Week 6: A Teen No More

Because of the trip I took this weekend, Monday seems so far back into history it would be like writing the beginning of my autobiography.However I shall endeavor to justly describe my classes and experiences.

I already covered Monday on last week’s blog, so I’ll move forward to Wednesday. In stage combat this week we worked on rapier and dagger! Requires a higher focus and connection with the body, definitely. Opposite to thought, rapier and dagger also requires a more open frame of the body, so that your two blades are on a semi-equal plane. Learning two handed parries (defensive move that blocks and moves your opponent’s sword) is very confusing for me because they can translate to either side of the body, so the switching really messes me up. Adding a dagger in sword fighting makes it feel more nasty and gruesome for me. Fighting with a short sword or rapier alone felt like such an elegant way to kill someone, but with the dagger I feel sneaky. I’m realizing more and more, especially with weapons, that I become extremely nervous whenever I realize a teacher is watching. I know everyone experiences this, but I will stop what I’m doing because I assume that it’s wrong! In my mind I’m thinking “Why else would Rachel be watching, Anna Kate!” Which I know is a bad mind-frame, I’m working on it, okay? Admitting is the first step! Wednesday was our first singing class with John Tucker, one of the most electric people I’ve ever beheld. He’s a mixture of Danny Kaye, a firecracker, and how I imagine Cole Porter would’ve acted like. Quite a man to behold, I promise you. This first class was pretty similar  to most beginner voice classes/workshops that I’ve taken, but I really liked his breath work. I’ve had a lot of problems placing my voice in my throat, but I could not feel any strain on my throat during class. My two goals for these classes is to improve my breathing and my vocal placement.

On Thursday in Classical Voice/ Shakespeare Scene Study, we began performing and practicing our first scenes. My trio decided to go first, which for once worked extremely in our favor. Our scene was the last bit of Act II, scene I from Richard the II. It’s one of the most pivotal scenes of the show, in which Northumberland, Ross, and Willoughby are discussing the rise of Henry Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV. This may sound sad, but because I had lower expectations for our scene, class actually went pretty okay.  Practicing a scene for a teacher always goes better when the teacher is not annoyed or disappointed, unless they have reason, of course.  I guess I was expecting some frustration at our possible lack of knowledge, but it went very well. Lots of growing room, but I’m hopeful.

Thursday was also my twentieth birthday! As I enter this coming decade of emotional and financial strife, I keep trying to notice if I feel different. Do I feel like an “adult” now? Where is my plaque that says

“WELCOME TO YOUR TWENTIES-PROCEED WITH CAUTION!”?

As much as I joke I am extremely hopeful and excited for the coming decade, as I’m sure it will be full of many adventures that I could not even imagine myself.

This weekend I went to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare and home to the Royal Shakespeare Company. I have visited Stratford before, so I traded many of the usual historical stops for walking around and noticing new things about the town. I did return to the birthplace and New Place, the two houses that Shakespeare lived in/owned. I highly suggest walking along the Greenway, which is a path that goes along the Avon river and through Stratford. It was nice to take this weekend out of London, although I found myself missing the constancy of noise in the city. London is not nearly as loud as New York City, but there’s always some bustle on the streets. As I watched the swans I realized what odd creatures they are. We praise them for their beauty and elegance and yet have you ever heard the noises they make? They sound like they’re constantly gurgling salt water for a sore throat! What’s elegant about that, huh? They’re also extremely aggressive creatures, but that is somewhat caused by years of being fed by thousands of tourists. There was a brief hour or two of sunshine so I decided to hop on a canal boat and take a 40 minute boat ride, which was a great decision. I don’t know if anyone has seen the Wind in the Willows movie, but the beginning scene is of a family riding down a river in a canal boat. So basically I pretended I was in an aristocratic British family for about an hour, which really shouldn’t seem too foreign for those who know me. I saw a performance each night at the RSC, and both nights I arrived at least an hour early to the theatre. On Saturday morning I sat in on a book talk with author Margaret Atwood. I haven’t read her newest novel and probably won’t until I get back to the states, but it was almost a character analysis of The Tempest. Her novel is a part of a series by a group of authors to modernize some of Shakespeare’s plays. The woman who led the talk was the debuty artistic director of the RSC, so I was freaking out just a little from that. I came back home today, and I look forward to the next time I  revisit Stratford. I strange wave of deju vu or nostalgia holds me whenever I’m in Stratford, I feel like I’ve lived there before. ‘Tis strange.

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