Semester Abroad: FDU Theatre Students Partner with World-Renowned Royal Shakespeare Company

By Dakota Donaldson

Fairleigh Dickinson University, with two campuses in northern New Jersey as well as campuses in Vancouver, Canada and Wroxton, England, is always on the hunt for new and exciting ways to expand its opportunities for hands-on student learning inside and outside the classroom. Most recently, FDU announced a five-year partnership between Wroxton College/UK and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The program, called FDU at the RSC, is exclusive to FDU and provides a unique experience for students while they’re abroad. “I can’t help but be excited to be part of FDU Theater’s pilot program,” says Selena Jean Pierre, a junior theater major, “It’s another opportunity to improve my skills as an actor.”

Tom King, RSC Learning Partnerships Manager, says that the program “will allow students to experience how our actors and directors engage with Shakespeare’s language and the craft of theater.” Alongside FDU, the Royal Shakespeare Company aims to “inspire the next generation of theater makers.” And inspire it has: “Having a connection with the RSC means stepping into the life I so desperately want to lead one day.” Says Kayla Holmes, a sophomore majoring in musical theater, “With countless opportunities to talk back with other actors, I rejoice to look my dreams in the face. When I return to the US, I will have developed an enhanced perspective of my craft because of the RSC.”

Students explore the costume closet at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Students studying at FDU’s Wroxton UK campus have the opportunity to take workshops at the RSC with the company’s resident artists, immersing themselves in Shakespeare at one of the most respected theaters in the world. The semester-long program also includes a special literature course centered around the study and performance of Shakespeare’s plays, titled “Shakespeare from Page to Stage.” The course includes interviews with RSC cast members, backstage tours, and visits to historic Shakespeare sites. The partnership extends beyond the classroom, too, offering students the chance to get hands-on experience with RSC actors, directors, designers, and staff. Students receive backstage passes to RSC performances and the chance to see all sides of a theatrical production. This amazing new venture fosters creativity at the highest levels and prepares FDU’s next generation for a career in theater.

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