Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Practice makes Permanant

I saw "A Midsummer's Night Dream" last night, pretty decent for five pounds. They had cool fairy "puppets" with heads detached from their bodies but held together with string. I kinda want one. I also want Titania's dress, very similar to the Blue Fairy of Pinnochio, only somehow more badass. The fairies in general were very punk, which made for cool costumes. Anyways, watching it brought back memories from jr. high, which was very funny. Turns out that's actually going to be one of our two end of term productions. That and something that I'm assuming will be an all female cast, due to our shortage of males (only six).

Today in Modern Physical I had to declare my love for a classmate going through what's known as the seven layers of tension. The sixth level is akin to a bomb explosion, Mic said treat it like you've been up for a week straight trying to figure out how best to tell this person you love them. I'm not even sure half of what I said, but he never told me to "be crazier" like he did the others. About halfway through, though, he tells me Jen (she who I am declaring undying devotion) doesn't love me, I've been making a fool out of myself. So as I'm freaking out, what ends up coming out of my mouth is "I'm gonna bake you into a pie, then who's the fool?" and cackling like mad. It was all good fun, though.

Success in Stage Combat, too. Well, partial success. Natalie still thinks our class is too wimpy, but I'm apparently the toughest one there. Ha, yay! I'm practicing a lot at home with a fork and a serving spoon as my rapier and dagger, hopefully that'll help.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

getting it on with the Swan of Avon

Yesterday we took an amazing trip up to Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Mr. Shakespeare. Where he's burried, too, actually. And inspired by this post, I'm gonna do a show and tell.

So we got on the bus Saturday morning at around noon, which was a struggle for some of us, (like roomates who stay up till 4 am...), and then proceeded to drive two hours. Actually, we stopped halfway up to use the bathroom at what's called a "Welcome Break" which is about the size of a soocer field where you can buy snack foods, scarves, coats and KFC. very odd. Anyways, hopped back on the bus and drove for another hour until we got here,This is Anne Hathaway's house- wifey to Shakespeare, and in my opinion, one of the first famous-because-I married-someone-famous celebrities out there. Anyways, it was a lovely cottage, but you had to pay to go in, and since we only had 30 min, we crossed the street (as Ian is doing here), to the little green.

Complete with ducks. And even though there were no leaves on the trees (illusive as it may seem, it is still winter here), everything was still really green, so it was really pretty. And the town was lovely too, with it's little houses and narrow roads. (I seriously thought we were gonna run someone over everytime we turned a courner, but the other cars were so obliging, they just drove up on the sidewalk for us, without so much as a honk. We continued driving until we got into the town of Stratford.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it's really a sweet little town. A cross between the Old Quebec City and Whistler BC. There are lots of little shops and everyone bustles about, but somehow it's not as hectic as London.Once we got off the bus, I went straight to the church were Shakespeare was burried– I wanted to get there before the sun went down.
It's a little outside of the town, though not by much in an old church next to the river, Avon. It a really beautiful old building. It's not very tall but manages to really make an impression on you, (my kind of church!).

Although the door looks huge from here, it's actually a very short enterance, one even I had to bend down to go through. Inside it's full of lovely stain glass windows and beautifully polished wood. The front part I believe is still used for service- not sure though- and the back is as close as you can get to a shrine dedicated to a man as you can get in the house of God. It's really moving though. My flatmate Leanna said she saw this guy fall down on his knees and start weeping in front of it, which is a but much for me, but I'm glad I went.

What's almost as cool though, was the cemetary outside. This is really unusual that I like it, because ordinarily I hate cemetaries, and anything to do with them. But there was something about these tombstones that was so stately and serene, I felt really peaceful here. The picture is my attempt at something artsy, but really it was really beautiful. And with all the thick trees, I felt like I was in a small forrest, which was a nice change of pace from the grey business that it London.

After we saw the church, people wanted to eat, but I was still interested in walking around. I explored the town a little bit, and started on a scavenger hunt to find all the shops that incorporated a Shakespearian characters's name. Here's a selection.

If you do go eat there though, this is the place to do so. It's a little restaurant frequented by the majority of the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Co) theater people. And actually, I believe it's owned by Judi Dench... not sure about that though. The kick is, the other side of the sign reads The Black Swan- so it looks a bit more respectable coming from that side. I was really amused by that. Takes you back to HC Anderson's story, doesn't it?

Then after, it was dark which meant showtime! We saw Romeo and Juliet, which at first I was a little dubious about, having seen it so much it gets kind of cliché. But in the end I was not disspointed. Actually, I changed my mind within the first three lines of the show. Basically the director wanted to remind audiences that balcony scenes aside, the play is really a life or death matter. He also set it in pre WWII Verona, which meant switchblades and fedoras galore. Incidentally it also meant several hot men, which pleased my and my friend Anna, (left) greatly.

And that really is it. After the show, we pilled on the bus, stopped again at Welcome Break, and got home at one a.m. where I promptly fell asleep. The End.

And because I can't resist:
It's the Swan of Avon!!

and I just thought this was funny...

Friday, January 23, 2009

master class

Happy Friday everybody!! Actually, it wasn't to begin with, but it ended on a really good note, because of my last class today. We have these master classes that spring up every once in a while that are taught by professionals in the field. So at 3:45 this afternoon, I was sitting listening to... none other than Fiona Shaw.

For those that don't know, Fiona Shaw is a really famous Irish actress, she's been in all sorts of stuff including Black Dahlia, and the Harry Potters (Aunt Petunia). Oddly enough, she was also in Super Mario Bros.

So she came in and did a workshop with us. First we talked about text, primarily Shakespeare. She made a really interesting point about the connection between the cynicism of the 21 century and the growing problem in actors of trusting the text, or believing what's said. Although there's no proof, naturally, it is interesting that as we start questioning authority more, we stop taking what's said at dace value. This is not a bad thing, consider new reports and warped facts. However, it also means that when we talk about things that are connceptually difficult to put into words, we don't, and it comes out "he was just so.... omigod." It's interesting.

The second half of her workshop was looking at people's monologues and critiquing/helping them. I was one of the four who got to go. This was a little nerve wracking when I realized halfway through that I was doing a speech from a play she'd been in, "Richard III", Lady Anne, but it was a good learning experiance, she gave me lots of new ideas to try. I'm glad I was brave enough to put up my hand.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

team work out?

so just had to post this, my roomate just showed me it. I've been looking for somewhere to work out to stay in shape for stage combat. maybe I'll try this place.

class report II

Alright, so as promised, here is part two of my classes. Wed and Thurs mornings I have movement, which right now consists of lots of running and skipping and piggy backs.

Then in the afternoons, there’s physical theater. This may be one of my favorite classes; it’s taught by this guy named Mic with white haired and oversized button ups that he never tucks in. He’s really funny, and has a great dry sense of humor. Whenever we play games you can get “out” or lose points anytime he deems you’ve done something stupid. Elsewhere this might be cruel, but he has this way of doing it makes us laugh at ourselves, which is really nice after all these other intense classes, just to remember we like acting and being silly.

My other two classes are with this guy Chris Cook, who I do not have a great opinion of so far. He’s a theater critic in charge of teaching history of theater, (which interestingly enough is only European theater…) and theater criticism. Both of his classes are two hours, and from what I see, he talks a lot at us about the playwright and a reading of a scene in the assigned play, (if it’s theater history), and then twenty minutes to “discuss”. Bah. He also fell asleep at the play we went to last night– which was amazing by the way, it was all about Brazil post slavery through the use of capoeira. Really sweet.

In other, (better) news, nailed my sonnet today, which was great since I already had a scrape with the teacher in that class– she saw me writing down notes in my notebook and decided I was doing work for another class. Very bad, took a while to sort out. Anyway, I did it today, and she goes “Well, I thought that was just marvelous… anyone else?” and then proceeded to compliment me for a good couple of minutes. Made me very happy.

Also, went to a club Saturday night, which was a lot of fun. IT was pouring rain on the walk over, so that was intense, but once we got inside we had a really good time. It’s a little place called “Moose” that tries to be kitchy with tweed wallpaper and antlers, but at the same time is playing Sean Paul. It’s like a party in a basement that just happens to have a bar. And there’s no cover charge, which is lovely. Danced a lot, including with two guys– William (I believe, hard to hear), and Windbreaker boy (no name but we high fives as I left).

Tomorrow I have a tutorial at 9, so I better head to bed. Hope you’re all well, and having good first weeks of school (those who’ve just started)

Monday, January 19, 2009

No Forks and No Cups

So... any tips to make roomates wash dishes? In a non bitchy, non I'm your mom but also non passive agressive kinda way?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why the Internet Sucks

I've been here for over a week now, and I will do a post about what London is like after being there for more than seven days, but first I need to write this. I'm not trying to be mellowdramatic or anything, just needed to put it out there somewhere.

My Grandpa (mom's) died. This is hard for me to deal with because along with the loss being painful, it just emphasizes how far away I am from home, and how much is out of my control. Leave and never see people again is just terrifying to me. But the shock was increased because I learned of his death by an email from an uncle on my dad's side. My parents had been planning to tell me online when we had our planned skype talk, but before that I got this email saying, "I heard about your grandfather, I'm sorry for your loss." Which is just a shitty way to have the news broken to you. Plus I was home alone on a Friday night, which does wonders for your emotion levels already.

I think I'll be okay tho. I emailed a goodbye letter that will be burried with my grandfather, (mom's idea), which helped a little. I also went on a walk today that really cleared my head. It reminded me how lovely life can be, and why we choose to live it. (yes cheesy, now shut up!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

grilled cheese

A tip for fellow travelers: If you’re staying in a (mostly) furnished apartment, make sure you rinse all kitchenware before use. You might ask why this is such a significant tidbit? Well…

We had just come home from class, and after putting a pot of water on the stovetop to boil for pasta, I sat down at the table and was paging through a magazine. My flatmate Lena, who was still in the kitchen making a grilled cheese was talking to me, suddenly pops her head into the living room and through her coughs says, “You really should come smell this. I mean, I don’t want you to but…” And then she’s coughing too much to speak. So I get up and go over to the sink to sniff.

And then I can’t breathe. It’s like invisible hands have closed over my windpipe. This isn’t wheezing, this is nothing; in or out. I back out of the kitchen, and after a quick huddle with the other flatmates, we decide to go for Michael, the Irish guy at the front desk. So I tear down four flights down the stairs, cut across this group of preppy girls coming in the door over to the guard’s desk, where he greets me with a “you’re not allowed back here.”

I explain that we think there’s a gas leak in our flat, and he calmly gets up and accompanies me on the elevator up to the fourth floor. He goes in to investigate, after telling us everything is probably fine, and starts gagging. It’s pretty amazing, though his coughs, his only reaction is, “ooh, you girls got a strong one there,” like we fed him burned soup or something. He comes out at tells us, patiently as any chem. teacher explaining a reaction,

“Your pan must still have bleach on it from before you got here. It must have been cleaned improperly. When you burn bleach it creates fumes. You should have washed it before using it.” Go figure.

So we prop the windows and go out into the hall to keep working on memorizing sonnets and wait until the fumes have diffused. So there you have it. Side note, it’s hard to memorize Shakespeare after you’ve breathed in toxic fumes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So, first two days of class are now successfully under my belt. Ha! It’s so weird that it’s only Tuesday, I feel like I’ve been here a lot longer.

My school is roughly two miles from my flat, so my day begins every morning with a brisk walk through Regents Park at 8:15 every morning. Or not so brisk, many of the people in the group are slow walkers; and this is coming from me! I take tiny steps. Apparently, it’s a traction issue, some of the Californians are unused to frost. Now it’s hovering around 40-50º, though, so frost isn’t really a problem anymore. It makes me really miss snow.

The walk in the park is really nice though, so perhaps it’s just as well we take our time. Regents Park, so named because apparently there was going to be some royal building next to it that was never actually built, has a lake with all sorts of birds– swans, geese, ducks, and I believe a heron or two. There’s also a large number of soccer fields which this girl Katie and I plan on using some day after class. In the middle of the park is a little coffee shop called the “honest sausage.” Several comments have been made about the name, though we’re not really sure why it’s called that.

The classes I’ve had so far are Shakespeare (yes, Greta…), High Comedy (which at the moment is being taught as a sociology of British History class, and my homework for tonight is to study my curves, which were high fashion during the 1700’s), Voice, and Stage Combat.

Combat is my favorite so far. It’s taught by this small blonde named Natalie who has two main rules: when others are performing, shut the fuck up; and when she is talking… shut the fuck up. She’s really great, though– really witty and lively. She also looks amazing when she fights. I’d like to be like that. At first when she found out about my ear, she didn’t think I’d be able to participate, because she thought my equilibrium would be off, thus making me a danger to the class. I apparently passed though; she said I did really well on my first day. So yay! She left us with an exercise in pivoting, saying “if you can’t dance, you can’t fuck.” So there you go.

Last odd bit of the night, saw Paul Chrewsberry at a play tonight. That was a bit surreal.

Friday, January 9, 2009


So, to switch tones after that last post...

I am now in London. This trip has started. I arrived safely in Heathrow at &:15 this morning, made my way through baggage and customs (note, if your suitcase is black, it will look like everyone elses.), dragged it all on to the train and rolled into London as the sun rose.

I am writing from my new apartment, a two bedroom place that I share with Lizzy, Lena and Leana. (Aparently the "L" team's the new J team and I'm the odd one out, but no matter, J team will always be the best!). The apartment is quirky. We have two bedrooms (with beds that don't sound like they're dying whenever you sit on them), two toilets (?!), a lovely livingroom and a kitchen with a mini washing machine in it.

Because I was a bad person, I napped when I got here, so to wake up a bit, I went walking. Although it was kinda cool not to have any idea where I was... I had no idea where I was. The blocks are not on a grid system, and street names are posted on the side of building up on the second floor, so I got a bit lost, wandering around looking for "the building by the two gambling places and a grocery store.", because really that was the best I could do.

There will be more to come on Sunday once I've done orientation.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

stage fright

so i leave tomorrow. holy crap. in 24 hours i will be airborn.

current status: two half filled suitcases, a new power cord, nine nails chewed down to the skin. am i a little anxious? oh yes, i am.

i didn't understand this summer when people told me they were nervous to go abroad. i now get it. there's that part in the first "lord of the rings" where bilbo explains to gandalf about frodo's love for the shire? that's me. i'm frodo, and i love my twin cities, sap-shire very very much. at least he got to bring friends along. but then i spose, he was also being chased by crazy mostly dead warriors, and he was traveling to mount doom... maybe this is an okay trade off. at least i can still talk to friends back home.

not to worry, excitement's building, too. this is it, this is my dream since about 7th grade, (only then it was boarding school, thank goodness it's changed a little). i'm gonna make the most of it.

(sung) wish me luck as you wave me goodbye....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

cold read

me: hello, you've found my blog.

In less than a week I'll be flying overseas to London. Into the sunrise, as it were...
I'll be there for four months, studying acting, imersing in theater, dabbling into soccer wherever possible, and perfecting a british accent. This blog is my way to relay to you all the new discoveries, misadventures, grand adventures, challenges, and triumphs I encounter— in short, all of the random trains of thought that pass through my head, because how else will you get your jamie-story fix? So read, enjoy, comment, and keep me updated on your life. As the brits say, drop me a line. Because it's never a dull moment.