Faculty-Led and Custom Programs – part II
Three faculty members and 22 students from Susquehanna University arrived to Prague in May 2015 for a faculty-led, custom program scheduled for 15 days. The Production and Design in Post-Communist Prague program took place not only in Prague but also in the unofficial Moravian capital Brno and the UNESCO heritage site, the city of Český Krumlov. The program objectives were to immerse the students in Czech culture through art and design in theatre, understanding the rich history of the Czech people from the medieval times through the 20th century, and to have direct interaction with Czech students and young professionals.
The program started with an on-site orientation with CIEE Prague staff and a guided tour of Prague with Dr. Marie Homerová. The program included not only theatre-related activities but guest lectures related to Czech history and sightseeing visits as well.
The first guest speaker was a Czech activist Monika MacDonagh-Pajerová who is the chairperson of the pro-European organization “ANO pro Evropu” (YES for Europe) and a lecturer at New York University in Prague. During the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, Pajerová served as the official spokesperson for University Strike Committee and was a founding member of the Civic Forum. After 1989 she worked as a diplomat, serving at different times in the Czechoslovak embassy in Paris, a member of the Minister's private office, and an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Director of the Press Department.
Another guest speaker was Dr. Petr Roubal, a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences.
The program prepared for Susquehanna University was remarkable for its various workshops. Radka Tesárková, an actress, director, and script editor, prepared a performance with 10 teenage actors. The students and faculty could enjoy the performance which was done as a forum theatre and later, they could try a few acting activities themselves.
A discussion with Ewan McLaren, a live arts curator, producer, and director was scheduled at Alfréd ve dvoře theatre. After the discussion, two performances at this theatre followed, so the participants could get a chance to see alternative theatre pieces. The participants had a chance to experience other theater genres as well. One of the performances held in Prague was at the Image Theatre. The other performance, held at the Mahen theatre in Brno, was “Edith, the Little Sparrow from the Suburbs”, a dance musical about the famous singer, Edith Piaf.
An all-day workshop at Cirqueon was divided into two parts. Themes that were addressed during the first part of the workshop included: the StB, the former communist secret police force in Czechoslovakia; samizdat, which were prohibited publications distributed illegally by hand during communist times, apartment theatre; or controversial performances done in private apartments during communism; theatre now and then; and overcoming borders. The second part of the workshop was learning circus skills like acrobatics or juggling, which you can see in the pictures below.
For two half-days, the Susquehanna group had a chance to work with Dr. Lenka Remsová, a specialized assistant at the Social Pedagogy Department of the Faculty of Education of Masaryk University in Brno. Dr. Remsová deals with the use of dramatic education when dealing with disadvantaged groups. She specializes on the method of the theatre of the oppressed. She introduced the topic and students experienced forum theatre techniques. They even worked on their own performances which followed the basic methods of the theater of the oppressed.
Filip Teller, an actor who graduated from the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in the field of creative acting and physical theatre in Brno, prepared a half-day improvisation workshop which included the basics of improvisation, singing improvisation, and improvisation games.
Another improvisation workshop that followed was a workshop prepared by actress Dr. Mary Angiolillo. Mary received her Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Marquette University and a Ph.D in Theatre Arts from Northwestern University. She is twice recipient of a Fulbright Grant for research in Paris and for teaching in Prague and currently she teaches acting, directing actors, and thesis development at FAMU and DAMU.
Our program included a workshop with Lucie Loosová. Lucie is a set designer and creative artist who studied toy design at the School of Applied Arts in Prague and later gained her Master's degree from the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU), specializing in stage design. Her dissertation project was the décor and direction of Verdi's opera Rigoletto. Lucie discussed with students her field of expertise and she also brought illustrations of her tremendous work. She took the group to the workrooms of the National Theatre, where all the props are prepared for performances.
In Brno, the group visited two local NGOs. Nesehnutí is a socio-ecological non-governmental organization that works on the basis of their belief that ecological and social problems have common causes and consequences. The objective of their activities is to show that a change of society based on respect towards people, animals, and nature is possible and has to come mainly from people.
IQ Roma Servis is an independent, steady, transparent and a professional organization. The civil vision of IQ Roma Servis is society of cheerful and friendly relations between Roma and other people. A world where even Roma have dignified roles and respect as individuals and as a nation. The group not only met with representatives of IQ Roma Servis but also met local Roma children, who taught their traditional dances.
One evening in Brno, students did enjoy a chance to meet with local Masaryk University students.
Moravia is famous for its wine, therefore, the group could not avoid visiting a local wine cellar and tasting a few local wines. Students also had a chance to explore Lednice castle where they had a guided tour.
Visiting Český Krumlov, a UNESCO heritage site, made students and faculty fall in love with the Czech Republic. This picturesque town charmed them and they enjoyed every minute during the town tour, castle tour, and the Baroque theatre visit.
A half-day trip to the Terezín Jewish ghetto World War 2 transit camp memorial was a part of the program as well.
The participants had many opportunities to taste local Czech cuisine.
Columbia College Chicago
“Creative Writers Abroad” was a faculty-led, custom program prepared for Columbia College Chicago in May and June 2015 in Prague. 17 students and two faculty started off the 38-day program with an on-site orientation with CIEE Prague staff and a guided tour of Prague with Dr. Marie Homerová.
CIEE Prague provided classroom space for this program, so that the faculty could lead their lectures. The program included out-of-Prague excursions, museum visits, and tours.
One of the guided tours was around the Jewish Quarter with our professor Rabbi Ron Hoffberg and another tour was connected with Franz Kafka, his life and work. The participants also visited Franz Kafka Museum and the Museum of Communism in Prague.
A day trip to Terezín, the World War 2 transit camp memorial, was a part of the program as well. Students visited the Ghetto Muzeum, the Magdeburg Barracks, and the Small Fortress.
In Kutná Hora, the participants explored the silver mines, enjoyed St. Barbara Church, the Valachian courtyards and the Sedlec Ossuary, otherwise known as the “bone church”.
Český Krumlov is a gem that students enjoyed for one day and their program there included a town tour, castle tour, and a visit to the Baroque theatre.
The group loved trying local meals not only during the welcome and farewell dinners but throughout their long stay.
University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Two faculty and 16 students from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, a faculty-led, custom program, will be held in July 2015 for 5 days. CIEE is preparing the logistics of the program, namely: hotel reservations, conference rooms, and restaurant bookings. This program was already held in Prague last year, and it is nice to see the USC group back again.