Elon’s Acting Program celebrates fifth anniversary of London Study Abroad Program

The Elon Acting Program is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its partnership with Theatre Academy of London, a study abroad program for acting students.

The Elon University BFA Acting program is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its partnership with the Theatre Academy of London (TAL), a study abroad program intended for students pursuing a career in theatre. Operated in affiliation with Florida State University, the study abroad program at TAL offers students the opportunity to expand their theatrical skills and knowledge in the center of London, exploring all the city has to offer.

The TAL curriculum includes three standard courses for students (Introduction to London Theatre, Shakespeare and Stage Combat) with one elective course. Students can choose from electives such as Playwriting, Devised Theatre and High Comedy. Students register for the program at no additional cost to their Elon tuition and fees. All TAL courses they enroll in count toward their Elon degree requirements.

Photo by Meg Griffin. Back row (L to R): Balazs David, Tommy Truitt, Sujaya Sunkara, Carenna Slotkoff. Front row (L to R): Markley Bortz, Kelly Belarmino, Jack Morill

A unique feature of the Introduction to London Theatre course is the chance for students to see a theater performance each week. In addition to attending class discussions about each show they attend, students are provided with opportunities to attend seminars with the artists involved in each of the performances.

Studying Shakespeare in the city where his works were born, students are taught by experts in the field while gaining invaluable knowledge on how to rehearse and share Shakespeare’s timeless pieces.

Students are additionally growing their performance skills through their Stage Combat class. A notable component of the class is the end-of-semester evaluation by the British Academy of Dramatic Combat, where students are tested for certification in stage combat.

Tommy Truitt ’23 is one of the many BFA Acting students studying at TAL this semester. “For performing arts students specifically, it is a fantastic opportunity because this program does a really good job of providing you with awesome training, it is just so well-rounded and really has helped me feel safe and supported the entire time I’ve been here,” he said.

In addition to the courses, students experience co-curricular activities and excursions. Co-curricular activities can range from London-based excursions to program-sponsored meals or additional theatrical performances. Excursions include weekend trips to destinations within the United Kingdom including Bath, Liverpool, Cornwall and more. Students are able to take advantage of their location and travel on their own, exploring neighboring countries and learning more about their respective cultures and communities.

“Being exposed to so much theater, different cultures, museums, art galleries and street markets has just exposed me to so many different experiences that I feel like I now can use to help inform my acting,” Truitt said.

Elon spent two years piloting the partnership with TAL and following that success, integrated the program fully into the BFA Acting curriculum. The department sends the entire junior class of BFA Acting program students to TAL each fall. The program is also open to other performing arts majors as space is available.

“The performer that goes there, maybe knowing that they love acting, but they don’t know exactly what aspect or how they want to see themselves in the industry, they go to London, and they see a lot of different kinds of possibilities,” said Assistant Professor of Acting Kim Shively shared. “Their global perspective of what it means to be an artist, what it means to connect with others in this world, expands. We can’t assign a valuable to it because it’s invaluable.”