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.