“I’m a stranger in a strange world.” –Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
I’m feeling uninspired at the moment so I shall forego the intro. and dive into my classes and adventures this week. During Intro. to Theatre History London we discussed 1984, which we saw our first night in London (all performance responses are separately posted on my blog, FYI). Sometimes I think of myself as a quiet person, but then class discussions come up and that theory is thrown out the window. We mostly focused on the debate between whether the play is made up of all memories being replayed while Winston is being tortured. OR, is the play happening exactly as we are watching? The more we talked about it in class the more I wanted to think that we were watching replayed memories. I think both theories are valid though, and I don’t think there is supposed to be a specific answer. The following Wednesday we went to a performance of Macbeth at the Globe theatre, so we prepared in class by studying a brief history of the theatre and the specific acting styles that go with the space. Due to the large size of the stage and audience, an actor (probably) should not employ the Sir Ian Mckellen style of Shakespearean acting. In the 70’s Sir Mckellen (and other famous stage actors) began a new acting style that was very internal rather than the barking and rattling on stages. You also have to imagine that as an actor you are surrounded by almost three thousand people and most of these people are not sober. We read aloud parts of the “O for a muse of fire” speech from King Henry V and imagined reciting it to the different levels physically as well as in class divide. From top to bottom it was royalty and aristocracy(highest level), middle class(middle level), and the poor (the Groundlings). In Theatre Encounters we performed our semi-improvised monologues in front of the class. Mine went pretty badly, which was embarrassing, but necessary. I never like to fail, especially in front of professors, but I know it’s a necessary step (back or forward) to becoming a better actor. After that we started working on developing ideas for two person scenes and plot lines. Mark, our professor, is a very good writer and will walk around the room giving us pointers about our work.
On Wednesday in Stage Combat we practically wrestled for three hours! We worked on hand to hand combat this week. We learned pushing, strangling, tackling (to a certain degree), and falling to your knees safely. We spent the first hour leading our partners around the room switching control. I was paired with someone my own height but definitely not the same weight, so I was easily able to football tackle her. I think for people who grew up with siblings it is much easier to access a “playful aggression.” You don’t mean harm to your partner, but you’re still able to push and kick with full force. Safely, of course! Having such fun and trusting teachers is partly what makes the class so awesome. Rachel and Beth Ann will demonstrate with each other and they keep the energy of the class extremely positive and supportive, it’s really great. In Voice Wheel/ Dialect class, we continued to focus on the standard English Received Pronunciation. Jaime, our professor, makes us practice sentences out loud which is the most nerve wracking part of class. Imagining the placement in my head and the actual vocal placement in my mouth can be extremely different. Later that night we went to go see an overall disappointing performance of Macbeth at the Globe theatre.
In my Shakespeare (voice) class on Thursday we began doing an extremely detailed scene analysis of Hamlet. I think because of my rocky feelings after last week’s class it had motivated me to focus more and work harder this class period. It wasn’t exponentially better, but I’m going to take every inch that I can get! In class we’re really focusing on the elements of Tudor theatre and how that would effect the actors and the performance. For example, because there is minimal to no lighting or scenery at the Globe, Shakespeare needed to insure that the lighting cues came from the script and the physicality of the actors.
On Friday I and one my flatmates went to the Tate museum of modern art, which was a really awesome museum. I highly recommend it to anyone who might be a little tired of the usual art museum. Like I mentioned before, vacation for my family was all about fitting in as many museums and sights as possible. So it was very nice to fit this into my day, we spent about 3 and 1/2 hours there! Some of my favorite pieces were by the Guerrilla Girls, a group of feminist artists that started in the 1980’s. On Sunday I attended the 11:30 Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral which was so beautiful. The music was more beautiful than last week’s Evensong, actually. So adorable to see those roly-poly little boys pushing out those high notes that soar through the high ceilings. I traveled to Portobello St. to visit an acquaintance and also to explore more parts of London that I haven’t seen yet. It’s definitely a cheaper part of London with some really cool markets and cafe’s. There’s nothing like the sudden fear after hearing the words “This is where the bus line ends, PLEASE get off the bus!” So thankfully I had just enough phone battery to find the nearest tube station and get back home alright, but for that split second of fear I was certain I was doomed! That’s a part of learning to live 1) abroad and 2) without family in the same city as you. I almost felt giddy while I was racing towards the station-
“I’m lost, and I’m lost in London! Life ain’t bad!”
Tomorrow we return to classes, huzzah.