Monday, June 29, 2009

Glancing at Glasgow, Eyeballing Edinburgh, Perusing Paris and Looking at London

I just returned to Glasgow after a week exploring some of the treasures of Europe. My Mom arrived ten days ago and since then it has been nearly non-stop with the sightseeing. I showed her some of the highlights of Glasgow, covered a fraction of Edinburgh and then we hopped on a plane to Paris to see what the fuss was all about. Post Paris, we chunneled back to the UK and spent a few days in London. After spending this morning at The Tower of London, we boarded a train and spent the afternoon looking at the English and Scottish countryside as we headed back to Glasgow. Words cannot describe how much we took in over the past week. Our brains have nearly reached capacity. But we are back to Edinburgh tomorrow to finish what we started, so we have to leave a little room for those goodies.

Paris was brand new to me. This city, however, is pretty darn old. You could spend a lifetime just at The Grand Louvre. There is so much to do! We stayed at a quaint little boutique hotel and spent the day on the tour bus and visiting all the “must sees”. Notre-Dame, The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel, Conciergerie, our favorite; Sainte-Chapelle and the list goes on. The architecture is splendid; Napoleon was a serious fan of development and renovation! Sainte-Chapelle wins the prize for us though. Sainte-Chapelle is a small church (that is a relative term when you talk about cathedrals and churches in Europe) situated within the walls of the Palais de Justice. Louis IX had it built and it was consecrated in 1248. The walls are almost entirely stain glass. The ceiling and columns are painted and decorated in the richest reds, blues and golds. You feel like you are standing in the middle of a rainbow. The lightshow provided by the sun and stain glass is breathtaking. If you ever go to Pairs, you have to go to Sainte-Chapelle! It is worth the wait if you have to stand in line! When I have a moment to sort out my photos I will try to post one for you. Unfortunately, photos taken inside the fabulous old buildings rarely come out well. And even if I do manage something, it won’t do the place justice. It is simply something that must be experienced in the flesh.

After Paris we headed under the English Channel to London. I’ve been to London a few times before but this was Mom’s first trip, so we had to check out all the sights there too. Friday night we went to a play. We saw a new adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” in Kensington Gardens. As mentioned in my previous blog, this show was directed by Ben Harrison; one of our workshop leaders on our MA CCT course and a world renowned site specific theatre director. The show was an absolute delight! It took place in a tent; kind of like a circus tent but fancier. The show was performed in the round and the audience was raised in stadium style seating so we all had excellent views. Above us was a 360 degree screen. Almost like you would experience in a planetarium except the center at the top was screen-less to make way for lighting and the wires that allowed the core cast to fly around. On the screen was the scenery. The graphics were amazing! We flew over London with Peter and Wendy and the rest. We swam with the mermaids under the sea. We fought on the Jolly Rodger to defeat Captain Hook. The stage had a plethora of trap doors and sections that flipped upside down to bring in or take out furniture and other props. There was puppetry and aerial stunts and beautiful costumes and marvelous actors. We loved every second of it!

There is so much to tell about the trip, I could go on forever. Upon my return, my Academy email was full of new assignments I have to prepare for our return on July 6 but I will try to get photos sorted and posted soon! In the meantime, we have a few more places to hit in the next couple of days and then Mom heads home and I get back to work!

Stayed tuned for photos and exciting new tales of Europe, Scotland and the MA CCT!
Take care!

Monday, June 22, 2009

It’s Over!

That’s right the crazy term that was number three has come to an end and all of us are still alive. We are at different levels of consciousness but we are alive. The On the Verge Festival wrapped on Thursday and everyone seemed to be happy with the results. ‘Dead in Scotland’ was well received by audiences. The story about two half sisters from totally different cultures, with totally different personalities that come together when their estranged father passes away seemed to be enjoyed by the folks that came out to see us. The project was meant to be a tribute to my South Carolina roots and to my current home of Scotland. I am looking forward to discussing the project with my professors and getting their feedback.

Friday my Mom arrived from the States and we have been catching up and doing some site seeing here in Scotland. Tomorrow we head off to Paris for three days and then to London for another three before returning to Glasgow for more site seeing in Scotland. I’ve never been to Paris and am very excited about seeing the famous city. London will also be fabulous as it is one of my favorite cities. We have tickets to a new production of ‘Peter Pan’ that is being directed by Ben Harrison. You may recall Mr. Harrison worked with my class for three weeks prior to Winter Break. He is a world renowned director of site specific theatre. ‘Peter Pan’ will be a fantastic event, I have no doubt. They have built a special pavilion in Kensington Gardens in London to house the event. It was in Kensington Gardens where J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, first met the Llewelyn Davies family. It was this family, with five boys, that inspired him to write the now famous story. The audience will be in the round with a 360 degree screen surrounding them. The actors will be in the center on wires for a good portion of the play and the 360 degree screen will play film footage of the scenery. So when the boys and Wendy fly over London we will all fly over London. I can’t wait to see this production!

As promised below you will find photos from the past few months of crazy. Enjoy!
Take care!

King Lear - The Royal Family: Lear (Jeremy Crawford) sits on his thrown flanked by his eldest daughter Goneril (Una McDade) in black, middle daughter Regan (Amy Conway) in the red skirt and his youngest Cordelia (Lucy Goldie) in white

King Lear – The Earl of Gloucester (Tony Nappo) embraces his sons; Edgar (Remi Rachuba) left and Edmund (Phillip Burke) right

King Lear – The Duchess of Kent and Oswald (that’s me!)

Julius Caesar – Mr. and Mrs. Caesar: Eric Buchanan as Julius Caesar and Me as Calphurnia

Julius Caesar – Ready to go on in my second Calphurnia scene

Julius Caesar – Here I am as Mark Antony’s Servant, more of a political assistant in our production

Julius Caesar – and as the solider Titinius

In Ullapool Tony N and Jeremy put grey in their beards to get ready to do ‘King Lear’

Lucy as the Fool and Jeremy as Lear rehearse a scene in the performance space in Ullapool

The shore line in Ullapool

The waterfront row of B&Bs and shops in Ullapool

Boats afloat in Ullapool

The cast and director (Lauren Graham-center) of ‘Dead in Scotland’

Sunday, June 14, 2009

‘Dead’ Tomorrow

Okay, okay I haven’t had a chance to sort out photos of the Shakespeare shows or the trip to Ullapool. But tomorrow and Tuesday I will be ‘Dead’ so hopefully I can work on them in the afterlife. This week has been: project show, full throttle. We have been rehearsing every day this week in preparation for tomorrow’s opening. The big day is upon us. It’s very exciting and well, other emotions. I can’t say anymore about it. I’ll give you a full report on the show next week. But if you are in the Glasgow area and want to come see it, I’ve included the details below.

All of us have been working very hard on our contributions to the On the Verge Festival that will play host to all our project shows. One group is doing an adaptation of ‘Doctor Faustus’ by Christopher Marlowe called ‘Faustus’. The group has been experimenting with rehearsal techniques and exercises in an effort to achieve a “flow” state for performance. Another student is doing an autobiographical one man show called ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ about the effect his grandmother has had on his faith and religion. Later in the week we will see ‘Re: Hedda’ which will examine the various aspects and relationships of one of Ibsen’s most famous characters, Hedda Gabler. There will be two undergrad contributions to the On the Verge Festival. ‘BPM’ will deliver a series of monologues in combination with music, chorus and dance tackling the themes social stereotypes on the thriving scene of Glasgow’s nightlife. ‘Pool (no water)’ gives us a story about a famous artist who invites her friends to her new home only to suffer a terrible accident and perhaps become her colleagues’ newest work of art.

Yeah Melanie but what is ‘Dead’ about? Okay. I’ll give you my tag line: One man left two behind…

More to come next week!

For more information about the On the Verge Festival visit:

On the Verge
Academy artists explore new directions
The Arches hosts seven pieces of theatrical work from some of the country's most exciting new voices. Over four days, audiences are invited to witness the work-in-progress of emerging artists from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Raw, explorative and exciting this selection of works in development investigates both new writing and devised performance as each artist questions and pushes their boundaries within the theatrical form.
Tickets are £2 for each evening of performance and are available from the Arches / Tel: 0141 565 1000
Tickets are FREE on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday performances if you also buy a ticket to see Splinters £8/£6 conc

Me and Mrs Jones
Monday 15 June / 7.00pm
Tuesday 16 June / 5.30pm
Directed by Jeremy S Crawford
Written and performed by Phillip Burke

Dead in Scotland
Monday 15 June / 8.00pm
Tuesday 16 June / 6.25pm
Directed by Lauren Graham
Written by Melanie Ann Wiliford
Performers: Barbara Drum Sullivan and Melanie Ann Wiliford

Monday 15 June / 9.10pm
Tuesday 16 June / 9.50pm
Directed by Marc Silberschatz
Performers: Phillip Burke; Amy Conway; Cindy Derby; Una McDade; Remigiusz Rachuba; Tony Sehgal;
Based on ‘Doctor Faustus' by Christopher Marlowe

Tuesday 16 June / 9.00pm
Thursday 18 June / 6.35pm
Directed by Jamie Wardrop and Andrew Campbell
Performers: Jamie Wardrop; Andrew Campbell; Neil Girvan; Alisa Anderson and Murray Sharp

Wednesday 17 June / 5.30pm
Thursday 18 June / 9.00pm
Directed by Amanda Gaughan
Performers: Cindy Derby; Gwendolen Einsiedel; Eilidh McCormick

Pool (no water)
Wednesday 17 June / 6.30pm
Thursday 18 June / 9.55pm
Directed by Oliver Emanuel
Written by Mark Ravenhill
Performers: Fraser Boyle; Darran Lightbody; Melody Grove; Thomasin Rand

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Back from Ullapool and Almost ‘Dead’

The MA CCT’s went to the beautiful Highlands with our Shakespeares. Ullapool is waaaay up north on the coast and it is stunning. I took about a million pictures so give me the week and I’ll try to get them organized and posted for you soon. There is not much in Ullapool. It is very small and every other cottage is a B&B. But I don’t imagine people go there to shop or ride roller coasters. If you like the great outdoors and beautiful natural scenery, Ullapool will do ya just fine. The calm waters boarder rolling hills and it stays light ‘till near 11pm so you can enjoy the views (of course, in the winter you would probably be in the dark most of the time). There is camping and hiking in the serenity of the surrounding Highlands. You can do the beach thing if you want but the water is pretty darn cold and laying out on the beach will give you more pebbles than sand and it is not so hot that you’d want to be in a bikini for very long. But it is peaceful and you can’t help but de-stress a little even when you have four shows in two days!

The show part was intense. We had to move in each show in less than 24 hours. Tuesday was a tech day. We started with ‘Caesar’ then struck it and brought in ‘Lear’. ‘Lear’ stayed overnight and we came in for a speed run at 10:30am on Wednesday, had a matinee at 2:30 and evening show at 7:30. Thursday we did the same for ‘Caesar’. The shows were performed in a multi-purpose hall at the community center which is also attached to the school and the library. We didn’t really have all the bells and whistles of a normal theatre. Our dressing room was not right off stage but down the hall in a meeting room and the boys and girls were lumped together. Hope no one is shy! The whole back wall of the “dressing room” was windows. Now the view looking out was awesome as we gazed at the rolling hills of the Highlands but the view in from the sports courts and parking lot that were directly outside the windows I fear might have been a shock for the good people of Ullapool. ‘Caesar’ especially had a lot of costume changes and as we ran off stage ripping our clothes off I just hope that everyone understands this is how theatre works. But the shows went well and I think people enjoyed our offerings.

Now I’m back and have spent the weekend trying to recover from a very unpleasant cold. Tomorrow we jump full throttle into our project shows. Mine is a play I penned called ‘Dead in Scotland’. We open a week from tomorrow at a venue here in Glasgow called the Arches. The play is directed by Lauren Graham, one of our student directors and stars fellow acting student Barbara Sullivan and me. I wrote a lot of monologues in this thing and have to get crackin’ on memorization.

Photos of Ullapool and Shakespeare madness are coming soon.
I’ll keep you posted on ‘Dead’.
Take care!