Tuesday, July 29, 2014

immortal longings

I've had a pretty special relationship with St. Paul's Cathedral since I played the man himself in the LDS church's New Testament series. We visited St. Paul's today and, in a stroke of serendipity, the first installment of the series premiered today as well. Right now it's on the lds.org homepage, or you can see it here.  There should be a few more exciting Paul installments over the next few weeks. The beard is real, by the way. I was proud of that thing. The wig, not so much.

I let the students wander for a minute around the cathedral. It's always so overwhelming - the second largest in Europe after St. Peter's in Rome. I just sat in the chairs and looked up into the dome. There, on several panels, were scenes from Paul's life and ministry. I knew every story. Somehow he looks a little more epic in those murals than I did.

We climbed to the top of St. Pauls, which I haven't done in a few years. It's 528 steps up, but somehow they didn't feel as long or as tiring this year. Still as claustrophobic as ever. Word to the wise: if you don't like corrugated, spiral staircases that groan as you mount them, or if you don't like squeezing through walls of just a few feet, avoid this one. It's nice just to stop at the whispering gallery, if you want. A nice guide up there (unheard of, I'd thought) demonstrated how the gallery works; she walked to the other side of it and began whispering things like "Christopher" and "I hope you have a nice day" and "will you marry me?"

The view from the top was beautiful, mostly because the weather was beautiful today. We've really lucked out. You're 280 feet up there, and you can walk around the golden gallery and see London from every angle. It's fun to people watch up there, or bus watch. What you will. It's also fun to take pictures and hide from the guides up there who are always trying to get you to move along and ultimately head back down.

We walked a few blocks to see the Guildhall Art Museum, but it was closed for repairs. There are ruins of a Roman amphitheatre under it, which we were excited to see. And sad we couldn't. Shawn was excited anyway.

Next we got some Greggs (oh yes! chicken bake! I sing to thee!) and sat in the courtyard of Somerset house and had late lunch. A few of the ladies ran through the fountains with many, many children, one of whom was naked and hilarious. I followed them in there and got my feet wet but not much else, which was fine by me. We also took a moment to create this short masterpiece:

Tonight was our second Globe show, Antony and Cleopatra. I've never seen this play, which is always an added bonus. Especially when you trust a tough play like this to the Globe. They completely embraced it and gave it fire - I can't believe it took me this long to study or watch it. What great characters and beautiful language! The lead, Cleopatra, was played by Eve Best. In America she's best known for a role on Nurse Jackie, but I've never seen that before. She was also in The King's Speech. I wasn't that familiar with her work. But she was absolutely spectacular. Warm, funny, and connected with the audience in ways I haven't seen Globe actors do in years. She touched them, she spoke to them, she even acknowledged the rowdy hoots from the party bus floating past on the Thames. It was just a beautiful, present performance full of commitment and verve.

Final note: I ran into Jeff Morain today, randomly on the street. And then we met up again tonight at the Globe. Jeff was a production assistant on the New Testament videos. He used to bring me donuts while they painted blood all over me. Seeing Jeff, on today of all days, was a reminder of what a fantastic experience filming that was. And will be: I'm bearding up for another round of filming St. Paul in October!