The study abroad and the RADA people told us Nido was a 20-25 minute walk from our housing. I had been hoping that, like with Google Maps, we would be able to outpace the estimates. Unfortunately, Bridgette and I sprint-walked there this morning in just over 25 minutes. Ugh. It really isn't far at all, it is just good old London traffic and the fear of getting hit by cars that really slows us down.
Our day began with a warm-up with Nick Hutchison, our program director, and John Tucker, our voice teacher. Directly following that, we presented our monologues for several of our faculty members. While no one was quite expecting that, it wasn't a big deal. I was so glad to finally see everyone act!
We had clown class with Jeremy, who works for RADA and the BBC - you know, all the big British acronyms. He told us to only write down what we want to forget (meaning don't write down anything) because writing things down is arbitrary. That was really frustrating because he was a fount of great quotes and little shreds of wisdom. Basically, he made us do a lot of really weird, earthy-crunchy, theatre exercises. We didn't quite get to clowning, but we did start some work on learning how to trust our instincts and get over the fear of having physical contact with our classmates. It is so funny, because that is something I take for granted but is definitely not a normal part of most students' educations. Same with having teachers give physical, hands-on corrections/adjustments to posture and the like.
We had a lunch break. We are given free lunch in the "RADA Refectory" - new vocab word! We have the option of soup and a main course OR a main course and dessert. The food has been fine so far. Not much to say, but I figured y'all might be curious.
Lunch was followed by a voice class with John Tucker. We spent a lot of time on postural alignment, spinal curls, and speaking with our tongues dangling out of our moths. He is a very efficient teacher, and I could tell what he was saying was already making a difference in my body and voice.
Finally, we worked our monologues with Nick. Mostly, he spent his time telling us not to act, to remove the pretense and the performance and the presentational aspects from our work. Sometimes, it is good to hear that we need to try less! The really great part of the exercises with him was having a student sit in as the character opposite me in the monologue. It becomes very easy for a monologue to become very self-centered without actual eye contact with another human.
All in all, it was a really productive day. I am excited for what is yet to come!
I have to admit that I have been very boring today. I couldn't drag my roommate, Bridgette, out of bed before 2 pm, so I spent much of the day in bed looking over all the paperwork RADA handed out yesterday at orientation. Once she got up we ran some errands. Very uneventful and a poor use of our first Saturday in London. She just got in on Thursday though, so she is still pretty jetlagged.
We did make plans for the evening, however. Six of the eight of us went out for pho - the Vietnamese noodle soup. The menu tells you to pronounce it like "fur" which was extremely confusing until we realized that the Brits drop the 'r' sound. I enjoyed my soup a lot; I am sure we will be back. I really like that area in Islington. I don't actually know the street, but it is a densely restauranted area. It also is home to a froyo place called Snog, which I need to visit ASAP.
The plan was to go see 12 Years a Slave right after dinner, but we arrived at the movie theatre and the showing was sold out! Here is where I get to tell you about how absolutely insane this theatre was. First of all, there were small aisles of candy selections and a Ben and Jerry's at the concessions bar.
I would like to propose a 28th amendment to the Constitution of the United States that requires all movie theatres in the country to offer a selection of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
Sara - The Self Appointed US Secretary of Ice Cream
OK. The snacks all looked great, but that was not all. There were touch screen machines that allowed you to purchase tickets in a self-serve manner. You can purchase tickets for "today" or in advance. Once you choose the show and the showtime, you can select your seats based on a floor plan of the theatre. Unlike America, the better seats cost an additional charge. It is kind of a crappy system, but it also allows you an opportunity to reserve good seats for a particularly exciting movie or hot date.
Anyhow, with the first movie sold out and only scattered seats available for American Hustle, we dragged our sorry, boring butts back to Nido to veg out and look over our monologues for Monday like the good students that we are. And that, my friends, is the story of my crazy, wild first Saturday night in a country in which I am legally allowed to consume alcohol. *See, with an ending like that it sounds like a good story*
Hello! I am in London! Surprising...I know. To get everyone caught up quickly...The airports were as good as one could hope for. Who could really ever complain about an airport with a Crumbs Cupcake shop in the middle? The flights were good, but cramped, as expected. I spent the majority of the long flight in a melatonin funk somewhere between sleeping and waking and got absolutely no reading done. However, I did watch two episodes of How I Met Your Mother and some Friends. My driver seemed to speak little English, but he got me from Heathrow to Nido (the student housing) in under an hour, so I can't complain.
Nido is an interesting place. I guess, it is what I was expecting. The room is teeny tiny. I can almost touch my roommates bed while laying in mine. It is a little bit like a cabin on a cruise ship. We have our own bathroom and a tiny little kitchenette with a mini fridge, microwave, little electric stove, and a hot pot. Our room came with some kitchen necessities, so if we have to cook, we can. Our closet space is going to be tight with two girls (one of whom hasn't moved in yet), but I think we will both try to not to be greedy and it will work out just fine.
Last night for dinner, we walked to the Thai Square, a Thai restaurant in Islington. Their green curry was really good, and it was relatively well-priced. Then a trip to Sainsbury's for some necessities and then back to Nido for some organizing fun and BED!
We started today with a trip to Star Express for a really good, really cheap breakfast. Despite the uber-dinky storefront, the food was good, service was fast, and the waitress/hostess was incredibly sweet. After some more errands to set up my phone on a UK plan, Jason, Nathan, and I took a walk to Covent Garden. Surprise - it's not a garden!! On the way there, we walked by RADA. Though we could get into the building, we really couldn't see much. I guess we will have to wait for Friday's orientation. We did, however, get a look at the lunch menu for the coming week. We all know that is important stuff. Covent Garden is amazing. It is a web of streets lined with restaurants, shops, and theatres. At the very end is the National Gallery and a view of Big Ben! We collected TONS of pamphlets for shows we are interested in seeing and then stopped at Caffé Nero for one of the best cups of hot chocolate I have ever had (See photo below.)
You can click on the photos above to see them larger and without the captions on top of them.