Monday, June 16, 2008

The Final Week

**NOT YET FINNISHED, still have to finish 'Friday' but will finish this soon

It's hard to believe, but my final week on this trip, my six week journey on this Theatre Study Abroad has come to an end.
Overall I'm in a good place about it. I miss my family and my friends (incredibly) and look forward to seeing their faces and just being around the familiar. I am ready to go home.
While equally, on the other hand--I am desperately looking at all the sites and places on this trip that I ever felt any connection to (big ben, hyde park, national theatre, trafalgar square etc.) and wondering how long it will be till I see them again, promising myself it won't be as long as I fear.

The final week has been just PACKED with events and things that I did, and I will attempt to once again draw them from the depths of my shallow memory.

TUESDAY: We had our Shakespeare paper due this day, and I wrote it on 'The Values of Women found in Shakespeare', and believe it or not, I really enjoyed writing this paper. I had a lot of things to say about this topic from the productions and plays we had read over the course of this program and so I was motivated to fill the pages with my thoughts other than writing a lot of B.S. I didn't really care about. Tuesday was the day I got lost around Earl's Court, I got some last groceries to tide me over to the end of the week and enjoyed the beautiful parks of London on this day.

WEDNESDAY: This was a nice day and so my roommates, Katy Wroble & Sadie Moore and I decided to use our passes for the London 'Eye'. But before that, I succumed to the peer pressure that was around me and went shopping at Primark.
"Shopping in London?" I know expensive right? But this place wasn't, it is well known in London for having really cheap/stylish clothes. Primark is a mad house! It took me back to the sale days at department stores that my mother and I would do in the early mornings, just to catch the really good bargains. There were sooooooo many people there, bussling about, trying things on right in front of you, snatching the last size right before your grasp. I couldn't help myself, it was so cheap (even with the conversion) and I bought some clothes. After that I met up with my friends at the Eye. This thing first of all, is HUGE! It's ginormous, it's hard to fully comprehend even when your standing at the base of it, it is so huge. We got in this small cockpit type room with a bench at the center. Slowly our holding began to climb up with the wheel. We were moving so slowly it was hard to tell that we were moving at all.
That evening we saw our final program play together as a group. It was our 13th play, and our final contemporary play. I loved it, it was like nothing I had ever seen, because it wasn't exactly a play. It was Story of a Rabbit by Hugh Hughes, and he is a performance "one-man-show" type actor. He wrote the script, he "memorized" it, and he fully interacts with the audience. He shakes your hand and greets you at the door, offers you tea, and asks you if you are late "Why are you late?" --the play was a complete performance art piece about the actor and his memories of the death of his father in 2001. He compares it to the only other death he's been a part of, and that was a pet rabbit that he was looking after. The play was hilarious, and we discussed how it would be almost impossible to create a tangible 'script' of the show. It simply isn't supposed to be re-produced, yet it is a play.

THURSDAY: We had our final day of class on Thursday. We had our oral presentations on this day, and we all had five minutes to talk about main themes re-occurring in contemporary theatre these days. I decided that a main theme that is re-occurring in more and more plays is the idea of the 'better-ment' of man. About the differences of what man is, what man could be and if there is a difference between those two different images of man AND if there is a difference is it okay what we are. On this day, my dad was visiting from a lay-over on one of his flights so he was in London and we were able to spend the day together. We wandered along Southbank, I took him to my favorite restaurant Wagamama's and showed him bits of London that I had learned of through my own experiences. Thursday also saw the arrival of Coldplay's 4th album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. I loved it!! I had been able to listen to it for a few days prior so I knew what I was getting I wouldn't love the music on a coldplay cd already. It was wonderful to have that Coldplay CD in my hands though.
That was the day I got lost around Edgeware and Finchly area...other than getting lost, the rest of the day was wonderful day spent with my dad and Coldplay's sweet serenades!

FRIDAY: Friday saw us off to Oxford! This was a great day! I was walking along with my program friends in the steps of literary genius's that Oxford had in it's history. I walked the footsteps of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Pullman, Lewis Carol and the imagination of J.K. Rowling. The place had such energy, and it was incredible! All the Cotswold stone, and architecture just added such a history and reverence to the place. Oxford was definitely one of my favorite sights on this trip. Having just finished Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, it was real fun walking around picturing Lyra's oxford, walking along the rooftops. We also so a lot of film locations used in the Harry Potter films, like the main (not grand) staircase that's in the 1st movie, the infirmary, and the library. We went to the church where Lewis Carol got some of his inspiration for Alice through the Looking-Glass. Even more...I went on a pilgrimage almost to pay my respect to my most honored literary hero, J.R.R. Tolkien. We went to the pub where he and the rest of the 'Inklings' which included my other hero C.S. Lewis, would get together every Tuesday, share a drink and discuss ancient lore and languages. I also managed to get out to see his grave and pay my respects there!

SATURDAY: THIS DAY WAS CRAZY!! A bunch of the girls here and I planned this day for our "outing excursion of wonder". We reserved seats through a coach tour company 'Evans&Evans Tours', and we were off to Windsor Castle, home of the Queen, Bath (home of the Roman/Georgian baths) and STONEHENGE!!! Windsor castle was really cool, all set up on the hill. The surrounding town was really cute too. We wandered in through Windsor Castle and learned how to spot the difference in the flags on whether the Queen was there or away. (She was away, @ Buckingham Palace getting ready for Bush's visit). We visited the different rooms and saw the Doll House given to Queen Mary. This was a gift given to her by the people, different tradesmen created the biggest, most detailed miniature doll house. With tiny vacumes, sinks, lights, tables & chairs...the doll house even had electricity and complete and full plumbing!!! I would live there.
Then we got back on the bus. I really enjoyed myself, because I was in the front and had great views. Some of my favorite parts of this trip have been my opportunities to go outside of London to the quieter countryside of England, we drove through Somerset (where they filmed Hot Fuzz) and all these little towns...I saw sheep, and patch worked fields, thatched roof cottages with white washed walls. Ever reaching, ever stretching fields after fields as we made our way to Bath. I was really excited to see this city, not only is it an incredibly historical city (with the Roman baths, the Georgian/Neo-Classical architecture, and WWII history) but also it's literary significance, Jane Austen basing many of her novels in the city of Bath, having resided their for a time herself. Bath has definitely been one of my favorite sites visited so far. It was beautiful! The gorgeous buildings, all modeled in a very classic, cotswold stone. We wandered through the Roman baths, still with the steady green water. We saw the 'Sacred bath' with the gases still bubbling up from below. I drank the water offered from the spring, just like the aristocratic vacationers before me, coming to bath for my health, to relax and to drink 'the cures' to feel the health benefits. I visited the house Jane Austen lived in during her stay in Bath, which is now a Jane Austen literary museum. They had readings of Persuasion while I was there, and tons of posters of Mr. Darcy...I was tempted to buy one, but I resisted. After that it was back on the bus, and on our way to Stonehenge. Again, more gorgeous countryside...I loved our tour guide...this woman was so funny, she had a big fluff of white hair and she was from Scottland so she had a lovely accent.
"Did any of you drink the Cures? You know you definitely should, see Jill here (points to the driver) she's been drinking them and she looks great! And she's 95 years old!" ha ha ha. She had a lot of really interesting things to say, she was great at her job. I saw the Westbury White Horse on the plains of Salisbury--and slowly Stonehenge made it's way into view. I loved seeing Stonehenge. It was bigger than I'd imagined, and yet exactly as I pictured. I was on this tour with friends from the program Katy Wroble and Magen...when we got out of that bus and went to walk around the stones...we got so hyper! It was just so amazing, these beautiful towers of life in it's earliest stages---it was just an incredible sight.
That night, we went out clubbing for our final Saturday night in London. I had a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, but I remembered why clubbing isn't one of my favorite things...'Man Sharks'. Guys that just stand around watching you dance...bugs me, DO SOMETHING, don't just stand there. We had fun though, I really liked the club we were at, it was called 'The Moose', and it apparently plays Alfred Hitchcock movies on it's screens 24/7. (That's my kind of place) it was playing 'Rear Window' when we were there. It as a fun night to spend out with the people I've met on this program.

SUNDAY: Sunday was a real catch up day for me, as I began to get everything in order and make a priority list of things I absolutely couldn't go home without seeing. I's true, you can live here for a month and a half and NOT see everything that London has to offer. I was bummed at first, some great things that I'll have to leave before seeing, but then I realized it'll be great to look forward to it when I return. I set off that morning to 'Speakers Corner'. Now...let me explain what that is, because before I came here I had never heard of it. Speakers corner is held every Sunday morning/afternoon near Marble Arch (northeast) corner of Hyde Park. It has so done since the beginning of the 1900's. Basically, you go to speakers corner...if you've got something to speak your mind about/complain about/preach get up on your soap box (literally, men had step ladders) and start talking. At first I was totally intrigued in this idea. A total free speech zone, where people go to hear other peoples converse and where speakers get a chance to just get stuff off their chest. I was warned of course that Speakers Corner is often controversial...people don't always want to hear what is being said. But it is a total free speech zone, including the other half (the listeners) you are free to heckle and bicker, and shout back at them if you don't agree. So I was a mad house. My first idea's were, "Yeah, free speech, idea's...people go to talk about things maturely and converse. No....people were arguing...not even arguing...because no one was listening to each other at all, they were too busy shouting. Muslims attacking Christians, Christian's attacking the other, Anti-semitic, Racists, Communists, Sexists...they all were there! Some people were standing around offering 'Free Hugs', while the other gave proof why women should be subservient to men. One man, I enjoyed would just stand there and say in a soft voice "Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you...." over and over and over again. One boy was my age and he was actually speaking some sense, trying to tell people to focus on the similarities of religion rather than the hurt and the differences. No wonder people have such distorted views on religion as they do...It was crazy. Eventually I just had to leave, no "higher thinking" was going to happen there. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself...but kind of like Alice did I'm sure with the hare and Mad-hatter.

After that chaos I decided to go to a place of peace and solitude. So I went back to the Tower of London. I didn't get to stay very long the first time I went, so I went back to see the historical buildings I missed like the White Tower, the Bloody Tower and many others. One of my favorite things about london (among many) are just the number of historical sites you can visit...there are hundreds! I loved walking along through the tower gates and see the place where Ann Boleyn was beheaded, where the two young princes were 'murdered', and the huge ravens. I saw the Royal Jewels and took some home with me in my bag....
I wonder if they'll be missing those...

Today has been more of getting things checked off my list...buying a bunch of treats to take home so if you really want some (and my family doesn't get to them first) hit me up. I went to Harrod's today....and then this evening I had quite an adventure which I will quickly fill you up on.
COLDPLAY!!!!!Most of you probably know how much I love Coldplay's music and how they are my like #1 band, well I got to hear them tonight....through the venue's doors...ha ha.
Coldplay to premote their new album Viva la Vida or Death and all His Friends, which as I stated earlier came out on Thursday over here
- they are throwing like 3 free concerts. One here (this evening) one tomorrow night I believe in Spain, and then one in a few weeks @ Madison Square Gardens in New York.
"Ellesse, why didn't you get tickets?"
Well I couldn't. They were giving them away for FREE, but by contest drawing only. I entered into the contest many times, but unfortunately my name just wasn't chosen. I couldn't even buy tickets off anyone, as the winner's name were put on the tickets and you could only get in with that and I.D. stating you were who you said you were. So, though their loyal fan was coincidentally in the same city as their performance I couldn't get in. I though I would swing by though to show my loyalty. It was so great! There were a lot of people standing outside, and I walked around the building to the side doors and was totally able to hear EVERYTHING! I heard the last three songs they played and the encore. They placed "Strawberry Swing" and "Lovers in Japan" and "Fix You", Chris was right there! I kept loitering around like the others after the show (even got invited to the after party) and who should I see with my own eyes!!! None other than Guy Berryman (bassist, and the cute one) and Johnny Buckland (lead guitarist) come out of the side door. It was incredible!! My favorite band, my favorite musicians...what a terrific night. I wandered home and said goodbye slowly to my beautiful city. I will return soon.
I head to the airport tomorrow morning and meet up with my dad. We'll fly to Calgary, where I'll stay until finally finishing my journey on Wednesday back in Salt Lake City.
Thank you for everyone who read and kept up with my blog. I kept getting feedback and encouragement and it was really nice to be so supported, I was very surprised.
I've decided to (as much as I can) keep it going. I'll certainly not have as many important events going on (at least not as much as London can always seem to offer) but I like doing a weekly wrap up journal entry or if you ever want to check in, I will continue to write. I also plan soon to do a "looking back" entry, where I look over some of the things I've learned over this trip.

Love you all!
I'll be seeing a lot of you soon, to which I am very excited.
I'm going to miss B.B.C.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Coldplay, Tate, Sherr, Hamstead, Kew and you!

Another week has flown by and I'm down to MY LAST WEEK HERE! oh no!!!!

I'm actually moderately alright about it. I have no regrets. I came what I came to see. Come the 48hrs before I have to head home I might start hyperventilating but it will still be with the obtained knowledge I came here to recieve. The theatre I want to persue, the streets where I want to live...the beautiful countryside that has been growing here for years and years, and for years and years to come. I WILL RETURN!
This week like other's was packed. I've spent a few hours in this horrible computer lab already when I could be walking the streets of London, selling my talents to the highest bidder, so I'm going to do this as quick as I can. I've been in here for hours writing and finishing my final paper for my Shakespeare in Literature class. It's a 6 page paper, and I've chosen to write about "The Different Values of Women found in Shakespeare". I'm going to compare and contrast it over the six shakespeare plays that we've seen. So far I have 5 pgs. mfghrrf.

MONDAY: I did a lot of stuff on my own this day. Which I really liked. I finished some galleries that I had gone to and had to leave early. I went to the National Gallery and walked among the greats of Da Vinci, Rembrant, Van Gogh, Van der Weyden, Monet and others. After that I went to the National Portrait Gallery. I went to dinner at literally one of my favorite U.K. chains, Wagamama's. I LOVE WAGAMAMA's--it's like a japanese, noodle galore place...they have this drink...this apple lime drink and it's foamy and gritty and DELISH-OLUSS. That night Katy and I met up for the National Theatre's Pitman Painters. Oh my goodness I loved this play! It's definitely the kind of play that I could be see being made into a movie in the future. It focuses on the art works of the Pitman coal miners, who knew nothing about art until they started taking 'Art Appreciation' lessons. In their free time off work, they would study the greats and begin to paint. Their artwork started to gain more and more prestige, showing the nitty-gritty factual truth that was their working class. It was a bitter real, and hilarious play and I really really loved it. Katy and I were heading back from the theatre and we met these really cool guys, Kenny & Jamie. They took us to a bar "bought us drinks", ha ha...try a water and a coke. But they were really nice...I genuinely enjoyed myself that night with these guys--they were really funny and entertaining. We stayed out late, and had a great round up to the night.

TUESDAY: That day in class we discussed the plays we would be seeing throughout the week and also discussed Troilus & Cressida that we would be seeing that night. I was looking forward to seeing it, as I had only just read the play and had never seen it or learned about it otherwise. Afterclass, we headed back to the flat...did laundry/made lunch and then headed to the Barbican Center Theatre. The blog following this one discusses more the events of that night, which included being in the same location AGAIN as the leads of the movie Once, we caught their last song even! I so wished I could have seen their show, but I was seeing another great show, Troilus & Cressida by the Cheek by Jowl Company, a very revered company. The Barbican Center used to be the main performance home for the RSC, but has since been used for many other performance companies. Our director, Tim Slover, was a big fan of The Cheek by Jowl company, for their pursuit of the 'harder/problem' plays...many of Shakespeare's but also others like Andromaque, and Boris Godunov by Chekov. The stage alone was amazing! You entered, and there was seating on both sides, with a long, catwalk like stage going between the two sides. It created this affect that at times if one was talking at one end of the 'stage' and the other character was at the created this 'tennis game' type movement of your head...switching from side to side to side. It was wonderful though..I saw Paris's bum! Still not a big fan of Troilus & Cressida but I definitely loved their representation of it.

I'm trying to recall what I did on Wednesday and I'm having some difficulty. I think I did museums...there's a lot of them to do!

THURSDAY: Thursday was packed! First off we had class....I mean we always had class, but we had actual class that day (HA-get it! I'm so tired?!) We ended early to get to our matinee of Fat Pig by Neil Labute. Neil Labute had weeks earlier came to our class for a personal lecture and got us all great free tickets! I really enjoyed the play--it had memorable faces in it--and though it made me hate men and my body at times, it was one of my favorite plays we'd seen so far. The plot focuses around the usual 'boy meet's girl' plot line, Tom meets Helen, a very friendly obese woman. The plot follows how he falls in love with her, but starts to feel the pressure from her and his co-workers about her appearance. Can he live up to the flack? Well he doesn't, and it's a play about weakness and what we judge on successful=slim/athletic and good looking, charismatic etc. Two of the actors were from Love Actually--and the lead (Tom) was played by Robert Webb (WHO MIGHT HAVE CLIMBED TO MY TOP 10 OF ATTRACTIVE WANTED MALES) who is also in some British sitcoms. Oh, how I loved him. He's so attractive, even though his character at the end makes me want to become a nun. We had a few hours afterwards to get some things to eat. While walking around searching for a place to eat, the dork in me spotted the location they filmed the 'descent into Ministry of Magic' from London area! I freaked out and started taking pictures. We found a pub of our choosing to which I had the 'Bangers and Mash' yum yum...and then we were off to the national Theatre again for Michael Frayn's Afterlife, which starred Roger Allam perhaps known from V for Vendetta. Funny story about Roger Allam, I in fact already saw him after seeing God of Carnage a few weeks back, and we had a little eye contact thing going on (ooglie eyes!) as we passed each other on the sidewalk. I was on my way to the stage door to stalk Ralph Fiennes when we passed each other. After I passed him, I turned around to signify to my friend Katy Wroble who that was. I began already to point and mouth "It's Roger Allam!" Only then did I realize that Roger Allam had also turned around to look at me as well, and was watching me pointing and gabbing. I felt like a fool.
SO it was an interesting play, certainly not a Noises Off, but I liked it. It modelled itself greatly after the play Everyman a play I don't know very much about except that it sounds like 'Meet Joe Black' to me....but HEY! guess who else should be viewing our same performance but the writer Michael Frayn, AND the Prime Minister himself, GORDON BROWN! Who I saw, with mine own eyes! I've seen so many influential people in such a short time, I can hardly handle it!

FRIDAY: Friday in the morning began with a masterclass, a lecture with Anthony Sherr. Anthony Sherr is a very famous actor known for his amazing portrayal of Richard III, the bottled spider! He had a lot of really good advice and inside tales of his various work throughout the realm of theatre and the dangers of cold coka cola. After the master class we got some lunch at Borough Market (market of my dreams!) I got the yummy pork and apple/barf sandwhich, got some yogurt covered pineapple at Cranberries and then visited the Tate Modern. I saw Picasso's, Magritte's, Warhol's, Liechtenstein's and much much more. The very environment was enthralling--this old huge empty factory type building, it was massive! I couldn't get over the size of it.

SATURDAY: Headed off to Portobello Market in the morning and it was so much better than the first rainy day I went to Portobello. Strolled along and had a nice "camera is still fine" sunny day. The weather has been so nice these past few days. Afterwards, my friend Katy and I set off for Hampstead Heath. My GOODNESS! I thought Kew was a gem of nature's glory, Hampstead Heath was GORGEOUS! And it just went on! On and on and on, hills rolling after hills, and high grass swaying after each other. I loved looking at people out with friends, having picnic's with their families...flying kites, people reading on their own where their heads are barely visible over the tall grass. We roamed around that beautiful area all day...getting lost, and seeing all the varying tall tree's. As it got darker, we made our way back to our flat. I loved that area.

SUNDAY: Today was a lot of fun. We set off early this morning, for a second look at Kew Gardens. When we were at Kew last time there were some exhibits like "The Treetop Canopy Walkway" were not yet open--so we went off again and it was lovely to be back in that area. I honestly think that Kew is one of my favorite parts we've done on the trip so far. The Treetop Canopy was such a sight to see, high up to the top of the tree's..I enjoyed myself, finding a quite place and started making an outline for my paper, wrote in my journal--and ooooh! I saw a fox for the first time in my least in real life. It ran right past me...kind of scared me actually...but then I figured that it was probably just off to do a disney movie with a hound or something about prejudice or something...whatever. Afterwards I went back to Hampstead Heath, after learning that a certain 'Coldplay Bakery' was right around where Katy and I were the day before. Apparently coldplay bought this old bakery and renovated it for a kind of 'creative area' and recording studio for their recent album. Some people on the web did some digging after they saw an interview where they filmed a short bit of it from the outside. So I went there, and took some paparrazi type photographs. They probably weren't anywhere near there at the moment, as their only there for recording sessions, but it was nice to get a bit of Coldplay history. It was such a quiet reserved place, you wouldn't even have known it was there just walking by. It was a wonderful geek fest for me. So I came back here...started working on my paper, and here I am now, and it's almost two in the morning.

I am going to Bedfordshire. I'm going to really live it up this week! Still a lot of things to look forward to. My dad comes to visit me this Thursday- and our group goes to see another Barbican show on Wednesday. Friday our group is going out to Oxford, and I'm going to have another geek fest. Doing like a Tolkien/C.S. Lewis/Pullman and Harry Potter tour...something like that. This Saturday I plan to go visit Windsor Castle/Bath/and Stonehenge.

I return home June 17th--lot to do before then!
Love you all
Thinking of you all the time...most of you!

COLDPLAY COMES OUT IN 4 DAYS! I've been listening to the album in it's entirety on myspace and it's wonderful!

"Look, maybe all those other boys at work at bookshops do what they want, but you live under my roof! You follow my rules! This isn't Waterstones!"-Black Books

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

small world

So interesting stuff...funny the way the world works.

So before I left for England, the friday before I took off I was getting some errands done and I was down at the Gateway in Salt Lake City, as I was leaving I met Glen Hansard and
Markéta Irglová
, the leads of the movie they made that got a lot of awards Once. They were on their own. I don't know if anyone knew who they were or if just no one was harassing them, but I went over and told them how much I loved the film and their music.

Talk about a small world though because last night, our group went to go see Troilus & Cressida by the Cheek by Jowl Company @ the Barbican Theatre. Which first of all, was incredible. that same Barbican center, they were there again! We were both in the same theatre building, and they were playing that night. So yeah...who knew...small world.

Oh...and something else quite funny. A few weeks ago, when I went to go see Buckingham Palace for the first time, they were doing 'The Changing of the Guard'. There was a band playing outside the palace, and we soon began to hear some recognizing tunes. Some very recognizing tunes which included the Indiana Jones know "Buh buh duh bah! buh buh dah! buh buh duh bah! bah buh dah buh bah!" And which was QUICKLY followed by my personal favorite: The Imperial March, from Star Wars. Great Britian...great job, let's play outside your Buckingham Palace Darth Vader's theme of tyranny and dictator power.

ha ha
I love this place.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Willies, shrews, Beatles and Bibles?

It's time for another weekly re-cap!!!

A week and a day really, my apologies for not being able to write up last night...our flat was having some serious wireless issues and it took me like two hours just to upload the pictures I needed to. So hence, the weekly recap is being written today. My plans today following are to go to some of the museums and galleries that I didn't finish. I'm going to finish the National Gallery and then make my way over to the National Portrait Gallery, and then if I have time to the John Sloan house. Tonight, my friend Katy and I have tickets to go to The Pitmen Painters which is a play currently playing at the
National Theatre, about a group of men in the 1930/40's who worked their whole lives away in the mines, and then during the night and whenever they had spare time they would get together to talk about art, and began to paint themselves, and today some of their work is greatly revered. So enough about that...what about last week?

MONDAY: Monday saw us off early in the morning to our trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, the world of Shakespeare! We headed off from the Marylebone station, stopping first to get another of our growing addictions a 'Cornish Pastys' for breakfast and we got on the train. This was my first train ride (like actual 'purposeful' train ride) anywhere! I had been on old fashioned train rides with my mother and on the tube and subways and stuff, but this was the first 'destination bound' train ride. It was so wonderful to wip through the country side on our hour and a half ride to Warwick. We were off to Warwick first to stop and visit Warwick Castle. Now, I don't really know what I was expecting. I think I was kind of just expecting ruins or something like that...this place was huge!
It was such a gorgeous overcast day, that the tops of the towers seemed to be just inches from the clouds. Warwick Castle sat upon a little grassy hill, and the long grass just swayed and twisted with the wind, it made the castle look like it was floating. "Castle on the clouds!" I loved this place. Apparently it was miserable that day, raining and cold, but I didn't feel a thing. The wind was so crisp and made it feel almost as if this was the same exact atmosphere and weather they would have had back in the day. Warwick castle had gone through many different periods of renovations so it was interesting to see the different stages of it's history. For instance the traditional castle life it would have received, and also the Edwardian period, in which it was inhabited by another family just after the Victorian period. The grounds around this castle were beautiful, huge tree's taking me back to my years in the pacific northwest. That's what the weather should be like! I'm done with dry heat. So I had a blast. We boarded the train again for just another 45 mins and we were in Statford. By this time though, my wet clothes, wet socks and wet shoes were finding me cold and unhappy. We all trekked across the town to our bed and breakfast. Our group was split in two and katy and I shared a room at the 'Virginia Bed and Breakfast'. First off, I loved how Stratford-upon-Avon was like Shakespeare land! All the little stores, restaurants and inns had little Shakespeare names; Iago Jewelry, Cordelia Clothing, Twelfth Night Bed & Breakfast, Music is the Food of Love etc. So we unpacked, tried to dry off, and I had a hot shower that didn't scalled me. Katy noted something that night that was starting to bother us about the U.K. if anything could....most of the sinks here have the two faucet system, that never use to bother me you have to run your hand under both of them for a mix of what. No that doesn't work here, cause the hot one is always scalding!! We hurried out with our umbrella's to walk to the town's Trinity Church and saw the place where Shakespeare and members of his family are buried. The Trinity church at that time were doing a 24/7 reading STRAIGHT of the bible. They had been reading for like 3 days and two nights already STRAIGHT and were in Ruth, the next day after when we visited again they were in Proverbs. They were doing this to raise funds for their church which needed repair and were hoping to raise 2.5 thousand pounds, I thought was such a great idea and a huge undertaking. That night we went to the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company's) Courtyard Theatre and saw Merchant of Venice, I really enjoyed this performance...surprisingly it didn't top my list of performances I had seen of Merchant, but it was still great. At one part, where Portia's suitors come to pick the correct casket to win Portia's hand in marriage, part of the stage balcony would lift up to show like 40 water glasses, each being played by create that ringing "song of the sphere's" it was such a neat affect. Each of the caskets (one of gold, one of silver, one of lead) were set in ice, making Portia like the 'ice queen'. When Bassanio picks the correct casket and goes to kiss Portia, all the glass on the stage shattered, it was so neat. I went straight home after that, had a hot shower that didn't scalled me (yes my wounds are slowly starting to disappear) and we went to bed after a great day.

TUESDAY: I LOVE BED AND BREAKFAST'S. We awoke the next morning and went down stairs to cereal and a hot english breakfast, hot was wonderful. We got dressed and walked a good fifteen minutes to the little outlet town where Ann Hathaway's cottage (Shakespeare's wife). This was such a great walk, everything was so green and it reminded me of the little sidewalks that wound through white rock B.C. and I loved seeing the fields of boys playing football, and sheep and the forest beyond, where Shakespeare got his inspiration for his Midsummer's Night Dream forest. The Ann Hathaway house was a beautiful hatched roof house, with a springing English garden all around it. Every now and then beyond there would be a statue from one of Shakespeare's plays and it was just a wonderful environment to be a part of. We walked back to Stratford and went to the Shakespeare museum, the birth house of Shakespeare, the Nash House & New Place (Where Shakespeare's Granddaughter Elizabeth lived) and also to the Halls Croft house, where Shakespeare's daughter Susannah lived. I got to see one of the Shakespeare Folio's, and atmosphere in which Shakespeare created his multiple works. I took some time to walk along the outskirts of the river Avon, and around the town. It was a really nice change from the beat of London to this quieter place in england. I just couldn't get over the beauty of it. That night we went to our second play while in Stratford which was The Taming of the Shrew. Now...this has been one of the most impacting performances I have seen since I was here. It was in no way the happy-go-lucky version of Taming that I was expecting or had experienced. For those of you who know the story; Taming of the Shrew starts off with a prologue about a slothful lustful character called Christopher Sly. He passes out after a night at the tavern, and a wealthy lord and his men play a trick on him and when he awakes they convince him that he's a wealthy lord too, and he has all these servants and such to wait on him. Well in this production it starts off Soho London with a lot of strip clubs and prostitutes and such...and Christopher Sly's character attacks a prostitute...they pull him off her and beat him up/toss him out when he can't pay his bill. A wealthy 'lady' and her men come upon him and plan to do the same to him. He's convinced and immediately wants to lay with his lady (who in his opinion then he hasn't slept with in 15 years) to delay him..they present him a play, which is where the received Taming of the Shrew story comes in. Well they did...and this truck of 'players' pulls onto the scene and they all spill out! It's a huge scene! They're dancing, being pushed in on gondola's, bringing on set pieces of Italy, singing Italian, playing mandolins...and all while Christopher Sly's character is watching, they're putting on a play for him. It's very
Commedia dell'arte in the costuming and it's appearance is just as you would have expected from Taming, even the characters. Bianca is of course sickingly sweet, Lucentio is in tights and is playing the "typical prince" card, and Katherine is such a shrew she's jumping on men's backs, beating them and stereotypical type characters. A twist comes in the plot, where the players grab Christopher Sly, teach him how to speak the text and HE becomes Petruchio. The play unfolds, with Petruchio beginning to tame Katherine...but he's harsh. Too harsh...the play slowly becomes more about Christopher Sly's world about what women should be and less and less the jolly world the players first created. Katherine began as a firebrand horse, wild and bold...and by the end she is completely broken, trembling and subservient. Her last monologue:
"Thy husband is thy Lord, thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign...." speech was like...really hard to swallow. She was so different from the woman she once was. But the plays overall message wasn't that women should be subservient servants...You see has Petruchio/Christopher Sly started controlling the play and spinning it to fit 'his fantasy' it became less and less how the play originally began. Even the costuming started to become more and more modern. Till at the very end, everyone was back into modern dress, and the men were looking at the widow and Bianca like they were also disobedient and will have to be tamed as well. The end of the play was one of the most powerful for after Katherine's speech and the typical 'end' of the show...Petruchio takes Katherine away to 'consummate' their marriage, she of course is completely beaten by then and will not fight back...the players stop pretending, they haul Petruchio/Christopher Sly off her and rid of him of his "costume" and get back into the truck, the player who played Kate giving him the biggest 'death look' I've ever seen, and they leave him almost naked on the stage with this look of confusion and fear on his face. The play was almost saying "this was the destructive world he created, but we're not standing for it anymore". It was a completely original production and am still blown away by it.

WEDNESDAY: Wednesday we got back on the train, said goodbye to Stratford-Upon-Avon. This was a busy work day for me. I unpacked, did laundry, wrote in my journal, worked on a paper for class etc. A bunch of us had a movie night, and watched TV. There are some great commercials in the U.K. You'll be watching a commercial, completely captivated...and then the product it was actually advertising comes up on the screen and your like "Viagra? Really?!?!" It's fantastic.

THURSDAY: Thursday we had class and discussed we had a lot of things to discuss. We talked about Merchant of Venice and only scratched the surface of our discussion we would have for Taming of the Shrew. Afterwards our Contemporary Genre class we had a special important guest speaker. He had been a student of Tim Slover's @ BYU and was in London for the production of his play 'Fat Pig' into London which he got us free tickets to, and we're seeing Thursday. Who else but playwright Mr. Neil LaBute, author of many controversial and stirring plays; Shape of Things, In the Company of Men, Bash, Distance from Here and director of such films as Possession and Wicker Man. I really enjoyed his lecture, just talking about the hard work and how you need to 'be brave'. I also liked his views on contemporary theatre, he said in an article 'How American Theatre Lost It':

Theatre is not dying. We hear this every so often and have self-important conferences to defend this or that. Theatre is a resilient little s*** of an art form that will go on long after any of us are around to worry about it. But it can get stuck, and I believe American theatre is currently in danger of this. (I include myself: in fact, I'm there near the front, perpetrating the same crimes as my brothers and sisters.)
Today, we worry about what our subscription audiences will think of us doing Chekhov instead of Shakespeare. We think we'd better have a family show for Christmas and a comedy in the spring. All well and good, but if this is how you like your entertainment, you're probably already dead - you just don't know it yet. So go back to the theatre, audience members everywhere, and get your hands dirty. Sit closer than you usually do. Smell the actors and make eye contact and let a little blood splash on your hem. Give the musicals a break for a while: those punks are rich enough. Let us know that if we are brave enough to write about the stuff that matters, then you'll come and watch. I may never fight a battle, or run for office, or help an old lady across the street - but when I sit down and put pen to paper, I can promise to write about a subject of some importance, and to do so with honesty and courage. The time for fear and complacency is past. Bravery needs to make a comeback on both sides of the footlights, and fast."

I liked that.
After class we headed off to the British Library, and I cant believe I saw so many priceless international treasures. I saw another Shakespeare folio, I saw ancient bibles of different faiths and countries/cultures. I saw original Jane Austen's, Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carrol's Alice and the Looking Glass, I saw the original manuscripts of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel. I saw the envelopes and scrapped bits of paper that the Beatles scribbled down their first impressions of their songs, including Michelle, Help, Yellow Submarine, and others. I saw the Magna Carta, the illuminated Bible...the list went on and on. That night...I fulfilled a geek notch in my belt. I went with another girl in the program to THE LORD OF THE RINGS the MUSICAL!! wooooooooooooooo!!!
ha ha ha, this was everything I expected it to be...not groundbreaking on any front, but I was entertained...the spectacle aspect of this show was stupendous, the puppets and the set was like nothing I had ever seen and it was interesting for me to make the comparison of the great theatre I had seen, and then witness just what Neil Labute was talking about with the big 'musical hustlers' making all the money they can with nothing but some story line and lots of light and sound. There's so much better theatre out there, and no one is seeing it.

FRIDAY: We had class this last Friday too to make up for not having it while we were in Statford-upon-Avon. We prepped ourselves for the plays we would be seeing over the weekend; the National's Harper Regan and the Globe's King Lear. After class I signed up for a masterclass with a few other girls from my program, and we attended this master class which was being taught by a woman who is the Director of Voice at the Guildhall Academy of Music and Drama in London Patsy Rodenburg...I was getting a class from her! I was getting a lesson in breathing, voice, and articulation from the same woman who taught and worked with Dame Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Nicole Kidman and many others....including Orlando Bloom (barf). This was a fabulous workshop. I learned a lot of great tricks that I can't wait to show some of my school chums back home and stuff like that. That night we ate at Waggamama's which was a DELICIOUS noodle place, aurhg! I loved it. Afterwards we went to Harper Regan. This was a very modern contemporary play about people and the choices they make in the 'absence of God'. I wrote a little about this theme, which is being showcased in more and more plays, and my thoughts about it. Mainly the play Harper Regan centered around a mother who leaves home and work (though she's warned she will loose her job if she does) to visit her dying father. He's dead before she arrives, and it becomes a spiral of different characters as she tries to decipher what is truthfully 'right' because she experiences it for herself, and sees it as 'right'. The ending scene shows her making breakfast for her family, and the act of attempting to give to others, and make things better for her family overall. It was a rather sad play, but I liked it's finishing message.

SATURDAY: What a great day! We started off taking the tube to Richmond, which was a very posh area...kind of like the Beverly Hills of London. At Richmond we boarded a BOAT! and floated along the river Thames to our next destination Hampton Court. There were so many beautiful houses along the river as we floated along...people on their decks eating breakfast and lunch, working in their gardens...I was jealous. As we continued along the river we finally approached Hampton Court Palace, you could see it was like perfect picture from a romance movie. I walked along the palace gardens first, walked through the maze, and saw the many fountains. I honestly thought I was in a Jane Austen book. I never wanted to leave. The interesting thing about Hampton Court is that since it began so beautiful so early in years, many descendants of the royal line have lived in it, and added on to it and so on, so that Hampton court actually has many different sections from different years and royalty living there. I walked through the Georgian rooms, and also the rooms from the 1700, whose residences were William & Mary, George II and Caroline and also Henry VIII and three of his wives. Georgian rooms reminded me of the movie Marie Antoinette and room after room, after room of formality and procession.
Here's where you meet the King, here's where you see the Kind and Queen arise from bed, here's where you see them eat breakfast, here's where you see the king on his was great. The entire palace had these great audio walking tours that you could hear more history in each of the rooms. I enjoyed seeing William's 'velvet toilet' that's a thrown if I ever heard one. My favorite part as in the Tudor/Henry VIII section of the court. I wandered through the historic hallways alone. I like doing these things by myself, because I don't feel like I have to keep up with anymore, have them keep up with me, entertain or anything...I like it that way. I saw a intro video by a young Ian McKellen, when he still had brown hair just starting to grey. I walked down the 'haunted gallery' where the fifth wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, after being condemned to death for adultery, broke away from her guards and ran down to beg for mercy and forgiveness to her husbands chambers...only to be caught, almost there, and dragged back screaming to her cell. Pretty freaky stuff! I wandered around Hampton Court until it closed and then headed back on the train to Waterloo Station and went home.

SUNDAY: We made our way down near the river Thames and to the newly re-constructed Globe Theatre that was accomplished by Sam Wanamaker, ft. from the original place of the Globe. I saw my first play, under the globe skies! We saw King Lear which was a wonderful performance. The actor who played King Lear was incredible, though he looked a bit like Santa...and it made me sad to see Santa so mad, sad, and confused. After Lear, a group of us made our way to Trafalgar Square to see the free Live broadcast of the National Ballet's Romeo & Juliet, right there broadcasting in the middle of the square! People brought their blankets, and were sitting on the steps, eating hot dogs, and watching ballet...I loved this community of London...this art chasing community.

That was a big week! Lots of writing!
Hope you all enjoyed it, as much as I enjoy writing it and re-living it in my head. Getting it down in words, helps me preserve all the memories.
I miss all of you but now, I'm going to get out of this room and get into London!
Love you all, miss you.
Talk to you soon