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Weeks 4 & 5 - Going GLOBAL

There was a FULL rainbow before one play!
Week four and most of week five have been spent in Bankside (London) near Shakespeare's Globe, where we've been taking classes and attending performances. Every lecture and workshop is informative and engaging, and it’s pretty incredible to see “original practice” (made as they would have been made in Shakespeare’s time) costumes, instruments, etc. It’s also exciting to work with instructors who frequently work with the Globe actors as they prepare for a play. Some days at the Globe, I feel like I’m living someone else’s dream. Don’t get me wrong – I’m loving it! I just know how much it means to the actors in our group, and so I work hard to appreciate every moment as much as I can, despite my limited theatre experience and knowledge base. We put on a mini version of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale on our final afternoon there. It was pretty good and I really enjoyed rehearsing for and performing in it!
With Jordan in "Hell" (under the Globe stage) during a tour

We saw three performances at the Globe: Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (my favourite play ever), and Tony Harrison’s The Globe Mysteries. These performances were drastically different from one another, and we enjoyed each one for five pounds a ticket as ‘groundlings’ – people who stand on the ground in front of the stage. During Dr. Faustus, our first show in London, one of the characters was giving a monologue and, as he said something about love, raised his eyebrows a few times at me. I blushed and covered my face, and the audience (especially the Prin people) laughed. How embarrassingly wonderful! At Much Ado, when Beatrice was writing off men without beards (in addition to men with beards), she gestured to a fellow in our group and then mouthed a laughing apology a number of times. It was pretty funny. Free interaction with the groundlings characterizes a Globe performance, but it definitely took some getting used to!

With Ben at Hyde Park in London
On Sunday at church, I ran into a classmate from Prin, Ben, who was in my year and was doing a bit of traveling before starting an internship. I was so glad to see a familiar face and hang out for a bit, especially because we weren't close in college and I got to talk to him post-graduation. We spent a few hours wandering around Hyde park, where a concert was going on. Someone asked us a question, which is always a really good sign - it means you don't look like a tourist! We stopped by Speaker's Corner, where anyone can stand on a little step ladder and rant about his or her topic of choice. We saw one man arrive when we did and within fifteen minutes there were some twenty people around him. Many people were talking politics, conspiracy theory (it was Sept 11th), etc. and others were yelling about religion. One little Asian man was yelling "YOUU AARE ALLL LOOST SHEEEP!" and one guy responded, "No; I'm a lost cow!" Again, "WHEERE WILLL YOUU GO WHEN YOU DIEEE?" and, in response, a snickering chorus of "Hell!!" There were a surprising number of people in attendance whose main interest was to give the speakers a hard time. One group of guys in their twenties with beers in their hands yelled at a heavyset man, repeatedly calling him "FATTY!" The man replied, "Are you even listening? I'm on your side!" As these rowdy guys moved along, the adults said back and forth to each other, "those idiots are the future of our country?!?" It was fun to listen to everyone for a few minutes each, and the political discussions were far more interesting than the sweaty religious ranters. Obviously. 

Wednesday night on the Tube to and from church, my friends and I had a delightful time playing charades, silently acting out clues and mouthing our guesses.  It wasn’t quite in line with English public transportation behaviour, but it was slightly more respectful than giving in to the American instinct to chat and laugh at a normal volume. On the way back, I was trying to get them to say “Bambi,” and a nice fellow sitting near us asked one of my friends if I’d had too much to drink. When he found out what we were doing, he tried to help my friends guess. After he left, Heidi said to me, “A couple more stops and you would have gotten a phone number!”

I am enjoying listening for a number of fun words/phrases commonly used by the English. Here are a few patterns: ending sentences with “, really.” or with rhetorical questions like “isn’t it?” “didn’t I?”, chap, bloke, bit, lovely, fantastic, brilliant, a bit crap, cheers, etc.  I'm always a little shocked when they say "Where's the toilet?" I have handled this by asking for the ladies' instead. I messed up a few times, saying "pants" when I meant "trousers" and "chips" when I meant "crisps." Fail! I made quick recoveries, though, don't worry!

It’s time for a trying-new-foods update. Status: mediocre. I am pretty much thriving/surviving on sandwiches, croissants, cereal, Caesar salad, chicken, margarita pizza, Starbucks, fruit, and various forms of chocolate. Not bad. I surprised myself by enjoying some tomato and spinach on a turkey sandwich. SHOCKING! I ate a few pieces of either a mango or a peach – not sure I know the difference, which is embarrassing. I ate alone at restaurants for both lunch and dinner one day, which was a little brave of me. Another night I was overly brave with a burrito (chicken, rice, black beans, avocado, sour cream, mild salsa) and, after suffering through a few bites, ate the chicken out of it and gave the rest to a vegetarian friend. Lesson number one million for the abroad: whenever possible, try new foods by taking bites of other people’s food, not by purchasing the whole entree. I’ve also tried Turkish delight, real gingerbread, a mushroom-centered sandwich and chocolate covered cornflake clusters.  I know that last one doesn’t count, but it’s the only one I went on to purchase after sampling. Surprised? Didn’t think so.   

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