See below for blog updates from students on the study abroad trip.
For junior theatre major Haley Fusia, her study abroad trip will involve traveling through the streets of Prague, tasting traditional Czech fare and also performing in the world premiere of “The Vision of Čapek.”
“I hope to find a better understanding and appreciation for the Czech way of life, as well as to further improve my performing skills,” said Fusia. “While I'm learning about others and the world around me, I also hope to learn some about myself and grow, as a performer and in general.”
Fusia will be joined by 14 other students and Dr. Karen Berman, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. Berman, with her husband Paul Accettura, wrote the “The Vision of Čapek,” which focuses on the famed science fiction writer who lived in Prague and invented the word “robot” in the 1930s.
“I was inspired to write this play during our U.S. election year since Karel Čapek, the subject of the play, was very involved in politics during his lifetime,” said Berman. “I wanted our students to be introduced to a political hero from the Czech Republic.”
Andy Stanesic, junior theatre and marketing major, says the highlight for him is the ability to hone his performance technique while also picking up more skills in the process.
“It is the broader topics that a performance touches that makes an audience connect that give a play a purpose,” said Stanesic. “I hope this opportunity will broaden my experiences and deepen my understanding of varying topics.”
The group’s most notable performance will be during the Eastern European Regions Theatre Festival—where GC students will be the only university performers alongside professional theatre companies around the world. Students will don robot costumes and play real people from the life of Čapek.
Freshman theatre major Nathan Popp says this trip will be the first foray into world traveling, and he hopes to learn more about Czech culture in the process.
“I have always wanted to go abroad. I have barely been out of the south and I have never gotten the chance to travel outside the U.S.,” said Popp. “I am looking forward to seeing a country that has so much standing history, where buildings have outlived the people many times over and all have their own stories to tell.”
In addition to performing, students will tour churches, museums, the countryside and take classes on history, culture and theatre from the provost and professors of the University of Hradec Králové.
“I think any study abroad program furthers you in your studies and your career because you gain a new perspective on things. It takes you out of your comfort zone and you're forced to think and see things in a new way,” said Fusia. “This will be very challenging but also very rewarding, and we'll definitely be able to take things that we learn here and apply them back in our courses in America.”
To view a performance trailer created by David Dawson, instructor of animation at Rio Hondo College in California, click here. Check back for more updates throughout the group’s study abroad experience.
Updates from the Czech Republic:
Day 14: Today, on our last day in the Czech Republic, we had the opportunity to visit Terezin, a site used as a concentration camp in World War II. This concentration camp was not a death camp, it was a working camp; however, thousands of people still died due to malnutrition and disease. Terezin was also the ghetto and camp where the Red Cross visited to check conditions. Before they came, the Nazis deported thousands of people to other camps to minimize overcrowding, they built fake cafes and stores, and they told the residents not to answer any direct questions from the Red Cross. The men who visited wrote a positive review on the conditions of Terezin. However, much later after the horrors of the concentration camps had been revealed and the war was over, the men said they knew something was wrong but they were afraid to say anything.
Day 12: We started today with a tour of Prague castle! The castle isn’t exactly what you would think of though as a castle. There’s a cathedral on the grounds as well as the famous Golden Lane. When looking at the cathedral, we learned that we could tell how old stones were by how uniform they looked to other stones. In the picture above, most of the stones are newer. However, around the side and towards the back, the stones get more uneven and therefore older!
Day 11: Today we left for Prague! It was about an hour and a half bus ride to where we were staying, a dorm for the University in Prague called Kolej Kajetánka. We ate a late lunch across the street where we also celebrated Mary Helen’s 20th birthday! We’re very thankful we were able to celebrate our incredible stage manager’s birthday this trip!
Day 7: Today was our performance at the festival and our second performance of the trip! We rehearsed in the tent and then went to lunch before the performance. The group split up for lunch but most of us went to a delicious pasta place! The pasta was so fresh and was a great meal to energize us for the show. The show was at 2pm and went very well! One thing I have noticed about the Czech people is that they clap for a very long time. We ended up bowing 3 times! Some of our friends who studied at Georgia College last fall that are from the Czech came and watched as well.
Day 6: Today we were able to explore the famous hospital of Kuks. We walked around the outside gardens and admired the statues, flowers, and fountains. It was such a beautiful day today so it was very nice to be outside.
Day 5: Today we had our first performance! We traveled to the town that Karel Čapek was born in, Malé Svatoňovice, and performed in a museum dedicated to him. Before performing, we were able to walk around the museum. There were pictures of him and his family as well as exhibits dedicated to some of his famous works including the play that we discuss in Vision of Capek, R.U.R. Upstairs contained an entire collection of Josef’s works which we were able to admire as well.
Day 4: We have our first show tomorrow so today was completely dedicated to rehearsals. Our show is about the writer and anti-fascist leader in the Czech Republic during World War II, Karel Čapek. We follow him through his life, beginning with his childhood where we meet his mother, father, brother, and sister. We can see the influence the stern father had on Karel as well as the influence that the creative mother had on the other children. We follow him as he grows up and begins to collaborate with his cartoonist brother Josef on fairytales, political cartoons, and plays.
Day 3: After rehearsal this morning, we went into Kutná Hora to see two special churches. The first, the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist, was an untraditional gothic style cathedral. The original was burned down, but some of the remains were displayed inside church. We could also go up to the balcony to admire the church from a different angle. Then we got on a bus to Kuks and arrived in the small town an hour later! It’s hard to believe, but this town is even smaller than Kutná Hora, but definitely just as beautiful.
Day 2: Our first full day in Kutná Hora started with a rehearsal for Vision of Capek. Then we headed to an old silver mine, what Kutná Hora was known for in medieval times. We learned about the lives of miners – how they worked for around 6 hours a day (which didn’t include the 1 – 1 1/2 hours it took to get into the mine and to come back up), wore white aprons and leather pants, and worked by the light of a candle. We even got to gear up like the miners and head down into the first level of the mine.