Monday, February 14, 2011

Theatre, Camden Town, Bath, Stonehenge, and a whole lot of other randomness!

Arcola Theatre
Ensemble 52 presents, As We Forgive Them
by Richard Vergette
Directed by Andrew Pearson

Cast: Michael Anthony-Brown, Joe Sims
This was a really great new work.  It was at this little space that the theatre just moved into so it was not completely ready yet.  It was opening night of the show in this space and there were only about 20 people in the theatre, but it looked like it could only seat around 60.  The show was about an American congressman who supported the education of people with life in prison and was against the death penalty.   Then is daughter is murdered and so he is not a hypocrite he agrees to personally educate the man who killed her.  The show was an excellent example of stakes and status.  It was only two actors the whole show and they were both so committed.  They both had very distinctive idiosyncrasies that were constant though out the whole show.  It was my favorite play that I have seen here so far.  It was exciting to see such a new work from an upcoming company.  It was a play that really had you walking away with a lot of questions, and made you think for yourself.  If the theatre didn’t take an hour and 45 minutes to get to I would go to their other show there.  Plus on the train ride back one of the actors was on out train so we got to chat with him about the show, it was really fun.

The Palace Theatre
Pricilla Queen of the Desert the Musical      
This was a fun feel good show.  It was based off the movie and was about three Australian drag queens touring Australia in a bus they named Pricilla.  I don’t have as much to say about it.  It was a wonderful piece of fluff theatre.  The costumes were to die for and I’m glad I went. 

 The Vaudeville Theatre
An Ideal Husband
First of all, seeing Oscar Wilde in London is just plain cool.  Their wit seemed so smooth and effortless.  Everything they said was so high class yet casual.  It was funny yet it was very dry humor, but it was precise.  The battle of the words was quick and cunning. I loved listening to the langue of the actors when they were in a fight.  There was an air of superiority about everything, and it was not very often that they let the others see them loss their cool, at least the true wits didn’t.  I felt like I was being given a perfect example of how to pull of this style of humor.  It makes so much more sense seeing it after studying restoration comedy, Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward.  Now I just can’t wait to apply what I learned to some of my own work.

The London Comedy Club
Inkey Jones
Okay, so this was not a play but I’ll just stick it in this category.  I love standup comedy and this guy was great.  The “comedy club” was a room in a hotel that they rent out, but it was still a good time, plus it was only 7 pounds.  The guy was an insult comic and he picked on our group of American’s the whole time, me in particular.  He had about 5 people he came back to throughout the show to really pick on and I was one of them, and it was really fun.  He asked who my name was, and when I said “Alyssa” he decided I had a low and manly voice and decided to refer to me as “Ahhhhahwaa” for the rest of the show.  He then proceeded to ask me about my dating life and the decided that all the single guys in the club had to tell him their job and whoever had the coolest one would win Ahhhhahwaa.  He, of course he made fun of all the people’s jobs.  He deiced that the person who should kidnap me at the end of the night was the 30 something guy who also laughed about it but who I awkwardly smiled at and avoided after the show.  He told a lot of American jokes, like the fact that we teach our children to stop, drop, and roll if they were on fire.  He said that only in America would somebody be dumb enough to set themselves on fire and then try to continue to do something.  He also picked on a couple that had only been going out for a few months, a Belgium guy and his younger girlfriend, who he then decided that he was a pedophile and she was twelve, a guy at his stag party who he kept making gay jokes about, and a really posh girl.  It was a night to remember and reminded me that even though I’m a theatre major I was to see a lot of forms of performance art while I’m here, and at least a few more comedy shows.

Student Shows at Saint Mary’s University
The two shows that I’ve seen done here are put together a lot differently than back at Viterbo and I think there is a lot to learn from that. The first show I saw was called the A Political Cabaret and it was put on by the second year applied theatre students.  This was their show from last semester but they put it up again on campus to try to raise some money.  It was about an hour long I think and it was all sketches they wrote that had to do with politics,  most of them were funny but a few were more serious.  It was really cool because they devised it themselves which is something we don’t do that much of back at Viterbo.  There are advantages of working with a set script but this was something that got a whole different set of skills working that was very interesting to me.  I knew after seeing this that I was on the right track here.   
The other show I saw here was two student directed plays done together called Bouncers, and Shakers.  It was a fun bit of theatre in which both plays each had 4 characters, Bouncers being 4 men and Shakers being 4 females, who all played at least 3 roles in the show they were in.  Bouncers was in a club, and Shakers was in a cocktail bar.  I have to say that I’m really impressed with their student work here.  I think that the fact that they are more student run in their classes makes it easier for them to work on their own as students.  I think this is something Viterbo could improve on, here that have their own Drama Society which is constantly doing student run.  I know Viterbo has been trying to do something like this but it just seems to keep falling through and I hope my senior year it gets pulled up a little, or a lot.
New Things I have learned
·         I really enjoy little theatre’s doing new works more than the big skeptical shows.
·         I need to see more comedy here.
·         I want to do more student run work when I get back to Viterbo next year, and I’m already in talks with Sadie about doing a one woman show, this is just getting me more pumped and confident for it!

Museums and Art Galleries
The Victoria and Albert Museum
I’m not going to lie; I was really disappointed by this one.  I got so built up to see their fashion exhibit only to find out they were redoing it before the Olympics comes here in 2012 and it will not be open during our entire stay.  I wanted to see my costume history project in person, and had been looking forward to seeing this exhibit for months!  The museum was still interesting, but I was so let down about the fashion exhibit being closed that I didn’t really enjoy it. 

<The Chelsea Carpet from Iran made in 1500

The National Galley
I didn’t know what to expect going into this one but I absolutely loved it!  Some of my favorite paintings were: A Nobleman Kissing a Lady's Hand, by Longhi because I loved the dress in it.  Also, an allegory with venus and time by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Three Dancers in Violet Tutus by Degas, Ophelia among the flowers by Rendon, but seeing  umbrellas by Renoir was really cool because I used this painting in a design project of mine and seeing it in person was a little surreal.  Seeing a lot of these famous works in person was mind blowing to me.  There were works by Picasso and Monet and being one foot away from these works of art gives you such a different feel of them then any picture can emulate.  My next mission is to hunt down some of Watteau’s work when I go to Paris since he is one of my favorites!

< A painting I used for a disign of Hedda Gabbler and then saw in person, it's Umbrellas by Renoir
Camden Town!
This has been one of my favorite places by far!  Camden town is this market area that is a cross between a china town, huge farmers market, and something all its own.  There were so many sweet different areas with things to see, from punk rock shops to fake designer purses, from fancy cupcakes stands to Indian food, there were also free standing store, restaurants, pubs, comedy clubs, and even an art gallery there.  It was such a fun area and I will be going back there for sure.  Some of the places even offered student discounts!  I went with a group but ended up going off on my own, which was a good choice because there were literally hundreds of different shops and it was nice to be at my own pace.  My regret is not eating there because I had a miscommunication with the rest of my group and thought they wanted to eat later together in central London.  There were so many food stands there, and there was even Mexican food that looked good, and I haven’t had Mexican in over a month so I need to go back for some of that! 

<Fell in love with these watches!  I got two and am planning to get more, they were only 5 pounds!

Is one of those places I’m really excited that I got to see.  It was so windy that day that I felt like if I jumped up in the air I could have blown away.  I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite place to see, but it was pretty cool.

 This was a place that surprised me a lot!  I didn’t really even know anything about Bath before I went there.  I did a tour of Bath the same day as Stonehenge since they are only about an hour apart.  It is a really cool city that was built around these old Roman baths.  It was build around the 40 AD and the Romans set up this grand temple at as a large social area with pools, hot springs, and work out areas.  Then the city was built around it and the architecture if beautiful there.   I also had one of the best things I have ever eaten in Bath at Sally Lunn’s Bun’s.  It is this place that is 300 years old and had been known for the bread since it opened.  I got a large bun with cinnamon butter on it and it tasted like a gourmet cinnamon roll.  This was also a time where my independence here has gotten even stronger.  Nobody else wanted to go to this restaurant to I went by myself to it, even though it was a nice sit down place.   

<The main Roman Bath, Pool

 Random Section!!!!

*Since then I have been doing a lot more by myself and it is actually really nice.  I am now taking a whole weekend trip by myself to Manchester starting on the 18th of Feb!   I'm leaving on Friday and getting back on Tuesday. I'm staying in a hostel has got really great reviews and is in the center of the city.  Manchester in England's 3rd biggest city and I'm so excited to explore it.  I know I have to be safe, but it is going to be such a good growing experience for me to do this by myself!

*My hair does really well here, the humidity makes it really wavy, which is really nice because then I never have to blow dry it or straighten it.

*I have put on a few pounds here due to the amazing desserts and going out for drinks a lot more.  So this past week I have been jogging and started doing work out DVDs in my room.  I am surprised at how much I enjoy jogging outside; I used to be self conscious about jogging someplace that was not a gym but it is actually really nice to be outside.  I don’t care if people see me here because I don’t know them.  Plus it is such great weather for jogging here because it is about 40 degrees which is enough to keep you cool when you start running!

*I miss everyone from back home but there is so much to do here that I don’t know how I could ever go back to living in a small town, or even La Crosse.  Living so close to London makes me want to live in New York.  Even a place like Chicago seems too small after living so close to the city of London.

*I’m really growing as a person here, and I have only been here 5 weeks.  At the same time, I have already been here 5 weeks, and I only have 14 left, I’m already ¼ of the way done.  How do you go back to your regular life after being here?  I guess senior year will be crazy busy and then I will be thrust out into the real world, which is crazy to think about.  After I get back home I only have one year left till I am thrust into the ‘real world’ or as much or a ‘real world’ there is for a theatre major.  I better enjoy every second of this even more now after that realization!