Sunday, January 27, 2013

I took the tube back out of town

Hello everyone!

So I just finished my second week of classes here in London. I have now had every class more then once and am starting to feel more in the grove of things. Our Shakespeare Acting class hasn't started yet which is annoying because that was why I came to the program and getting to do it was my main draw. But, I digress.

So Monday was the usual full day of active and all-day classes. Apparently Mondays are our only days that are like this. We started out the morning with Sue's movement class which was both fun and exhausting. We spent far too much time trying to figure out push ups (or press ups as they are called here) and ended up embarrassing ourselves with our complete lack of arm strength. After that we had Voice in which we warmed up and read the poems we had brought into class. In Stage Combat that day, we learned how to do various types of strangles and I found that these are much easier for me to do then punches albeit the psychological block in my mind of how horrible strangulation is as a way to die. In Period Dance, I finally managed to find a corset that fits me and does what it is supposed to. We then learned another 16th century dance and then called it a day.

On Tuesday, I started my morning again at eleven am with acting. Kathy then asked us the question "Who Are You?" Because this was an acting class and not a job interview I answered the question as truthfully as possible which others did not seem to partake in. We then were given our scenes from the play Mixed Doubles. It turns out, I got a monologue. So that is what I get to work on all term. Not really what I wanted. Then after a break, we had our Space Place and Text class in which we talked about Twelfth Night. Then the day was over.

Wednesday started out bright and early with a tour of the British Library. This tour was one of the most absurd things I have ever been on. Our tour guide started the tour with talking in the lobby about the architect and why Prince Charles hates the building for forty-five minutes before ever going anywhere. We then went and looked at a model of the building and he talked about that and robberies from the library for another twenty minutes. Then we meandered over to a room where he discussed getting library cards which is not even a viable option for us. Behind him playing on a TV was a video about the proper way to take a book off of a shelf. One technique included going behind the book and pushing it out. Then there was a section about how to properly open a book that was so specific it was things like "flexible side-stitched book". One of the kids from CUA, Christen also noticed this video and it has since become our joke. Our tour then brought us up a staircase next to the King's Tower which includes all kinds of books. But still, we were not looking at the books. One girl, Summer added her own thought into the mix with the deadpan "Even the school kids are looking at the damn books." We then looked at the King's Tower for about five minutes and wandered on to look at the world's largest Atlas. At this point, it was already 11:30 am and half of our group had to leave at noon to get back to class. Our tour guide was adamant about showing us a film about the conveyer belts when Ellen had to step in and ask if we could just go look at the treasures of the Library. Our tour guide kept pressing the video and eventually gave up and took us to see the treasures which are things such as the Magna Carta and the First Folio. We there ditched the tour guide, saw the sights, and left for class. In our Dialects class, we continued to read poems and had a heated discussion about guns and gun control. It's interesting being in England because guns are not allowed in the country and our discussion was helped by seeing two sides of the debate. That night, we went to go see Merrily We Roll Along at the Meiner Chocolate Factory. It was a great show but unfortunately we have all had the title song stuck in our head since Wednesday.

On Thursday, we had no classes because we all needed to have a session with our Alexander teachers and a meeting with Ellen to discuss how we were doing. My first meeting was not until four thirty pm and I had all day to do work and nothing. In my meeting with Ellen, we discussed how I found things and had a little mini voice lesson to help me not press my voice too far into my deepest register. In my first ever Alexander Technique session, Dee helped me learn to sit up straight properly and try to stand properly as well. I'm looking forward to having these sessions throughout the term.

Friday we had an exceptionally early start so that we could see the Rose Theatre. Except that we got lost on our way there and everyone was confused as to where to go. When then found it and we given a lecture inside the building. The space is incredible. The remnants of this theatre were discovered under an office building and have since been preserved under water. There are red lights denoting where the boundaries of the theatre are. We were then lucky enough to be allowed to doing speeches inside. I did my Joan of Arc speech from Henry VI Part 1 which was originally done at the Rose Theatre 400 years ago. It was incredible! I could practically feel the actor saying it 400 years ago behind me in the darkness. We then moved onwards and saw where the original location of the Globe was. There are some lucky people who get to live right where it was. My life's goal is to buy one of those apartments. Then our group had to go back for Acting in which we answered questions about ourselves and then connected it to our characters. That night, I decided to stay in because I was exhusted from waking up very early with little to no sleep and ended up learning harmonies to "Papa Don't Preach" and doing rounds with Summer and Laura.

Saturday was also an early morning because Laura, Andrew and I decided to go see Mark Rylance's Richard III. We got there at about ten thirty am and managed to get 32 pound tickets in the nosebleed of nosebleed section. The show was still incredible and I am so happy that I went to see it. That night, we all tried out this club called Tiger Tiger that was a huge bust. We ended up at a 24-hour Tesco and bought food befitting a drunk person.

Today we had to go to the London zoo for our acting class. It was a great time except for the fact that it was very cold. Then we returned to our house and have been doing work the rest of the day.

And that's my week!

I hope you enjoyed it!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Miss Macbeth saw her reflection As confetti bled it's colours down the drain

Hello Everyone!

So I have officially finished my first week of classes at the London Dramatic Academy! It is both reliving and strange to think about.

I've been sore all week from the first day (Monday) because we started with three active classes. Our schedule for Mondays consists of Voice, Movement, Stage Combat and Period Dance. Voice was my first class and it established a good president for the rest of the classes. It is taught by a very chill man named Simon Money who also teaches at RADA. He also teaches our dialect class which is nice. It was a good way to start out classes. For the next class, we had to bring in a poem or song lyrics that we liked and I chose Miss Macbeth (which is the blog title). The class we had after that was Movement, which is taught by an older South African woman named Sue. Let me say, I have never laughed so much in a class. Sue gets very excited about things and calls every student Poppet. She made us feel comfortable with the movement things we were doing and had us laughing all the time with her comments such as "super sonic spudnic" and her squeals of happiness over people's flexibilities. Movement kicked my ass though and made me sore for days. Then we had Stage Combat which is taught by this awesome man named Gordan. We learned how to do slaps and punches to the face. I love stage combat so I loved this class a lot, but was super tired by the end. We ended the day with Period Dance which is probably one of my favorite classes. We learned a 16th century country dance that is so much fun but super exhausting. The only thing that is annoying about the class is that the corset we spent so much time trying to find the right fit are too big for me and is not doing the job it's supposed to. We ended the at five pm and proceeded to have a little birthday celebration for one of the girls in the program who was turning 21. It also had been snowing all day and made for a very magical first day.

Tuesday was a nice day because I did not have to start class until eleven that day. Our meal plan in the dorm also started and it has not turned out to be all that bad. There organization is the only thing that needs serious work. My school day started with my Acting class which was not the way I was expecting it to be. Our teacher is this very strange woman who is very passionate about theatre and has high standards about what she wants for the class. We spent about half an hour trying to answer her question "What is Acting?" and finally when she told us that "Acting is doing something to someone else" it made a lot of sense. She then had us do an exercise where you had to sneak into the room without waking someone or else you died. She was kind of harsh throughout the class and yelled at me for yawning in class, which I found unnecessary since I only did once. This first class left me with a bad taste in my mouth but I decided it would be best to keep an open mind. We then had Space, Place and Text which is a part of our Dramatic criticism class and consists of reading plays and then taking tours of the areas where the plays were staged. Our teacher for this class is a very adorable older woman named Alison. The entire group was in this class and we discussed Doctor Faustus in great detail. Our day ended there and I limped on home to chill that night and rest my very sore limbs.

Wednesday started at nine as usual with a entire group Physical Theatre class which was a lot of fun. Our teacher is this awesome woman named Alley who studied at the Le Coq school and does a lot of physical theatre all the time. We did all kinds of stretches and exercises that involved physical theatre. It was very enjoyable and I will like this class. We then worked on sonnets with Ellen, the director of the program. I was the third person to go and Ellen helped me work on making my sonnet more personal to me. It was very nice because I got to hear everyone else in the program kind of act. I then had Dialects with Simon which was great because we led a list of words and tried to pick out how the other people in the class said words differently. It made me realize the the Bay Area does have a very slight accent. We then listened to the RP pronunciation of words and tried to imitate them. I then had my audition tutorial with Ros who is amazing. She helped me work on my Joan speech and helped me scan the speech to find anything interesting in the speech to help me act. I am going to really enjoy working with her. Wednesday night was uneventful.

On Thursday we started our day with an introduction to our Alexander technique class. With those unfamiliar, this is a way to teach proper alignment to the human body and is necessary both for life and theatre. We discussed it with our teacher, Dee, and then watched a very old movie discussing the subject. After this, my group had physical theatre again and we did massages (which were incredible, apparently it made me grow about three inches) and then began on the elements which helps with physicality on stage. This class, we were air and had to move around the room as such. It ended up being incredibly relaxing and made me feel great afterwards. Because I had no one-on-one Alexander tutorial, I was done with my day by lunch time and got to chill in my room until we had to go see The Master and Margarita at the Barbican Theatre. Before LDA started, we were required to read the novel and it made the viewing of the play very interesting because I obviously knew what was going on. This show was incredibly technical which helped with the fantastical element of the story. There were some things I did not agree with in the show but I still found this three and a half hour play to be quite enjoyable. Plus, they used "Gimmie Shelter" by the Rolling Stones which I was very excited about.

On Friday, along with it being the end of the first week, it also began to snow all day! Kensington becomes magical when this happens. Anyway, on this day we started with Dramatic Criticism which was amazing, I love this class. Our teacher, Christopher (we are only allowed to call him this) started the typical name, where you are from, with asking us "Which Shakespeare role would you kill someone to play?" The answers were all very interesting. We had roles from ten tragedies, two histories, and eight comedies. I said Lady Macbeth because I would kill someone to play this role. We then had a guest speaker! Pip Carter from The Dark Earth and the Light Sky which we had seen the week before! He talked to us about being an actor and it comforted me to know that even professional actors can still doubt their talents and lack a process. I then had a long break before I had to return for acting, which I was dreading. Acting turned out to be incredible because we talked about the personal objects or photo that we were instructed to bring. It really gave a great insight into these people that I feel like I've known my whole life but really have only known for a week. We then worked on sonnets with Ellen and then were done for the day at six thirty. That night, me and a bunch of people went to a gay pub and club which was my first time ever doing anything of the sort. I loved it from the minute I stepped into the Duke of Wellington. Everyone looked good, they were playing eighties music, and no one was trying to awkwardly hit on me! We then moved onto Gay Late, which was the gay club. This was also a lot of fun until one of the guys in our group got his wallet stolen. We all felt bad about it and decided to come home.We arrived back at the dorm at about three am.

Yesterday, I woke up at eleven thirty (so not what I wanted to do) and then went to the Victoria and Albert with a group of girls. We had an amazing time and saw the fashion, jewelry, glass art, architecture, medieval and sculpture section and didn't even touch the rest of the museum. That place is massive. While in the jewelry section, Meg and I got roped into a very long conversation with one of the museum docents that started with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and ended with Winston Churchill. I had been feeling sick all day and was starting to zone out during this point. The museum was the perfect way to escape the cold weather and see some amazing things. We then did a little tea break at our favorite neighborhood cafe called Montparnasse, which serves some great food. Last night, me and Summer and Laura went to the Prince of Wales pub on High street and enjoyed one drink before coming home to hang out.

Today, it had begun snowing again and despite this, we managed to go to Spitalfields market, which is one of my favorite places to shop in the world. I managed to finally get an amazing dress coat for only 30 pounds along with a cashmere sweater for only fifteen pounds! We then met up with Kyra and Summer to see one of the Harry Potter filming locations. It was a bit anti-climatic because none of us could recognize what set exactly we were looking for. I then decided to come home because I was freezing. I have since been relaxing and managing to watch half of Django Unchained before it was removed off Youtube.

Class resumes tomorrow and now it's no longer the first day. I should go to sleep soon and get ready for the coming week, which is not looking all that bad.

As usual, see you all next week


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

I just realized that I forgot to do a New Year's list of all the things I did during 2012 so here it goes.

In 2012 I:
1) was a part of Seven
2) lost my childhood dog, Kiara
3) had the exceptionally interesting classes, Revolutionary America and Modern American Drama
4) Finished my dumb math requirement
5) got the internship at Marin Shakespeare Company!
6) was a part of King John, my first ever Shakespeare play
7) Understudied for Hedda Gabler
8) Became a Junior in college!
9) finished my philsophy and English requirement
10) GOT INTO LDA!!!!!!!
11) Turned 21!
12) Went to the White House to celebrate Obama's reelection
13) Lost my grandmother in June
14) Made Dean's List again for the Fall 2012
15) Directed an awesome scene from Macbeth
16) Went to my cousin's weddings, my first since I was six
17) Hurricane Sandy
18) Got closer with friends and all that cliche stuff

So much more happened last year but I just can't remember it all! I hope that all of the rest of your had a great 2012 and an even better 2013. I know I am.


London calling to the faraway towns

Hello everyone!

So I am writing this post after my first week in LONDON!!!! It's amazing, I love this city. There are twenty one of us in the program (11 girls and 10 boys, 6 people from catholic, 6 people from Fordham and the rest come from various schools around the country) and everyone is nice and I'm excited to work with them.  Classes start tomorrow and I figured that I would keep you all updated on my study abroad.

I flew out of San Francisco on Monday and was so nervous on my way to the airport that I wanted to get out of the car and run home to my bed. Going to the international terminal was strange for me because the last time I was there was when I was flying to London in high school and I had a whole bunch of people I knew around me. I also knew that I was going to be home in two weeks, not four months. Getting through security was rough because there were so many people flying and TSA kept yelling at everyone and it made me very glad to be leaving the US. I managed to get through security with enough time to try and use up my American dollars with a quick meal and then I boarded my flight.

I was flying in economy (because really, what average person does not) in a window seat next to a very nice British couple and proceeded to try and make my movie selection for this nine and a half hour journey. I managed to watch two movies (Moonrise Kingdom which was great, and Pitch Perfect which I love) and a bunch of TV shows (The Newsroom is actually pretty good) and as usual, tried to sleep which is always futile for me. We landed at Heathrow at 10:45 the next day (Tuesday) after circling around the airport for awhile, only made clear to me when I realized that I had seen the same clouds-turned-into-fresh-powder (in my imagination)before. Once I got to the airport, it was a race for time because I was trying to meet the LDA coach at noon and we got off our plane at eleven. I got a bit hung up at baggage claim because Heathrow has this confusing carousal that just keeps snaking around the room forever and is never really marked what is what. Yet I made it safely to the Meeting Point and found other LDA students. And the true fun began.

I met about half of the LDA group at the airport and instantly knew that we were all going to hit it off. It became clear when the whole group was trying to figure out a way to stall our leader from leaving because we were still waiting for one person to show up (also flying from San Francisco) whom about half of us had never met. She made it to the coach in the nick of time and we were on our way to Kensington, where we are living. We had to drag all of our suitcases through the tiny streets of Kensington and never felt so silly or foolish before in our lives. We made it to the Atlantic House, which is a dorm that is a part of Richmond University (which has a ridiculously long, expat name). We got a chance to get to our rooms and put our stuff down. I'm living on the first floor with Kyra Jackson, who is from Long Island and is actually exceptionally sweet. Then we were forced to drag our jet-lagged selves in a tour of the very strange building (every dorm room is different, honest to God) and then to two meetings led by a very exuberant American and a somewhat racist British police officer. I went to sleep at 7:15 that night, the earliest I've gone to sleep since I was seven. The next day, we were all comparing what time we went to sleep and how many times we woke up that night.

The next day, we had to find our way to where classes were being held and we taken on a walk to Hampstead Heath by the director of the program. Now, traveling in a group of twenty two people obviously pointed out the fact that we were Americans and when one person got left off the Tube, that just sealed the deal. We had to get off the Tube to wait for them to return and ended up crossing Hungerford Bridge over to the Southbank arts center. After about a half hour of that, we got back on track and made our way to Hampstead Heath which ended up being a two hour walk through a very beautiful and extremely muddy park. We ended the scheduled day with tea at the Kenwood house which was wonderful and gave us a chance to talk to one another again. We then embarrassed ourselves by taking the bus as a large group and took the tube back to High Street Kensington. That night, we tried to find nice bars to go to around the area which just proved to us that we were indeed living in the most expensive part of town.

On Thursday, we started out with a walking tour of the Kensington area led by our Dramatic criticism teacher named Simon, who is very quintessentially British. He took us around the palace and gardens, which are walking distance from home and then took us down to South Kensington into some of the museums along the main drag. It was exceptionally cold that day and we were all ready to stay inside forever. We then had an academic meeting in which we were given our massive time tables with every class and excursion on it, which Kyra and I have since highlighted and tacked up to our door. After this meeting, the girls had to stay for our corset and skirt fittings which was both fun and kind of chaotic. We all learned that we had to hem our skirts because the measurements we sent in were wrong and then had to go on a treasure hunt to try and find the corset that would fit us best. Only two girls ended up not finding on and the rest of us were set. Then we were fed pizza and some of us ended the night by walking along the south bank of the Thames.

On Friday, we didn't have to start our day until one pm and I slept late and ran some errands. We then were having a meeting with all of the people that are a part of the London Centre and it ended up being some strange lecture on how we have to create real memories and not fake ones. It made entirely no sense. Then us LDA students had a meet and greet with our faculty and were given more free food. I loved the meet and greet because it gave me a chance to meet all my teachers and realize that I am super excited for classes to begin. That night, a bunch of us manged to get into a very nice club for free and had a fun time, though it was strange at first.

Yesterday was actually the greatest day of my life. It started by going to see a play at the Almedia theatre called The Dark Earth and The Light Sky which was about the relationship between poets Robert Frost and Edward Thomas. It was a good play with a few flaws (the lead actress had this strange face she kept making and Frost's American accent was horrid). The best part of the day was when four of us girls decided to go get standing room tickets for Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse, which we had all been told to go see. We luckily got the last four standing room tickets for only seven pounds and saw the greatest piece of theatre that I have ever seen. It was an all-female production set in a women's prison that did not have a single weak actress in the bunch. It was scary and violent and totally bad-ass. The actress playing Brutus, Casius and Marc Anthony were probably some of the best actors, male or female, that I have ever seen and I am so glad that I manged to go see the show. We ended the night by walking around down by Westminster and came home to chill out and tell everyone and their mother about JC.

Today we have nothing scheduled and I have taken advantage of it by clearly blogging and sleeping late. I need to go buy a phone later and get prepared for classes tomorrow. But I just wanted to tell you all about my first week in London.

I plan on updating this at least once a week and will try to make it just as action packed as this one!