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How to… get the most from international training

Jessica Beck. Photo: Marie Beck
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1. Be open

As an American who has trained in San Diego, Poland and in London at LAMDA and East 15 Acting School, I have discovered that international training is much more than just ‘doing the training you would normally do’ in another country. Depending on where and which course you study, the whole approach and arts culture can be radically different to what you are used to. This can be very exciting (for instance, at LAMDA under Brian Astbury, I learned about making my own work, a concept that was completely new to me), but you also need to be prepared to be uncomfortable (in a good way) and open to working in ways that might seem different to what training at home has taught you to expect.

2. Be practical

In the excitement of preparing for the artistic challenges of training overseas, don’t neglect the practical issues, whether it is sorting out your insurance, banking facilities or driving licence if you need one. Once you start your course, you want to be able to concentrate fully on your training rather than administrative issues. You never know where your experience could lead you; I came to the UK for what I thought was going to be one year, discovered an amazing community of theatremakers, and 13 years later, I’m still here.

3. Be curious

By all means enjoy the tourist attractions of the country you are training in, but as a theatre practitioner, make good use of the opportunity to dip into your host country’s arts scene as much as you can. For me, one of the best learning experiences of my time as an international student was the number of theatre productions – large and small, local and international – that I got to see. Check out what student discount and concession schemes are available to overseas students in your host country and take full advantage of them.

Jessica Beck, an award-winning theatre director and a teacher at the Forge Initiative and Canterbury Christ Church University, was talking to John Byrne

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