18 September 2017


The annual picture in front of Blenheim Palace!!!

 While on the bus to Blenheim Palace, we heard about the bombing on the District Line Tube.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people who were injured.  Luckily no one died.  We were glad to hear that they arrested two suspects!!!!   Right away we let everyone know that we were safe and sound.   So here is week three.  So far the students in the Art in London class have gone to three museums:  The National Gallery, Tate Britain, and the Tate Modern.  As far as plays this week we attended the Sondheim musical, Follies, starring Imelda Staunton as Sally who sings "Losing My Mind" for the Theatre in London class.  Absolutely fantastic.   The entire production was 2 hours and 15 mins. with no intermission (interval).  Time just zoomed by.  We also saw for the Page to Stage Class, Knives in Hens, a Scottish play at the Donmar Warehouse.  It was a three person play that we read in class and were anxious to see.  It didn't disappoint.  I will see what the class thought of both these plays tomorrow in class.

After the play Peyton had to get money from an ATM machine that took Discover cards.  Here he is with his security!  We then went to Neal's Yard in Covent Garden because for a couple of years now I have wanted to try the gigantic pizza served in one of the restaurants there.  This was the night!

A Buddha on the second level across from the restaurant.

A Buddha on the ground under the upstairs Buddha.

The giant pizza fed the seven of us.  Here is Anna's hand to give you a sense of proportion and size.

On Tuesday we went to the National Theatre where we had a Backstage tour at 5:00pm before we went to the 7:30 performance of Follies in the Olivier Theatre.

The statue of Sir Laurence Olivier, the founder of the National Theatre.

While on tour we saw part of the set for Saint George and the Dragon being built.  It intrigued us, so I bought tickets to the show for our last play in London.  It is always good to go back to the National.

Before the performance of Follies, Rufus Norris, the Artistic Director came out and gave a tribute to Sir Peter Hall who passed away.  Sir Peter was a visionary.  At 29 he founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and became the first Artistic Director/Manager of the new National Theatre which is where the current building is located.  They moved from the Old Vic!

The tour of the National was very informative.  We got to see two theatres, the Olivier and the Lyttelton.

We made sure we left some of our Fuddy Meers flyers in the rack in the lobby.

I spotted a certain book in the children's section of the National Theatre Bookstore after I bought a couple of plays.  It upset me!

A pigeon? Really?  They are taking over.  Trust me!

On Thursday evening Parker, Becca, Mike, Stefan and I went back to the National to attend a talk given by Peter Brook.  He directed Marat/Sade one of my favorite plays and also the first movie, the black and white version, of The Lord of the Flies.  We also use his book, "The Empty Space" in the Directing I class and the Page to Stage Class.  So it was an honor meeting him!  Richard Eyre, the Artistic Director after Sir Peter Hall also paid tribute to him as did Peter Brook.  Before the talk we went to YO! SUSHI on the Southbank for dinner.

After the talk Peter Brook had a book signing for his new book, "Tip of the Tongue, Reflections on Language and Meaning"

On the Terrace.  Note the sign behind Parker.

My walk back to the Embankment Tube after purchasing tickets for Saint George and the Dragon and the book signing.

The skating ramps next to the National. A developer tried to develop this property but the public and skaters protested and won! 

The orange bench is part of an art installation on the Southbank.

 Saint Paul's Cathedral in the distance

On our day trip on Friday we to Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Chucrhill.

  The ceiling on the outside portico.  These are the eyes of the first Duke and Dutchess.

A pillar with the first Duke of Marlborough on the top.

Ceiling in the Great Hall.

There is a large collection of toy soldiers from many different wars.

The Drawing Room.

Photos of the family.  The current Duke and Dutchess is on the far left.

This is an interesting painting of the Duke that married Consuelo Vanderbilt.  She was over 6 feet tall, and he was short.  He married her for her money which helped support the palace.  In this painting the artist painted steps that do not exist in that room and painted the Duke on the steps so he doesn't look like he is a lot shorter than the Dutchess.  Their marriage did not last.  She ended up marrying a Frenchman.

Consuelo Vanderbilt.  She was an American.  Her father, Cornelius, was considered the richest man in the world.  Their summer cottage was The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, my hometown.

The Red Room.  A chaperone's couch.  The corner seat is where the chaperone sat to keep tabs on the couple dating.

The small copy of the large painting was painted by the daughter of the Duke on the far left.  She was an excellent artist.

An elaborate cradle.

A copy of the French standard that was captured at the Battle of Blenheim.  A copy has to be presented to the Royal Family every year in order for the Duke and Dutchess to keep the palace and the land.  If they do not do it, it goes back to the Queen.

The first Duke sent a note about the victory at Blenheim on a bill from a tavern.

Many of the walls in the various rooms are covered by the Blenheim Tapestries that depict the Battle of Blenheim and the surrender of the French.  All the animals in the tapestries are horses except for this dog.  See if you notice anything odd about this dog.

Yup!  Its paws are hooves!  Probably a mistake that couldn't be corrected.

The first Dutchess, Sarah, was best friends with Queen Anne who gave them the property for winning the Battle.  The Queen and Sarah had a falling out and the Queen died before they could make up.  Sarah commissioned this statue to be made of Queen Anne.  It is not a true depiction.  Sarah wanted to flatter the Queen.  In reality the Queen was as wide as she was tall.  Very short and stout. Not as portrayed here.  This is in the great library!  This room is used for many events, weddings, dinner, concerts, etc.

The gorgeous ceiling.

A view of the fountains at the back of the Palace.

There is a great exhibit in the Palace of Sir Winston Churchill. Here is the bed he was born in while his mother was visiting the relatives.  He also proposed to his wife in the gazebo in the back of the property.

One of his medals.

Enjoy a bit of the organ in the Library.  Luckily it was being played while we were there.

Our very knowledgeable tour guide!

The chapel.

A cool dragon!

The fountains in the back of the Palace and the cafe!

Spotted this horse across the lake.  Took photo with a telephoto lens.

A view of the bridge.  There are apartments in the bridge.  All the lakes on the property are man-made.

 When we first arrived on the property, we had to kill time before the tour so we went into the exhibit of the Battle of Blenheim and an exhibit about the Churchills   The family's name is Spencer-Churchill.  The Spencers are the same family as Princess Diana.

 A part of the huge model of the Battle of Blenheim

You could take a train, Sir Winston Churchill, out to the Pleasure Gardens that had a butterfly house, gardens, a hedge maze, and lawn games.  It cost 50 pence each way to help maintain the new train.   Or one could walk there.                      

Some of the great trees on the property that we passed on the train.

The garden outside the butterfly house.  Lots of lavender planted here. 

Inside the butterfly house.

The Peter Pan fountain in the Pleasure Garden.

Margo concuring a maze.

Get him Margo!!!!


The hedge maze.

Does she pass for being under 12.  Methinks so!!!

A model of the village of Woodstock!

The train back to the Palace.

On Saturday Parker, Stefan, and Becca went to go see Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in Milton Keyes.  It was the last performance of the National tour.  The show closed in London in June.  They loved it and said it was worth the trip.  While we were at Peter Brook's book signing all the others went to go see Kinky Boots.  Many also went to see Les Miz.  They loved both shows.  On Saturday Anna went to go see and interactive production of The Great Gatsby and loved it.  Seeing tons of theatre.

On Saturday night I attended a jewelry exhibition entitled "a ring is a ring, is a ring, is a ring"  Alise Kennedy, Jonathan's wife, who works for the Royal Ballet has been taking a jewelry course and this is a project that was done by a school in Germany, a school in Florence, Italy, and Alise's school in London.  Jonathan, his mother, Carol, and I attended.  Before the show we went to have coffee at the National Gallery cafe, then we had dinner at Pollo Bar.  

The exhibit was in the shape of a ring with all of the rings of the 30 something students on top of it.

Here is Alise and her two great rings.  Both are made of silver.

Inside the glass cube is a letter her father wrote to her.  A great memory piece.

I am also doing an independent study class with Michael O'Brien-Britton on writing.  He is doing a blog that you can see on the St. Mary's Study Abroad web page or his blog page.  In addition to the travel blog he is writing reviews of plays, movies, places, and exhibits.  He also conducted an interview with the actor who will be performing Big Foot which is going out on tour and will end up at Tara Theatre.  Tara will be broadcasting a live performance while the production is on tour on October 18th.  Mike's interview was published on Tara's web page and in Black Theatre Live's web page.  Click on the link below to read it.  He will also be reviewing the performance.  Look for it in a future blog.