Monday, July 6, 2009

Photo Fun and Focusing on the Fourth and Final Term

Today we had a class meeting and discussed the schedule for productions, workshops and other activities that make up our final term of this amazing course at the RSAMD. We are all very excited! The first two weeks we will have an assortment of seminars with industry professionals that will prepare us for auditions and promoting ourselves as artists. The guests they have coming in are very impressive. No doubt we will gain a great deal from these sessions. After these first two weeks we will be resuming rehearsals with our professional playwrights in preparation for the platform productions of their new works at the end of term. Sprinkled in amongst these rehearsals, we will be visiting the International Festival and the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh to see some shows and participate in some workshops. The festivals are world famous and host hundreds of productions from all around the globe. There is a lot to look forward to in the coming months. I can’t wait!

As promised here are some photos from my recent trips to Paris, London, Edinburgh and a few more of good old Glasgow. Enjoy!

Paris- The underside of the Arc de Triomphe with the French flag waving proud. Situated opposite the Grand Louvre at the end of the famous boulevard Champs-Elysees, the arch was ordered to be built in 1806 by Napoleon I as a memorial to the Grande Armee and was completed in 1836. In 1920 the tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed under the arch. We were fortunate to witness the nightly ceremony that tends the eternal flame which burns at the soldier’s grave.

Paris-Tour Eiffel built in 1889 for the Paris Universal Exposition it is an architectural feat and was meant to be temporary but has endured over the years becoming a useful structure for scientific experiments and breathtaking views of Paris. You can stand in line for a few hours to purchase tickets for an elevator that will take you to the top or you can skip the long lines and buy a cheaper ticket to walk up 700 steps to the second level and then catch the elevator the rest of the way up. What do you think we decided? Let’s just say we didn’t need to go to the gym that day.

Paris-The building of Notre-Dame began in 1163 and still isn’t finished as they never did get the spires on top of the two towers. It is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world and was made legendary by its fictional resident Quasimodo otherwise known as ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’. The celebrated novel was written by Victor Hugo and published in 1831 and was later adapted into an animated musical feature film by Disney.

Paris-This photo does nothing to faithfully express the incredible beauty of Sainte-Chapelle. Located within the walls of the Palais de Justice this masterpiece of Gothic architecture was built for Louis IX to house the relic of the crown of thorns (the one that was supposedly on Christ’s head at the crucifixion) which he purchased in Venice in 1239. There is an upper and lower chapel. The lower has a much shorter ceiling height than the upper which allows for good viewing of the magnificent gilded arches. Up a winding, narrow, stone staircase you’ll go only to arrive in the glory of the upper chapel. Jewel tones and gold cover what isn’t stained glass but this chapel is all about the stained glass. The stained glass will surround you and if the sun is shining, will bathe you in color. All while educating you with 618 square meters of 1134 scenes from the Bible.

London- Tower Bridge greeted us every time we came or went from our hotel in London. The most famous bridge in the U.K. was opened in 1894 but built in the Gothic style to coordinate with its neighbor, the Tower of London. The bridge opens to allow ships to pass and you can actually book a viewing of the bridge lift or for that special occasion, you can rent event space on the bridge!

London-Shakespeare’s Globe. I had to show Mom where I spent my amazing winter weeks! This is the interior of the theatre. We did the tour. Check out my earlier blogs for more on the Globe. Yea Globe!!

London- Big Ben and Parliament. This is the Palace of Westminster. It houses the British Parliament which is made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The building itself has been through much over the centuries. The original palace was built for Edward the Confessor who took the throne in 1042. However, there isn’t much here that Ed would recognize due to destruction and rebuilding after various wars, an assortment of fires and a myriad of renovations over the years. Gruesome factoid: Oliver Cromwell’s head rotted on a spike on the roof of this building for 25 years following the Restoration. Oh and Big Ben is meant to be the name of the bell chimes not the clock tower itself but I rather like calling it Ben. Think it’ll mind?

Edinburgh- Some of the interior of Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle is built on a big volcanic rock and there is evidence of settlements on this rock from as early as 900BC. It has been a royal home and a military strong hold for centuries. It hosts the National War Museum of Scotland, Mons Meg (an absolutely humongous cannon) and Scotland’s Crown Jewels among other exhibits and attractions. Bling factoid: During World War II Scotland’s Crown Jewels were taken from their displays and buried in secret hiding places deep within the rock of the castle’s base for fear that the Nazi’s would confiscate them should they have a successful invasion. And this was the second time they had to be protected from invaders! The first was when they were hidden during Oliver Cromwell’s reign. Cromwell had already destroyed England’s Crown Jewels forcing new ones to be created for the Restoration. No wonder his head was on a spike! Leave the bling alone!

Glasgow-Orangemen parade. This is a photo of an Orangemen parade we happened to encounter in Glasgow one day. The parade is made up of various lodge orders that are called Orangemen. They bring their bands to march and play, banners are flown, lodge members wear their sashes and badges and children are dressed up as William of Orange and his wife Mary. William of Orange was King from 1689 to 1702 and reigned with his wife Mary. Unfortunately some of the events of his reign are still wreaking havoc today. During the reign of William and Mary there was still a great deal of unrest surrounding the Catholic and Protestant divide that started when Henry the VIII broke from the Catholic Church. Two rivals for the English, Scottish and Irish thrones - the Catholic King James and the Protestant King William brought the situation to a head at The Battle of the Boyne (in Ireland) on July 1, 1690. Well, the Protestants won and there has been trouble over the issue in The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland ever since. The Orangemen celebrate the Protestant victory in Ireland and during the summer months they march in a lot of parades especially as the anniversary of The Battle of the Boyne grows near. Okay Mel, but what does this have to do with Scotland? Well… During The Great Famine, sometimes known as the Irish Potato Famine between 1845 and 1852, there was mass emigration from Ireland. A lot of the Southern Irish folk (many of whom were Catholic) went to America while a lot of the Northern Irish (many of whom were Protestant) came to Scotland to escape starvation. As a result Glasgow is sometimes called “Belfast Lite”. When the Irish came over to Scotland they brought their grudges with them and their decedents still to this day have issues with each other. So the Orangemen and their parades are a bit controversial.

Glasgow- Here is The Clyde Auditorium which is part of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center and is affectionately known as “The Armadillo”. See the resemblance?

Glasgow-And finally, The Finnieston Crane on the river Clyde is a monument to Glasgow’s past glory as a major industrial city and shipping center. With over 80 shipyards once lining the Clyde, Glasgow made lots of money when boats were the way to go. This crane would have once been responsible for loading cargo but these days it is an attraction and sometimes hosts a zip wire that will get you to the other side of the river, if you dare! These stunts are usually done for charity fundraising events.

Okay, there will be a history test next week so, study up kids!
No seriously have a great week and look for my report on all things RSAMD next week!
Take care!

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