Friday, December 11, 2009

‘Dead in Scotland’ on YouTube!

Finally! The audio version of my play (and thesis project) ‘Dead in Scotland’ can now be heard (in four parts) on YouTube! Have a listen!

Take care!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Graduation: The End

Sorry for the delay in the blog posting. I admit I have been stalling. I was hoping to hear back from the music rights agency PRS regarding the ‘Dead in Scotland’ recording. I can’t post a link to it until I clear the rights for the intro and exit music we want to use. But alas, I have heard nothing. Thus, I cannot post it on this blog entry as I had hoped. Ah well. I will do so if/when I get the necessary permissions.

On to my report on Graduation. Most of the class was in attendance, one even came back from America where she had returned to resume her life on the showbiz scene in NYC. A few were absent from the ceremony and were missed. Most of those missing are off on acting gigs so no complaints there! Yea work!

We reported at two o’clock for a rehearsal then grabbed a bite to eat before changing into our nice clothes and robing up. Travelling to and from the Academy was a challenge as there was what appeared to be a hurricane outside. The wind and rain made a good hair day difficult to accomplish. Our robes were purple and the hoods were teal green for the drama school students. The music school scholars wore red hoods. The Student Union provided a professional photographer to take portrait style photos before the ceremony. Then we lined up in the hall outside the Academy Concert Hall. When the bagpipes began calling, in we marched looking like we were exploding with knowledge in our academic regalia. We had a seat. Next we were taught the Academy’s anthem, in Latin no less, and attempted to sing it while the faculty and honored guests processed in to take their seats. The handing out of the degrees was first on the agenda and our course was first up. After the bestowing of the degrees we had a speech from our principal. Then they handed out the fellowships to four distinguished guests and gave speeches about them. Then we had another speech from our Chairman. Are you getting the picture? Lots of speeches but no actual commencement speaker there to motivate the graduates. Oh well. Sprinkled in amongst the speakers were a few entertainments. We had a little Felix Mendelssohn played on the organ and actor Jack Lowden performed a speech from ‘A Servant of Twa Maisters’ in Scots (that’s a language) and I actually understood most of it! Then toward the end, some of the second year acting students gave us a little from ‘A Christmas Carol’. After, it was on to the Academy’s Cafe for a reception. We were there for a while talking with faculty, parents, guests, each other and taking lots of photos. Then, it was time to PARTY. One of our classmates, Lucy Goldie, has the most marvelous parents who offered up their home for the celebrations. This was the best part of the day. The Goldies are fabulous hosts and had lots of yummy food. Tony played the guitar and sang, sometimes we all joined in. Barbara and I did a little encore of ‘Dead in Scotland’, just a wee bit but I was shocked at how much we remembered. It was a lovely evening. And then it was home. That’s it. The end.

It has been a helluva year my friends. There have been ups and downs. There have been joys and heartbreak, failures and triumphs, disappointments and unexpected surprises. It has indeed been an adventure, artistic and excellent. I have grown. I have changed. I have learned not only about theatre, acting, writing and the business of show, but about myself. Most of what I learned this year has been about me. I have indeed graduated to a new level of understanding of me. I am ready. I am ready to close this chapter of my life and blaze forward into my next adventure. My future.

Thank you so much for following me on this journey. Writing this blog has been a fantastic way for me to chronicle my experiences these past months and to share them with whoever might be interested. I hope my blog has proved entertaining and interesting for all of my readers. For those of you considering (or currently on) the MA CCT course at the RSAMD, I hope it has helped you to decided if the course is for you and help you get the most out of your training and educational endeavors. If I ever do hear back about the music rights I will post a link to the audio version of ‘Dead in Scotland’. It was one of my successes this past year and I do hope I can make it available to you. Other than that possibility, I’m going to sign off on this blog and let it remain a tribute to this past year’s Excellent Artistic Adventure.

Thank you and Good Night!

Mark, Me and Joyce. Mark and Joyce are two of the faculty members who were involved in our course.

Me and Barbara


My Degree

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Guy Named Fawkes

Last Thursday was Guy Fawkes Day here in the UK. It is their version of the Fourth of July. The daylight hours did not show too much evidence of the national holiday but when the sun went down the sky lit up! Fireworks burst into the air from every corner of my neighborhood. This went on for hours and hours, well in to the night. My bedroom window overlooks the grassy quad between the backs of residential buildings and there were pods of sparkling parties going on for ages in there. And as I watched the display coming from my immediate neighbors in the ‘backyard’, there were dozens more fireworks bursting in the night sky that had been launched from the front side of the nearby buildings. The noise was incredible as it echoed off the stone Victorian structures that comprise my surrounding area. It sounded like we were under attack!

So who is Guy Fawkes and what is the UK celebrating, my American friends might ask. Well… As you may know from history classes in school or maybe the television series ‘The Tudors’, King Henry VIII of England broke with the Catholic Church during his reign in order to get rid of his first wife and marry his girlfriend. Seems the Pope was not going to grant an annulment and never would sanction a divorce, being Catholic and all. During the Reformation as it is called, Henry established the Protestant Church of England and declared himself the head honcho. This started a Catholic versus Protestant conflict that still has ramifications to this very day. After Henry died his Protestant son Edward took the throne but he was sick and didn’t last long. Next was his first daughter by his first marriage, the Catholic Mary I. Naturally, this thrilled the Catholics and upset the Protestants. Then, after Mary died, Henry’s second daughter from his second marriage the Protestant Elizabeth I came to the throne. She ruled for a really long time but since she never had any kids when she died they had to find somebody from the royal bloodlines to take the job. The task fell to the Protestant James VI of Scotland who became James I of England. He was already King in Scotland and now he was to be King in England as well. This is where Guy Fawkes and his crew come in. They were Catholic and were against having a Protestant King and country so; they hatched a plan called the Gunpowder Plot. On November 5, 1605 they were going to blow up Parliament and King James using twenty barrels of gunpowder. But here’s the rub; on November 4th Guy Fawkes got busted. In custody he was tortured and forced to give the names of his accomplices. Guy and his co-conspirators were executed on February 1, 1606. Now every year on the 5th of November the UK celebrates the spoiling of the Gunpowder Plot and the downfall of Guy Fawkes and his team. This holiday is especially big in Scotland because James I was after all a Scot, indeed the King of Scotland! So in celebration of Parliament and James not being torched, they try to set the neighborhood ablaze instead. Good times! Seriously though, the fireworks were lovely, for the first three hours at least.

Next Thursday is graduation. Finally! The official ceremony that brings this crazy adventure to a formal close. I’m looking to wrap up my blog after graduation but don’t worry, I’ll give a full report on the ceremony and festivities before I do!

Take care my friends!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Capitol Trip!

Last Thursday I traveled down to London for what became one of the best weekends of my life. My dear friend Hayley Anne invited me to stay at her’s for the Halloween weekend. I know Hayley Anne from a couple summers back when we both participated in the Moscow Art Theatre’s Stanislavski Summer School actor training program in Cambridge Massachusetts. She made her way to London last autumn to embark on a Master’s program for directors at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Hayley Anne lives in Notting Hill, made famous by the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts film of the same name. It is official, I adore Notting Hill. It is the most fantastic neighborhood! There are fabulous cafes and restaurants and Portobello Road’s famous market. The houses are bright and colorful and it just feels good to be there. If I get to move to London, I’m going to try and make Notting Hill my home. However, starving artists types like me may find it challenging to find affordable accommodations in this little slice of heaven but I’d be quite happy with a broom closet! We shall see!

Friday Hayley Anne threw a Halloween party and I was able to catch up with our good friend Emma. Emma is from the London area and also attended the program in Cambridge, MA, two summers back. After a late but joyful night of crazy costumes, meeting new people and catching up with old friends we called it a night at about sunrise. Emma crashed with me in Hayley Anne’s living room.

Saturday Emma went with me to Camden Town to visit the delectable veggie restaurant I discovered on my last trip to London. It took a bit longer than we had anticipated because we got on a bus heading in the wrong direction. Oh well, we had a nice tour of London and did manage to get there eventually. Thank goodness for good company on the journey! Camden Town was insane; you could barely walk on the sidewalks. I felt like I was in Times Square again. This was due to it being Saturday and Halloween, I’m sure. We ate veggie food and then headed back. Emma and I parted ways on the underground as she headed off to friend’s party and I was to meet up with Hayley Anne to head to another celebration of our own.

Back at Hayley Anne central we ate Thai food and carved pumpkins. I hadn’t carved pumpkins in ages! I went with a traditional goofy Jack-O-Lantern face and Hayley Anne got fancy by carving a silhouette of a cat. Then back into costume for party: round two. Upon arrival at the host flat it was wall-to-wall people. I couldn’t believe how many people were crammed into the three bedroom apartment. We had to flatten out and wedge ourselves between people in order to migrate into the living room, which did provide a bit more space. It was another night that met the dawn and we finally got home and into bed just as the sun was coming up.

Needless to say, we slept fairly late on Sunday. I came to life before Hayley Anne and decided to go for a coffee at one of the groovy little cafes I saw around the corner. I was not unique in my Sunday morning coffee plans. There were many people in search of recovery aides from the night before but I managed to grab a seat on a comfy sofa near the window. I spent some time doodling script ideas in my notebook and engaged in a conversation about film with the local lad sitting next to me. Then Hayley Anne called me and off I went to meet her for afternoon tea. Afternoon tea, ha! I love the UK! We went to the Orangery restaurant at Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens, just a short walk from Hayley Anne’s flat.

After tea, Hayley Anne had to head home and get ready for a wedding she was attending Sunday evening and I was off to meet my cousin, Lance and his wife Katie for dinner. Lance and I had not seen each other in about two decades, literally. We both just happened to be in London at the same time and available to have dinner on Sunday night. What are the chances?! It was a fantastic reunion! Lance is a professional opera singer and we talked shop and compared our ends of the showbiz industry and I got to know Katie and her passions as well. We had a delightful time and vowed to make our next meeting sooner than twenty years!

Monday I woke up in Hayley Anne’s living room to someone yelling, “Action!” When I stumbled to the window there was a mess of people on the street right outside the building. They were shooting a commercial for Rimmel cosmetics. Three models in short khaki trench coats kept walking down the side walk saying, “Get the London look.” It was kind of cool to have such a fantastic view of the filming but it gives you an idea of how repetitive the process can be. After about the seventeenth take I decided to give up and hop in the shower. Hayley Anne and I went out for lunch and then to a movie and then, that was it. I had to go get on a train and head back to Glasgow. Ah well, I couldn’t sleep in her living room forever now could I? So there you have it; a play-by-play of my wonderful weekend and perhaps more exciting than poetry about sheep. Photos below!
Take care!

Colorful Portobello Road in Notting Hill

Alice’s Antiques, one of the many places to purchase antiques on Portobello Road

Vendor stalls set up to sell antiques and other goods on Portobello Road

The street sign

A section of the Portobello Road Market is dedicated to food. Here is fruit and veg and cheese.

Pumpkins for sale!

Vintage clothing anyone?

I found Tacos in Notting Hill! Yummy! It’s been so long!!

Notting Hill’s travel bookshop featured in the film: Notting Hill

Hayley Anne and Emma at the Hayley Anne’s Halloween Party

Pumpkin carving complete! Masterpieces!


Me again; on the tube to Halloween party number two with a look at my full costume; The Chakra spectrum

Me and Lance and Katie. Family reunion!

“Get the London look.” Commercial shoot out of Hayley Anne’s window

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life Goes On

This past Saturday was a trip to Edinburgh for a day of theatre. I went with a few of the folks from the new class of MA CCTs. At the Lyceum we saw the matinee performance of ‘Confessions of a Justified Sinner’ based on the story by James Hogg, adapted and directed by Mark Thomson. My class met Mark Thomson during our slew of sessions with professionals back in July, so it was good to see his work. In the evening we went around the corner to the Traverse Theatre and saw ‘The Dark Things’ by Ursula Rani Sarma. All of us found ‘The Dark Things’ to be very effective. It was an emotionally charged piece about survivor guilt. Both shows were heavy dramas but the mood was balanced by the delightful company of the day. Thanks guys!

Tomorrow I head down to London for a long weekend with friends. I am so excited! I love, love, love London! My good friend Hayley Anne has invited me for a visit and a Halloween party. It is sure to be a good time! I’ll let you know how it goes next week.

I recently received photos from our productions this past year. These are all professional photographs most of them taken by the RSAMD’s resident photographer Ken Dundas. Enjoy! -m

The Globe (London)-The RSAMD MA CCT class of 2009 gathers on stage for discussion with director Trevor Rawlins.

The Globe- The Winter’s Tale- A very pregnant Hermione and friend, Polixenes engage in innocent conversation.

The Globe- The Winter’s Tale – Hermione and Polixenes continue their discussion whilst jealous King Leontes looks on.

King Lear- Kent and Oswald come to blows.

Julius Caesar- Caesar takes the hand of his wife, Calpurnia at the Feast of Lupercal.

Julius Caesar- Calpurnia warns her husband to stay away from the Capitol.

Julius Caesar- Caesar relents to Calpurnia’s pleas.

Julius Caesar- Caesar and Calpurnia are interrupted by news of the Senators.

Julius Caesar- Calpurnia needs a drink.

Julius Caesar- A Messenger delivers a message to the Senate from Mark Antony.

Julius Caesar- Cinna the Poet tries to explain to the angry mob that she is not Cinna the Conspirator who helped kill Caesar.

Julius Caesar- Cinna the Poet faces an inevitable demise.

Julius Caesar- Messala comforts a distraught Titinius over the dead body of Cassius.

Julius Caesar- Titinius, inconsolable, kills herself.

Julius Caesar- A Reporter takes note of Rome’s new ruler, Octavius.

David Harrower’s Ashes Blood- Mother eats her lunch and meddles in her Son’s affairs.

David Harrower’s Ashes Blood- Mother endures while Father talks at her.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please Report to the Alpha Deck for Orientation on Your Future

Oh my, Wednesday and I’m just now getting to the blog! Well, trust me when I say you haven’t missed anything. It’s odd being in this situation with nothing really going on. After a year of non-stop activity and expectations it feels very strange to have nothing pending. Oh, we need to find a job and write plays and workout and all that good stuff but it is very different from adhering to a schedule and requirements created by others. I feel like I was on a fast moving cruise ship with tons of activities arranged by a cruise director and now I’m just kind of floating in a dinghy by myself watching the ocean roll by.

The last few weeks have been very self reflective. I have been contemplating my life choices and assessing the options for action. It has been a very introspective time with a mixture of emotions; some positive, some negative. I can’t say I’ve come to any firm conclusions about any of it. There is a fog surrounding my future at present. I’m not sure what’s ahead but the thing about fog is; you know eventually it will lift and there is something on the other side that will become clear.

So in the meantime I will continue to think up metaphors to express my condition and float through the fog on my dinghy.
Take care!

Monday, October 12, 2009

All’s Well on the Northern Front

I have absolutely nothing to report. The peace between Scotland and England is holding strong. The days are getting shorter and the temperature is dropping. My cold seems to have dissipated. I am still looking for work and I plod on with my writing projects. All and all, very boring reading for you.

In lieu of having anything interesting to say, I’ll attempt some poetry for your amusement. Ahem:

Sunny the Scottish Sheep
By Melanie Ann Wiliford

There once was a sheep who was Scots.
He lived in a land that never got hot.
His silly old mum named him Sunny
And everyone thought it was funny.
He was always quite sad that all the herd laughed,
Any time that he ever walked past.
Until the day came he was grazing on grass
And caught him a glimpse of a bonny sheep lass.
Now she was just thrilled by the sound of his name
And duly declared he could chase off the rain.
And ever there after the sun always shined
And that is because Sunny’s heart is entwined.

Thank You, good night!