WVU theater program hosts Russian exchange students

What an impact two weeks can make, even if not everyone speaks the same language, unless of course you consider "acting" to be a language.

What an impact two weeks can make, even if not everyone speaks the same language, unless of course you consider “acting” to be a language.

“There’s something special about actors in the sense that we can just communicate so well with one another,” says Isaac Snyder, an acting student at West Virginia University and one of a group who worked with visiting Russian acting students for two weeks earlier this semester.

“Even with the language barrier we can still communicate. We all love the same thing, we all want to be actors, so I knew that going in we were all obviously going to have similarities that would help us further our friendships.”

The Russian students came from the 300-student Centre Internationale Lomonosov in Geneva, Switzerland, established in 1997 as a Russian education, research and culture center. The College of Creative Arts has a memorandum of understanding with the Center and is working towards a partnership that would allow WVU students to travel to Geneva for residencies.

“We came here to find new details to perfection our acting skills, to develop,” said Alexandr Dzyuba, one of the Centre Internationale students. “Even just for this small period, very short period of two weeks, we found some very interesting things for us.”

Langauge was the first hurdle, however, as only Daria Pisareva, who had previously been to America, was fluent in English.

“During the first class I had to translate everything. I couldn’t really share my ideas, I was just translating between students,” she said.

The visitors sat in on classes with their WVU counterparts, and although they had their own versions of some of the classes, they learned several new techniques, including clowning during an improvisation and comedic exploration class and, in another, the acting principles of famous American actor Sanford Meisner.

Pisareva explained the Meisner technique, one of the things WVU introduced to them, as a way to connect with your partner on stage. Focusing on being aware and making yourself more present and alive, this new technique is something they will be sharing with their counterparts in Geneva.

“In Russia, we based on another school, another education for actors, and this Meisner technique all of us discovered here,” said Dzyuba. “Already asked a million questions. We found out which books we can use to study this technique and now we’re preparing to study this deeply in Geneva in our theatre.”

For the WVU students they are continuing their studies in Morgantown with a fresh perspective on their art, thanks largely in part to the short plays the students had to collaborate to create.

“They have different ways of acting, I guess,” WVU junior Allison Chester said. “They’re very specific in what they do, so working on our pieces they would come up with these very minute details that they really wanted to be a part of the piece and we didn’t even think of that kind of stuff, so it was like the best of both worlds coming together.

“I wish we could be with them for another semester and just keep learning off each other and feeding off each other’s craft,” Chester said. “It was like they were a part of our class – they are a part of our class now.”

For Pisareva it was all about the connections made.

“We really want to cooperate to do something mutual, to come back here, to invite students to Geneva and to perform together,” she said. “This is the goal. And this is the most important thing because everything that I learn here is useful, but communication and this relationship – people – these are the most important things.”



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
304.293.4359, Charlene.Lattea@mail.wvu.edu

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