Friday, October 10, 2008

We'll have no faffing here!

Hullo, all my little loves!

The past week has been beyond full, and I must beg your indulgence in regards to what will now be a very quick, somewhat overwhelming update. Masters programs are unforgiving. Ready? Here we go!

SATURDAY 4 October 2008
--Went to the Globe Theatre during their closing weekend and saw Liberty, a new play produced there this season. It was extremely timely, well written/acted/directed. It was brilliant to see a piece of theatre that was not set in Elizabethan period work in an Elizabethan structure, and somehow be informed from the space it was performed in as well as the time period it was being produced during. Heidi and I, after stopping off to the Globe shop for strange Folio inspired treats (I myself am now the proud new owner of a CD of Elizabethan Street Songs) then went to a pub nearby where it is said was the site of after rehearsal drinks for Shakespeare and Johnson and the like. We also walked briefly through the ground floor of the Tate, crossed the Millenium Bridge, sat by the Thames, and were interviewed by a Korean TV station about a floating work of art. Then home.

SUNDAY 5 October 2008
--Reading and day of rest.

MONDAY 6 October 2008
--First Day of Term. Our day started with meeting up with the whole of our program. There are about 48 of us, which seems both daunting and appropriate considering what were are meant to do (I'll describe the break down soon). We did those small get to know you games--interview the person next to you and introduce them to the group; make a circle with chairs and run around the room if you've done some specific act called out by whoever's in the center of the circle, try to get a chair, and whoever's left standing has to say their name and give another act to continue the game; etc. Then we met up with all of the other masters programs in the Embassy Theatre for one of what was to be several induction programs throughout the week. Here they took us through several aspects of Central life, broke us up into random groups, and sent us off to devise one statement per group meant to define our time here. My favorite, sadly not generated by my own group, was: "Excited to be creative revolutionary sponges, shaking the tree without faffing." ('Faffing' means wasting time--don't fret, I had to ask someone, too.) Then someone who is in charge of something encouraged us to get a cup of coffee or tea with the people next to us who we may never see again.

TUESDAY 7 October 2008
--Met with our individual strands (focus of study) in the morning, so I was with the performers in a space just beyond Central in a nearby community center. Went around with the fifteen other people and introduced myself--I think I learned more about how people introduced themselves and less in what they said. Then we made up a rule re: arriving on time for class. Then all the strands met up again in the space we've been using as our main meeting place and were introduced to our first project that was to deal with time. Then we were broken up into eight groups and sent off to work. (I will go into discussion of this project at another juncture, simply because it was so lengthy, that to put it here would be simply mad.) That occupied most the rest of our day, besides our library inductions.

WEDNESDAY 8 October 2008
--More work with our groups in the morning, and presentations in the afternoon, followed by a discussion with mixed results. The discussion was the most telling part of the day regarding our immediate student body-->personalities shined through, and it wasn't always in the best light, I must say. But hopefully that's just a matter of over eagerness on the parts of some, and things will calm down. Or they won't. We shall see. There's also a great farmer's market out front of the school on Wednesdays and Fridays and I finally found a good cup of coffee. I couldn't rightly believe it. We also sat through a talk by Mischa Twitchin, an alumnis of our program and a founder of SHUNT, who will be leading a lecture series offered to us called "Acts of Intelligence." Should be very interesting, but also very challenging.

That evening myself and four of my classmates (Heidi, new American friends Melissa and Diedre, and new British friend James) saw the Barber of Seville, performed by ENO. This is, of course, the opera company whose Improbable-conceived production of Satyagraha I continually swoon over. Alas, this production was nothing like that. Everything was fine--well trained voices, decent set, nice staging, fine design albiet some questionable lighting choices. But it was in no way exceptional. And the production itself was translated into English, a language that rarely lends itself to the musicality of Italian, so that made it a bit rough. I was not terribly impressed, and the experience has put me off opera for a bit--at least watching it.

THURSDAY 9 October 2008
--Back to the Embassy Theatre for more advice on how to write a thesis and use the library. I skipped out on the second half of the morning with Melissa, who also was pretty sure she knew how to use MLA formatting (it was a review), putzed around the main street near school, and bought a toy:
(My mother is reading this blog right now and asking aloud to the heavens, "LEA--if it's So Expensive to live over there, what are you doing buying toys?!" Alas, I live in another country now, and her cries will fall on deaf ears. {"But Mom--he's SO CUTE! And I bought him at Woolworth's--they still have them here--so he was cheap. AND HE'S SO CUTE!!! Anyway, I bet Dad understands..."})

After our skipping which bled into lunch, we were back with our program, broken up into four groups this time, and led through our technical inductions. Then a short stop off at Ye Old Swiss Cottage for a couple pints, and then a long walk to Primrose Hill, just north of Regent's Park and the London Zoo, for a program-wide picnic. I pitched in with a few others for a bucket of KFC (I am not joking) to bring along. Those particular classmates have endeared themselves to my heart. We stayed until dark, and then made our way back to the tube, some of us heading home and others going over to the SHUNT lounge. I'm saving that excursion for next week.

FRIDAY 10 October 2008
--We had a day off from school. Most Fridays will be reserved for work in our specific ensembles, but since they don't exist yet, we had off. Heidi and I went to an art opening with a friend of hers who's studying at Goldsmith's. There were eight pieces and one performance artist who wandered around the room. The exhibit was at Hold & Frieght and was part of an art exchange: last year, English students had exhibited in Germany, and this year German students were exhibiting in England. I was not a fan of several pieces, but there were two that I enjoyed, the chief one being a video project called, Ivo Burokvic--The Life of the Fake Artist as a Young Business Model, by Paul Wierbinski. Wierbinski was appalled by the greed that was running the art world--Did you know there was an artist who sold ninety cans in 1961, each containing thirty grams of his own shit? About a year ago, one of these cans was sold for 124,000 Euro. Wierbinski responded by creating a pseudonym, Ivo Burokvic (a name he felt was appropriately Eastern enough), took a single photograph of a shopping mall, photo shopped it a little, mailed it to China, paid 600 Euro for a Chinese artist to replicate the picture on canvas, and then submitted and sold it at auction for 14,000 Euro. Genius.

The weekend has been pretty lax in theatrical experiences. I did make it to the Clink, this odd little British prison museum along the Thames. But otherwise, just some forced jogging around Russell Square, some walks around the neighborhood, and MOUNTAINS of reading to do for school. So here we are. Or here I am. Where are you?


clayton said...

how did you manage to see 'barber' at eno when it's not on their current season? i'd love to see who was singing. i could also see how it would be disappointing after loving something like satyagraha so much. the two are complete unalike (though i must admit i haven't heard the music of the latter yet...i've only read reviews). and i agree, if there's one thing i hate about eno is that they translate practically everything. i understand why...blahblahblah...but in this area, i tend to be a purist.

what always amazes me about your entries, and why i enjoy reading them so, is how inventive you are with your time. i can certainly say i wasn't half as inventive when i moved out to colorado (to my credit, colorado is NOT london and/or new york). i think it's wonderful that you can move to a new city, start school, and still discover so many fun and exciting opportunities that really allow you to connect with the city and its culture. fyi...until i move back towards "proper" culture, i'll be living vicariously through you...

Miss E said...

"...then went to a pub nearby where it is said was the site of after rehearsal drinks for Shakespeare and Johnson and the like."

Did it look like it does in the Sandman comics?

Lea Maria said...

Miss E--

I am ashamed to say, I haven't read the Sandman comics. Feel free to berate me. I have found two comic book stores near me, and have been meaning to start educating myself about graphic novels. But who has the time? Or the money?

"Barber" literally just closed. The worst part of the translating was that the song that Rosina sings that puts Dr. Bartolo to sleep so she and Lindoro can exchange loving coos was *kept* in Italian. I was like, "Is this a statement right here, of what you [ENO] think singing in Italian does to people?" So silly. Also, despite the fact the opera had been translated, there were still supertitles. Confusing, and made me miss the experience at the Met where you can decide to use them or not. I finally see the argument for it killing part of the experience. But yes, oh my goodness.

The key to my indulging in culture here is keeping it cheap, which is crazy hard. Luckily it's not totally impossible--standing at the Globe is 5 GBP, the modern day equivalent to the Elizabethan penny, which is the amount it would have cost the groundlings back then. Other than that, the student ID card helps so so much--I spent a tenner on the opera (quite the indulgence), got into the Clink for 3.50 instead of 5, spent 6 quid on some play I'll catch in November, and this week I'll try to catch a play called Paperweight for another 6. I'm also lucky to go to Central--we have a new theatre artist come in and lecture each Monday morning, most of whom have work being produced that is super cheap for us. So I'm just really fortunate to be in a city that supports its students so well--much better than NYC, I think it has to be said, though NYC rush tickets are still pretty decent, it must be said. But for student specific discounts, I think London trumps the Big Apple.

Lea Maria said...

Also--the art exhibit cost nothing. And thank God. I don't think I'd be up for paying to stand in a damp building so I could look at a minimalist, abstract vagina made out of paper. At least, it read "vagina" to me. But there's no accounting for taste.