Wednesday, August 30, 2006

welcome back to town (o, I should lie down)

I know everyone wants to see pretty pictures of the Highlands, but can I just say first that having to come home to no less than three rejection-letters for job is the most depressing thing in the world?! Especially when they all say the same thing: "We had an extremely high level of quality applicants..." read: "But you're not highly qualified enough! You suck! Go back to temping, you loser!" What a way to end my vacation. I'd go buy some ice-cream to make me feel better, but...I can't afford it. Mom and Dad should just about be getting on a plane now. I wish I was going with them. This *sucks.*

Pictures and upbeatness tomorrow, promise.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ah, no, I forgot, I don't speak French!!!

The parents and I are enjoying exploring London, but yesterday we decided to go to Calais (you know, where Emma Hamilton is buried?) and have lunch. Since Calais is in France, by the time we got the ferry schedule worked out, we actually didn't have time for anything else, but it was definitely worth it. Those were the best damn prawns I've ever had in my life. And French is a great language. There's not enough French in my life in my opinion. Calais is nice, but as it was the end of the season, a lot of places were closed down or closing early. And it was raining. Still, we had a good time. The ferry was very nice, which distracted me from the fact they are targets for terrorists, at least according to Michael Moore (ohhhh, BOATS), and the train ride down was beautiful. I love the English countryside.

Then today i had to take a vacation from my vacation so I could look at apartments and interview for a job. The interview went well: the gentleman told me that out of 400 applications they had shortlisted 50 and I was one of them--and if they like me I'll be "called back" (that's what he said, it's a theatre agency!) in about 10 days. 10 days!!!!! I need a job NOW!!!! I don't know what I need worse: A job or a place to live. "Dear Lord: I know I've asked for a lot lately, but PLEASE send me a job and a place to live. Love, Nicki. PS: And a boyfriend." The good thing is there are dozens of jobs and dozens of flats, but today is the day our internet provider finally figured out we haven't paid our bill in four months (not my fault!!!) and cut off our service. merde. So I'm actually at an Internet cafe near Trafalgar Square, before meeting up with my flatmate to go look at another place. Then I'm off to do laundry before mom and dad and I take off for Scotland tomorrow. Because, you know, I just haven't been to Scotland enough recently.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I just wanted to drop a quick note to all my loyal readers and say that my parents arrived safe and sound. They're HERE! They're here in MY CITY! And I feel like I'm coming too for t he first time, showing them around. Except I know where everything is! It's like the first time again--only better! Wheee!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Have a good Fest!

Edinburgh is the craziest scene I have ever seen--thousands of people, thousands of shows, all packed into this gorgeous little city for three weeks. In a way I'm glad that I was only there for three days, I suspect I may have gone mad otherwise. It's hard to keep that up. I went with my classmate, Sarah. We left Thursday morning at 2:30 AM to catch the Gatwick Express. Rather than try and sleep, we just stayed up all night. Worked okay the first time! When we arrived in Scotland, about 9:00, we had a Scottish breakfast, then plunged right in. Four shows later (reviews below), we finally made it to the hostel, where we collapsed. The hostel was nice, but it was really far away from the center of town, so I don't recommend it unless you're doing a more traditional visit of Edinburgh--IE, not staying out until all hours of the night seeing theatre and meeting people. The next day we slept in until ten and then went and saw three shows, including my favourite, "Improbable Frequency." Sarah's friend from high school was there, so we all went out for dinner. Sarah had haggis, and I tried a bite, it was actually pretty good. I suspect, however, that the receipe has improved somewhat over the past hundred or so years. After that we went out to experience the Edinburgh nightlife, ending up, I'm not making this up, hanging out by a giant inflatable purple cow that was on it's back and provided another performing venue. Yesterday we decided to treat ourselves by getting massages, so I had an aromatherapy massage with lavender, geranium and black pepper. It was lovely, only then I kept smelling myself all day. Mm. Pepper. We had breakfast at the Elephant House, which is a small, clean, cozy, somewhat unremarkable place--and it's also where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. So I was sitting there going "oh, I'm so relaxed and peppery...aH!!!! THIS IS WHERE HARRY HAPPENED! I feel so inspired!!! ...and relaxed..." That afternoon we managed to squeeze in three shows (most are under an hour and a half long) and had fish and chips for dinner. Proper fish and chips, greasy wrapped in paper f&c, the kind that you regret as soon as you're done. Mmmm... We finished our shows with a concert by Rain Pryor, who we'd seen earlier in another show. Ms. Pryor sang jazz standards and different renditions of songs, including a jazzed up "Sunrise, Sunset." Being our last night in Edinburgh, we went pub hopping, starting with a place called the Beehive. When we walked in, Sarah said "is this a gay bar?!" due to the incredibly high density of incredibly hot men, but then we realised they were probably a football team or summat. Also during this week was the Tattoo, a review of Scotland's military bands, so there were also plenty of men walking around in kilts and uniforms. Very nice. I managed to restrain myself from getting my picture taken with a bekilted man, unlike some Americans I saw.

Having stayed out so late last night, we took a taxi back to the hotel which waited while we threw our stuff together and then took us to the airport for our 8:30 flight. I was (am) so exhausted that I slept in the waiting room, slept on the PLANE, which never happens--literally sat down, put my head back and slept--then got home and (took a shower, finally) got into bed. Six hours later my stomach woke me up by shaking me and going "hey, how about some real food, none of this fish and chips and pan au chocolate crap you've been eating?" So I had pasta.

I really enjoyed Edinburgh, even if I didn't manage to see anything even remotely to do with the city or historical. Even though I walked around the castle all weekend I didn't even get up THERE, but I had such a great time, I didn't really miss it. ("Why are all those bleachers up at the castle?" "Quidditch match.") I think the highlights of the weekend were being propositioned in broad daylight by a nice-looking banker person who was astonished when I said "thanks, but NO" and listening to dance music being played on an alp horn by a street busker. Then of course there was Sarah's come back line to a group of unruly teenagers, one of whom thought it was funny to walk past her singing, "I like your scarf, it makes me horny!" Sarah: "You're twelve!" "Shut your mouth!" Only he was Scottish, so it came out more like "Shuut yer mooth!" hahaha.

So here are all the shows I saw, in order that I saw them:

"The It Girls." BAD BAD BAD, don't see it. A group of high schoolers adapt Moliere (badly), perform it (badly), and wonder why the audience didn't call them back for a second bow. Our first show, but we got smarter after that.

"Blogger Diaries." Funny and smart. The author pieced together a series of blogs which were then delivered/reenacted by the actors. So you got a real slice of life of real people who keep online journals (like this one!) about their worries, sex lives and problems in general. Very polished and well acted.

"An Asylum on Every Corner." A musical about mental health and care in the UK. BORING. Very boring, skip it if you can. Sarah and I were both falling asleep. The songs all sounded the same, the dialogue and story were inane, and the conflicts within the script seemed stupid. The only good thing I can say about it was the quality of acting, but the show was horrible.

"Marilyn and Ella." We arrived five minutes late for this show and had to cry our way past a surly teenage doorguard. This show was about Marilyn Monroe getting a gig for Ella Fitzgerald a a prominent Hollywood nightclub by going to see her every night. It was a very interesting, very well put together piece, but teh woman playing Marilyn seemed a little fluffy. Rain Pryor as Ella was amazing though, and it was delicious to hear all that good jazz.

"Love's Labour Won." A piece that was written in the style of Shakespeare, but which took the conventions and twisted them around. So you had a (very out of place) monologue in the middle about how horrible the war in Iraq was, and one of the lovers deciding he needed to go off and find himself before committing to love one person at the end. The technical aspects of the script were great, but the story was a bit weak and misogynistic. The best part was the fact that Sarah was friends with one of the actors, so that night I could sit down with him and talk about his part. "See, the whole show we're told your problem is which girl should I choose? Then at the end, you suddenly take another choice, to leave and Find Yourself. But we never get that this is what you want. When do you make that choice?" "*" Thank you MA degree.

"Pentecostal Wisconsin." As we were looking for the room for "Love's Labour Won,"a nice young man helped us and gave us his flyer. I knew we would have to go before I even saw the title, because he was wearing a cheesehead on the flyer. The show was a one-man retelling of growing up Pentecostal in Eau Claire, and Sarah and I were laughing our heads off at all the midwestern references. When Ryan said "I'm from Wisconsin..." and held up his left hand I was thinking, "HE's doing the Wisconsin map! And no one's going to get it because we're in the UK!" And I burst out laughing so hard he asked me where I was from, so I had to say, "Green Bay!" whilst pointing to the base of my thumb. The show was a riot. AFterward Sarah and I took him out for a beer because he was so good. It was like a little slice of home. Aw.

"Improbable Frequency." This was my favourite show, and if you ever get a chance, GO AND SEE IT WITHOUT HESITATION. It's set in 1941 Dublin, an English spy has been sent to see if the IRA are secretly sending messages to the Nazis and ends up discovering a larger secret and falling in love with an Irish lass. And it's a musical! If I tried to describe it to you, you would think it's stupid. Most of the script is rhymed couplets, and there are some of the worst puns you've ever heard, but it just funny and clever and so well put together. The traditional Irish song which every starts clapping to turning into a Nazi support song, for example (Cabaret, anyone?), a song entitled "Don't Patronise the Irish" and lines such as "I'm not looking forward to going to confession/I wouldn't know where to begin/Here in the arms of British Intelligence/Oxymoronic as well as a sin!"

"The Interview." We literally picked this one out of the catalogue because we had two hours to kill and didn't feel like walking anymore. A futuristic look at marriage where you have to sign a contract or lose your job, house, benefits, etc. It was very well polished, and the discussion felt a little too settled (throw a chair, people!) but I liked the design of the set, which was a big parachute hanging from the ceiling with a zipper in it for the "door."

"Adult Child/Dead Child." An examination of neglect on a child with emotional problems. Two women played the same character and used physical theatre to deliver a hugely emotional play in a small space. I really liked the direction and performances. After seeing shows where people sat around and talked to each other all week, it was great to see people running, jumping, hitting, shouting and moving in general! And the script was really solid--I'm jealous.

"Hedda Gabbler." The dramaturg for The Representative directed this piece, and it's one of Sarah's favourites, so we went... It was just a very tepid production, nothing really stand out-ish or anything extraordinary being discovered. The best part was the maid! She came in and had to put up with Aunt Juju nattering on, until Auntie mentioned "You'll still be working for George" and the maid kind of gave a sigh and went "Yes, miss," and I thought "Dear Lord, she's in love with him!" And sure enough, every time George and she were onstage together...but it is sad when I think the maid had more motivation for dusting the bookshelf when her master was in the room than Hedda did when she shot herself.

"Rain Pryor and her Trio." Our last show was just a jazz set by Rain Pryor (Richard Pryor's daughter) who has the most amazing, smoky voice. I want her CD! She was so friendly and laid back and endearingly awkward between shows. Afterward we had to tell her how much we enjoyed it and she was very friendly and nice to us. And I like her hair.

And that was my Edinburgh experience. I had an amazingly brilliant time, but I'm glad to be home. Everyone was astonishingly friendly (or maybe I'm just used to London rudeness) and upbeat and there was a real sense of camraderie. Yes, a good time was had by all!!!

But now, loyal readers, I'm going to bed, because I'm still exhasted. And!!!! And, and, and, and and, Mom and Dad are coming tomorrow!!!! YAYYYY!!! So I need to be fresh to show them around. Good night!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

drawing doodles, maccabees, bumblebees, christmas trees...

Yes, Flora, it is possible to be bored in London. I've spent the past couple days in my room, mostly sleeping, occasionally rousing myself to look up apartments or jobs. No luck on either so far. But I am starting to get carpal tunnel from clicking around so much. but mostly I'm bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored...ahh, I just fell asleep again. Damnit. For the past couple days a group of Communists have been meeting in our building, and they spend their lunch hour in the garden. This is usually what wakes me up. They're so cute--like a more political version of the garden gnome. Aw.

(Speaking of political, has anyone been to It's the new blog of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...I visited, but I couldn't read anything. I suspect, in addition to hating Americans, Israelis, Westerners in general, freedom, toast, etc, Mr. Ahmadinejad also hates Mac users.)

But! Tomorrow I am going to be saved from the raft of boredom and the endless spiral of obsessive email-checking because I am heading off to the Edinburgh Festival, up in Scotland. Whoo! The Edinburgh Fringe is the world's largest and craziest theatre festival, and I am really, REALLY looking forward to going up there and seeing some shows as opposed to being involved in them. I just hope I don't get confused and end up backstage. I am going with a fellow Goldsmiths classmate, and our flight leaves at the crack of dawn, so I better get packing...I'm traveling light: just a few clean pairs of pants, a low cut top for attracting cute boys, drinking money and camera so I can take pictures in case I don't remember what happened...oh, oh, oh, I'm just kidding. I'm really going for the theatre. No, no, really. That's all, really. Really.

Have a good weekend everyone, and I'll update you when we get back!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Post-Show Blues

Well, it's over. All the hurry and excitment of the last three weeks, full stop. Fin. Luckily Lisa was being a photo fiend last night, so you can see some of the company. I've invited everyone from the show to my blog, so you have you bear with me, loyal readers, if I indulge:

My roommates, who volunteered to help backstage and who were the true stars of the show!

Lisa and Matt as an Italian militia man

Jack as the Cardinal in all his red satined glory

Edmund as Fontana Sr.

The Luccani family-Roy, Denise, Will and Matilda-and Auntie Alison

Lisa and Will

Lisa and David

Lisa has a tough decision...Olly or Steve?

Lisa and Leander

Lisa and Mike

Olly, try not to look so happy you're going to Auschwitz...

The Swiss Guard costume that was onstage for--literally--30 seconds.

Susannah, our devastatingly gorgeous producer

Simon for Pope!
And finally me, your illustrious SM with my new haircut.

It was a really great show, but I am honestly glad it's over. Three hours of the Holocaust every night was enough to start making me lose sleep. I'm proud of what we did, what I did, and I'm feeling ready to work on another show. I spent Sunday helping to clear out the old sets and junk from the theatre, so now my legs and feet hurt almost too much too walk. Luckily I haven't had to do much walking today--sleeping until 2:30 will do that--but I did manage to clean my room. It took me nearly 30 minutes of "Caroline, or Change" to get the floor in my bathroom clean, but it was worth it. Strange how all of a sudden my life has gone from the bustle and excitment of a London Show! to sheer boring domesticity. Sorry. I am in the middle of purging. I'll catch myself quoting lines when I don't mean to ("would you like your uncle-doctor to give you a piece of cake? damnit...") and looking at my wrist wondering where my watch has got to. But then again, this is what theatre's all about: in the end--no matter what--you know it's going to end (unlike certain current political situations I could mention, grr...) and you get to enjoy it while it lasts. Magic Stephen Sondheim eight ball says: "And you're back again, only different, after the sky."

Post-Show Blues

Thursday, August 10, 2006

total writer mode

I've got my glasses my cup of fairtrade coffee in my "Guardian" up in messily attractive pony tail...that's right, I'm in full-on distracted novelist mode. Now all I need is a boarhound named Wolfgang snoozing in front of the fire whilst I clean out my pipe. Yes, I'm determined to be productive today, even if it is only a 2,000 word reflective essay for school.

I thought I'd update everyone with Plans for My Life, since they are falling into place. The show is over this Saturday, strike, etc, to follow. Then Thursday, a mate and I are taking off to Edinburgh for some much needed holiday and theatre-seeing. Then! joy of joys! Mom and Dad are coming to visit me, so we'll be doing the touristy thing in London and possibly Ireland. My visa is still good until January, and now that I'm done with classes, I can work full time, so I'm planning on getting an apartment with some friends until then at least, and seeing what will happen. I've been sending out job apps, and Tuesday I went to Kelly Services--where I spoke with James who, he assures me, is only working at Kelly until he gets his big acting break. If I'm temping again, at least I'm...temping in London. And just this afternoon I got a call from another assistant director, so it sounds like I'll be stage managing a show in the evenings starting next week...for free again, but, eh. I also, speaking of sheer audacity, applied at the National Theatre for an ASM, but if they do me the honor of spitting on my application before lighting it on fire and throwing it into the Thames, I'd be flattered.

It's very strange to have been living in the city for nearly a year. And now I don't really want to leave. If I can't find full-time work before January I'll have to, but until then I'm going to enjoy this as much as I can. This also means, however, all you slackers out there have an other four months to come and visit me--and soon you'll have a shiny apartment to visit instead of a boring old dorm room, so get your pennies together and come here!!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Too nice to look for work

ya know, when the bus is on time...and moving fast enough to get a breeze...and it's not full of annoying children...and you can sit down...busses are kind of fun. I think the word "trundling" was invented to describe how they move. Trundle, trundle, trundle...

My cold is much better, but it's settled into my ears, so my equilibrium is off, and I'm still tired. I suspect this may also be due to the fact that someone replaced my mattress with a bag of concrete blocks when I wasn't looking. Seriously. I have THE MOST uncomfortable mattress in the world. Speaking of--I was in Lewisham today--and I saw a man and woman testing out new beds in the window of a furniture store. Everybody now: "awww." This must be what the great mystery of being married is. Instead of sleeping on a bag of concrete blocks you get to buy your own damn bed. Of course, the idea of owning furniture is only slightly less scary than being married.

there was something else I wanted to...oh, yes, hang on...let me get my...journal...mrr...(another side effect of Getting Better: the inability to focus. FYI, all the cues came on time last night, except the doorbell didn't work the first time because ONE SOUND JACK was HALFWAY OUT OF THE SOCKET. AAAAAHHHH...)

Okay, here's what I wanted to write about. I'm reading plays for the Finburra (which I'm going to misspell from now on, because the artistic director once googled the theatre, found my blog and now teases me about making fun of the designers) and one of the plays I read included this quote:

"To be ignorant of many things and to be mistaken in some is the necessary condition of humanity." -John Wesley.

The play was not that great, but that quote really struck me. I have always professed my ignorance of Things in General, but it never occured to me that this is a necessary part of learning things. Just as the planets could not be suspended in space without the vacumn of Nothing. The important thing is to remember that we none of us have the whole answer.

which reminds me of an actual conversation I had with someone when I was sixteen:

"I hate stupid people."
"Yeah, ignorant people piss me off."
"Well, ignorant people are okay, but it's the stupid ones who--"
"What do you mean? That's the same thing."
"No, stupid people are just thick. Ignorant people just don't have the information yet."
"See, a few seconds ago you were ignorant. Now you're just stupid."
"I rest my case."

PS: Can someone send me the playlist for "Sunday in the Park With George?" For some reason Napoleon decided to rearrange the songs and I can't remember how they go...

Monday, August 07, 2006

back due to popular demand...

not that I have anything terribly interesting to say. I seem to have caught a cold from one of the actors so today was spent largely in bed coughing and then whimpering as my lungs attempted to detach themselves from my chest. I can't say whether it's a cold or just one of these weird sicknesses I've been getting since living in London. Better me than an actor, anyway. It didn't stop me from going to see "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" tonight with hot, hot Cillian Murphy. An amazing movie about the IRA in the 20s...I really enjoyed it, even if I only understood about half of it due to actual Irish accents being used and being distracted the other half of the time by hot Cillian Murphy's actual amazing blue eyes.

*cough* *ouch* mrrr...

This being an independent woman of the new millenium sucks. I just want someone to put me to bed, make me a cup of tea and bring me the Guardian and some Nyquil.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What the hell else is there to talk about?!

I think I might not blog for awhile, since I feel like I'm boring everyone to death with the same thing over and over: "Eh, show, eh, job applications, eh, bus ride home." I did see a woman carrying a baby puppy on the Tube today and nearly fell over on the escalator again. awww. puppy. I want one. But nothing much fun or interesting has been happening--this stuff's better suited to the journal. So if you don't hear from me for awhile, no worries. I'll be back when the show is over--then you all get to hear about how depressed I am the show is over. :)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

This is not about L0v3

Maybe this is the point where I become the secular nun. just spent two hours consoling the producer on their breakup. Only advice received: "don't fall in love with an actor!" Too late. But the updated blogg must appear punctually. I do love the city at night. That's when my play comes to life, when the prowl taht pushes action forward is animated, golem-like, the whole of London be a giant empty stage set that I can prowl around, poke at, make sure the props are in the right place before the actors appear and break stuff. Sent out another half doezen applications tonight. It's not that I Don't want to come Home, but I Do So LikeLondon, and I'm here, so I might as well stay. I just want to get paid. Is that so much to ask? Maybe sleep on it and see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully it will bring Toast because I'm really hungry right now. Does anyone remember that Toaster I had when I was in the dorms at Point? to make Pop-Tarts with? The one that had the Pop-Tart setting? I think I broke it, 'cause I don't know what happened to it. Alliteration code: lookout for foxes on the road.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"I must remember to tell Eichmann you're eating Viennese Jewish authors."


Surely you mean "reading," Steve?

This is what happens when you see the same play night after night your mind starts playing tricks on you. I had to go in early tonight to change a lamp in an instrument, which was fun. Nothing like standing on the ricketiest ladder in London while flakes of glass sprinkle down into your eyes. Last night we had major problems with the lights, prompting one actor to come up to me after the show and ask what was up. When I told him the bulb (layman's terms) needed changing, he patted my hand comfortingly and said "But, surely, that's technically not your job?" Bless. And neither is buying props, building the set or replacing costume pieces. Yet, for some reason...

This is why I like David so much: because he takes care of his own costumes. Not only does he polish his boots, iron and replace buttons, he even does it when my dressers or I have offered to do it for him, causing me on more than one occasion to stop in my tracks and quite openly stare at the anomaly. ("Are you polishing your boots?!" "Yeah, well, I figured the Doctor would have a prisoner to do it for him, but since this is fringe...") I would say nice things about him, even if he didn't read my blog. It's such a novelty having an actor who looks after their own bits that I'm not quite sure what to make of it. This just goes to support the theory I'm going to build my company on: actors and techies working together in harmony to make a good show. Actors aren't stupid--they understand how and why things work, and there's no reason why they can't be a part of the process.

If, however, they insist on saying stupid things like "can you bring up the lights when I'm standing by the chair?" when the blackout is so total that I can't even see the chair, I will say "No."

And if they insist, I'll call upon a Higher Power than myself.

"The director said to bring the lights up at the end of the sound cue, and that's where it's staying."