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An American in Prague: Part II

AU alumni in Prague with Gail Mardirosian

AU alumni in Prague with Gail Mardirosian

Gail Humphries Mardirosian, CAS professor, is in Prague on a Fulbright scholarship to direct a long-lost play written by prisoners at the Terezin concentration camp. Her work includes teaching acting at Prague’s Academy of the Performing Arts and engaging AU students in the play and Prague’s cultural life.

Check back with 'Off Ward Circle' for more stories as Mardirosian shares her experiences over the next few weeks.

Part I

March 19, 2009 - Yesterday I said farewell to the students from AU and Dean College who spent a week here in Prague. One of the students created a video and showed it at our farewell dinner. We had a stunning week, rich with experiences that ranged from acting, puppetry and clowning workshops, to Swan Lake and Don Giovanni performances in the grand old theatres of Prague, to a touching one-woman show by my collaborator for the Terezin project, a doctoral student at the Academy. Her Voice of Anne Frank was simply brilliant. She learned this script in English just for her performance for us. She was a stunning inspiration to the students on many levels.
Our trip to Terezin and visit to the Jewish Quarter also seemed to touch the students deeply. Many wonderful stories of the student and faculty week in Prague will surely emerge. These experiences will impact all of us for years to come.

Telling stories

The depth of this educational experience is truly hard to describe. David Keplinger, an AU professor from the creative writing program, happened to be in the Czech Republic this week sharing his poetry. He told some of his stories and read two of his poems to the students who were here for spring break week.
David sent me an e-mail afterwards that included these eloquent thoughts: “When I tell the stories, I feel like I have people standing around me and behind me, and surely, when your project is realized in that attic in Terezin, you will feel the presence of many. I only wish I could be there. What we have been talking about -- the energy and the openness to synchronicity -- is all very real to me. It's about surviving beyond survival, the physical body, how language carries with it evidence and how it's our responsibility to give voice to that language. To present that evidence to the world.”

I understand.

Stepping upwards

There are 98 steps to my apartment (102 if you count those at the front door). They remain the most compelling metaphor for me in terms of this entire journey. Each step represents my adventure here….a climb upward, it requires energy and effort, but it is a spiral of experiences. I am pushed, prodded and lifted by the spirit of Prague.