An Eventful Weekend

So beginning with Thursday I’ve had a lot of weird things happen to me.  While walking to the supermarket on the way home from school A friend and I happened upon a man on the stairs seizing covered in blood! the each stair below where he was had huge puddles of blood with an even larger puddle at the landing below the stairs.  This was a moment that will stick with me for a long time.  We were in the middle of a very funny story when we turned the corner and saw this extraordinary thing!  Silence fell suddenly and we quickly moved to the other side of the stairs.  Helping was pointless at this point, we didn;t speak the same language and there was already a large crowd around this man trying to offer some sort of help.  We continued on our way to the store in silence..after a minute we both looked at eacher and i asked, “so do you want to continue your story?”  She eventually did continue telling her story but the image and sounds of this man still clung to all of our senses.  There was something totally different about us for the rest of our trip.  And, when we walked back by the stairs on our way home 30 minutes later everything was cleared….the blood gone and traffice flowing normally.  The world will never know what happened but we will not soon forget.

I also had my ipad stolen yesterday…which was an experience…. It is the very first time I really felt betrayed by the city of Moscow.  I am trying to search for it on the internet using GPS but it hasn’t been connected to the internet since it has been taken.  Now I just know to leave the valuables at home and keep my stuff close and clung tight!

Now the good stuff:

People make out EVERYWHERE!

The zoo, crowded and very loud is one of the most beautiful places in the city. And it is only like four blocks from our dorm.

Burger King is THE BEST! and I bought milk for 98 cents. and sugar for 25 cents.

Going to bed now! Love you all!

Blue Skies!

The First Week

I feel like I’ve been in Moscow for a year! And that’s a good thing.  This city is amazing. Every day on my 30 minute walk to school I see something new, something that I check off in my brain that I have to make time for on my day off.  I’ve decided that it is okay to finally take different routes to school.  It is basically a straight shot but, we always walk on the main street…today I will take a side street, stop by the fruit stand, and have so many new adventures!

We’ve only had 4 days of full classes but already we’ve had about 12 hours of acting.  3 hours everyday.  They are the most exhilarating 3 hours of my day!  At the start of class we perform a group etude (improvisation) and then play various theatre games to help with concentration, growth as an ensemble, trust and attention.  We are encouraged to move as one.  If we are asked to stand–we have to do it all at once. We are asked to move our chairs–we must do it together…and here’s the real kicker, we have to do it silently. Not just without talking but the chair must not make any noise. It is one of the more difficult aspects of class but  does more to help me with connecting and concentration than any of the other exercises we have done so far.

We had our first Ballet class on Monday…ya’ll don’t even KNOW! My legs will never not be sore while I’m here.  The teacher had my leg stretched behind my head…my legs don’t belong there….they do not.  We didn’t even move much, just a little bar work but, I have never sweat so much in my life, and that is saying something.  My goal for ballet is to be able to do the splits by the time I leave here, I think there is more than a possibility of me having it by the end of October!

Stage movement is a really interesting class as well.  I really had a lot of time in that class to get to know my body.  we spent several minutes on each section just stretching and doing various exercises to become aware of ourselves.  I thought I would have limitations, but the professor told us “your body will want to stop and be lazy…you must have the will to tell it not to.”  It is going to take a long time for me to be able to tell it not to, but as soon as he said it I could feel a change inside from wanting to just stop and die to wanting to continue forever!  The last exercise of the class was a jumping exercise.. he told us how he wanted to jump and then we did it all together! He covered his ears in pain and told us to stop!!! “Do it silently.  Live in the air! Live in the air and not on the ground” ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm what?!  I challenge you (it is not that big of a challenge when you are actively listening to your body and telling it what to do) to jump the air, while trying to kick your hindquarters and land softly on the ground with no noise…and keep jumping.  Do all your thinking in the air. live there! make that your home.  you should only be on the ground for a split second before your back in your home. DO IT NOW!

There is so much I can’t put into words yet! but rest assured I will try to share with you as much as I can, and to blog whenever possible…but if I’m not in class I am either sleeping or walking to class!

I love you all!

Blue Skies,

Michael

First day of classes

I just wanted to write a really quick note on our first day, which was yesterday.  At 11:00 we all met in the portrait lobby of the Moscow Art Theatre to have a Russian History lecture with Anatoly Smeliansky, the dean of the school and associate director of the theatre.  He is so amazing! he taught himself English in the late 80s and knows everything and more about Theatre in Russia, the world and the entire history of MXAT.  The first lecture covered Stanislavsky, Pussy Riot, The Temple of Christ and the current state of the company.  It really was inspiring and I can’t wait for more of his classes! THE NEXT ONE IS TODAY!

We also had our first acting class yesterday.  we did concentration and rhythm activities devised to help us really get focused and concentrate on each other as an ensemble.  our teacher is wonderful and has a real love for the art of acting!  some of the tings he said in class that really stuck out are:

“Everything has already been done on stage. Everything. Except you”

“Make eye contact as often as possible on stage”  the context of this is that sometimes, as actors, we forget to make eye contact but, when we do there is a real connection and the non verbal language can be just as, or more, interesting as the words that are being spoken.  Eye contact is important.

So, some of the Russian students have been assigned to help us get around, find out where to buy food, groceries, clothes or electronics, and to just be there if we have any questions.  They are affectionately called “The Angels” and they really are.  without them we probably would cease to function.  They wanted to go out last night and have a little fun with the Americans– perfect opportunity for them to practice their English and for us to get some practical Russian training.  To say the least, last night was a blast, and of course I had a little vodka with my new friends!

 

Blue Skies!

That’s how you know you’re alive.

First, I would like to say thank you to everyone who is thinking about me and praying for me on my trip. You are all wonderful and the thought that so many people love me back home makes this experience even better.

Second, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut is so beautiful. It is right on the water and practicing my monologue from Long Day’s Journey into night in the same place that it’s set was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!

Now….RUSSIA!

We boarded our flight to Frankfurt at 3:10 Tuesday afternoon. After a most glorious flight of two meals, a lot of free wine, BRAVE and DARK SHADOWS, and flyrobics (exercises in your seats guided by the most glorious cartoon on the planet) we landed in Frankfurt. PS, everyone fly Lufthansa, you will not regret it.

In Frankfurt I met a woman from the place closest to my heart…IOWA! She teaches Russian Literature at George Mason and was traveling to Moscow to present a research paper. After a very short layover we were off to Moscow…another meal and a mimosa we landed! While in line waiting for passport control I met an elderly couple from….IOWA! What are the odds. MY LIFE IS THE GREATEST! They were traveling all over Eastern Europe and were just the most loveliest of people!

We hopped on a bus and 2 hours later we were at our dorms moving in! I will never love any shower as much as that first one in the dorms. NEVER. it was quite literally sent from heaven and made just for me! I intended to take a nap but that was clearly out of the question with all the exploring I had to do.

The first hurdle was to exchange my money! Next, we had to EAT! And then just walk around and look at the shops. I went in to a supermarket…about the size of a bedroom. Learning that Cyrillic aha bet is no joke! A lot of the words are cognates or are in very close relation to their English counterpart but you would never know it of you didn’t know how to read the words! They God I actually spent time learning that!

I am proud to announce that this morning I ordered my coffee at Starbucks COMPLETELY in Russian ALL BY MYSELF! I’m basically the greatest Russian speaker of all time.

And that brings us to right now! Stay tuned for more crazy adventures. My laughs and tears are all for you! I will try to tell you about everything as often as I can, but we are jumping right into school starting today so my free time will be severely limited!

Blue Skies

“That’s how you know you’re alive” came from a workout at the O’Neill taught by an alum of this program. When someone was really feeling the strain of the workout she just told him “that’s how you know you’re alive” and went on teaching. So, I guess I’ll be prepared for a lot of that in Russia.

Saying Goodbye

Tonight kicks off the final weekend of NEXT TO NORMAL!  It has been a wild and crazy ride; but the journey has been well worth the destination.  Working with all these talented people for the past month and a half has sparked a pretty crazy fire inside of me.  They have humbled me with their talent and proven what an absolute ensemble process this show, and theatre as a whole is.  I was so nervous to start rehearsals because I felt like I couldn’t possibly live up to the expectations everyone had for me.  I feel, now, that I have lived up to them and learned some important things about myself as an actor.  Thank you all! PS if you haven’t seen this show yet you have four more chances!!!

in nine days I will be starting Orientation for my semester in Moscow!!! I am beyond excited and I cannot wait to share all of my amazing journey with you all.  I just started packing yesterday, and I must say that my suitcase is the most organized suitcase of anyone…ever.  It is sad though that I can practically fit every article of clothing I own in 1 suitcase.  Nope. not sad. I AM A PACKING GOD!  I can’t wait to meet everyone and be there learning from the best teachers of the art of theatre in the world!

I am going to miss everyone so much! I know I haven;t seen a lot of my friends in a very long time but, somehow, the thought of being so much further away makes it worse! To all my friend’s and family: you are missed more than you know!  You mean the world to me!  Without you in my life, shaping who I am, laughing and crying with me, and slapping me when i do something idiotic  I don’t think I’d be as blessed with so many opportunities as I am now.I can’t wait  to have too many margarita’s at El Agave with my glorious Steph(v)ens, to meet all my excellent new brothers, and play the world’s best game…COLLEGE NIGHT! I LOVE YOU!

I haven’t decided whether or not I am going to do a public journal of my time in Russia or just keep it private and just share some highlights.  I don’t know if my ramblings about class and the stresses of my day are already too much for you and it is only bound to get exponentially more dramatic and chaotic.  If you want to see everything let me know…If not, I may even do it anyway…who knows.

Break-a-Leg to the Casts of RENT and THE HEIDI CHRONICLES at UM!!! I am so proud of all you and these productions are going to be AMAZING! I wish I cold be there to be a part of it all!  Keep being fantastic!

Blue Skies,

Michael