Saturday, November 14, 2015

Line? Line? Line?

Three or four weeks ago in my Acting in London class, we had a class session on how to memorize lines. Basically the trick is say your lines out loud, push yourself to memorize one line further than you thought you knew, say your lines as different characters, say them in different pitches of voice, say them with the lights on and then with the lights off, say them with your cheek on the floor (how cheeky!), and say them how you would if were a phone sex line operator. We did all of these things to memorize the Tommy Knocker rhyme.

The week after that, my Acting in London instructor brought in a scene. We did a cold read through. The scene did not have defined characters, instead at every dash, a new person could speak the line. Because we are all actors, we were all fighting for each opportunity to speak. The lines we said in class were assigned to us. We took those lines home to memorize. That was a bit difficult for me, but having an ensemble to play off of and lines that responded to the previous line mitigated my difficulties. The lines seemed to fit with the previous cue. It was also only a scene, 3 pages.
Currently, I am having a lot of trouble memorizing my lines for my Performing Shakespeare class! For this class, we will be putting on a show. This show would be a collection of our favorite, most daring and influential Shakespeare pieces. We each had to choose two or three monologues that we felt passionately about, that spoke about our beliefs, and liked the verse. I chose one of Emilia’s monologues from Othello where she is angrily ranting that it is a husband’s fault if their wives are unhappy because husbands (primarily hers since he is one of the biggest, worst villains in Shakespeare history--Iago) are cruel, abusive, peevishly jealous, restricting cheaters. I liked this piece, not only because she’s awesome and hates men, but also because somewhere during her angry rant, she has a brief line or two about equality. This is one of the only moments where Shakespeare mentions equality between men and women. Back then women were not allowed to perform in his plays, this made the thought of equality seem like a joke back then. However, Shakespeare is a badass, ahead of his time. Emilia, in Act IV, says “Let husbands know their wives have sense like them: they see and smell and have their palates both for sweet and sour, as husbands have.” Not only do I agree that men suck, but also my inner feminist drew me to one of the only lines depicting equality in Shakespeare’s works.  I am also currently very proud of myself because I just quoted Emilia without having to look at my script! This means that I successfully memorized Emilia’s monologue!

My second piece is much harder to memorize!  I chose one of Rosalind’s monologues from As You Like It. I liked this piece because it contrasts Emilia’s. Rosalind, in Act III, is playing a man. She is comically trying to persuade Phoebe that she is not beautiful, no one wants to go to bed with her with the lights on anyway, so she should just sell herself to Silvius now while he is chasing after her. This monologue is incredibly difficult to memorize because there are so many puns, weird negatives, Shakespeare does not say things I would normally hear them said or say them myself, and the rhythm has to keep in meter.

I was sitting in the kitchen with my ever so kind flat mate Elieen. She was running lines with me and it was incredibly frustrating. I would start my monologue and I would have the right idea but the words out of order, I would just flat out not know what comes next, or not know how to start the next line. The number of times I kept calling line was so numerous, it was sad. For those of you that don’t know, calling line is a term you use when you would like the person with the script to provide you with the beginning to the next line. I felt incredibly frustrated that it was taking me so long to absorb the ins and outs of the monologue.

I asked myself why this was so hard? Olin has taught me problem solving, innovative design, the uses of technology, how to stimulate my creativity, how to fight to the death for classes you want to take next semester, how to be a good team member, how to learn, what recycled food in the dining hall tastes like, but never ever memorization.  Memorization is not one of the skills Olin teaches its students. The only thing I have to memorize at Olin is the 3 digit combination to my mail box and I failed to memorize even that! I just leave my mailbox open and whoever wants to take my mail, can have it! I don’t really need it anyway! But no one really takes my mail because it’s boring mail and the honor code exists.

I find it so interesting that I’m struggling with this. I guess this is the part of my curriculum here that is very important to theatre majors, but will not be important to me when I go back to Olin. However, I guess it’s nice to know that if I ever need to memorize anything, I know how to do it…by pretending I have a phone sex hotline!  

Top O’ The Mornin’ To Ya -- Dublin Trip

My Dublin trip was amazing! My study abroad coordinators from CIEE decided to take us on a historical, academic learning adventure to Dublin!

Before this trip, I had a preconceived notion of Ireland. When I thought of Ireland, I thought of the Potato Famine, clovers, luck of the Irish and other stereotypical symbols. In high school, I stage managed Juno and the Paycock, a show set during the Irish civil war about a struggling Irish family that inherits a large sum of money from a dead family member. Then spoiler alert (!), drama ensues and the son gets drafted into the IRA, the daughter gets pregnant, the money isn’t coming to them anymore, the father won’t stop drinking, and the entire family falls apart. Juno and the Paycock provided me with all of my information about Ireland before this trip.

We arrived on Friday around noon and they drove us to our hostel. They rented this huge bus to transport all of us, it was pretty comical. We checked into the 4 courts hostel, it was pretty nice. It's one of the best hostels I've stayed in during my time in Europe so I definitely recommend it. Then we went to lunch at the Hairy Lemon, sounds appetizing huh?? Well they didn't have hair or lemons or lemons with hair on them so...I don't know where the name came from. I had an amazing traditional Beef and Guinness Stew with potatoes and vegetables. It was perfect, everything a stew should be: creamy, thick, savory, and diverse in texture. Then I ordered the Chocolate and Guinness Mousse with a layer of "breadcrumbs" meaning like a layer of crushed graham cracker. The dessert was a piece of a heaven on earth, it was like the first smell of spring, it was like the taste of victory, it tasted how I imagine happiness would taste.

My friend Sarah and I drinking our
 perfectly poured pint of Guinness! 
Then we went to the Guinness factory!

Do you notice a trend here? I...think...the Irish like their Guinness. That, friends, is an understatement. Guinness is about as important to Irish people as is water!

The Guinness factory was amazing! We learned about Andrew Guinness developing his business and the different plants used to make Guinness --barley, hops, and other grains. We learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. The certificate exclaiming I poured the perfect pint is now hanging on my wall. The best part was we got to drink the pint we poured!

Then my friend Sarah found a friend she goes to school with back in America and her incredibly nice friend invited us out to a pub crawl. We went to 5 pubs and got a free drink at each of them. It was so much fun! They would often sing American songs but with an Irish jig! It was so different hearing “Hey there Delilah” sung by an Irish man with an Irish beat. Additionally, we made a stop at Wheelans, the pub where P.S - I love you, the movie, was filmed. We ended the night with horrible Chinese fried rice, yum!

Newgrange from the outside.
The next morning we woke up pretty early to go to Country Meath, about 50 minutes away from Dublin. It was beautiful! First we went to Newgrange, a prehistoric monument built during the neolithic period. This monument is older than Stonehenge, super old, and it has a beautiful view! Every year, on the winter solstice, the sun shines in the perfect spot so that the light comes through the entrance, fills the dome, and the peak of the light touches the door to the tomb. This happens just once a year and this is meant to signify the beginning of a new year.
View from the path to Newgrange

Then we got back on the bus and went to visit the Battle of the Boyne site. This was a really informative tour!
Basically in 1689, Catholic King James II was the head of England, Scotland, and Ireland. People were worried because he was too overly Catholic and the government wanted to keep a Protestant lineage to the throne. William of Orange, a Dutch Protestant, married his cousin, King James II’s daughter. King James II was both father-in-law and uncle to William of Orange. Protestant nobles then invited William of Orange to steal his father-in-law’s and uncle’s throne. How’s that for family problems?? Anyways, then King James II runs away to France, to be with his best friend, Catholic King Louis XIV. That same year King Louis XIV of France gives King James II the men and the ships to sail back to Ireland to regain the throne. It benefited France to have a Catholic King on the throne of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Plus, William of Orange hated King Louis XIV, rivals!
Chilling at the river
King James II believed Ireland was the first step in regaining his throne. He also thought it would be easy since Ireland was Catholic. William of Orange, the very asthmatic man that he was, decided that he needed to squash King James II and King Louis XIV of France early on. He assembled the largest force he could and took them all across the Irish Sea. The monarchs and their armies met at the Boyne River, a little north of Dublin. Funny enough, William of Orange was exploring the river Boyne a day or two before real battle started and one of King James II’s men shot at him! Rumour went around that he died, but the bullet only grazed his shoulder. What a badass William of Orange, huh? William of Orange won the battle by deceiving King James II. William of Orange moved men to the south bank of the river, tricking King James II into sending most of his men there. When the tide was low, William of Orange crossed the river on the north side and made it all the way to Dublin, capturing Dublin. William of Orange won a grand victory. This meant that the throne was back in Protestant hands. Everyone now loves William of Orange!

Walking up to Hill of Slane!
After that, we went to the Hill of Slane!
Hill of Slane!
Hill of Slane had tombstones. 

Here St. Patrick not only ran away all of the snakes, but he also prepared and held a grand Easter feast in an effort to convert Ireland’s Celtic pagans to Catholicism. St. Patrick lit his fire on the Hill of Slane. The Celtics thought that if the fire was not put out right away, it would burn forever. It did burn forever, St. Patrick succeeded at converting them to Catholicism. Hill of Slane was really cool and beautiful.

That night, several of us went out to a dinner that served American breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, and pancakes for dinner that night.

The next morning, we woke up and went looking for Oscar Wilde. His statue, I mean. We found both Mary Malone and Oscar Wilde.

The brothers of the sheep used to make my sweater
Finally, the last thing we did before I got on the bus to the airport was buy an authentic, hand made, purple sweater made from sheep’s wool. It’s incredibly soft and amazing!

It was a fantastic trip! Dublin is one of my favorite cities in the world. The Country Meathe sites were absolutely beautiful and rich with history; the people were funny, kind, and drink a lot of beer; and it felt so good to just walk around and exist there!