I'm going abroad! To Italy! I'll be studying physical theatre at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo for this exciting spring semester. On this blog I will write about things I eat, places I go, things I eat, people I meet, things I eat, classes I take, and things I eat. You may read and be hungry. MUCH LOVE AND I MISS YOU!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

jeremy's tippy tap part due

so remember how my roommate was on tuscan tv and i promised you to eventually send the link along? (if you don't, go read my post called "teletruria"). we found the link! if you go to www.etruriamediagroup.tv, then click on "archivo," then scroll down until you can click on "talenti alla ribalta," then click on "23/03/2011," then you will be brought to a gourmet viewing of the evening!

you may need to download a plug-in: if you need to, jeremy did and it didn't spam his computer.

also, the video player is quite bad. as in, it doesn't allow you to fast-forward or any of that jazz. if you right click, however, and go to plug-in settings (i think that is what it was called), and re-set it to open videos in quicktime, then you can open the video in quicktime and have more control there. jeremy is at the very end of the video, i make awkward cameos throughout. i wish there was a better viewer so that i could point you to specific times and you wouldn't need to sift through an hour of italian semi-talent, but if you are bored i now present to you fantastic procrastination material!

jonny bonnie ronnie zanni!

we're in the middle of mask-making week and it's awesome! mask-making began on thursday, and we have it for three hours of each day thursday, friday, saturday, monday, tuesday, and wednesday. by the end of wednesday we're each going to have custom made leather masks to take home! the class is led by a swedish man named Torbjorn who is basically santa claus. i could talk to him forever and never get bored.

anyway on thursday, we started by making clay molds of the mask that we ultimately want to create. i am working with two others - Maggie Jo and Rachael - because the three of us all wanted to make a Zanni mask. Zanni, by the way, is a generic category of commedia character that refers to any relatively stupid and goofy servant. beyond being a category though, Zanni can also be a more specific character with his own mannerisms and walk and such. we have named our zanni "jonny bonnie ronnie zanni" and have already come quite attached to him. we joke that mask-making is giving everyone a miniature preview of what it's like to have kids. i've become fiercely protective of "jonny bonnie ronnie zanni" and periodically check on him even outside of class just because i miss him. helicopter parent syndrome commence.

anyway, we started by making a clay mold of how we want our mask to look, which was a long process of refining and perfecting until we got him just how we wanted. next (by this point it was friday) we layered him with sheets of plaster-aid stuff. i believe it's the same stuff that is used to make casts when you break something. or at least something like that. regardless, we layered JBRZ with vaseline to provide a thin barrier, layered him with wet sheets of plaster cloth, and waited for this to dry. at the end of this process, torbjorn used our mask as a demonstration of how to remove the clay from within the plaster cast. this was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, because the process makes it look like your mask (and hours of work, love and emotion) is literally about to crack and crumble beneath the knife. everything turned out fine though, and we ended up with a negative cast of our clay mold. i think, by the way, that we are at saturday by this point. we next supported our plaster cast with clay, re-vaselined the inside, and poured plaster into it to make a plaster version of our original clay mold. this is where the real waiting came into play - after about an hour and a half, the plaster inside the cast had dried (that's probably the wrong terminology, but whatever) and we carefully pulled the plaster cast off of the new plaster mold. this gave us a plaster version of our original clay mold! next week, we will be making leather masks off of this plaster mold, and then we will each have a jonny bonnie ronnie zanni to take back to america!

it's been an awesome process (even only halfway through) to learn the real way to make masks after a whole semester of acting in them. and it'll be really great to keep a quality leather mask as a souvenir of the program, especially one that is all of our own design and such. we've also had some movement and voice classes continuing, but mainly this week is mask-making. when mask-making ends, we will have our last movement/voice classes on thursday, and then the week after will be all clowning, and then we'll be done! now that we're down to these last two weeks, it's just hitting me now that the program is winding down - it's gonna be tough to leave this awesome place, these awesome classes, and my more than awesome friends (cue sad faces and tears).

since we had saturday class due to mask-making timeframe necessity, i stayed in arezzo this weekend. today we went into town and i had two kebabs and two gelatos within two hours. piggy piggy piggy. some things never change. afterwards, we went to arezzo's roman amphitheater and were frolicking around with juggling balls when a german tourist family showed up. the little kids were fascinated by us, as little kids frequently are fascinated by everything, and we quickly made friends with them despite the fact that our german vocabulary consisted of "bitte, ja, adieu" and nothing else. we commenced to play catch with little kids for a few hours, but eventually we had to go so we said bye to "fabian" and returned to the villa. and now i have reached the present moment, so i have nothing more to say.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

when in rome, go to capri

ciao a tutti! as per usual, it has been a long time since my last post.

first, classes. after body weather training, we started back in on commedia, and it's been fabulous. before break in commedia we did a lot of ensemble movement work, learned the different walks and characteristics of the masks, and did some other fabsy acting stuff. now that we're returning to commedia with that background however, we're starting to actually work on improvised scenes and canovacci (structured sets of actions used in commedia to give form to improvisation - the closest thing commedia gets to having a script). it's really difficult, but tons of fun to apply everything we've learned onto the work and actually perform commedia. some of the canovacci/improvs are turning out really hilarious in classwork too - they're all based on the notion of "Capulet's kitchen." essentially, we're improvising what the servants of the Capulets would be saying and going through during Romeo and Juliet. most of all though, it's great to be back working with Michele, our hilarious and very Italian commedia teacher.

last thursday, the accademia took us on a "working excursion" to rome for a long weekend! we switched roles with the dancers - aka, actors took a tarantella class and the dancers took a course with our acrobatics teacher. tarantella was awesome, exhausting, and actually pretty emotional. outside of that class though, rome was actually not my favorite city. there was all sorts of cool old things - i saw the colosseum, the roman forum, some other old important things, etc. and those were all really interesting. the city itself though was kind of boring and ugly, unlike many italian cities that are beautiful in and of themselves. rome was more of an ugly city that happened to have interesting things in it than an interesting city in and of itself. this is not to put down rome too strongly though, because it's packed with awesome old things. i just don't love the city itself. i did, however, have one of my favorite meals there at a place called carlomenta. delicious delicious delicious. i had penne gorgonzola for my primi piatti, pork with prosciutto and wine sauce as my secondi piatti, tiramisu, and all four of us tasted each other's plates. if you, whoever you are, ever go to rome, i will let you know where it is because it is DELICIOUS.

tiramisu. happy.

on friday afternoon, i planned on leaving rome with four other friends (elena, maggiejo, trevor, and jeremy) to head to capri for a relaxing fantastic weekend of beauty. however, as is somewhat typical in europe, there was a train strike on friday so we didn't make it to capri until saturday morning. once we did make it capri though, it was probably the most gorgeous place i have ever been. the island has a chairlift that takes anyone to the top of the mountain/island/hill/cliffs. from up there, there's a 360 degree view of all of the cliffs falling into the mediterranean, and every way you turn is absolutely breathtaking. we packed ourselves sandwiches, ate there, laid out in the sun, and basked in the gorgeousness that is capri. we also visited faro on saturday, one corner of the island where you can swim in the water. massachusetts ocean water is cold, but this water was FREEZING. as in, we jumped in, quickly lost the ability to breathe, exited the water, regained said ability, and jumped in again. it was quite thrilling. but it was still awesome because we swam in the mediterranean. 

we look really touristy. also, we are on top of capri and it is GORGEOUS.

again, gorgeous.

on sunday we went back up to our favorite place at the top of the chairlift, then headed back home. it's worth mentioning, however, that "going home" from capri requires passing through napoli. napoli (naples) is fascinating. apparently the mafia controls the garbage collection in the city and decided quite a while ago to stop collecting it. thus, there are heaps of garbage on every block that are as big as ten yards wide. gross. but kind of fascinating nonetheless, and it was also the location of my most terrifying taxi ride ever (never tell a napoli taxi driver that you're late). all in all, naples was interesting.

after this, we returned to the villa to the aforementioned commedia work! it has been a fabulous week. also, the weather has continued to be gorgeous and now reaches the 70s every day. happiness.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

body weather training and 70 degrees at the villa

i lied. you get three posts today. in addition to spring break, this week of classes has been amazing. first of all, we returned to the villa sunday to find that arezzo had burst fully into spring - every day has been high 60s or even 70s, and eating lunch out on the roof of the teatrino or having movement class in the garden has been pure bliss. the picture below shows my feet in the villa's hammock during lunch break.

also, we have one week of something called "body weather training" this week. it has been one of the most intense workout experiences of my life, while also being really artistically enlightening. kind of like zuumba or jazzercise or any of those classes where you move continuously for 2 hours without stopping, except that it's led by a woman named franziska who has an extensive martial arts and acting background. she has formulated this method of training where the ensemble goes through a series of continuous movements for roughly 2 hours through which i have gained an unprecedented awareness of my body's interconnectedness and movement along with an amazing sense of group movement. kind of hard to describe i suppose, but it's been great and i'm very sore from it. yay excuses to eat lots of gnocchi!

lastly, we had our other movement class outside yesterday afternoon and it was wonderful. we were working on partner cartwheels and funny other ways of flipping over each other, but all in a gorgeous garden/lawn space with a giant blue sky above and luscious green hills all around. i have almost never been happier. i feel a little bad writing all this because most of y'all are sitting under snow right now, but it's been so wonderful i just had to share.



lucky you - two blog posts in one day! but this deserved its own blog post. i semi-unintentionally ended up on italian tv! it was one of the most hilarious evenings of my life. backing up a few steps, my roommate jeremy is an insanely talented tap dancer - definitely the best one i've seen ever and he's fantastic and we share shoes. the only relevant part though, is that he's an awesome tap dancer and that tap is pretty rare in italy. through some process that we still don't quite understand, a tuscan television station asked him to do some tap on one of their programs. also, the dancers in his dance class were invited to be in the studio audience for the show. being pushy and wanting to be on italian tv, i asserted my rights as jeremy's roommate to get into the studio audience along with the rest of the dancers.

so last night, three teachers drove us to the tv studio so we could watch jeremy's moment of tuscan fame. as we entered though, we discovered that we were in the studio audience of some strange tuscan version of star search (a talent competition tv show for kids/teenagers). not just the studio audience, though, the television station was so enthused by the notion of a crowd of american exchange students that they put us on a separate couch that was essentially onstage. so while "gli americani" sat literally right behind the competitor of the moment in full view of the main camera, the italian studio audience watched both the tv show and us. essentially, we were part of the spectacle. which made me really happy that i had showered beforehand.

we commenced to view a two hour competition of mildly talented and adorable italian youth sing and/or dance from onstage, with enthusiastic instructions from a tall italian woman in 5inch heels that we should cheer very enthusiastically, clap, and sway to the songs that the kids were singing. it's a good thing that we were a group of dancers and movement-trained actors, because sitting on that backless, strangely-poofy, overly modern couch with a smile and decent posture was not a simple task. we paid for it all day today with backs that were incurably stiff.

once we realized what was going on, i decided the most fun would be to play an italian-tv version of fan cam at the red sox game. i hammed it up as much as possible and competed for the audience close-ups. if i do say so myself, i got a decent amount of facetime while goofily dancing or emotionally smiling to whichever 11 year old was singing in front of me. jeremy, we discovered, was the guest performer. kind of like on "so you think you can dance" when the judges are deliberating and votes are being counted and lady gaga performs. by the transitive property, my roommate is lady gaga. he did amazingly as always though, and the italians loved him.

supposedly, the show is going to air online after its live and non-live tuscan television appearances. when i get my hands on that link i promise to post it here so you can all watch me ham it up on italian television.