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: