Before she came to Bowdoin, Sarah Guilbault ’18 took a gap semester to study abroad at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and to work in Los Angeles to decide if she wanted to pursue a career in acting. 

“I don’t think I’ve really made that decision yet,” she said.

Having lived in London for a year and a half when she was in elementary school, Guilbault’s transition was relatively comfortably. 

“It was actually kind of an easier step than going to college because it was kind of like going back home,” she said.

LAMDA, however, might not be everyone’s cup of tea. For 12 hours a day, Guilbault and her peers practiced different acting techniques and dances, sometimes pretending to be animals for an entire day, all in preparation for performing Shakespearean plays every three weeks.

After getting off at her Tube stop every night after 9 p.m., Guilbault would quickly make herself dinner and then memorize all of her lines. 

“All you want to do is sleep, and eating is not even really an option,” she said.
Her schedule was intense, and Guilbault’s peers would not tolerate horsing around.

 Guilbault recalled LAMDA’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” during which the director asked a friend of hers to change his appearance in order to help the cast express fear in seeing his character transformed into a donkey. 

Guilbault’s friend entered the stage naked in order to shock the cast—but he didn’t stop there.
“Not only is he naked, he has a plastic bag on his head, [is] playing a lute and he has slices of cured meat on his junk, and he starts throwing the cured meat at people, singing to them. It was the most terrifying experience of my entire life,” Guilbault said.

When she could no longer bear all the hamming, Guilbault would explore London, sampling Indian food and what she calls “the best strudel outside of Austria” at a local market.

Guilbault said she loved London’s industrialized glory and close proximity to nature. 

“My favorite place in London is called Hampstead Heath” she said. “It’s so beautiful—it’s like you step out of the city and into a forest.”

Guilbault said she has enjoyed the nature surrounding Bowdoin and the friendly people she meets in town. However, she also said the transition to academic life has been difficult. 

While she gets back into the groove of essay writing, Guilbault has found a theater crowd at Bowdoin. She is participating in Masque and Gown’s production of “Almost, Maine,” and has been taking Comedy in Performance, taught by Professor of Theater Davis Robinson.

“I get my goofy side out,” said Guilbault of her experience in theater class, “It’s made the transition from pretending to be a tree all day, every day to writing essays a lot easier.”
Grades are not Guilbault’s central focus at Bowdoin.

“If I’m going to be an actor, grades don’t matter for anything, but life experience matters for so much and being a better human being and a more intelligent, empathetic person matters a lot. That’s what I’m trying to focus on,” she said. “I’m here to learn as much as I can.”

Although she has made lots of friends at Bowdoin, Guilbault does miss her British friends and intends to visit London over Winter Break. She also said she has dreams of moving to London after she graduates. 

“London is the place I always want to be, so I try to go back as much as possible,” she said.