09 October 2017

wEEK 6: HAIR, OLSO, VENUS IN FUR, AND FUDDY MEERS!!!!


Well week 6 just finished.  We went to a number of plays this week and finished rehearsing our play, Fuddy Meers, in the rehearsal space at The Cockpit theatre this evening.  We move into the New Wimbledon Studio Theatre tomorrow.  On Thursday for the Theatre in London class we went to see for our Fringe play, the 50th Anniversary production of the musical, HAIR in the Waterloo Vault Tunnels.  It was a blast!  We were led into an open area that was covered with sawdust, had tents, cushioned benches and other seating areas.  There was a bar and merchandise booths.  Very hippy!  We were led into the theatre by groups.  We were the yellow group and sat in the first two rows.  It was a very good production.  My one complaint was that the cast and costumes were way too clean!  Singing and choreography were awesome.  The ending was not as clear as it could be with how the character of Claude ends up.

Some of us vegging in the tent before the show.

On Tuesday for the Page to Stage class we had the pleasure of seeing the Tony Award winning play for Best Play, Oslo, starring Toby Stephens.  He and the entire cast were awesome!  Great drama with a lot of humor!  It shed a lot of light on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict!  It just opened after transferring from Broadway to the National Theatre  then to The Harold Pinter Theatre.



We went to the Opening Night of Venus in Fur starring Natalie Dormer (from Game of Thrones) and David Oakes.  It was a two person show.  Both were incredible.  This is a play we all went to just to see.  It was not for a class; although we will talk about it in class.  After the show Natalie came out to the stage door and spoke to our students, signed autographs, and took pictures.



Stefan and Natalie!

 Part of the group with Natalie!!!

Our play, Fuddy Meers, opens October 18 -21.  We move into the New Wimbledon Studio Theatre tomorrow to work on Lights, Set, Costumes, Sound, Painting, etc.  Show is looking good as of now.  Need to get all the tech going.  Any students coming we will be able to use a promotional code to purchase tickets for 5 pounds.

Damn pigeons are at it again.

Students went to the Barbican for the Art in London Class this week and to the Imperial War Museum for the Global Issues class.
Below Peyton and I are about to go into the Piccadilly Tube Station.  No comment!


THAT'S ALL FOLKS!!!!

02 October 2017

CABARET, 42ND STREET, AND BOUDICA!!!


If you recall, a week ago we met and spoke with Will Young at the Stage Door of the New Wimbledon Theatre when we were picking up flyers and posters for our show, Fuddy Meers.  The theatre was able to get us great seats at a discount price in the Dress Circle for last Monday night.  The show was fantastic!  It is the newer version of Cabaret that has been touring the UK.  This was different from the one I directed at Saint Mary's a number of years ago.  More songs from the movie, different look, and some songs not included.  We will be discussing it in class tomorrow.  Will Young was great as the MC.  Very emotional ending.  The students did not know the show, and the show had a great impact on them!!!!  It is so timely with all that is happening in the States.


Vicki McDonald from the Study Abroad Office at SMU and her husband, Brian, were able to join us.  They are at the end of the first row!


On Tuesday night for the Page to Stage class we went back to the Globe Theatre to see a production of Boudica, a non-Shakespearean play about Queen Boudica, a warrior who tried to force the Romans out of Britain.   We loved reading the script and really enjoyed the production.  Brilliant as the Brits would say!  We again lined up at 5 pm  and were the first ones in line so we got to lean up against the stage.  Great place to see the show!  Tons of action all around us.  

The new Globe was founded by an American actor, Sam Wanamaker, actress Zoe Wanamaker's father.  He was outraged that London did not have a Globe Theatre so he set forth to recreate it!  Unfortunately he passed away before it was completed.



The Gate from which the Groundlings (those of us who stand in the pit) enter has all the animals that are mentioned in Shakespeare's plays on it.  Here are some of them below:





Comedy and Tragedy masks at the top!

St. Paul's Cathedral on the other side of the Thames River!  Our view while waiting for two hours for the Gate to open.






The set for Boudica is below.  Emma Rice has more stage lighting and colored lights than ever in this production.  She has been booted as the Artistic Director because the Board did not like her choice to use sound and lighting in the productions once she took over.  This is her way of telling them where to go with more sound and lighting than other productions!!!! Ha, ha.   Was great! During some of the battle scenes the planks on the wall fell and were later hung at interval and used as trees in the forest.  All the acting was also fantastic.  Great feminist play.






Thanks to Jo McCarthy, who was in my production of Vanities at Tara Arts Theatre, we got house seats to 42nd Street at the Drury Lane Theatre.  Jo works for The Really Useful Theatre Group (Andrew Lloyd Webber's Production Company) and was able to get tickets in Row F center Stalls (Orchestra Seats) for this production.  Best seats in the house for 35 pounds!!!!  Regular 160 pound seats!   The production was awesome!  Fantastic sets, costumes, and dancing.  Not one tap was out of sync in the entire show!  Wow, wow, wow comes to mind!  Thank you JO!


 

We did not have any day trips this week.  Bath was our last one; hence, this blog is a lot shorter than usual.  On Thursday this week I met with Jim Casey, former design faculty and Production Manager at Saint Mary's who was in town for the NFL Football games at Wembley.  He works for the company that develops new technology and provides all the headsets for the NFL games. We had dinner at the Green Man Pub after my rehearsal.  He will be back in a couple of weeks for the Vikings Game.  He was able to score me some tickets I got for a friend.  I will be in Scotland for the game and can't go!

Stefan had family visit, and they took him out to High Afternoon Tea!!!  He looks really happy!




While I was delivering flyers to an Educational Center in Russell Square I saw a number of pigeons (at least 8) taking a bath in a fountain.  On my way back there were three still in the fountain.  Who said pigeons are not clean!!!?

Stefan at M &M land!!!!!

THAT'S ALL FOLKS!!!

24 September 2017

LONDON:WEEK 4 = WE ALL NEED A BATH!!!!


Welcome to my London blog for Week 4.  First of all, the above photo shows you why Stefan has been mistaken for Ed Sheeran a number times.  He even signed some autographs.  Stefan celebrated his 21st Birthday this week, and I think I found him the perfect card!





On Tuesday for the Theatre in London class we took a tour of the Drury Lane Theatre, the oldest continuing theatre in the World.  




Nice attitude Parker!

Peyton has even more attitude!


We had Dave again for our tour guide.  I believe we have had Dave for at least the past ten years.  He told me that there are three actors that do the tour.  We couldn't believe I get him every time we go on tour.  Curtis Kempton,  who did a great impersonation of Dave, and his classmates named him "Drury Lane". The tour used to have three actors take you around, but in the past few years they have cut it back to two

In the rotunda there are two doors.  One is the King's side and one is the Prince's side.  They even have two separate doors on the outside of the theatre to enter into the building.  This is because King George III and his son got into a fist fight in the rotunda, so they gave them separate entrances.




An actress playing, Margaret, a cleaning lady who has been cleaning the theatre for 300 years showed up and took us around.


She took us into the room behind the Queen's box where the Royal Family or dignitaries will hang out before a show and during the interval.

One actor was dubbed a knight because the King loved his performance. Stefan and Parker act out the dubbing using her feather duster!

Because of copywright laws we were not allowed to take pictures of the stage.  Here is part of the ceiling and boxes on the side.  While we were seated there they were testing all the scenery for the production of 42 Street which is currently playing in the theatre.  Through the kindness of Jo McCarthy who works for Real Useful Theatre Company (Andrew Lloyd Webber's organization) she was able to get us tickets at a really reasonable price for next Friday night.  Here we learned how the theatre burned down three times.  When it was being rebuilt, the performances were still done outside; thus, the longest running continuous theatre.


Nell Gwyn an actress and mistress to King Charles II took us into the tunnels under the theatre and told us of several ghosts that haunt the theatre.

Many tunnels went to various places through the city including Nell Gwyn's mother's pub/brothel.  Also tunnels went down to the Thames River where sailors would come through them to work at the theatre.  Because of the sailors we have terms like crew, rigging, decks, etc.

This is the first time in a number of years that we were able to go under the stage because the hydraulics are not being used for 42 Street.  The water used for the hydraulics comes from the Thames River.  The stage can go up and down, it can split, rock back and forth, etc.  They have sunk the Titanic,  had Chariot Races, Horse Races with real horses using a treadmill, and many other things.   



This is the Fortune Theatre where The Woman in Black is playing next door to the Drury Lane Theatre.  What is amazing is that this entire building could be placed on the stage of the Drury Lane and there would still be room to walk around the building on stage.


After the tour we had time for dinner before we went to see Dreamgirls for the Theatre in London class. More on that at the end of the blog.

THE BATHS

On Friday we went on our last day trip.  We went to the city of Bath where the ancient Roman baths are still located.   We toured the baths on a self-guided tour with headsets.  One option with the headsets was to listen to Bill Bryson's impressions of what we were seeing.  And yes he was pretty funny but very informative.  It has been awhile since I took the tour.  They have really improved the tour and building since the last time I went through it.




Guess who was there to greet us at the entrance? Yup a spy listening to what I had to say to the students.  They will verify this!!!






Vicki MacDonald (From the Study Abroad office) and her husband Brian were visiting from Saint Mary's.  They arrived Thursday and came with us on Friday to Bath.  Really early in the morning!!!!

A model of what the baths looked like front and back.


One of the new features of the tour were projections.  Here we see the remains and then projected on it is what it looked like painted.

It is interesting that the Medusa with snakes for hair is a male, not a Roman male but a Celtic man.


Projections of what it looked like.


I love all these stone heads, faces, and masks!  






Part of a mosaic floor.

They also throughout the building projected people in Roman dress moving through the space doing various activities.  Really cool!


The ruin steps up against a photo of what it actually looked like.

This is actually a hot spring pool.  Water bubbling and steam.  Still functioning.






An ancient hot tub!!!!


The piles of tiles below is what helped heat up the water.






The room where the Romans had massages done.  Here it is as it is now.  Next photo has a projection of two massages actually being don.






 I love the reflection!








All the sparkling things in the pool are coins people throw in for good luck!  Lots of coins in there!




The water was pretty nasty. And it was warm!!!!!



BATH THE CITY

This bridge is one of two in the world that has shops and restaurants on it.  The other one is in Florence, Italy across the Arno.

Shops on the Bridge.


Our bus driver, John, drove us up the hill to The Crescent which is a very expensive place to live and architecturally magnificent.




Outside the Baths is the Cathedral.  Anna and Liam went in and they climbed a tower where there was a bell.  They had some great views of the city.








The garden near the river.  One had to pay 2 pounds to go in.

Heart-shaped rose color glasses? He should have bought them for when we go to see Hair next week.

Some took a tea break after the tour.




A good time was had by all.  In fact the poor darlings were exhausted.  Here are photos of our ride back to London.






There is always one who doesn't sleep.  In fact does she ever sleep?


Traffic was really heavy on the way back even though we left fairly early.  We had to be back for an 8 o'clock Jazz Concert at the St. Paul Center where we have our classes.  John, our bus driver, dropped us off in Hammersmith instead of where the students live so we could make it in time.  The cafe area was transformed into a Jazz club with a bar and great music.  We stayed for the first set which went to about 9:30.  We left because it had been a long day!


Brian and Vicki




A little bit of the concert.


Anna went to Regent Park to see the outdoor production of Jesus Christ Superstar  that came back to the Park after a successful run last year.

On Tuesday night after our Drury Lane Tour we went to see Dreamgirls starring Amber Riley from Glee.  She was awesome.  I saw the production last year, and it is still wonderful.  It is transferring to New York after November.  It was pure magic!!!!

The next night we went to see Doubt: a Parable for the Page to Stage class.  Having read it, it was interesting to see it performed.  Monday we will have our critique of it and discussion.



They even have their own postcards!!!!!


THAT'S ALL FOLKS!!!!