Grace Perrotta is a senior currently studying to gain two bachelors of arts degrees in both Theatre and Media and Communication Studies through the dual degree program at Florida State University. With a focus on writing, producing, and directing, Grace has never strayed from an opportunity that would allow her to further develop her skills and knowledge in theatre. From acting as the artistic director of Rogue Productions (an entirely student-run theatre company based in Tallahassee) to participating in a playwriting festival in Ireland, Grace’s experience in her field is well on its way to becoming boundless.
What sparked your dream to study abroad?
“The idea of studying abroad as a theatre student has always interested me. It was one of the main reasons I came to FSU, as they really pride themselves on how accessible studying abroad can be for their students. Ironically, my study abroad experience wasn’t facilitated by Florida State. However, the spark to go was definitely intensified by Florida State’s mere celebration of it.
Going to Ireland specifically was always a dream of mine. I am Irish and have always felt very connected with the culture and was eager to learn more about it. When I came across the iEi Media Armagh Project, I was enthralled. This project was a month-long experience where playwrights were able to study Irish culture and write a play inspired by it for an international festival. As a playwright myself, applying was a no-brainer.”
What were your expectations before you left? How have they changed?
“I was very nervous to go. I was 19, which, at the time, I thought was mature. Being 22 now, I know that my 19-year-old self was still a little reliant on things that I took for granted. I really had no idea what to truly expect because I had never left the country before. It wasn’t like there was an EPCOT Ireland, so a lot was left to the imagination.
I think the biggest thing that changed is my confidence in myself. I was very anxious about being in another country very much on my own. After going through that experience, I am far more independent and eager to try new things.”
What did you not expect?
“After my experience, I truly understand how much of a bubble I had lived in. I was in Northern Ireland (an entirely different country than the Republic of Ireland to the south). Northern Ireland is part of the UK and Brexit has just happened when I arrived. It was very interesting to experience how polarizing Brexit was, especially in Northern Ireland, which is so isolated. I did not expect just how split Northern Ireland would be on the matter, as well as the issues dealing with religion. The tension was very apparent and something I hadn’t even considered before traveling abroad.
On a more positive note, I did not expect just how close I became with the other program participants. I absolutely adored them and my teachers! I didn’t expect the AMAZING experiences I would be apart of. Not only was I able to eat dinner and read an excerpt of a James Joyce novel in the very home he grew up in, but I was able to meet Irish playwrights and learn from them. I got to become an international playwright myself!”
What’s your next step?
“I am graduating this May and starting to save up to move to Chicago! I intend on continuing my work with the theatre industry with a focus in playwriting, maybe some directing as well.”
What advice would you give to a student with the dream to study abroad?
“Without a doubt, 100% do it if you can. You will make friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Make sure to find a program that involves your passions because they are out there!”
Rockabye Changeling, a play Grace wrote, focuses on the idea of women in the Iron Age dealing with the terrifying thought of changelings. The play was performed by a cast during her time in Northern Ireland at John Hewitt International Summer School. Though her current portfolio is already filled with amazing work, Grace hopes to continue to grow her portfolio even as she travels. Grace hopes to continue writing and creating in the future, hopefully in Chicago.