Friday, March 6, 2009

I am lost/In a rainbow/Now the rainbow is gone

Title of this entry comes from lyrics from the band that's currently changing my life, who I'm heading out to see play live in a couple weeks with members of NASH. For a great clip from the Shelly Love (somebody else currently changing my life) film that they scored and the song these lyrics come from, please go here and enjoy. For reals.

I have felt lost lately, but not in any kind of a rainbow. The grind of school has been overwhelming over the last few weeks, and that, compounded with other activities and the lack of Internet in my room (how I survived that, I will truly never know) has obviously infringed on the bloggation of late. My apologies, but there just wasn't the time. I'll have to give a briefbrief overview of my doings, so as to not completely discredit these past few weeks.

Hotel Medea:
Headed out to the Arcola the first weekend in February for some hardcore theatre going, as evidenced by our blazoned fists.

(Photo courtesy of Heidi O'Connell's iPhone.)

The production was a six hour-long extravaganza, with three twenty-minute breaks, and a breakfast spread<--Did I mention the play started at 11:59PM? I couldn't do justice to the show if I tried to give you a synopsis here, but needless to say the sheer stamina of the performers was beyond impressive, particularly Medea who was at least five months pregnant, if not more. Both she and Jason got totally naked at one point--whoa. The production was also really great at creating an all-encompassing experience for the audience. At one point we were all taken in turn, tucked into cots in pairs, read a bedtime story while we held our own stuffed animals and sipped cocoa--we were Medea and Jason's children, overhearing our parents having an argument with our eyes closed. My friend Max died (Not really: they just used him as one of Medea's children at the very end, and we built a funeral memorial around him. His wife Amy was not amused.). We got stranded in the morning because London is not New York, and there were no trains running to the area of the city we were in on Sunday. Ridiculous. WiFi at McDonalds and Heidi's iPhone saved us. We got home around 8AM and were out of commission for the rest of the weekend.

Complicite Workshop:
Complicite is an institution in England, in terms of the top "known" theatre companies in the country. After seeing A Disappearing Number at the Barbican this past fall, I totally jumped on to the Complicite bandwagon (despite the slight over-use of projection in that production). Their last show that ran at the Barbican this past month, Shun-kin, based on a Japanese story, featuring an all Japanese cast and some puppets by Blind Summit Theatre, prompted a short workshop that introduced and instructed on aspects of said production. Basically, it was an auditorium of students, mostly high schoolers, and a handful of Central-ites, that turned up to listen to Simon McBurney (AD of Complicite, and the director of Broadway's latest revival of All My Sons--hence the projections used in said production...) walk us through the first part of the show, and then call some of us up on stage to demonstrate some of the techniques used in rehearsal, both with the actors (none of whom spoke fluent English) and when dealing with the puppets used in the show. Heidi and her iPhone were there, and caught all the action.

(That's Simon McBurney waving his arms.)

The next day Mark Down, one of the founding members of Blind Summit (pictured above in the foreground all the way to the left) came out to CSSD and did an hour lecture on puppetry that was terribly amusing and informative. The day after I caught Shun-kin, and was happy I'd been able to catch Simon McBurney the day before doing his introduction/summary. As the piece was entirely in Japanese, and I was sat all the way to the side on audience left, I:
  1. often couldn't see what was going on/being projected onto the stage.
  2. was too far back to read any of the translation text that was being projected on the sides of the stage.
Now, as I've said repeatedly before, I need glasses. This evening confirmed this fact yet again. However, there was a lot of dialogue in the show, too much even for the fully optically functional 20/20 viewing audience, and McBurney, in my humble opinion, did not make up for the fact with his staging. If you looked away from the stage, you missed part of the story for the sake of the text. If you missed part of the text, you missed part of the story in terms of the staging. And neither were totally decipherable all on their own. It was a little like a poorly staged opera that way. I will also say that I think there were one too many narrators. But I'll go no further than that. It was in all ways a Complicite production, and therefore good enough to be one of the better productions I've seen while over here.

Valentine's Day with Tom Stoppard
I spent basically all of Valentine's Day at the National at various events that all had one common thread: the playwright Tom Stoppard. First, myself and others caught a production of Stoppard's play Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a play for actors and an orchestra, featuring none other than our very own guest tutor, Toby Jones! My only complaint was that the piece wasn't longer--I could have stayed in the Olivier for hours listening to that music and that text. After that, we sat in on a talk back with the man himself. Stoppard is everything you'd envision in a playwright, right down to the baggy, old man sweater and the slip-on suede shoes that look more like slippers than outerwear. He rolls his r's, probably left over from his Czechoslovakian roots. He reduced Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as just "a play about two courtiers trying to entertain themselves in a boring place." He owns an iPhone, which rang during the talk. He was great. Afterwards, several of us went out to dinner and then returned to the National to watch Shakespeare in Love (co-scribed {or mostly scribed} by Stoppard) from one of the terraces, as it was projected on the side of the fly space of the Lyttleton (one of the spaces in the National). Heidi's iPhone was once again on the scene to catch all the action.

It was a delightful day, full of great art, and a truly unique experience that makes it my top Valentine's Day of all time.<--That statement clearly evidences the fact that I have never had a boyfriend around that date. But no matter. For one day, Top Stoppard was my boyfriend. And I loved him.

Visit from a New Yorker
Right around Valentine's Day, my friend Jen came into town with the transfer of an opera that had just finished it's run at the Met in New York, Doctor Atomic. She had worked on that production and was over here with light plot in hand, and tourist demands. I was happy to oblige her, as I never do anything too too touristy, and it was nice to have the excuse. We spent a lovely day together, watching a busker with a giant unicycle and a chainsaw in Convent Garden, traipsing about the Tower of London, walking along a considerable extent of the Thames, and sharing in a lovely meal. A couple days later, thanks to Jen, I caught Doctor Atomic's dress rehearsal from the best seat I will ever have in that opera house--the stalls, which at this house means orchestra level seating. The design by Improbable's Julian Crouch was great (it always comes back to Improbable, doesn't it?), and baritone Gerald Finley had the most dreamy tone quality. It was far more enjoyable than my last foray at the Coliseum. The final evening I spent with Jen during her visit, we headed over to Gordon's Wine Bar, the oldest wine bar in London. It's largely underground, in catacomb like structures, and you buy a bottle and crouch under brick archways at candlelit tables that are surrounded by mismatched chairs, all the while being dripped on by erosion from above. It was delightful. Moreover, it was wonderful to see a familiar face, and to share part of this experience with someone from home. It gives this journey some context somehow, and is a reminder that there is another world outside this place, and one that's possible to go back to, should I choose to go.

The evening I caught the dress rehearsal for the opera, I was standing behind a man on the tube who looked staggeringly familiar. I tried my best not to stare or lean into him that much, but I kept glancing to him, trying to catch the side of his face, which he was clearly trying to shield. Suddenly at a stop, he turned his head for a moment and then got off. I instantly recognized his left cheek bone: it was Jamie Bamber, aka Lee "Apollo" Adama, the hottest of the hot, the CAG himself, soon to be president of the twelve colonies, and a cast member of the greatest TV show of the last few years of my life. For days I convinced myself if couldn't have been him (too short), but through Internet snooping I found a picture of him wearing the exact same jacket he was wearing on the tube, and since he's in town shooting Law and Order: UK, I have come to the conclusion that it was none other than the man himself. So close, and still so far...

And yes, I did just say: "Law and Order: UK." To be Dick York right now, I swear...

As far as school is concerned--
Term 2 is winding down in the next couple weeks. Our Stage Two Practice showcases our work Tuesday, for three performances. The piece focuses on web-based culture, activity, and identity. The most compelling part for me as an actor is a sequence where myself and my fellow collaborator Ronan perform a movement piece that's basically meant to simulate cybersex. It's really artfully done, I swear. We intend to film it, but due to intellectual copyrighting, there ain't no way that stuff is going to end up here. Also, my parents and relatives read my blog, so to save them from any possible embarrassment, I will avoid posting it. But for anyone curious (I'm seriously serious when I say it's artfully done, truly), I can figure out a way to show you the footage somehow, promise. Don't expect too much in certain areas--we are fully clothed all the time. But there is a vast amount of lipstick used.

The research group continues to plug along, performing our beat-like experiments (sorry I've still not thrown up any video), and the practice conference is fast approaching. We'll see what comes of that.

Third Term Festival proposals went in today at noon. My name is on three (I think...), and if any of them get selected--there were several submissions, but only ten will be accepted--I'll be a happy duck. Hopefully everything will work out. I will say no more on that topic, as I am a deep believer in the fates, and don't want to jinx anything.

And that's really it from here. It's a lot--I realize that was basically a month's worth of stuff I just kind of threw out there--but in reality, it feels like everything happens so fast that almost nothing has happened at all.

Word keeps coming in from New York, and none of it seems to bode well. Jobs are lost, unavailable, or tightening in terms of hours. Less Equity contracts are being issued for summer seasons (because Equity actors demand a living wage and are therefore more expensive than non-union, and therefore at times unprotected, actors), and arts funding is even less existent than it was before. Everyone keeps plugging and/or struggling along, but the realization that for several life is changing drastically is ever prevalent. It makes me appreciate the somewhat insular environment I've holed up in for the year, despite the occasionally stagnant, claustrophobic, and down right irritating nature it can be at times. Putting up with a little aggravation and being spared wondering where the next meal is coming from is a blessing in it of itself. Even if that meal is disgusting cafeteria food from downstairs.

In the coming weeks I will do my best to be more diligent in my updates. Again, I apologize for having lapsed this long. But hopefully all can and will be forgiven. Take care, my dears.


cokaly said...

i caught a broadcast of dr. atomic a few months back and absolutely fell in the love with the music and the production. it's too bad i was exhausted that night, and therefore didn't have the energy to watch the whole thing.

i was about to correct you and say that finley is a tenor, and then i did my research...and you're right. shows you how well all those years of schooling paid off.......

::hangs head in shame::

Lea Maria said...


Don't feel badly. I would have assumed he was a tenor, too, if I hadn't purused several articles noting him as a baritone.