Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is This English Class or a Drama Lesson?

Two blog posts in one day might be a bit excessive, but I have to get this down while all the details and excitement are so fresh.

This week, the Actors from the London Stage are on campus to do a 5 person production of The Tempest. I will be seeing that on Saturday since I am an usher, so there will be a review of it for sure. BUT today, one of the actors came to my English class. This makes sense because of the name of the class (Nineteenth Century British Novels) as well as the fact that this actor is from Manchester, and we're currently reading Mary Barton, which is set in that town.

Our professor told us he was going to talk about the dialect in Manchester and the history of the place. He did do that, for about 20 or 25 minutes, which was really interesting. He was very engaging, and of course his accent was simply charming.

But about halfway into the class, he had us read a passage of Mary Barton out loud, alternating readers. He stopped us in between paragraphs to ask us what we noticed, what we learn about the characters in any given sentence. This is when the actor in him really started coming out. He was talking about how, as an actor, you have to be a detective. You have to look for clues within the script, and then flesh out the story of this character to play him/her to the best of your ability. I was so into this.

He then asked for volunteers to read an exchange between two servant characters. I volunteered to be the housemaid, and another girl in my class volunteered to be the footman, Thomas. But the actor (I can't for the life of me remember his name) said he'd read Thomas first, just so we could get a sense of how the dialect sounded. So I got to read with him, which was wonderful. It just flowed for him. Then he had me do it with Carly, kind of creating a romance between these very small characters, to show they still had importance in the context of the play.

He said when he goes to see a show, if the main roles are 'alive' in their acting, but everyone else on stage is 'dead,' then the show is over for him. He stressed the importance of even the smallest characters. Their story is just as vital as the story of the main characters. It makes the show complete.

All of this really resonated with me, considering my role in Skin of Our Teeth is quite small, and I'm a bit unsure how far to take it. I think I'm going to work on creating a character so all of my actions make sense. Another interesting thing he said, though, was that he loves contradictions in characters. He said we're all human, we're not consistent, so why does the character have to be? I loved that.

Basically, our class turned into a mini acting lesson, and I was totally engaged. It was awesome. I feel so lucky to have so many opportunities just handed to me at Vassar, and I plan to take advantage of all the great, talented visitors that we have the opportunity to host.

Here's the poster that's all around school right now:

The guy that visited us is the one in the middle!

The Joys of October Break

We here at Vassar are an incredibly lucky bunch, if only for the fact that we get a week long break, right after midterms. Officially, this is called October Break, and boy, is it lovely.

The first weekend I spent in the city with Aubrey, getting back to Vassar on Sunday evening. I think Sunday night was my favorite night of break. Reeve, Isaac and I all went over to Angela's room to have a mini-party. We ate Oreos, watched Sister Act 2, played games, shared feelings, and talked late into the night. Angela's room used to be a double; it's huge. She even has a futon in there, so I ended up crashing in her room for the night since it was so late and I was so tired from doing the whole car-train-taxi thing all afternoon. I wish I took pictures of that night just because it was so nice, but it wasn't really a 'photo-op' kind of get-together.

Monday was spent relaxing in the AM, and then hitting the library in the afternoon with a few friends. The library was a great place during break because it was SO quiet... I didn't get much work done the first day but I loved that we were some of the only people in there.

Tuesday I signed up for 3 tour times, so I was in the Admissions Office intermittently. I might have done some more homework, but let's be honest... probably not. This might have been the night we went to Twisted Soul. YUM

Wednesday I only had one tour time. Afterwards, I went to the Crafted Kup with Reeve and Angela, and then we hit up the library again, and went to dinner at the stroke of 5. Hah, so much hunger that day!

Thursday I had two tours. Largely uneventful. Spent the evening (like all the evenings) with Reeve and Ang, watched Modern Family before I fell asleep.

Friday, the three of us went to the mall, which was really fun, albeit expensive ($6 each for the taxi each way) UPSIDE: The taxi there looked like this:

So we sat in it like this:
(Angela and Reeve)
Not knowing what to do. Except laugh. It was like a mini taxi limo.

We spent a good long time in the mall, combing through every rack. I was on a tight budget looking just for essentials, and I lucked out! Found a dressy-casual $7 shirt in H&M, a $12.50 mustard yellow dress from Forever 21 that will double as my halloween costume (lion), $10 fleece lined leggings, and $16 flats (I was in desperate need of flat shoes that weren't boots or sneakers). I also picked up a new nail top coat and 2 mascaras for $10 (they're usually $8 a piece)

Just for a chuckle, this is me in Reeve's $1 sunglasses, being just a tad creepy.

As most breaks do, this one passed far too quickly, but I loved every second of it. I spent part, most, or all of every day with Reeve and Angela, which was awesome because it gave us a chance to really become closer friends. I love bonding with wonderful people! We ate lots of Oreos, drank lots of tea, watched/listened to a LOT of BeyoncĂ©, and even had a spa night complete with geisha face masks! 
I adore those moments where you just stop and think "This is exactly where I want to be." And I felt that so many times during this week. The campus was quiet and beautiful, I had great friends to keep me company and late walks in the night to quiet my mind and process my thoughts. It was a week I wouldn't mind putting on repeat for a while. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On NYC, Restaurants, and the Fight Against Breast Cancer

It feels like I wrote a post just a few days ago. How has it almost been two weeks? I cannot keep up with time.

I am in the final days of October break. It has been a lovely—albeit MUCH too quick—week! 'Midterms' last week were largely uneventful for me; I don't really take classes with big tests, so I just had a little English project and a French paper. Of course my week still found multiple ways to be stressful...deep breaths were certainly in order.

On Friday I set off for the city to meet Aubrey and 8 of her lovely Manhattanville friends.

 It had been too long since I had been in New York, and it electrified and revitalized me as always. I cannot wait to live there. We all took the subway to Times Square, and then walked to John's Pizzeria, which apparently used to be a church and is now an absolutely delicious Italian restaurant. I had a chicken pesto panini that was such a delight to my taste buds. Our waiter asked us if we wanted to take a picture by the pizza oven. Special privileges!
Love the pizza guy's face here, and the one in the back left!

After dinner, we walked the one block to see MEMPHIS! 

Though I am always excited to see a Broadway show, I have to say that since I knew quite little about this show (besides it's Best Musical Tony win in 2010...which should have been plenty) I wasn't overly pumped to see it. I didn't know what I was expecting or not expecting, but it was incredible. Probably one of the best musicals I've ever seen. Just in sheer production value. And everything was so spot on, from the dancing to the singing to the acting. I left the theater in want of nothing, which is such a good feeling!
Stupid truck.

After the show, we walked back to Grand Central instead of taking the subway, which I absolutely loved. It was around 10:45pm, a little windy but not too cold, the lights of the city still bright. No part of me wanted to leave. I've never felt that connection with any other place I've been, and I just hope that I never lose the excitement of being there. 

Back at Manhattanville, we all hit the hay fairly quickly, Aubrey and I sharing the top bunk, with Aubrey's roommate Kate and her friend from home on the top bunk. And there I stayed...until 12:30 the next day. It was glorious. I hadn't slept in for many days. Once I finally woke up, we all got lunch, and then Aubrey and I watched Bridesmaids with commentary before heading out to White Plains! We walked around for a bit after getting off the bus, trying to find a place to eat but failing because it was Saturday night and the waits were literally over an hour. WHO would wait that long for food? Even if it's P.F. Chang's? I don't get it. We finally found ourselves at Outback Steakhouse, which was a 30 minute wait but we just didn't care anymore! And then we were rewarded. There was an employee coming around to everyone with samples of cheesy fries, then bloomin' onion, and then small sodas for everyone who was waiting! Talk about customer service. I had never experienced anything like that, and it honestly made my night. It's the little things. 

On Sunday I completed my first ever breast cancer walk. It was a HUGE event at Manhattanville; I'm talking hundreds of people. 

It was really great to see so many people come together for this cause, and I'm very glad I did it (4.4 miles, woo!), but it just got me thinking... SO many people will rally behind a cause to find a cure for something, to fight against a disease... but no one really thinks about preventing it. We need to be raising awareness about how to prevent breast cancer, and other diseases like it. So that we can live in a conscious, cancer-free world. We need to educate ourselves, to listen to those that have knowledge, and to take seriously the hazards that will affect us later down the line. Just because we don't see the effects of the chemicals we subject our body to NOW, doesn't mean we should keep shoveling them into ourselves like it doesn't matter. It does. 
And at the end of the day, prevention is the best cure.

 After a nap and some food, Kate and Aubrey drove me to the train station, where I boarded a train, waited anxiously for train #2 at Harlem-125th Street, and finally arrived back at Vassar around 5:30pm, my bank account weeping silently and my heart quite content.

October break recap to come but a marathon post is not necessary!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Picking, Open House, Week in Pictures

We are in the midst of midterm week. Thankfully, I don't have any big tests, but I have plenty going on without that added stress! Just in the past 24 hours I've written a French paper and taken a French quiz, worked Open House, and read Jane Eyre. And I just now got back from rehearsal (11pm).

Open House was insanity. I woke up at 6:55 this morning, to get to the Aula at 8am to 'mingle' with the prospective students and their families. Serendipitously, I chose possible drama majors to chat with, so I had a lot to tell them! Tours were going out every 5 minutes, and they were substantially larger than our normal tours. Mine left at 8:45; we had to snake our way around multiple other tours throughout. I got asked many a question. The coed bathroom one came up, as well as a woman who wanted to answer the questions for me, as her "son is a junior here." Honestly, how can you not understand the disrespect in that? I am the tour guide, lady. If you know everything, why do you need to be on this tour? After the tour, I answered questions until 10:15, and by an act of wondrous fate, my 10:30 class was cancelled, giving me a chance to eat an actual meal and study for my French quiz. At noon, I reported back to the Aula and took out another tour. This one was even larger, and it was my first backwards tour. Answered more questions upon my return, and then jetted off to French class with Spencer. Afterwards, it was off to the chapel to start the Arts tour! That lasted a little over an hour, and then I was finally done. I thought giving one tour was tiring; giving three in a span of 7 hours...rough. But still, I enjoyed it. Talking to people and answering questions really makes me feel energized and excited. (I realize the irony there)

Yesterday I went apple picking with Main! There were about twenty of us, and we all drove up to Weeds Farm, about 15 minutes away. We spent a couple hours there, filling our red bags with apples of all different varieties, checking out the pumpkin patch, sampling the jams, butters and salsas, ogling at the pies... it was blissful. The House Fellows paid for all of our apples, which was so sweet! I also bought some Apple Butter and some Black Raspberry Jam. Here's a bit of what the day looked like:

Rehearsals have started for The Skin of Our Teeth, and I am loving it so far. All we have done is one read-through and then some table work, but the energy and thrill of being back in the theater is brilliant and priceless. Every single time a show starts up, my passion for this art is reaffirmed. And everyone has been so nice thus far, which is lovely and honestly fairly rare in theater. Our rehearsal schedule is a little brutal—7-11pm every night—but at least we have break coming up for us to get caught up and ready for things to get busy! I'm realizing that I love how Vassar does a lot of shows that many people haven't heard of. The unconventional is not something I'm well-versed in as far as theater is concerned, so this is a great way to strengthen my foundation and increase my knowledge.

I see all the stress of the last couple of weeks in my skin...blech! But if I can just get through this week, I will have a week to recharge. And also get my voice back... I guess those three tours really did get to me! I sound like quite a dapper man at the moment.

So much text. A few other things that happened this past week: DayGlo Toga, Live Jazz at the Mug, my first group tour, VrDT First Showings, and FWA's first cabaret of the year! (fwawkward).

And finally, some photographic evidence of my life for the past 7 days:

Charmaine being fierce on the poster!!

Any given day.

Love Revlon's Vixen on my nails... Probably my new go-to polish.

Loving my glass water bottle... once was an iced tea bottle, now it's helping me be environmentally conscious; and healthy, too!

When a meager breakfast and lack of sleep combine with your 10:30 class. I don't even know what that face is. 

Waiting for the world premiere of "Countdown" with Reeve, Miranda and Sarah at the cab. Reeve actually brought his laptop to the cabaret because he couldn't miss it!

Jordan and Patrick (an amazing freshman) at the cabaret previewing She Loves Me!

Phew, I think that's it! It's a busy busy year already!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Am So In Love

And with the best person, too.

I know love. I've felt it. I've hated it. I've cried over it. I've been stupid about it.

This is real, true, healthy, honest, perfect love. The healing kind of love. The best friend kind of love. The lasting kind of love.

One of Those Days: Perception

There are some days where I feel like everyone I pass is thinking the same thing about me. Positive or negative, everyone is giving off the same energy.

I'm in the habit of smiling at people. No matter if I have a relationship with them or not, I'll smile. I try to give off the same happy vibe every day. I just think it's the right thing to do. And I learned in high school that some people had a negative impression of me because I was quiet before you got to know me. So I smile. It makes me feel good, and hopefully it makes someone else feel good, too.

The other day, I was doing my usual smiling routine, but I felt like no one was smiling back. No one cared, no one was happy to see me, it was like I didn't belong. It was kind of disheartening, and I felt a little out of place in what I consider my second home. I took refuge in my room, knowing it would probably change tomorrow.

The very next day, everyone was smiling at me. Even people that haven't in the past. I was feeling great, they were clearly feeling great. A complete 180 from the day before. And in just 24 hours, I went from feeling out of place to asking myself "Sarah, what were you thinking! Everyone loves you here; how could you not belong?" I ended the day in the best mood I'd been in all week, feeling nothing but love towards all of my peers.

I don't know if these days are all about me: what I'm thinking, how I feel, if I'm imagining things. I do think that, to an extent, we create our own reality. Or maybe a lot of people were just having an off day?
But I find it fascinating that our perception can change so quickly. I keep finding evidence that not much is as it seems. What you see is not always what you should be getting.

And I have one piece of advice: Smile! It won't kill you, and you just could be making someone's day. If it's that simple, why wouldn't you?