My Break From Theater — And Life — In Italy

Wow. My first post. I’m still absorbing it.

Hello all, and welcome to my site! I bought this website as a gift to myself on my 23rd birthday (which was way back in June, and look at everything I’ve done with it since then! /sarcasm). I knew I’d be going to Italy in the fall to teach English, or at least I hoped I would be, so I knew I wouldn’t have much to say. And yet I bought it anyway. Interesting how we do some things that just don’t make any sense. Although, as Freud says, maybe I didn’t do it by accident. Maybe I did it because I knew I’d need it.

Or maybe I’m just not very smart. Who knows.

The bottom line is, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life over here, as one is wont to do when confronted with a complete change of atmosphere. But we’ll get back to that.

First, I’d like to talk about what I’ve been doing over here and why I came.

The Cream and Big Cream Crew at the Duomo in Milano. Photo Credit: unsure, but I think it belongs to someone named Taylor.
The Cream and Big Cream Crew at the Duomo in Milano. Photo Credit: unsure, but I think it belongs to someone named Taylor.

I studied Italian in college. As you’ll learn about me, I am a great lover of languages. In my opinion, 2 years is nowhere near enough time, but it’s better than nothing and I seem to be doing well enough over here with what I learned. I applied through my college to the SITE Lombardia program, a sort of training program for future teachers of Italian. While I don’t consider myself to be that, you never know what will happen in the future, do you? Anyway, the short version is that I was accepted to come out here to Asola, Lombardia, Italy to teach English at a high school under some other teachers. I’ll be here for 3 months total, from the end of September to the end of December. I have less than a month left before I get back.

As you can imagine, I spent all this year preparing for this trip. I had to save up for months to buy the plane tickets, I had to slowly wean all my obligations to a close, and I had to mentally prepare for putting my life on hold for a little while. It’s a very strange feeling, knowing that you just…won’t exist for a few months.

But is it a bad thing? Oh God no. Living and teaching in Italy is, to date, the defining moment of my life. It’s probably the most important thing I’ve ever done. Without being too sentimental about it. It’s been hard. Real hard. Leaving theater, my friends, and my boyfriend behind has been…more difficult than I thought it would be. But, as il mio ragazzo always says, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t go.  And do you know what’s really funny? I am the one who is here the shortest! All the other interns are here for 6 months, 8 months, a year. I’m here for a measly 3 months. Unlike them, though, I have business back home that just won’t wait that long. I have projects to do and people to see. And, frankly, I’m a bit homesick. Despite, or perhaps because of, my access to things like Facebook and the internet. We’re living in The Future, after all, and The Future is a strange time to be alive.

So what is the purpose of writing this post, you may ask? I’ve told you I’m over here playing teacher and there shouldn’t be much exciting news to come out of that. Well, you’re right. There isn’t much. My days have been full of education and my nights have been full of Italian food, with little space between. But I am somehow involved in theater over here as well! Imagine that! My “tutor” (what everyone has taken to calling the teacher at their school who takes care of your SITE requirements), Giorgio, who is quickly becoming a good friend, is directing a student production of an English neoclassical farce called Unhand Me, Squire! and I get to help out with it. I don’t have much say in the aesthetics, but I am tutoring the kids on things like meaning and intention, pronunciation, and poetic rhythm.

And you know what? These kids are so good at this. When I was their age, I certainly wasn’t this good. Case in point: a few of my students were a part of a play called Vale la Pena (Goodbye, Pain) and begged me to go see it. It was one night only at the local cinema, and it was free to get in. I was expecting the same sort of rigid, half-hearted performances I’ve seen so many times at American high schools, and I’ll tell you right now, that is not what I saw. They actually used (by my estimation) really sophisticated theatrical technique, and they incorporated singing, dancing, projections, and, whether they knew it or not, Kaufmann-esque Moment Work. It was excellent. Genuinely good theater. Who knew I’d find it there, in the local cinema of a little nowhere town in the north of Italy, made by school children?

Not me.

So consider this the calm before the storm. When I return to the states, I will have to hit the ground running, as it were. I have a few good projects cooking, most of which happen in January, so stay tuned! You’ll hear all about them, and much more frequently. Until then, be calm, be safe, and see more theater. You deserve it.

A Presto,

JW