I have returned from my study aboard in London and I totally failed at blogging while over there… classic. But I would love to share with you some of my favorite things from across the pond. If you follow me on Instagram I did keep that updated at least How else was my mother going to see that I was still alive?!
//Disclaimer! This is Part 1 of my #acrossthepond2013 review of my study abroad and this one is all about the theatre! I’m no expert but I am an admirer of the theatre and this is a partial glimpse into my experience. and im gonna be honest with you… its lengthy! but you might just enjoy it! //
I am extremely grateful that I was able to study abroad and live in London for 7 week, it was truly a life changing experience. I was over there on a theatre study aboard and let me tell you there is no other place on earth that is as saturated with such incredible, high quality theatre as London is. Even though I haven’t experienced much Broadway theatre I think I can still say that London is truly the capitol of amazing theatre. In London, theatre is everywhere and it is so affordable! Its insane and because of this I was able to see 32 shows! I was insanely spoiled and I have only been home a week and I am already going through withdrawals!
I was lucky enough to see every show that was showing at the National Theatre, which for those of you who do not know is a theatre located on SouthBank right on the water, which turned out to be one of my favorite places to spend my time in London! the National had 5 shows playing in their 3 theaters. I saw an amazing production of Othello, which was set in modern day and when my friend and I went to get day of tickets it was all sold out except for 5 pound standing tickets. For those in the know, Shakespeare liked to make his plays long, but let me tell you it was so worth it! Absolutely incredible (which is how I describe most shows I saw in London!).
Another favorite of mine that I saw at the National was Children of the Sun, the acting was so beautiful and was so realistic. All the actors were on a equal playing field and there was no one outshining the other, which was a big part as to why this production was so insanely incredible. At intermission I was so in love with the production I went and bought the script for my sister (who is a drama teacher!).
We were able to take a tour of the National – so I got to the backstage and set of a show I was seeing later that night. It’s funny and also comforting how every backstage smells the same!
The National produces so many amazing shows like War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We were able to see both of these shows but they had moved to the West End. The Curious Incident was definietly my favorite nonshakespeare play that we saw.It was absolutely incredible! The technical aspect was mind-blowing. The whole play was portrayed through Christophers eyes, who is autistic, and his thoughts and how he viewed and experienced things. Such a amazing story and was so beautifully done. set was very minimal and so the other characters acted as set pieces, for example, when He came in the door they would act as the door and the counter he would set his stuff on and would move with him as he walked across the stage as he did the actions. The whole stage and back drop was a screen that looked like graph paper that he would draw on and write equations on. Anyways, it was absolutely incredible – probably a little life changing. There is talk of bring the show to Broadway, so if any of you americans can make it to New York and see it, DO IT!
I also went and saw Peter and Alice, which was amazing and stars Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. It is the story about the real life Alice and Peter who the books were modeled after and how it has affected their lives and dealing with growing up and how they dealt with Neverland wonderland and the imagination of it all. The whole run was sold out and so we woke up at 4:40 in morning to wait in line for day of tickets that went on sale at 10:30. They only sell 10 seat tickets and 18 standing tickets for 10 pounds! When we got there at 5:50 there were already about 6 people there and you can buy max of 2 tickets so we got standing. The guy who was first in line got there at 3AM! It was definitely worth it!
We saw The Audience, which is about the Queen and the private meetings she has with all her Prime minsters. Helen Mirren played the Queen and she was absolutely fabulous! The costume and wigs changes in that movie were amazing. Many of them happened on stage and you didn’t even notice half the time because they were so fast and flawless!!
^^Hangin’ with my main man Hamlet^^
Now for Shakespeare. Oh Shakespeare, you are so hard to understand sometimes. Before this study abroad the only experience I had with Shakespeare was in my Ap Lit class back in high school when we read Hamlet, which was my favorite Shakespeare up until going to London. I probably saw some of the best Shakespeare I will ever seen while I was in London.
The shows at the globe are like magic! It is sure an experience to stand right against the stage and have the actors right there. I was able to see three shows there: The Tempest, A Midsummer Nights Dream, and Taming of the Shrew. The Globe ended up to be my other favorite places to go and see some grade A theatre. To get the full experience of Shakespeares Globe you need to get the best seat in the house, which is front and center in the yard. To acquire this seat you only need to pay 5 pounds for a ticket and get in the queue about 2 hours before the show starts and it is so worth it!
At the globe when you are the ones leaning against the stage the actors like to interact with you. For example, when I went to see Taming of the Shrew, water was thrown on me and then was brought out a couple of tissues out by one of the actors. When we went to go see The Tempest, Caliban burped right in my friends face. Its all part of the true Globe experience and it is the greatest thing ever. Who needs to sit when you can stand for 3 hours? No one, buying a seat is not worth it!
My favorite production of Shakespeare I saw was in Stratford-Upon-Avon at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), which was also where Shakespeare was born and grew up. The first night there we saw As You Like It and the acting and the interpretation of the production were both mesmerizing and Orlando was pretty easy on the eyes as well. I’m still so obsessed with this play. SO good! With this production they added in music and actually wrote some music for the show and had a blue grass band on stage as well as having some of the actors play instruments as well. It was amazing. The costumes were fabulous and wanted everyones clothes. The shows was over 3 hours long but with the music, amazing performance from the actors, and the sense of joy they created on stage I was totally absorbed in the world they created and it was over too soon. Rosalind and Orlando definitely became my favorite Shakespearean couple. You can say I’m a little obsessed.
Last but not least my favorite musical was Once – so incredible and the music! Don’t even get my started. Every actor played an instrument and also acted as the band/orchestra, which made it seem like you weren’t watching a musical. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good musical but it was kind of refreshing to not have one show stopping number after another, but instead be totally be entranced by the story and how amazing these actors were also being able to play instruments as well!
^^Pre-show entertainment and actual bar!^^
Sorry for nerding out on you and if what I said does not make much sense… well if only you could have just been there with me to experience all this amazing theatre!
I don’t understand how some people can go to London and not see a single show! I will definitely be making my way back again someday.