In her last blog entry, Andrea wraps up her study abroad experience with a look at all that she's accomplished at her theatre internship with Synergy across the criminal justice system in London. She talks about her favorite projects and what she will miss about London.
Hello everyone, my name is Andrea Arias and I am a senior going into my last semester of college! I attend James Madison University as a theatre major with a concentration in theatre education. For the fall 2021 semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in London. Throughout my time abroad, I did the following: (1) Completed an internship, (2) took classes, and (3) explored the beauty of what London has to offer.
Caption: A Statue of Princess Diana outside of Kensington Palace.
My Internship at Synergy
If you’ve followed along during my journey and blog posts, you’ll know that through CAPA’s help, I was placed into an internship with Synergy. Synergy is an organization that inspires work across the criminal justice system. They uplift voices of those who have been a part of or are still in the system and allow them to share their art and theatre related pieces. Synergy aims to amplify the work of prisoners/ex-prisoners and helps them along their creative process. Many of the participants who are a part of a project more often than not will choose to continue to work with Synergy, or at least keep in touch to support other artists’ work. This is due to the impact the company has on the criminal justice system.
While I was responsible for a variety of tasks, there are two big projects that have taught me the most about what I want out of my career, and have helped me immensely in understanding how the system works in the UK and how it parallels with the system in the US.
Caption: The British Museum.
My First Internship Project
The first project I joined was a filmmaking project, led by one of the company’s founders, Esther Baker. At our first meeting, I met all of the participants via Zoom and got to hear a little bit about how much experience athey have with filmmaking, what goals they have for themselves, and how long they have worked with Synergy. Perhaps my biggest role in this project was calling and checking in with all the ex-prisoners to try and schedule them into one-on-one meetings and remind them of their deadlines. I got to know a few of the participants a bit more personally due to this, so many became comfortable enough to share their stories on their experiences being in prison, which was very eye-opening for me and led me to appreciate artists in and out of prison even more. By the end of this project, each member was able to create a flawless film with actors, props, a setting, and a well-developed script.
My Second Internship Project
The second project that I spent a lot of time supporting was a playwriting project. This was led by Steve Harper, a director at Theatre 503. Our first meeting was in person, and all the participants went around the room introducing themselves, establishing their goals, and their experience with writing. While many were primarily actors, some were music/songwriters, others were novelists (published at that), others specifically did playwriting, and some had no experience at all. Regardless, it was a wonderful group of people because everyone seemed dedicated and inspired in some way. This energy kept up through all our meetings. Steve would have everyone free write by responding to a prompt he would read. The participants would always be given the opportunity to share their work if they wanted to and felt comfortable doing so. The final product was truly moving, as they each developed their own well-developed script. All of the scripts were read at a final performance by professional, hired actors. I am beyond proud of each and every one of the participants for their inspiring work.
Caption: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Reflecting On My Semester Abroad in London
This spring 2022 semester will be my last. This is a bittersweet feeling, as I am going to miss my university and studying abroad in London. At the same time though, I am really looking forward to taking with me all that I learned about myself through the study abroad program. I already miss every bit of London, from Carnaby Street and nightlife in Soho/Piccadilly Circus, to the early morning walks to Pret A Manger. I am grateful for all that London taught and showed me, and it is an experience that I will hold close to me for the rest of my life, especially as I go into my profession. I thank James Madison University for the opportunity to complete my coursework abroad, and CAPA for finding me an internship placement for this niche interest and wishful career of mine.
Caption: The David Bowie memorial in Brixton.
Caption: A view of the city from the London Eye.
Andrea (Andy) Arias is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2021, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A theatre major from James Madison University, she is thrilled to be studying abroad in London.
See more of Andrea's journey in London.