Sunday, October 26, 2008

International Men of Mystery and Greek Tragedy

Well, it stands to reason that as a single woman I might be curious about the courting habits of the native inhabitants of this strange and exotic land. So Friday night I got dolled up, grabbed my classmates and ventured into the wilds of a Glaswegian night on the town. Our safari took us to a pub known as a fantastic venue for spirited Irish bands. Here my fellow singles and I were able to survey the natives in their natural environment. The locale played host to a nice variety of ages and types. And we were excited about the potential of a whimsical and romantic night. The band took the stage, the coats came off, the drinks were bought and the flirting began. We danced with each other and laughed as we made eye contact with alluring Scotsmen from across the room. The team reconvened at intervals and discreetly pointed out prospects to each other. Opinions were shared. Eye contact continued. Smiles were exchanged. Then a turn away. A moment of focus was paid to the band after all, the drummer was very cute. Back to the floor. More glances, more smiles. We said to ourselves, “Any second now one of them will come over and buy one of us a drink or at least say ‘hi’.” The hours passed, the drinks were drained, the money was disappearing, our enthusiasm waning. Some of our party gave up and called it a night. And then the band announced their last song. And then the bartender rang the bell for the last call. But wait! The men! They haven’t approached us yet! We started to realize the potential was fading into the chill of the Scottish night air. The band finished. The coats came on and those of us who remained were turned out onto the cold, hard sidewalk of the mean city’s streets. But we were not broken. Oh no! Glasgow should know; Americans are not so easily defeated! We will be back! But not on Saturday. Not for me anyway. I do have other things to do after all. But some did go out on Saturday night and this time they took a secret weapon. They took a Glaswegian woman. They took a native friend and classmate; one familiar with the ways of the men bearing tartans. A great secret was revealed and passed on to me this very morning: Glaswegian men are often shy of women. They can be hesitant to approach them and if they do manage it, they are nervous to stay. A theory twice proved by friends who were finally approached by men and then quickly abandoned mid conversation for no apparent reason. Strange. And yet not. I can’t say that it so different in the States. Ah well. Maybe one day a man will be brave enough to say “hi”.

In the meantime, we are half way through our ensemble project based on the Iliad. I think it is safe to say most of us want more out of this project than we have so far. We have faith in our abilities as a group and want to incorporate more of our talents. We’d like to see more range in the vocals and movement. We’d like to utilize the rhythm of the text. We’d like to use some traditional Greek theatre techniques like the use of the Chorus. We want to explore more and get creative. There is some concern. But we do have another week of rehearsal. We present on Friday. We are hopeful and excited about the opportunity to show ‘em what we got! Monday’s rehearsal will tell us more.
Stay tuned my friends!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dress Code

This weekend was the first weekend I saw men in kilts. I was staring. I’ll admit it. I’ve seen them before of course, but it has always been in some sort of ceremonial context or a costume for a performance or international festival. But there they were walking the streets this weekend. Friday evening to be precise. A kilt topped with a shirt and tie. Just as if it was part of a suit, except there were hairy naked legs and then socks and shoes. It struck me as odd. It struck me as rather chilly actually. And it wasn’t just one man or a group of men. There were random sightings all over the city Friday night. I’m still trying to decide if I like the look. Not that the Scots care what I think. There are plenty of kilt shops around the city. Not tourist type shops, although there are those, but legitimate kilt shops like a gentlemen’s suit shop; a tailor. And some are very formal. Fancy stuff. But still, seeing them on the mannequins is different than seeing them walk down the street with a nicely dressed lady in tow. But this is nothing compared to what the young ladies wear…

Young teenage girls; 13, 14 maybe 15. Gaggles of them hit the town on the weekends, often Sunday evenings. Many of the local nightclubs have an underage night, usually Sunday. The adults make way, the taps take a night off and the latest remixes of top 20 bubble gum pop pump in rhythm from the DJ booth. And the girls arrive in their very own signature fashion. Neon tutus with matching leg warmers. I kid you not my friends! Neon yellow, neon pink, neon orange, neon green, neon blue TUTUS! And of course, matching leg warmers. Neon is very, very big among the younger set here in Glasgow and the girls don it in the form of stiff tulle. I have passed some shops that sell the fashion rage but so far I have resisted.

Big Thanks to Cindy Derby for the undercover photos!

That’s the report for now. I’m enjoying my new city and working hard in my new program. This coming week we begin our ensemble work based on Homer’s Iliad. So I’m off to study my Greeks. I’ll let you know how the Trojan Horse scheme turns out if you don’t already know. Be well my friends!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


No it’s not a catalogue number. That’s the program of which I am so gleefully a part. Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama - Master of Arts Classical and Contemporary Text. The program is structured in cycles.

First up, we are two weeks in voice and movement classes and text workshops. Our movement teacher, Mark, studied at Jacques Lecoq School in Paris so naturally we are getting some Lecoq training. Our last class focused on the human walk. Did you know there are seven major points in a step? As you emphasize certain points you start to develop a character. Good stuff. I had heard of Lecoq but this is my first venture into his technique.

Our voice teachers, and by voice I mean speaking voice, come from the Roy Hart/Nadine George approach. Relaxation is a big part of class. I so love relaxation! Recent exercises include supporting a deep, rich (sometimes scary) sound using all the resonators and speaking some really gory Greek text. Truly gruesome. And then we went for supper.

This past week our mornings consisted of text workshops. Really they were introductions to the playwrights we will be working with this year. We met with David Harrower, Douglas Maxwell and Linda McLean. These are three celebrated Scottish playwrights who are going to be working with us to develop three new plays. That’s write! They are scripting just for us! How cool! We are going to be developing new works with three truly amazing talents!

So what else is on the agenda you ask? Well, we have another week in this cycle and then the following week we move on to ensemble work. We are going to create an ensemble piece using Christopher Logue’s War Music derived from Homer’s Iliad. Then we move right into scene work from Chekhov’s Three Sisters and selected scenes from previously published works of the authors mentioned above. All the while we are working on individual research projects. So that will take us up to the Holidays and when we come back, it’s down to London to study Shakespeare at The Globe for a month. I know. It is so very cool. Jealous?

So that’s the plan my friends. In the meantime, I’m adjusting. There is much to read and research. I have not spent a lot of time out on the town but from what I can tell the choices for R&R in the evenings are pretty much this pub, that pub or the pub over there. So, I think I’m good in my room reading all these scripts. I did come for the studying after all.

But do not fear there will be plenty of adventures for your amusement! Ok, I’m off to War…Music. Wish me happy reading. Seriously, wish me happy reading because all the Scottish plays I have read so far have been really dark and depressing. Maybe it’s the weather.

More to come…

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Glasgow: First Impressions

Hello my faithful readers! Sorry to leave you all in limbo for so long. It took me ages to get connected to the internet in my new home.

I have arrived in Scotland. This is day eleven. The flight was uneventful (thankfully). Customs was a snap (thank goodness). My living quarters are on the fourth floor of a student complex; no elevator (good exercise, especially on move in day with three 70lb suitcases. Feel the burn!). Here is a quick comparison to my life in New York.

Weather: wetter
Walking: the same
Subway: cuter, smaller, not 24 hours
Prices: double (taking into account the exchange rate)
Food: not as accessible especially for my picky tastes and restricted budget (lots of fried food)
Pigeons: the same
Buildings: shorter, older, quite beautiful
Shopping: considering the amount of stores it’s actually kind of challenging. They close earlier and they don’t have the variety I am accustomed to finding. Lots and lots of clothes shops where I live. House wares seem to be harder to find.
Accent: Well they ain’t from Brooklyn are they! Some people are fine but sometimes when listening to people with really thick accents it sounds like another language; I really have to concentrate.

Naturally, there is an adjustment for me. Some level of culture shock. There are quite a few Americans in my program (including three New Yorkers) so it helps to have others going through the same things. But Glasgow is a lovely place with friendly people and so far it’s been easy to get around. And of course things with simplify and relax as I settle into my new life. I am very excited about the coming year and delighted and honored to be here and have these opportunities.

Classes are just starting this week. Last week was a series of orientation sessions. I’ll report more on the program next time. I will say we have 20 fabulous people who all seem ready and willing to work as an ensemble and maximize the benefits available to us. I am very much looking forward to working with these talented and dedicated individuals.

More to come…

Stay tuned!