Tuesday, July 27, 2010

home and away

I met Christina Gutekunst when I was at the IUGTE conference in Austria three months ago and I immediately booked her for a workshop with my students. She's great. Originally from Germany, she teaches at the East 15 Acting School in London, where Stephen Daldry and Alison Steadman both went. I asked her if she would come and do some breathing exercises with my students, partly because I think they would enjoy learning from her, and also because I assume they are sick of me at this point. I'm pretty sick of me at this point. So they need somebody new and exciting to look at, particularly if this person has hair. And if you know Christina, you know she's got some serious hair. So she came and did a really great 2 hour session with my students where they breathed, stretched, and did some vocal work with haikus. This was my haiku:

Everyone's gone home.
The fireworks have ended.
How dark the night is!

I made that last line really creepy, like I was a murderer.

It was great to see Christina and she joined us for lunch at Nando's Chicken Factory, the only place in London with free refills and crushed ice. Christina has never visited the states, so she was suitably impressed by our soda wizardry.

We spent the day in our own backyard, exploring Kensington pretty thoroughly. We started at Harrod's, which is really more of a museum than a department store. There is so much to look at. And in many ways it's better than a museum because you can eat stuff and sit on things. We found some pricy items, including a $4000 leather jacket and some midcentury modern furniture that was so expensive that I started to cry a little. Of course everything you need to know about Harrod's you can find in the food halls, where food is more of a series of giant edible displays than just produce and meat. Little Nicholas was so excited by the Chocolate Hall that he did the Chattanooga Choo-Choo right there. And don't get me started on the fossil room. THE FOSSIL ROOM!

other items of interest:

Harrods has every type of meat possible, including presumably dog and human.

This is the jacket I was telling you about. I thought Lisa would like the jacket, but not the pricetag! Yikes! $3200.

This dress also cost one billion dollars.

I just really like the looks of this chair. They don't carry this line at RC Willey. And no free hot dogs at Harrods! (sad face)

Just some really appetizing veggies!

After the decadence of Harrods we decided we needed some religion. The guilt and, in some cases, buyer's remorse we felt compelled us to walk to the Brompton Oratory, where we could be purged and scourged for our greed, or maybe just sit down for a little bit. I love the Brompton Oratory, because it's got to be the most ornate church in town. With the grouchiest priest on duty who is really more of a full-time camera Nazi. But I lit a candle for my family at home and then the group moved on.

We had an immediate decision to make. Natural History Museum or the Victoria and Albert? Sides were chosen, and then we split and went our separate ways. I opted for the V&A, because I've seen most of the NHM and I get a little dizzy on that escalator that goes through planet earth. While at the V&A I sort of got caught up in Roman busts. And I tried to get all artsy with my camera, with varying levels of success. But here's what I got:

Then I joined Scott and Alta at the V&A fountains, where we dipped our feet in the water, shooed away pigeons, and watched children splash in the pool.

The V&A is doing a really cool exhibit about Grace Kelly right now. And guess who has a giant Hollywood crush on Grace Kelly? If you guessed ME YOU ARE RIGHT!!!! And if you think I was basically the only guy in the exhibit you are basically also right, although Scott Stringham was there for moral support. I think Grace Kelly in Rear Window is borderline goddess, so it was cool to see her actual costumes from the film alongside projected clips from the movie. There were tons of her clothes on display, and hats, and personals. She was really a classy lady. When I was dating in college I kept trying to find someone who was basically Grace Kelly: beautiful and stylish with a wicked sense of humor. And those of you know Lisa know that I did amazingly well. Easily the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.

Tonight we saw All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre with Zoe Wanamaker and David Suchet. It was really great. We had seats on the fourth row, and the set was incredible. A giant clapboard house on a raked stage, with real grass growing in the backyard. Lit beautifully. Acted with passion and integrity. It's hard for English actors to do our stuff; sometimes the accents slip and sometimes they don't really capture the American swagger. But this troupe of actors came as close as I've ever seen. I've been in this show and I know how challenging it is. Arthur Miller is no walk in the park. They made it alternatively funny and tragic, and seemed to find layers and layers in the text that I didn't know were there. It was a near-perfect display of power and emotional depth.