Archives For Paris

Theatreland

December 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Over the past two days I’ve seen three shows in London, with one more tomorrow before everyone heads back to Dublin. Haven’t had much time for sightseeing, but this is my fourth time in London, so I already have a lot checked off the Must-See List. In my downtime between shows, I visit with the UCD gang a bit, but mostly I just walk and walk and walk, observing life in this sprawling and crowded city dotted with some of the most famous landmarks in the world. And it’s amazing the amount of theatre that goes on in the West End and everywhere else in the city. They’re running a remount of the incredible production of Twelfth Night I saw ten years ago, but I decided against seeing it again. Best to save the original in my memory the way it was.

Aside from the heartfelt and brilliant War Horse, which I was completely on board with, nothing has grabbed me here, really. And looking back at the dozen or so shows I saw in Dublin, it was only Farm and The Boys of Foley Street that really left an impact on me. More and more, I keep wondering if theatre has anything left to say. Most people I’m here with shrug their shoulders at what we see, or nod off, or leave early, and so much of it is pretentious and boring. It’s theatre for serious theatre-goers only, and I think that’s just a shame. I’ve always believed that art should be as accessible as possible to the average person, while still trying to be interesting and innovative. You shouldn’t have to have a deep background in Marcel Duchamp or understand post-modernist theory to enjoy something.

Now that my trip’s coming to an end, it’s been the theatre of the everyday moments that stay with me the most. Little kids saying hello to St. Nicholas on Prague’s Mikulas celebration; cafe conversations on the boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris; schoolchildren on a tour of the National Gallery in London. That’s theatre to me at this point. Theatre of the small moments of humanity that remind us how fascinating life and people and cities and towns can be.

There are other kinds of theatre as well. The grotesque picture show of the Nazi’sĀ Theresienstadt; beggars lying prostrate on the ground in Prague, heads down and a cup in their hands, and the people passing them by; the empty nothingness of waiting for the lift at Russell Square tube station in London. The theatre of life can be both beautiful and horrifying all at once, as the news from Connecticut reminds us.

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On Wednesday evening as I was wandering around the city I accidentally stumbled upon the London premiere of The Hobbit. The crowds craned their necks in Leicester Square to catch a glimpse of Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Cate Blanchett, and then to top it off I saw Prince William drive up at the end as well. Quite the unexpected journey, I have to say.

IMG_0844 IMG_0852Most of the UCD gang are young and full of energy, and stay out until all hours having a good time. They always plead with me to come out and join in on the fun, but I’m not 25 anymore, and to be honest, Thank God. I’m fine to come back to my room before midnight and read a bit before falling asleep. I turn 41 in a couple of weeks, and I’m totally okay with that.Ā 
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So tomorrow it’s farewell to London, and my brief relationship with the UCD crew. Haroosh and I have one more small journey to take before we head back to Dublin on Sunday, and then it’s home for good on Wednesday. There will be some very difficult goodbyes to make before then, and that will be the hardest part of all of this. But it’s time to head back and figure out what the next act has in store for me, and I’m ready for it.

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Mind the gap, Haroosh.

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French Rituals

December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Just some random thoughts from the past few days. I’ve written plenty more than this, but I thought I would keep it brief and to the point. And also, photos!

Say what you want about the French, but they love the ritual of sitting down for dinner. When you enter a restaurant, or cafe, or brassiere, you are always greeted with a “Bonjour!” You sit, order food, and when it comes, you get both “Voila!” and “Bon Appetit.” Every time. And it’s great, mostly because it’s the only French I really know.

Because I’m in the solo part of this trip right now (in between visiting friends in Prague and meeting up with the Dublin UCD crew in London tomorrow), I sit and write my thoughts down while I wait for my food, or I knock out a story or two in James Joyce’s Dubliners. It also helps to slow down the dinner process; I normally eat quick and efficient-like, as a bachelor often does. But a European dinner can last a couple of hours, so it’s important to sit and relax and enjoy the food and atmosphere.

And as I realize time and again, a book or a notepad is fine, but company is always better at dinner.

We’ll see if all those observations I wrote down make it onto here. I’m heading into the closing stretch of this trip, and London is going to be pretty jam-packed with theatre and (probably) late nights with that young crew from UCD.) But I have more stories to tell, and one last city to visit after London, so as always, stay tuned, dear readers…

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Can I tell you how fantastic train travel is over here? I could do it all day and never get tired. This is the train I took to Paris.

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Oh HI there! Years from now, I’ll want to look back on this trip, and so it’s important to remember what I looked like. Old and bald, yesirree…

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Snowing in the Strasbourg Christmas market.

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The Venus de Milo, in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

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Looking out the window at the Musee D’Orsay, Paris. It used to be a train station. Shout-out to all the Hugo fans out there.

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Haroosh and I at the Eiffel Tower, Paris. He’s afraid of heights, so we didn’t go up to the top.

Also, I need a shave.

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Another picture of the Eiffel Tower. Had to get the light just right.

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Walkway across the river Seine, in Paris. Those are locks on the left and right. It’s become a popular thing for people in love to write their names on a lock then attach it to a bridge. Saw the same thing on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Man, that’s just a fraction of what I’ve seen and done in the past few days. Hopefully I’ll get more up soon!