Well. Look at this. The end is no longer nigh, but rather, it is here. In the final few weeks of the Columbia academic year, the Acting and Contemporary Performance Making MFA students are still at work in the studio in Berlin. In case you did not know, the last term of the second year at Arthaus Berlin extends into the beginning of June. During these last weeks, all the students at Arthaus create a festival to showcase our work and commemorate the end of two-year long journey though our respective programs. For my last and final blog post, I want to go into some reflections, anticipations, and looks forward as this chapter begins to come to a close. 

Brave Women: An Exploration of Vasilisa and Baba Yaga, featuring the Columbia College Theatre MFA cohort

To start: Reflections. The past two years have been A LOT to say the least. From the program as a whole to our daily lives in both Chicago and Berlin, these two years were full of lessons and learning,  good and bad memories, failures and successes, and much more. One of my favorite memories of the program was the end of our first year in Chicago when the Columbia cohort put together an immersive theatrical experience as our final research project. In this process, I experienced a true devising process with a group of dedicated artists for the first time. In my career and education up to that point, I was always cast in shows that had a preset vision and end goal. This process threw that out the window, and challenged me as an artist in a way I have never experienced before. My friend Ylvan and I decided to collaborate on our project since we were both studying choreographers with similar work in dance theatre. Other cohort members dove into other topics like puppet theater, queer storytelling, comedy, and the genre of horror on stage. This project that we collectively called “The Other Side/El Otro Lado” became a tessellation of new work that was representative of our creative interests and embodied research. “The Other Side/El Otro Lado” also acted as a window to the artistic vision and practices of my fellow cohort members. I was able to encounter them in a way that I was not able to before in our daily class schedule. That is not to say that it was not rough at times with competing visions and desires, but the overall experience of this project was deeply impactful. We are starting to do the same here in Berlin with our international cohort for our festival, and a lot of the same sentiments from last year are popping up again, but I am excited to see what work is produced and how it all comes to fruition. 

A still from “Contract/Contract,” featuring Gabe Igtanloc and Ylvan Starchild-St.Clair

With graduation on the Horizon and post-MFA life inching closer, and there are so many possibilities to look forward to after the program. It is very exciting to hear my fellow cohort’s plans for the future. Some will head back to the United States, some will stay in Europe. Others will pursue residencies at theaters, teach in higher education, or even move to a new place for a change of scenery. Personally, I am headed back to the United States for some mini jobs in New York City. After that, who knows. Maybe I will stay in the US, or maybe even come back here to Berlin to begin my life as a freelancer! The options are endless and vast, which is daunting to say the least, but at the same time, it is very invigorating to take this next step!

Hamburg Rathaus. A still from travels

Looking back to the beginning of this journey, we Columbia students have come a very long way. The Gabe that excitedly walked into the Getz Theatre Center on Day 1 is very different from the Gabe in Berlin today. From my creative practice, my career goals, and even my daily outlook, so much has changed and it has been for the better. In German the formal way of saying goodbye is “Auf Weidersen” but the more common way is actually saying “Tschüss” (pronounced Choos). So this is a Tschüss from me on this side of the pond. Thank you for reading and following me along on this journey. Cheers to the future, and hope to talk soon!