I am a theatre student at Fordham University and this past January I was fortunate to embark on a journey that changed my life. I partook in a study abroad program in which I studied acting and lived in London. I attended the London Dramatic Academy (LDA) for a total of three months.
After my studies had ceased I spent the next month traveling and was able to visit four additional European countries including Spain, Italy, France, and the Czech Republic. My travels opened my eyes to vastly different cultures and altered my view of the world. But it was the education that I received at LDA that truly transformed me.
Our eclectic group of teachers spear headed by the lovely Ellen Newman, were very in- vested in us individually and collectively. The fierce pas- sion that they all possessed for the art of theatre was infectious. They were immensely strict yet remarkably nurturing. Attendance to every class was absolutely mandatory. When students developed colds they would wrap up in a blanket, arm themselves with tissues and would sit in the back of class as to not miss any of the pearls of wisdom that our teachers gave to us each and every day.
We quickly realized that lateness was forbidden. When the clock hit 9 am and a fellow student was in not in attendance at one of our first acting classes, our teacher, Kathryn Pogson, explained that we would all have to do push-ups until he arrived. When the late student walked in, he then had to complete the 20 pushups we had done while we watched. An outsider may view this method of teaching harsh, but so is life. “Time and tide waits for no man” and that is not harsh but rather an un- avoidable truth.
One teacher in particular had a profound impact on me. Leo Wringer was my Shakespeare teacher and mentor. He was like a drill sergeant and demanded we gave the class and our craft everything we had at all times, no exceptions. The same tongue he used to whip us in shape was the same one that licked our wounds. He was our biggest cheerleader, never failing to recognize and applaud our triumphs. Understanding and effectively communicating Shakespeare text is a strenuous task but so is anything worth accomplishing. He eradicated the word ‘impossible’ from my vocabulary and taught me to strive for success in anything that I commit to.
My diverse education at LDA touched on all aspects of theatre and taught us how to be a well-rounded human being. The London Dramatic Academy equipped me with vital tools and conditioned me not just for the stage but also for life.
Editor’s Note: For the past three years Chanelle Bell, a Bishop O’Dowd High School graduate, has also been an In- tern with the Post News Group and she created the “I Stay Posted” social media cam- paign.