Friday, 26 October 2012

Theatre and Battle ships

"I'm not mad, I'm not mad, I'm not mad." (Well actually I am, but that is not what Malvolio was talking about in last night's play.)

A group of us went to see I, Malvolio, a one man play written and performed by Tim Crouch. We mainly saw it because Crouch is going to visit our class for a Q&A in a few weeks, but it was also a great experience I could recommend to anyone in the area.
The play is basically a re-telling of Shakespeare's play Twelfth night, from the point of view of the character Malvolio. It's written with young people in mind, but works well for anyone with a sense of fun. The play is scripted, but the actor was brilliant at also improvising and using the situations that arose in the theatre. Because I, Malvolio is a play that interacts with the audience. It makes fun, provokes and asks audience members to participate in the storytelling on stage. Usually, a rowdy group of teenage students would ruin a play, but this time, it only made it so much better.

But don't worry, the one who mainly looks like a fool is Malvolio, and that's the way Crouch wants it. The play is very funny but also thought provoking when it comes to what people in today's society think is funny, where we draw the line, and how bullying might be a central part of making ourselves feel good.

There was actually a Q&A after the play, so we already had a chance to hear Tim Crouch talk about this production, but I'm really looking forward to his visit in November when we can also ask about other things he's written.

The play was at the Unicorn Theatre on the south side of the river. I hadn't realised what a great location it has for a bit sight seeing. I just turned the corner and saw the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, The Shard and HMS Belfast, to name a few. As you can see, it was a very grey day. Everything I tried to photograph just seems to melt into the background.

Tomorrow I'm seeing King Lear at the Almeida Theatre. I've never seen Shakespeare in English so I'm really looking forward to it!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Hearing more than you bargained for

Our dramatic writing teacher encourages us to listen in on people's conversations to get a "feel" for different kinds of speech. I've found that my gym is a great, and sometimes disturbing place for this exercise.

I go to a gym that's a charitable trust working together with the local authorities. The gym is good enough for someone like me and kind to a student's wallet. It's also an interesting place because you get people of every age, race and cultural background. There's the young, super fit woman who never seems to go home, and the 80-year old man at the rowing machine who wears blue Adidas sweat pants and a white, well ironed dress shirt.

A lot of the local schools come and use the pool. Today a whole class of young girls were getting changed. I couldn't help over hearing bits of their conversation and it made me sad. These girls were seven years old, eight max, and they were already so self-conscious. One girl looked at herself and said; "I have fat thighs."  And another girl immediately looked down at her own body and said; "Yeah, but my legs are hairy." 

Then again, who am I to moralize? I know I can be vain, and there are times when I probably spend too much time worrying about superficial things, but you wish you could say something to these girls that would help them live a healthy, happy life with whatever body they were born into. Here in England, even more so than in Finland, there seems to be "rules" for how you should look to be accepted as "normal".

On my way to the gym, I walked past a woman who at first glance looked fairly normal but clearly was battling other issues. She was standing next to a lamppost, talking angrily at it. No head phones, no hands-free. Passing, the sentence I picked up was;

"My blood is on your hands." 

At 9.15 in the morning, it didn't scare me, but I did feel sorry for her.

Well, apologies for another text heavy entry. I'll try to go out and do something photogenic soon enough!


Monday, 22 October 2012

Itchy Fingers

Good belated morning!

It's grey and chilly outside and even if it wasn't I'd know it's autumn because my fingers are screaming for a knitting project! (Yes, I'm that nerdy, deal with it.)
Those of you who have followed my blog for some time know I enjoy making stuff out of yarn and fabrics. There's something calming about it, you do the work and you see results. (The calm is momentarily disturbed when I get to the heal part of a sock and suddenly have no idea what I'm doing.)

Anywho, I'm going back to Finland next week to see friends and family. I also decided to buy some proper yarn for a new pair of socks, but then I might not have to because my lovely ex sewing teacher offered to give me some of her leftovers! A surprise bag of yarn, can it get any better?
Thinking back, I just realised I never showed you the final result of my never ending rain coat project.  I didn't have time to get a decent photo of it, but here's at least something to give you an idea of what it looks like. It has a large hood which you can't really see, large pockets and a long zipper. And would you believe it, it is actually water proof! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to bring it to the land of the murky skies...
Now I should probably accept that it's Monday and there are "better" things to do than write nostalgic entries about past projects (but I really miss my sewing machine!).

I hope your week is going to be a brilliant one!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Main server down

I've had a great time since I moved here in the beginning of September, but I think reality is slowly catching up with me, bringing along a cranial meltdown. Maybe it's the language juggle or studying a subject that rarely leaves your subconscious, or maybe it's just living in a new, hectic environment? All the same my brain capacity seems to have reached its limits.

A couple of days ago we were sitting in a pub playing a little game. We were supposed to list our 5 favourite songs and then guess who had written what. When I took hold of the pen, my mind went completely blank, I couldn't think of a single song title or band, nothing I liked, nothing I disliked. There was just a massive black hole in that part of my brain.

Today, my flatmate and her boyfriend were leaving the house.
She shouted: Bye Mad!
He shouted: Bye Mad!
I shouted: Bye Mad!

No wait ... That's me. I forget names, places, keys (I never forget keys!). Some days the most basic words escape my mind leaving only behind useless, complicated words like ... Oh, forget it. I just hope it will balance itself out soon enough. I need my brain!

Oh dear, she's completely lost it. She's climbing back into the trees. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Will you fund my projects, please?

This seemed like an appropriate continuation of the last entry. I found the quote on a wall of the British Film Institute, BFI, when I visited today. The institute is currently hosting the BFI London Film Festival and is tightly involved in the British film industry. "We award Lottery funding to film production, distribution, education, audience development and market intelligence and research."
The institute has several screens and show a variety of old and new films. At the moment they are focusing on Hitchcock and the restauration of many of his films. In the building you can also find a film themed shop, a library with almost anything film related (some of it on request) and a couple of restaurants. 
Next door is the BFI Imax, the largest screen in Britain. Currently parading on the facade is national hero James Bond. Living in England and all, I guess I should toughen up just enough to see the new film Skyfall. I need to know if the country is safe!
Finally I had some spicy carrot and leek soup with warm bread and felt I could brave the rainy weather again. I'm slowly, slowly learning that you really do need to bring an umbrella wherever you go. It might not rain just now, but give it a minute ...
A slightly futile attempt to photograph The High Court of Justice from the bus window. 

Have a great weekend and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The enemy comes from within

Good morning!

I should really be thinking about the next writing assignment, but as everybody knows, procrastination is king in student life.
Studying something like creative writing, in any shape or form, is a high velocity roller coaster (to use the stomach upsetting cliche). You finish one assignment or in-class exercise and feel you know what you're doing, and then the next one comes along and you're ripping your hair out because you just couldn't get it right.

Some people would say this is when you learn things, so you should really take failure as something good. But then the ego shouts "No, no, no! I wan't to be good. I want to be perfect!" And the fourteen year old ego pitches in with "Oh god, they'll all think I'm stupid. How could I mess that up? They'll laugh behind my back. By the end of term I'll be the freak in the class room with empty seats on both sides of me."

You can't really give power to either voice or you might as well stop writing. After all, each of us in that class room wants our stories to find their way into the world, on stage or on screen, and with that, if you're lucky, comes an endless stream of critique. Sometimes it's good feedback and you might feel proud, but not even the most seasoned creator can hide from the occasional "this was utter rubbish".

I guess the key is to acknowledge these opinions and maybe draw something useful from them, but at the same time remember why the story excited you in the first place and why you at some point felt so happy about it that you wanted to show it to other people. Because your opinions also matter. You can't alter your belief in your work and talent with every piece of criticism.

That said, it's a tough learning curve. Thick skin doesn't grow over night. Luckily, I seem to have a very decent bunch of people in my class. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses and nobody gives the air of being superior to everyone else. If they laugh behind my back, at least they do it with enough distance so my ears don't burn.

Yesterday's uni-marathon was finished off in good company in a couple of local pubs, and maybe for the first I got that heart warming feeling; "Hey, I'm a student again, and it's going to be all right."
Have a good day!

Monday, 15 October 2012

No blood, no gore, just male friendship

Yesterday it was pumpkins, today's first was a visit to the local cinema. I saw the French film Untouchable (Intouchables) and if someone's told you it's good, they weren't lying. It's the story about Philippe who is paralyzed from the neck down and his new caretaker Driss. The two men come from very different backgrounds but despite that, or maybe because of it, they bond in their own special way.

The film is based on a true story. Made differently it could have been quite heavy, but Untouchable is a gentle, sympathetic and sometimes very funny film. I guess you could say it belongs to my favourite genre; drama with humour. Because there is alway humour in life, especially when the going gets tough.

One of few distracting elements in the film was the fact that French actor Francois Cluzet, reminded me very much of Dustin Hoffman. I kept wondering when Mr Hoffman had learnt such good French. Despite that, if you have an evening off, I recommend this film.

I hope you're week has started off well!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Knives are not only for cutting tomatoes

Halloween isn't very big in Finland (except as an excuse to have a party and get drunk). Here in England it's already a bit more hard core, although not as near as full on as in the US. 
Flat B decided we were going to fight the October darkness with some proper pumpkin lanterns, faces and all. 

I had never carved a pumpkin before so my main goal was not to end up with a thousands pieces and a lost finger or two. It's a accident waiting to happen, I tell you! It was fun though. Once you got the top off (the top of the pumpkin, duh), you got to dig out all the gooey "meat".

We all did our own thing. Being a newbie, I decided to go traditional. To be on the safe side, we first drew our faces (or in one case the logo of the West Ham United football team) on the  pumpkins, then started to cut out the different pieces. And this is how mine finally turned out!
As it was my first ever pumpkin, I'm rather pleased. Next time, I might do something a bit more adventurous, but I do like a friendly face.
After the carving we watched Braveheart on TV. I had actually never seen it before (yes, shame on me) and I have to admit, I sat with my eyes closed and fingers in my ears for a lot of it. I just can't stomach blood and guts! I'm glad I've seen it now though. It's mostly thanks to my flatmates because if I had watched it alone, I would probably have changed channel at the beginning of the first battle.

Anywho, enjoy the last hours of weekend and I'll see you next week!

Testing 1.2 ... 1.2 ...

Right, you might have noticed a slight change on my blog. Like it or not, I decided it needed a bit of updating. Gone are the bright colours and the Norwegian mountains (as pretty as they might be).

I wanted a calmer look this time, with more space for entries and photos. The header is composed of photos the talented Lotta took yesterday when we went on a lovely Saturday walk in her local park. 

I hope you like it, or at least get used to it as time goes by. I might still do some minor changes, but as a whole I think this is it. 

I hereby declare my "new" blog opened!


Thursday, 11 October 2012

On request


I've been asked to post some photos of my room so today you're wish is my command. The room isn't massive, but big enough for everything I need. The rest of the flat is very spacious with a large kitchen/living area and a couple of nice bathrooms, so if I ever feel like getting off my bed (which I a rarely do) there's always extra space to do some work, or discuss the best ways to fight a burglar with your flatmates.

So here we go; my London room.
(Click on the image if you want to see it bigger.)

A large comfy bed, plenty of storage and enough windowsill to store my few but precious books on. As an added bonus, the room is at the back of the house so it's also very quiet. It's still a work in progress, but I feel very "at home" in it already.

Stay warm!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Egghead and Spiderhand

Sunday, Sunday. I had a fab morning going across town to Hyde Park for a sunny walk. Only I hadn't realised there was a massive charity half marathon going on at that time, and ended up watching people of all ages and sizes run for their favourite cause. The atmosphere was great, I almost became a bit teary eyed.

A very British cheer: Go on! Well done! Eastenders is on in 20 minutes! 


Maybe a little lie down ...

No drugs for these athletes, just ...


When the crowds of people became a bit too much, I crossed the street and found my way to the Natural History Museum. It too was a popular hang out for the day, especially with young families, but there was still enough space to enjoy the magnificent building and the different exhibitions.

An out of body experience.


I had lunch at the museum restaurant, a large and bustling space that still felt rather cosy and had very quick and friendly service. When the carbohydrates from the pasta had been used up and my feet ached, I finally took the tube back home, catching a final glance of the museum.

In the evening I had tea with Lotta and we chatted about the past week. Time goes by so fast here there's always something new to talk about.

Tomorrow it's a new week again and more interesting work to be done. I'll keep you updated!


Saturday, 6 October 2012

A brainy afternoon


A new theatre, a new area of London. Today I visited the modern Hampstead Theatre in Swiss Cottage to see a matinée of Donny's brain. It was shown in the theatre's "Downstairs" where new, previously unperformed plays are put on "working away from commercial pressures and without formal press evaluation". 

I liked the play. It had good, fresh dialogue and the acting was in many parts great. I especially enjoyed Emily Joyce's performance. And I was so happy to for once see a nuanced mother/daughter relationship. Yes, sometimes they struggled to understand each other, but they still remained close friends. Something that was harder for me to understand was why the two female characters both had fallen in love with Donny, who seemed quite unlikeable. But hey, the matter's of the heart ...

Walking from the tube to the theatre I saw some nice residential streets, very peaceful for London, with interesting architecture. You realise how old London is as a city when you see all the different styles of houses.

What happened here? Looks a bit haunted ...
Home again, I've submitted this week's writing exercise for the dramatic workshop module. A dialogue between the person who gave last week's monologue and a new character who this time is also allowed to speak. I'm getting more and more into theatre and playwriting, and I'm longing for an idea that would work well on a stage. Come on muses, give me something!

Hope you have a good weekend!


Thursday, 4 October 2012

The week so far in headlines


4 facts about the last 4 days. Here we go: 

Monday -  Murder, suicide and vandalism. Saw a play I didn't really enjoy.

Tuesday - Hola! Qué tal? Me llamo Madicken. Had my first Spanish lesson.

Wednesday - Six hours of class in dramatic and creative writing. I survived!

Thursday - Bought a lighter and was asked for ID. Apparently I can still go for 17!

Week so far: Muy bien! Coming up; find the Spanish textbook, see Lotta, see a play, attend the 2012 Creative Writing Degree show, write the next assignment by midnight Saturday, and all in all, enjoy the weekend!

Cheers/Hasta luego