Saturday, August 02, 2008

cloudy, with a slight chance of paris

I’ve never been to the Museum of London before, but there’s a first time for everything! There’s also a last time for everything as, sadly, the Museum of London is really, really boring. They were so excited to tell me it was free entry, but I can see why. It’s free entry in the same way that the Bean Museum is free entry. You get a lot of old things and maybe a two-headed snake, but you also get the sense that you’ve seen it all before, and better. I guess I shouldn’t make fun of the Bean Museum. It was there that I learned about the Dik-Dik.

Anyway, one thing I liked about this museum, and now I’m dwelling on the POSITIVE, is the exhibit about the fire of London. I don’t know much about the great fire except that it happened in 1666, and was started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. I know it was in 1666 because 1066 was the Magna Carta, 1666 was the Great Fire, and 1966 was the World Cup. But turns out that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started the fire in Chicago, so I was way off. The London fire was started by some ashes somewhere down on Pudding Lane. There’s got to be a nursery rhyme in that. So anyway. I learned a lot about the Great Fire, and watched a “movie” where actors screamed and ran away from giant flames on a blue screen.

We did have a fantastic backstage tour of the National Theatre, though, which I’m not sure if I mentioned this, was fantastic. It made me wish for a giant National Theatre of Provo. We saw the building areas, the props, and visited behind the scenes of all three spaces. I felt the ghost of Olivier, as I always do. And you’ll be happy to hear that I had a delicious sandwich in the National Café.

Tonight we saw …some trace of her at the National, which, if you think starting your title with ellipses is pretentious, just wait. It was very moody and passionate, like a Calvin Klein commercial. The lead actor was Ben Whishaw, who is the awesome new kid on the block over here. He just did Hamlet at the National a few months ago. He’s a good actor. But the real star of this show was the director, Katie Mitchell, who has perfected a form of mixed media where the actors film each other and the story is projected onto a giant black and white screen. So you are watching a movie, plus the making of the movie. And somewhere tied up in this was Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. It’s an incredibly complicated piece to pull off and I admired it a lot, but didn’t love it. Some of my students were rapturous about it. Standing ovations, etc. I was glad they did. Some of them hated it. That’s OK, too. I can see why. It’s very contemporary and stretches your patience. It’s divisive, to say the least. But that won’t stop me from completely stealing the concept for Nosferatu in the Fall.

Back home, in bed early. Paris in the morning!