Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Oh but then/As my life has been altered once/It can change again"

The title to this, the final entry of this blog, is a nod back to my musical theatre days. ("Oh, musical theatre--what a bitch lover performance genre you are.")

I fly back to the States tomorrow morning. I'm taking a car to the airport, because I'll be damned if I lug my life--which, after much gift giving, charity shop drop-offs, and trashing, I have neatly compacted into two large pieces of luggage and a carry-on--to the tube and wait out that journey. Yes, totally over that. The worst part of going to the airport is getting there. Once you've checked your bags and gotten to your gate, you're golden (Though I personally live for that moment when you feel the wheels of the plane lose contact from the ground at take off. It is one of my favorite physical sensations). Before that, though: CHAOS.

The decision to go home was long in coming, but necessary. It is, perhaps, the most adult decision I have ever made, which is why I believe it was so hard to make and why I put it off for so long. Professionally it makes better sense: I know more people in New York, I understand the industry there, and the work there (whatever work that exists in this climate) I think more closely aligns with what I want to be doing right now for where I am in my career. And financially speaking it makes better sense: instead of worrying about where rent will come from, or where I'll actually live, I'll be having an extended sojourn at my parents until I scrimp enough money together to move on out of the house (again) and into New York (again).

I have a terrible habit of not finishing things. It is my one of my major flaws (though perhaps that is compelling in some dramatic character structure way...perhaps...). When I thought about leaving, I thought I was giving up, not finishing something here. And that is partially true of some things--some relationships, some work, remain unfinished, put on hold. But it doesn't mean those things are over completely, that I've given them up, or that they'll drop out of my scope completely just because I'm on the other side of the ocean. At the same time, not going back to New York felt very much like giving up on that life that I had just started to build there before I put it down, possibly for good, and ran to another part of the world. After a little more than a year, I am finally ready to admit to myself that though various demons sent me away, they needn't keep me away forever, nor should they. So I'm putting on my game face again and attempting re-entry. <--Is it just me, or does that sound like a really bad joke/line from some frat boy? My apologies.

So yes: New York/New Jersey living yet again. If all goes well, I will hopefully be moved back by the spring, and my life won't turn into my worst nightmare, an image I have described to a couple friends of mine in e-mails wherein I was debating the choice to go back:

" I think it has to do with the fear that I won't actually leave again, that I'll get caught up in comfort and complacency, and I will slowly die, rotting away in a not-so-truly fulfilling marriage, Sunday luncheons, carpooling, and QVC purchases...I worry most of all that I will become a case of wasted potential, one of those women I saw growing up who had more on her mind for her life than what she ended up with, and consequently was phenomenally unhappy about it, and became a drunk."

I don't intend on being a casualty of the suburbs. Getting out will entail endurance, stamina, and a sense of patience I don't think I've learned yet. But I'm still young, so now is probably a good time to learn. And in the meantime, at least I'll be watching TCM every day. Oh my God, how I am looking forward to that, as well as many things about American living. Last night a British friend of mine met me for drinks and asked me to list ten things I'd miss about London, and ten I wouldn't miss. There was a watershed moment when I commented that I wouldn't miss the state of the fast food in this country, where there are no Wendy's (!!!), and the KFCs are seriously confused. At that point I told him that the problems with the KFCs here, as I've mentioned before, is that there are no mashed potatoes, gravy, or Southern biscuits therein. His face changed, filled with a combination of shock, awe, and (perhaps) a touch of hurt. He said simply:
"Your KFCs have mashed potatoes?"
It was as if I had brought the Word to this man, so great was this revelation. We were a couple drinks in, but still, it seemed like earth shattering news. I did not talk about the extra, artificial butter we had at movie theatres for our popcorn--I feel that would have been too much, too fast, too soon. You have to ease into it.<--Again, another frat boy line. Sorry, sorry.

Besides the fast food, I'm looking forward to seeing my friends, family, and familiar scenery. I am not looking forward to the BITTER, BITTER COLD of US Northeastern winters (or the fact that I have lost a bet, and have to figure out how to go ice fishing in Maine before the season is over {Amy Lee, I may need to do this next winter...}). I will miss nights at Gordon's Wine Bar, walking Southbank at night, and concession theatre tickets for the unemployed (cultural revelation for me). And I will miss the friends I've gained here, the sense of home I finally attained in this city while still feeling enough of a stranger to maintain a sense of wonder at it all.

It is that last thing, that sense of wonder or discovery, that was the greatest thing about this journey--there was a renewing of that in myself, something I think is quintessentially a part of me, and something that I had lost, or covered up, or forgotten about at the time I left New York. It was necessary to come here to give that back to myself, to listen to my artistic voice again, to see it was still there. And luckily enough: it was. Underneath layers of cynicism, self-loathing, self-doubt, and massive fear (for the last time: I *am* an actor), there it was, sitting in a chair, waiting to be noticed again.

Thank God that happened. Thank God this happened. Thank God I don't know if I believe in God, because otherwise those first two sentences would be sins. But I digress, and now is the time to stop digressing.

In closing, I'd like to thank those of you who bothered to read this, loyally or not so loyally, responded here, on Facebook, through e-mail, or remained silent. It's nice to know people are interested, entertained, bemused in what I have to say, or may just be keeping an eye out. I may return to blogging later, (in truth, it probably will happen, but I need some time off and some actual fodder to write about), but if/when it does, it will be at a different web address with a different topic, as this story is over. Right now, anyway. And that is alright. "Right now," does not mean "forever." I am not finished. I am just turning to the next chapter.

That's enough inspirational, metaphorical, blahblahblah. I'm rabbited out. Goodbye, Great Britain. America: I'll see you tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Handbag: Redux

Tomorrow Handbag goes up again. If you find yourself in South London in the evening with not much else to do, please join myself and Ms. Lisa Castle (and several other ladies and gentlemen) for this performance event. Info below on the e-flyer I was sent (which for some reason was made up of several images...). Or you could just go here.

Posting this actually reminds me: I don't own a handbag that will go with the dress I'm wearing *still.* Yeep.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In brief:

Here's what I've been up to lately, and some stuff that's coming up.

1) Still no job, so don't ask.

2) Still no idea where I'll be living in November, so don't ask that either.

3) This week I've been stage managing an R&D process for a relatively young company that seems to be a fan of the site-specific genre. My friend Max was brought on as designer for the show by the co-director/writer Poppy, who went to Central with us. There are several other Centralites knocking about in the cast of this show as well. Overwhelmed with boredom by lack of a job/daily routine, I asked Max if I could sit in on rehearsals. He mentioned it to the director, and I was offered this job. I snatched it up, I was so desperate for a purpose.

Anyway, one of the company members works for the Lyric Hammersmith, and so they're using the studio there as rehearsal/performance space. They show for potential backers and producing bodies three times on this Friday. I say "stage managing," but at the moment I'm just an extra pair of hands. The showing has not been completed (probably today they'll have the sequence of their lines down, and the staging refined), so there isn't anything that really needs stage managing as of yet. So I've just been around, kind of listening, acting as a sounding board, and being put to task when needed. Yesterday, I painted this table top:

I also painted a door and a chair. I suspect today there will be a bit more work closer to the heading of my job, but just in case I'll be bringing the spare pants I got paint on yesterday.

4) My friend Jen is in town this week in preliminary meetings for an opera she's designing the lighting for at ENO. I don't like to name drop, but Jen is awesome and I'm super proud of her. If you're in London come June-time, 2010, go see Bizet's The Pearl Fishers! The production will be great, and the lighting will be AMAZING, I just know it.

5) I've started doing work exchange at a yoga studio. It's not a real job in that it doesn't equate to £££, but I do get free classes, which I am in dire need of right now (physically, mentally, and emotionally). It's nothing new: straighten the props, check the flyers, light the incense. I like it though: it's really humbling work, and meditative in its way. I actually always enjoyed folding the blankets at my other studio during the down time we had there. So it's nice in that way. And that wall of props was fucking *stellar* when I was done with it, no doubt.

6) Handbag returns! Yes, the performance event I took part in May is being done again at the BAC on the 19th. I'm not wearing white this time, though--no way. And frankly: I need a new handbag. Mine does not work for this season. A trip to Primark seems in order. (Though, if I do purchase one there, it shall be a wonder if it lasts till the performance. Hmmmm...)

Well, that was a noble try a best I think to throw something up here. I feel like other stuff has happened, and I've thought, "I should blog that," but I have forgotten it now. Alas. Perhaps another time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sometimes--there's [capitalism]--so quickly.

Walking on my way to Hammersmith today, and passed by a storefront with this window display:

It heartened me, and I just thought I'd share it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Let's not talk about the passing time."

Back in London after the few days in Paris. Had a nice time visiting my mom and seeing her for the first time since April (next time, Dad--next time). Thanks largely to the drive of my mother, we visited Victor Hugo's house, Napoleon's tomb, and the Musée Rodin. I requested a trip up to Montmartre (as it is the setting of my favorite noir film), so we went up there on Saturday, wandered around a bit, rode the funicular, bought some creme brulee-type sweets and ate them in the cemetery there. On Sunday we met Caitlin and Heidi (who were in Paris for the weekend themselves) in the Musée de l'Orangerie after seeing the Water Lilies. Overall it was a nice mini-break, and I even got a chance to read some of the planned Orwell and skulk in a couple cafes.

I feel like I should be writing more, telling you about the small snafu that nearly made me miss my train and could have cost me the trip; how I got caught in the pouring rain while trying to find Oscar Wilde's grave; how I saw the most attractive butcher ever (*Insert crude sausage innuendo here*); or how I had "Little Water Song" stuck in my head for most of the trip. But I don't feel like it.

I'm in a bad way right now, and as I've discussed previously, I can't unpack my heart with words here. And lately I have found this forum distracting. I may try tomorrow, or over the next couple days to recalculate a plan of attack for this blog, but at the moment there's just too much going on. What it comes down to is this: I used to know someone who kept a blog, and would on occasion list grievances he had with certain aspects of his life. And that is fine--it is within his right to do so, absolutely. But what began to worry me was that I was finding out more about him from his blog than what he'd share with me in person--we would meet, and I would ask him questions about his life that I knew part of the answers to because of what he posted on the Internet, and he would only half respond. He was my friend, and I didn't understand why it was easier for him to put on the 'net, probably knowing I'd have read it, but wouldn't talk to me about it in person. And in this world, where I seem to in effect be stalking my friends over the Facebook, finding out about babies and marriages and engagements there first instead of from the people themselves--I don't know, it just seems like the wrong order. It doesn't seem right to not turn to the help available to you, to the people available to you when you need them, directly, and instead: opting to hope that they'll follow up on something with you after you've left a huge hint for them laid out in bright, red, flashing neon letters. Not to be too crass about it, but that's just kind of fucked up in my opinion. And I don't want to cut my friends out of my life because I suddenly have a better relationship with them through my blog. That just doesn't seem fair, and isn't how I want to run the business of my life. And of course, it is far distant from the topic of this blog anyway...

...and just what was that again anyway?

I have some things I need to unload somewhere, and I know it can't be here. So I'm going to try to go and do that and come back here when it's settled. Or when I have any news of real note.

And with that: I'm out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DARWIN: The Musical!

In the shower today, I had an idea for a showtune for a musical about the life of Charles Darwin. It would be for mezzo-soprano with a bit of a belt, and there would be a lot of brass and a bit of swing to it. The song would be sung by Darwin's wife, Emma, and it would be called, "Natural Selection ~or~ Why Our Love Will Survive the Evolutionary Process." So far I only have the final lyrics and the reprise lyrics (which, not surprisingly, are exactly the same but with different notes). Here is what I have:

Yes, I'm naturally selective,
No need to be objective,
'Cause I'm naturally selectively yours!

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Road to Madness is paved with Boredom.*

You know that whole saying about idle hands? Well, if the devil's work is watching copious American television on my computer, then somebody better find a priest to save my soul!


It's been a pretty quiet week all in all, mostly on purpose. After nearly a year of soul searching and work, I feel like I've earned some sort of a respite. Despite the odd group dinner here and there (I cooked Cuban again for some friends last Thursday, and another friend had some of us over to her new apartment Saturday night for a meal) or submitting a few online applications for jobs, the majority of my time has been spent lounging in my bed, watching, or anything I've downloaded off of iTunes lately: the new Mad Men episodes, both seasons of Extras, and the pilots for both Mercy (which takes place in NJ) and The Good Wife (which stars Julianna Margulies--I have missed you so much, Julianna!!!). The last two titles were free, and the rest was purchased mostly with the iTunes gift cards I received for my birthday--always the greatest and most necessary gift, as iTunes downloads are like my crack. Mom, Dad, Grandma: thank you for feeding my addiction.

I've been reading books lately, another indicator that I'm not up to much. I've been slowly working my way through the copy of The Eaten Heart, a birthday gift from my friend Mauro. The book is a collection of stories from Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, and so far has featured of a lot of little humorous, racy stories written in 1300s Italy. Rather predictably, the plot lines usually center around two young people who would like to have sex, but who aren't able to because of whatever obstacle/arcane 1300s-type rule standing in their way, and how they get around it. The translation (and I have a feeling, the original text as well) has a very tongue-in-cheek air about it, which makes it a really engaging, but still light and easy read. I have also started taking another birthday gift to bed with me--a copy of Jamie Oliver's new cookbook, Jamie's America. It is surprisingly nice to read before sleep, like culinary bedtime stories ("Oh, Jamie! Tell me about grilling the perfect ribs again, over a near seven hour process with a rub and marinade! I love that one!").

I also started reading the newspaper again, and that's when I know I really have too much time on my hands: I never read current periodicals with any kind of regularity unless I literally have nothing else to do. A couple years ago I took a trip to Italy with my dear friend Katie (you remember Katie, don't you?), and the most impressive part of the trip to me was not the gorgeous countryside, the hundreds-of-years old architecture, the food, the people, the glaring sun. No, the most impressive part was that the trip afforded me the opportunity to actually read an entire copy of "The Economist" (and understand it!) over the flights/journey. Don't get me wrong, I like all that other stuff, but whoever really takes the time to read "The Economist" who doesn't have a job that vaguely deals with the state of the national ecomony? (Point of fact: all jobs have something to do with the national economy, but let's not get distracted, shall we?) No one.

However, while I've generally become a more entertained, more informed person over the past week or so, I wonder if this is totally a good thing if extended over a long period of time. I'm not good at relaxing, and when I do for a while I become a bit lost and morose. I'm never happier than when I'm busy and just a little stressed. It feeds my soul, because I know things are depending on me, and I can see the repercussions of what I do: there's a value to it, good or bad. But having nothing pressing occupying my time makes me bored, then depressed, then too lazy to ever find anything to occupy myself ever. And that's a frightening thought.

Tomorrow and Thursday I'll be helping present "Organism," and then off to Paris for a few days. Hopefully I'll be able to lay out an active plan of attack on my new life (like some stealth hunter) over that time, and when I emerge from days of croissant eating and beret wearing I'll be ready to take it on, full force. Until then, I will try to do something productive. If only I could figure out what that would be...

*It should be noted I have written a large part of this entry while watching The Bold and the Beautiful on the couch with my flatmates. How I was blessed to live with people who also watch my favourtie childhood soap, I do not know, but I am grateful for it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"It ends as nothing."

That's the final line of the section I contributed to "Organism," the Festival of piece that I'm involved in. Foreboding, isn't it?

My apologies over the relative silence I've thrown your way past few days. Alongside writing the dissertation, there's been a lot of activity in my personal life (aka: the life I make a conscious effort to keep off this blog), and so while I haven't really had the time to write and reflect what I was doing and what was happening, the material at hand was largely inappropriate to this forum and I just didn't want to write about it--lots and lots of introspection, that would largely be interest and concern only to me. It has always been a strange struggle, attempting to balance a certain reserve here about how I'm doing personally, while still not being totally dishonest about exactly what it is I'm going through. When I don't know how to do that, I go quiet. This is just fact.

Other facts that currently make up my life:
  1. I am job seeking. I'm trying to find something essentially full time, because now that I'm out of uni I have to take care of myself, pay my own rent, start paying of my student loan (eventually...I don't actually know when that has to start, but the day approaches like Malcolm's army to Dunsinane--minus the trees), all of this. I also just want to buckle down for the next few months, be a real person, and set up a financial base for myself in this country, which will be necessary for the visa process I've decided to go through. I've done the lot of it before, but as with all new beginnings, the whole thing seems daunting and overwhelming, and I don't like it. To put this reality off a bit longer, I am...
  2. ...going to Paris next week. My mother will be there on business, so I'll stay with her and wander the city during the day, reading a copy of Down and Out in Paris and London in different cafes along the boulevard (remember: I am dramatic).
  3. I will be staying in the apartment I'm in for one more month, but have no idea where I'll be for November, and this fact (though not quite as harsh as is being interpreted) is vomit inducing to me, in a nerves way. I think about the potential of couch hopping over Thanksgiving and am depressed. (Ah! I've shown you too much sentiment! Quickly, read something here* to distract from the potential of unbridled emotion!)
  4. I'm 25 now. Nothing is really different, and I feel the way I have felt since I turned 23. I have continued in my tradition of creating a New Year's Resolution for myself on this day (something I've done since I turned 22, and really needed an active focus/change in my life). This year it's: "Come out of hiding." It's not entirely clear to me what that means, but it seems to make sense on a few levels and I respond to it, so I'll run with it. A few friends took me out to a great NY style martini bar on the day, and then last night a few more who had missed because they were writing their dissertations, met up with me at the Swan (the bar next to the Globe) for a few drinks. It was lovely seeing everyone, and sharing these couple days with people who've become important to me over the past year or so (or in Heidi's case, the past eight+ years). And Jason gave me my coffee for free on the day! Whoo hoo!
There must be more things going on that I'm not sharing with you, but they either fall into the category of "too personal for the Internet," or I've clean forgotten them. I'll try to update you in turn, as I remember them, or they become applicable to this arena.

In other news, pertinent to this blog, I've been debating closing it down. I started it so I could talk about going to grad school in England. Now that's over. So what is next? Why bother? Is a reflective blog a good thing to keep going after a certain age, or should one simply stick to creative writing or discussing one's career--subjects that provide release on the part of the blogger, with some veiled sense that that information is being received, that they are being heard. I started these entries as letters to my friends back home, but now I wonder why I don't just do those monthly update e-mails instead (oh, but those bore me to tears--to write, AND to read). I don't know. I'll give it a think, and let you know what happens. Would you bother to keep reading this blog, even after I get my final grade back? And just who are you anyway?

*PS: That blog is amazing. I've been reading it for the past few months and it never fails to make me laugh out loud. My favorite entry shows owls to be the disrespectful creatures that they really are, bastards.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Late night drive by--

Many things, all at once:

1) I am only about 28% done with my dissertation and have three days left to finish it.
2) I will not be back in the states until February 2010.
3) I have to move in twelve days, and I don't know where to, and I don't know how, being unemployed as I am.
4) I am turning twenty-five in this time zone in less than thirty minutes.


And now: I am going to bed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Welcome to my little corner of Hell

Thought I would just give you a taste of what I'm doing. Here's a shot of the brainstorming I've done for the third and final section of the portfolio (dissertation), wherein I lay out a 5 year plan for my career/future in 2,000 words. I open each section with a quote, but before I ever write anything useful, I just put down filler. Here's what exists in this space thus far (click on picture to enlarge):

Time to get back to it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Too pretty to not write about.

I have a penchant for decaying buildings. I couldn't tell you why, but I've always loved old things: old houses, old furniture, old wine, old(er) men...I digress. Anyway, I was struck with awe and wonder this afternoon walking into the space where we'll be performing "Organism" for The Festival Of... Below is some footage I took at St. Leonard's Church,Shoreditch (which has its own tribute to the acting profession within), my newest old love.

269 years old, and still HAWT. I know in the video I said, The Festival of What--but trust me when I tell you, the festival is simply titled, The Festival Of... A little confusing, I know. But I think it will be good.

I make it rain indoors. Truth.

(And check out my new glasses! w00t! After 1.75 years of squinting I can finally see! Oh, rapture!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday (Not) Funday

Things I've learned this week while writing (or not writing) my dissertation:
  • In the award for best drink to consume while writing, Barcardi and Cola will never, ever beat a Jack and Coke. Sadly, there is nothing but rum in the house, and I long for whiskey. Oh, Jack Daniels: my heart and liver belong to you alone!
  • Peter Brook is pretty smart.
  • I can be easily distracted by television on my computer.
  • Ricky Gervais is sometimes my only solace.*
  • I don't think I'll be getting my doctorate anytime soon.
  • I am consumed with the dread of failing at this.
  • My birthday, which is coming up, depresses me.
  • The old adage about theatre making is true about life as well: there is never enough time, and there is never enough money.
  • I want out.
  • Nothing is better or more comforting than a good cup of coffee from Jason on the worst of days.
  • I need a hug. Or several. Several would be good.
Right. Back to work.

*NOTE: I just want to say, while my love for Stephen Merchant is as endless and boundless as the sea, I have been watching a lot of Ricky Gervais on the web lately, and that it's nothing against Stephen (who holds my heart so completely in his giant-like hand), but simply because I've already watched every video of him online, and can't afford the Extras DVDs right now to continue to satiate myself with his genius. So I've moved on to his writing partner. Momentarily anyway. Yes.

("No one cares, Lea. No one cares...")

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deloitte Ignite Festival '09

Shameless plug:

Head over to the Royal Opera House this weekend and check out the Deloitte Ignite '09 Festival and catch various artists and acts! It's being curated by Time Out, so you know everything will be full of hipness. Here's a run down of what's being offered over the three days.

The short film I shot last week will show as part of the site-specific performance of Absent, dreamthinkspeak's offering to the festival. You can find a summary of it here.

If seeing me in a dress in a movie isn't reason enough to go, you should also know that most of the events are FREE! Heck, that's why I'm going.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"We give our testimony to the end of summer..."

September is here, and your time is up summer! I wanted to quickly throw down something about my doings over the end of August, as quite a bit happened, and I was too, too busy to actually write anything. Also, I know I joke about it constantly, but in all seriousness I don't know when I'll be able to blog anything again, coherently anyway, what with entering dissertation crunch time and all (count down=T-minus 20 days...), so again I must beg your indulgence for what will probably be a long absence. Many apologies in advance.

August 22-23:
Traveled to Hove to participate in a research workshop led by Nia Lynn, and MA at Central on the Voice Studies course. The research was for her dissertation, and basically consisted of examining the application of the ujai breath in text work. It was lovely to get out of London almost immediately after returning to it from Edinburgh, and the second and final day of the workshop Nia, myself, and fellow MA-er and workshop participant Alex walked over to the beach after a lovely home cooked meal (provided by our host, Ms. Lynn) and went swimming. I haven't gone swimming in the longest time, and it's been several years since I was last in the sea. The water was lovely, the perfect temperature, and totally worth braving the painfully pebbly beach side to get to the water.

August 24th:
Back to Central to rehearse the piece I'm working on for the Festival of Emergent Arts. We had one of Lou's (our director) course tutors come watch our work to offer some feedback. It was the second time we had a guest in rehearsal, and the first time it was with a tutor. My work involves a lot of props, and I didn't feel wholly confident about how I had used everything, and the recording of my text I'd made wouldn't play. Basically, it didn't come off the way I'd like, and that frustrated me a lot. We have about a month left to really cement this, and it still feels like it has a long way to go. It will get there, hopefully right when it needs to, but I'm feeling uninspired about it. My ensemble members are great for this, though, and keep suggesting changes and providing feedback. It's helping to keep my head in the game, at the very least.

August 25th:
Fitting and rehearsal at the Royal Opera House for the short film that will play as part of dreamthinkspeak's site specific piece, Absent. The piece will be performed in the ROH on the 5th and 6th of September, as part of the Deloitte Ignite '09 Festival. It's set in the 1950s, and everyone was attired as such. This is me, in my dress--it was a lovely green, but they shot the film in sepia, so I've coloured it to give a sense of what I should look like on film. It was a four hour day, and it was super easy and chill, and everyone was really nice and fun to work with. It is always such a nice surprise when you get on well with the strangers you are sometimes thrown together with on acting jobs, and this was such an experience.

I also made a visit to Primark this day--my first since I got to this country. Primark is essentially an Incredibly Cheap clothing store that sells a lot of items that look stylish, but will probably fall apart after four wearings. But at their prices, four wearings is completely worth it. However, due to all of the incredible bargains (the women in my family would go CRAZY in there), walking through the store is very much like one of the following: 1) What it must have been like to push through a mob to receive rations during war time; 2) What it must be like during a time of mass looting. Not a terribly ideal shopping environment for me who hates both crowds *and* lines (I waited 15 minutes for a changing room--I know, it's a tragedy), but worth it to obtain a costume for the zombie film (sweater, t-shirt, pair of jeans) for LESS THAN FOURTEEN POUNDS (that's less than $22 American). Oh heck yes. I survived, and the McKenna blood in me, reared on outlet shopping and coupon flyers, danced through my veins this day.

(That being said, the jeans were an awful cut and the fly would not stay closed during the shoot. But they were only 5.87GBP!!!)

August 26th:
Did some filming today for a ballet that will premiere in Houston this fall, that is currently rehearsing in Paris. It's a re-imagining of The Firebird, and the designer wanted to include projections of women passing apples and taking bites out of them. The projections were being shot as Chinese shadows, so the designer was looking for women who looked like women: "i.e. breasts" was what the e-mail notice said, actually. So, there I was, in my bra and underwear and high heels with two other girls, standing behind a sheet, moving in place, passing apples and biting into them for about an hour. The projections themselves are only going to last around fifteen seconds. After this work, I was very set on finding a Pilates class.

Later in the day I picked up the zombie contacts from Baby's First Steps director Stephen, and when I got home called Max for help getting them in. The call had nothing to do with Max's intense knowledge of zombies, and everything to do with the fact he wears contacts and I do not. After a seemingly endless struggle, I finally got one in. And then I wanted to die. You have to understand, I've never worn contacts before, so the initial and instinctual rejection of having a foreign object in my eye filled me quite to the brim. Also, the contacts have white irises (hence the fright factor), and so not only was something on my eye, but something was on my eye that was obscuring my vision some how. It was strangely scary process (even more scary when I looked at myself with both of them in my eyes), but I don't think I would have been a terribly convincing zombie without them. Once I calmed myself down, they were fine, and I wore them for a couple hours and watched TV. Very easy. I'd do it again.

August 27th:
Shooting the party sequence for Absent. This day really showcased the importance of working with people you get on with, and again what a treat that is. I was stationed at a table with two guys, Charlie and Conor, and they were great the whole day. Because of the nature of the piece (and because it's film) the director had us doing basically the same few actions over and over again for about six hours. If I had ended up with people who were less relaxed, less fun, and less engaging in our constant random conversation (the film's only soundtrack is a big band swing song, so we talked about anything and everything else during the shoot), this day would have been really draining and long and awfully boring. Instead, I had a great time (up until the end when I was so full on the Ribena that had been standing in for the wine on our tables that I wanted to crash from the sugar while peeing), laughed a lot, and got to wear a pretty, pretty dress while doing it. If only my real life were more like these days--except there would be real wine, damn it!

August 29th:
Filmed the exterior crowd scene for Absent. Several of us turned up on both filming dates to essentially play different people and provide more filler for the beginning of the film. This is me in my second costume--I have on another, different green dress, but again I have sepia-ed myself. Despite several delays that broke up filming (people walking into shot, traffic, some police coming by to see if we were filming legally), we managed to wrap early, and I had no trouble making my second scheduled event of the day, which was seeing my friend Laurel (that's her there, looking all pretty) in an independent horror film she's a lead in that screened at the Film 4 FrightFest. The movie had some problems (I think they're going back into post to make some adjustments after the London screenings), but she was great and it was lovely to see someone I cared about do so well at something we both care about a great deal. And it made me miss her.

August 30th:
Back to Primark for more zombie clothing. Stephen texted me Saturday and said our make up artist Faye had requested more than one top as there would be bloodying and we may need a spare. It turned out we did, so despite escaping within barely an inch of my life (never go to Primark on a weekend), it was totally worth it. And again, it was incredibly cheap.

That night, Caitlin and my friend Jake came over and I cooked them dinner. Jake is a temporary transplant from the states, in the UK on what I gather is essentially a business exchange with his company, where a UK worker goes to NYC to get trained at his job, and Jake comes here and does his job until the Brit is tip top and ready to come back. It was nice seeing a familiar and friendly face, and I hope to see a bit of him while he's about the next couple of months.

August 31st:
Shooting Baby's First Steps. We were shooting in Stephen's flat, and my call was at 7AM. It was hard getting up early--especially after having awful nightmares about a zombie apocalypse the whole night--but I got there right on time and again lucked out that all of the people I worked with that day were fun, relaxed, and focused. Life is so much easier when people are awesome. I only hope I was the best zombie I could be for them! I'm excited to see the final cut of the film (though a little scared to see me as a zombie) and hopefully all will go well with it.

And that, my friends, is how everyone should end their summer.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Day I Became Undead

August went out with a bang, as this last week was beyond full. I'll catch you up on the majority of it soon, but I thought I'd just throw up something quick from today, when the zombie film Baby's First Steps was shot. I woke up this morning at 5:30 AM from several zombie nightmares, to shower and get ready to make my 7 AM call. We finally wrapped at around 6:15. It was a really easy and fun shoot, and the small crew--director Stephen, producer Stephen (a different one), DP Mark, and the fabulous Faye who did my make up--were great to work with. Below you can follow my transformation from human to zombie. Enjoy!

First I was made paler than I usually am, with a slight green tint for the just-turned-into-a-zombie feel.

A little red around the eyes.

Veins were applied thickly, but would be faded a little bit later. I had some painted on my arms/hands as well. (Don't I look like such a charming zombie in this shot?)

Add contacts, and voila: instant zombie! And check out the blood covering my hand! This shot was taken in the middle of the day, during some of my down time. The contacts were really terrible for about the first twenty minutes, which was surprising as I had been putting them in and leaving them for increasing periods of time the whole week leading up to the shoot. Eventually I adjusted and was fine for the remainder of the day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

E-burgh, baby. E-burgh.

"I know, I've been neglecting you. I'm sorry. I don't mean to do it. Things just get out of hand sometimes, you know? I know I've said before that I would change, and that I haven't. Well, that's to be expected: people don't change. I won't ask for your forgiveness, because I don't want it. All I really want is your understanding. And your acceptance. This is just me, baby. Take me for the good and the bad. But when I'm not around, you gotta believe that I'm thinking about you. For reals."

If my blog and I were in a relationship, I'd do that little song and dance just above, and would hope it would hold us together till we got back from that mutual friend's destination wedding. After that though, all bets are off.

I know I haven't been around. The week in Scotland was a nice change of pace, caught some good theatre, caught some bad theatre, caught some things that I wouldn't necessarily label "theatre" ever, Ever, EVER. Here's a drive-by of what I did/saw on the trip:

Thursday, 13 August: Fly from Luton Airport (the silliest airport to ever have its own TV show), and land in Edinburgh with Amy, Max, and their friend from the states, Ashley (who was my awesome roomie during this trip). We took a bus into the city proper, then walked to our digs and headed out, looking for dinner. We ended up at probably the worst Indian restaurant I've ever been to, where the food was LONG in coming and then had no taste when it finally arrived. The only redeeming part of the evening was the terribly pornographic mural we ended up sitting under. Here it is:

(Those are Max and Amy's heads, cut off down there. They were feigning a pose so I could take this picture in a less obvious way.)

Friday, 14 August:
Walked up Royal Mile to the Hub, where the Edinburgh International Festival Centre is located to meet our friend Mauro, who was able to wrangle us some tickets for a couple shows. That evening we caught part of the Gate's Friel trilogy, his play Faith Healer. I love Brien Friel (Translations may in fact be my most favourite play), and was sad to have missed Faith Healer during its run on Broadway a couple seasons back, starring Ralph Fiennes as Frank Hardy, a traveling faith healer--part con man, part miracle worker. The acting in this current production was great, and of course the Friel dialogue was both real and poetic. The set design was a little disorienting, though. The play is delivered in four monologues, the first and the last from Frank, the second from his wife Grace, the third from his manager Teddy. As the play progresses, you realize two of the three speakers are dead. Each of the characters sits in a space that resembles a meeting hall (presumably where Frank would have performed a show), but is then given certain props and set pieces that places them in another, specific place. It was off putting to see such specific and detailed set dressing in an environment that appeared to otherwise act as a non-space, perhaps even a kind of limbo. It wasn't terrible--just curious, and little distracting somehow. Still, a nice opportunity to catch a traditional piece of theatre, something I haven't taken in too much of since I got here and began exploring the avant garde, the inventive, and the devised.

The Hub--home of the International Festival

After the show, we met Mauro for a drink at the bar of the Traverse Theatre, marking mine and Max's first foray into the world of good, Scottish whisky. Then Mauro took me off to the Assembly's Supper Club, a late night cabaret, where we took in a couple of acts. It was late by the time we got out, and I was hit with my traditional "late-night-drunken-hankering-for-fried-food." I told Mauro this, and he said, "Let's go to the Techno Chippy."

I present to you: "The Techno Chippy."

Above is the establishment we visited. Mauro's nickname for the chippy was due to the fact that there was a man DJing our eating a experience, on two turn tables, with hot techno music. You can see the sound system in the windows on the left. A very strange and wonderful place, Cafe Piccante has several locations (New Yorkers: go find yours) and offers a number of fried delights. Scotland is famous for its chippys, where you can take any number of food items in and request that they be submerged to crisp, greasy perfection. The most famous of these novelty normal-to-fried foods is of course the deep friend Mars Bar. Oh but yes. After devouring some pizza (not fried, alas!), I delved into my Mars Bar (which Max would later liken to, perhaps not completely inaccurately, a deep fried turd).

Oh, the disgusting goodness.

It really wasn't bad, I promise. It was a very satisfying way to end the first night of our adventure.

Saturday, 15 August:
Today we caught our first Fringe show, The Tale of Lady Stardust, another straight play, apparently written by a fellow Centralite on the MA writing course. It was a fun little show about a couple guys who thought David Bowie was a prophet. A nice afternoon. That evening we caught our second International production, Diaspora, a really lovely show that combined live music, projection, movement, short film, and acting in a discussion about personal identity and national heritage.

The ceiling of the Playhouse Theatre, where Diaspora was presented.

After the show, the group of us went back home to watch my very first zombie movie ever. I had bought a few at a nearby HMV to do research. That evening we watched the original Night of the Living Dead. The trailer reads kind of hilariously kitsch nowadays, and we laughed at the movie more than gasped I think it's fair to say. Still, I got into bed as quickly as possible that night, and made peace with the idea that if I was bitten, I hoped Max would have the decency to kill me quickly. I should mention that Max is pretty much a zombie expert. He helped me select all of the zombie films in my research arsenal, and discussed with me different kinds of zombies and their movement. He also taught me how to create an effective zombie escape plan--apparently he creates one of these for every home he lives in. Yes, my friends are pretty much brilliant (albeit occasionally strange).

Sunday, 16 August:
Got up early to go for a jog through the city, and attempt to get tickets to Barfly, a site-specific theatre piece that used a bunch of Bukowski short stories as its source material. A pretty perfect theatrical event for me (and yes: it was performed in a bar), but alas it was sold out. So I ended up wandering around the city before heading back to the flat, and stumbled upon Greyfriars cemetery. My mother and I used to go for drives, pull over at cemeteries and walk through them, reading the gravestones and making up stories about how the people died if a cause wasn't cited on the stone. It's something I still do today. Gravestones are such interesting things: the fact that a whole human life is meant to be represented by a piece of rock, that that is what's left for us to remember them by. But those things don't last, of course--many of the older cemeteries contain gravestones that have been totally eroded. It is such an effort spent in vain, like so many human acts. Very fascinating. I could go on about this forever, but I won't.

I've truly come home.

Anyway, spent some time there before walking back in the rain (it rained everyday we were there), and headed out later to the Scottish Whisky Experience with Max and Ashley. It was basically a tour (with a ride!) that taught you about the distillation process, the flavour difference between the four main regional sources for whisky (there was a tasting), and the Guiness World Record's Largest Whisky Collection. Seriously: there was a crap ton of whisky in this place.

Sampling some delights...

Ashley and Max offer a toast.

We left the SWE and met Amy at the Baked Potato Shop, where you can get a baked potato slathered in nearly any topping of your choice. It was a nice follow up to the afternoon spent drinking various whiskies. Then the three of us trekked up to the top of Arthur's Seat, and got a beautiful view over the whole of the city. It was wicked windy, but the rain held off while we were there, so it turned out to be a great hike.

("Such great heights...")

We climbed down the peak, grabbed dinner, and caught the Little Angel's Puppet Grinder Cabaret, which had been directed and featured an act by my puppetry course teacher.

Monday, 17 August:
Today we encountered the perils of festival going, when you have several shows grouped under one venue name, while that solitary name has in reality several locations. We ended up at the wrong spot and had to dash several blocks to make it just in time for Earnest and the Pale Moon. I really enjoyed this show. There were a lot of live action sound effects, the acting was really good, and it was just a fun time. There were a couple questions I had about a couple plot points, but generally it was just nice to see such effective story telling done so simply. It was a fine example that you can still succeed in making a piece of theatre with energetic actors and very little props, costumes, and sets. I would have found them a new lighting designer though. But I left the theatre feeling better than I had before I got there, and sometimes when a piece of theatre helps you enjoy an afternoon, it's gift enough.

That evening we caught Suckerville, a transplant from my own MA's Turbulence Festival back in June. It was interesting to see this piece simply because of how much it had changed. The play presented in Scotland was unrecognizable as the piece I had seen a couple months earlier, which just goes to show: you never really know at what point in a piece's development you're catching something. It's weird to think about that. Rowan Atkinson's great sketch, "A Small Rewrite" comes to mind.

Finally, to finish off the evening, I caught the fabulous Camille O'Sullivan. I must start by saying, I have the hugest lesbian crush on this woman, I would absolutely go gay for her, no question. She's an amazingly talented singer, has phenomenal presence, and a pretty killer wardrobe. I first heard her sing the first time I caught Absinthe at the Spiegeltent in New York. I had no idea who she was, but she sang a version of Jaques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas" that ripped my soul apart and has stayed with me for the past few years. A friend of mine recommended her show to me and I realized that she was the same singer I had heard oh so long ago, and I was determined to catch her. She had such an inviting and personable stage persona (this was probably aided by the fact that I also believe she was very drunk during her performance), and gave every song its due. In short (like her skirt), she was pretty much perfect. Thanks to the concert I now also have a recording of her "Ne Me Quitte Pas"--she didn't perform it, but I bought a CD afterwards. If they ever make a movie of her life, I would like to play her. That is all.

Tuesday, 18 August:
Because of the very random nature of the Fringe Festival, with shows coming from all over the world and at all different levels of skill and composition (and again, to use Suckerville as an example, at different stages of development), your experience doesn't seem truly complete until you see an awful, soul wrenching, maddeningly bad piece of theatre. Our last Fringe show filled this slot nicely, and how. It was called The Grind Show, and I won't even get into it. The good thing about seeing significantly bad theatre (truly) is that you remember what good theatre is, and what makes it good. It is absolutely a learning situation. The bond amongst the people you see it with also strengthens, too, by having jointly experienced such a huge amount of trauma. Still, that solace won't get me back the hour of my life stolen from me--that I paid to have stolen from me. My new rule for theatre festival going: No more student productions.*

*(And touching on that, briefly--I won't go see a revival at a festival either {And most revivals/Shakespeare plays done at festivals ARE student productions, FYI}. What is the point in seeing a revival of something in a FESTIVAL, that is usually meant to be about new, original work? It just seems silly.)

Spent the afternoon and evening with Mauro (who also accompanied us to The Grind Show--our bond is stronger than ever!), hopping from various Mexican restaurants (yes, they have those here), and then went home and watched another zombie movie. For the record, I watched all four zombie films over the course of that week, and they were as follows: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and 28 Days Later. I can now say I really like zombie movies, and am sad that I've missed them for this long. However, I still don't think I'm brave enough to watch something like Dead Snow, a movie about Nazi zombies--at least not brave enough to watch it by myself. Any volunteers?

Wednesday, 19 August:
Our last day in Edinburgh, we took it pretty easy. I did a little more zombie research (this was less research, and more me watching every DVD extra on Shaun of the Dead), Amy, Max and I grabbed dinner, caught our flight, and landed that evening back in Lon-don-towne, ready to ease our way back into our normal, sadly less theatre filled lives.

That was a rather large nutshell, and you should be commended for getting through this entry. I'd commend myself for writing it, but considering how long it took me to post it, I won't. Happy?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Last blog before Scotland

I leave for Scotland tomorrow, and will be gone for about a week. I'm putting myself under internet quarantine (I need it) so don't fret that you don't hear from me in the interim.

Randomness: I booked a short film for the Zone Horror Short Film Competition. I'm waiting to hear from the director the exact date of filming, but it looks like it'll happen sometime in September. I play a zombie. I am very excited about this, but it is also completely unfamiliar territory since I have never seen a zombie movie. Yes, it's true. Please don't hit me too hard. I need to do some research, maybe while I'm up north.

Below are some lovely pictures taken of Hampstead Heath, where I've been spending a lot of time lately for rehearsal/research for the festival piece I'm working on for Central in September, on picnics with friends, and for walks. Enjoy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Do you realize that you have the most beautiful [type] face?"

It’s funny how the mind can play tricks on you. What’s stranger perhaps is how dependant we are on our minds to create a logical, structured understanding of our surroundings in order to become oriented. If we can change how we process information, or if we actively choose to acknowledge or apply a different meaning to something other than its common, accepted definition, given enough time we can literally redefine our surroundings. It makes one (who watches BSG) think of the Cylon’s ability to project—to literally create a different perception of their location to wherever they choose to be. It implies a certain amount of psychological escapism, I suppose, to try and change your surroundings by imagining you are somewhere else. But what if you’re not doing it on purpose?

Lately, I keep thinking I’m in New York. Not to any extreme—I don’t wake up thinking I live in Brooklyn around Park Slope (it would explain all the trees I live near), plan to hop on the subway to get to the island and wander around downtown somewhere, looking to satiate a hankering for a hot dog (“Mmmmm…hot dog…”). But there are moments I’ll be walking down a certain street in the center of London, and it will remind me of New York so much that for a moment or a little bit more I will forget that I’m on this side of the proverbial pond. It happened the other day on Dean Street—I was hunting around for the Soho Theatre to catch a play with my friends Lisa and Ronan, and I suddenly felt like I was somewhere around the Lower West Side. It confused me for a second or two, and though I shook it off rather quickly, something still lingered.

I’ve been missing New York in the strangest ways recently. London doesn’t seem to move quite fast enough, and maneuvering the sidewalks is a joke—it’s like people don’t know how to walk here. I still haven’t found a good bagel. I’d like to go out for a drink with someone at 10PM, and not worry about there being no room in the bar, or the fact that it’s going to close in half-an-hour. I miss travel after midnight that doesn’t involve buses. I dislike reading the New Yorker online, but can’t afford to buy imported copies of it, thus negating the joy I get out of the process of reading the magazine—carrying it around in your bag all week, folding it in half so you can read it column by column, getting residual ink on your hands, tearing out cartoons and poems and saving them for journals or bulletin boards or refrigerator doors. In the same vein, I bought the International Herald Tribune the other day because I missed the New York Times’s typeface. Yes: the typeface.

These things seem small, I know, but they are those parts of your everyday experience, the items and actions that beget living habits, that make you feel at home. I am, after ten months, still looking for New York in London. It must be said, the two cities are more similar than they are dissimilar. Both are extremely “international,” have tons of cultural offerings, etc. But still, there is something completely different in the air in London (::insert joke about Thames fumes here::), and I think it has something to do with the layout of the city. New York is a city built on top of itself, with buildings so tall and dense that at some locations you can’t see the next block over from the ground. Sometimes you’ll go for hours and not see the sun. Aside from the financial district, this sort of layout of structures seems far less frequent in London, and the city therefore, aided by its watery bisection, feels more open and spread out. New York towers over you and creates secrets as it looms; London is public and open and available. You can easily feel anonymous in any large city, but in New York you can almost feel anonymous even to yourself. While that can be lonely, there’s also something safe in that, a specific kind of detachment that I had come to know during my sojourn there, and one I cannot seem to replicate here. I don’t know quite why I seek to find this security of solitude, especially as one who is so often lonely, but I do, and London doesn’t cut it the same way.

Now, it must be said: I am far more anonymous in London than I am in New York, if we’re just going on the basis of the number of people I’m acquainted with out of the total population of either city. But London, with its open air and visible sunlight (when there is sunlight), seems to receive me more as a friend than New York did. You can’t lose yourself in the architecture here, perhaps because so much of it is largely historic. Maybe the only way to lose yourself in this city is not to the corners of the unknown, but instead, to the past. To really grasp London, you have to let yourself be transported, daily, back generations or decades, and being young myself (and young to this city), I still perhaps don’t have the experience enough to fully comprehend that.

The musings about these cities and what each has to offer is a topic not new to me or to the returning readers of this blog. It again surfaces as I begin my last couple months of my dissertation work, and my fellow immigrants are discussing their futures. Some seem set on eventually returning to their country of origin, but many of us are looking to be here long term. I’ve started talking to some other American ex-pats, and the UK visa process keeps coming up in discussion. Most of us are confused by what we have to do, or are daunted by it, or frustrated already. Others look at it like a crap shoot—we’ll try for it and figure the odds as best we can, but in the end know that we have less control over the dice than we’d like and we’ll just have to see what we end up with. To call back to BSG again: “Sometimes you have to roll the hard six.” But even if my visa does come through, the question that really lies at the heart of this is: what would I have to discover about London to really make it feel like a home? Or on the other hand, what would I have to be prepared to perceive about London to have it show me these things?

I had a strange run in with a man the other week, who drunkenly engaged me in very pleasant (albeit repetitive) conversation when I was running late to see Lament for Medea at the Arcola. We had ended up on a bus together, and he reminded me (over and over) that if I loved London, it would love me right back. When I went to get off the bus, he gave me a twenty pound note to take a cab to the theatre so I wouldn’t have to wait for the Overground. He kissed my hand as he did it. If that’s London loving me, London is kind of creepy. But at least he’s looking out and taking care of me on some level. On a kind of weird, creepy level, but yeah.*

Now if he could just serve me up a good bagel, I’d move right in.

*(For the record the guy was actually really nice and not at all inappropriate as we spoke, and I do believe the gesture came from a genuine place. He said someone had helped him when he was younger and that someday I’d do the same thing for someone else. Dear God, I hated Pay it Forward, but now it looks like I’ve made a bargain I’ll have to fulfill someday. That’s alright—but I’ll try to be sober when I do it.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Oh, Augusta...

In front of the TV watching the American version of The Office, drinking a bottle of white wine alone, as all of my friends are in America, or Spain, or Scotland, or Cyprus. I am trying to distract myself from my woes by working (hard now, considering I have about 4oz. left of the Chardonnay I cracked open earlier), reading articles on phenomenology (we're talking Merleau-Ponty, baby), and eating a lot of choccy biccies. I'm also trying to focus on what I've got going on this month:
  • Spending a week in Edinburgh with my friends Amy and Max, catching shows at the International and Fringe Festivals, and visiting my friend Mauro who is handling press for the International Fest.
  • Heading to Brighton for a weekend, to assist in a fellow MA's research, concerning the ujiah breath, and its possible application in acting work--a topic that really excites me.
  • Shooting a short film in and around the Royal Opera House as part of dreamthinkspeak's site specific theatre piece for the Ignite Festival. The film will play during the piece, and is set in the late 1950s, early 1960s. I am overwhelming excited about my fitting. There are no words. If I come out looking like Joan from Mad Men, I will be beyond happy. (The resemblance is really uncanny.)
So things are good. Sure. Of course.

(In other news: I love this picture of Stephen Merchant that was posted on the Rick Gervais website. That is all.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dissertation? I have no idea what you're talking about...

I've come to terms with the fact that I've basically taken July off. I have gone to a concert, thrown a dinner party, seen two plays, been to talks about the futures of documentary and animation, gone to the movies (A LOT), done a lot of jogging, gone to a talk about The Wire that featured David Simon and George Pelecanos, have started a rehearsal & generative process for a festival of work that will go up at the end of September, auditioned, and started reading a really good novel. What I have not done is an extensive amount of any work on my dissertation. I did manage to contact my interview subject over the Facebook (Yes: the Facebook) and have sent him off a list of questions. This man is actually important, and very busy, and I will not be in the same country as him for a time, so e-mail interview it is. Now I'm just awaiting his response. I have also gone to the V&A's Theatre Archives, located at Hammersmith in the magnificent Blythe House to watch recordings of Improbable shows, which I thought would help in my dissertation, but upon viewing I've found that they probably won't. The two performances I watched were great, but had little to do with what I'm actually writing my dissertation on. Still, any excuse and opportunity to see Improbable's work is a good one, and I enjoyed that morning.

However, aside from sending off the interview questions, and the occassional skimming of some critical or theoretical text, I have really done nothing. I acknowledge this and accept it (there's really nothing I can do about it now), and plan to change. Yes, I will alter this downward spiral I'm riding and turn around and go upupup to academic and theatrical glory. And this journey will start soon, almost immediately. In three days. But August 1st, that's the day, the flood waters will hit and everything will start to fall into place. This is the plan.

It's unfortunate that hardly anything I ever plan on ends up happening. Alas.

That being said, I plan to get my head in gear about my work shortly. I also plan to blog a bit more. I'm really going to try--truly, I am. I know I always say it, but this time I mean it. I've changed. Can't we give it one more chance? Please?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Story About a Pencil: REDUX

As promised:

It is essentially the exact same film as before, but cut a little differently. I literally had to go back and piece it together from scratch ("Oh iMovie, why do you hate me so much?"), but I used the previous film as a guide. As I post this, around 1AM in London, I am also GChatting with Marley Magaziner (yes: that is her real name), who is sitting in a black box in New York, co-hosting the Tank's Silent Night event, and has looped my film to play 15 times in a row as people are getting in and settling themselves down for an evening of silent entertainment. I am sitting in my bed, snuggled up in my pajamas under my duvet. The modern age astonishes me.

To those in the States--Goodnight.

To those in the UK--Good morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Pencil Film LIVES!!! (But silently still...)

My little pencil film will have a transatlantic showing this Friday as part of The Tank's Silent Night fundraiser. Basically the venue (home of SLAM!, a weekly competitive playwrighting competition I used to frequent) has been getting complaints from the neighbors about the noise. Yes, those theatrical types can be awfully rowdy. So organizers Stefania and Marley have arranged to hold a fundraiser of completely silent performances. Since the film still exists without a soundtrack (I can't get ahold of an organ--or an organist), I offered it up for the evening's agenda. I've spent the last couple days re-cutting the thing (I wasn't totally happy with how it came out the first time), and I'll post the new version on Saturday, after the fundraiser. If you're in NYC, head down to 345 W. 45th St. at 8PM on Friday, and remember: keep it down!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Accidental Art--an Experiment in Theatre Making

A nice interview with project leader Nessah Muthy, Ph.D. student Tania Batzoglou, director Anouke Brook, and myself did for the London Theatre Blog about the Accidental Festival piece I did, Accidental Art. Go here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Look at the New Homestead

As per requested by my parents, here's a little tour of the flat I'm holed up at the moment. My flatmate Loukia makes a brief appearance as well.

I'll try to write a real entry tomorrow. I promise. To try.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Desperate Housewife-dom

I finished moving into my new flat Saturday morning, and have been essentially nesting this past week. I cannot express in words adequately how overjoyed I am to have a kitchen again--it makes all the difference in the world. I have bought groceries several times this week and have been relishing being able to cook food for myself, so much so that I will be having a little dinner party next week, complete with friends, liquor, and a lot of home cooked Cuban food courtesy of me. May my abuela, the greatest cook who ever lived, smile down on me from heaven that day, and guide my hands as I season, stir, and saute up a storm. I'm really excited: I do love being a domestic.

Just to catch up what's gone on the past couple weeks, the Turbulence Festival closed nicely with England 2009, a performance composed of short vignettes that were devised during the day of the performance using assigned stimuli that were collected from various locations across England. My group got a box full of chalk from the white cliffs of Dover<--and yes, the only thing I knew about Dover up until that day was the song named after said cliffs. Rather predictably, dealing with the chalk (and flour substituting for chalk) was a focal point of what my ensemble produced, and as in Stage Two, I ended the performance covered in stuff:

Looks like a bad minstrel show.

The Fourth of July here was nice. After dropping of my last bag and unpacking a bit in the new flat, I headed out to Camden to Max and Amy's for an American celebration and gathering. En route, I bought a huge case of Budweiser and two six packs of Coke--classic flavours of American culture.

An American super-hero.

I made salsa and platanos, a favorite Cuban snack that will also be a fixture at the dinner I host next week. You may ask, why serve a Cuban dish at an American celebration. Well, firstly, they are delicious. Secondly, the Cubans, like the Americans, were also revolutionaries. And thirdly, they were fried: very American indeed.

Fried bananas=Deliciousness.

We were joined by US citizens Heidi, Caitlin, and Elizabeths Fazzio and Gibbs, as well as the ever fabulous Greek, Maria. We cooked, drank, ate (a lot--it was an American holiday, after all), and finished off the evening by emptying bags of English Breakfast tea into the Regent's Canal while yelling "No taxation without representation!", followed by setting off a large confetti shooter. It was a delightful evening, and even though it didn't supply the light show of Macy's, it was definitely a great substitute.

I will try to update more over the next few days to make up for my near non-existence over the past couple weeks. Right now, though--I should go clean my kitchen from today's culinary flurry.