Saturday, December 31, 2005

Lazing on a Saturday afternoon

I went down to Milwaukee for a couple days to visit Point that we're all graduated, there's really no reason to meet in Point. So we rented a hotel room and hung out for a couple days. Went shopping, saw a couple movies. But mostly it was wonderful to see everyone again--soon they'll all be off to their worldly destinations as well, and it can only get harder to get everyone together. Such is life, I guess. I was writing in my journal last night that I'm sad...not depressed, just the auld feeling of wishing the happy together times were still here (again). I don't begrudge anyone their happy off to the far corners of the world (speaking as someone who's thouroughly enjoying London, that would be pretty selfish!) but I had so much fun at school when we were all together and making theatre that I wish we'll get a chance to do it together again someday. Someday. :)

So, I'm leaving again in a couple days. This time almost feels harder because who knows when I'll be coming home? I've been enjoying the hell out of Green Bay--especially the shopping! but last night the fam went out for fish at Marique's and I ate a huge pile of perch. Now if only we could manage to have brats before I left... :) At least I got my cheese curd fix. There's not much left to do, except finish watching "Gone With the Wind." I'm going up to the casino tonight, since they're having free music, and then sleeping in tomorrow. Then Monday, then Tuesday, London. London...a one way ticket. Hmm. Hmm...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Can't fight it...

It's an unfortunate side effect of being around people that I tend to write less--by the time I tell a story over and over, it seems less important to blog it or write it down in my journal.

Oh, well. Merry Christmas, everyone! The last couple days have just been a whirlwind of family and seeing everyone...I've gone from being virtually alone in a huge city to being surrounded by people in a tiny burg. :) It's been good to see everyone, but I go to bed at night completely exhausted--hey, this time last week I was still in London!

I probably shouldn't fill in three days of family, food and friends when I'm exhausted on a Monday night, but I thought I'd drop a little line, since most of you told me that you've been reading and enjoying this. Yay. Sorry for all of y'all reading this for the first time I'm not funnier tonight. It's just been so good to see everyone--but don't worry, Lisa, I miss you too! Can't wait to get back and finish watching good ol' "Pride and Predjudice," either, Lisa, rrr, Mr. Darcy! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Goodness, it's quiet

Everything is so cheap here! I've spent the last two days out at the mall, catching up on my consumerism. Mostly, ya know, basics like t-shirts and tights ('cause when you wear skirts in the winter, you gotta wear tights) but I did Splurge and get a $100 pair of jeans...that was on sale for $30. :)

It's very weird being home. I mean, I'm having a great time, sleeping, relaxing, getting a chance to slow down and think. I might even pull my computer out tonight and type some on a play. But it's very strange being in...well...the country. I'm so used to London and the busyness and noise of the city that being in GB is very weird. I had to go buy some tea yesterday because, well, because it was four o'clock and we had no tea and I wanted some. I never thought that culture shock would set in so quickly or so hard. Walking around, listening to the accents of the people in the grocery store seems stranger now than going down to Lewisham and listening to different languages. I have to laugh at the trendy girls in the mall though--if only they knew how last season their "look" was. I might look odd in my military jacket and flats, but only because, for once, I'm cool. (she pauses for a sip of tea) And by cool I mean freezing. If I could see the north side of 32 degrees, I'd be happy.

It's also weird because for so long this has been my home. I mean, I grew up in this house, but it's no longer my home. This is some place I come to visit for a few weeks. I now know for sure when I graduate I don't want to come back to live in GB, which means that technically I have no home. Which is kind of an odd feeling. This doesn't send me into a melancholy spiral, however, instead it makes me feel oddly elated. I could go anywhere! As I've mentioned to some of you, my post-graduation plans at this point have got no further than: 1. Find stable job & apartment 2. Adopt dog.

Home is where the puppy is. :)

Anyway. See what large amounts of quiet and thinking hours will do to me? (not to mention being well-fed) Imagine the brilliance that will pour forth when I work on my thing tonight. Other than that, not much to report. I'll see some of you on Christmas day (thanks for the birthday card, Aunt Becky!) and some of you after, so we'll talk then. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Ahhh, jetlag, my auld familiar friend. Hey, it's my birthday today...I forgot, since we had birthday dinner last night. Happy birthday me. I think I'll give myself RENT tickets. haha.

Well, the flight went well...I got to sit next to a v. cute Welsh guy who agreed totally with me that the Texan soldier behind us was a complete jerk. The flight was fine, except for the moment when the plane dropped about two feet out of the sky, causing my heart to momentarily stop. Peter and Dad were waiting at the airport for me (Dad in his Packer Santa hat, so he was easily spotted) and the ride home was uneventful. It's SO COLD HERE!!! OMG! I mean, I keep telling everyone in London, "Cold? Pfft. I'll show you cold." I wish I could bottle up some of this to bring back. But it snowed a little today, so that made me happy (ah! snow!)

So far I haven't...done much. Well, I read about half of Harry Potter 6 yesterday, and then I went and visited Grandma and we had birthday dinner, so it's pretty much me trying not to be jetlagged and staying warm. Relaxing, basically. :) Anyway, so, I'm home now...if anyone wants to give me a call, the number's the same, although I'm sure most of you are going through similar situations. (took me 10 minutes to get online! ! 10 MINUTES!) Anyway. Eleven AM and I'm still in my (flannel) pyjamas. Guess I should probably go get dressed. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I'm Going Home

I wanted to write about the three (count 'em three) shows I saw this weekend (well, four if you count the funny guy at Covent Garden) but I'm just so wiped I can't. Remind me to describe them for you when I see them. (well, I will say the English Panto "Aladdin" was possibly the funniest and most offensive thing I'd ever seen. It took place--Aladdin=a Middle Eastern story--in China, so half the script was taken up with these mildly offensive Chinese jokes. Which would have been okay...except I went with my roommate Lisa who is, infact, an actual Chinese person, so I was hyper-sensitive of the jokes and had to ask her several times for permission to laugh. She thought it was funny though, especially when they taught the audience an actual Chinese song, so we thouroughly enjoyed ourselves. (the song goes "Drr! Piau Piau Piau!" in case you want to learn it) As for Sir Ian, he did not disappoint. He was so good--even though he was in a really flat, stupid, drag character--I was amazed at how much physicality he brought to the character, not to mention humor, including a segment, "Oh, no, not another ring--ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL!" "Come back to us, Twankey!")

But, of course, the big news is I'm going home tomorrow. I hate to pull rank and say, "Pfft. You think going away is hard? well, try going to a FOREIGN COUNTRY!" but I do...I do think it was a little more difficult for me. Just, well, I mean, if I even wanted to talk with someone, I had to schedule it ("okay, nine my time is three your time...") etc, so for the past three months I have been bascially on radio silence. When I see you-plural I'm going to just start talking and telling you-plural all about everything until you have to shove a (clean) sock in my mouth to get me to shut up. I could ramble on to the girls here, but they've seen it. I'm just so excited to come home and be able to make swooping hand gestures when I explain things. To be seen! To be heard! oy, I shoulda been an actress. I mean, all things are secondary to being able to make a facial expression and have someone see it. (yes, mom, even your meatloaf. Secondary) Which reminds me...I'm off to get the video of our performance so you-plural can all see me making a fool of myself. It's not very maybe after a few eggnogs I'll play it and then go hide myself under the bed.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Thank God it's Over


That's either a scream of joyfullness or a sigh of relief--actors, notice how I didn't inflict any stage directions on you. You get to interpret it however you want.

I finally handed in my last two writing projects, and the performance yesterday was recieved really well. So that is a huge weight off my chest--or rather, my shoulders. They are so sore from the combinination of stress and carrying around my computer for the last three days (it's heavy!) that I can barely fall asleep at night. After the performance the writers and performers all went out to a local pub where I had a couple celebratory Strongbows. I love pubbing with theatre people--nothing funnier than being drunk and shouting, "Yeah, but, I don't think the dramatic aims of the piece were fully realised because of the nudity!" and having the local lads stare at you. (and for the record, I did go see a show with nudity. Several bits of nudity, actually, some bits...longer than others. Quite liked it, actually--er, the show, I mean. Very, ah, dramatic.)

About eleven I started having this gawdaful heartburn and I thought someone (Grandma?) was trying to tell me to go home and rethink my life. Then I realised I hadn't eaten anything all day, so on the way home I stopped for Chinese food. And they gave me a free calendar, a pretty nice one, actually. I have no food in my dorm because I ate it all in preparation for coming home day, so I'm eating out a lot now. :)

Anyway. I'm quite tired today (tired!!!! not hungover!!!!) also due to the fact--without giving too much away--during the performance I banged my face on the sink. I need to go home and clean my room. It is a whirlwind of papers and dirty clothes and a calendar that didn't stay stuck on the wall. I have an essay to write for next semester, but I'm not going to, not today anyway. My roommate Lisa and I have tickets to see "Aladdin" with Ian McKellan tonight, and then tomorrow I want to see "Twelfth Night." Then on Sunday there's a site-specific piece that ALSO includes a sink, so I should probably go see that.

It's hard to believe that I will be home in a couple days. More than anything I'm looking forward to being able to TALK to everyone and tell you all about what's been going on here, what I've been seeing. Give my typing fingers a rest. For the record, here is my schedule: I'm arriving late on the 19th, then spending Christmas in Green Bay. From the 27th to the 30th (and possibly New Year's) I'll be in Milwaukee hanging out with all my Point Friends. (to learn more about Point Friends, see blogs at right...and sorry it took me so long to add 'em, guys) and then I'll be back home for a few days before returning to London on the 3rd. I know I won't be home for very long, but...remember that essay? That's why I can blow it off now and go see Ian McKellan in a dress. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Adjusting the mindset

I was walking past the fish cart in Lewisham today, thinking, "ah, fish, smells like fish, look, there's some salmon, okay, perch, yup, sardines, hey, a shark, wait, what?" I had to stop and look again--this cart had a little shark hanging up for sale. Not a big shark, maybe something Uncle Ray would catch on his less successful fishing trips, but there was no denying it was, infact, a shark. Thanks for reminding me I'm in a huge city where sometimes people go to the market saying to themselves, "God, I hope they have some fresh shark today!" Shark is also a funny word. shark shark shark shark. hahaha.

I'm in a much better mood today. Must be the chemicals in the huge cloud of smoke blowing toward London.

I think the women here are in competition with one another. The strollers that they have are truly outrageous. You'll see this woman coming down the street, pushing a mountain of consumer goods, for all appearances some kind of homeless bag lady, and then you realise buried under all the bags there is a little kid, usually sleeping, and this cart is actually an SUV-sized stroller with all-terrain wheels. I'm not kidding. They also have little rain coats, so when it starts to rain here, down comes the awning which covers the entire cart, leaving these poor kids suspended in a clear plastic cube. It would be funny if these strollers weren't such a menace. I mean, they're huge! I saw one today that was, I'm not kidding, a crib on wheels--and of course, the kid inside was brand new, tiny tiny, and sleeping blissfully through it all while we stroller-less pedestrians were being crunched under the wheels if we didn't move out of the way fast enough.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Angst and creativity

More bad news...the explosion yesterday was actually up north near Luton, and the wind is blowing this huge black plume of smoke southward. The fire is still burning, and they authorities are probably going to have to let it burn itself out since there's not enough equipment or men to handle a blaze of this kind. What is this going to do to the environment? I shudder to think.

I wish I had a pretty picture of a man in a dress to put up here, but this is the best I can do. (I thought about taking a picture of my "C" -worthy paper, but that would be pretty smartass, so I didn't)

I'm really down today. I think most of it is because of my grades on my writing. I want honest feedback about my work--as we all know, it's no good if the profs gush--but at the same time I really thought I had produced some good work. My site-specific piece, which I set in a tree, John said lacked that "personal passion." It's all about the death of childhood, specifically mine, so I thought it was the more powerful of the two, but apparently not. He liked my verbatim theatre piece, which isn't my words at all! I want to be able to move people with my words, not arrange other people's.

This has lead me to think more about what I want to do when I graduate. Since I'm only here for a year, now is a good time to start thinking about it. If I can't be a brilliant writer--and I don't want to inflict more mediocrity on the world--then maybe I should focus on encouraging other people to be brilliant. I know that some of us have talked about opening up our own theatre, and I still want to do that, but I've also started thinking seriously about teaching as well. At the collegiate level--with my new exposure to contemporary theatre, I could do a lot of damage to young, new minds. ("You want to be a playwright? Read Sarah Kane, THEN tell me you want to be a playwright!") If someone like me, who is passionately devoted to theatre, could start their own company and cut through all the administrative "will it sell" bullshit and just do good shows, it would contribute more to the world at large than a stack of mediocre unperformed plays.

Having said all that, I'm also still writing (at a fevered pace, I might add) on my b---h play. Having done all the reasearch, I've realised the problem is is that one room and three men is just too small, so I let it go, and now it's multiple characters and scenes, across the generations, American history, family history, social strife and a wooden box in the round. Is it any good? Who knows. But it feels better than what I've been working on. Funny how angst and creativity have been going hand in hand lately.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Running out the door to meet with partner for my last piece, so this will be short.

I was making breakfast when my roommate asked me if I'd heard about the explosion. Reaction: "Who?" not "What happened?" Turns out an oil depot south of London exploded--no terrorists suspected. So, I'm okay, and the trains are still running, which means the powers that be feel secure that no group is responsible, which makes me feel okay. Still, kind of a scary way to wake up.

Also, got my review back on my first two pieces. A C for my site-specific and a B/B+ for my verbatim piece. (which I thought was the weaker of the two, but c'est la vie, I guess) John went out of his way to tell the American students that the grading is different here--a C average is just that, average, and a B or an A is good, but I'm still horribly depressed. What a crappy way to end the weekend.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Nicki's Not Nervous...

I just read an article about a plane that skidded off the runway in a snowstorm at Midway and crashed into a street, killing a six-year-old boy. Aieee. It is very weird to read about the "normal" snow in the Midwest, since the weather here has been so mild. I mean, the grass is still green--not only green, but growing. This morning I was woken up by a lawn mower, and I thought it was a snowblower for a few minutes! Then walking to school I could hear birds singing and see squirrels frolicking. But don't worry, I'm bringing my winter coat to WI.

Sam's got a list of her things tu du on her website, so here's what I need to accomplish:

1. Finish writing project number three, a children's play, and hand in. So far, so good--on draft two. Due Thurs.
2. Perform writing project number three with slightly schizoid Greek performer named Nico and write up script. Due Thurs. Causing some alarm since I can't pull an all nighter and write script if I have to.
3. Interview author next Wed for an essay on "My Name is Rachel Corrie."
4. Finish first draft of essay before Friday. Not due until January, but I want it off my mind.
5. See "Twelfth Night" Attempt to regain sanity.

Okay, so I don't have nearly as much to freak out about as Sam, but because I'm working with a partner on one of my projects, I feel I am very behind. I'll have a DVD of the performance so y'all can laugh at my acting. :) I guess I'm only creating stress for myself. Everything is in a good way, but I'm trying to get it all done so I can clean my room and relax before I fly home Monday. Oh, that reminds me...

6. Buy some Drain-O. Clean long beautiful hair out of shower drain.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I guess I should confess after I wrote that last entry I then went and geeked out on the Noble website over all the Harry Potter merch.

Today I had no class, so I went grocery shopping. When I buy fruit and veg here, I do not buy it from Sainsburys, I buy it from the little market stand outside. (buying fresh veg off the street I can handle. Fresh fish is another matter) I wanted some tomatoes, but the only ones they had were these huge ones, five of 'em attatched to a vine. So I go to twist one of them off and this guy starts yelling from the next stall over. I figure he's yelling at someone over there, and continue and then just as the tomato comes off in my hand his words come into focus: "...don't break it off, they're sold on the vine...oh!" Then he just looks at me like I've dropped a Ming vase and says, "They're supposed to be sold on the vine."

Ye gods. There are still four perfectly good tomatoes left on that vine, sir. And now the next person who comes along who only WANTS four tomatoes will be happy. These tomatoes are huge. Who would buy five of these huge tomatoes?

Well, that's what I wanted to say. Instead I slunk off to pay, embarassed as hell. The lady taking my money didn't help either: "If you want some by themselves, we've got loose ones up here." Good to know. Now, if I ever manage to recover from the embarassment of being yelled at in a crowded farmer's market and go BACK there, I'll be sure to remember that. Oy.

Oh, PS, I'm finally reading "The DaVinci Code." They're in London! Whoohoo! Once I finish my plays and my huge essay, I think I might take a Saturday and visit some of the sites mentioned. London! Whoohoo! (oh, and the book's pretty good too)

Monday, December 05, 2005

A moment of consideration

Here's an article from the Guardian about the Christian aspects of "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," which is opening in 2 days.,6000,1657756,00.html?gusrc=rss
The Guardian is a fairly left newspaper here in England, and it's also the one I read. I thought this article was interesting because it dealt honestly with the themes of Christianity worked into the movie. Now, I have to say that I am intensely eager to see this film even if it's mostly because A) no LOTR this year and B) Harry Potter wasn't as cool as I was hoping, and this article did nothing to dissuade me from that. I read the Narnia books for the first time when I was 13, and when I found out years later that they were almost total allegory for the Bible and Christian beliefs, my reaction was "huh?" Okay, now as an adult I can see it. But it's interesting the way that this movie is being promoted toward Christians (if the Guardian article is to be believed). Apparently they have more disposable income to spend on movies.

Maybe it's just because the movie is opening so close to Christmas that thoughts are turning to matters more spiritual. It's very difficult to see God in a big city. When I think Christmas I think snow and home-baked cookies, not the rampant consumerism here. The shopping frenzy is not to be believed. If I described it (and I don't think I can do it justice) you wouldn't believe me. Now I like to shop, but I haven't spent more than 10 dollars on anyone, and all my presents fit neatly into a little bag. It's the thought that counts, right? And especially at this time, my thoughts tend to consider the divine. I don't go to church much anymore. Okay, never, except for Christmas and Easter and a few key times in between. This summer, Sunday was the one day a week I could sleep in, so I did. But being in a larger city, and being surrounded by people of different faiths has made me appreciate my Christian background more. I do fel connected to a larger community. And even though it might be buried under tons of shopping bags and angry consumers, it's still there. The mystery and wonder, only 19 days away. It's very exciting, the waiting--and with no more shopping to do, no decorating, no baking, no cleaning house or dusting off party clothes, that's pretty much all I'm doing. Waiting.

Wolcum Yole!

Last night I went to St Martins in the Fields to see a concert. The reason I was there was because they were performing Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" parts of which I had sung in high school, so it was lots of warm fuzzy Christmas memories. The first half of the programme was a new premiere as a matter of fact. Very modern. Lots of dissonants and unresolved chords. Although I did like the piece where the angels appeared to the shepards: the two sopranos stood at the back of the church and harmonized a capella. I was pretty damn impressed with all the performers, since there wasn't a lot of melody coming from the piano or cello to work with.

The first half did send a couple pensioners scurrying for the doors at the interval, but the second half was much better. "Ceremony of Carols" was written during WWII (actually for St Martins, I think) so Britten only used women's voices and a harp, since that's all that was available. It was kind of spooky sitting in the church in the candlelight listening to these songs. It was very effective. Anyway, now I'm all in the Chrismas spirit--I got all my Christmas shopping done on Saturday. The last present was yours, mom. :) So now I guess it's full steam ahead on my analytical paper for New Performance Writing...oh, and I need to go see Twelfth Night...nothing more Christmassy than that. :)

Friday, December 02, 2005

"Self-Portrait After Seeing 'Sunday in the Park With George'"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

An Island in a River

The only disadvantage to going to see Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park With George" in a place called "The Chocolate Factory" is the whole night my inner child was going, "Chocolate? When are we going to get chocolate?" "There's no chocolate." "But,'s on the sign. Chocolate?" The building was built in the 1870s and during renovations they dug up a whole roomfull of artefacts (which are on display) from ancient Roman times to gascocks, spades, metal sign stencils, ropes and other debris from the Victorians onward. Such is London.

But enough about the theatre! I left my notes at home, so bear with me. The show, if you're not familiar, is based on this painting:
and follows the lives of the people in it, as well as the painter, George Surrat and his mistress, Dot. I didn't know this show, except that at the end of act one they actually "build" the painting with the actors. So when I sat down in the theatre, my first thought was, "how are they going to do this?" The stage was raked slightly, with thick wooden boards. Upstage a large blank white wall, two white trees, to either side, slightly diagonal walls with doors. All white. Very boring. So when Surratt came out and sat down and started to draw and his drawings began to APPEAR on the very white upstage wall, I gave a little gasp of delight (literally) and had to cover my mouth for sheer joy. Projected scenery! Ah, at last I understand!

Yes, three huge projectors were shining the scenery on the blank walls and doors. But not just scenery--at one point you had a team of rowers moving down the river, or painted people upstage walking through the park as the actors downstage performed. The space was not very large, maybe only twenty feet up and down, and thirty five or so across, so this really economised space. But it was act two where the projections really began to work. George (by now a modern artist) is schmoozing with all the people who have come to his gallery opening--and at one point you have three different projections of the actor "working" the crowd, responding to actors. My favourite part was where a projection held out an empty glass and a real waiter "poured" champagne into it! The bottle was real--the champagne was not. Another favourite part happened when the skivvy boatman was talking about his dog and he gestured to a blank canvas stage right--Where a little dog suddenly appeared, sniffing and barking. The other animals were also projected during the final part of act one. George positioned canvases where the dogs and monkey appeared and the animals "ran on" and took their places. It was AWESOME. And if I ever get a team of six people to help me build projected scenery into my show, I will do it because at last I understand the possibilities.

Having said all that--the show itself was amazing too. This is supposed to be the most "Sondheim" of all Sondheim shows, and I can see where it gets that from. Usually I don't like to go see musicals without an understanding of the score first, but in this case I could understand all the lyrics and I was close enough to be able to hear everything. (at one point I smelled something burning and looked up in alarm to realise that the skivvy boatman had merely lit his pipe) The actors were brilliant, especially with the American accents in Act 2. And the music was thrilling. Not the most accessible of scores, but very appropriate to the subject matter and the characters.

On a postscript--throughout the first act, George kept humming this song: "bum bum bum, Bum bum bum bum bum bum..." and I kept saying to myself, "how do I know this song? I don't know this show!" But then at the end of Act 1 when the company sang the song, "Sunday" I finally realised that Jonathan Larsen had "borrowed" it for HIS song called "Sunday" from "Tick Tick BOOM!" and that Larsen's song was an homage to this piece of music. That was a little extra unexpected piece of theatre and I was struck by how much overlapping there was centered around this piece of art, this show, this moment in history.

PPS: The Chocolate Factory also did "Tick Tick BOOM!" I saw a poster hanging in their lobby. It starred Neil Patrick Harris who later went on to do "Assassins" with Michael Ceveris who is now doing "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway. So there's your seven degrees for the day, and I am sick of Sondheim.

On the web:

Monday, November 28, 2005

Two Posts

I divided today's post up into two bits: this one is about Thanksgiving, and there's a longer one below about the Sondheim conference I went to. Read at your leisure.

There's also lots of photos, since I figured out how to do that, and everyone loves pictures--although if there is a theme that connects these two posts, it would have to be crazy knife wielding people. Like...THIS!!!

"attend the tale, chicken!!!"

Yes, that's me, carving the Thanksgiving chicken. There were several reasons for a chicken: 1. it came with stuffing, so I didn't have to make any. 2. it came with it's own roaster pan, so I didn't have to buy one. 3. the oven at school is too small for a turkey. So it was Chicken-Day last Thursday, although we had PLENTY of other food.

We also had an apple pie--despite my best efforts, I couldn't find a pumpkin pie, and I didn't want to chance making one, since the ovens here are metric and therefore weird. Pies normally come in smaller, personal-sized pies, so I bought a "family" pie--which was still titchy--because, damnit, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.

I had dinner with Lisa and Felicia...orginally it was just going to be Lisa and I, but Felicia was hanging out in the kitchen while I cooked, so she jumped right in when I asked her to join us. She contributed a box of Stove-Top that she had gotten, so there was even MORE food. And then, as we were mowing down, M. walked in and I, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, asked her to join us as well. People came and went, so the food went pretty fast as well. Infact, all that was left was green beans and mushroom soup, which I ate with some rice the day after. So much for leftovers!!! I even splurged on a £5 bottle of American wine (Ernest & Julio Gallo) What a feast.

So, a day which I thought was going to be sucky and miserable actually turned out pretty nice. I made Felicia and Lisa go get some leaves and flowers from the garden, so we even had a nice centerpiece. (and, Lisa has promised to make me a traditional Chinese dinner one of these days--score!!!) Of course, it was hard to be away from the family and friends, but at least I wasn't alone. ( I had figured if no one wanted to eat with me, I'd get out the pictures I have of everybody. Luckily, I didn't have to.)

But now I have to go check some books out of the library, so I'll have to leave the lovely G5s behind...I had to scan in my student card and send it to Student Universe to prove I'm a student so I could buy a plane ticket back to school in January. Weird, huh? Scanning is cool!

God, that's good!

This post is for theatre people, so I put it underneath incase you're not interested. But I hope you are.

This weekend I went to a Sondheim symposium hosted at Goldsmiths. I helped out with the registration, which meant I got in for free. Now, the symposium kind of reminded me of the one described in "Proof"--the two days I was there was a lot of academics reading papers, which was interesting, but I felt like the dumbest person in the room. I like Sondheim--or rather, I like his musicals which I am familiar with, but I haven't studied him as a contributor to musical theatre, and theatre in general. So it was a real eye-opening experience.

My favourite papers were both on Sweeney Todd. The first, on Friday, was the keynote speaker who talked about the musical quality of the act II opener "God, that's Good!" I should mention here that I do not know Sweeney Todd, so I was hearing the music for the first time. The speaker talked about the role the song played in the show, as well as the influences from old movies (like "Hangover Square," for example) on the show, and then proceeded to Power Point a chart of the song, showing the different sections: a-b-c-d, the repeats, how different sections contributed to the sense of pacing and character. It was really interesting to see how not only does Mrs Lovett, for example, have a very short staccato melody line, but her words are also very short and punctuated. Her part in this song is the biggest, and she sings to eight different people--short lines of "speech" give her a harried feeling (I learned) which is compounded by the music. The speaker compared Sondheim to a medival architect who lovingly carves the buttresses on a cathedral: no one's going to see it (or see the layers of music within a song) but it's there. And if you look for it, it's amazing. Then he showed a video of the original production, starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou (below), and said, "But, in the end, that's what it's all about."

I really appreciated that most of the speakers and the audience, while dissecting and analyzing the contributions and social implications of his musicals also made space for: "But it's still theatre and still entertaining and not a show unless it's up on it's feet!" It's easy to forget that when you're talking about how Sondheim's shows demonstrate the American dream in reverse: communities falling apart and misfits ending up together.

That was followed on Sunday by a speaker who had followed the current production of Sweeney Todd now on Broadway from it's original incarnation. I didn't know this, but the "new" version was actually produced at a small theatre here in England called the Windmill. It was subsequently moved to the West End before going to Broadway.

Here's the London version from 2004.

What's interesting about this version (if you haven't heard me rant on about it yet) is that it's scaled DOWN: there are only nine performers, and they all play instruments, so there's no orchestra. The speaker noted how the director used their instruments as additions to the character, rather like dance or the music itself, so it wasn't meant to distract from the show. (and hasn't, from what I've heard) What is so interesting about this Sweeney is the implications for smaller theatres: obviously there is an economic factor to be considered; Sweeney transferred to Broadway for $3.5 million dollars--compare that to the $20 million Lion King.

The new Broadway version.

But it's also really taking to heart the idea of a smaller budget meaning more creativity. I know I was taught that at Point, but how many times did we go over budget? Here Sweeney is stripped down to one room, with no mad barber chair or pile of fake meat pies. The costumes are modern, reflecting the characters, not the time period. (and I think it's an interesting character choice to have Sweeney be bald...I know that Michael Cerveris DOES infact shave his head, but why does Sweeney? Interesting...) It's also something to consider for smaller theatres: how much of a show do you have to change before you lose the message of it? Apparently, you can change quite a lot.

Another play that got a lot of time at the conference is "Sunday in the Park With George" which just happens to be playing at a theatre near here, so I'm going to go see it and see what everyone has been ranting on about.

So this is what I did with my weekend. I had to get the Sweeney soundtrack just so I could learn "God, That's Good!" but I'm still trying to be patient and wait for the new show to come out.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Clouds Racing By

I'm sitting in a different part of the library, typing on a hugely beautiful iMac G5, which is about as different from my computer as you can get. It's so pretty, with its 21" monitor and ability to perform tasks almost before I think of them...sigh. I can only imagine what playing solitare on this machine would be like.

Outside is grey and drizzly--we haven't had much rain for the past week, so I don't mind. I'm wearing my new purple winter coat from Fashion Bug, which was purchased 14 months and twenty pounds ago. Bad news Mom--it's way too big, even with a sweater! But warm. I love walking down the street on these cold days. Everytime I breathe out there's a little puff of smoke. It's like each step I take I'm making an entrance through a haze of stage fog. Tada!

Today is Thanksgiving and I'm very far away from home and the people who make it Thanksgiving. It's very weird to be in another country where this is just another day to people. Goldsmiths is serving up a dinner for "international students" i.e. Americans, but I'm going to be cooking tonight. Even if it's only me and a couple of my flatmates, at least there will be food. (no cheesy potatoes, unfortunately) Lots of food. This afternoon is all about the food. Food, food, food. And, if I can't be home for Thanksgiving, at least I can be thankful for the fact that I can breeze through Sainsburys and splurge on a £5 bottle of American wine. :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Death by Fog

Today I was very cranky as apparently everyone in Goldsmiths felt the need to run into me, stop suddenly in doorways causing me to run into them, stand too close to me, breath on me, bump into me, look at me, think about me and ignore me. Too many undergrads in one little hallway make a cranky Nicki. Not to mention it's cold. I can think of only one person who would appreciate the cold snap, and even he would be unhappy 'coz there's no snow.

But then...I draw your attention to the links on the right of the screen. You will notice a new link which I found while surfing for information about Assassins, still reigning as my favourite musical. That's right, I found a page devoted to HP musicals. Before you scoff, go check them out. There's at least thirty shows, all reworded by fans with even more time on their hands than me. And they're HILARIOUS, to steal Andy's word. I especially like the Assassins if only I could convince Michael Ceveris to sing "The Ballad of Tom Riddle." Oh, I'm laughing so hard people are looking at me. (ah! people!) I knew there was a way to combine the two loves of my life...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

O Cedric!

All right kids, here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for: My review of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Before you proceed, I'm going to warn you that there will only be spoilers if you haven't read the book.

And I KNOW all of you have read the book.

All right. Well, first of all, Goblet of Fire is a massive book, and they had to cut out huge gaping swaths of the story to make it fit into two hours and forty minutes. (which becomes three hours here in the UK-advertising before films is an art here) I am fine with that, but I completely disagree with the bits they chose to cut out! Why introduce a character or a sitation and then not develop it? I'm thinking of Rita Skeeter here who comes on and then suddenly is not important. Not to mention the poor Champions who are introduced with much fanfare--and then have about six lines between the three of them. Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody was genius, especially since he was actually playing another character. David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr. was a little weird, not how I pictured him. And I was very, VERY disappointed that the only appearance of Sirius Black was a head in a fire--again, why introduce someone if you're not going to carry on with it?

All right, well, bits I liked. First of all, Ralph Fiennes as You-Know-Who...OMG. I bow to thee, Dark Lord! SO gorgeous. SO perfect. I knew he was a great actor, but when you're dealing with a character whose motivation is "pure evil" it takes a great actor to pull it off. There was a moment where YKW accuses Lucius Malfoy of betraying him and I actually had to go outside and have a cigarette. Ralph Fiennes and Jason Isaacs in the same scene. You could see the film scorching around the edges. I was happy to hear some of the dialogue from the book: "Why do they always travel in packs?" "Come Harry, the niceties must be observed." When you're enough of a geek you have passages memorised, you feel vindicated someone else noticed. The humor is better--this movie certainly is more British (don't ask me how, it just is) and the Weasley twins are funnier than the last movie. Draco, however, is still a whiny little...oh, that something I don't like weasling in here...but for someone who has a VERY SERIOUS TASK in book 6, I was expecting him to grow up a bit more. I think my Pensieve was a better design, aren't the Weird Sisters female? and try saying "ferret sporran" without laughing.

And then, of course, when Harry comes out of the maze, I cried. I really, I don't know if it was because I was tired, or because the movie just chucked it at you, but I cried so hard. That moment was perfectly played. (Daniel Radcliffe, I'm relieved to say, produced actual tears this time) The whole ending was so emotional and I just left the theater aching. I don't know if I can say it's a "good" movie, but it's certainly interesting. Some interesting choices. Yes, interesting is a good word. There better be a whole box of deleted scenes however, because if this is the sum total of three years of work, I'm gonna be pissed. I'm going to see it again on the IMAX screen, so I'll let you know if bigger makes it better.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Nyctophobic Nicki is scared of the dark

I see I intrigued some of my loyal readers with that little teaser...I was running out of the library to class, but I couldn't leave without a little something-something.

So, the Shunt Collective, a theater group, have a space in London Bridge, the tube/train station, and they "create" theatrical events and I was supposed to go see their latest one, "Amato Saltone" for class. I get to London Bridge and I can't find this place because I don't realise that it's actually THERE in the station, I'm thinking it's down the road or something. Then there are all these squeaky 17 year old boys trying to be all cool and yet somehow so DUMB and I'm getting a little pissed off because I don't like not knowing what's going on. I'm there by myself as well, so when one of the annoying 17 year old boys keeps looking at me, it's all I can do to stop from snapping: "Do I look like a tourist attraction? Then go to hell."

But the door (which is literally a door in a brick wall) opens and I get my ticket and a key with the number 20 on it. And the lady says, "Go on in!" And I realise that I have to walk down this long...long...LONG dark hallway underground. I almost couldn't do it. Any of you who have seen me freak out in the dark can imagine. I nearly turned around and left. Finally I managed it by steeling myself and practically sprinting from one pool of light to the next. I make it into the bar area okay, except my adrenaline is about 300 percent over the max. recommended dosage. The show was supposed to be based on a noir writer from the 50s, but I'm just confused and pissed off and hot and scared and I don't want to be there. So then we all get ushered into the penthouse, which is this room (that's underground!!! I don't care if they have projections of the skyline, it's underground!!!) and the show starts. The actors are moving among the audience, and we get divided up into two groups and move into different areas and the play is enacted around us. Normally I would be very up for this as a different theatrical experience, something I have never done, have never written, and isn't it cool to be a big city where this is possible? But all I could think about was "when are the lights going to go out?"

And then they did.

The only thing that stopped me from having a panic attack was my watch, which, despite having a broken alarm, still has an Indiglo face, so I was able to see...something. Then, all of a sudden the emergency exit sign lights up, and a stage manager comes in and tells us that it's a REAL power cut, not part of the show, and we should follow her. I didn't need to be told twice. After the crew reassured the overexcited 17 year old boys that this WASN'T part of the show, they offered us refunds. I ran out of there as fast as I could, emerging into the comforting fluorescent glare of London Bridge nearly in tears. I had to have a cup of coffee to settle myself down. That was probably as bad as anything I've ever experienced, but luckily the next day my classmates were pretty supportive--even though they asked me when I was going back to see the show. Yeah. Right.

But Friday night I went to a club called Too 2 Much in SoHo and watched a drag act which I liked much better. The gentleman's name was Justin Bond, and although he wore a skirt and makeup, he didn't make a real attempt to pretend to be a woman, and the music that they performed was amazing. his backup band was a piano, a flute and a cello, and they ROCKED OUT. I was so impressed with them--even if it was £7.50 for one cocktail. Ah, the big city.

Yesterday I met up with Melissa from home (hi Melissa! told you I'd put you in my blog) and we went out for dinner at Pret A Manager. It was so good to hear that Wisconsin accent again, don'tcha know. I had to ditch her for a couple hours to go to the National Theatre for a book launch--last year's MA students had compiled their plays into a book and we were invited to schmooze and drink free wine. Afterward though, Melissa and I went to see "the Producers" which was pretty good. I can't believe that that's the first musical I've seen and I've been here for two months! We had a great time at the show though--my only complaint was that someone needed to tell the two leads that they weren't Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick and to get their own comedic timing.

So today I again met up with Melissa and Libby, who's here from Germany, and we had some nibbles and then wandered down to Buckingham Palace. I had to leave early unfortunately to come here and do some homework. .(which I'm going to do as soon as I finish this...) I'm very tired, as you might guess, and I'm also fighting a horrible, horrible sore throat which has rendered me unable to speak much above a whisper. Either that or I have to drop my voice down an octave or two which just sounds threatening. "Hi there!" Right.

O no! They just announced the library is closing in 15 minutes, which means I won't get to my homework! O well--at least I got to send a love letter to everyone. If you've sent me an email in the past couple days I've read it, but haven't responded because I'm a horrible person. Tomorrow--when I'm back at the library, grr--I'll try and catch up again.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Terror in London Bridge

The Shunt Collective? In the London Bridge Vaults? As in "vaults?" As in "underground?" As in "dark?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Done is good

I just printed out my first plays ever written as an MA student, to be handed in tomorrow when the office opens. They are done. I can't believe it. I'm looking at a pile of paper sitting next to the computer here, trying to wrap my brain around it. Ah, they are so shiny. I just hope they're good.

Before I go out and enjoy a dance of joy I have to write another paper for a class tomorrow, so all is not bunnies and light just yet. But I've finished my first projects, so that's a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Look what you've done

Wow, look at all the people who are getting blogs! I feel so proud, since I was the first one to take the leap. G. Sarah, Chris, I will add your blogs to my list soon, I promise.

I'm just stopping by quickly on my way home to enjoy leftover curry. Curry, in case you don't know, is one of the good things to come out of the British Empire. Along with Freddie Mercury. Then I have to work on my first two writing projects, which are due on Thursday. I'm not real worried yet--some of my classmates don't even have a first draft done!

So, I live in a hall with ten other girls, and as you probably figured, I have "difficulties" with some of them. One of the girls, M, in particular. We are polite to each other, but we have different goals for our time in London. She likes to party and buy clothes and go see rock concerts. I like to go to museums & theatres and drink tea and geek out about historical figures. I would's just I'd rather party with y'all instead of strangers. So this morning, M is making breakfast as I enter the kitchy to get my morning tea and, in the effort of comradeship, she asks me if I'm excited about a cocktail party she's planning this weekend. "It's going to be a black and white party, and we're having martinis!" she announces cheerfully. I look concerned. "No!" I say, "Not this weekend! This weekend I'm busy--the new Harry Potter movie is coming out!" She just looked at me like I was crazy. And I had to laugh. See kids, it takes all kinds, and we must all get along and accept one another as best we can.

(Which is something I learned from Book 3, by the way. Have YOU got your tickets yet?!)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Maxwelton's braes are bonny

Hello everyone! Here I am, safe and sound in crazy ol' London again. Scotland was WONDERFUL. Even though it rained all the time and was...bloody cold and...yeah, and the wind was pretty nasty too... Okay, so the weather didn't cooperate, but I still had a great time.

I stayed at the Hotel Greek Thompson, which was named for an architect who was into Grecian influences, so there was lots of columns and things woven into the carpets. The hotel was "shabby genteel." The first room they stuck me in was about the size of a closet and smelled like an ashtray, so about two minutes after I got there (just long enough to whinge about it in my journal) I went back to the front desk and requested a room change. Eventually I was put in a room with a double bed and a television, which was very satisfactory. I even got to watch an episode of "House" that I hadn't seen before!!!

Oh, right, Scotland. Well, Scotland is bloody beautiful. Glasgow is a little city, so I could get around sans car. The streets are laid out on a grid, but what they neglect to tell you is that they also go UP and DOWN. Hilly does not begin to describe this city. My first day I was there I got out my climbing equipment and hauled myself up a sheer rock cliff to go see the cathedral (okay, no, but that's what it felt like) The Glasgow cathedral appears small, but it's built into the side of a hill, so when you go inside, it opens up--and there's two levels "underground" poking out of this hill. It's about eight hundred years old, and mostly plain sooty stones, no fancy goldwork like a "normal" cathedral--this would be due to the Reformation. Clearing the cathedral out of all it's riches is what saved the building which is an architectual marvel. There's also a saint buried in the basement--sorry, not basement, lower chapel--St. Kentigern, also known as St. Mungo. As in St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies. :) I only barely managed to not ask the nice Scottish tour lady if she had read book four.

After the Cathedral I went to the Cathedral Bar and had a delicious lamb curry that I'm still drooling over, and then visited the Necropolis, this gorgeous Victorian cemetary built on the tallest hill in Glasgow. The dead people have the best view of the city! It was very eerie. As you're walking (hiking) up this hill you're literally rising out of the noise of the city until it was practically silent. This is where John Knox is buried, he's the man responsible for the Reformation in Scotland.

Self portrait of me at Loch Lommond--note the lack of sun or smile.

The next day I went to Loch Lommond. This was the only day when I really felt like "this sucks." It was really windy and rainy, and a lot of places were closed because, haha, who would be stupid enough to go touristing in November? I did take a boatride on Loch Lommond (I love boats!) and get a lot of pretty pictures of the Highlands. Because it rains so much, the grass is still green, greener than I've ever seen it, even as the trees all around were losing their leaves. The little town at the end of the train line where I got off is named Balloch. Balloch Castle was built in 1810, and after I mountain-goated my way up the steepest hill yet, I discovered that it too was closed for the season. Then it started to rain. And I was forced to sing the blues.

Walking back I was nearly attacked by a vicious herd of ducks who have no respect for tourists. There were also some graceful swans who were doing their best to dismember two little girls who had made the mistake of proffering bread. These little girl were screaming in terror as these huge birds came after them, and their parents were saying, "Now, now, they don't have teeth, they're not going to bite you." No, they don't have teeth. So it will hurt more when they tear you to pieces. Scary.

The day was saved, luckily, by Balloch House, a small pub that had a real fire, a real pot of tea and a real piece of carrot cake and a squashy armchair where frozen me could sit down and consume aformentioned tea and cake. (only £2.50!!) So the day ended on a warm and fuzzy note.

Friday I locked myself in my room with my computer and told myself sternly that if I wanted to do anything that night I was going to have to finish some plays. I sulked for a little bit, then set about doing my homework, and actually got quite a bit done. then I rewarded myself with pizza and a movie--"the Corpse Bride." Not bad.

Saturday, ah, Saturday I went to Stirling. There were two things I wanted to see there: Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, but I couldn't go to both. So in the end I went to the castle, because the Wallace Monument was built by the Victorians, and Stirling castle was built by KINGS. The walk up to the castle was brutal. "Who," I panted to myself as I hauled myself skyward, "Who builds a bloody castle on top of a bloody hill?!" Of course it makes sense when you're trying to repel invaders, but it also repels plenty of tourists, I've no doubt. Most of the streets in Stirling are cobblestones--the sound of terror is a speeding car hurtling towards you over cobblestones. Lucky I had on my blaze yellow coat.

But the castle was well worth it, with a thousand years of history. Here's me on top of the castle, looking out--note the windblown hair. The Wallace Monument is a tower on the next hill over, about a three mile walk.

There's been a fort here since 300 AD, and King James IV of Scotland started a proper castle. His son finished it, and it's been added on to quite a bit. Mary, Queen of Scots was crowned here, and her son, James VI of Scotland and later I of England was baptised here. Oooh. It's all historical. The Great Hall has been completely renovated and looks like it would in the 1500s. During the 1800s the army was stationed here in case Napoleon decided to invade, so there's a line of cannons across one of the walls. And all around is this beautiful swell of mountains and green highlands. The wind was whipping gently into my hair and for once it wasn't raining, so I took about a million pictures (including one of a statue of Robert the Bruce--more Victorians) to remind myself of the Countryside when I'm back in the City.

So, yeah, Scotland was great. Everyone was super friendly, and I felt really safe walking around the city. I even got all of my Christmas shopping done! There is a pedestrian zone with shops in Glasgow--and also bagpipers, hanging out on the sidewalks, playing like you would see people in America with guitars. One lad was wearing a kilt, but later there was another bagpiper who was hardcore!!! bagpiper!!! with hot leather pants and long hair and a punked out bagpipe. Extreeeeeme! I did like seeing men walking around in kilts and soccer jerseys on their way to the pub to support the team. I'm mad for kilts. the thing I thought was interesting is how different the two countries are--england and scotland--when they're so close. Green Bay is maybe six hours away from the Canadian border, but we share a common dialect. But if you drive north of London for six hours, you're in Scotland, and it's completely different.

So now I can say I've done Scotland--didn't try the haggis though. I'll have to go back I guess. I've rambled on long enough here, but I feel like I've left a lot out. I did pick up a book of ghost stories which I haven't read yet--you know me, if I read them before going to bed I'll never sleep.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened...

I went to the Senate House Library (behind the Nat'l Museum) on Saturday to do some research for a paper I will be writing soon. While I was there, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and look up some information on a personal research project that I've also been working on. I pulled a book of letters off the shelf and opened it randomly and this is what I read:

"Actors don't think...They are perfectly willing to be directed if it's a new work, but when it comes to Shakespeare, you can't teach them anything."

The author was complaining about how hard it is to get actors to think about their characters and motivation, all they're interested in is spitting out the words and looking pretty, although he didn't use those words. I found this incredibly funny, since I've heard the same thing from directors nowadays, and this was a letter from 1878. The author?

Edwin Booth

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Bit o' History

Sam reminded me about Cornish pastys, which I TOTALLY FORGOT on my list of things what make me happy. Helas. Thanks Sam. Yes, definitely, especially the mint and lamb ones from the place in Covent Garden. (Yes Laura, I love lamb. I love to eat baby sheep. sheep...)

Things are going much better today. I had a very successful meeting with the "Hedwig" group--we're putting the show on, and I'm in charge of ripping the script apart and making it more theatrical--and the sun is out, which is nice. This afternoon is given over to research, so I thought I'd fill you in on some fun and interesting things about Britain.

So tomorrow night is bonfire night. Bonfire night is the celebration of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, which was a group of Catholic dissenters trying to blow up Parliament in 1605. You may notice that this is the 400th Anniversary of this plot, which means that this year's celebrations are sure to get out of hand. It's kind of like the 4th of July with fireworks and food, and then huge bonfires in the local parks. I'll be heading to Blackheath, which is close to Greenwich, to see the fun.

Fun fact: If you watch "Bridget Jones's Diary" the fire station that Bridget goes to is in Lewisham. I don't know if that's the actual firehouse, or if they in fact have a brass pole, but it's kind of cool.

So, apparently 2005 is a good year to be in London: the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the 100th anniversary of Sir Henry Irving's death. (Irving was an actor. There's a statue of him outside the National Portrait Gallery.) Glad I waited a year. ;)

Next Tuesday I'll be flying off to Glasgow, Scotland for a "holiday." I'm going to try and get all my work done so I can spend the time ENJOYING MYSELF and getting my history on. I'm hoping to take a day trip up to the Isle of Skye where Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to after he unsuccessfully tried to invade England and take the throne back from William and Mary. That was in the early 1700's--the next king was George I. I also want to go north of the city to Stirling and the area around there. This would be the highlands and also the area where William Wallace and his army fought off the English. (those rascally English) See: Braveheart. I'm dying for a bit of countryside after being surrounded by city city city for the past five weeks. There's lots of history here, but the only grass I've seen recently was the bit outside the National Museum, which was also covered in pigons. ("rats! rats with wings!")

I do have two writing projects due in two weeks, for those of you who think all I do is lounge around museums all day, so I'm trying to get all that done in the few days before Tuesday. That's one of the reasons I'm not already gone--that and it is expensive. Although I managed to find a tikkie on EasyJet for cheaper than it would have been to train. I would rather have trained it though. I like trains. They're all historical. And you get a better view of the sheep. (mmm....sheep...)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Things I Like About London

As some of you may have gathered, things are not all peaches and roses here in London, and sometimes I find it very hard to remain optimistic about being here. Classes are going well, but I haven't really made any friends yet--everyone here seems to think obsessing about Harry Potter and movie characters "uncool," imagine--so sometimes it's hard to keep a smiley face going. So I thought I'd make a list of things I like about this City, to remind myself when things are going bad, there's always a little good:

1. Sainsbury's squash: A concentrated fruit drink you mix with water and voila! Fruit juice. Cheaper than actual juice, tastier than water.
2. Trains
3. Sainsbury's ice-cube bags. Plastic bags you fill with water and freeze to make ice cubes. No spillage!
4. The West End
5. Cadbury's chocolates--official chocolatier to the Queen and officially my fave.
6. The Guardian. Liberal newspaper.
7. Fish & chips. Mmmmm... Oh, and curry as well. Mmmmm, curry....
8. Horatio Nelson
9. The Victoria & Albert Museum (it's free!)
10. Having a tea break
11. The exit signs which show a little green man fleeing for his life.
12. Dogs on the Underground
13. Fruit & veg from street markets

There's more, but I can't think of them. I spent all day yesterday at the National Gallery, getting some museum therapy. I went to the exhibit on Ruebens, which I think would have been more interesteing if I was an art student--lots of sketches and inspirations, not so many paintings. Then I wandered around the National Portrait Gallery until it closed--hey, they're free, why not? I don't know what it is about breeches and periwigs...I think I was just born in the wrong century.

Anyway. Next week I'm off to Glasgow and then to the Scottish Highlands. Am looking forward to being out of the city and seeing some hairy coos. :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Not a good day

Today started with me choosing a too hot setting on the washer and shrinking most of my clothes, then dyeing all my delicate undergarments a delicate shade of purple. *sigh* Am trying to get some work done, but it's not easy when I'm afraid to leave the library, for fear I'll need the internet and won't have it. Like I said, not a good day.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Happy Hallowe'en everyone! I've had my Hallowe'en party already--all of us girls from Raymont Hall went out to a club on Saturday night dressed up as the rainbow. Guess what colour I went as. No. Guess. Come on. Okay, you're right, I was purple. We took the tube to this odd little club in Westminster which was a lot of fun. Most of the other girls were complaining that everyone was so "young" which I thought was pretty funny since I fit right in. Guess that's what happens when you're a grad student at 23. Anyway, the club was fun, up to and including the two pints of Stella, but the bus ride home was not so fun. For those of you who don't know, there are night buses (and knight buses, haha) that run all night, but they might only come once an hour, in London. The N171 goes right by our dorm, so after the party (say, 3 AM) we were all outside waiting for it...and it zoomed right by us without slowing down!! AHH! Well, we ended up taking another bus which landed us kind of nearby New Cross after the longest, bumpiest, brain-damaging route possible, and THEN we took mini-cabs that last precious half mile. 'Cause after dancing for three hours in my boots, I was not about to walk home. The guys who drove the cabs thought it was pretty funny we were all dressed up as colours though. So, I had a good time, I think, but the bus ride pretty much erased any of that. Don't worry though--purse and morals safely intact. :)

The party probably wouldn't have been so brutal but my flatmate Lisa and I had gone shopping on Saturday. We started off in Portobello Road where I got a red scarf and a fun costume jewelery pin, and then ended up in Oxford Street where I got a fabulously trendy brown military-style jacket. We shopped for about ten hours, no joke. And it was only sheer force of will that got me out of this store Evans. Think Lane Bryant only with more fun clothes and slightly less expensive. I think I may have to step up plans to get a job. If I am going to become a clothes horse, I'm going to need to pay for it. But hell, I'm in the big city, right? Why not?

So yesterday, as you might have guessed, was given over entirely to recovery. I didn't wake up until one PM (it would have been two, but we have daylight savings now) and I could barely muster enough energy to read "Volpone"...only to realise as I looked over my syllabus that we're supposed to read "The Alchemist" Grr. Bloody Jonson. Anyway. This has been the longest weekend I've had for awhile, and probably as good a reason as any to turn teetotaler. It would mean more money for clothes...hmmm...

Oh, and remember that play I was ranting about, "My Name is Rachel Corrie?" Several of my classmates saw it this weekend and they didn't like it. So much for my brilliant critical analysis of a new piece of theater. I still think it's great though. Most of the problems they had was with the actor and the directing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Lamb Chops

I was thinking to myself last night "Ah, I must remember to include Roy Williams in my blog" and then I suddenly realised that it was THURSDAY and I have gone nearly five days without updating. Sorry about that...I have been working on getting all my interviews transcribed from Derby. So far have over 60 pages, and that's just the stuff I can hear.

Monday we had a guest lecturer, a London playwright named Roy Williams who has written for the Royal Court Theatre as well as the National. He usually writes plays about young black people and their experiences in London, and he was very good about sharing his ideas as well as his process--although I seriously doubt he actually types for 10 hours a day. One of the points I thought was pertinent was, when asked about the importance of having a play be identified as a "black" play: "I think that we should just put the shows on, and do them well, and THEN let people discuss them. But do them first without worrying about, 'Is it a black play or what.'" I agree. More theater is never a bad thing.

After class our tutor asked myself and another student to join her and Roy for lunch, so I suddenly found myself in the position of being able to ask a current, published, accomplished author any question I wanted. Oooh. *shiver*

We ended up talking about musicals. :)

No, seriously, Roy was very quiet actually, outside the classroom setting, but we did get to get a little deeper into the issue of race and theater and when black theater is necessary and when it will become obsolete.

Tuesday and Wenesday were completely given over to catching up on homework and doing laundry. (and if you think you don't need to devote an entire day to doing one load of laundry, you've never done it at Raymont Hall)

Tuesday night I did manage to go see a play at the Royal Court Theatre (which does a lot of new work, with student tikkies, so they're getting a lot of press in my blog) called "My Name is Rachel Corrie." This play is taken from the writings of a young American woman who went to Palestine to stand between bulldozers and Palestine homes and was run over by one of them. It was an incredibly powerful piece and it has stayed with me still. The fact that Rachel had the courage and the conviction to go abroad and actually make a change was uplifting and heartwrenching.

Which brings us to today. Thursday. Ugh. Am sleeping in tomorrow. I am a little despair-y about one of my projects, which doesn't seem to be doing anything New! but may just be a rehash of some of my old ideas. Am paranoid that I lack the life experiences to do new and startling pieces of work. (thx Sam) :) Luckily I have a couple weeks to fix it. I got my second paper back, a B-/C+, so am preparing to leap off of Tower Bridge any minute now. (to get joke, see below) And I also got to meet my partner for my last project this year, a collaboration between an MA writer and a MA performer, in my case, a very excitable Greek named Niko. Am suspicious that the teachers may have paired us up due to unfortunate alliteration. ("Niko, Nicki")

And, excitingly last, I finally bought and cooked my first meat product here in Britain, which was--you guessed it--lamb chops.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Getting out of the City

And I'm back.

I spent the weekend in Derby, as a guest of the WLS Info group (, but I also really enjoyed my time away from the big city. The train ride was two hours through perfect English countryside, and my hotel had a BATHTUB, so you know I had a relaxing time. Saturday morning I did a little window-shopping in Derby while I waited for the meeting to start, and I found a ton of clothes I could have bought. I managed to resist, but only just.

The meeting was held at a very posh hotel, and I was instantly made to feel welcome by Ken and his family. At first it was a little awkward, but after people got used to the idea that I was going to be asking questions, they opened up, and I learned a lot. Mostly what I did was tape recorded while everyone sat around and discussed their various surgeries. I learned a lot. Everyone was really friendly and outgoing, which made MY job a lot easier. And, hey, there was food, so I was happy (speaking as a starving college student). I even got to rag on the President a little with Ken's 15 year old daughter, Ally, who is probably smarter than I am at 23.

The thing that really resounded for me was everyone said that they didn't regret their surgeries and only wished they had done it sooner. To hear that kind of positive feedback was amazing--I was expecting a few people who had some reservations, but there were none. So now I'm looking to get the other side of the equation, ie people who have chosen not to have weight loss surgery to sort of balance out my play. It will be interesting to see what I get.

I didn't realise when I bought the ticket that 6:48 means AM here, if it was PM it would be 18:48. Stupid 24 hour clock. So, I got back home way earlier than I intended, but that turned out to be okay. I went to Trafalgar Square for the last hurrah of the 200th anniversary of the battle and talked with a Canadian and a New Zealander, so Britain's former colonies were well-represented. The thing last night was put on by the Navy, and it was very rah-rah England, the Navy is fun, so let's all go to war. A little awkward for me, whose country started the war, and the New Zealander, whose boyfriend was off to Afghanistan in a month. The emcee, a lieutenant who needed to look over his notes one more time, did an all right job of introducing the various acts for the first half (I got to see the hornpipe!) and then the second half was given over to lights and sound and multimedia. There was a huge screen, meant to look like a sail, where they displayed a picture of Nelson while "he" narrated the successes of the Navy for the past 200 years. The only problem was the "sail" kept waving so Nelson kind of had this bemused look on his face like, "what the hell is going on?" Or maybe that was just my imagination. There was pyro though, so, like a small child, I was entertained.

Rah, rah, Nelson. Rah, rah. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The fabulous Matt Wilde

So, for the past couple of playwrighting classes, we've had a guest lecturer, Matt Wilde, and it only just dawned on me last night that he's...well, bloody brilliant, actually, and I probably should have paid a little more attention. I went to see a show for class last night called "On Tour" which was pretty good, but very violent. It's about a trio of criminals, smugglers and also footy fans who are trying to screw each other out of a bunch of money, but then it turns out that one of 'em was sent to kill another. I won't ruin the ending for you, but let's just say one of the first questions we had for the director was "What did you use for cocaine?"

The director of the show was Matt, which I didn't realise until I bought the programme, and I also found out that he was involved in "His Dark Materials" at the National. I should have known something was up when he casually mentioned that he once told David Hare (or "Sir" David Hare, I should say...) that he was full of shit. Luckily, I haven't seen "His Dark Materials" or I could have really embarassed myself. I did, however, mention that it has a rabid following in Stevens Point WI and he should be looking out for a regional production soon. :)

A bit of good news, I got my first paper back from the teacher. He gave us all a lecture about how British grading is stricter than American grading, and we shouldn't have coronaries if we only got a C. Well, when my turn came, he quietly told me he had no criticism for me and I got an A on my paper. :) A British "A" too, so maybe that means more. I'm glad I caught him in a good mood, since my Hamlet paper apparently decided to not be on my jump drive when I tried to print it out this morning. Oops.

And then tomorrow I'm off to Derby (pronounced "Darby" as all the Brits were good enough to point out to me) to do some interviews. Our next project is to interview people and turn it into a play, and my topic is people who have had or are thinking about having weight loss surgery. It just so happens that the biggest and best group in the UK for info and support are having their yearly meeting this weekend in Derby ("Darby") and I'm going. I won't be getting back until Sunday, so at the very least it will be a nice weekend out for me. I'll be taking my computer as well as my tape recorder. The Muse ("Roger") has been gnawing my ear for the past couple days, and some of the stuff I'm producing has been quite nice. So, while the iron is hot...

Have a good weekend everyone, and I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

There's a light...

The power finally came on around 5:45 last night...NEVER was I so happy to be able to turn on a light when I went into a room! There's already a petition going around for "compensation" though. Let's see, I had to throw away about £15 of food, plus eating out for three days...hmm.

This morning I came to school to watch "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." The Musical Theater Society here is putting it on, and they want to adapt the script from the movie into the show so that more people can be in it and so that we can have an intermission and sell drinks. :) I think it will be an interesting job...we want to entertain people, of course, but I also think with a script and a story like this you have a duty to introduce people to new ideas and maybe sneak in a few themes and concepts. We'll see.

Tonight I'm off to the theater, so I have to hurry home and finish my Hamlet paper. It's a good thing I don't have class today, all of a sudden I got really busy. How did this happen, I wonder?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In the velvet darkness...

Surely, I thought, as I trundled homeward yesterday at about 4:30, surely there is no way that the power could still be off.

Foolish me.

I'm sure someday I'll look back on this and laugh, but for now... I'm in a little better spirits than I was our first day sans electricity. It's funny how all homework ceases as soon as the sun goes down. Yesterday evening we spent in the kitchen by the light of a candle catching up on each other's lives. So in a way it was a good thing. And hey! We have water in our bathrooms again. It's not hot, but at least it's there. Baby steps. This morning I took our electric kettle down the hall and plugged it into the power cord that's running from the part of the building with electricity so I could have hot water for washing. It's very "Little House" if you know what I mean. And downstairs by the office they have a coffee machine set up--that's right, distract the Nicki with shiny coffee and she's willing to put up with no power. At least my laptop was fully charged so we could listen to music while we were chatting.

I'm off now for breakfast...I can't cook, and all my food has spoiled, so I'm reduced to eating out. So much for this week's budget... :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The saga continues...

Yesterday's post was written before I blithely went out and spent the day happily wandering around Spitalfields market. Very crowded, very posh, but I finally had some chicken curry, which was BRILLIANT. Took me two cans of Coke to stop the burning though--the gentleman behind the counter couldn't believe I'd never had curry before. I only took enough for some food, which turned out to be a good thing, because then I didn't spend any money on useless shiny things.

However, when we got back to the dorm, I discovered that the power was out. Yesterday the hotwater was leaking onto the electrical box, so they had to turn the power off, but then they LEFT WITHOUT FIXING IT, leaving us with no electricity. When I left this morning at nine, there was still no power, still no water in our bathrooms and only cold in the kitchen. I had to go to another building to take a shower this morning--Raymont is connected to Edgecombe by a little hallway, but it was still a trek. Not to mention the room that was unoccupied was HUGE with this glorious ceiling and view of the garden. TAlk about salt on a wound. Anyway, things are looking up--now that the sun's out, I won't have to waste my candle on reading--no electricity means no danger of setting of the fire alarms so firecode was blithely ignored last night. Did I just use the word blithely twice in one post? I did. Anyway, spending large amounts of time at the library today, hoping they get it all sorted before I get back. Grrrr. It's very disruptive, having to dump a bucket of water down your toilet in order to flush it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Evil mechanical guinea pigs

I really wanted to write about this amazing exhibit I saw at the National Maritime Museum on Friday, but unfortunately all happiness has been wiped out by the FIRE ALARM we had this morning at SIX AM. The fire alarms here are not the pansy Point alarms: "Er, um, would mind if you, ah, that is, if it's not too much trouble, could you please get out of the building? Please?" No, the alarms here are like huge evil mechanical guinea pigs (that's what they sound like, anyway) who will come jumping on your bed in the night, squealing "EEE! EEE! EEE! GET OUT OF BED! I WANT TO EAT YOUR SOUL!" If the Revolution ever comes, all they'll have to do is lock me in a room with these alarms and I will tell them everything. This time, however, I think it was a bona fide fire, at least, I think there was some actual fire and not some stupid fresher toking up in his room. There was about six inches of water in the basement, and I think it shorted out some wiring. So this morning we had no water in our rooms, and they were planning on turning off the power to fix it. And this is me leaving to go exploring for the day. Oy.

So, unshowered but undaunted, I soldier on.

Last Friday I went to Greenwich and saw an exhibit about Nelson and Napoleon at the National Maritime Museum. Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson was a British hero who stopped Napoleon from invading Britain at the Battle of Trafalgar, which happened 200 years ago this year, so the British have all got their patriotism up. The exhibit was SO INTERESTING. I learned so much about the time period and these two men. The great thing about being in a city like London is that all the artifacts in an exhibit like this are real--like the actual plaster cast Madame Tussade made of Louis the 16th's head after he was beheaded, or the actual flag that was flying on the Victory (Nelson's ship) or the actual bullet that actually killed Nelson at the battle. It was pretty obvious by the end of the exhibit which country had put it on, since the tone was very "rah rah Nelson beat this poor crazy Emperor" but in Napoleon's defence, he did start out with pretty much nothing. Greenwich (pronounced "Grennitch") is a pretty but touristy part of London, but there is a lot of wide open green space, so it was nice to walk around in the open air for a change. That's where the Cutty Sark is parked--a cargo ship that was famous for getting back from India before any other ship for about 10 years running. I'm looking forward to going back to the Maritime Museum again--it took me three hours to get through this one exhibit, and I haven't even seen the rest of the permanent displays yet.

For more information:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Play Review

Last night I went to see "Mary Stuart" at the Apollo. It was a transfer from the Donmar Theatre, so I knew that I was in for a treat. The show was written in the 18th Century, but a modern playwright got ahold of it and "shaped" it a bit, cutting some of the dialogue and updating others. The play, as you might have guessed, centers around the queens Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I. For those of you who don't know, Elizabeth had imprisoned her coz in England when Mary Stuart (then the queen of Scotland) came seeking asylum. Mary was locked up for almost twenty years--the main problem being, Elizabeth couldn't release her as Mary would have to raise an army and "revenge" her imprisonment, but she couldn't kill her either, as Mary was a queen in her own right. Such a problem.

So the play deals with the internal struggle and the political turmoil of the time period, but it was wonderfully acted and I hardly noticed when two and a half hours went by. The set was very sparse--black bricks, a chair here, a table there, the setting mostly illuminated by dialogue. The men in the show, noblemen "politicians" all, wore modern business suits, while the two queens wore 16th century dress. Mary's was a very faithful brown dress, while Elizabeth's was a more elaborate dress made of Chinese silk. I thought it was an interesting choice, since it underscored the idea that the politicians and advisors vary very little from generation to generation, but the two queens were very much of the sixteenth century--and they may be monarchs, but they're still women.

The woman who played Mary Stuart, Janet McTeer was a HUGE woman--not fat, but tall and well-fed, shall we say. She was an AMAZING presence onstage, towering imperiously over many of the men. (except for the man who played the Earl of Leicester--he was about eight feet tall and three inches wide) The woman who played Elizabeth, Harriet Walter, I recognised from the bitchy sister-in-law in "Sense and Sensibility" but that was totally overshadowed by her brilliant characterisation. Her last great scene where she decides to sign Mary's death warrant was incredible. Her monologue was delivered to Mary, asking for advice, but in the end she finally had to listen to herself. Watching her come to her conclusion was as heart-breaking as it was thrilling.

So, I'd give the play five stars. My favourite scene was the imagined one where the two queens meet--Mary has been allowed to go outside and frolic in the rain, and Elizabeth "happens" to stop at the castle while out hunting. Mary is soaking wet in her tatty brown dress, but she ends up coming out on top after pleading for her freedom and, when she doesn't recieve it, denouncing the queen of England, Britain and any God who could put her on the throne. I couldn't believe they would make it rain at the beginning of Act 2, but they did--and had about a dozen umbrellas onstage!--and the water evaporated before too long. Damn stage lights. :)

That was my exciting night last night. Today it is raining, so I spent most of the day in my room, finishing up on homework. I recieved a box from home with a lot of clothes but also some delicious chocolate-chip cookies. Thanks, mom and dad! :) Funnily enough, they also sent me some Stash chai tea, so now my cookies taste like...chai tea chocolate chip cookies. I gave some away to my flatmates, including one who was like, "ooh, are these proper American cookies then?" As opposed to British biscuits? Yes.

Check out for more about the play.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ghost in the hall

We may or may not have a ghost in our hall. This morning several of us were woken up by the repeated slamming of a door, like someone was going in and out of the kitchen. But, those of us who were woken up were sleeping, so we couldn't slam, and the ones who were not woken up were also sleeping, so they couldn't slam. So we may have a ghost in our hall. Or it may be a door from any of the several houses nearby: the walls in our dorm are so thin, the sound travels an incredible amount.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I wanted pancakes for breakfast, but they didn't have any Aunt Jemima instant pancake mix at the store, so I had to settle for chocolate pain au, something like that.

Saturday (yesterday) I went to the V&A, or the Victoria & Albert Museum with some of my flatmates, Liz and Ruth. We all enjoyed the fashion section, although there wasn't enough hoopskirts to my mind, and then we split up to enjoy different displays on our own. Taking advantage of the amazing international collection the V&A has accumulated over the past two hundred years, I immediately went to..."Britain: 1600-1740." :) It took me two hours to wend my way through the maze of rooms with all the artefacts (it's British!), paintings, clothes, furniture, not to mention the kids sections where you can design your own coat of arms. (I didn't. Some stupid kid was hogging the computer.) And when we finally got back together, it turns out Liz was in the Britain section, only medival times, and Ruth was in the Britain section, only the 1800s...and we hadn't seen each other for two hours. That should give you an idea of how big this building is. I'm definitely going back, this time with a survival kit and more water.

This afternoon is dedicated to doing homework, namely reading some new plays and then "Hamlet." I should also start thinking about my first writing project, which I am going to set in a tree.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Thursdays I have six hours of classes, all with the same teacher who talks very fast and who is very enthusiastic. Listening to him is like reading an academic text--you have to pay attention or you'll end up missing half the point. Right now my brain hurts a lot, probably from being overused. First my legs, now my brain...ouch! We are working on new pieces that are completely different from anything I learned in Point: instead of working on "characters" we're working on "roles" instead of "plot" we're working on "action" and "events" --subtle differences to be sure, but ones that are very important. It's definitely building on what I learned before.

Yesterday I went to see a play called "Crocodile Seeking Refuge" which is about five refugees from various parts of the world seeking refuge in the UK. The stories and the source material were very good, but the staging left something to be desired, and the script was a little shaky. One of my fellow classmates also came and saw the show and we ended up talking about the play, theater, life, the Universe and everything in a pub for three hours. Ironically, he was also from the Midwest, so there was quite a bit of "You understand what I'm saying when I talk about priviledged middle class white people?" "Yes!" So that was exciting. Still find it ironic that I've come halfway around the world to talk to Americans about British theater. :) I made it to Covent Garden again last night and finally got my Cornish pasty, which was just as good as I remember. I was extremely happy to be in London, and to have finally seen some theater and to have had a good long talk with someone. A good day!

Now, as you can imagine, I'm pretty tired, and I still need to get a couple books out of the library. It's only quarter to six here, but it's already getting dark. I guess the UK is a little farther north than Green Bay, so it is going to get darker earlier, but it still catches me by surprize.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

First Day of School

2 October 2005

Clever Nicki forgot to bring her thumb drive to school, so you’re getting two days for the price of one. I had my first class today—“Contemporary Writers”—and it was a refreshing burst of academia. Namely, we all got into a fight over the state of theater today. Some thought that theater needs to be “better” than film and TV and that shows such as “Billy Elliot” are a waste of time because they’re entertaining but not educating or don’t require the audience to think. Alternately, some people felt that shows that are pure entertainment are just fine because it’s a good introduction to theater for people who have never been there before, and sometimes you just want to go to the theater for a good time.

Having paid money to see the Queen musical, I fall into the last camp, although I try to see a variety of shows. Last night I sat down with all my brochures and I made a list of shows I want to see and when they are playing and they include ballets, operas, straight plays, musicals and new works. Because I am a true Renaissance Woman, yee-ha. I don’t have another class until Thursday and then I have six hours of lecture, but it’s good to be back into the academic setting. My legs are starting to get used to all the work, so now it’s time to get my brain back into shape. ☺ I am going to read some plays by new British playwrights so I know who my classmates are talking about while I still have some free time.

On a more serious note…I finally bought a yam for dinner the other night because I have suddenly developed an inexplicable love of yams. I blame Scarlett O’Hara. The sad thing was no amount of brown sugar and butter could make the poor yam I bought palatable. I don’t think it was ripe or something, but I baked it for nearly an hour and a half and it was dry and nasty, so I think I’ll just have to wait until I come home and I can have candied yams with marshmallows…and cheesy potatoes…ahh, this cooking for myself sucks.

Covent Garden

1 October 2005

It’s hard to believe that it’s October already, and only a month ago I was feeling like I would never get out of corporate-America-land. Today, finally, the fantastic Nicki got a day off. I slept in as late as I wanted, had a big breakfast of boiled eggs and toast, and then, once everyone who was going got ready, went into Covent Garden.

Covent Garden is my favourite part of London. I love browsing in the stalls, watching the street performers, watching people, watching my bag so I don’t get pick pocketed…ahhh. Today it was absolutely crazy though. I’m not sure if I just remembered it through the hazy rose of nostalgia, or if my brain had to block it out merely to stay sane, but Covent Garden was unbelievably crowded with people. Granted, we were there on a Saturday afternoon, but we could barely get through the stalls. Keeping track of four people, was nigh on impossible. Nevertheless, we managed to have fun. We even found the H&M store that’s right there (designer knockoffs for cheap) and I found a great London-y scarf and some knit and suede gloves for winter. I just hope they match my winter coat! The piranha metaphor for shopping is sort of overused, but…if you’ve ever stayed up ‘til 2 AM watching the Discovery Channel’s special on these lovely little fish, you’ll get a sense of what H&M was like. Here’s a tip: never come between a 15 year old Londoner and her couture. ☺

We then slipped into a nearby pub for some half pints of Stella Artois and some potato wedges to take the edge off. I love how most pubs in London have their eating area upstairs, so the food has to be delivered in a dumbwaiter, and all three stories have their little bar. Although, I sure wouldn’t want to take those stairs with a tray full of food—it’s hard enough maneuvering when you’re only carrying a rucksack! After the nibbles it was time to head to the theater…the, ah, wrong theater. Oops. I had planned on going to see a new show called Crocodile Seeking Refuge at the Lyric Hammersmith Studio only I ended up at the Lyric where Death of a Salesman was playing. By that point it was too late to get over the Hammersmith, which is why I’m typing this up now at 9:48 (or 21:48) instead of raving about a new play I saw at a quarter to midnight. Oh well. There’s a matinee I think I’ll see this Wednesday instead.

I was a little worried about coming back on the Tube, especially changing at Whitechapel, since that tends to be a rather seedy part of town—and I know some of you have similar concerns. But, as I was relieved to see, standing on the platform was an official Underground employee, directing traffic, but also keeping an eye out, so I felt very safe. I also discovered that there is a train that goes from two blocks away directly into the heart of London without me needing to change, so I’ll probably use that from now on—so rest assured! I am keeping myself safe. I’m just so addicted to the Tube that I can’t stay away from it, but I’m always looking out for myself and keeping one eye open—two when I can afford them. ☺

PS: Oh, and as for Death of a Salesman… can you say “sold out?” Damn.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Play of the week

**I have been writing my posts in my room and carrying them to the library on my thumb drive, so until further notice, when I say "today" I mean "yesterday"

Also, please disregard the stupid "visit my website to cure your ills" comments that people have been posting. Lame, lame, lame. I know all of my friends and family can do much better. Cheers.**

If I needed any reminding that I am now a grad student and therefore have to achieve much higher goals, I got that today with my first reading assignment. First week: four short one-act plays, discussion to follow. Week two: Hamlet. Now I love Hamlet, don’t get me wrong, but the whole thing in one week? Guess I’ll be burning the midnight oil. (which reminds me: buy lamp) I finally got to meet my fellow playwrights and the “convener” (chair) for my department, John Ginman, the same man who interviewed me a year and a half ago. He even (dimly) remembered me! It looks like a good group of people—not only are there playwrights, but dramaturges, people who do research and work with directors and playwrights to develop the work and convey ideas to the audience. So I’ll be taking a dramaturg class in addition to writing, about how to research and discuss plays. We’re going to be reading at least a play a week, most of which I have never heard of, much to my delight. We also have the option of reading one of them in it’s original French. Sorry, I’m gonna have to take a pass… I’m very excited to be embarking on the “academic” part of studying here at last, but a little worried as well. One of my projects later this year is going to involve multimedia, and I have no experience with video and sound, so it is going to be another total learning experience. A small part of me was whining for awhile that “Ahhh, we write plays about people standing around in kitchens talking to one another, we don’t need video…” and was promptly shouted down by the rest of the voices in my head. Also, my schedule of classes leaves me with Wednesday and Friday totally free…not to go to Ireland, as some have suggested, but to work on my writing and reading. Yeah. Two whole days for homework. *shudder* Anyway, it’s been a very exciting day, culminating in fried potato for dinner.

Also, while I was in the library earlier being reflective, I found a webpage with an article about Sweeney Todd complete with pictures of Michael Cerveris and (jealous) Patti Lu Pone. I was promptly rendered so excited that I had to go outside for some air