Saturday, February 7, 2009

September 26, 2008 - Roberto’s England - Vol. 2, Ch. 2

Hark! Tis another installment of mine adventures:

I'll be damned. I am keeping my promise of sending regular updates.

Yesterday was one hell of a long day. Or at least it seemed like it.

Ellen and I were assigned to write a profile on someone in the arts. We send out requests, followed up, awaited responses, and were left the day before the due date with no interview set. We had joked around about just grabbing some random stranger off the street interviewing them for our respective profiles. Well, that's what we ended up doing.

I wrote up some general questions that could apply to anyone and some that could be customized for specific arts. I made a list of places in London where I figured I could find some artistic person. I grabbed my notepad, a pen, my recorder, and off I went with only the hope that I would have something to turn in on Thursday (today). I planned at Hyde park, but the weather was terrible and rain was imminent. I scrapped starting there since I figured that there would be few people at a park on such a awful day. Instead I started my journey at Southbank.

Every time I have been there it is performer/artist central. But of course, the moment I arrive at my destination it begins to rain. So there I am, walking in the rain without an umbrella and looking for someone doing something arguably artistic. The only people brave enough to stay out in the pouring rain are those who pretend to be statues. I guess I could have built up what they do as some form of updated miming, but I wanted to find someone more obviously artistic.

I walked from the London Eye to the Southbank Centre in search of a profile subject. What I got was soaked and my hair plastered to my face by the water. I found one guy doing caricatures under a bridge, but he would only consent to an interview if I bought one of his drawings. I passed on his generous offer and moved on. I had noticed some sort of activity at the mini skate park, so I went back there to check it out.

It turns out that there was a film shoot in process. It was some Indian pop star filming his latest music video. I figured I had struck gold because I could interview one of the back-up dancers. My luck being what it is, one of the members of the production team informed me that I would have to wait until filming was completed and that would not be for a long time. I stuck around for a while to see if they would go on a break, but mainly I wanted to get out of the rain (the skate park is under an overpass/bridge). I eventually notice some guy with a pile of drawings next to him and in the middle of drawing one of the dancers in the music video. *Insert light bulb here*

I approach him and ask if he would be interested in being the subject of my profile. Unfortunately, I came off as though I were trying to pick him up rather than requesting to interview him. "So do you come here often?" are the first words out of my mouth. I don't know why I said it, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. After a brief awkward reassurance that I am straight and had no desire to have sex with him, I finally compose myself and get to the point. He begrudgingly agrees and answers all the questions I throw at him. I had a page of prepared questions, but I mostly had to come up with them on the spot. It was an interview that could have gone horribly wrong, but it ended up turning out ok.

I got home with just enough time to dry off and make something to eat. Pri, Ellen, and I had bought tickets to see "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at The Globe Theatre. I was so sure I would have to miss it because I was not able to find anyone to interview. It was complete and total luck that I was able to turn in my assignment. But let me tell you about the show.

We bought one of the cheap tickets and got to experience a Shakespeare play as a Groundling. A brief history lesson: the Groundlings were those who stood on the ground next to the stage rather than watching from an assigned seat (i.e. the poor). I was conflicted about doing this. I really wanted to experience having a true Renaissance experience like that, but to stand for 2+ hours.... Plus, The Globe has no roof so I would be exposed to the elements. Well, I had an amazing time. The play itself was hilarious and very well acted. But the experience was the best part about it. There I was, next to the stage and literally rubbing elbows with the actors because I stood next to where the actors walked through the crowd to get back onto the stage. I was definitely tired from standing for so long and after having had such a stressful day, but I would not hesitate to see another Shakespearean play as a Groundling.

After the show we went back to the apartments for a late night meal. The girls came up to my kitchen and I made them all bean & cheese burritos. Meanwhile, they prepared margaritas for us all. It became an impromptu fiesta. I would love to say that the night ended on such a good note, but I then spent all night actually writing my profile.

But let us now move on to today. As I mentioned in my previous entry, we each have been hosting theme dinners for our little group of graduate journalists. Today was Candy's turn. She prepared a veritable feast of Chinese food. She went all out, putting the previous dinners to shame and leaving Ellen with a hard act to follow. Candy made a fish dish, a rice dish, a chicken dish, and vegetable dish. Besides that, we had red bean buns and a homemade black currant beverage. There was barely enough room for our plates.

We somehow managed to finish most of the food and still were able to devour the two cakes we brought for dessert. The night came to end with a screening of High Fidelity. And by screening I mean that we watched the movie on Ellen's laptop. Good times.

So that's it for now. The next entry will feature a party I will be attending tomorrow, a pub night, and whatever spontaneous adventures I have this weekend. Be on the lookout! :)


- Roberto

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