The British Library as an excellent YouTube channel. I cannot wait to see Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibit when I’m in London this January. Watch Professor James Bowen discuss gothic motifs in this video produced by the British Library.
I’ve been in London approximately ten days and it has been an exhausting but amazing journey so far. Last weekend, I frequented some great vintage shops in the Brick Lane area followed by a visit to the National Portrait Gallery. I thoughouly enjoyed the gallery, especially the Tudor and Romantic themed areas, how could you not love gazing at a portrait of Lord Byron? Other the highlights from the past week include having tea at the University Church in Oxford and wandering the grounds of the Stowe House. Thursday I was lucky enough to go see Ian McLagan play a concert in his hometown. The show was fantastic and it was fascinating to witness the differences between his Austin shows. While at the concert, my friend and I inadvertently met some quite interesting people, including someone who was perplexed why we were so into listening to a musician from a past era.
View of Radcliffe Camera from the tea garden of University Church in Oxford
In efforts to see as much of London before my friend had to return to Paris as possible, this past weekend was a whirlwind. We attempted to balance visiting iconic popular sites, such as the British Museum and record shopping in Portobello Road, with less crowded activities like eating fish ‘n chips by the Thames or sitting in the park. Besides Mac’s show, Sunday was the best day my friend and I spent together. We devoted most of the day to wandering the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of my absolute favorite places. The museum has spectacular collections including the legendary fashion galleries (which displays my favorite outfit, designed by Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin), theater and performance pieces, sculpture, furniture, and my latest obsession, the V&A Cast Courts. The cast court is vast atrium housing plaster casts of famous significant European architectural feats. The gallery contains facades of cathedrals, pulpits, graves, sculptures, and Trajan’s Column. After the museum we traveled to 221B Baker Street to visit the outside of what would have been Sherlock Holmes’s house. 221B is conveniently right down the street from the very beautiful Regent’s Park so we spend a long while watching ducks before heading to dinner.
Picturesque view of the river Avon
My first ten days in London have been amazing! It is hard to pinpoint my favorite moment so far, but definitely in the top three would be seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Henry IV, Part 1 in Stratford-upon-Avon. I was unfamiliar with the play and was concerned that I would have some difficulty following along. After seeing the fantastic performance I was reminded how essential seeing Shakespeare’s words acted out is to understanding the themes of his plays. Henry IV was captivating, entertaining, dramatic, funny, and accessible. Here’s hoping my next ten days will be a brilliant as the last!
Today, our class traveled to Stratford-upon-Avon, world famous for being the hometown of William Shakespeare and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The town was delightful, I would still be sitting on the bench under the willow tree outside Holy Trinity Church watching swans and boats pass by if I had my way. The day was toped off with a performance of Henry IV, Part 1 by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I am still blown away by the RSC’s outstanding production, the play was excellently acted and still relevant over 400 years later. Without a doubt seeing this production performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company was one of the top highlights of my trip! Watch the humorous Act II Scene IV performed by the 2014 RSC cast
Henry IV, Part 1, follows King Henry IV’s fight against rebels lead by the young Henry Percy “Hotspur.” The play is predominately centered around the King’s son, Prince Hal (the future Henry V) who has forsaken the crown to spend time with his lowly rough companions, chief among them Sir John Falstaff. Part 1 ends with the suppression of the rebels at the battle of Shrewsbury and the start of Hal’s transformation into a riotous heir. Listen to Antony Sher discuss his role as Falstaff in the 2014 production.
A few days ago, I was lucky enough to attend Ian McLagan’s record release show for United States at Waterloo Records in Austin. Listening to the album brought back some great memories of seeing Mac perform at the Luck Lounge. If you have not had the chance to see his Thursday gigs at the Luck Lounge please go! One would be hard pressed to find a group of more talented musicians than the Bump Band or better Hammond organ playing by an incredible rock and roll hall of fame member than Ian McLagan. I cannot think of anything better than listening to Mac tell stories about his mod days in the Small Faces, his adventures with Keith Richards or Moon the Loon, and his obsession with the Marx Brothers. Now that I’m in London, I cannot wait to see Mac play at The Half Moon in Putney in just a few days. Knowing him it will be a great show with lots of mad stories!