runawayskellum: Penelope Garcia looking pissed (HEY)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 10:08am on 10/09/2011
So I genuinely hate my university. I don't hate the town, and I don't hate studying or whatever, but as an institution? Urgh.

Yesterday they made the decision to charge Rest-Of-UK students (ie, non-Scottish Brits) the full £9,000. That's right, they've jumped from £1820 to LITERALLY NINE THOUSAND. For four-year courses. At one of the most expensive towns in the country outside London. L and I plan on moving to London after university, and we are not at all shocked by the price of rent there because that's what we're already paying.

I'm Scottish and I'm graduating at the end of the year anyway, but it just makes me feel really embarrassed to be at this university. Which I should be used to! I wish I could write up some massive WARNING: DO NOT GO TO ST ANDREWS pamphlet and distribute it amongst school-leavers. The people are lovely and the theatre scene is brilliant but it's actively elitest and ridiculously money-grabbing. They have no idea how to deal with students in unusual circumstances and I honestly think their attempts at 'accessibility' border on breaking the law. (There is one hall of residence that's fully wheelchair accessible. It is one of the most expensive. It's also self-catered.)

In terms of teaching? Your average contact hours at honours level, for arts subjects, are about FOUR HOURS A WEEK. This summer they literally shut down the library and two of the computer labs - they still aren't open - who knows what the grad students whose dissertations were due LAST WEEK have been doing. Of course, for my dissertation I'll probably be getting most of my books in Edinburgh, since none of the ones I search for on the database are even owned by our university.

I just can't stand this place sometimes. At least I only have one year left. And thank goodness a St Andrews year only works out to about 22 weeks, thanks to our five-month summer holiday.
runawayskellum: Benjamin Sisko happy with a baseball (no YOU the man!)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 01:30pm on 09/09/2011
The Fringe was INCREDIBLE. I've been back for over a week and getting used to living like a normal human being again, but wow, going was one of the best decisions of my university career.

Amazing things that happened:

*Being mentioned, by name, in several reviews!
*These mentions were really really positive!
*A venue pass = free shows. Every single day. *____*

Our company had three shows, one with a considerable band. All twenty four of us lived in one four-bed flat in the Grassmarket, taking turns at the Actual Beds (every third night or so, usually) and establishing inviolable rules for the Toilet Queue. On the second day the washing machine broke, and continued breaking down with alarming regularity, so we had a lot of rules about Febreeze, too. People established their own little corners of floor and there were always people over to stay. It was like a giant month-long indoor camping trip.

The most exciting thing, hands down, was just how much theatre there was. And how excited everyone was about it! Everyone was going to see everything they possibly could: straight-up theatre, musicals, puppetry, dance, operas, experimental stuff, kids' shows, sketches, impro shows, a cappella... people were doing shows in pubs, in lecture halls, in warehouses under bridges.

Godspell was in a tiny little basement of some university building: a 'found space', so called because quite literally there had been a fire and they found this free space and never quite figured out what to do with it. It was dusty and too warm and there were little bits of melted metal still all over the wall and floor. We pulled out the plastic chairs and put in a couple of sofas and a bunch of cushions and had people sit around like that. Our 'set' was random junk we'd picked up from a tip: fridges, road signs, tyres (at the end of the show I would crucify Jesus on a broken-down old door).

I also found an incredible company called Action to the Word. They brought Titus Andronicus, Clockwork Orange, and a brilliant new musical called Constance and Sinestra and the Cabinet of Screams. They also apparently do a Shakespeare workshop every month for just a fiver, down in London, which I need need NEED to go to some time. They made me *_____* a ridiculous amount.

But now it's back to the real world, and the growing realisation that I have my undergrad dissertation to sort out oh god DDDDDDDDDDDD:
runawayskellum: Benjamin Sisko happy with a baseball (no YOU the man!)
Oh man. It's been a while.

We started rehearsing for a show - Godspell - last Monday. A week of 10am-10pm rehearsals later and we have the whole thing down, songs, instruments, and dances included. It goes up a week tomorrow, at the Edinburgh Fringe, for almost a month.

If L wasn't spending the summer travelling and having Foreign Adventures, I could easily say that I've never been happier. I get to sing! and act! and even dance! aaaaall day long. The people in my cast are lovely. I spend the snatches of free time I have writing letters and reading and learning Hebrew.

When I'm not going over dances, that is. I'm NOT a natural dancer - but it turns out I enjoy it quite a bit anyway! We have several cast members who are actual dancers, so the non-dancers haven't been put in to that many songs; but of all the songs I have been put into, I haven't had to be culled from any of them! And many people have. So I'm not as completely hopeless as I thought. :D?

It's a slightly strange experience for me in some ways. I did Godspell once before, when I was fifteen and my mum was getting into the last stages of her illness. It led to one of my periodic but brief attempts to become a Good Catholic Girl. This time... the parts that provoked that *___* reaction that had me dipping my toe in Mass again still affect me, but the rest of the show is now quite alienating. (Which works quite well I guess since I'm playing Judas. SO CLOSE TO MY LIFE'S DREAM OF PLAYING JUDAS IN JCSS, SO DAMN CLOSE YOU GUYS.) It reminds me of something L once said: she asked me to come with her to church, since 'at least they talk about God SOME of the time'.

Also, somehow I did not anticipate that playing a dude who betrays someone important to him, in front of a group of his horrified closest friends, would be a little - upsetting.
runawayskellum: Sokka rushing forward with his arm back, screaming 'super secret sneak attack!' (sneak attack!)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 12:33pm on 11/04/2011
God, I'm exhausted.

So I'm currently in two shows and directing another. Both shows I'm performing in are for a student arts festival which happens next week, and they didn't bother to let me know when I audition that they overlap, which means that next Tuesday I'll be finishing a show and running from one venue to another, changing into a pirate's outfit and getting on stage just in time to sing an Important Plot Duet. I also have an essay and a presentation due that week. About six days later L and I put on our show, and I submit another essay (worth 30% of my overall mark).


One of the shows - the musical - is going super fantastically well, and I'm really excited about it. The other is... it's just been so badly mismanaged, urgh, and the audition was SO COOL and I was really excited. It's being run by a company outside of St Andrews, which means we've had... two rehearsals so far? Since February? The director's not long out of RADA and is full of lots of time-intensive trendy methods that would be fine and cool if we hadn't had about twelve hours of rehearsal, total. They also just seem to have realised that the cast are all university students and therefore have classes to go to... which has lead to they idea of holding late night rehearsals. Rehearsals that begin at 10pm. ALSO - they cast a really good friend of mine as a main character without finding out if she could do/was willing to do an Irish accent, then pulled her to pieces for not being able to jump right into one. >:( >:(

Basically I would drop out of the second show if I could, but I sort of can't. But at the same time, I have no idea how I'm meant to find the time to do everything I need to do for it. And for the show I'm putting on. And for the stuff I need to do for my degree. D: D: D: Basically I've kind of fucked myself over, whoops.
runawayskellum: Sokka rushing forward with his arm back, screaming 'super secret sneak attack!' (sneak attack!)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 07:37pm on 26/01/2011
My university has the most ridiculous exam period IN THE WORLD but, finally, it is all done. Has been for over a week now. And I have been having an awesome week.

Most of this week has been spent in rehearsals. A friend is doing his dissertation on theatre of the oppressed/the distinction between academic and non-academic work/other things that let him devise a show as part of his dissertation. I wish that IR was as cool as that.

We only have a month to get the show together so this week has been 10am-5pm workshops every day. So far things have been a little... well. Artsy is a good word for it, maybe, except that makes it sound not-very-fun when in fact it's been brilliant. We had slow-motion relay races in order to 'understand and feel the mechanics of movements you take for granted'. We played improvisation games to 'open ourselves up to the world of imagination'. We played tag in order to - well, mostly to play tag I think. The writing group for the show sit in the corner and scribble things that come to mind as we work and post it on the communal blog, which we then discuss the next day. It makes me want to run off and join some kind of super-childish artists commune.

Today things got slightly more serious. The 'theme' of the play is environmental politics. The challenge is to create something that isn't preachy OR a disaster movie, which seem to be the two options available for ~environmental messages~. We sat and had a long discussion about environmental racism, diffusion of responsibility, the equating of nature = 'natives' and/or women, etc. We also did a really cool workshop via Skype with a professor at the university of Missouri on the ~rainbow of desire~ - a theatre of the oppressed technique devised specifically for western practitioners.

The professor then told us a bit about her work: she does a lot of 'difficult dialogues' stuff, getting people with opposing views to sit down and have a dialogue with one another. (Being from the west of Scotland, I immediately thought more of anti-sectarian workshops than 'so you believe in science, I believe in the rapture: hey, who's to judge?' scenarios. I have no idea which is more accurate.) Interestingly, apparently the topic with the most resistance - more controversial than all the race and class and religion stuff - is the thought that there might (*gasp*) be a gender imbalance in the field of science and technology.

I've also been exercising! Having been for my asthma review, it turns out that my sudden plunge into wheezy unfit ickishness is probably just due to mould or something environmental that I can't really change (until I move out of here). Until then daily gentle exercise should help ease off the pressure a bit. I already feel better; but then, that could just be the lack of exams and the doing-things-I-love-and-find-engaging-and-challenging-all-day thing. Funny that.

Tonight is Kings Speech with L and her BFF who is visiting from the States! \o/
runawayskellum: Toph, Sokka and Aang on a crime spree (Default)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 09:48pm on 30/12/2010
So after the past few days L and have decided NO MORE CHRISTMAS. Ooft.

But now I'm home, I have the A:TLA PS2 game (which is awesome), and an absolutely delightful Yuletide fic. :DDDD

Arrested Development, Making Time: Maeby Fünke is a busy woman. She has places to go, people to see, and things to do, but she still manages to make time for her loving family - especially when they can jeopardize her entire career with a single sentence. Today, she'll manage.

It's awesome! I am so so happy with it - this is my first Yuletide and I am bowled over. It features Maeby, Gob and Lucille and they are all amazingly in-character and lots of fun. :D
runawayskellum: Penelope Garcia looking pissed (HEY)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 02:06pm on 15/12/2010
... so I got into all the shows I auditioned for.

Which is lovely! And a great ego-boost! (As long as I don't think too hard about how few people probably auditioned...) But what this means is that I'm going to be in four shows in eleven weeks. On top of that, L and I want to put on The Skin of Our Teeth. Either I drop Yeoman of the Guard (I'm only in chorus, there are plenty more altos, and I'm not very good at that kind of singing anyway) or I have a very busy second semester in store.

I'm also waiting anxiously to hear about the results of the anti-cuts meeting we had last night. I was only able to go for half an hour or so - long enough to be impressed by how many people turned up (about a hundred, a good mix of lecturers, students and other staff) and to get riled up by people's accounts of their frustrations and fears, but not long enough to hear anything approaching a concrete plan of action. Still, there was a social anthropology professor at the front taking minutes, so hopefully he'll be sending something around soon.

The meeting started with one student and one lecturer giving brief speeches on what had brought them to the meeting. The lecturer was one of my biggest Academic Crushes and tonight she reminded me why. She gave an amazing speech about inevitability: that we need to stop conceding to this idea that cuts are inevitable, job losses inevitable, tuition increases inevitable. Another tutor stood up and said, 'I'm sick of being made to feel like I'm running a corporation'.

I wish I could have stayed. I always thought of meetings like this as being a case of preaching to the choir. But while I was sitting perched on a windowsill because there weren't any seats in the hall left it became obvious that the point was to rev one another up so that we all felt confident enough and supported enough to do something, and to feel like we can do something that will have some kind of effect.

It was a nice change. I went to so many marches and protests when I was younger, over Iraq, and the result just made me feel helpless. I remember going with my mum to cold, empty halls for socialist party meetings and feeling the same. Even in the occupation last week I felt like I was making an empty gesture. This time, I feel like we might be able to Get Shit Done.
runawayskellum: Animated icon of Toph punching Aang (he does have a heart)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 10:48pm on 12/12/2010
It is very sad going to a super-posh uni and not having the money to do super-posh things. Lots of people in fabulous dresses/kilts/suits wandering around tonight. Many of them with the bright red robes wrapped around their shoulders. I am sat in the computer lab in my cow pjs. :(

I spent this weekend auditioning! At least one was successful, and I'm very excited about it. The audition was a group one, all about expressing wildly different characters with your voice and physicality. I have no idea whether the show will be any good, but I'll definitely be learning something - it's a 5-person cast with a 20-character show, so buy April (hopefully) I'll be a master at that twirling-around-and-becoming-an-entirely-different-person thing *__*. The culmination of the audition was a 'dinner party' where each auditionee played both halves of a married couple.

The other show I auditioned for on Sunday is being done by a mad Californian friend I know. I've been in one of his shows before, an improvised comedy-horror musical, and he's very into workshopping stuff - we would spent 10 minutes at the start of each rehearsal sitting on the ground with our eyes shut, humming. By the end of the exercise everyone would be moving in and our of harmonies and mischords and weird dynamics and it was awesome.

Basically I want to start being involved in shows where I learn stuff. Arcadia came together in the end but the rehearsal process was mostly sitting in people's living rooms drinking tea and memorising lines. I want moar.

Basically it's becoming clear to me that whatever I do in life, it's going to involve performance or theatre somehow; I need to be as well-equipped and flexible as possible for that to happen.

... I also probably need a degree. Which means I need to write this stupid STUPID STUPID philosophy essay. I managed to change my degree from joint honours IR-and-philosophy to straight IR, and all the twinges of regret I feel about that dissolve completely every time I look at the essay question. Do numbers exist? PROBABLY. THE END. Ugh.
runawayskellum: Sokka rushing forward with his arm back, screaming 'super secret sneak attack!' (sneak attack!)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 02:43pm on 09/12/2010
Spent the night in occupation of some university property in protest of the education cuts. L. and I were two of about three people in the 'broadly speaking we're cool with the state/capitalism but not the devastating cuts to education' camp.

Next Tuesday is a broader meeting for the ~anti-cuts movement~. I'm looking forward to it! And hoping to bring along a few more moderate-types along.

but right now all I want to do is sleeeeep
runawayskellum: Benjamin Sisko happy with a baseball (no YOU the man!)
posted by [personal profile] runawayskellum at 12:00am on 03/12/2010
Birthday Snow has turned into Every Day Since Birthday Snow, which has meant cancelled lectures, shows shuffled from venue to venue, and the only local supermarket not getting any deliveries. St Andrews officially now has no bread. We are a breadless town.

I think I need to get involved in more non-musical theatre - or at the very least, try to see more of it, especially professional/semi-professional stuff. My background is all very stylised stuff, in which you know exactly where you've to be at precisely what time, and I've always assumed That's How Theatre is Done. Suddenly I am in shows directed by non-pros, and because I can be a bit rigid in my habits, I have no real idea what to do with myself. For a while there was a lot of flailing. Where do I sit? Where do I stand? Am I blocking? Am I distracting the audience? After a while doing Arcadia I just started rolling with it since nobody seemed to care, but this doesn't seem like a Good Way to Do Things.

I just love acting. why won't they let me be great

In other news, I am no longer a philosophy student. I still need to write this obnoxious essay about whether numbers exist, though. :(


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