Saturday, 9 August 2008
Once more I am here, back at my own desk, after the short holiday which I recently enjoyed in the splendid county of Warwickshire (Shakespeare’s county, as I was so alarmingly assured by the sign beside the road whose purpose it is to enlighten the traveller on the identity of the village, town, city, borough, or county into which they are about to venture).
The purpose of our visit was primarily to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s current production of ‘Hamlet’, starring David Ten-Inch as the lead, something which——
Oh, while I remember: a gargantuan thank you goes to the utterly lovely Maureen Johnson for the unbelievably excellent gift of a signed picture of the beautiful Jeremy Brett—
(I apologise for not thanking you sooner, Maureen, but I wanted to do so by the current method.)
Reasons Why Maureen Johnson is Wonderful:
1. The above picture.
2. She’s considerate and polite.
3. She reads this blog (and even takes the time to comment).
4. She’s beautiful.
5. Have you read her books?
I think that’s about enough.
Where was I? Oh, of course—
——was admittedly (and unashamedly) a great influence on our decision to go and see it.
We stayed in a delightful hotel (run by a woman who didn’t quite meet my eyes and interrupted me whenever she fancied) in Stratford-upon-Avon. The weather was pathetically glorious the entire time.
On the first day we arrived at Stratford at about half-past-four, after a four-hour drive, so (not surprisingly) we didn’t do very much, except walk down into Shottery and have dinner outside The Bell, which is near Anne Hathaway’s cottage (which we visited on the third day).
The second day was far more eventful. We walked into the town centre and meandered about the many streets, most of which were lined with very alarming shops which are exceptionally commercial and entirely incongruous with their surroundings. I managed to pull my tibialis anterior muscle, however, and so walked with a limp the entire time (although, as John said, so does 50 Cent, and he’s done all right for himself).
I was pleased to see that the shops weren’t all named in such a manner as to be related to Shakespeare (although I did see a guest house called ‘Twelfth Night’). When I visited Tintagel in Cornwall for the first time, for instance, I was appalled and dismayed to discover that there were such places as ‘Merlin’s Gift Shop’ and ‘King Arthur’s Bistro’ (I am certain King Arthur never owned a bistro in his life). But it is to be expected, I suppose. The most I spotted in Stratford were roads and avenues called ‘Scholar’s Lane’ and ‘Bard’s Walk’, and that sort of thing, which is tasteful and acceptable.
We visited Holy Trinity Church, in which Shakespeare is buried. I stood before his grave entirely alone, my footsteps echoing restlessly around the silent building. It is such a modest tomb: a dull slab of stone in the ground with a short verse carved into it informing people that they would be cursed if they removed the bones. He lies next to his wife, Anne Hathaway.
It is such a wonderful thing to be able to stand mere centimetres from the bones of that great man, to walk upon the same earth as he did, to view the same scenes as he did. He was only a human being, and so why should it matter that I am touching a tree that he might have touched? It shouldn’t, but it does—it most absolutely does.
It was the same when I visited the museum in Truro a while ago. They had recently attained ten pages from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and were displaying them in a private room. I had seen the pages before, in books and on the internet, but there they were: the actual pages, directly before me. These were the very pieces of paper that Da Vinci had touched, had drawn and written upon. There was even an inky fingerprint upon one of them—every magnificent ridge of skin could be seen clearly. Why should this matter? Why should I be awed by the simple act of observing the same thing that he did, five hundred years ago? Again: it shouldn’t, logically, but it does nonetheless.
Put simply—Hamlet was phenomenal. Put lengthily—
The Courtyard Theatre was teeming with people and excitement, and an air of wondrous anticipation lay upon us. Seven o’clock came, and we entered the theatre. The stage was bare (there was no curtain, just a large stage in the centre of the room, allowing for a more personal performance). I wondered how Rosianna and Kayley must have felt as they sat down merely two rows from the stage. We were on the ground floor, directly beside one of the two walkways which led to the stage, along which the actors walked frequently.
The lights dropped, and Francisco entered the stage holding a large torch, the light from which he directed over the audience in his nightly search of Elsinore castle. A bang sounded, the words “Who’s there?” were shouted into the silence, followed by “Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself”, and the play was begun.
The dress was entirely modern. David Tennant wore a black suit in his first scene, his hair combed back (making him look like Barty Crouch Junior). It was very cleverly done.
The whole production was very cleverly done, though. The play was acted with such modernity that I admit I forgot at certain times that it was Shakespeare I was watching. The actors—especially David—introduced immense humour to speeches and scenes previously without it. David’s interpretation of Hamlet’s subtle decline into madness was beautiful to watch—he delivered the famous ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy barefoot and wearing turned-up jeans and a red t-shirt with muscles printed on it, his hair crazed and loose. He spoke in a neutral English accent, with upper-class twangs to it—which was a surprise, for I assumed that his natural Scottish accent would have sufficed. Many times he passed directly beside me, even pausing occasionally, so much so that I could have touched or spoken to him. I did neither, of course.
The quality of the acting, from every actor, was superb. Patrick Stewart, who played Claudius, was extraordinary to watch, and David was of course magnificent. His performance alone was one of the greatest acting performances I have ever witnessed.
There were signings afterwards of course (after at least five rounds of bowing and applause, three of which were initiated solely by David, for he kept returning to the stage), and he was polite and witty and considerate as one would expect him to be.
I felt utterly absurd afterwards. Why? I suppose it was because I had stood inches from someone whom I have come to greatly respect and admire, and it awed me.
And that is why standing beside Shakespeare’s grave is so remarkable and important: because it is the nearest I will ever get to meeting him.
Have you ever had a dream you could remember distinctly? If you have, can you describe it for (the readers) and me? Illustrations are very much appreciated.
I have dreams very rarely, for I hardly ever wake up during REM sleep, and so do not consciously experience my subconscious amblings and escapades. However, on the odd occasion that I do wake up in this phase of sleep, and subsequently catch my mind in the middle of its nightly shuffling and sorting of information, I experience very hazy thoughts. They are more like ideas than any ordered plot, with characters and such. I will wake up with an emotion, or with the feeling of someone’s presence. Sometimes a particular voice will reside within me, or even a word or sentence. Some of these I use in my writing, but most of them I ignore. A while ago I awoke with a very vivid character in my mind; he even had a name. But I decided to use him in a short story (which you will read in good time).
But there was one dream I had when I was nine years old, which stands plainly and unashamedly in my memory, and which I will now expound for you (right, that’s the last time I use ‘expound’ this month. It’s just getting silly now).
I was gliding in silence, surrounded by the entire universe. I was at the very centre of it, the absolute core of creation, hovering weightlessly in the near darkness. Stars stretched all around me and away into infinity (perhaps, although that’s still thoroughly disputed). I was at peace. I was not God, but I was not Man. I observed the life around me, unaffected by it, and yet entirely linked with it.
And then a sense of dread came upon me, such as I had never felt before, or indeed have never felt since. Utter horror filled me, welled up within me until I trembled. But everything was still.
And then everything began to fall. Slowly, the universe collapsed upon me, gathering speed constantly. Soon it was a dizzying whirl of mass, flying uncontrollably and folding upon itself. I did not move, but stared in terror as the whole of creation fell on me. Afterwards, nothing but darkness was left: an awful silence and finality. But I was still there, in the centre of it all.
And I awoke, the scene before me swimming as it had in the dream, convinced that I was still there, and that I was doomed. I have had a terror of all thoughts of infinity ever since, from infinite numbers to infinite space, and I blame that dream.
Illustrations are neither necessary or possible for that dream, I’m afraid. I hope you will forgive me, and accept my utter acclamation for your drawings.
Last night, however, I actually had probably the most frightening and peculiar dream of my life (apart from the one I just told you about). It began with me sitting in a supermarket (don’t ask me where I was sitting, exactly, because I don’t actually know) watching and listening to two members of staff having an argument over the Tannoy system, so that everybody in the supermarket could hear. My situation was already perfectly clear to me, as it usually is in dreams: I was dating a girl, the ten brothers of whom I was currently standing with. They didn’t like me.
For some reason we decided to buy lunch, and we began discussing our decisions. Then someone turned to me and asked, “What are you going to have for lunch, then?” I thought for a moment, and then said, “Oh, just whatever vegetarian option they have, please.” Everyone became silent. “Vegetarian?” was said by every person at different times, gathering in strength and volume and becoming “You’re a vegetarian?” I was then grabbed by my shoulders and forced to walk backwards by the entire group of brothers. “You’re dating my sister, and you’re a vegetarian?!” they cried, pushing me back through the supermarket (which now no longer resembled a supermarket, but the entrance hall of an old house). I was pushed into a back room and surrounded by the brothers, who all looked decidedly menacing. I knew somehow that they were going to kill me. He pulled out a vegetarian sausage and waved it at me. “Is this what you meant?” he yelled. “What’s this, eh?”
“It’s just a vegetarian sausage!” I said desperately, but to no avail. He left the room and returned with a large white sheet, which he presently threw over me. I was terrified, for I knew that he was about to murder me, but it was at this moment that I awoke. The odd thing was that I awoke with an absolute certainty that all he was going to do was pour tomato ketchup over me and leave the room.
Whichever part of my brain that originated from, I would like to know, for it was really quite odd.
Regarding your dream, Reese, I am completely fascinated. The precision of it is startling, as is the clarity of emotion. It is as if you stumbled upon a point in history, and observed particular events. Perhaps you did—who knows? But it certainly is incredible. There are certain points to it that make it entirely yours, though, such as the fact that Dream Reese was like you, and the woman looked like someone you know, and that the mansion was like somewhere you have visited. Your brain was obviously sorting through memories of those things when you disturbed it.
Yes indeed, Reese, I could be more adorable.
I was completely in the mindset of Captain Hook that day. Just look at the menacingly brooding expression on my face in the first one: who needs Dustin Hoffman, eh?
Where would you like to live for the rest of your life? Is it the same as where you live now? Why would you like to live there?
The answer to the second question, simply, is no. I currently live in Cornwall, which is a splendid place, of course, and I thoroughly enjoy it here, especially as it’s so close to Devon, which is much nicer. But my affection lies with Suffolk, and always will. This question was born simply from my need to talk about Suffolk, so please excuse me.
I do not love Suffolk purely for its natural wonder, for most of my affection for it comes from living there my whole life. It is very dear to me, and suits me perfectly: it is the homeland of Constable, Gainsborough, Bloomfield, Britten—all of whom are influences on me, and very similar to me in attitude and style. It is where one would expect to find me, I suppose: wandering about a meadow, or rowing along the dark river beneath the willow. This is all very good, of course, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I should live there. But added to that is my need to live there, for my own happiness, and so I shall. For now, Cornwall will suffice, but eventually I will go back.
I apologise if I bore you, Reader. Perhaps I am being selfish asking that question. But I look forward, as ever, to reading Reese’s answer.
And now I must leave you once again, to depart from your consciousness with a last sad gesticulation of farewell, and an assurance that the brief reference to thievery and stereos last time was but a metaphor (but I certainly agree, Reese, that thieves are just substandard pirates).
With all appropriate and justified ♥,
P.S. Why do I always have to make such a big deal about saying goodbye? Talk about a drama queen. I’m actually quite relieved to be going, and I’m sure you are as well.
P.P.S. I love the banner, Reese, and feel free to use it whenever you post a blog (and feel free to change anything about the site, too, not that you need any form of permission from me whatsoever).
P.P.P.S. I cannot believe I forgot to include this in the main part of this post, for it was one of the highlights of my holiday (in fact I was looking forward to this more than seeing Hamlet): when Reese came over to England a month ago, she left a small note for me at Stratford Station. On our second day there, we walked up the hill to the station and followed the directions. It was in the waiting room for the ladies' toilets, and was tucked in the frame of the door.
Thank you once again, Reese, for this lovely, lovely thing.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Those who have read the last few editions of Consequent Bloggers are aware of my punishment, the entirely-painful, annoying, pout-inducing punishment that I had to endure for...wait for it...one day. I know I sound absurd, for this was a generally simple challenge that is completed my millions of indifferent preteens everyday. To me, communicating with someone should require effort. Does it really take that long to use vowels in words like "people" and "text"? Can it be that much of an inconvenience to utilize commas and apostrophes? I just can't wrap my mind around how they can get through the day talking like that over the internet or through text messages. The upsides are 1.) I have completed the punishment with success and lived and 2.) I will, most likely, never have to be punished again (after this one, I have no idea what Adam will have planned, and I don't want to find out). Moving on.
I'm very glad that you've accompished moving house (and connecting to the internet rather quickly, might I add). The news about the stereo, however, made me sad. House thieves are just pirates without the plus side of having an abundance of eye patches and rum available to them and the epic, wooden ships. Tsk.
Adam, could you possibly be more adorable? I'm just not sure by looking at those pictures.
Alright, because I've been away for so long, some updates are in order, non? Just two, I promise.
2. Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, and Stephen Sondheim. Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, and Stephen Sondheim. Coming here. Near my city. Next year. In the months of February and March, respectively. Need I say more? 'T'will be surreal. Fiercely surreal.
Now, I'll be turning back the elephant in the room. (I've never actually used that idiom. Hmm.)
Apart from Emma Thompson, who is your favourite actor/actress, and why?
Now, I'm paying close attention to the wording of this question. You asked what my favourite actor/actress is and not the best actor/actress in my opinion. My favourite actor is, not surprisingly, Alan Rickman. Alan's body of work is positively astounding. His film and television career started 30 years ago and is still going strong. He has also appeared in over 50 plays. Plus, who can resist that strong, mellifluous voice (which was caused by the very tight jaw he had when he was younger; it is considered a speech impediment) he has? I've decided to include some visuals along with the textual answer to your question.
Alan is happy dancing, maybe?
Alan with Richard Attenborough doing...I have no idea what.
Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. Yes.
My own illustration. Huzzah!
This is the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, USA, by the way. I've actually been there.
It was connected to the residential area like a diamond in a ring, protruding and gorgeous out of something mildly plain. Thirdly, the entire structure was suspended above the water about twenty feet by thick wooden planks. The building was also extremely white on the outside, completely brilliant. Lastly, the structure was isolated, an island with no access to civilization outside of this glamourous little universe they've created. Back to Dream Reese...
As she got up from the floor, our perspective changed. We are now looking at her; we can see her entire body in relation to the landscape. As she rises from the floor, two people run, in a frolicking manner, down the hallway, one male and one female, roughly 20-something years old, holding hands. Now, I'm not sure how, but we recognize them to be brother and sister. They live in the mansion, and have one other sister that we never hear from or see during the course of the dream. The male was wearing dark-blue, almost indigo, dress pants with a white Oxford shirt and black patent leather shoes. His sister was wearing a linen dress in orange-scarlett with clotted-cream-coloured trim. Yes, I remember exactly what they were wearing (illustrations to follow). They ran straight through the front door with one quick turn of the key without so much as one look at Dream Reese. Curious, Dream Reese followed. The front door was extremely magnificent, over-sized and was this colour. I'm not quite sure what happened between looking at the front door and ending up on the floor in the middle of this room, but I can only make rational assumptions (Victoria, my real-life Nerdfighter confidante, thought I had apparated). The room was enormous with very high ceilings and two swinging doors that faced each other on the far left of the room. There were large French doors on opposite sides of the room as well. Bursting from one of the swinging doors, triumphantly, came a regal woman dressed in an, almost, military-style uniform. Here, I provide a visual.
As a huge surprise to me, this woman looks exactly like someone I know; she just looks the same. As soon as she entered from one side of the room, her two children (the ones we saw before, still holding hands) rush through the door opposite her. She said something inaudible to them, and the two of them left. Looking around the room, her eyes locked on me. Whispering, yet still far away, she stated, "Stay as long as you'd like." Then, the woman ran out of the room. Its carpet was jade and navy blue for those who would like to know.
The dream becomes fuzzy again here. I end up at the opposite side of the mansion on a different day. I'm standing, staring at the locked entrance in a sort of trance-like state. All of sudden, I start moving towards an unnoticed part of the entrance. I push down on one corner to reveal a secret opening to the room adjacent to the one she had just left. What did she discover (forgive me for going all sermocinatrix on you)? A vintage bowling alley filled with people dressed like they were all from the twenties and thirties. Waiters, who all looked like tuxedoed Frank Sinatras with skinny moustaches, floated throughout the room carrying trays of cocktails and passing around cigarettes drawn from long, shallow, open boxes that hung from their necks. The party was a mixture of sport and mingling (which is basically a sport in itself). Everyone was standing around in small, intimate circles drinking and gossiping while occasionally taking turns throwing a ball down the lane. This place had the same glow as the hallway in which we began our story. Dream Reese crawled through that 3x3 space she found and marveled in what she saw. She took her place, quietly in the corner, and observed. As Dream Reese glanced towards her left, the regal woman of the mansion, wearing the most glorious gown and fur wrap, weaved carefully in and out of the crowd coming towards her determinedly. The woman of the mansion stopped in her tracks about 3 feet in front of Dream Reese, and looked straight passed her. She had a look of anger and shame on her face that was directed towards someone behind her. Slowly, the people in the room silenced and became very still; they turned their heads to witness what was occuring in the far corner. Dream Reese was the last one to have the nerve to turn her head and see who was right behind her. The brother and sister. The children of the woman of the mansion. They still held hands (honestly, I thought they were into incest) and looked at Dream Reese as if she was the scum of the earth, an intruder onto their precious, pristine territory. The woman of the mansion carefully turned her expression from her children to Dream Reese. Her face had changed; it was nearly apologetic. The woman turned her head from view and walked away. The end.
I woke up at that point. I figured out later what had happened exactly. The woman doesn't mind that I'm hanging around her mansion, but her kids, obviously do. In the last scene, the children had done something to sabotage Dream Reese (I didn't find out what), and their mother knows it and is disgusted with them. The ending feels incomplete, but that's how it happened, so don't attack (a lot, at least) in the comments. Here are some more illustrations.
This is my own original illustration. The top left figure is Dream Reese. The figure on the far right is the woman of the mansion, and on the very bottom is her daughter.
This one just explains the colours (all of them mixed by me) of all the costumes and who is who.
This the gorgeous gown that the woman of the mansion wears in the bowling alley scene. The children and Dream Reese don't change costume, by the way. I forgot to say that earlier.
This is the colour I mixed for the gown.
I am definitely wrapping this blog up right here. I think I'm trying to make up for all the lack of blog around here. I hope that this didn't bore you too much. I've just spent 5 hours writing all of this and adding pictures, so I hope that someone benefited, even if it's just me.
Thank you for reading (even if you just scrolled through the dull bits)!
Looking forward to your next blog,
P.S. What do you think? A new banner perhaps?