisian hotel.
I got so much out of the trip. In Avignon, I stayed with an 80-year-old woman with very strong opinions who spoke no English whatsoever. My French improved and our conversations were very eye opening: I've never disagreed so much with someone who I liked so much. We saw a production at the home theatre of the TRAC company, spent a day cooking with chefs in a tiny town outside of Avignon, visited a middle school, went to a wine-tasting at a fancy bouteillerie, hiked to an ancient monastery for a tour, a picnic, and a few local folk tales, and had workshops with local directors focused on the two plays our class then put on (in French) the following fall semester at Goucher. Provence is by far the loveliest place I've ever been, and I cannot wait to go back.
It's difficult to adequately express my feelings about Marseille. The day that we took part in "A Vous de Lire" in which we read poetry to passerby outside of the main train station in Marseille while being accompanied by a Moldovan band was one of the best days of my life. We took classes at the Conservatoire with the students, lived with the students, and thus got to experience their lives. I still keep in touch with the friends I made in Marseille, and plan on visiting them when I am abroad in France next semester.
In Paris, we were lucky enough to go to the Théâtre du Rond-Point to see a fantastic show without any spoken words called "Semianyki," about a family of clowns. We also had brunch with two playwrights whose plays we studied and hung out at the Centre dramatique de La Courneuve with the professional troupe who works there.
We put on two short plays in October of 2011: Le Médecin Volant by Molière, and Une Petite Tache Verte by Denise Bonal. I was in Petite Tache and had a blast. The show turned out really well and I was really proud to be in it. I would recommend this program to anyone regardless of how much experience they have with theater. I made friends with French people but I also made really close friends with the people on the trip. Both of our professors (Rebecca Free of Theater and Mark Ingram of French) are extremely knowledgeable, kind, approachable, and passionate about all things French Theater related. Because of their hard work, we got to participate in things that we never would have been able to without them. I fell in love with something every minute I was there, and I would go back again and again if I could.