An Actor’s Artistic Journey in Britain

Thursday, Sep 19, 2019
Juilliard Journal
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Participants in the British American Drama Academy summer program
Gabriela and fellow participants in the British American Drama Academy summer program

Gabriela Torres shares a few lessons she learned at the British American Drama Academy's summer program.

This summer I had the opportunity to travel overseas for the first time, to attend the summer program of the British American Drama Academy (BADA). The acting program takes place at Magdalen College at Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. In just a month, I learned three lessons that I hope will accompany me throughout my artistic journey.

  1. Learn from everyone: BADA gives students the opportunity to study with teachers who have been working all over Europe. I was hungry to learn from their different perspectives and implement the results into my work. As time went on, I realized I could learn important lessons not only from my teachers but also from my classmates. The program encouraged students to bring their full selves into the room. As a Latina, I rejoiced to see how diverse our class was and the way our cultures were unapologetically present in our work. This gave us a safe place to make mistakes, which gave way to discoveries that not only benefited the person working, but all who had the opportunity to experience their work.
  2. Art gives permission to surrender: Today, we are becoming experts at negating our feelings and hiding our emotions. The less we show, the better. At BADA, however, due to the amount of material we needed to work on and the short amount of time given to do so, it was essential for us to be brave. By doing this, I was able to connect with others in a deeper way, and I realized that my mind and body were able to absorb material faster.
  3. Shakespeare belongs to all of us: There were three Latinas in my class. That may not sound like a big deal, but it was for me. It was the first time I was able to speak my native language in a classroom since I moved to New York. I was honored to meet such wonderful, talented, and strong women, and it moved me beyond words to see them own and embody the words of Shakespeare. I knew in my mind that Shakespeare was universal, but it wasn’t until I saw their work that I knew in my heart that Shakespeare truly belongs to all of us. He wrote about humanity, which means that no matter our culture, no matter our language, Shakespeare is able to connect us all.

Third-year drama student Gabriela Torres holds a Jerome L. Greene Fellowship and an LCU Grant