After sitting here in the library for more than an hour trying to write about my travels through Ireland and the UK, I have come to the conclusion that no matter what I create, it simply won’t encompass the joy I had while backpacking alone through Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle, and London. I’m trying to write a story with a beginning middle and end that embodies everything I did, but I continue to churn out the same old monotonous crap that becomes tedious to write and uneventful to read. With that being said, in short, the major attractions I visited in chronological order were: The Guinness Factory, Phoenix Park, Aran Islands, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, Black Taxi Tour, Holyrood Park, Angel of The North, London Tower, Churchill’s War Room, The British Museum, The London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare city walk, and The Harry Potter Studio. Out of everything I cited above, if I had to pick my top three it would be the Black Taxi Tour in Belfast, Churchill War Room, and The London Tower. I will refrain from going into any detail about these places because specific information is available online. I will say though that I highly recommend googling the Protestant and Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland if you don’t know about because Belfast was one of my favorite cities. I will briefly discuss this later as one of the plays I saw was based off this war.
Lets get to the good stuff. One of the Perks about traveling on your own is that you don’t have to please anyone, but yourself. The only quarrels you have are internally. There is no need to compromise and in the end you’re holding the reins and making the decisions. It’s a liberating feeling, especially when you’re abroad and somewhat out of your comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every moment traveling with a group of friends, but they’re your security and you always can rely on them. It’s a doubled edged sword and fortunately, I was able to experience both. I met so many different people while on my own because I was forced to talk to whomever was in my hostel, the bar, etc. That was the best part about traveling solo. In the rest of this post, I will talk about the plays I saw and my audition for the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.
Abbey Theatre in Dublin: Drum Belly, By Richard Dormer
The Abbey Theatre is Irelands national theatre. It first opened its doors in 1904 and was founded by W.B Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory. The Playwright Richard Dormer trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. This was perhaps my second favorite play. At first it was strange watching a play in Ireland about the gangsters in New York, but quickly became captured by entire production. The soundtrack was phenomenal featuring The Stooges, which brought you back to the time when man first landed on the moon in 1969. I have posted a link to the soundtrack and a review below.
Lyric Theatre In Belfast: Love, Billy, by Graham Reid
The strife between Catholics Nationalists and Protestants Unionist dates to the late 1960s to 1998, but sporadic violence still exists. To simply put it, Unionists and Loyalists generally want Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom while Irish Nationalists and Republicans want a United Ireland free of UK rule. During the Black Taxi tour a Catholic man who lived through the war drove us around to various sites and gave his opinion on the matter. Of course he was biased and it was hard not to agree with him after hearing his personal stories and especially knowing history of past British colonization. The story is about a man who disappears from Belfast and returns home to his family after 25 years without any communication.
Newcastle University Theatre Society
This was by far one the cooler performances I went to because the plays were written by students, preformed by students, and directed by students. They were preformed in a cozy black box theatre with very few props, basic lighting and sound. I was really impressed and I left the theatre feeling motivated.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London: The Tempest, by William Shakespeare
The First Globe was built in 1599 and burnt down in 1613. A Year after a second Globe was constructed, but was torn down in 1942. Recently, A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named “Shakespeare’s Globe “, opened in 1997. This was by far the best play I saw in Europe. It was one of those special shows where you just knew that it was a bomb performance by observing the satisfaction on each actor’s face during the applause. They had so much fun and kept the audience engaged by interacting with them during the show. I was in the pit, about three rows back, and you couldn’t have asked for better weather. I have heard and seen movies featuring The Globe, but it was surreal being there. I felt as if I was back in the 1600s watching a show.
Trafalgar Studios in London: The Hothouse, by Harold Pinter
When I saw a Pinter production was being shown in London, I immediately told myself I had to go. His plays call for British accents and what better place to hear genuine accents then London. Harry Melling, who plays Harry Potter’s spoiled bully cousin Dudley Durstley, was in the Cast, which was good for a laugh, and he was quite good. The hothouse is a dark exploration of Kafkaesque incarceration and torture during a 1982 interview. The play is set in some mysteriously undefined institution referred to as a sanatorium and the patients are all administered numbers by which they are called by.
St. Martin’s Theatre: The Mousetrap, by Agatha Christie
The Mousetrap was first presented on the November 25th 1952 at the Ambassadors Theatre and later moved to St. Martin’s Theatre in 1974. It is the longest running play running for more than 60 years. This is another play that you know about and therefore I had to see it. I’m officially apart of the Mousetrap initiative and am not allowed to reveal the mousetrap secret.
Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University
Last Monday, I had an audition with the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in NYC. The three-year MFA program combines student directors, playwrights, and actors and teaches them the Stanislavski System and The Method. There are two main reasons I applied for this school; one, being that they’re the best at what they do, which is teaching the Stanislavski Method and secondly, directors, playwrights, and actors are able to work together. It would be a fantastic opportunity, but if I don’t get in then I move on to Plan B and keep working. As for the audition, I thought it went well given the circumstances. My scene partner and I had two hours to rehearse and I was a bit rusty after being abroad for five months. I was so amped up during the monologue that I forgot to slow down and I missed the moments where I could have paused and taken my time. I can’t beat myself up over it because at the end of the day I learned something and I know my faith will guide me in the right direction. I hear back next week and the odds aren’t in my favor, but I commemorate myself for going for something I want. It’s funny how life works, two years ago I was foolishly considering dropping out of school, and now I have done a complete 180 and I’m applying for my masters.
I go back to Blacksburg this summer to finish my marketing degree and to work on my video that documents our travels in Kenya. My last summer in Blacksburg… hard to believe, but I’m smirking now because this is just the beginning.
A Few Goals for the Summer:
- Improve my golf game
- Get into the bowling 250 club. My high is a 246.
- Do a sunrise hike
- Officially graduate
- Improve editing skills in Final Cut Pro
- Work on a new monologue
- Blog once a week
- Work on leg strength: Improve dead-lift and squat (form+weight)