Hey America, long time no see. How’ve you been these last two and a half months?
I’m settling in to London life, figuring out where to buy basic things like coat hangers and granola, exploring the city, constantly going the wrong way when I get out of the tube, and seeing as much theatre as I can take. I’ve only made a dent in the rich variety of performances London has to offer, and the staggering volume of exciting things going on.
I’ve been more than usually social – there is an amazing amount of Meet-Up groups here, “culture seekers,” American expats, jewelry makers, and a book club. I dropped by a community choir a couple of weeks ago, but haven’t been able to make it to another rehearsal yet… After a while, I hope I will be seeing the same people multiple times, but at the moment it’s a lot of nice-to-meet-you-ing. I’ve also been getting in touch with my introverted side (and in fact devoured Susan Cain’s new book “QUIET: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking”), taking long walks, hanging out in the park, and generally enjoying a bit of quiet time.
Probably the biggest news to share is that I’m directing a showcase this month! She Writes: What’s Through the Door? is an evening of short plays by women writers, inspired by a short story by HG Wells. 17Percent is an organization dedicated to promoting women playwrights, so called because only 17% of plays on UK and founder Sam Hall is looking to expand their programming from Kent to London. I happened to email her at the exact right time that she was looking for a director to helm the September showcase at the Canal Café Theatre. The power of asking “how can I help?” is pretty extraordinary. We’re almost finished nailing down the details, and I’ll be sure to link to the event information when it’s online. It’s too soon to say where this will lead, but I am very excited about Sam’s vision for the future of 17 Percent, and the potential to galvanize the London feminist theatre community. There are a lot of small and brand new companies doing feminist work, but I haven’t found anything like the “YEAH I Said Feminist” Theater Salon that is making so much magic in the Bay Area. Yet…
Also in the works and very exciting: Lisa Szolovits, Wolfgang Wachalovsky, and I are continuing to pursue our Google Hangout theatre experiment. We recently had our first international meeting, after some kerfuffles with the new time differences; there are now only about 6 hours each day when all three of us can be expected to be awake at the same time! I’m so excited for what’s next, and so grateful to be working with such passionate, dedicated, and generous collaborators. Stay tuned for cool stuff soon.
Being in England and not having a job has allowed for some lovely family visits and trips outside of London. I’m not missing having a car at all – the tube and buses get me anywhere I need to go within the city, and in 30 minutes, I can be on the National Rail system going anywhere in England, Wales, or Scotland. I spent a few manic and wonderful days at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August (see my PlayList recap of the 21 performances I saw there), my second time in Edinburgh after a quick trip up there for my study abroad orientation in 2006. I was surprised how much I still remembered my way around, and not at all surprised at how much I enjoyed myself in what is still one of my favorite cities.
I’ve been on an adventure high for ten weeks now, but I know there will come a point soon when it really sinks in that I have moved 6,000 miles away from the people who have been my life for the last five years and longer. We’ve all heard “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” and to some extent I was prepared for starting again from scratch. But I’m still surprised by how many doppelgangers pop out at me from the crowds around London, making my brain spark with recognition just for a second before I realize, no, duh, of course that can’t be Megan, though that lady is rocking the boots and bright purple dress just like Megan would.
I’m starting to appreciate just how much professional groundwork there is to lay here, too. I’m pursuing a lot of opportunities, but I know it will be a while before they pursue me back. Quick workshop casting in San Francisco is thinking through my favorite friends and colleagues and choosing people who would be right for a project; casting here is asking friends of friends to recommend their friends and taking a leap of faith based on resumes filled with unfamiliar credits (which, I have so say, is working out splendidly so far – thanks, friends!). Similar challenges abound in finding rehearsal space and even buying oddball props – where can I buy a plastic bubble pipe in London? But it’s all a big adventure, and one thing is the same in theatre everywhere: the team pulls together to make it happen.
Things are moving incredibly quickly all things considered. I’m burning through my new business cards, meeting people and making connections. I’m seeing tons of theatre, and getting very excited about checking out some “continental” experimentalism – I’m headed to the Dialog Festival in Poland next month for ten days! When I get back, I’ll jump straight into an internship at the Finborough Theatre, where I’ll be part of the day to day running of a really unique off-West-End theatre. I’ve also joined the Young Vic Directors Programme, which connects emerging directors with professional opportunities, workshops and classes, and fruitful peer relationships. Through that programme, I’ve already met some kindred spirits – and we’re working on setting up a Salon like San Francisco’s “YEAH, I Said Feminist.” At some point towards the end of November, I’ll have to get real and start working for actual money. But in the meantime, I am making the most of being able to focus solely on theatre. That’s what I’m here for.