March 10, 2019

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog

Recap: To Act or Not to Act, That is the Question

Author Name

Charlotte Brownstone

Author Program

Ireland: Social Sciences

Program Semester and Year

Spring 2019

Student Major


It’s hard to believe we have now been in Dublin for just about two months! Beyond our classes and internships, we have managed to keep busy with other activities. The week before reading week (the equivalent of spring break), we attended two plays at the Project Arts Centre for our Irish Literature and Theatre class. Both were monologues, titled East Belfast Boy and Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful. The Project Arts Centre was a tiny theater, so we were quite close to the performers and the set was minimalist, with a slanted ramp as the stage. East Belfast Boy is particularly unusual. It is based in Northern Ireland and features hip hop dancing and techno music. This theater experience was different from The Cripple of Inishmaan, which we saw a few weeks ago at the Gaiety Theatre, a much larger, more traditional theater. For the rest of the week, we attended our classes and service internships. We continued a new addition to our Literature and Theatre course, a two-hour workshop with a visiting professor, in addition to our lecture with our usual instructor. I think everyone is beginning to feel more settled in and we have all established our routines.

Reading week took us to many different places, from Portugal to Germany to Iceland and more. Everyone came back with stories about their travels and adventures. I went on an exciting trip to Munich, Prague, and Vienna with five other students, which made for an incredible week of adventure and learning. Coming back from reading week was tough but everyone settled back into their routines pretty quickly. Our courses are beginning to pick up a bit, as tends to happen at this point in the semester. This week, we had our first free Friday of the program, where we did not have any activities or class. From now on, we will continue to have fewer hours of class per week, which is an interesting difference in the Irish school system. We will still have activities some Fridays, but for the most part we will get the chance to travel or relax over longer weekends. I think everyone enjoyed the break this past Friday.

This weekend was particularly interesting, as we attended a weekend drama workshop in Mullagh, a small town to the north of Dublin. This was with our Literature and Theatre course professors, as well as with some local directors. Throughout the weekend, we did fun theater warmups, which ranged from improv to a musical chairs-like game, called fruit basket. We also broke out into smaller groups and rehearsed scenes from various plays we have been reading throughout the semester. Then, we rehearsed scenes from two plays, called Smile, Handsome and Thirst. The first focuses on a woman who is part of the Traveler community (an Irish nomadic group) who is sent to prison and follows her interactions with two other women there. The other was a short comedic play, originally written for radio, about a pub in the 1940s and a group of men attempting to avoid getting written up by the local authorities for drinking after hours. On Saturday night, we got to watch local performances of both these plays. The main character in Smile, Handsome was played by the writer of the play, which was quite a special experience. Following the community plays, we had a Q&A session with the actors and directors of both plays. It was interesting to hear about their interpretations and experiences rehearsing and performing the same plays we had attempted to perform after only an hour or so of preparation. Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy and learn from the workshops this weekend, despite none of us being theater majors. We even saw a bit of snow! I am sure we will continue to have exciting experiences throughout the rest of our time here, including the quickly approaching St. Patrick’s Day weekend!