27 September 2009

Drury Lane, War Horse, Canterbury, The Black Album


Well we began our week with a tour of the Drury Lane Theatre, the oldest theatre in London. The tour of the Drury Lane is unique in that two actors play a variety of roles and take us around the theatre. The tour is very informative, fun, and entertaining. Currently the musical, Oliver, is playing there. The tour lasted about an hour and a half.

The front of the theatre.

SMU students waiting in front of the theatre for the tour to begin.

Matt and Steve waiting for the fun to begin!

Ben, Taryn, and Sam

Andy being Andy

Noel Coward statue in the Lobby. He wrote Fallen Angels that Saint Mary's produced this past Family Weekend. Congratulations to the cast and crew for what we hear was a great show!

Dave trying to bum a cigarette off of Noel......

Waiting for the tour guides to make an appearance.

Here he is..."Drury Lane" as he was nicknamed by Curtis last year. You all have to ask Curtis to do his impersonation of him. He does a "bang on job of it", as the British would say....

Photo of the cast of Oliver.

Nell Gwyn's pub across the street from the theatre. The real pub she and her mother ran is off of The Strand and is still in operation. Nell sold oranges outside the theatre, became one of the first actresses on the British stage, and was the mistress to King Charles. One of the tunnels under the theatre led right to her house! An easy way for the King to slip in and out without being seen.

Nell giving us a tour in the tunnel. She has her basket of oranges and was telling us ghost stories about the man who smelled of lavender. The arches behind her are some of the tunnels that led from the theatre to various parts of London including the docks where sailors were hired to run the crew of the shows. That is how we got a lot of nautical terms in theatre, like "crew"... Those of you in theatre see how many other terms you can come up with.

Monday evening we attended a production of War Horse by the National Theatre that is being performed at The New London Theatre which is owned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. The show transferred to the West End after a successful run at the National Theatre the past two years. The play has had the highest attendance figures in seven years giving the National Theatre a 456,000 pounds surplus. The play took in 2.7 million pounds at the box office and played to 99 percent capacity. It is one of my favorite plays. The horse puppets created by a South African puppet company are just incredible. The play was a little different this time around being in a new space and having a new cast. It was still wonderful!
Our day trip this Friday was to Canterbury, one of my favorite places to visit. Being an English major and History minor in my former life, I have always loved this magical place. It is the site of the murder of Thomas a Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury by King Henry II's knights and site of many pligrimages as made famous in Geoffry Chaucer's Canterbury Tales which I had to read in Middle English! Again, we had another gorgeous day weather-wise. Enjoy the photos below.

The crew with our tour guide, Terry, outside the gate of the Cathedral. The white building to the right that is now a Starbucks used to be a hotel where many famous writers came to write, such as Charles Dickens and Joseph Conrad.

Terry giving us a tour around the town of Canterbury

Terry from a different angle. He was an excellent tour guide. Very informative and entertaining.

The Old Weaver's House. In the background over the boats is a dunking chair where people were put in it and dunked in the river for punishment. Some were drowned that way; others were dunked to teach them a lesson. Sounds a little like the Salem witch trials all you Crucible fans!

Love the brickwork and timber!

The Cathedral Gate with a modern Christ figure (1980's). Oliver Cromwell destroyed the original....of course!

Enjoy the various outdoor views of the Cathedral.

Terry taking us to the back of the Cathedral to show us the old Norman part of the Cathedral and Kings College, a school for rich 8th - 12th graders. It costs about $40,000 a year to attend.

Old Norman architecture in the back of the Cathedral.

Six plump guinea fowl roam Kings College. Probably Christmas dinner!

Yes the bottom floor and door is tilted!

Bob having a flashback to the night before our trip!!!!

More interesting architecture.

This symbol appears on houses that had fire insurance in the Middle Ages. If you did not have this on your house and it was burning, nobody would put the fire out!!! Insurance companies haven't changed much have they!

There is a separate admission fee to go inside the Cathedral. So we went in and toured around on our own. Here are some of the images that I captured.

Some magnificent stained glass windows are at this Cathedral...this is a close up of a section of a window. Each window tells a story.

Taryn lighting a candle in the back of the Cathedral where the shrine to Thomas Beckett was located before it disappeared.

The candle is on the spot where Thomas Beckett was murdered. There is a great movie called, Beckett, based on a play, that stars Peter O'Toole (Henry II) and Richard Burton (Beckett). Peter O' Toole went on to play an older Henry II in the movie, The Lion in Winter. He was nominated for an Oscar and his co-star, Katherine Hepburn, won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Eleanore of Aquatain. This film was also based on a play.

Thomas' grave was moved to this site in the Cathedral.

Located next to his burial site. I love candles as many of you know, so I had to take this picture!

Before getting on the bus to leave to go back to London, Steve stole or "borrowed" a kid's bike to ride around on. Check out Andy's new hat!!!

British Pizza anyone?

On Saturday afternoon we attended a production of The Black Album at the National Theatre that was co-produced with Tara Arts, the company whose theatre we are renting. One great thing about this collaboration is that Saint Mary's production of Vanities has been advertised in the programs of the Littleton and Olivier theatres. This production was in the Cottesloe Theatre which is the smallest theatre at the National. Prior to the show there was another outdoor activity going on. Entertainment, arts and crafts people could learn to do for free, jump roping, and hula hooping! Check it out below!

Outdoor festivities! The outdoor courtyard of the National.

Lindsay making a pom pom out of yarn.

Sam and Rachel practicing the hula hoop!

They were both pretty good at this...

George, one of my ATA Rose Bruford students also attended the production with us. He was also very good at doing the hula hoop and is attempting to twirl it around his neck.

Go Rachel!!!! Taryn and Ben are amused!

David showing his hidden talent!

Rachel and Taryn in the Lobby of the Cottesloe

The Black Album is about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the east side of London and in Leeds. It is where students were recruited to become suicide bombers in the 1980's. The title of the play comes from an underground Prince album. Pretty powerful piece! The book burning in his sunglasses is Rushdie's Satanic Verses which they actually burn in the play.

The cast of The Black Album

Jonathan Kennedy, the Executive Director of Tara Arts, conducted a talk back session after the performance in the lobby of the National Theatre. Some of the students met some of the cast members after the show at the outdoor festival and invited them to our show at Tara.

Jonathan explaining how the show was put together and how it will be going out on tour after it closes at the National October 7th.
Go to www.tara-arts.com and click on The Black Album poster and booking details to get the documentary and trailer for The Black Album on the National ‘s web site.

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