Julia Perry Alum Spotlight Interview: RADA

We had a chance to catch up with PAA alum Julia Perry, and she offered us some insight about her experience on our RADA program!

1. What skills did you pick up that most helped you professionally?

The skills I picked up that helped me the most were most definitely those I developed when I was thrown into living and studying with a completely new group of people. Not only was it my first time living on my own, but it was my first time living in another country, and so immediately we all learned how to live and function as a little family. Additionally, I learned how to navigate and stay focused during a long school day! Although the classes are quite enjoyable, they are very long days, and so I learned how to stay energized and focused through long classroom days!

2. What is your fondest memory from RADA?

My fondest memory by far is the last day of classes. Doing our mini performance we weren’t focused on anything but doing our best and having fun, and without a doubt, I look back on that and smile because it was simply a wonderful day.

3. What impressed you the most about the program?

What impressed me most about the program was how knowledgeable the professors were on Shakespeare. Every question we had was answered intelligently and in a way that we could understand, making learning about Shakespeare not only easy, but truly fun.

4. What advice would you give to someone going on the program this summer?

Go with an open mind! Be ready to learn and work hard, but also have a lot of fun. My days were filled with text break downs and dance classes, and my nights were filled with delicious dinners!

PAA RADA Shakespeare Acting Intensive

Amy Abrigo did our RADA “Shakespeare at Large” Summer Acting Intensive last summer, 2016. We caught up with Amy as she was applying to MFA Directing programs, and here’s what she had to say:

1. What skills did you pick up that most helped you professionally?

Remembering to breathe! This is a skill that can be used in any profession or stressful situation, but it was really wonderful to be shown so many ways to get connected to our breath.

The professor who taught us voice (not singing) shared with us plenty of stretches, warm ups, and ways to get our voices connected to the text. We learned new ways to breathe and were also heavily reminded to keep breathing while onstage. There is so much that can really come alive onstage when you are fully connected to your breath.

2. What is your fondest memory from RADA? 

  1. One of my fondest memories from RADA was watching the other members of my class visibly grow in their skill-set as the course continued. We learned so much in a short amount of time, and it was beautiful to see those changes come alive when we were asked to redo our monologue at the end of the week that we originally did on the first day.
  2. There was a time when the entire class went out to a pub after class to get to know each other and have a good time. We were all talking about practicing lines and working hard and it was great to be in a space where everyone was there for the same purpose and really enjoyed what they were doing in the program.
  3. Every day, Tim would sit us down during rehearsal and just talk to us. Tell us about theatre, share stories of his past with us, and teach us these beautiful overarching lessons through one story. I really enjoyed when he shared his wisdom with us, and it reminded me of how although we live in different countries and focus on specific disciplines, all of my fellow students and professors are part of this larger lovely community of theatre artists who just love making art and that really excites me.

3. What impressed you the most about the program?

The level of training we received was nearly equivalent to master’s level in the United States, in my opinion, which was fantastic! All of the professors treated us as professional artists. We were given high expectations and expected to follow them and that was it. I loved that we were actually pushed to challenge ourselves and learned so much along the way.

4. What advice would you give to someone going on the program this summer?

Arrive earlier or stay later if you can so you can really explore London, the theatres, etc. If you can, save up or fundraise extra money so you can make a longer trip out of the program. You’re going to London, why not take a train to Scotland? Or stay a few more days in London just to explore?

I would also highly recommend getting most of your food from the grocery store instead of eating out or PRET-A-MANAGER, which can be much more expensive and not necessarily as healthy. There are so many grocery stores on almost every block in London, so it is easy to find a Sainsbury’s, where you can get a 3-5 pound meal deal, which means you pay about 3-5 pounds for a full lunch. This is a great option for RADA lunches, is much cheaper, and actually quite healthy as they use all natural ingredients and have healthier options in London compared to America.

I would also recommend carrying cash instead of using a card as there are transaction fees every time you use your card. Take money out in waves with your debit card if you need to, and then just use cash. It’s so much easier and doesn’t cost you more.

Try out a few of the local pubs! Alcohol actually tastes much better in London, is much cheaper, and there are so many more options! Also, the bartenders actually let you try something before you buy it, so try something new!

Theatre is much cheaper in London and every West End theatre has rush or lottery tickets, so try for those! They are the cheapest tickets and also the best (usually front row)! Don’t forget about the other off-West End theatres in London. I’d recommend the Almeida Theatre, but ask your professors! They know the area, they might even be working on a show, and they can let you know what shows are open and good to see! So bring extra money for tickets! Be sure to see any ‘Broadway’ shows you want to see as well because – you guessed it – they are actually cheaper in London.

Be sure to check out the local museums – I recommend the Victoria & Albert museum, but look up when you are walking around or taking the tube because you will see posters everywhere telling you what exhibits are currently out, etc.

Also, take the Tube! You have an Oystercard for a majority of the program, but there are some days that aren’t covered, and if you arrive early / stay late for the trip, you can order a visitor’s Oystercard online ahead of time for a lower cost. If you can get day passes instead of individual rates it’s great because you can take the Tube/buses as much as you want whenever you want and not have to worry. Use the Tube! Yes, you can walk everywhere, but you will get a lot more done if you use the Tube to explore all the areas of London. Don’t be afraid! You will make it, and you will feel so much better once you get a hang of the system – and then you will ask why every country doesn’t have this much accessibility.

London Theatre Profile: Young Vic Theatre

Christine Stein is a PAA Arts Administration Intern in London. For her internship capstone project she’ll profiling a different London theatre every month from September to January. Stay tuned for more from Christine soon!

Young Vic Theatre

Five Fun Facts:

  1. The Young Vic theatre takes pride in how open and accepting they are. They are big supporters of the LGBTQ community, which is shown by the large rainbow flag they hang outside their doors. They believe that their secret to success is to support everyone, and be welcome to all. Pretty good motto if you ask me!


  1. No matter what your price point, you can go see a show! The Young Vic gives away 10% of their tickets in order to allow people who normally cannot afford theatre tickets to go see shows. They also offer a variety of ticket prices for students and kids. They want to make sure they share their art with as many people as possible.

  1. They play a big part in arts education for London. They encourage all local schools to come and see shows in their theatre, no matter what the age of the kids. Not many of the surrounding theatres are as great about providing options for arts education in the area.

  2. They have a wonderful café right inside the lobby! It serves as a great meeting place for a casual cup of coffee, or to enjoy some lunch. (I highly recommend their croissants!)

  1. They have an awesome green sustainability program, which you can tell immediately from walking into the building. They were awarded 3 stars by Julie’s Bicycle, a local sustainability charity, which is the highest score you can get! They encourage everyone to help create a better environment, and definitely do their part to make that happen!


Brief History:

The Young Vic theatre was originally supposed to be an “offshoot” of the Old Vic theatre, which is right across the street. Laurence Olivier said that there should be a theatre to develop plays for young audiences, and then the Young Vic was born. It was built on an old bomb-site from World War II. Since its beginning over 30 years ago, the Young Vic has been on a steady stream of producing wonderful theatre that can be available to all. To find out more about the Young Vic, visit their website: http://www.youngvic.org/

Coming next:

The Space Arts Centre

London Theatre Profile: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane


Christine Stein is a PAA Arts Administration Intern in London. For her internship capstone project she’ll profiling a different London theatre every month from September to January. Stay tuned for more from Christine soon!

Theatre Royal, Drury Laneauditorium-from-the-royal-box

Five Fun Facts:

  1. The current building on the site of the Theatre Roya, Drury Lane is the fourth building to be put there! All of the same name, same location, same idea, but they kept burning down and needed to be rebuilt. Each one was more grand than the previous one! Why did they catch fireyou ask?? Well…giphy-copy2. No, it wasn’t from a fire breathing dragon. It was because of the lack of safety curtains! Back before everything had electricity and light bulbs, they relied on candles to light the stage fromthe front. Now if someone were to tip one of those over and the stage caught fire, you would normally bring down the safety curtain to save everybody, right? WELL, because these fires happened so rarely, the safety curtains rusted shut and were not able to be used! That is why at every West End production you see, they will always pull down the safety curtain at the interval. Just to make sure it won’t malfunction…output_mjaho43. The theatre is DEFINITELY haunted. On the backstage tour they offer (which I highly recommend!!), they explain all about how there are ghosts everywhere in the theatre. One of the ghosts was an old cast member who never forgot anyone’s lines. If an actor ever forgot his lines, this cast member would tap them on the shoulder from behind and whisper them into his ear. One day, that cast member was on stage, and he forgot a line. He apologized to the audience, announced his resignation immediately, and was never seen again. To this day, when someone forgets a line, they often feel a little tap on their shoulder, and they instantly remember their line, but when they turn around, there’s nobody there…

output_x8jqku4. Ever wonder why everyone things that theatre stars and movie stars are, well, stars? You can thank David Garrick for that. He ran the theatre for many years, and he changed the view of actors in the public eye. They were always seen as common workers just as everyone else was, but he made sure that they were seen as much more than that. You can also thank him for giving women the ability to be in theatre! Men always played the roles of female parts, but Garrick knew it was time for women to shine in the theatre! The only exception to his rule was for the ever so fun Pantomime Theatre (when a man dresses as a woman for comedic effect).giphy-3

  1. During the shift between Shrek The Musical and the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber donated millions of dollars, of his own money, simply to renovate the theatre back to its original state. He knew that the theatre was originally beautiful, and he wanted to restore it back to how it should have been many years ago. Talk about a dedicated artist!

Brief History:

The First Theatre Royal opened in 1663, but the current standing building was built in 1812. The Theatre Royal has been home to many important historic events, such as the first performance of the National Anthem. The theatre has been a staple in London’s West End for so long, and continues to always put on amazing performances. If you would like to find out more information about the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, visit the Really Useful Group’s website:

http://www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk/our-theatres/theatre- royal

Coming next:

St. Martins Theatre

London Theatre Profile: The National Theatre

christine-steinChristine Stein is a PAA Arts Administration Intern in London.  For her internship capstone project she’ll profiling a different London theatre every month from September to January.  Stay tuned for more from Christine soon! 

The National Theatre


Five Fun Facts:

  1. The National Theatre has three different theatre spaces. Their largest theatre is the Olivier Theatre (named after Laurence Olivier, their first artistic director), and because it was Olivier’s favorite color, all the seats in the space are always bright purple!


  1. Throughout the history of the National Theatre, they have had several resident companies of actors, which means that the same actors would stay for the entirety of the season and do every single show. However, these weren’t just regular casts. Have you ever heard of names like Ian McKellen, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench or Anthony Hopkins? Imagine being able to watch them in every single play for years at a time! Check them out in their National Theatre days!
Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen

Judi Dench & Anthony Hopkins

Judi Dench & Anthony Hopkins


Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

  1. The National Theatre is a repertory theatre, which means that they can put on several shows at once. In only two days, the National Theatre can put on six different productions! Each theatre space is a different size and has the capability of doing different types of shows, so the variety of shows being put on all at once is amazing! Can you even imagine cycling through shows that quickly?

tumblr_lvkp9tvzsy1qapbk34. Feeling inspired after seeing a show at the National Theatre? Well in addition to having some fun souvenirs, their shop has an incredible array of scripts! They have everything from Shakespeare to whatever is currently playing on the West End, so there is always something for everybody! It basically makes you feel like Belle when she walks into a library! Can’t wait to read the script you just bought in their shop? You can mosey on over to one of their many places to eat. From cafés to a full on dining experience, the National Theatre has all you will need!


  1. They offer a really cool backstage tour! In case you are ever curious about the inner workings of the National Theatre, the tour that they provide is excellent. You get to see backstage of the theatre spaces, you get to see people working on the sets, and you learn a lot of really fun facts about the theatre and its history! I give it a 10/10 on the backstage tour scale!

output_h3uy0iBrief History:

The National Theatre opened their first production, Hamlet, in 1963. The first artistic director of the company was Laurence Olivier, and originally, they started their productions at the Old Vic theatre. They did not have their south bank location until 1976, but that didn’t stop them from producing great shows with marvelous talent! Since they have opened, they have performed thousands of shows to hundreds of thousands of people! The National Theatre is truly one of London’s greatest spaces for performing arts. To find out more about this theatre, visit:


Coming next:

Theatre Royal Drury Lane

2016 Summer Photo Contest: You at Work

We’ve already announced the winner and runners up of the photo contest, but we’re also sharing some of our favorites in different categories.  This week’s category: You at Work!

Here’s the description we gave them:

You aren’t just a tourist!  Did you teach dance in Costa Rica?  We want to see that.  Did you tune pianos in Ecuador?  We want to see you hunched over the strings with a tuning fork.  Did you study dance in Ireland?  Show us.  Did you make photocopies for a theater company in Spain?  Did you sing in a choir in Kenya? We want to see it!

And here are a few of our favorite entries:

This is what makes PAA programs great.  The title of the program says it’s a Film internship, and boom, here’s a great shot of Mae with her hands on a camera, making a film.  Nicely done Mae!

This is a great one from Long Nguyen.  Yep, there’s definitely some Musical Theater foo going on up in here!

Anyone who’s ever taken a music class recognizes what’s going on in this picture.  The difference is that this is in Costa Rica and our intrepid volunteer is teaching in Spanish.  Way to go!


Costa Rica was obviously a popular destination this summer for music volunteers.  We love this one because there are three PAA participants, but you have to find them sort of like a Where’s Waldo.  Good luck!


Olivia Kapell, Music Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands

Olivia Kapell, Music Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands 

Olivia wasn’t in Costa Rica, she was teaching music in the Galapagos Islands.  As you can see, her students were appreciative.

So confession time.  We didn’t even know puppets were involved on our West End Musical Theatre Training program.  Thanks for tipping us off Morgan Casto!  See, this is why we love this category; even we get a glimpse we didn’t have before.

The Trip of a Lifetime! My experience at RADA

Doody, Allison PAA Headshot copyAllison Doody studied theater arts at SFSU in San Francisco, with an emphasis in performance.  In 2015 she attended the Ages and Stages of English Drama intensive hosted by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.

Your phone buzzes with an incoming message, you pause, wondering what or who it could be. The moment you glance down your life is changed forever! Your heart beats like a jackhammer, your palms sweat.  You were accepted into a program to study theater abroad! This is how it was for me one fateful Saturday morning, when I found out I was invited to study theater in London at Royal Academy of Art in London! I could barely contain my excitement. The trip would come at the perfect time in my life, especially since I had only one semester remaining to receive my Bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts at San Francisco State University. Unsure of what life would hold in store for me after graduation, this was the confidence boost I needed to propel me into the big bad world. Just kidding, as a current graduate now, life after school is not so bad. There are ups and downs, but as long as the person is driven everything works out the way it is suppose to. This program taught me to never be timid, go for what you want. What is the worst that could happen?

20150815_062111 copyBy jumping into the RADA program through Performing Arts Abroad, I learned many facets of British theater, not to mention a lot about myself as an actor. The training was varied and reflected in the techniques used during our classes. We performed plays done on Medieval pageant wagons as well as clowning, Restoration comedies, melodramatic pictures, contemporary British Theater and of course, Shakespeare. Mornings began with a vocal and physical warm up, followed up by a lecture on the history of what we would be performing that day, always interesting and informative. The pacing of the program was balanced and proceeded in a way that did not leave us too tired. After lecture we divided into groups to work on what we would present that day, led by RADA instructors and often by working directors famous on the London scene. The staff were very professional and divided their time evenly amongst us. A word of advice; talk to these people, ask questions. They have such a vast trove of knowledge and experience that is there for the taking. Most of them have been in the same place you are in right now, they have been there, so do not be intimidated, they are only too happy to share their advice.

There were many little adventures I had on this trip, however, my most memorable session in the program was with Phillip Stoppard, a director with the Globe Theater, who had taken a production of King Lear on tour throughout Europe. He was incredibly detailed, lovingly going over every single line. We spent so much time with one scene alone that he jokingly said, “Yep, there goes the time, but I always spend two hours per page!” We soon found out he was only half teasing. He took us through Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I played Cassius, to multiple actors switching places as Brutus. Going back to technique, what I loved most about this session was going over how the environment affected us. This was an outdoor scene so we felt the grass on our feet, the chill in the air, etc… We also talked about how we felt and what we were doing before we arrived at Brutus’s house. I appreciated that we spent the most time on one solitary scene from Julius Caesar, analyzing it, understanding it instead of trying to do multiple scenes or try to cover Shakespeare in too broad a reach. Mr. Stoppard had us take the scene apart line by line before we moved on. And boy we definitely understood everything that the text and sub-text was saying.

20150814_071227 copyMy main reason for participating in the program was to continue to build on the foundation I was forming at SFSU. To study the classics in this setting with these professionals was invaluable to my development as an actor. The RADA program puts into perspective how the study of classic theater related to the field today. For example, when we worked Melodrama it was all about creating stage pictures with our bodies. to this day performers still utilize spatial awareness in order to keep blocking interesting in modern day shows, just like they did back then. Just one of the little gems I mined from this wonderful experience.

We were given a variety of parts to play; one day I was a saucy wench from the restoration period and another, Paul from the Bible! I stretched me as a performer and made me realize just how versatile modern day actors need to be. Clowning was reserved for the last day, creating a festive atmosphere for our going away party. Good timing too for by now, we knew one another in the group better and were not afraid to be silly.

That the RADA program is held at such a prestigious location in the heart of London is, in itself, awe-inspiring. The place is seeped in history, which attendees would have plenty of time to explore this fabulous city. We had events scheduled that pertained to theater, like our visit to the Globe Theater and the Royal Victoria and Albert Museum! For a theater buff, going to these places was essential. We saw shows, glanced antique costumes, and paintings; it was everything one could ever want out of a trip!

20150815_054506 copyParticipating in Performing Arts Abroad in collaboration with RADA was simply awe-inspiring. It was the trip of a lifetime! I highly recommend anyone taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity whether they are in or out of school. After all, one email could open up many doors, to many possibilities.