Writing Papers

I like to write (hence the blog I’m writing…). Writing a paper gives me so much less anxiety than any kind of test, but for someone going into her 16th year of education, I suffer terribly from a mixture of writer’s block and procrastination stemmed from being overwhelmed. 

So many times as I’ve turned in a paper, fellow classmates mention how they wrote theirs in just an hour. Seriously, that’s insane!

I’m currently writing my second blog post since the time I could’ve been writing my final paper over Death of a Salesman. This will be my third play analysis with the exact same rubric as the previous two. Having already written these, this should be no big deal, but I know it will probably take me five hours. 

All classes in study away through MSU are pass/fail, so it’s not an issue about a grade. I think it’s more of a competition with myself. If I turn something in that’s not fully thought-out, even if I get a good grade, I’ll know I could’ve done better. Therefore, I end up staring at a blank screen for a long time. 

It’s also overwhelming because I’m analyzing the work of artists. I want to view things with a critical eye because that’s how you learn, but I want to be sure that anything on printed paper about someone else’s work isn’t something I just come up with without thinking it through. 

I’m not looking forward to the dreaded word document with my MLA-formatted header staring back at me, but at least the days of timed essays are over. Those were cruel and not an effective measurement of writing ability, but of how many fancy words you could fit in between smooth transitions. Ugh, hope this blog post doesn’t bring back bad memories that cause nightmares. 

Advertisements

Filming Days

Lights, camera, action!

You’re likely picturing a director in a typical director’s chair speaking in a megaphone. Everything is glamorous. 

What’s more accurate is lights……. camera……………… wait for it ……………. action. Oh, a giant bus drove by. Cut. 

This week we began filming our scenes. The first day, we were set to film a two-person scene of the other two girls in class and one with all three of us. The two-person scene was on the steps of our flat, the other inside. Because there are only three of us, my professor had a friend come to help. 

We decided to film the stoop scene first, and just as we finished putting all of the equipment together, it started raining. So, we changed a line about it being hot out to being cold, protected the camera and actors with umbrellas, and “kept calm and carried on.” Since I wasn’t in the scene, I operated the boom, which didn’t get an umbrella, so in between takes I found shelter in the doorway. 

The rain wasn’t bad, but our normally quiet street was, that day, extremely popular. I’ll be interested to see what my professor will be able to piece together in editing because it was so noisy. It’s also amazing that people walking by didn’t clue in that there was a camera, so they maybe shouldn’t talk. We are lucky, though, because apparently there’s a law you can’t have a camera with a tripod in public without a permit. So, at least no policemen walked by. 

 

Lydia and Kylie featuring my boom

 
With all of those interruptions, the three-person scene was pushed back to the next day. Our scene is from Rachel Getting Married where Rachel (my character) has to tell her druggie sister that she chose her friend over her as maid of honor. However, the dramatic reaction from the sister results in a maid of honor change. There’s a lot of back and forth between the friend and the sister, so this scene became difficult for me because of continuity. I sat in between them and would have to react to the ping pong match, but because there were multiple camera takes, it was my responsibility to react in the same way each time. As I’m mostly a theatre actor, this was difficult because I’m used to following my impulses and making new discoveries each time. Because I was focused on the continuity, I think my acting may have suffered. It would be nice to have quality material for my reel, but if it doesn’t turn out, at least I got experience in front of the camera and no one’s film is at stake. 

The most recent scene was my first two-person scene, and this time I was a lot less in my head. It took awhile to figure out the best staging and set-up for the scene for technical reasons, but once we got going, it was nice. We filmed the entire scene over my shoulder to get my partner’s shots. We began filming the scene again from over her shoulder, but then we ran out of time to finish the scene from that perspective. It’s really hard to only have 3.5 hours and a film crew of 2. 

We only have one class day left to film my other two-person scene and our monologues. 

I was hoping that this film workshop would give me a sense of if I enjoy film vs. theatre, but I don’t think this was an accurate representation of what it would be like. This is partly because we’re so short on time, so we’re rushing to do a scene each day with different characters, rather than going on set each day with the same character for one film. 

In watching some of our exercises and recordings of our previously-learned monologues, I am taking away a hunger to do more. Live theatre is great, and I love the connection with an audience, but I also love the permanence of film. Film also allows for a lot more subtleties in acting, which is intriguing. Thank goodness I have another year of school left which will hopefully be full of opportunities and self discovery. 

Show Reflections – Part 2

I’m behind on reporting on shows because rather than blogging about them, I’ve been writing papers for class. I’ll spare you the six page critical analysis, but here are some of the highlights. (School papers are available upon request ;))

The Audience

Kristin Scott Thomas headlines as The Queen in a speculated retelling of her weekly meetings with prime ministers throughout her reign. This play was doubly interesting because I got to see a good piece of theatre and also learn a lot about British history and government. I went to the Trooping of the Colour earlier in my trip, which is a parade celebrating The Queen’s “official” birthday. As she rode by in her horse-drawn carriage, she was applauded, and a woman behind me even exclaimed, “we love you, Queen Elizabeth!” After witnessing that, it was special to learn about the person behind the fanfare. How difficult it must be to have been born into a life in the spotlight.

With my flatmate/fellow acting student, Kylie, following the perforamnce

With my flatmate/fellow acting student, Kylie, following the performance

Her majesty!

Her majesty!

The Elephant Man

As you may know, Bradley Cooper stars as John Merrick, aka the elephant man — a man who was born with several deformities. Rather than covering Cooper in prosthetics, he transforms his own appearance by distoritng his body in various ways. What’s really exciting is the audience gets to see this transofmration. At the beginning, Bradley Cooper, the actor, stand still on stage. As we view a slideshow of photographs of the real John Merrick, a doctor explains the various deformities, and as each part is described, Cooper adjusts his frame. He stays that way for the full show, and by the curtain call, I forgot I was watching a famous movie star. It was a truly stunning performance.

No picture with Bradley Cooper, but I'm planning on going by to the stage door to try meeting him. Here's a video of the transformation I described: https://www.yahoo.com/tv/bradley-coopers-transformation-into-elephant-man-120994804110.html

No picture with Bradley Cooper, but I’m planning on going by to the stage door to try meeting him. Here’s a video of the transformation I described: https://www.yahoo.com/tv/bradley-coopers-transformation-into-elephant-man-120994804110.html

Beaux Stratagem at the National Theatre

On Monday my Intro to Theatre class took a field trip to the National Theatre for a backstage tour. The NT is, in fact, three theatres (4, if you count their temporary theatre) that all serve different purposes. One is inspired by a colosseum in Rome, but rather than being 180 degrees, it is 118 degrees because that’s the exact measurement of peripheral vision. Apparently, Lawrence Olivier, who was integral in designing the theatre, suffered from stage fright and felt actors would feel better if they could see each audience member. The other two main theatres were the more typical proscenium and blackbox, with the blackbox having a second floor seating as well.

The NT is the powerhouse that fights for experimental theatre. Its goal is to preserve the classics, but also develop new work. Unlike smaller theatres that produce new theatre, their resources are vast. For example, the costumes are historically accurate, right down to the undergarments. Any paintings of a character in a play is painted to look exactly like the actor, and a backup is painted to look like the understudy. We got to see where all of these design elements are produced, and it is incredible to think of the number of hands that touch each show.

That night we saw Beaux Stratagem, a restoration play revival, in the Olivier Theatre. It took me awhile to catch on to the language, but once I did, it was a delightfully entertaining show, featuring a five-piece folk band. I particularly enjoyed seeing some exciting stage combat.

I later learned that the original production of Beaux Stratagem opened in 1707 at the same theatre we saw The Elephant Man. Full circle experience!

Gypsy

I’ve been seeing so many plays and have obviously been enjoying them, but last night I was at home. There are some productions where I’m reminded of why I’m pursuing this crazy life of musical theatre, and this was one of them. Rose was played by Imelda Staunton, and for my Harry Potter fans, you may know her as Professor Umbridge. Wow, talk about a big voice coming out of one tiny lady! Her take on “Rose’s Turn” is confirmation that musical theatre is certainly not fluff and the performers are still actors.

The magic was only lessened by a group of four or five middle aged women (probably drunk) who felt the need to yell out the lyrics with Staunton. During “Rose’s Turn.” It’s her turn. Seriously, if you know a show well enough to know the lyrics, then you should know better. The theatre is not the same as a rock concert.

Anyway, I had the honor of meeting her at the stage door after, and she signed my ticket. (I gave up buying programs at each show when The Elephant Man program was 10 pounds — ugh!). No picture, though, because she says she doesn’t like selfies, which is understandable.

Tomorrow we’re seeing Death of a Salesman, which is the last show I’m seeing as part of my class. Don’t worry, I’ll still be seeing more theatre because my mom is joining me in less than a week! Stay tuned 🙂

Get Off Your Ath and Go to Bath

This weekend I took a break from the bustling streets of London to explore Bath and South Wales.

Our first stop was Stourhead Gardens, which is part of a massive estate. All of the hills and ponds and everything was manmade simply for the enjoyment of the owner. I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.

thumb_IMG_5900_1024

thumb_IMG_5909_1024

thumb_IMG_5924_1024

thumb_IMG_5928_1024

Featured in a scene from Keira Knightley's Pride and Prejudice

Featured in a scene from Keira Knightley’s Pride and Prejudice

After being led on a walking tour of Bath, we were given the rest of the evening as free time. A suggested activity was the Thermae Bath Spa. For 32 pounds, you could relax in a pool of the thermal bath waters for 2 hours. After much debating, as I’m saving most of my money on theatre tickets, I decided to use my birthday money from Suzie’s mom towards the spa experience. Thanks, Mrs. Ahlvers! ❤

Wow, talk about money well spent! I love educational tours, walking everywhere, and constant exploring, but it was so refreshing to slow down and just relax. We were given a plain white robe and slippers to wear over our swimsuits as we made our way through the spa. the highlight of the spa was the rooftop pool that overlooked Bath Abbey and the original Roman Baths. It was amazing being immersed in the thermal waters, complete with timed jets and a giant faucet that served as a warm back massage.

The floor below housed the aromatherapy steam rooms — lotus flower, a fancy name I can’t remember that smells like Vick’s, eucalyptus, and sandalwood. To cleanse yourself in between the individual rooms, there was a thermal shower, and if you got too hot, you could go out on the terrace for some crisp, fresh air. The bottom floor had another pool with a lazy river, but I preferred floating in the rooftop pool.

For a truly luxurious experience, you could go to the in-spa café. It was a beautiful sight to see all of these posh people sipping champagne, gazing into each other’s eyes over a classy meal whilst wearing robes and slippers. The middle-aged men were the most amusing.

My new friend Lydia and I thoguht it would be fun to get a treat. Unfortunately, the kitchen was backed up so we couldn’t eat without a reservation, but we were allowed to come in for a drink and small bites. As I sipped my orange cream rooibos tea, for once I stopped talking and enjoyed the beautiful moment with a satisfied sigh. Yes, this is slightly cheesy, but there are truly no words to express that sense of freedom from the world.

It gets better because they added a half an hour to our time, so we finished the experience watching the sun begin to set from the rooftop pool.

Photography wasn't allowed, so check out their website for pictures:   https://www.thermaebathspa.com/

Photography wasn’t allowed, so check out their website for pictures: https://www.thermaebathspa.com/

The next day, we went to South Wales to visit Chepstow Castle. It was neat, but it heavily smelled of urine and wasn’t quite as impressive as some of the other building we’ve seen. I got some good pictures, though.

thumb_IMG_5945_1024

thumb_IMG_5965_1024

Thrown in the dungeon... again

Thrown in the dungeon… again

Our second stop was at Tintern Abbey, and similar to the spa experience, the beauty is hard to describe. If you’re unfamiliar, Tintern Abbey was a monastery, but when the Anglican Church took over, it was abandoned. Now a portion of the structure remains, and it has served as inspiration for poets, artists, and other creators for years. Jane Austen actually writes about it in Mansfield Park. I’ve been enjoying these excursions with a neat group of girls, but at Tintern Abbey I wandered off on my own to silently soak in the beauty.

Stained glass is beautiful, but somehow this tops it

Stained glass is beautiful, but somehow this tops it

thumb_IMG_5983_1024

On our final day in Bath, we toured the Roman Bath museum where I got to taste the bath waters. It was warm and fairly metallic, but I probably have superpowers now, so it was worth it.

thumb_IMG_6010_1024

Now I need to work on the scenes we’re filming tomorrow and write a paper over The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper. Hopefully the spirit of Jane Austen will guide me.

Status

It’s occurred to me I haven’t talked about my classes, so I thought I’d share a bit, considering this is study away. I’m taking a film acting workshop and Intro to Theatre in London. You’ve already heard a bit about my Theatre in London class because that’s basically going to a lot of shows and discussing them after. So, film workshop time. 

We’ve spent a lot of our time doing cold readings to pick really good material to film next week. Additionally, we’ve been practicing in front of the camera with continuity exercises, and performing past material we’ve done for stage and learning how to translate that to film.

This week we had a guest, Ewen MacIntosh, who has appeared on the British version of The Office. He worked with us on various improv exercises. His main focus was exploring the status (pronounced state-us, in his dialect) of people. Though it could play a factor, socioeconomic status isn’t the focus; rather, it’s about how people carry themselves. How I best understand it is that it correlates with confidence levels. We did one exercise where we walked as status level 1 transitioning to 10 — 1 is extremely  unsure of oneself and fidgety while 10 exudes confidence and is more direct. Then, we did improv scenes where we were assigned characters with a status ranking. The higher status characters became pompous, demanding, and rude, while the lower status characters lacked any spine at all. 

For yesterday’s class, we were prepared to run through the memorized scenes we’d decided on. Before we began, our professor charged us with ranking each other on the status level we each give off as people. The other two separately agreed that I’m an 8 or 9, to which my professor said he had received the same vibe. 

After the high status characters we developed the day before, I began to question if this persona I give off is a good thing. When my professor asked my classmates to elaborate on their reasoning, they said it’s because I seem very calm and able to rationalize my decisions without being affected by others. 

This was nice of them, but I still felt unsettled. Then I realized all of the high status characters we developed looked down on the lower status characters. That’s totally unnecessary. 

It’s okay to be strong in who you are and carry yourself with confidence, but that doesn’t elevate you above others. Self love is not a limited resource. We can all learn to be 8s, 9s, and even 10s because life’s too short to be questioning our right to be here. So, stand up straight, smile, and don’t apologize for taking up space! 

Coffee

The reason my blog has been slacking a bit is because I’m not properly caffeinated.

Okay, that’s not true. I’m busy with class and exploring this amazing city. BUT the coffee situation here must be addressed as a warning to those of you thinking about traveling to the land of tea.

I have been a tea drinker for most of my life. It started with drinking a cup of hot sugar water that was slightly tinted brown for effect, but eventually my taste buds matured and enjoyed the actual flavor of tea. In high school, however, I grew to love the other intoxicating morning brew – coffee. Now, I have a serious problem, but it’s a problem I don’t really care to solve. I drink my coffee in the morning (and sometimes afternoon, if necessary) and settle in at night with a cup of tea. Don’t worry, I drink a barrel of water throughout the day.

This lifestyle has been abruptly interrupted by this unidentifiable brown water that is claimed to be coffee. In some cases, it is instant coffee. Other times it has been “brewed” fresh, but I think they are really just adding brown food coloring to hot water.

One of my loves in life is discovering cute coffee shops. I decided that because my flat doesn’t have a coffee pot, I would begin a quest for good coffee. It has been a struggle. Originally, I scoffed at the fellow American students I saw with Starbucks cups. I must admit, I caved this week and went because I simply could not bear the disappointment of another watery cup of joe.

The search will continue. In the meantime, I am drinking tea in the morning, longing for Mudhouse, Java Haute, and Corner Grind. Much love to those places. When I get back to the states, my steamy love affair will continue….

*Note: Don’t let the featured image fool you. While very cute, this coffee was also disappointing

Show Reflections

I’m a musical theatre major in London. As you may have guessed, I’ve been seeing lots of theatre. My original plan was to dedicate a blog post for each show, but that’s not going to happen because I’m behind by 4 and I’m seeing another one tomorrow, so here it goes. 4 in 1!

thumb_IMG_5762_1024Matilda was the show chosen for the entire study centre to see (all majors included). Wow, what a spectacle of a show! As you can tell from the pre-show picture, the set was imaginative and fun. I was in the third row, so it was a treat to see everything close enough to see how some of the tricks operate.

One of the most surprising aspects of the show is Ms. Trunchbull is played by a man! While this was amusing at times, I couldn’t help but be slightly annoyed at a female role being taken away from a female actor. I mean, come on! My professor said that British theatre tends to do that more often with comedic characters, so at least there’s some explanation. Still, the other main adult female character is Miss Honey who is, as she admits, pathetic.

The highlight of the performance, for me, was “When I Grow Up.” The child actors were so adorable and invested, and it was so obvious to see how much fun they were having together and with the audience. They sang as they were swinging on swings that came down from the fly loft! Then, older “kids” joined them later in the song. Mostly this was the highlight for me because it made me nostalgic of #MT16’s freshman showcase. Love you all!

Here’s us as infants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT8COAIcWmE

The performance concluded with a curtain call of actors on push scooters. Adorable.

thumb_IMG_5801_1024

Going about as opposite as you can from Matilda, the whole group transformed into groundlings for the performance of King John at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Admittedly, after reading the synopsis of King John, I was looking forward to the experience of The Globe, but not for the actual show. Shame on me for doubting Shakespeare!

It was surprisingly easy to follow, and the somewhat dry plot was enhanced with a lot of music, both vocal and instrumental. The actors engaged with the audience, particularly the one who played The Bastard. My friend even had her hand kissed by him! Once again, I managed to make it to the second row (I know, I keep lucking out with my seat/standing location)!

Highlight of this experience: the cardinal was played by the actor who plays Geoffrey the Butler in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air! At first I thought I must’ve been imagining the resemblance, but the people around me had the same thought and confirmed the suspicion via Google. He was refined, as ever, though not in his traditional butler uniform 😉

thumb_IMG_5806_1024

Peter Pan at Regent’s Park was the first piece of theatre on the itinerary for my Intro to Theatre in London class. I was looking forward to seeing something in an outdoor theatre, and appreciated the sentimentality of seeing Peter Pan in the very city that J.M. Barrie conceived the idea. However, with so much theatre out there to see, I was slightly disappointed in seeing a show I already know so well.

Or so I thought.

As you can tell from the photo, there are not the usual three beds in the nursery. In fact, it’s not a nursery at all. It is the medical site at a British station in WWI. The show opens with injured soldiers being cared for by nurses. One begins to read the story of Peter Pan – she transforms into Wendy. From there, the basic story we all know was told, but always with the awareness of the parallel to the soldiers who are lost boys themselves. The connecting feature was a mother, not necessarily Mrs. Darling, who would walk through during transitions, singing songs of love. She represented all mothers waiting for their lost children.

All of the set and props were wartime objects – Tinkerbell was a lamp puppet, maneuvered by an expressive puppeteer; mermaids were made of gas masks and metal and swam around fish made of pajama pants. Perhaps the most impressive feature was the crocodile. Captain Hook hears the approaching tick, but no one knows where it’s coming from. Suddenly soldiers set down two lanterns and four miniature ladders, which seemed random until the floorboard lifted up to reveal the crocodile’s mouth! Hook then was eaten, as there was an escape through the mouth of the crocodile.

We all left holding back tears (or maybe shedding a few) as the story ended with the soldiers who played the lost boys telling of their lives after the war. Besides The Curious Incident, this is my favorite performance in London so far because it was so fresh and imaginative, yet incredibly thought-provoking. As the Brits say, it was brilliant!

thumb_IMG_5848_1024

I took myself on a date to see John Goodman in American Buffalo –– GO BEARS! The entire run of this production was completely sold out, but I managed to get a standing room only ticket. I survived a three-hour Shakespeare show, so I figured I’d be fine, but I think my shoe choice was not as smart this time. There were, in fact, plenty of empty seats, but I was instructed to not sit at all, so I was my typical rule-following self. Sigh…..

Anyway, I wanted to meet John Goodman after the show, but after waiting a bit, we were informed by the stage door guard that he had left the building. So, I went back today in hopes of catching him after the matinee performance, but it turns out there wasn’t even a performance today. I’ll just hold onto my program for the next couple of weeks in case I happen to be by the theatre on a good night 🙂

Tomorrow we are seeing The Audience! Cheers for now 🙂

Churches

Seeing different churches in Europe has been one of my favorite experiences.

First of all, it’s overwhelming how old these buildings are. The fact that some of these buildings are older than the US is incredible to me. The styles vary, but the feeling is always the same.

I’m typically not a very emotional person, but I have teared up in almost every church I’ve visited. Sometimes I question the reason for this reaction — after all, many people argue that too many Christians get caught up in worshipping the building and pouring into that rather than focusing on the people of the church. Certainly, the people who fill the church (and those who have yet to enter) are the most important, but that doesn’t mean the house of worship can’t be beautiful.

To me, gorgeous structures I’ve seen don’t compete with God, but are a reassurance of His presence. In a way, the churches can serve as an analogy for God, especially the two that I’ve seen recently – Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Standing from the outside, it can be almost daunting because it’s so massive. Upon entry, the wonder only grows. Not only is the structure enormous, but every crevice of the church is packed with intricate details. You could stay for hours and hours and still not know all of the hidden gems. Though this wasn’t the case in the churches I visited in Germany, all of the churches I’ve visited in London (Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and chapels inside the Tower of London) have not allowed any photography.

So, the analogy? To someone who doesn’t identify as a Christian, God may simply be this mysterious, massive presence that seems harsh and intimidating simply because He is unfamiliar. Once you begin your walk, however, you get to “step inside” and have some mysteries revealed. While there is more purpose and it’s exciting, there is still so much to discover – so much so that people devote their entire lives to studying God’s word and will still never know everything, but isn’t that part of the beauty? If you noticed all of the ornate detail of the building the first tour through, that means there wasn’t much there to see.

As far as the no photography rule, I can tell you about how beautiful the inside of the church was, and I can show you pictures of the outside (because that’s allowed), but the only way to share the experience I had inside is for you to hop on a plane and see it yourself.

While I realize many people go to these tourist sites to see where Prince William and Kate Middleton were married, or where famous people such as the Duke of Wellington were buried, I’m okay with that because it draws in people who might otherwise never step into a church.

I spoke of how it amazes me how old the structures are. Part of the amazement is that the practices in the church are as old as the building. The message is the same. The love is the same. As I attended the evening service at Westminster Abbey last Sunday, I was in awe at the thought of singing songs of worship to the same God that people worshipped when the church was first constructed.

This blog will go back to quirky stories of travel and obsessing over amazing theatre, but I just had to share my thoughts because even if I had pictures to show, it wouldn’t be enough.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

After attending an evening hymn service

After attending an evening hymn service

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

View from the top of the cathedral - I climbed lots and lots of stairs and then stood for 3 hours at the Globe. I expect a bit of soreness tomorrow

View from the top of the cathedral – I climbed lots and lots of stairs and then stood for 3 hours at the Globe. I expect a bit of soreness tomorrow

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I made it to the theatre with 4% battery left on my phone, which was enough to turn it on to show my confirmation receipt to pick up my ticket from will call. I found my ticket the night before from a site called The Box Office for £17.50! The usher guided me to my seat, which led to the discovery that I was in the front row! Sometimes that’s not the best thing for a play because you can miss certain sights, but that wasn’t the case for this show.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is about a 15-year-old with Aspergers who becomes a detective after his neighbor’s dog was found dead with a garden pitchfork in its side. Through this detective work, he uncovers other mysteries. In addition to all of that, we cheer him on as he is the youngest person in his school to ever take the highest level exams, furthering his goal of becoming an astronaut.

This show is a great tool to teach about the mind of a person with Asperger Syndrome. There were multiple instances where the lighting, sound, and other sensory elements were heightened to bring us into Christopher’s world. Additionally, the story is presented as a book he has written, so it is very much through his perspective. Because he has a mathematical brain, the set was nonexistent; rather, the walls, ceiling, and floor were coordinates. Sometimes words and patterns would light up to coincide with the action on stage. It also doubled as a chalk board, so Christopher could diagram what he was discussing. If there were any props needed, they came out of hidden drawers inside of the walls. It was truly fascinating to watch.

Though I think the big takeaway from The Curious Incident is a more thorough understanding of Aspergers, as the author of the novel noted in his address in the playbill (once again, not free), was that the play is “about many other things as well: mathematics, families, space, death, loyalty, maps, Sherlock Holmes, truth, bravery, Swindon, railways….” Personally, I think it was an interesting look at how a story could be presented. Truly, if a story were told not just through the perspective of someone, but through all of the tangents of the mind and the attitude towards things, those of us who are considered “normal” would very well seem “disabled” as well. The mind is a curious thing, and we all process the world differently.

Anyway, after the curtain call, Christopher made a return to stage to explain how he solved the question that was part of his exam. It was very exciting, as all of the technical elements possible were employed, complete with confetti at the end.

After I gathered up some confetti to keep as a souvenir, I chatted with the usher who sold me my program to find out where the stage door is. Though I wasn’t previously familiar with any of the actors in the show, I wanted to let them know I appreciated their work. I greeted some actors as they left, and they were all polite as I congratulated them on a job well done. At first I thought I was the only audience member who bothered to meet the actors, and then I noticed a teenage boy.

I asked him if he was also waiting to meet the actors, and he said he was kind of friends with them. He then opened up, saying this was his third time seeing the show. He has Aspergers himself, and his therapist lent him the novel. He said he read it, but then returned it and bought his own, declaring, “books are like friends, and you don’t just borrow your friends – you keep them.” He showed me his own copy of his book, and was proud to point out all of the signatures from the cast and his loved ones, all with encouraging words to follow his own dreams.

At last, the actor who played Christopher emerged and he immediately recognized the young man. They caught up for a bit, and I distanced myself because I didn’t want to intrude. I did overhear, however, that he thanked the actor because this show has been his safety blanket when he’s sad, and it’s given him courage. He hadn’t forgotten I was there, though, because he paused his conversation so I, too, could talk to the actor. I kept it brief, but was so thankful that I was able to see that interaction. (By the way, the young man was wearing an outfit identical to the character Christopher, which was just so neat.)

In one of the scenes in the show, Christopher has to find his way from Swindon to London all on his own. He doesn’t really know the way, but he manages to figure out the buses and trains. I had a dead phone, and a napkin with a few directions scribbled on it, but the story also inspired me that I would make it. It was a bit of an adventure, but I was surprised to find it wasn’t as hard as I thought to find my way back. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that we can, in fact, survive without phones.

Catching Up

It’s been a few days, so here’s the bullet points of what I’ve been up to:

Thursday

  • Checked into the FSU Study Centre and met a bunch of Florida State students (so far, I’m the only one not from FSU, which was a bit surprising to me)
  • Moved into my new flat (took a snap story, but no permanent pictures… I’ll get on that)
  • Welcome reception, which is where all of the professors introduced themselves and briefly explained the class plans. My intro to London professor hinted at maybe getting to meet Bradley Cooper when we see Elephant Man, so I’ll certainly update you if that happens (swoon)
  • Dinner at a French burger place
  • Exploring the city with my new flatmates

IMG_5646

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Ended our exploring with an ice cream/fro-yo place spotted earlier in the day. We ventured back to discover it had closed, but my entrepreneurship major flatmate talked the worker into giving us some for free since he said the cash register was already closed. It was a sweet end to the day

Ended our exploring with an ice cream/fro-yo place spotted earlier in the day. We ventured back to discover it had closed, but my entrepreneurship major flatmate talked the worker into giving us some for free since he said the cash register was already closed. It was a sweet end to the day

Friday:

  • Day-long orientation, which ended up only going until 3
During my lunch break, I explored the Study Centre library and my flatmate Sarah told me about a free to take/borrow section of the lounge. Hopefully there will be some posts later about delicious meals from this book :)

During my lunch break, I explored the Study Centre library and my flatmate Sarah told me about a free to take/borrow section of the lounge. Hopefully there will be some posts later about delicious meals from this book 🙂

  • Biking in Hyde Park

IMG_5659IMG_5663

  • Walking back from Hyde Park to do some more exploring
  • Realizing we promised Delmar (the fro-yo worker) that we’d come back to actually purchase a frozen concoction and it would be closing in 20 minutes
  • run/fast walking to the fro-yo place
  • MADE IT, but Delmar was in the back, BUT we made a new friend, and hopefully more ice cream giveaways are in our future

As we were walking back from our second fro-yo adventure, some woman interrupted our conversation to let us know how much she adored our “accents.” We were all giggling because we don’t think of ourselves as having accents, which was a reminder of how we can be so ethnocentric, thinking that our dialect is just “nothing.” Then, I meant to do a blog, but we proceeded to have flatmate bonding in our flat 🙂

Saturday:

I’m ditching the bullet points because this day requires proper sentences.

Resisting the temptation to sleep in, I got up and out to the British Library in hopes of checking out a lot of plays for my LA Showcase research, with the intention of reading them in a park somewhere (because that’s so European, right?). It was a beautiful day outside, and I’m loving the app Citymapper that’s letting me go places on my own and takes me on routes through parks! Once I got to the library, I was trying to find where the plays would be, but I was redirected to a place to get a library card. I had to go through this whole application process and agree to not hurt any of their books, only to discover you can’t check out anything! I was meeting up with my flatmates in less than an hour, so there was no point in sitting there reading.

The British Library

The British Library

BRIGHT SIDE!

There was a special exhibit all about embroidery to coincide with the display of a giant tapestry that is a replica of the Magna Carta Wikipedia page in celebration of its 800 year anniversary. In addition to that, there were lots of vendors selling embroidery-related goods way out of my price range that were still pretty to look at.

thumb_IMG_5679_1024thumb_IMG_5680_1024thumb_IMG_5678_1024

As I I was getting ready to leave, I stumbled upon a hands-on activity. Turns out, The British Library is trying to break the current record for largest tapestry to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. They are letting anyone contribute to it, so even though I’m not experienced at all, I made a small contribution. Though I failed in my attempt at research, I potentially contributed to something that will be a world record, so I guess it wasn’t a total fail.

Look at how long it is already! Apparently they've been working on this for 18 months already, but as you can see from the roll, there's still a long way to go. I was going to add my initials, but it was too small and looked sloppy, so I just kept it simple. Smile :)

Look at how long it is already! Apparently they’ve been working on this for 18 months, but as you can see from the roll, there’s still a long way to go. I was going to add my initials, but it was too small and looked sloppy, so I just kept it simple. Smile 🙂

After the library, two of my flatmates and I ventured into new territory to meet up with a family friend of one of  the girls. According to the local, Old Street and Dalston Yard are the hipster parts of London. She was a total foodie, so we got to try lots of delicious food out of these really neat food stalls. One of the areas wasn’t open for another 40 minutes, so we were forced to split a bottle of wine in the garden while we waited. It was pretty tragic.

thumb_IMG_5688_1024

Us with our new friend, Zee, with full bellies and full hearts

Us with our new friend, Zee, with full bellies and full hearts

As you can probably tell from the photo above, we were about to head to the underground because I had a ticket to see a show. Underneath that smile is a little bit of fear, as I was going to the show alone and my phone was about to die. Zee and Sarah equipped me with as much navigation knowledge as they could, but I was still a little nervous. Obviously because I’m here to write about it, I survived. More about the show in the next post…