Donor support offers theatre students transformative month in Moscow

Donor support offers theatre students transformative month in Moscow
A class at the Moscow Art Theatre during CFPCA's Month in Moscow program.

With the history of contemporary theatre so tightly woven into its fabric, the city of Moscow takes on a heightened status for aspiring actors. Wayne State theatre students from the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts are in a unique position to experience the city through the Month in Moscow program at the Moscow Art Theatre.

“It was really an honor to be part of this group because there are only two or three schools in America that have this opportunity,” said Shane Nelson, a theatre student and recent participant in the Moscow program. “This is the most famous theatre in the world essentially. It’s where they created method acting in the 1900s.”

The Moscow Art Theatre, founded in 1898 by Konstantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, continues to be an internationally renowned performance space and has greatly influenced American drama.

“There was one moment I was walking to the school from the dorms and I looked around and took everything in,” said Nelson. “I just started crying a little bit. It was overwhelming to realize I had made it to that point.”

Tayler Jones, who also attended the program, said the experience was immersive, as they spent their days alongside the theatre’s esteemed faculty and performers.

“Some of the master teachers actually know the Chekhov or Stanislavski families,” said Jones. “We had lunch and dinner daily with professors, and the relationships we had were on a personal level. There’s a lot of care and concern with each other and with their art.”

Donors’ investment in the program allowed both Jones and Nelson to take part in this life-changing month.

“I wouldn’t have been able to go without the support of Wayne State and donors,” said Nelson. “I’m very grateful for that. This trip to Moscow was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had.”

The intense training in Moscow expanded on the foundational experiences Jones and Nelson had at Wayne State while providing a counterpoint to the American style of acting instruction.

“In Moscow, it’s more about the ensemble rather than the individual,” said Jones. “And it’s more about taking the best things about yourself and meshing that with other people who believe in the same thing about themselves.”

With both Jones and Nelson eyeing a lifetime dedicated to acting, they realize just how crucial programs like the Month in Moscow are for budding artists.

“Acting is a gift,” said Jones. “It’s a gift to study it and a gift to give it away. To see how impactful it is in Moscow, and to see how much they love and give thanks to these founders of theatre, it’s really inspirational.”

(October 19, 2016)

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