Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Londoners, Lend Me Your Ears!

September 30, 2014

Today's post will be slightly different than the others. Keep reading for a critical theatre review of Julius Caesar at The Globe:

By Eleanor Vestal 

What’s it like for an American to set foot inside Shakespeare’s Globe to see a Shakespeare play? If you’re standing, your feet will hurt after the next day. However, the energy of the crowd is amazing. Shakespearean comedies are very light and quick on their feet, filled with much laughter, and the audience always leaves the show with a happy and good feeling. Shakespearean tragedies typically leave the audience in a state of upset and maybe disappointment. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is classified as one of his tragedy plays; though the actors that I saw last week added bits of humor to keep the audience alive. 

Julius Caesar kept my attention very easily. I don’t know if it was the fact that I knew the show going in, or just that the actors remained in character so well that I felt like I was part of the show. During the dramatic moments of the show, especially the deaths, I felt for the characters that were dying. Cassius’ death was probably one of the most saddening deaths with this show. The fact the character of Cassius died on his birthday was sad enough, but the way the actor portrayed that emotion onstage showed much more feeling for the audience. In his line, in Act V, Scene I, Cassius says, “…this is my birth-day: as this very day / Was Cassius born.” As that monologue continues, we could see the direction in which this was heading towards. To see it on stage, and to see the actor portraying Cassius predict his own death was unfortunate, but it showed how much of an effect the actor as Cassius had on me. In Brutus’ monologue, right before he was killed, “Farewell to you, and you, and you Volumnious. /…That have but labour’d, to attain this hour.” Seeing the emotion in the actor as he spoke during this moment drew in the audience, and made us feel for the action occurring onstage. What was going onstage was so intense, and though I knew what was about to happen, these actors made me feel like I had idea what was to come next.

From a performer’s perspective, seeing Julius Caesar at The Globe theatre is an experience that one would never think of ever happening. To stand in the audience of Julius Caesar was something truly amazing. Not only did I feel the actors on stage, but also I felt the audience as they reacted to what was happening. Looking around The Globe at all the different types of people made me further realize how this wonderful piece of artwork created by William Shakespeare can be created to be a simple form of entertainment that everyone can enjoy in one way or another. For example, during the more dramatic and saddening events of the show, I saw the audience feel a more upsetting emotion for the events occurring on stage, whereas, during the more comedic moments, the audience had a lighter and more of an upbeat to their emotion. Several times I found myself glancing around The Globe just to get a glimpse of what the rest of the audience was experiencing, and how they were reacting to the show. 

Overall, Julius Caesar was phenomenal. I felt for the actors, and reacted at the right moments with what I felt during a certain scene. It was filled with so many mixed emotions, in the best way possible.

Before Julius Caesar at Shakespeare's Globe. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Catchin' Up On Things

September 25, 2014

Today, I'm going to play a little out of order, and mix it up a bit. I'm going to back track, and tell you all the things that I did last week since I figured that y'all might be wondering what I was up to. Here goes nothing.

As usual, Tuesday through Thursday, I had classes - which aren't as terrible as they seem. Our London professor who teaches Integrated Studies and Global Drama, Stephe, is pretty awesome. She's laid back, unless you get on her bad side. I mean, come on, most people are always laid back until someone does something to make them mad. Anyways... that's besides the point. Our Millikin professor, Anne, is a lovely woman. She, too, is pretty laid back and fun. Blogging London is helping me stay connected with my family and friends back home who care to know what I'm doing with my time here. I'm interested to see what Anne's other courses are like when they pick up later in the semester. Our classes at Shakespeare's Globe are phenomenal. They do remind me a lot of the Acting courses I took back at Millikin, but I'm still learning so many things I didn't know before. As much as I'm missing home, I'm really happy that I came to London this semester.

On Friday (9/19), we saw The Wolf from The Door at the Royal Court Theatre. It was interesting. It wasn't my favorite show, but I still ended up liking it more than I thought I would. The show had its comedic moments, as well as its dramatic moments. Honestly, I don't have much to say about this show.

Saturday (9/20) was our day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. We departed our flat at 7:30 AM - which wasn't horrible for me because I am a morning person. I will say that both locations were beautiful, but the ride there wasn't my favorite. I'm one to get very motion sick, so being on a bus for about three hours isn't fun. Anyways, Stonehenge was really cool to see. It's amazing how something so old and ritualistic could be identified as a "Wonder of the World". Bath was actually a lot more interesting than I thought. Going in, I didn't exactly know what was in the city of Bath, but I got to see the Ancient Roman bathhouses, which was pretty exciting and amazing to see. I also got to experience my first clotted cream tea in Bath. Basically, you get a small pot of tea, a bun or scone or something, clotted cream, and jam/preserves. I've been told that I need to try cream tea, and I finally did! It was delicious.

The Roman Bathhouses in Bath 
Clotted Cream Tea
On Sunday (9/21), I went to a 9 AM Mass at the Brompton Oratory, again. I went in thinking that it was going to be in English, and it ended up being in Latin - but it was still beautiful nonetheless. The rest of the day, me and a few of my good friends went down to Brick Lane. Brick Lane is this good sized street market that sells incredible clothes, art, food, etc. I bought a new dress that I fell in love with, a top that is kind of tourist-y looking (oh well), a canvas painting of the Houses of Parliament, and a bunch of really amazing food. I know this will be a place that I will be coming back to in the future.

Brick Lane Selfie 
I think that about sums up what I did last week. The start of this week was Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and Alisa's birthday - all the things that I mentioned in my previous blog post.

I think my next post may be a review of Julius Caesar - mainly because it's a homework assignment, but why kill two birds with one stone and blog about it too? Peace out 'til next time, yo. God Bless. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Royal Livin'

September 23, 2014

Yesterday, I finally got to be a tourist and explore Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament.  It's been three weeks, and I hadn't seen those sights yet. I mean, come on, you just have to see Buckingham Palace and Parliament when you come to London. Like, it should be a law that you must see.

Buckingham Palace is beautiful and, for a student, it was pretty reasonable for a ticket. The Queen is only absent until September 28, and tours are only allowed while she is out. However, the inside of the Palace is incredibly breathtaking. All the rooms are unique in their own ways - each design detail is different, but beautifully done. There are portraits on the walls of past rulers of the Royal families. I thought it was pretty interesting to see that as the portraits progressed into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, they became actual photographs. It was unfortunate that I couldn't take pictures, but I completely understand the reasoning. I think one of my favorite rooms was the Royal Childhood room because inside was all the toys, chairs, clothes, bassinets, etc. that were used by the children of the Royal families. There was even a birth announcement of the adorable Prince George! All of the rooms were incredible, though. It was just so amazing to see that even the new Royal family of William and Kate were incorporated in Buckingham Palace. I mean, that's pretty obvious, but it was still cool. The outside of the Palace was beautiful. The landscaping was so green and very well kept. I didn't get to see a changing of the guards because that only happens when the Queen is in. I will have to go back when she's in to experience that sight.

Standing in front of the gates to Buckingham Palace.
The next sight I saw yesterday was the Houses of Parliament, which means... Yes! I finally saw Big Ben! Oh my goodness... Big Ben is so beautiful. Parliament was actually really beautiful too, and huge. I tried to get a picture of me and Big Ben, but I feel like Big Ben just steals the attention away. As it should. This landmark is incredible. I also love that the London Eye (the largest ferris wheel) is literally right across the street from the Houses of Parliament. And right across from the Houses of Parliament, on the opposite? Westminster Abbey! Every sight that I saw yesterday was simply incredible, and I don't care how much I looked like a tourist because every second was worth it.

Big Ben with the London Eye in the background.
To finish out the night, it was my friend (& roommate), Alisa's 22nd birthday, so us and a couple other girls went out for a lovely dinner at a wonderful French restaurant nearby. The food was outstanding. I had amazing French onion soup, salmon, and tiramisu - all part of a really nice 3-course meal deal for 12.50 pounds! 

Yesterday was spectacular, and definitely worth everything! Today will be a long day, since we're seeing Julius Caesar at The Globe tonight. Oh, and we have to stand... for 2 hours and 45 minutes. It'll be a great show, but I don't know if I can stand for that long. This is be a fun time. Peace out 'til my next post! 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

First Train Home?

September 17, 2014

Studying abroad comes with its phases. The obvious first phase is the Honeymoon Phase. This is the phase where everyone is excited to explore new places, eat new foods, take lots of photos, and be typical tourist. From the pictures I've posted on Facebook, you could say I've experienced the Honeymoon Phase already, and it's only been two weeks.

The second phase that some, but not all, would feel is the "Homesick" Phase. Now, I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm homesick and want to go home, but I do miss home like crazy. I'd be lying if I said that there weren't times where I'd lie awake at night thinking about going home the next day. I am having a wonderful time here and I'm learning a lot, but I miss my family and my friends back in the States. (Thank God for Skype and FaceTime, right?) My current status is getting over a cold. I've bought cheap over-the-counter meds that dealt with cold relief, and it definitely is helping, but nothing beats being at home when you're sick.

Before I started writing this post, I had my headphones in and was listening to music. Because I'm feeling slightly homesick, I kept one specific song on repeat: "First Train Home" by Imogen Heap. Haven't heard of it? I dare you to go take a listen. You'll understand why I say "slightly homesick".

"First train home, I've got to get on it." -Imogen Heap, "First Train Home"

...And at the end of it all, you just have to be happy with yourself.

God bless.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I'm Definitely Not in the U.S. Anymore...

September 16, 2014

I'm going on Week 3 of being in London. So far, I've seen so many incredible things here. I am eternally grateful that I have been blessed with the opportunity to study abroad. There are definitely still some places that I have yet to see though.

The flat that I am living in for this semester is actually fairly nice. It's about what I expected it to be. Basically, it's slightly nicer than a dorm, but a few steps down from an apartment. I love that a kitchen is included; just so I can actually cook homemade meals instead of going out every night/day. The one thing about the flat that didn't meet my expectations are the bathrooms. The bathrooms are a lot smaller than I thought. They are definitely still usable, but I guess living in America has raised my expectations of the bathrooms.

Classes are going well so far. Currently, I am taking Integrated Studies I (which is the same exact course as Theatre History I that I took last Fall, too). Hopefully, if it's a lot like Theatre History I, it will repeat certain themes, etc. I also get to take courses at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (!). It's a lot of Shakespeare acting, voice, and movement (go figure). We even get to perform scenes from The Comedy of Errors, and actually on the Globe stage too! Global Drama is another course I'm taking, and it's interesting because we discuss some of the shows that we see here, and incorporate them into global situations. I also am taking a Blogging London course, which is partly why I am writing this blog to begin. I have two more courses that have not begun yet, but I am excited to see what they're about come November/December!

We've seen quite a few shows already, and they've all been pretty outstanding. The first show we saw was actually the second day after we arrived in London. It was The Comedy of Errors at The Globe. Of course, it was hilarious, though my feet and legs hurt after having to be in the standing section for two and a half hours. We saw Part 1 of Henry IV in Stratford, and that was slightly hard to understand in Act One, but it was really interesting to be able to see a Shakespeare play in Shakespeare's hometown. Little Revolution was another show that we saw, and that was actually pretty interesting. The actors had ear piece, in which they would listen to recordings of people, and that would be their "script". They had to speak exactly the way they heard the recording. The show itself was about the London riots in Hackney, but it slightly resembled what was happening in Ferguson, MO earlier this year. Recently, we got to see the first musical, Dogfight, which was incredibly amazing. I don't want to give too much of a storyline in case anyone that wants to see it hasn't seen it, but just go listen to the soundtrack. The story is pretty much right there. It's probably my new favorite musical now.

I explored the Tower of London, walked over the London Tower Bridge, attended a high Latin Mass at a beautiful Catholic Church, walked over the Millennium Bridge (a.k.a. a bridge that was seen in one of the Harry Potter movies), visited Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station, went to my first English pub and ordered my first legal drink, and eaten a ton of delicious food that, I think, is better quality here than in the U.S.

I think that's about sums up everything that I've done so far. Tomorrow night, we're seeing another show, Friday night as well, and Saturday is our day to Stonehenge and Bath.

Keep checking back for more Afternoon Tea with Eleanor! :)