Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Over the sea to....

I’m in my second day on Skye now.
This is the best decompression from the city. It’s like Western zen or something. 

Girl adventured across on the ferry! This is Jimmy.
The first day I was here was an adventure. There were no buses running from the pier, because it was Sunday, so the guy who works at the ferry office was like, “oh, I’ll give you a lift. It’s just a couple miles. Let me just get this next boat out.” So then I rode with him and a fellow named Bob. We went through the village—it was either Sleate or Armadale, not sure—and then I got dropped off at Sabhal Mor Ostaig (pronounced: SAHl-mor OH-steg).
I was there super early so the lady at reception, Ruth, let me go to church with her. It was a tiny little Church of Scotland. Then we had a “wee blether,” in which she taught me some beginning Gaelic phrases. I quickly bought books on learning Gaelic.
I also did some exploring. It’s very quiet here, and not easy to get places, so much of my “entertainment” has been exploring. 

An Tur- the Tower- where the girl is staying!

Footpath she found in the front of the school...

...that led down to this view.

The church 

The first day of classes was definitely an adventure. In the Acting class, there are three students and two teachers. The drama workshops we did would maybe have been simple, except for the fact that I speak no Gaelic. There is one girl in the class who is fluent, and another who is pretty intermediate. I had been told, however, that the course was bilingual, so it would be okay if I didn’t know any, and the instructors are incredibly kind and patient with me. I’ve already started to learn a tiny bit. I’m also getting better at simply reading the words and knowing how to pronounce them, since they are not pronounced phonetically at all.
The view from her window
In the evening there was a pub quiz at the campus pub. I sat at a table with a lady named Lorna from Stirling, Scotland, a lady named Monique from Switzerland, and a fellow whose name I didn’t catch from Dublin.
There is also a music course going on, so after the pub quiz, people started pulling out fiddles and cellos and there was also a bagpipe.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

End of London, on to Scotland

Were I a writer or an artist seeking inspiration, I would buy myself a train ticket cross a country and look out the windows, while listening to a brilliantly constructed playlist of music.

My lovely friends walked me to my station at 5 this morning to say goodbye. We hadn’t slept all night.
The evening began with the certificate ceremony and tea dance at Guildhall.

 Then most of S4 went to find a place to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. We ended up going to a place near Sloane Square in Chelsea. We got food at a McDonald’s (truly a Londoner; not trying to seek out “Londoney” pubs!) and a lot of us got collector Olympic Coca-Cola Cups and armbands with our meals. Then we found this park with a very large screen, where we joined several hundred other people in watching the ceremonies. It was so cool to be in the city where it was happening, and to think that I had actually seen the stadium! The people watching were not only from Britain, either; we were sitting by a Japanese couple. But there were plenty of people from the U.K., and they were all majorly enthusiastic. I found myself feeling strangely patriotic toward Britain, but I still cheered extra loud when the American team walked.


Then a bunch of us went back to Sundial, where we hung out with some kids from the jazz summer school for a bit. I met a fellow named James who studies percussion at Guildhall during term but was working housekeeping this summer. He walked us around the Barbican area, and we found some new crannies and corners to see. We went down to the “Thames Beach!” It was this rocky and very muddy place by the water. Then it was time to go back and pack up.\

On to Scotland

My trip from London to Mallaig was over 12 hours, but it wasn’t unenjoyable. In fact, it was quite lovely to do nothing but sit by a window and listen to Celtic and soundtrack music and to doze off and then wake up to the soul-stirring landscape passing by. I was able to spend an hour in Glasgow for lunch between trains, which was nice. I’ll spend an afternoon there on my way back. While people in London were not unfriendly by any means, in these more northern parts there is an element of openness and friendliness that is not unlike the southern U.S.
Mallaig is this charming coastal town with a little port. I am staying at the Sea View Guest House, which I would highly recommend if you are ever in the area. I take the ferry to Skye tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Videos: The Globe and my daily walk

A quick view of the Globe. I was against the stage!

A walk from my flat to the school. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Visit to Olympic Park

IKEA  Tower
Today, I visited the Olympic Park! I couldn't actually get in, since I didn't have a ticket, but I did get to go on an interesting tour around the area.
Three Mills Studios, where the opening ceremonies are being rehearsed.

The stadium

Where Al Jazeera will be

The Aquatics centre

Olympic Village 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Girl ACTUALLY goes adventuring a bit

Every day, do something to enhance and enrich and reaffirm your soul. Also do something that will stretch you past the limits of your comfort zone.

Today was a long day, but it was quite the adventure. The easy part of the day was visiting Regent’s Park and the Freud Museum. That was the smallest part of the day, though.
Today was mostly dedicated to some exploration into theatre for social good/ social awareness. I went out to Peckham, which is actually one of the rougher parts of the city. I usually try to be a pretty gutsy person, but this pushed me out of my comfort zone in a whole new way.

When I went out to Peckham, I first visited Nene Essien, who is originally from Africa and has founded the Papa Mandela Project. This is a project dedicating to educating young people (of African descent, primarily, but I suppose anyone) in the community about Nelson Mandela and about their roots and culture. She is one of the most loving, passionate people. I sat in on an informational meeting where she was talking to young recruits and their parents about the project. The parents and kids were respectful enough, but I didn't feel that they were quite as excited as Nene, which was too bad. Nene has been doing this for 17 years, and you can tell it is her life, she is so enthusiastic about what she does, and is tireless.

With Nene Essien
I also went to a play in the evening, but I had about four hours to kill. Nene gave me a ride to the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, where she suggested I look around for a while. (The whole car ride, she kept apologizing for not being able to let me stay with her for the afternoon, but she had a meeting. She was very precious!) So I hung out at this mall-type place that many people in the States would call “shady.” It had lots of market-y booths around it that sold fun cheap clothes, and inside the shopping centre was an interesting mix of shops. I got a thing called Ichtyotherapy, where little Garra Rufa fish nibble at all the dead skin on your feet. For real. It’s the weirdest thing, and you should definitely try it if you ever get the chance. There was also an exhibit on photographs about Jamaica in the shopping centre. I think there is a large Jamaican/Rasta population in this part of the city. I also met a filmmaker and his daughter. Apparently this filmmaker and his wife both do documentaries. You have probably seen some of them, as they are often for National Geographic and the History Channel!

Girl was totally told that "for her, a special price..." at this market...

Inside the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. The girl would have taken more pictures, but people were giving her strange looks.
 In the evening, I went to a play called Vera Vera Vera. It's a new play, put on by the Royal Court Theatre. They have been doing this project where they move plays from their actual playhouse - Sloane- out into the communities. It was hard to find the theatre, especially being as tired as I was from the rest of the day. It was super cool though; it was up lots of stairs and in a "found" sort of space. They had put sod on the floor. It was very edgy, and socially aware. It's one of those venues that when you buy a program, they actually hand you a script that has a little programmatic info in the front.
Entrance to the Bussey Building, which is where the play was 

More entrance.

More entrance
 On the way back, I cut through the Barbican Centre (meaning I got lost), and caught a glimpse of the James Bond exhibit there...

007 movie posters

Today involved lots of walking, working the buses, getting lost, spending more money than I probably ought to have, and staying super "aware" of my surroundings. It was great finally getting to see where people-- and not rich people-- actually live. The people I met, passed on the street, and asked for help on the bus were of all sorts of different backgrounds. When I stepped back in to the Sundial Court gates tonight, I finally relaxed a little. I once again realized how nice and clean and safe my world really is most of the time. 

Today did stretch me out of my comfort zone, but that is where true growth as a person happens. Today has truly been an adventure.

And here are some pictures from the cushier part of the day:
Regent's Park

Outside of the Freud Museum

Monday, July 16, 2012

Period dance evening

Here are photos from period dance evening! We have learned dances from the Medieval period through Austen times (and we did the Twist). Can you believe, people in real Drama School do two years worth of theses courses! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Girl Goes Analyzing #1

Thus far, this blog makes it look like all I've done is hang out in the Guildhall lobby and traipse around with pals, but there's ever so much more to it.
So here it is: a less superficial entry that hopefully fits well with the actual educational element of this adventure.

Be forewarned: it's quite wordy and rawther academic (remember, I'm getting academic credit for this).

It's hard to believe that only a week has passed, and it's also hard to believe that already a week has passed.

On the Education

The course is amazing. It's essentially an intro to what you would cover at a three-year Drama School course. We have two or three classes a day that cover a wide range of areas: improv, acting, text, period dance, movement, voice, mask, combat, film, audition etc. We get sessions (about 1.5-2 hours long) in each of these areas at least two times, and some more than that. The other half of the day is spent in Project Rehearsal, which is where we work with the same two teachers each time on certain texts. (My group, S4, is working with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Closer, by Patrick Marber). 

It's at once validating and overwhelming. It's validating because many of the concepts and techniques and philosophies to which we're being introduced are ones that I'm already familiar with through my training at Ball State. On the other hand, what we might cover in a year in one class at BSU, Guildhall Students  would cover in a year in three separate classes. There are separate classes for voice, text, acting, movement, mask, improv, period dance, film, combat, audition, and more, and of course these all have different levels of progression through the time at the School. My training is much more condensed, but that's to be expected, as I'm not at a conservatory. I'm glad that my education is better-rounded in terms of the world on the whole (but more specific to performance than if I were simply getting a B.A. in Theatre, rather than a B.F.A. in Acting), but it's also intimidating to know that the competition will have had this level of intense training in techniques and methods.

Even though I've been exposed to much of what we're learning already, I'm still growing so much. It's always nice to have someone new coach you. There's a slightly different approach, a slightly different vocabulary, with everybody. The course is not just a broad overview, either; by spending half of every day in Project Rehearsal a good chunk of the course becomes consistent and a little more personalized.

The instructors are amazing. Every single person is so knowledgeable. It's humbling to be taught by them. After all, they're some of the best at theatre pedagogy out there! Patsy Rodenburg alone is a bit of celebrity in herself. It may not be possible to develop the same level of personal closeness with them as I have at Ball State, but that's obvious, since this is only a three-week short course, versus a multi-year investment on behalf of both parties.

I'm hoping that my technique will improve some with this course, but realistically, a huge amount of change can't happen in three weeks. Probably, technique- wise, this course will introduce the tools, and then it will be my prerogative to go out there and expound on these tools and practice them. Mostly, I'm hoping that this course will help me tap into an honest, free, and uninhibited emotional place. That's where I have a lot of trouble. I don't connect well to things, sometimes, and then when things have to get heated and emotional onstage, my work becomes very manufactured. I hope this course will help with that. I am realizing that I can't force things; it's better to be understated and honest than dramatic and untruthful. My classmates join me in being in perpetual awe of everything we learn. We are growing as a group, and it is so, so cool to see the others learn and grow, and so, so amazing to know that we all support each other-- that I am supported by them-- and there is little judgment, and much compassion.

On Life

Despite the fact that I am in a city, that I have several things I’m working on for the course, Ball State homework to do, and other groups I want to visit and research, life here is simpler. I have to admit, I like it. There’s not so much I have to do. I don’t know if I could do this for forever, though; I would start to feel as if I were missing out on too much. But maybe not. It’s nice being able to focus well on a number of things. I’m able to relax and socialize without feeling that I am not going to be able to get everything done at a high level of quality. Also, I have gotten plenty of sleep. Now, part of this may be psychological. This is still my summer. Even though it’s a course, I don’t have the same demands as I would at my actual college, or even if I were at real drama school. I have taken mental pressure off myself. If this were a permanent setup, I would have to get a job, look for outside projects, worry more about living costs, etc. Plus, it would all start to wear on me after a while, after it had all built up.

My friends are amazing. This is the part where it's hard to believe that only a week has passed. We are all already so, so close. That's a thing with performing artists though; we love and connect quickly. (Okay, well maybe I don't so much, but everybody else does so much that it's hard not to let them draw you in!) In the drama world, you have to leap into a show or a class-- which is an intimate sort of thing-- and very quickly become close and connected and open. I hope we are all able to stay in touch after this course, because these people are all so loving and fun and interesting and talented. Most of us are either in University somewhere or working jobs. Most everyone either eventually wants to get in to Drama School, or are just wanting to see what it's like. There are people who are more music theatre who want to improv acting (like Lysanne), and others who have done a lot with film, but little with stage (like my friend Amber, who models and just got back from NYC doing a Coach perfume shoot and also was in a major commercial in London!). It's neat how international it all is, even though most of us are from Western countries. English is not the first language for a good portion of the people here. 

As the adventure continues, I'll try to have more posts like this. I can't do it often; it takes time to get enough to step back and analyze. Plus, nobody wants to read big chunks like this more than a few times,if even that much! :)
I hope this has shed a little more light on what precisely I'm doing at the Guildhall School! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pictures from pub night in Greenwich and girls' day outView

These are pictures from last night and today. Some of us went pubbing in Greenwich, as one of our classmates is a student who lives there. Then, three of us spent the day out shopping. Yay bonding!
View from Lysanne's house in Greenwich

Lysanne in her kitchen

A Peanut Toffee Crunch from Desperado's .... yuummmmm

Countdown to the Olympics in Trafalgar Square 

Lysanne and Marina in Trafalgar Square

Out on the South Bank!