Week #14: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Finals

Well, it’s been a week! A week has passed. Just like how so many weeks have passed this fall without me even having a chance to glance as them as they passed by me. With finals and flights approaching, I think I could say that at least a few people in the program may be running around looking like chickens without heads….maybe including myself.

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On Monday we had our last “make up” stage combat class. Because of all the wonderful day trips that our programs provide us, we’ve had to squish around some classes so that we could still meet for the required hours. Would you be surprised if I said that we focused on our final choreography? No? Well, me neither. Because that’s what we did, and will do until our test, yikes! My biggest problem is not getting too mad at myself in this class. Because when I get mad at myself then I get too worried about things and once I start worrying and overthinking, I usually start to mess up more. Even though my peers are less than 10 feet away from me, in my mind I’m still the only dummy dumb enough to mess up this choreography. Unfortunately, my old dance teacher was right, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” If you practice in bad form or without intentions, then that’s the only way you’re going to remember it.

Finally, my time to shine this semester! In Intro.  to Theatre History I was the partial-class discussion leader for Blue Heart. We had to split the class between Blue Heart and The Tempest, and I’m sure many were happy to be free from my clutches. Writing questions is a strange skill that I haven’t practiced often, and I’m not very good at writing questions. I’ll write you arching metaphors between ants and macaroni, but if you want me to ask you about it, you’re stuck. A lot of my questions seemed to fall flat, which is fine, but overall I think it went pretty well. It’s funny to see what parts of questions people will find intriguing, because it was usually something I didn’t really ask about. This isn’t a slam on myself or my peers, more of just a funny, “well, that’s life” kind of shrug moment. Oh well, we carry on and turn the page.  In Theatre Encounters we furthered detail work on our moments in our performance. I knew these days would come in Devised theatre, and they finally have. We’re starting to have a really solid frame and some nice scenes, but when it comes to cleaning up the show, that means some ideas go and some are re-worked. It’s so hard not to remain stubborn and defend your ideas, but if doesn’t communicate with the audience or flow with the other scenes, then you should just really be a team player and suck it up. Most often than not, a much better scene will be produced by collaboration or workshopping, it’s just the initial tear of letting your “brilliant” ideas go to the communal scrap fire of ideas.

Ah, Tuesday, if I could make it a holy Sabbath I would. Because it’s really great not having classes on Tuesdays, let me tell you. Like I’ve done many a time, I loitered at the National theatre with my cheap coffee and laptop in their café. Until I was rudely plucked from my seat and repeatedly asked to move so that the geriatric ward of London assisted living could come and take my table. I held back tears as my pride repaired itself, and I eventually harrumphed and moved on from my mid-morning travesty. After that injury I made myself think forward to that night’s production of Henry IV at the King’s Cross theatre by DONMAR Warehouse theatre.  Thankfully this production did not disappoint.

What, Stage combat, again? How, and why so soon? Well if you didn’t understand my previous description of our class situation then you might need some help, friend. But yes, stage combat again! We spent the majority of our time really focusing on the rapier and dagger choreography. Sometimes I forget to breath, and by the end of the fight my body is like a wrenched up sponge, yearning for air. At the end of class, we performed our fights for everyone, which was a nice “pre-exam” test to give us an idea of how our nerves might feel. This was also our first time going “full-speed” without stopping. My adrenaline was definitely racing, and that helped my reactions come out louder and clearer, which then should hopefully help the relationship and story be very clear between me and my fight partner. I can’t believe the exam is so soon, it’s crazy and terrifying. So I’ll move on so I won’t have to think about it too much. On Wednesday night we saw the awesome performance of Nice Fish starring and co-written by Mark Rylance at the Harold Pinter theatre. It was a play about the ice fishers of the Northern mid-west and the many levels of boredom that are reached on those wide stretches of ice. Not necessarily about the boredom, but about what these fishermen may discuss, well, it’s more complicated. You’ll just have to read my performance response, so there. Unfortunately, Mark Rylance wasn’t signing autographs, so I paced outside in the frigid for nothing, huh? That’s fine, that’s fine. It really was a wonderful performance, and I’d like to buy the script.

On Thursday morning we had our last session with JP at SOHO studios! This session we focused on narrative voice overs and an introduction into the work of audio books. JP had us record two different clips from a documentary or a corporate voice over, and then we brought in our own samples to read from. I brought a section from Look Homeward, Angel, by Thomas Wolfe. “A stone, a leaf, an unfound door…” Such a melancholy section, but it spoke to me, so there it went. I’ve really enjoyed these sessions in the studio, they’ve been a great eye opener into the world of voice-over and voice-acting.       In Ben’s Shakespeare class we continued to work on scenes. We did two and half scenes today, and ours was the half. Me and my partner chose a scene from All’s Well that Ends Well. We realized that we hadn’t had any men as women yet in our class, so we decided to be the scene to do that. I play Bertram, the young rascal, and Josh plays Diana, the young chaste maid that Bertram unsuccessfully courts. It’s so much fun watching my scene partner discover the fun of gender bending in Shakespeare!

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Early Friday morning we drove to the lovely city of Bath for a very short overnight trip. Unfortunately, my tales of Bath will be quite short because I spent most of the trip asleep in our hostel because I was struck with a terrible cold. So if you want the adventure of a snot rag I might be able to fictionalize that, but for now I’ll spare you. On Saturday morning we took a tour of the historic Roman baths in the heart of the city. The baths are right next to the beautiful abbey, which has some gorgeous detail in their masonry on the inside. I’ve previously been to the Roman baths, but it was nice to see the beautiful large scale bath and the steam rising off of it like a hot cake. Amazing that thousands of years ago people were creating ways of leisure that we still make money off of today!  After our morning in Bath we drove to the Area 54 of England- Stonehenge. I felt so bad, because as we walked past these incredible stones, I could muster up nothing more than a “yep. That’s Stonehenge.” Probably because it’s so widely marketed across the world, so that when you actually see it in person I guess it’s a little underwhelming. We had some extremely beautiful sunny weather, but the hard grasp of winter wind had us by our skivvies, so I didn’t want to stay outside too long either. We returned to London by mid-evening Saturday night. Today I went to a very nice Evensong at Southwark Cathedral on the south bank. Kind of crazy to imagine such a sacred building in the heart of the sin and muck a couple hundred years ago.

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The sun sets faster every day, the days get colder by the hour, and I think I’m beginning to see a wrinkle- wait, no, not just yet! No worries on the last thing, but it really does feel like time has gone faster each year of college, so I can’t even imagine being able to remember my life 60, because everything will just go too fast! It’s hard to teach the self-discipline to just stop and look at your surroundings, especially when the expediency of the city pushes upon you.

 

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