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Tenda Summer School 2017 With Kate Stevens & Flora Thommasson

04 Sep 2017

Tenda Summer School 2017

After waking at 3am... 13 hours later we arrived at Ferrara train station and were met by the lovely Valeria, Tenda’s International Communications Officer. Shipped off to Villa Mensa in a car with a friendly local and a 16-year-old Italian boy who barely spoke English, we weren’t sure what we had signed up to, but tried to take in our surroundings and the historical beauty of Ferrara’s architecture. Villa Mensa was a beauty. We were greeted by Stefano who organised the camp, and was more than lovely, although we struggled to communicate. As we sat awkwardly in the corner while others set up their tents, we waited for Valeria to bring us the tent she was lending us and we began to worry about the language barrier. However, we should not have worried. Over the rest of the evening, multitudes of Italian, Spanish, German, American, Greek, and Austrian students would introduce themselves to us and we would equally attempt to speak what we could in their language. By midnight, we were in bed, little did we know Italian teenagers don’t sleep until 5am and are capable of making a lot of noise. As are the 11 peacocks who occupied the Villa and woke us with screaming at 6am every morning.

The rest of the week flew by. 8 hour days with classes in Commedia Dell’ Arte, using voice, movement, text and improv were exhausting and amazing! The students who offered to translate for us were intelligent, kind and did so with such ease. The tutors were considerate but pushed us to our limits in the 42 degree celsius heat. They physically and mentally worked us hard, so that by meal times, we were ready to eat whatever form of pasta they had for us that day. Pasta came thick and fast, twice a day, so much that it became a common joke among students!

We became fast friends with two Austrian students, Florian and Sophie, who are friends to last us a lifetime. A trip to Vienna is planned for next year and we hope to welcome them on Mull in the near future. We met many amazing people from amazing places. Flora being younger and more similar in age to other students than I, spent her nights socialising to 3am rather than trying to sleep through Italian pop songs and raucous chatter. Although both of us made great attempts to learn some Italian whilst away, I’m ashamed and slightly proud to admit that all the Italian teens would teach us were swear words!

We both had a spectacular time in Italy and learning about Commedia Dell’ Arte. We are grateful to Stefano and Valeria who made us feel so welcome, and who organised such a fantastic course! We have learnt some exciting new skills that we will be able to use in our future projects here on Mull and internationally. A big thank you to Artistic Director, Massimo Malucelli who is a fantastic tutor and a hilarious Commedia Dell’ Arte actor; Annabelle, who led movement workshops in Spanish and dealt with the language barrier wonderfully, and who physically pushed us to our limit in the heat but it was worth it; and finally, to Joe Gallagher who taught us Commedia Dell’ Arte through classical text and helped to direct our final showcase scenes. Joe, from Replico Theatre Company, Glasgow, was able to offer us the scholarship places for the course through Alasdair McCrone and Comar, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity. It’s not every day you can say you’ve been on Italian television! Finally thank you to Alasdair McCrone and Andi Stevens for allowing us this opportunity. We had the most incredible time!

By Kate Stevens and Flora Thommasson