My time is running out here in London. This was the last full week of timetable, which means the last week of full classes, which means no more assessments, performance stress, and early morning starts. Wow, soon my pillow will be my new best friend. :-J It is strange because there are days that just fly by and others that seem to last forever. It’s still weird to think that in about two weeks this experience will be over.
I believe leaving Mountview will be bittersweet, but as of right now I am completely ready to return home. The bitter part lies in leaving the friends that I have made and the training that I know I need to continue. The sweet part, well, I think Dorothy said it best, “There’s no place like home.” My friends get upset when I say this but I try to remind them that they are free to go home on weekends and term breaks. I on the other hand, well, plane tickets are too expensive for a weekend visit to the USA and boating and/or swimming across the North Atlantic Ocean is just out of the question.
In all honesty, it feels like forever since I’ve seen my family or friends. The updates that my mom has given me have shown that a lot of things back home have changed. Plus, you know it’s bad when my mom updates me on my best friends’ lives. I feel as if I won’t recognize my nieces or cousins. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but still, I can’t wait to see so many beautiful as well as handsome faces when I return.
But enough about that, I still have two weeks left so let me update you guys about what my life at Mountview has been like. Last term, I was working on my modern musical, Company. In this show I played Jenny, the square but sweet wife of David. Company is a comedy-based musical that is centered around a bachelor named Bobby who is unable to fully commit to a steady relationship and is friends with five married couples. The entire musical is portrayed through Bobby’s perspective. Therefore, the audience sees Bobby’s view on the married couples as he tries to understand why people put up with marriage.
For me this musical was enlightening because it really gave an honest outlook on the positives and negatives about the subject. In doing so it taught me how big of a job marriage seems to be. The amount of physical and mental energy needed to handle the day-to-day life was insane. However, it is something I can look forward to in the future.
The song that really made me relish the idea of marriage was called “Being Alive” because it begins questioning what marriage is really about; the sacrifices, compromises, comfort, joy, pain, etc. In addition, it shows how deep down everyone wants someone in the end despite their fears. The main character Bobby sings it because he declares that he finally wants to take a chance with love. I think Sondheim crafted this song so truthfully and beautifully that it speaks volumes. For once the audience cannot escape the insecurities, the truth. They have to stick through with these couples and characters to explore all the wonders of marriage, both positive and negative. To me the musical was so close in reflecting real life, without the singing and dancing of course.
In other news, I injured my knee during Company; however, this time I switched it up and injured my right one. During rehearsal I stepped wrong. then a few days later I dislocated it. After I tried to tough it out and go to school, the head of dance found out and called me into her office. I should have known this was going to be bad news. Later, the physiotherapist told me that I might have torn my meniscus and could have injured a tendon or muscle around my knee.
As painful as all this was, the head of dance decided that I was not allowed to dance but I still had to attend classes. Needless to say, at this point I was ready to go home. I knew that they were more concerned about my future career, but I didn’t enjoy the fact that I just had to sit out for the term. It was like taking a kid to the candy store but saying no, they can’t have any.
Head of Dance wanted me to wait until I got an MRI scan, but the problem was that I could not get an MRI appointment in time. The doctor told me that it could take 3 weeks to months before I get an appointment. So in the mean time, I spent a lot of money going to physio, getting my quadriceps and knee massaged out. It was very painful.
In Company rehearsals we had to do our formations in the routines. I felt terrible because as a cast we spent weeks rehearsing day and night to make sure we had everything down. Then in one instance everything changed and everyone had to adjust. But that just goes to show all of us how to be flexible and work in a time crunch. For me I really had to learn how to turn a negative into a positive. Especially since being injured wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Thus, I did what I could and for the dance routine I sat on the side bench and sang my heart out in character. All in all Company was a success in the end.
Now we are devising a musical. We are writing a musical for a term where we are responsible for every aspect of it: script, music, choreography, staging, etc. Being that we, as students, have never written a full musical before, Mountvew kindly brings in Rachel Wagstaff, a brilliant playwright, and Matt Brind, the musical director of Legally Blonde.
Rachel gave us a concept for the musical that tells the story about a group of girls in Uganda who were taken from their homes by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This is a guerrilla group that has abducted around 66,000 to 104,000 or more children in which they turn them into sex slaves and killers. Rachel told us about a young girl named Charlotte Awino who was among the abducted girls in 1996. She along with many others taken from the boarding school. Angelina Atyam, Charlotte’s mother, along with many other parents began to form the concerned parents association. In doing so, they found that their voices, cries and concerns could be heard.
She met the man who took the last of the thirty girls and he told her that if she stopped campaigning about abduction he would give her Charlotte back, but she said no. She felt that she could not just take one because they were all her children. The parents had bound together and she couldn’t dismiss the trust and faith they distilled within each other. They had to keep making this issue global so that maybe one day someone will hear them and take action.
I remember working with Invisible Children, an organization whose mission is to “bring a permanent end to the LRA atrocities,” in high school by raising money for the innocent victims. In addition, we helped raise awareness about the LRA, but I had never come across this individual story.
Personally, I was pleased to help create a musical that was shining light on an issue in society that is bigger than me. I had already felt so passionate about the subject and thought that this was a great way to speak up. This musical has a chance to be a part of a movement in society and to show truth on the stage. However, the challenge was to make this work for us because we only have three black students and we didn’t want the majority of the group to black up, something that still unsettles me today since I find the principle of it unnecessary and slightly rude since it originates from a time where it made fun of African Americans.
But also, the students in my year are from so many different regions such as Scotland, Ireland and different parts of England. Therefore, we have to find a place and time period to set it in that would work for all of us. Also, we have to condense what happened in eight years into two hours, while finding light within the story. Only because we felt that we couldn’t have a heavy-hearted serious two-hour musical. Our audience wouldn’t survive, but honestly the best thing we found was that in any life experience no matter how tragic, there can be a light moment, be it simple acts of kindness, people falling in love or a character that copes by making jokes.
The difficulty and excitement of our creation is that we have to keep asking ourselves: What is it that makes an amazing musical? How do we stick to the truthful side without selling out? How do we make something powerful? Will this concept work? Still, we’re sticking to this project and improvising our lives away in an attempt to create a musical that won’t lose the powerful message and portrays the truth, but is modern enough for the second-year class to perform based along the same principles.
Most classes this term are pretty chill due to the fact that our focus is mainly centered toward our musical. Since I am not allowed to dance until I get my MRI, I have to sit out and do abdominal workouts. Now, you would think that this would be a piece of cake, but nope, I also have to take notes. Sometimes this is difficult because the class is learning routines to see how fast people can pick them up. Other classes go over the basics of technique and stylistics, which I always need a refresher course in, especially since I’ve just started learning technique in September.
Once my ballet teacher had me observe four of my classmates and give them written critiques. At first I thought she was joking but she wasn’t. I was nervous because the class was based off ballet, which is my weakest area. Therefore, I felt I had no right to give them corrections if I was just learning this genre myself. However, it was quite the opposite. I was learning from my peers.
Normally, when I am learning technique, I am not fully aware of my body’s incorrect placement. I felt by watching and correcting them, something finally clicked with me. Additionally, I was able to verify with the teacher more specifics about ballet. For instance, I questioned if your hips were meant to move during certain exercises such as a Grand Bachman. This made me think that I have to be even more aware of my body and how important it is to engage my core while pulling up. She kept saying that we have to think “long” and stretch the legs as we are performing these warm up exercises.
Another class that has been helpful this term is acting. I think it’s because I have finally been able to reflect openly with my classmates about how I feel about my acting progress. Now personally, I feel as if I’ve gotten worse only because nothing feels natural anymore. I know a while ago I explained how I was struggling with heightening the truth and by doing tons of research I could not get out of my head. I used to just read a script or a play, research the setting and maybe time period and then have at it! Now all the preparation gets me stuck.
However, my marks for acting have gotten better each show I have been in. So I am still unsure of where I am on the spectrum. I feel as though everything will fall into place once I take a step away from training because I’ve been learning and incorporating on the go. Therefore, by taking a break from the material, the next time I engage in acting something will naturally click.
So what else have I been doing with my time in my scattered attempt to gain every last experience before I leave, you ask? Okay, well, you didn’t ask but I will tell you! I went to Ireland and had the time of my life. Now Ireland is a country I’ve wanted to visit since I was little and I think it was mainly because of the accents, but after visiting for a few days I found that I could definitely aspire to have a house out there at some point in my life.
I stayed with my friend Karen in Athlone, which is in southern Ireland. Her house was on the country side in a quiet neighborhood near a lake. Just everything about it was beautiful and green. Also, the people were extremely friendly. I went hiking in the forest and came across an old castle that was turned into a hotel. Then along the hike we saw a stone arrangement which resembled Stonehenge, kind of; however, in the middle of the stones was a huge flat rock that appeared to be used for some sort of sacrifice ritual. But who knows, I kind of just took a picture and walked away for safety proposes.
Her mom made me a Sunday Irish roast on Thursday and of course I had seconds. Then she made an apple tart from scratch! I was living the high life! Funny thing was that my friend’s family was interested in the American holidays such as Thanksgiving so of course I invited them all to the next family celebration the next time that they are in the states. We also drove to the beach! The one thing I have to say about Ireland is that everything is quite far from, well, everything. I spent a lot of time in the car. On the last day of my trip we drove to Dublin, which was also lovely. One day I hope to spend more time in Ireland and see more attractions. I need to go back to the beautiful mountains and folk songs.