Sunday, October 5, 2014

London - 8/15/14

And so the morning dawned on my final day at RADA.  I looked around my little dorm room and realized it would be the last morning I would be there.  Tomorrow, I had to be packed and out by 10AM.  As my flatmate and I walked down the street to the school, our conversation was about the past four weeks - how it went so fast, yet went so slow; how glad we were it was over and how we didn't know what life would be like without it.  She was such a sweetheart.  Prior to school, she had spent two weeks hiking the U.K. with her dad.  The next morning, she was hopping a 7AM plane for Ireland.  She decided the night before.  She would spend a week kissing Blarney stones and sipping pints with the locals before heading back to NYC where she was working to be an actress, keeping herself afloat training in yoga and body work.  We bonded many a late evening in our little suite's kitchen over scansion and cheese.  Every morning, we would make the hike to school together.  Her with her little bag, me with my massive rolling purse stuffed with a Complete Works of Shakespeare, trainers, deodorant, and rehearsal skirt.   Eight hours a day, five days a week, plus rehearsals.  We talked about the people brave enough to stay on for another week at RADA mounting a full Shakespeare play (off book, mind you) in five days.  I wanted a nap just thinking about it.

Over the four weeks, our group worked on an hour long cutting of Richard III.  That play will forever hold a very special place in my heart.  I am more than happy to give you a complete dissertation on the Anne/Richard scene anytime you want.  Or anytime you  don't want.  I'll break out this debate whether you are in or out.

That morning, we presented our piece to another one of the groups group, who kindly presented their Midsummer Night's Dream.  There was a competition between the TAs to see who could make the best show program.

I think ours should have won.

We had our final lunch in the lunchroom on the top floor from the friendly staff who fed our hordes day in and day out always with a smile and a kind word.  Fridays meant fish and chips, but this time there was also chocolate cake.  We spent a little time debriefing on the whole experience with our group leader, who was an absolutely fabulous actress I've admired on some BBC shows.  On the first day, I had spotted her on the stage of instructors and thought to myself, "Boy, I hope I get to work with her!"

We all then went over to the main building and every one of the seven groups performed a dance piece centered around the elements and celestial heavens.  The steps were taken from historical record and the choreography passed along by this absolute darling named Darren Royston who has written a brilliant book if you are interested in such things.  Ours involved nymphs and scarves and was, I think, the best.  I know other people may have thought theirs was the best, but you should have seen us.  We nymphed the heck out of that dance.  

And then it was over.  Just like that.  Over.  Four weeks and done.

We wandered over to the local pub and the conversation was sort of this shell-shocked, "Wait.  When do you leave?  What are you doing next?  How are you doing?  Can you believe it is over?"  Some of our group left, our goodbyes and farewell hugs made while standing in the street.  The promises to stay in touch were fierce.

The rest of us continued on, for we had a reservation for a final supper.  One of the gals knew of this great little Asian fusion place with one of the best views in town.

And so we ate and we drank and we laughed until our faces hurt.  And no matter what I learned or didn't learn about Shakespeare, this was why this summer was important.  These people.  These friendships.  They endure.  We've already gone on to meet up in other places, some in Edinburgh, some in Los Angeles.  I'm headed out to NYC and London again and the #1 Must-Do Action Item on my list is to hug as many of these wonderful souls around their necks as soon as I possibly can.

But isn't that what theater is about?  I mean, sure, it's about the challenge of the role and bringing a playwright's words to life.  But really?  It is about the people you work with and the divine experience of connecting with other human beings on a level the rest of the world doesn't understand.  You get to know people's hearts, you are trusted with their most vulnerable selves... I don't know if there is a word in the human language which encompasses the magnitude of that feeling.  Perhaps it is just "love".

And so the evening wore on into the wee hours.  We caught the last train from the station.  One by one, we each peeled off as our stops came.  Some went on to celebrate more.  Some went on to madly pack.  Some went home.

I found myself at 2AM in the laundry room finishing one final load with my stinky lavender scented detergent from one of the local grocery stores.  I left the remaining soap pods for the next poor schmoe.  Now, I sort of wish I still had them, just to remember the smell.  It has already faded from my memory.

I finished packing my dorm room into my two suitcases.  I dropped off my unwanted rehearsal shoes and clothes in a donation bin out back.  I ate the last of my groceries.  I closed up my little window which barely opened ten-inches.  I left my fan.  I decided to keep my cheap mug I bought for £4 my first day.  And it was done.

Before I came, I was sure my next step would be grad school.  By the time I left, I realized my dreams had shifted.  My first day, I came down with laryngitis.  I joked that I came to London to find my voice, and ended up losing it.  But the wonderful thing about losing something that you get to find it again.

And as I turned in my key to the front desk and pushed my suitcases out the door, I realized it was time to begin...

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