Monday, January 19, 2009

Miss me?

I thought you might have.

I know, I know--I've been away. My apologies. I've been super busy since I got back, so let me give you the general run down, and I'll plod through specifics later.

Saturday, 10 January:
I land around 6AM--forty-five minutes before scheduled to do so--in Heathrow airport to light flurries and the sound of a screaming child (if I've learned anything from my last two trans-Atlantic flights it's that all children should only be permitted to travel by boat). I pick up my luggage, ride the tube to my halls, drop off my bags, get a shower in, go for coffee, and then head out to the first day of Devoted and Disgruntled. While there, I run into the costume designer from my senior year show in college--Amazing! Interesting discussions ensue. (I will actually do an entry on this, so fret not the lack of details herein.) I go home early from the event and go to sleep, as I'd been up for about 30 hours straight<--I cannot sleep on planes, especially when Braveheart or On the Waterfront is offered as entertainment.

(York Hall, set up for Devoted and Disgruntled goodness.)

Sunday, 11 January:

More D&D, including a session about doing theatre in elderly homes, which brought back fond memories of this book.

Monday, 12 January:
Last session of D&D in the morning, and then off to school, where I saw The Five Obstructions and The Perfect Human, to help put into perspective a future speaker's topic of discussion. Good movies, and I recommend you definitely check out Five Obstructions if you are into the film making process. And if you find the time, scroll down and watch The Perfect Human--it is on this very blog!

Tuesday, 13 January:
Class consisted of gathering with the other MA courses at Central and sitting through presenter after presenter, discussing topics they had spent time researching. We are doing major research projects ourselves this term (to take place of our weekly lab work), so this whole week of speakers, workshops and the like were meant to give us a framework of understanding what it is we're meant to do. Some of it was useful. Some of it wasn't. It's amazing how boring some people can make theatre when they're reading a paper they wrote about it, after they've spent fifteen minutes really engaging you while they set up their discussion. It's kind of a shame, really.

Best part of the day was when my friend Caitlin gave me a necklace with a Dalek charm on it. For those who don't know (and I am guessing many of you do not), Daleks are the greatest adversaries of the Doctor (Dr. Who, people: that doctor). Caitlin and I love Dr. Who, though it must be admitted the reason rests almost solely (if not entirely) on David Tennant. But we're fine with that.
I swear to God I'm not a geek.

Wednesday, 14 January:

First Wednesday back at Swiss Cottage meant the return of the greatest coffee I have ever found in my life. Jason is the man who runs the coffee stand in the farmer's market we have in front of school on Wednesday and Friday, and besides having great taste in books (he loaned me a Fante volume that I really need to finish...someday...), his coffee is impeccable. Seriously. I would not kid about coffee.

We met in the afternoon with the tutor who will be leading us through our research this term (and incidentally will be filling in for the performer's movement tutor while our course leader is off doing research on the history of movement directors) to present our topics. Each group had five minutes, after we'd all taken an hour to compose our presentation according to a graph model that was given to us. In research, it seems, people are very much fond of graphs, charts etc. It makes a person feel official, and it's fun to decide what color to make different parts of a pie chart showing percentages. The most fun part of the actual presentations for me was chiming out, "BONG!" at the five minute mark--Heidi was timekeeper, and a little sick, so I stepped in to BONG when the tutor reprimanded her for not projecting enough. A silly thing, to be sure, but it caused me much joy to participate in such a way, bringing about the full realization of the sneaking suspicion I'd had all week and month previous: I don't want to be an academic, and research for the most part bores me. But doing research is part of what makes this a master's program. Uh oh. This may become an "issue." We shall see.

Afterwards, I went to the first evening of our MA-ATP Speaker Series. The dramaturgs have been commissioned to bring in theatrical practitioners to speak (duh) about their jobs in the theatre today. That evening, we had as our guest Christopher Campbell, a very nice, interesting, and engaging man, who spoke to us about his job as Deputy Literary Manager for the National Theatre. No small fish here. He spoke about play selection, actor requirements when plays are selected for them, playwright insecurities, and why the National puts on so little new work--and it's not because every play they get is shit, either. It was a very enjoyable talk, and I look forward to more in the future.

On the way out of school to go grab dinner before Slumdog Millionaire that evening with friends, myself, David (dramaturg student who brought in Campbell), Campbell and my friend Poppy ended up in the lift together. The doors closed, and suddenly there was a mighty "THU-THUNK!!!" We had dropped a little, and then gotten stuck in between floors. The fire brigade had to come and get us out! Luckily it didn't take too long, and the company was very pleasant. David had given Campbell a bottle of whiskey as a gift for coming, and I kept joking her should open it up.

Caught Slumdog Millionaire, as already stated above, and may have found an affordable gym with a pool right by school. Very exciting.

Thursday 15 January:
I skived off ("played hooky"). I wish I hadn't because there were a couple workshops I heard about later that sounded interesting, but the sleep was very precious. I also had a really nice jog, and somehow ended up at King's Cross. Thought about checking for Platform 9 3/4, but decided to save it for another day. Also came to the realization that jogging in London is a near futile venture if you're not in a park: the sidewalks are WAY too narrow, and people seem confused/put out/ignorant of the concept of MOVING OUT OF THE WAY of the jogger who is going for time. Goodess sakes, people. It's almost as bad as people who smoke while walking, but never enact the common courtesy to move the cigarette out of the way when another person passes by closest to the hand holding said cigarette. I guess no one gets blinded by smoke, ash, or otherwise when room isn't made on the sidewalk, and surely no first degree burns are earned, but still: it sucks.

When I got home, I bought an impromptu ticket to a show for Friday night.

Friday 16 January:
More coffee. I love you, Jason.

Went to school to attend a function a classmate and I are trying to run every Friday called "The Space In Between." Basically, it's a big cross-sharing space for the different strands to come together and show off to each other what they're learned, what they already know, what they're interested in exploring. The hope is that out of these sharing sessions people will be able to find other students who are interested in investigating/developing the same kind of work, which would maybe lead to a collaboration for festival work. I should explain: during third term, our course puts on a festival of original work. A lot of the more noteworthy companies/practitioners that came out of this program moved their festival piece to Edinburgh the same year they were finishing their dissertation, so it's possible what we do here could lead to greater things. The sharing sessions would also hopefully be a place to showcase developing work for feedback, or to derive inspiration about your own work from what other people are bringing in. I thought it was a little ambitious to start off the first week back with a session, but I showed up with a Viola Spolin book in hand, ready to play.

I was the only one there.

I made use of the time by perusing the Spolin text (thank goodness I had brought Theatre Games for the Lone Actor<--I had a sneaking suspicion this was going to happen) and making a list of the things I had learned about living a theatrical life, in case, of course, I am ever called to give such advice. It's quite the list, I assure you. In any case, we hope that this week's SIB is more successful. We can only hope.

When I got home from school, I had a surprise package in the mail. My friend Logan had sent me Battlestar Galactica replica dog tags for none other than Kara Thrace! It came on a perfect day, as BSG premiered in the states that night. I did my part by honouring the occasion and wearing the dog tags to the theatre that night.

(Two science fiction accessory pieces in one week, is pretty geeky, I guess...

But they were gifts!)

The London International Mime Festival is running till the 25th, and Friday night was the first show I caught. I saw Seeking Oedipus by Theatre of Silence Ex Machina at the Southbank Centre. It was a pretty solid show, and I enjoyed the physicality. But the most striking thing about the piece was this HUGE inclined plane that made up most of the set. You really appreciated how athletic the performers had to be to work on that--they were running, jumping, leaping, climbing, and sliding all over that thing. And then at one point Oedipus walked up the rake backwards very slowly. His quads must have killed him. What was nice about the actual narrative of the story was that they basically told you all of the exposition covered in Oedipus as the stage action. There was no "mime chorus," though that phrase conjures an interesting image. The actor playing Laius was by far my favorite. He was also the hottest. (Whatever helps...)

Saturday 17 January:
Met with my research group around the corner from my halls at the Welcome Collection in the morning (more about our topic of research and methods at a later date), and then heading home to watch the premiere episode of BSG I had downloaded from iTunes. (Holy Frak!) Then I wandered down to the BFI to catch part of a program of Charlie Chaplin's early films. The double-reel contained Pay Day and The Pilgrim, and the event started by showing the audience some old footage of when Chaplin first came back to the UK from the states--throngs of people at Waterloo, crowds that really wouldn't exist in that size or clamour again until the Beatles. It was wonderful, and seeing the films was a wonderful compliment to the mime/clown activities of the festival as well.

Sunday 18 January:
I slept. I needed it. And read Othello. I realize I've been neglecting Shakespeare for a while now, and that has to stop. So I promised myself that every Sunday I would read one of his plays that I hadn't read yet--and no, having seen a performance doesn't count. Next week: King Lear.

And that's all for right now. Tomorrow a lot of the North American Stronghold heads out to a bar on Leicester Square to watch the Inauguration. I'll let you know how that goes, and I promise to try to be more diligent about updating you guys about my life happenings. I promise to try. I promise.


Caitlin said...

I am so honored that the dalek necklace and I made it into your blog, haha! We still need our doctor who date!

And yes...I am still awake.

Dani said...

I am impressed that you remember what you did so many days in a row.

Miss E said...

I think Othello is my fave of his plays. Very visceral and accessible, IMO.

Also, there is no shame in being a geek. EMBRACE IT!

cokaly said...

i miss you. and hearing about all your fabulous adventures in london isn't helping. ::sigh::

Lea Maria said...

Caitlin--of course it did, and yes we still need our date. Let's both wear our necklaces! Hooray!

Dani--I keep journals. It's the only way. If you find me without a reference point, I have no idea what I did that morning. Terribly Pinter of me, really.

Emma--Hamlet is still my fave. Always and forever. And someday I will wear my geek identity prooudly.

Clayton--I miss you, too! It's been SOOO LONG!