Photo Post #7

These photos are from our free weekend during the Globe Education Academy.  Photos include the steps of St. Paul’s, a random garden I discovered, The Sherlock Holmes museum, a blue police box outside of the Earl’s Court tube station, The Who Shop, studying lines while in the queue for the London Eye, and views from the London Eye.

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Globe Education Academy: Day 9

Before classes started on Day 9, I grabbed a mocha from Paul and walked with Sue and Rhiann to Borough Market.  Works cannot express how much I love Borough Market.  I bought tea for my husband, discovered Spice Mountain and wanted to stay there all day, tasted Rhiann’s chocolate croissant… And then realized that we had to get ourselves to class.

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We began with a debrief of our performances from the night before, and was followed with some practice at cutting scenes.  In November, our students will be putting on a production of Taming of the Shrew in Mondavi’s Studio Theater.  We have been told that each of our scenes (remember, we’ve divided Shew into twelve scenes) can take no more than 5 minutes.  This means we will need to cut–a lot.

P1080479To practice, Margo gave us the wedding scene from Much Ado About Nothing, where Hero’s chastity is called into question.  We first divided it into mini scenes, and then as small groups chose one of those scenes to cut.  We then “performed” each of our cuts to the rest of the group.  Margo’s consistent feedback was that we did a great job cutting, but that we probably could have cut a little more.

This idea of “cutting” Shakespeare was, well, freeing.  Sometimes I think we look at Shakespeare and think, “Oh.  He’s cannon.  He cannot be touched.”  But really, who says that you can’t pare things down and make it more accessible for your kids–especially if they’ve never read Shakespeare before?  Kids need to feel success with something small, before they can build up to something larger.  If that means cutting a scene and looking at just that small part in depth, then so be it!

After quickly eating my Waitrose salad, I ran back to Borough Market with the rest of the group.  We picked up some French cheese, yogurt, and strawberries to have as snacks during the performance of The Tempest.  I also tasted Helen’s toasted cheese sandwich.  Apparently, it’s the “best toasted cheese sandwich in the world,” made by Kappacasein.  (It was pretty amazing–and I’m not even a huge fan of melted cheese.)

Photo courtesy of Kelley

Photo courtesy of Kelley

Then we made our way to the Globe for a reward: The Tempest.  This, hands down, was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.  They really made use of the entire theater.  A character descended from heaven.  Another came up from under the stage (hell).  Characters not only entered through the groundlings, but could be seen in the balconies listening in on conversations.  When some characters stood in the upper galleries and threw out flower petals that rained down upon the audience, I was entranced!  It even rained during the performance, and I know this sounds silly but I felt like that made it more of an authentic experience.

The actor who played Ariel was Colin Morgan, Merlin on the TV show “Merlin.”  I was sitting behind a few rows of British schoolboys, and when he appeared on the stage one of them excitedly turned to his friends and whispered, “Is that Merlin?!”  To make my day even more complete, a young woman–a groundling dressed in a bright pink shirt–would sigh and bat her eyes at Mr. Morgan every time he came on stage.  For a while I forgot to pay attention to the performance and just watched her for awhile.  She was rather amusing.

I had tentatively planned to stand in line after The Tempest to see if I could get return tickets for Macbeth (which would be performed that evening), but after such a long week I could feel the exhaustion hitting me.  I didn’t even walk home as usual.  I hopped on the bus.  Thank goodness Rhiann was with me and kept me talking, because in spite of that I felt myself falling asleep.

If she hadn’t been there this would be a completely different blog post, where I discussed waking up somewhere in the middle of London on a double decker bus and having to find my way home.  But alas (for you), I lived the more boring version: doing laundry, packing, eating Waitrose’s tomato and basil (with a touch of balsamic vinegar!) soup, enjoying a snack at the Betsy Trotwood, reading, and sleep.

Photo Post #4

These photos are from our first day at the Globe.  First, there are photos of the Globe itself, and then photos from our walking tour of Bankside with Patrick Spottiswoode.  These include the site of the original Globe Theater, Winchester Palace, the Golden Hinde II, Southwark Cathedral, and The George.

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Photo Post #3

The following photos were taken the day before the Globe Education Academy started.  We did a little exploration of the area, walking to the Globe so that we would know how to get to “school” the next day.  Included here are photos of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, the Old Bailey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Globe, the Tate Modern, and Smithfield Market.

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The Weekend

First, I think it is important to know that as I write this I am eating salt and malt vinegar crisps. Now that that’s taken care of, my weekend:

Yesterday was deemed “Nerdvana.”

After breakfast at Gail’s Bakery, Anne and I made our way to the Underground. Our mission? All things Dr. Who.

We first wanted to find one of the few blue police boxes in London. Outside the Earl’s Court station stands one such police box. We had a slight detour when the Tube’s doors opened at Baker Street. (Really, how can you pass up a chance for some Sherlock Holmes nerdiness?) Eventually we found ourselves outside of the Earl’s Court station, and just next to a newspaper stand stood what we had been searching for. Anne screamed–literally–with happiness. We then, for about ten minutes or so, amused the kind woman who ran the neighboring newspaper stand.

We then made our way to the Upton Park station to visit The Who Shop–the first and only Dr. Who Shop. It was, in a word, amazing. Inside stood two TARDISes that were used in the filming of the show. There was a Dalek as well. And, to our delight, there was everything Dr. Who you could possibly ever want to purchase. I would describe my purchases here, but as my husband is a reader to this blog and I do not want to spoil any surprise gifts for him, I will refrain.

Other highlights of Saturday included grabbing tomato and basil soup at Paul, shopping at Forbidden Planet, finding a tea shop, and eating Thai on Exmouth Street.

This morning, Bradley, Anne, Danielle, and I made our way over to Westminster Abbey to attend the 11:15 service. As an added bonus, we got to sit in Poet’s Corner. It was a little distracting, I have to admit. While the choir sang, I would find myself examining the stained glass and the next thing I knew I was geeking out over the fact that there were monuments to Gerard Manley Hopkins, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Dylan Thomas, and the like.

Rhiann found me outside of Westminster, which I thought was a particularly impressive feat given the hordes of people outside of the church. We ate a quick lunch at BB Bakery, and then bought tickets to ride the London Eye. We timed our ride perfectly. The line wasn’t as bad as we had seen it just the weekend before. We even used the (shortish) time in line to work on memorizing our lines.

The view from the Eye is spectacular. What struck us first was just how vast London is. Then we realized just how much of it we have covered on foot. No wonder my feet hurt.

We stopped in a few touristy souvenir shops on our way back to the Underground, stopped at Waitrose for some groceries, and now I plan on reading, memorizing, eating, and Skyping with my husband this evening. I also plan on heading to bed much earlier than I have been. After we head to the Globe tomorrow morning, we won’t return until past 1am on Tuesday. But more on that later.

London (and Surrounding Areas): Days 1-4

We’re finally in London!

Our first day was a bit of a blur.  After our Virgin Atlantic flight landed at Heathrow, Rhiann and I quickly made our way through customs and out to the buses.  We took the bus to Croydon and settled into our hotel.  By the time that was all said and done we were (a) zombies from lack of sleep, (b) hungry, and (c) wanting to make some sort of contact with family to let them know that we arrived ok.

We ventured outside and miraculously took care of at least two of those issues.  The Barclay’s down the street provided us with some much needed cash and free wifi to send a quick e-mail home.  We then found The George, and I enjoyed my first meal in London: fish and chips.  Bellies full, we made our way back to the hotel room to stay up as long as we could manage and then slept for a good 14ish hours.

Day two was a bit more exciting.  After getting some directions from some very friendly Croydon locals, we found our way to the East Croydon rail station and made our way to the London Bridge Stop.  We then took the Tube to the British Museum.  I was beyond excited.  I saw the Rosetta Stone.  I saw mummies.  I got to hold objects that were thousands of years old.  We then found our way to the National Gallery, and spent time taking in everything.  I was excited to see works by Van Gogh–although, sadly, the museum’s Sunflowers painting was on loan.  We trudged our way down The Mall to Buckingham palace, and grabbed a hot dog at St. James park.  As if that wasn’t enough, we made our way over to Westminster, only to find that we were too late to go inside by about 20 minutes or so.  We wandered to the London Eye and found a small pub called The Hole in the Wall to sit and rest for a bit.  Once refreshed and rested from our walk, we found a small Indian restaurant, ate, and made our way back to Croydon.

Day three was coincidentally my birthday.  After breakfast, we moved out of our hotel.  Lugging our baggage the entire way, we took the train, the Tube, and walked to our housing office only to find that we couldn’t get the keys until 2pm.  After a stop at Starbucks, we decided to hop on the Tube and made our way to the Tower of London.  The day was absolutely perfect for it.  We decided that no visit to the Tower should be bright and sunny (like the weather of day two).  No, a visit to the Tower should be gloomy and threatening rain.  That’s exactly what we got.  We made it just in time for a 62 cannon salute (in honor of the Queen’s official birthday), and then made our way to every crook and cranny that we could find.

By the time we were done, we were famished so we found ourselves a nearby pub called The Hung Drawn and Quartered.  The soup of the day was wonderfully warming, but only half-prepared us for the wet and rainy trek ahead.  We collected our bags and keys from the housing office and started the mile walk to our flat.  It started to drizzle.  Then it started to rain.  Before we knew it we were soaked through and had taken a wrong turn.  By the time we arrived at the flat we were soaked to the bone, and just wanted to unpack, dry off and rest.

We used my birthday as an excuse to head to Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen–which was fabulous.  I saw that the reviews were mixed on-line, but I have to say that between the six of us at dinner no one had a bad meal and our server, Emma, was delightful.  (I had the roasted cod with crushed potatoes, artichoke, and salted capers.  Yum!)

After a late wake up and a quick bite, four of us at our flat decided to make our way over to the Globe, just to get a sense for the walk.  What started out as a practical walk–finding our way in preparation for tomorrow–turned into a meandering walk with quite a few stops.  We grabbed a coffee at Paul (the mocha was the best I’ve had in quite a long time).  We wandered into a church and listened to a small orchestra practice for a while.  We ducked into St. Paul’s cathedral.  We made a brief stop at the Tate Modern.  By this point, hunger called so we found a pub.  As we ate our lunch, we watched a swing dance class that apparently takes place every Sunday at 3:30pm.  I’m thinking that that might be a fun activity for next Sunday.  The rest of the day is a bit boring to relate: groceries, laundry, a quick dinner.

Classes start tomorrow morning at the Globe!

Traveling Soon!

P1080048I just got back from our last Globe Ed meeting before we leave for London.  I can’t believe that I leave in just over a week!  It finally seems real–and so does all of the planning and packing that I have to do quite soon.

School just finished for us yesterday, so I haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and plan.  Thankfully, my husband has taken care of a lot of things for me like purchasing an Oyster card, ordering an adapter for my electronics, and writing in on my calendar that I need to call the banks and alert them to my travels.

So for those of you reading this in London: advice please!  Leave some comments below and tell me what I need to know.  How is the weather right now?  What places would it be a crime that I missed while visiting?  Any essentials that I should pack and are just not thinking of?  Any tips for while I’m there (for anything: food, getting around, whatever)?

Thanks so much!  I’ll be arriving soon! (:

Planning to Travel

P1070705 It came!

I’ve been excitedly perusing my new Fodor’s travel guide ever since my local UPS man left it on my doorstep Monday.  I’ll have a few days in London before my residency at The Globe begins in June, and I’ll be using the time to explore as I adjust to eight hour time change.

I’ve only traveled to London once in my life, and I’m not sure if my stay really counts.  I was traveling to Uganda, and had an eight hour layover on the trip over, and an overnight stay while heading home.  I honestly remember three things:

  • Being told to “mind the gap”
  • Big Ben
  • The tiny fan in my hotel room that tried so very hard to cool me down, but colossally failed.

That said, I’m excited to finally get a chance to really explore London.  The question is: Where do I go?  The British Museum is definitely on my list of places to visit, but honestly, I’m overwhelmed.  With just three days completely to myself, how I do I even begin to choose what to do?

So I’m asking you: What are the “must see” places for a basically-first-time visit to London?  I’m definitely taking suggestions.