October 12, 2007

So I’m done with classes. Yeah, I still have once a week BLC and the Theater Final to take, but come on, let’s face facts- I’m done with schooling for Abroad Semester 07. The whole “education” thing here has been a disappointing to be honest. I blame that on FIE, the program that we’re here under. The teachers, while nice, couldn’t teach a lick. I dunno, I always had this image of studying abroad consisting of reading Kafka (or at least Conrad) and sipping absinthe while wearing silk robes. Turned out it more like trying to keep from falling asleep while some piece of shit tries to bullshit his way through a presentation saying that Tube stop announcers are theater. So it was frustrating, especially considering last semester at AU, which was definitely my best, learning stuff-wise.

But enough with the negativity. What’s done is done, right? Right. The main reason I haven’t been updating is because I’ve been out doing stuff, which I suppose is good, right? I mean, a consistently updated blog would mean that I’m sitting in front of the computer most of the time, which wouldn’t be too cool, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

One of the things I’ve done is see Macbeth. Pretty cool, right? It gets even better. I saw Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart.  Mind-blowing would be a good word for it. Set in early Soviet Russia, the entire cast, but Stewart especially, were able to make every word come across as clear as a bell. The Macbeth-as-Stalin comparison works perfectly, especially when you take into account both leaders paranoia. You can see every decision becoming easier and easier for the power hungry warrior, weather it be from embarrassing a lower solider to killing his best friend. You never see him on stage as anything but Macbeth.



I’ve just realized that even though I have told you I’m studying over here in Europa, I haven’t given you the slightest clue as to what I’m studying. It’s a fair question. I’m a poli sci major with a minor in literature. I’m very proud of that minor and always make sure to mention it. A while back, I tried desperately to make it a double major in those two subjects, but it would required no choice in courses, five of them each semester, I would have had to take them during the summer, and I wouldn’t have been able to study over here. So that couldn’t happen. My interests include politics, writing, harmonica (although I’m not very good- yet), movies, music, and long walks on the beach. Of course, some of those sound generic as hell, but I should emphasize that I really really love these things. I”ll be talking about them (in great detail) later. Right now, I’m just trying not to get sidetracked from my current mission, which is to tell you about my classes. There are three of them- BLC, Politics, and Contemporary Theater. Here we go:

BLC: This is short for British Life and Culture. Taught by Mr. Shlomowitz, an Austrailian who lived in Chicago for several year, it’s held once a week. A very laid back class, hopefully this one will be taking the form of field trips. We’ve visited the Globe Theater already, and I can only hope the trips/laid back atmosphere will continue.

Politics: Argh. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is my major and all, but the tough thing about this class is that we’re learning from Square Zero about Parliment, the roles of the Executive and all that. While it is interesting to an extent, the teacher is this lovely balding portly man whom I can only imagine reading stories to children in a library. A three hour class? Not so much. Of course, all this negativity may stem from the fact that he’s assigned a 2,000 word essay due in a week which I haven’t started yet. Goddamnit.

Contemporary Theater: Oh, ConTheat. As our professor, we have this lovely old grand dame of the theater- she’s been working in it her entire life, on both the academic and stage side, no less- who can’t run a class for her life. She brings all these great ideas to the table but then doesn’t deliver on them. The other day is a perfect example- she sets up a critical review workshop, so we can find what goes into a good review and how to write one for an assignment. Considering that I love reviews (I practically worship the AV Club), I was pumped. But when it came to the day, we started off fine, but then…well, it just kind of rambled off. I don’t even remember what happened,, it just sort of disappeared. A lot of her class time disappears, and not in a good way.

Still though, I shouldn’t complain too much- she is nice and the class is allowing me to see awesome theater. Take tonight, for example- we saw The 39 Steps. It’s a parody specifically of a Hitchcock film of the same name, but it spoofs the entire 40’s spy genre.  It’s utterly fantastic. What really impressed was not just the four person cast with constantly switching roles, but the barer than bare bones use of props. Coming from an improv comedy background, it was amazing to see actors so throughly ‘create space’ on stage, making air windows and turning chairs into cars and back into chairs again. The play is very self-aware, but the cast gets so into it that you’re sucked along. It also doesn’t hurt that the lead has a kick ass mustache. I mean, we’re talking Tom Selleck quality here.

So, classes in a nutshell: not great by any means, but pretty painless except when they give me too much work (fuck you, 2,000 word essay!!). And see The 39 Steps, people. It really catches both London’s spirit of grandeur as well as it’s love of taking the piss out of grandeur. TiS out.