July 21st to July 27th
For pictures taken each day, please visit the individual blog posts under “Daily Logs.”
July 21st, by A.J.
Today people had freedom to go off whichever way and fill the day as they liked. Tyler did homework all day and then went to see Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre that night. He had great seats right up front. Please see his response in the “extra performances” part of this blog.
Hannah decided she needed a day to herself, so she went on a meditative walk. She went down besides the Thames past the National Theatre and walked by Big Ben. While it was interesting to see the clock, Hannah reported it was a terrible place for walking due to the heavy throngs of slow-moving tourists. Eventually, she reached Buckingham Palace and lingered around the area before heading off passed the Hard Rock Cafe, and the Ritz Hotel to stop at one of her favorite places; Patisserie Valerie, a bakery. The walk then looped around Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square to return to the hotel. Hannah told me she makes sure to visit Trafalgar Square whenever she visits London because she always finds a different art piece set up there. Speaking of art pieces and poor segues, Connor spent his time at the Tate Modern Museum after a breakfast he spent listening to a street musician. Here are two things he saw that piqued his interest enough, he took photos of them and sent them to me: . Kelly was also about the Tate Modern but she and Connor somehow managed to avoid running into each other. Mitch went to Buckingham Palace to witness the Changing of The Guard. I’m unsure why this was the case, but I’m told Michael Jackson music was played at the event. (They posted video of the event to the group’s Facebook page.) Mitch’s evening was then filled with The Women in Black, a ghostly theatrical production. I’m told there were many jump-scares and a great deal of illusion through practical effects. Nigel and Burns went to Hampstead Heath and spent the whole day walking about the park and trails there. They ran into an author whose name escapes them who approached them while they were taking pictures of interesting trees, who then engaged them in talk about interesting trees he’d taken pictures of, and showed them a picture of a felled tree he found that looked like a ghost ship. They also found a really good Indian restaurant.
July 22nd, by Mitch
Saturday July 22nd was our 16th day here in the great city of London. A few of us in the group got breakfast downstairs at Bankside house before we had our group meeting with Dr. Schmitz. The day also began our solo meetings with Schmitz and Kelly started them off at 9 and AJ followed at 9:45. After their meeting it was time for our group to discuss our Stratford trip on Monday as well as some more expert topics. The expert topics began with AJ giving his topic on The Knowledge. AJ explained about how The Knowledge is the hardest geography test in the world and it is the process for people who want to drive a black cab in London. To run a black cab people must take a test. They cannot fail out of taking the test, in fact people can take it as many times as they want to. The test originated in 1865 and people who are working on The Knowledge are known as Knowledge boys and Knowledge Girls and they must be citizens of good standing. The process lasts about thirty-four months of training and when it is time to take the test, the driver in training must be able to narrate the drive itself. The driver must also know what building he or she will be driving past while driving the cab. AJ ended his topic with giving the group an optional objective. He gave us three things to find: an odd sized police box in an odd location, statue of two mice eating cheese, and smallest cathedral in London. Once AJ finished, it was Connors turn to give his expert topic on Susan Hilferty who was the costume designer of Salome, a show we recently saw here at the National Theatre in London. He explained that Susan went to London on a study abroad trip and has worked in theatre ever since. She has worked on over 20 Broadway productions in costume design and has received her Masters from Yale in design. Notable Broadway productions include: Wicked, Spring Awakening, and Into the Woods. Her work in costume design earned her the 2004 Tony Award for Best Costume Design. After Conner finished his expert topic, Ryan Burns gave his expert topic on the Congestion Charge. The Congestion Charge is a daily charge for driving a vehicle in the zone on Monday through Friday. The law was made in 1993 and the goal was to reduce high traffic flow and to raise funds for London’s other transport systems. It reduced congestion, helped reduce cost for business, reduced pollution and raised revenue. However, there were some cons to this charge because it encouraged people to visit out of town shopping centers, increased false plate and takes higher percentage of income from the poor. As Ryan ended his expert topic it was Tylers turn to give his expert topic on Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria was not well liked at first and she was only 18 when she became queen. Tyler gave information about how she became queen on June 20, 1837 and how one of her uncles tried to sabotage her birth so she wouldn’t be born on British soil. Her spouse was from Germany and after he died in 186, Victoria sunk into a depression and did not come out into the public. Tyler also spoke with a cab driver about nationality and the royal family. For his event, Tyler made an interactive timeline for the group to figure out and we did and his expert topic came to an end. Tyler had another expert topic to do, which was “Mind the Gap.” This is an audible or visible caution to passengers for the underground trains in London. They are made aware of the horizontal and vertical gap. Before 1914, doors were located at extreme ends of the train and the gaps were maximized and after 1914, The London Underground that it was infeasible to alert all passengers. Some voices are: Peter Lodge a sound engineer, Tim Bentinek an actor, Emma Clarke a script writer and Oswald Laurence. For his event, Tyler gave everyone in the group a different emotion and we had to say mind the gap as he recorded them. Some of the emotions were: Melancholy, seduce, and frightened and this ended Tylers expert topic. AJ gave another expert topic, this time on South Wark Cathedral. The cathedral is the oldest piece of Gothic architecture and it contains the tenor bell. The tenor bell weighs nearly 2 and a half tons. The cathedral held a special Shakespeare memorial last year and Edmund Shakespeare brother was buried on the grounds in December of 1602. The cathedral is home to a Shakespeare memorial window, which depict 21 characters from his plays and is also home to a statue of Shakespeare in repose while at first AJ thought he was holding a pen but he later discovered that it was more of a branch. It began to rain so we decided that it was best to head inside the Tate and give the rest of our expert topics there as well as talk about future plans for the trip. Once we got inside Kelly gave her expert topic on the London plague and for her event she gave us each a number between 1 and 8. The person who received the number 8 was the person that would die in the London plague. She revealed that 1 in 8 people during this plague died. Doctors could not discover the cause or how to cure this plague. Once the Great Fire of 1666 happened, the London Plague was no more for the Great Fire killed many of the rats and fleas from spreading the plague and her topic came to an end.
After all the expert topics were done, it was time to talk about plans for the trip. Dr. Schmitz had us take our calendars out so we could write down more plans. She explained how we would leave for Stratford early on Monday morning via train and we would arrive around 10 am and head to the bed and breakfast but not check-in until after the show Titus Andronicus. We would arrive back in London on Tuesday afternoon after seeing much of Stratford. Wednesday is our day to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare Globe and afterwards, Dr. Schmitz has a surprise event for us and we told her not to tell us. Thursday is our day to see Hamlet and before that, Hannah is seeing Twelfth Night at the Globe. Friday during the day we are possibly doing our tour of Westminster and that evening, the National Theatre is having a Riverside Extravaganza until midnight that we could go to for a dance party. Saturday, we are going to Brighton and seeing the National Theatre Tour production of Jane Eyre and Sunday will be free. Once we finished our group meeting there were still some solo meetings to finish so Ryan finished his and Tyler finished his while he went to the Rose Theatre with Schmitz, Kelly, Nigel and AJ. Conner and Hannah went for a little shopping trip near St. Pauls Cathedral and Ryan and I got a quick lunch at the co-op near Bankside House. Around 3:30, Tyler, Conner, AJ and I went to Leicester square to buy tickets. Tyler and Conner bought tickets for the Sunday matinee performance of The Play that Goes Wrong and AJ bought a ticket for the matinee performance of Matilda. Once they bought their tickets, we headed over so Tyler, AJ and I could buy tickets for the August 2nd matinee of Les Misérables. After we were done buying our tickets, we felt it was time to meet up with the rest of the group and head over the Bush Theatre for the show Hir. We discovered that the circle lines for the underground were not running so after we met up with the rest of the group, we took a bus. The bus however, had to stop due to a rally that we ran into while heading to the Bush. Thankfully no one was hurt and everyone got through safe and sound as we headed to the Bush. On the way, we found a local pub so everyone could grab a bite to eat. Ryan, Conner, AJ and I all got burgers while Kelly and Hannah each got fried chicken and Nigel ate everyones leftovers.
Once we finally made it to the Bush Theatre it was time to give two more expert topics. Tyler started his topic on the Bush Theatre. He explained how it was founded in 1972 and that it reopened in March of this year due to renovations. The renovations included a studio space, new front-of-house area, backstage improvements, 20 percent capacity increase, and diversity. Tyler also explained that the theatre houses about 15,000 more people due to the renovations and he ended his expert topic. Kelly gave her expert topic on Arthur Darvill, the lead in the show. For her event, Kelly had Nigel read some of Darvills quotes. One from Legends of Tomorrow and the other from Doctor Who. She gave some brief history about him and later revealed that he is also a musician and writes most of his own music with his band. Once Kelly ended her expert topic, it was time for us to take our seats and watch the show. At intermission, Ryan and I each bought the script for the show and everyone was starting to have mixed feelings for the show but we wanted to see the rest of it before we formed our final opinions. Once the show ended we headed back via train and the response to the show was very mixed to say the least. Ryan liked it due to him feeling something from the characters but some people in the group found it to be a little offensive. Nigel did not want to speak about the show and no one asked him about it afterwards. I did not know what to feel about the show and I decided to sleep on it and think of it on another day and possibly after reading the script. We ended our day talking about the show in our rooms amongst each other and the day concluded with everyone going to bed and getting a good night rest before our off day on Sunday. We had a very productive July 22nd day here in London, that is for sure.
July 23rd, by Nigel
It was another free day for the crew here in London. For Mitch, Conner, and myself the morning started with private meetings with professor Schmitz. The purposes was to get some one on one time to discuss our individual experience here and what our individual goals were for the remainder of the trip. After which the groups broke up to make their own adventures for the day!
After Hannah’s meeting she decided to go for a walk and do some shopping. She ventured out across Millennium Bridge, walking around Fleet Street and into several large shopping districts. She really enjoyed having time to herself and finding unique little shops. Some of her favorite items she bought were a faux leather jacket, leggings, and a button up with swans, which are her favorite animal. She spent most of her afternoon shopping, coming back late in the evening for dinner and to rest up in here room.
Kelly and Mitch also took the day to themselves. They spent their time catching up on homework, reading, and trying to get some much needed rest after all the running around we had done lately. They really enjoyed having time to themselves. Getting to recharge his batteries and think over all the experiences they already had. Kelly also took the time to work on the group’s website and organize things for the rest of her trp. The rest of us however had other plans! A.j, Conner, Burns, Tyler, and myself where heading to see some plays on our own. A.J headed to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda, the rest of us went to see The Play that goes wrong at the Duchess Theatre.
We all headed to Covent Garden market area to grab lunch beforehand. On the way I saw a fantastic little creature that seemed to be a mascot for one of the pubs. They were very nice and let me steal a few photos! I am still not entirely certain what kind of creature they were supposed to represent but they certainly where a good time!
After walking around Covent Garden for a few minutes we found a nice Italian resturaunt that people where interested to try! The food was really good and we had a preview mob boss moment with A.J. We were given a small booth in the back of the restaurant and it felt very much like something out of a movie.
After we separated to our respective shows, everyone enjoyed their play experience that evening and we all traveled back to find dinner near our residence. The day was a day of relaxation for some and new adventures for others, overall everyone was able to make the best of their day for them.
July 24th, by Tyler
Today was the earliest day we’ve ever had to wake up. We all woke up at 6 A.M. (you can just hear the muffled groans of tiredness…) to meet Dr. Schmitz at Southwark Tube Station at 7 A.M. We all agreed to meet at 6:45 A.M. to walk together over to the station, but a couple of us left earlier to get coffee and breakfast at a grab-and-go mart since breakfast at our housing facility didn’t start until & 7 A.M. Once we met Dr. Schmitz, we all rode the Tube for about 20 minutes until we reached Marylebone Station. Here, we relaxed for 45 minutes, and those who never got breakfast bought it here. Once our time came, we got on a train that took us to Stratford-upon-Avon. During the train ride, Dr. Schmitz gave us a bingo card with some things we might find in the English Countryside. Some of the boxes I was able to check off were a sheep with a black face and legs, a pile of gravel, Warwick Castle, a bike helmet, tractor, and a dog. Kelly was “in the zone” and got the first bingo and then proceeded to get blackout! Some of the items were hard to find, like a stone clock tower, a horse jumping, and red shoes (this is harder than you think; everyone wears black dress shoes here!) Whilst on the train ride, some people slept and some had small conversation. I was sitting next to Dr. Schmitz and we had an enlightening discussion about the show we saw a couple of nights ago, HIR. Out of all the performances we have seen so far, it was the most difficult to process. The discussion we had about privilege and perceptions was thrilling and helped me better understand the show. After a seemingly quick two-hour train ride, we arrived in Stratford.
Once in Stratford, we paused outside of the train station to talk about the logistics for the next couple of days. Then, we walked to our residencies for the night, which was about a ten-minute walk. We all stayed in BnB’s, which was exciting since some of us had never stayed in one. When checking in to our (Nigel, A.J., and I) BnB, we met the owner Iain and he gave us the administrative spiel of the rooms and buildings. (The next day, we all had a great discussion about the area of Stratford and he gave us some cool “pips”—like, Stratford is in the middle of England. You can go anywhere you want in about 2 hours!) After we all got done talking to our respective building operators, we met in a small park across the street. Once we were all there, we walked to down to the RSC to collect our tickets for Titus Andronicus and to browse their shop. At the shop, I bought a plush William Shakespeare doll that will accessorize my room, Conner bought a keychain, and Ryan bought a button. After leaving the shop that we all almost bought out, we strolled along the famous Avon. Upon walking, we stumbled upon a boatman and were able to pay for a couple of boats to row on the Avon. Kelly, Nigel, and I were in one boat and Hannah and Conner were in another. It was a magical experience rowing up and down the Avon. We saw beautiful swans, a perfect landscape, and the church where Shakespeare was buried. Unfortunately, we only had 30 minutes in the boat, but we got some great pictures and developed an experience that will last forever. After we got out of the boat, we walked to the Holy Trinity Church. It is in this church that Shakespeare was buried! The architecture of the church was magnificent. We walked into a separate little room where his burial spot was marked off, next to his wife and daughter. It gave me chills. Also, his baptismal fountain was right next to his site and that was magical. To think a piece like this could last nearly 400 years is incredible. You could just envision the event when it happened. Double chills. Once we left the church, we passed through the old graveyard where Dr. Schmitz told us that some scholars think that Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, is buried. After this eerie walk through the graveyard, we went to a small café for lunch.
After lunch, we marched up to the Guild Hall/ King Edward VI school. Here, Hannah delivered her expert topic on the school. She first showed us the word “Shakespeare” written in Latin. She explained that everyone who attended school here would have to be fluent in Latin. The school was established in 1292 by the Guild of the Holy Cross but was later taken away in 1547 by King Edward VI. It is estimated that 1570 is when Shakespeare would have been educated here. In 1776, the plague struck and forced all the students to stay in the building for fear of tracking the plague. Only three boys survived from this, and their names are scratched above the headmaster’s chair in the building. School was from sun up to sun down, and there was no boarding (you only brought your own firewood and candle light). She concluded to tell us that in 2013, the first all-girls class was admitted into the school. Once inside the school, we went to the classroom where our headmaster told us of things we would need to know about school. He pointed out where he would have lived (right next to the classroom) and where the different grades would sit. A.J. started taking notes, and the headmaster told him that the kids in the class would have thought of him being a know-it-all. He proceeded to explain that learning was taught through repetition and not note taking. By nine years old, you were required to be fluent in Latin. That is unbelievable to me. I am not even fluent in another language. He then proceeded to say that Shakespeare would have studied the classics (Sophocles, Ovid, etc.). In class, however, they studied by performing. So as a group activity, we all lined up and stabbed the person in front of us in the back while they said, “Et tu, Brute.” (This, of course, came from Julius Caesar). After our “lesson” with the headmaster, we all went into the next room and worked on activities, like writing with a quill and ink, dressing up as a headmaster, and sitting in the headmaster’s chair. After about 20 minutes of fun, we toured the small room where the headmaster would have lived and saw an old table that headmasters would have written their initials on. We went downstairs, after, and heard one of the volunteers talk about the building. He mentioned how it was dated back to before Columbus found America. Wow! Also, he showed us paintings by priests over 400 years old. He explained that before the Reformation, the Guild Hall would hire priests to expedite people’s entry into heaven by praying for them. So, the priests built an alter and painted the walls of the room to pray all day. When the Reformation came, King Henry VIII ordered all the Catholic ornaments to be erased, including the paintings. Apparently, people would scrub and scrub to try and get the paintings off, but remnants would still stay, and that is what we saw. Even when we went to the church next to the Guild Hall, you could see remnants of the paintings.
After that experience, Ryan gave his expert topic on New Place. Eventual family home of Shakespeare, it was built by Sir Hugh Clopton in 1483 (whom eventually became Lord Mayor of London). William Underhill I was the person who sold the home to Shakespeare, although it took Shakespeare a few years to seal the deal since there was “foul play” in Underhill’s death. Shakespeare and his wife, Anne, owned this home and raised their three children here. Although Shakespeare was in London a lot of the time producing his shows, this house was filled with everything Shakespeare. We were unable to tour the house because of the cost of tickets, but we were able to walk down to see Shakespeare’s birth home. A lot of scholars believe that that was not his actual birthplace but nothing is confirmed. After we got a group picture and Dr. Schmitz explained the rest of the night, we were off on our own for a bit. I ate dinner with Dr. Schmitz, and we talked about Titus Andronicus, since I was the only one from the group who had read it. Hannah, Conner, and Kelly went to a pub called The Encore just off the Avon. Nigel, A.J., Ryan, and Mitch went back to the BnB’s to sleep. (I don’t blame them…) After a couple hours of down time, we saw Titus Andronicus at the RSC. It was thrilling to see it live on stage, and…well… disgusting, too. By the time we got out, it was almost 11 P.M. Everyone went back to the BnB’s to get sleep for the next day. Boy, it was a momentous day today.
July 25th, by Hannah
In the morning we all met up after a lovely English breakfast at our own B&B and walked over to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Kelly presented her expert topic about the house itself before we went in. You can explore the cottage, there’s a forest trail to walk, a flower garden or a tree area with different kinds of trees and sculptures inspired by Shakespeare’s plays. There were amazing photo opportunities here as you can see in the slide show and it was absolutely beautiful. We then split up for a while to do our own exploring before leaving Stratford Upon-Avon.
Mitch: Pretty much what I did today after we separated, Nigel, Burns, AJ and I ate at Suzie’s Bar. Burns and I went to the theatre for him to buy his book and then we went to the park and read until it was time to leave.
Tyler: I ate lunch at Zizzi’s with Conner and Professor Schmitz. Then I went to a couple of antique shops and old bookstores before I stumbled on the Christmas shop. I pondered there for about 15 min. Then I went to Cafe Nero to watch a street performer for about 45 min. Then I walked back to the park and read a script for the last 30 min.
Ryan: Nigel, AJ, Mitch and I went back to the cafe we ate the day before at “The Other Place” then we went to the shop at the theatre we were at for Titus and I bought my book and dvd stage version of Henry IV part 1 and 2. Nigel and AJ went on a walk while Mitch and I went to the park and read.
Conner: After we were turned loose I had lunch with Professor Schmitz and Tyler at a zizzis across the street from the encore, which was a pub we went to the day before. After lunch I headed off to the Mechanical Art and Design museum, or the MAD museum. There I saw a lot of cool little machines, but most of them were extremely similar. I finished at the museum and I proceeded to the park that was by our bed and breakfasts. I climbed two trees there, talked with burns and Mitch for some time, then meet up with Hannah at the tea room
Hannah: I walked around, popped into some shops before making my way down to the Avon. I sat on a tree stump and got to feed about four swan, a dream come true, before one swan came over, head down, and literally ran all the others off. I tried feeding that one but it was having none of me. I gave the last of my croissant to a swan I think was crippled because it didn’t walk but crawled on its belly (oh my heart!) I had some time to kill so I stopped for a spot of Strawberry Black tea, very unusual, at the Hathaway Tea Room.
Kelly: I went back to the Swan Theatre to buy some gifts for some friends’ back home. I bought some drink coasters and pins, which I really hope they enjoy. Then I walked along the river for a while, I decided to ride the Ferris wheel at the Stratford Recreation Area, and I went through the Butterfly Conservation area they have. I really enjoyed that experience, because they are the largest butterfly conservation house in Britain. I then took the foot ferry across the river, and visited the Holy Trinity church again. Finally, I met up with Hannah and we walked around a few different shops. I ended up buying a book of Shakespeare’s Sonnets from the Shakespeare Gift Shop, which I am excited about.
Once we got back we were all pretty tired but hungry so we all ended the night by going to Doggett’s which is right under the bridge from where we are staying. Hannah sticks to the claim that this place has the best fish and chips along with shepherd’s pie she’s every had and there’s a brownie there that all of us would probably kill for.
July 26th, by Ryan
We all awoke at Bankside, we have been blessed with another free morning but today there is a special surprise that Professor Schmitz has set up
In the morning, with some gloomy weather lurking about, the whole group wanted to take a nice easy day and collect ourselves for the work that had been coming towards us. Nigel, AJ, and I stayed in our room, we all have been doing some reading that we have been addicted to. AJ is close to finishing his book written by George R.R. Martin and I have had my nose in a book/diary of a man who played Falstaff for RSC, Antony Sher, he talks about his journey and mindset into discovering that character. Hannah and Kelly stayed in their relaxed. Connor, Tyler and Mitch also relaxed and did some laundry, Mitch has been keeping an eye out for tickets in hope to snag some good deals to see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.
The plan was for everyone to meet Professor Schmitz at 1 at the Globe Theatre for a conversation about our trip to Stratford and to talk about Titus Andronicus which is covalently just a block or two over from where we are staying. Aj, Nigel, Mitch, Tyler and I went over to the Globe a little early to try the Swan restaurant attached to the Globe Theatre, the menu was basic and the prices were okay but the food was not memorable for any of us. We decided to check out the shop again just to see if we really missed anything until Professor Schmitz showed up.
Professor Schmitz showed up outside and the whole group joined, all of us getting inquisitive about going to see Much Ado About Nothing because we had no idea what was instore for us and especially since there was a special event that evening. The weather still just as gloomy as it was before and it started to drizzle. We all went inside and sat in the down stairs area to get out of the rain and to begin our talk of Titus Andronicus. Most if not all people really walked away enjoying the show and thought that RSC did a wonderful job, since most of us were disappointed with their production of The Tempest.
We all went to see Much Ado all of us gathered at the corner of the stage to watch the performance. I personally did not enjoy the production because I feel like the company lost the powerfulness of the text and the focused more on the American West theme too much for me. It wasn’t effective enough for me, the text was lost and the depended on their cowboy routine too much.
After the show we all planned to meet outside of Bankside and go to the surprise event. Hannah and Connor went to a BBQ place called Porky’s right down the street from the Globe, Kelly and I came back to Bankside to get ready because some of us didn’t feel like showering before we left. (Pee-ew). AJ, Nigel, Tyler and Mitch all went the famous Pizza Express that is sprinkled all over London like a McDonalds back home.
We all jumped on a bus and we headed towards a familiar location, we were heading back to The Battersea Art Center where we had seen the show Extravaganza Macabre. We were seeing an immersive show called Macondo, everyone in the audience had to wear headphones but some were different colors red, blue, green, and there were actually some who had different head phones completely. Soon we found out all these colors separated certain groups. The blues acted as a Greek Chorus, greens were the Critics, reds were the Dancers and the ones without colors were the Actors. These were the characters of Macondo, everyone was a character which was a different experience but fun and exciting.
After the show we all scrambled back to bankside and enjoyed the evening with each other. We all came back to our room and ordered pizza. Overall it was a busy day and we saw two very big extremes. We all came back and got a good night’s rest to start the next day of adventure!
July 27th, by Mitch
July 27 was our 22nd day here in the great city of London and it was another productive day for the group. This day was especially important because it was the day that we saw Hamlet at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Everyone wanted to get some more rest on this Thursday so we could all be prepared for a long show in the evening. Kelly got caught up on laundry after sleeping in, Conner and I went to the Globe to see if any tickets for the matinee performance of Twelfth Night were available and unfortunately there were none. Hannah went to lunch at The Swan, a restaurant that is adjacent to the Globe and afterwards she and Tyler went to the matinee performance of Twelfth Night. Nigel met up with his friend Makenna, they were both in SIUEs production of The Tempest together and those two, AJ and Ryan went to lunch at Doggets. Conner and I stayed in the room for some rest and relaxation before the show. Conner played some video games on his laptop and I caught up on a show called Iron Fist on Netflix. Ryan came back to Bankside House after lunch so he could get caught up on homework, while AJ, Makenna and Nigel went to The Tate. Once they were finished, Twelfth Night had ended so everyone met up downstairs of Bankside so we could all leave together for Hamlet. We all took the tube over and arrived at the Harold Pinter Theatre at 6 pm and waited for Dr. Schmitz to arrive. Once she arrived it was time for some expert topics about the show we were about to see.
Tyler was the first to go for his expert topic and his was on the director of the show, Robert Icke. Tyler informed us that Icke is 30 years old and was born in Stockton-On-Tees, England. When Icke was 14, he saw a production of Richard III, starring Kenneth Brannaugh and it made him realize that he wanted to become a director. After the show, he wrote to the director, Michael Grandage, who gave him a two-hour masterclass on directing. Icke enrolled in Kings College to study English and in 2003 he formed Arden Theatre Co. with 3 other cohorts to bring theatre to areas like his hometown where it wasn’t prevalent. In 2005 he joined the Swan Theatre and he networked with Rupert Goold and became assistant director at Headlong and eventually became Associate Director of the Almeida Theatre, where Hamlet opened before it transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre. Icke has recently worked on 5 star shows such as: Romeo and Juliet, 1984, Oresteia, Mr. Burns and Hamlet. After listing the shows that Icke has worked on, Tyler concluded his expert topic.
Hannah had an expert topic to do and it was on Jessica Brown Findlay, the actress portraying Ophelia in Hamlet. Findlay was at first a ballerina but after three ankle surgeries she decided to stop and attend school for art. She later took an acting class and discovered that she loved to act and decided to take up acting as her new career. She is known for playing strong female roles in oppressive times. This show is her third time working with the director, Robert Icke. List of roles are: Electra in Oresteia, Sonya in Uncle Vanya and now Ophelia in Hamlet. Hannah ended her topic by revealing to the group about the roles that Findlay has played and that she is known for playing strong female characters.
Nigel was the last person to give an expert topic. His was about the lead actor, Andrew Scott. He explained how Scott is originally from Ireland and how is was first known for playing comedic roles but is now trying to break this stereotype. He is currently playing Moriarty in the BBC television production of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. Nigel also revealed how Scott would memorize his lines while walking inside the National Theatre where many famous actors had portrayed the character of Hamlet. He started listening to their recordings but had to stop because he wanted to create his own interpretation of the character. His topic ended on how Scott gave an interview about how he memorized his lines and that the only reason someone would forget a line, is if he or she does not understand it or does not want to say it.
Once all the expert topics were finished, we had time before the doors opened and Dr. Schmitz talked with Nigel, AJ, Kelly, Ryan and I about tonights production. She explained how this production is a lot different than previous productions. Kelly and Ryan had not read the play so she provided insight on what they were to expect and how the entire show is a big mind game. Once we were finished talking it was time to enter the theatre and enjoy the show. Once the show ended we all gave it a standing ovation for the show was grand. Once the show ended it was time to end our day and head back to Bankside House. It was another productive day here in London.