The Final Weeks

Oops, I once again, did it again. Apologies for the silence on here, but the mix of the end of semester and the holidays has done a great job of taking up all of my time. As much as I may want to share every detail with you folks, since I have such a wide time span to cover I will only highlight the big-ish events that have happened since we last met. Met? Parted? Ah, who knows. This weekly update starts with Monday, the 5th of December-YIKES!


The week of December 5th-12th was filled with lots of finishing up. I had a final paper that was due for Intro. to Theatre History by Friday, and of course the endless amount of rehearsals for our Stage Combat test and Theatre Encounters performance. Lee (Intro. professor) gave us a list of prompts to choose from for our essay. I chose to write about how classical theatre can be just as relevant as contemporary drama. I used The Merchant of Venice, Father Comes Home from the Wars parts 1&2, and Henry the IV parts 1&2 as my examples. It definitely wasn’t my strongest essay; I’ll admit it freely. I’ve never been very good at technically sound writing, although if I really wanted to be I could probably work and practice to get better. Although you’d think over ten years of schooling would be enough practice, right? Guess not. I really enjoy writing these blogs, and the main reason I look forward to writing these is because I’m able to write in my own voice and not worry about the technicalities. I’d like to think I do a pretty good job of fooling people into thinking I’m astute person, but honey, there’s a big ol’ mess under this…messy… façade. If you re-read some of my blogs you’ll probably notice it, but my biggest flaw in my writing is my vagueness. I’ve almost always gotten the same feedback on essays: “Some nice ideas, but I didn’t really know what you were talking about because you didn’t explain the subject enough.” Fair enough, fair enough! I guess it doesn’t pay to just have the pretty ideas, huh? Anyway, I’m digressing too much, I apologize. I do better in class discussion because I’m able to develop my thoughts and become more concise in my opinions as the class progresses. I’m also able to feed off the ideas from others and form new opinions. Does it sound like I’m trying to make excuses for a lack of literary talent? Gosh darn it.

As a performance or performance exam moves closer and closer, I’ve found that it’s very easy to become stuck and lethargic in rehearsals. I get it, it’s the end of the semester, you’re tired and just want to go home and watch Netflix as your mom does your laundry. I get it! But my dudes, you gotta realize that everyone is feeling that way-especially your teachers. It’s not like they get to drop everything and go party after classes, they either have grading, more classes, or rehearsals-or just, LIFE! We all have to “deal” with life, and I’m finding it more and more annoying when people try to use “life” as an excuse not to put in the effort. Something I’ve been learning throughout my college years is that it’s all about effort. You get out what you put in. It’s a cliché saying, but it wouldn’t be cliché if it wasn’t true. Those who put in the effort, show the passion, and keep working, are the people you will remember and the people who will continually get work! It can really drive me crazy to try and sit and nod sympathetically as someone tells me about how unfair their life is, or how hard rehearsals are. I’m not saying that their rehearsals/lives aren’t hard, but it seems like the people who continuously work are also the people who don’t complain as much. There’s enough pain and suffering in this world, so why don’t we try and realize how good we have it? Especially around this time of year, folks. When did I turn into a phony inspirational speaker? Yikes, sorry. You’re not here to receive a lesson, you’re here too…I don’t know…why are you here? I personally found it hard to find the passion or inspiration to continue rehearsing, so I’m really just using this platform to give myself a lesson. Whenever I found myself sitting or just slopping around, my inner voice kept urging me to go explore-there’s so much of London you haven’t seen yet, AK! But-inner me, it’s, like, soooo cold outside…and Gilmore Girls is heerrree…sooooo. See? Even I, the magnanimous and magnificent AK (please realize my joke) lacks the motivation to do work. That actually happens to the “magnanimous” and “magnificent” AK all the time, sigh. Good grief this is a depressing post-apologies, people, apologies.

On Thursday (the 7th) was our final class and final for Shakespeare scene study with Ben. Because Josh and I started our scene the week before, we didn’t have to prepare a new scene (HOORAY) for this Thursday. Everyone was required to present a scene, however, so I did make a cameo in another group’s scene. Working on our All’s Well That Ends Well scene was so much fun, and I wish all experiences with Shakespeare could be this fun. However, that is not the case, as I know from personal experience. I think everyone did a pretty good job, actually! It was cool to see the growth in people’s performances, especially seeing a difference in people having an understanding of the text. Ben has been a really great teacher; I wish I could finish out the rest of the year in his class. I have learned a lot from his class, from my own scenes and from watching others perform. I was talking to some class mates about how we’re going to have to hold ourselves up to the “Ben Naylor Standard,” also known as WWBD? (What Would Ben Do?) when we return to our classes in the spring. I think it’s important to do textual work no matter what kind of show you’re in, it’s always going to help the actor’s understanding of their lines and the show. On Friday morning we had a workshop with the wonderful Jim (insert long and confusing last name here), who was Erik in Nice Fish! On Monday he said the the workshop would be about working on long-form improvisation, but because of the amount of people and the short amount of time that we had, I’m not surprised that we didn’t actually do long-form. Instead we worked on games that help keep the actor present and on their toes throughout the performances or rehearsals. He kept mentioning “the line” that we cross when we step onto the stage. So we played games where we crossed “the line” and had to be as natural and random as possible. Although was it trying? It was all about not planning actions and just going with a gut instinct. I’m excited to possibly bring back some of these games to the Catawba improv. team, which I was missing mightily during this workshop. It was a lot of fun! I think it was pretty noticeable who had a hadn’t done improv. work before, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good or bad thing. I’ve certainly noticed myself getting into a trap of pre-planning jokes or bits right before the show begins, so it was nice to focus on honest reactions. Friday night I ventured with some friends to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It was gorgeous, the neon lights have a strange beauty about them. Below the lights resides the drunk, the cranky, and the excited inhabitants of this wonder-world. Because it’s London, the prices for rides and food were pretty ridiculous, but we decided to go on a couple rides. I try to push away the thoughts about safety on these rickety death machines, but somehow these thoughts tend to linger. I mean, think about it-these rides get set up in a matter of days, and are moved around from place to place. How safe can they really be? There were walls made out of trash bag material in one roller coaster, so that definitely made me feel secure in my bearings, let me tell you! It’s also not the best idea to entertain thoughts of the zombie apocalypse as you’re walking out of the “wonderland” whilst being surrounded by thousands of people. I can go to some dark places, folks.

On Saturday I went to go see a performance of Kiki’s Delivery Service at the Southwark Playhouse. We were supposed to see this show on Thursday, but they cancelled it due to technical problems. It was kinda underwhelming, unfortunately. After seeing it I thought, well, what technical issues were there? I’ll talk about it more in my performance response, but it was sad to see a childhood memory mishandled. I finally went to a service at the famous Westminster Abbey, but I was pretty unhappy with the service. I was raised a traditional Episcopalian (a denomination of Christianity), which is pretty close to all of the Anglican services in England. But man, this service was so stuffy and uncomfortable. It was super cool to be able to sit right next to the altar, but this also meant I was sitting behind a couple of the ministers and I sat next to one of the readers. I’ve always been taught to sing loud ‘n proud, but this gentleman next to me really took that saying to heart. The warble was amusing, but I felt bad for giggling because this man was obviously just trying to raise his voice in prayer. Oops. I just felt so uncomfortable at this service. I know these large historic churches like Westminster or St. Paul’s cater to the tourists, but Westminster felt even more like a façade than a real community. The music was beautiful, but I definitely didn’t feel like I fit in with my worn down jean jacket that’s covered in patches. Ah, oh well, at least I got to experience a service there. Sunday afternoon was spent checking off some very touristy things around London. Our program gifted us with tickets to the London Eye at the beginning of the semester, so a friend and I decided to go ahead and use ours before the semester was over. We lucked out on having a very beautiful sunset at the late hour of 3:00 pm, although the sun doesn’t really set until about 4pm. Having a fear of heights, I was hesitant about the London Eye, but overall I felt okay. There were just a few moments where I had to sit and breathe deeply because I had looked out onto the ground or felt the capsule rock in the wind. The sky was a bright clear blue tainted by the burnt shade of the setting sun. The Thames glistened in the fading light and I realized that my semester was coming to an end. After the Ferris wheel we decided to take a short trip down the Thames because we had some tickets given to us. As much as I love sitting in confined areas with loud children, the boat ride was very nice. Although the sun was still partially in the sky, all the lights had been turned on, so London was looking especially beautiful.

I’m getting close, folks, I promise! Monday morning brought the long awaited final performance in Theatre Encounters. I was surprised at how many of our peers showed up to come watch our performances, it made my Grinch heart three times bigger. I thought they went pretty well! It was also great to get good feedback from our peers who had watched the performances. Watching the other group perform was such a sweet moment, I felt like a proud stage mom. We’ve watched each other develop these performances for weeks, so it was a pretty big moment to watch them perform knowing how far we’ve both come since our first rehearsals. I’m still really passionate about the story that we chose for our play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I kept picking at it later in life. I’d like to see it as a full production, either as a stage play or as a full devised piece. Who knows! On Monday afternoon we had our final rehearsal for stage combat. Our exam was on Tuesday morning, and it went by so quickly. Everyone in the group passed, but there are different levels of “passing.” There’s passing, passing with merit, and passing with distinction (the highest). I passed with merit, which of course was very nice, but you know me, if there’s a chance to self-criticize I’m going to take it.  I’m glad I passed with merit, but I could’ve worked a little harder, or, I dunno. I would’ve been nice to have received the highest passing. Oh well, we turn the page. I was sad to say goodbye to my two wonderful and inspiring teachers, I will definitely keep looking them up to see how their careers are going.

Rachel and Bethan, my two wonderful Stage Combat teachers 

Tuesday afternoon and night brought a wonderful farewell tea at the National Gallery, and a night of ice skating in front of the Tower of London. Although I did have my rollerblading days in the past, I’m afraid those skills didn’t really translate onto the ice rink. I only fell once, but it was a pretty solid fall. Apparently my tactic to stay stable is to viciously grab onto other people in hopes that they will fall and I will stay afloat. Not surprisingly my tactic failed me and I brought my friend crashing down on to me as the whole rink heard a loud thunk as my skull bounced off the ice. After a few seconds of birds circling my head I was fine, but I was definitely thankful when they announced it was time to get off of the rink.

Wednesday and Thursday were the days to pack up, clean up, and say our goodbyes. On Wednesday night the theatre kids had a very sweet goodbye session, and once again my Grinch heart grew with joy from those around me. Similar to summer camp, a lot of us didn’t start to become close until the last few weeks, so it felt like a rude interruption to have the semester end just as we were all starting to become closer. I felt overwhelmed by the love and support I have from my UConn and FSU families. I now have a whole chain of connections all up and down the East coast, which makes this semester seem even more incredible. Being one of the students thrown into this program, it meant a lot to be adopted by these folks. Thanks for the memories, thanks for the laughs, and I’m always here to provide entertainment or advice. I wasn’t expecting to feel so sad to leave my flat, but watching the decorations being torn down made me remember how temporary my living situation was. I sure as heck know that I’ll never be able to afford such a nice place if I’m in London again, so that hurt a little bit. Hah! My family came into town on Wednesday, so since Wednesday I’ve been swept up in travelling with them and getting to spend some quality time with our clan. Because this is mostly an “educational” blog I won’t put too much on here about it, but I’ll just say that I’ve had a really great time. We traveled around London, a looong day in Paris, and a couple days back in the lovely city of Edinburgh! For all of you mushy romantic types, I gleefully say that I am not a fan of Paris, and I will happily explain why. I wanted to like Paris, I really did. But between my visit in 2012 and this past week, I am still unhappy with this city. Paris has always seemed pink to me. The city’s aura, I guess, it’s like a sultry pink smog that suffocates the city. I dislike that despite of the city’s long history; they still decide on marketing “love” rather than their history. It just seems like such a façade, and that doesn’t appeal to me. If you like Paris, great, I’m not saying you’re wrong to like Paris, but Paris and I really just do not get along. Something about those silly baguettes perhaps….


Well, was that enough? I’ve still got four shows to catch you all up on, but I think that’s a plenty good place to stop my “weekly” update. I’ll be sad to stop writing these updates soon enough, but I think it would come off way too selfish if I continued to do these back home. Currently I am burrowed away in the airport awaiting my flight to Germany! It’s my first Christmas away from home, but I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be with a great friend of mine, so at least I won’t be alone. I still don’t really think that it’s hit me that I’m leaving London. Although I had quite the angsty period on Sunday as I sulked around the Southbank writing poetry and dreaming of a life living in central London. Come March it’s going to hit me like a ton of bricks, so…that’ll be fun. Alrighty. Onto the next blog, the next stage, the next project!


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