Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Stratford-Upon-Avon

This is Cassie and I making a sandwich out of Victoria.

General shot of Shakespearean scholars and wanna-be scholars partying in a mid 18th century hall.

This is my friend Amanda from Florida and Victoria, from Birmingham.

Christmas here has come and gone and I am now going back to work on my papers starting tomorrow. I was able to write a good chunk of one of my papers last week, despite that the weather made the library close one day last week. On Christmas Eve I went to the Carol service at Holy Trinity, then over to a friends for dinner with the other sad Americans left here. After dinner we went to midnight mass at the church, it was very pretty and nice. After mass I came home and called grandma and talked to everyone at her place.

On Christmas my friend picked me up and I went to her place to spend the day. I was supposed to spend the night there but something happened at my apartment and I had to come home (everything was fine, it was a false alarm). At Harriet's, my friend, we attempted to make a snow man, but the snow was too powdery so we just kind of carved one in the snow. We had a great dinner and played some board games before watching Coronation Street and then East Enders (soap operas). I have never watched either of these shows, but I was instantly hooked on East Enders; I barely know what was going on but it was riveting!

The first picture of os Stanley the cat and I sleeping off dinner on the couch. The next is Harriet and I after making the snowman-like-thing.

I didn't do much today: just the gym, then I took a load of laundry to a friends to wash it (the pipes in our laundry room have frozen so I can't use them now) and watched a movie. I have been washing my clothes in the bath tub very slowly over the last few hours....I do lead such an exciting life here! Luckily we have a dryer in the laundry room.

This week is a week of research and writing. I hope to finish one essay and finish most of the research for another by Friday night. I am going to Birmingham to use the library sometime this week, but I don't know which day yet.

I am planning on going to London the week after New Years for a day to see Derek Jacobi in King Lear, I am pretty excited about it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Football Christmas Dinner and other Christmas-y Goings On

Hello all. Last Friday the Institute Football people, like me, had out Christmas party at the Shakespeare Hotel and Restaurant. It was great: the food, the people, the music (well the music was stuck in the 70s for a bit) and the dancing.

The dance legs hurt more the next day than after and hour and a half at the gym.

The ladies!

We all had these balloons to blow up and then let fly, but they were hard to blow up. Emma had quite a problem, but was successful in the end.

The next day we had a secret santa party at Emma and Red's house. I got the tea pot I have had my eye on since the beginning of October. On Monday we had a party for our friend Gareth, were we watched Eddie Izzard and ate a "Cake or Death?" cake. Then last night Emma and Red came over and we exchanged presents. I got the tea cups and saucer that match the tea pot I got for secret Santa! YAY!!

This is Emma and Red in front of my Christmas display (thanks Kak and Grandma for it).

Wait, no, I mean......I have spent every waking hour studying, reading and transcribing, yes that is it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday Futbol and Snow in Stratford

I played futbol again on Friday, and we lost of course....the curse-of-Jason-being-on-your-team continues. There are a few pictures for your enjoyment. It was frickin cold this week. The ground was frozen and I could hear the sound of our feet hitting the ground. It was cold enough that even when I didn't need to I ran, just to keep warm; and we all know how I feel about running.

Now it may appear that I am attempting to attack emma, but in fact I was going after the ball; getting to attack her was only secondary to the retrieve-the-ball mission.


Did I mention we play til we can no longer see the ball? And sometimes we play past that.

It snowed a bit this week, not much really, just a dusting, but the weather has been cold so it has stuck around. These are a few of the Church across the street from me.

The tower of the church facing the river Avon.

The main entrance to the church

The churchyard. Pretty lighting I feel.

The door on the south side of the chancel. I just think it looks cool.

The church from the north side.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Richard III, Propeller Production

So my friend emma is in love with an all male Shakespeare company in England called Propeller. Last weekend they opened a new production of Richard III in Coventry (about 2 hours away by bus). It was really good. Easily the bloodiest play I have ever seen. It is a history play of Richard III, who basically kills his way to the throne. He even murders a man, then convinces his wife that he loves her and killed him for her; she falls for it and marries him (he later kills her, and, in this production, bites her finger off to get back the wedding ring). It was set in a Victorian hospital. emma knows one of the actors (who played the deposed Queen Margaret), so we had coffee with him after the show. He has to play Pinch in their next show (Comedy of Errors) and for the role needs a southern accent, so our friend Red taught him a bit o southern.

It is an all male company so the women (all of them queens in this play) were played by women. I liked it, I have never seen an all male cast before. THi is the only portrait (I believe) of the actual Richard III, who was not as bad, most likely, as Shakespeare made him out to be.richard iii.jpg

Thanksgiving in Stratford

Last night was Thanksgiving dinner at the Windmill Pub across from the Institute. There were about 35 people there, about maybe half were Americans. The pub provided turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies and roasted potatoes. Many people brought food as well. I made green bean casserole (from scratch, since I could not find the cream of mushroom soup) and cranberry sauce. Unfortunately the pub also made cranberry sauce, so I have a lot left over.

I will post pictures later; my camera died right when I got there and so I have to get pictures from friends. I will tell you that there is a fantastic Turkey Hat making an appearance in many of the pictures.

This morning I went and joined the gym at the Holiday Inn. It is small but the Leisure Centre next door to it is more like the YMCA, and I don't want to deal with little kids and families running around. Since I got here I have been sure that I have gained weight, but if the scale at the gym is correct I have lost almost 15 pounds, I am now were I was before I quit going to the gym. YAY!!!

I almost forgot to mention this. I went to meet a friend for drinks on Tuesday night after rehearsal. He was meeting some friends after they had dinner to celebrate a birthday. When I walked in to the room where they were sitting I noticed someone with them who I recognized. It was Stanley Wells, potentially the most well known and knowledgeable Shakespearean scholar alive, and maybe of the last 100 years (ok, I may have a bit of an academic crush on the man). We talked and had drinks for about an hour before Stanley left. Do you have any idea how terrifying it is to have Stanley Wells ask you anything pertaining to Shakespeare? because I do! It was a good night. God I love it here!

This afternoon is futbol. My friend is taking pictures so I will be able to upload those this weekend.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I haven't written anything in awhile, so here is a brief bit. I went to Holy Trinity Church for an evensong celebrating the 800 years the church has been open. Churches from all over the area were there. I know this might be boring to most, but I love history, so play along.

The church used to have collegiate altars controlled by the priests of the church on the right (North) side of the nave, and on the left (South) side the guilds of the town had their own altars and a Lady Chapel dedicated to Mary. There were occasional disputes between the two sides but nothing big until the Guild Chapel was built in the center of town (the Church is in Old Town, on the outskirts of what was then the town border) and mass was allowed to be celebrated there. The Guild Chapel started to celebrate mass earlier than the church did, drawing the people, and therefore the money, to the Guild Chapel and not the church.

It became enough of a problem that the Pope had to send a Papal Bull to Stratford-Upon-Avon saying that the Guild Chapel could not begin its mass until the Gospel had been read in the mass at the Church, unless the Gospel reading was postponed in malice.

I aso found out that Catholicism was officially illegal in the country until 1829, when the Catholic hierarchy was allowed back into the country. Catholics were still not allowed to vote, hold seats in Parliament, go to University or many other things.

Anyway, afterwards I went out for drinks with the curate of the church, who I met at the Institute welcome tea/beer. I have more to write about but I will do it later, when I am not so tired.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mary Arden's Farm; Guy Fawkes Day; Oxford

Ok, I haven't updated this in a long time so here are three things together.

Mary Arden's Farm had a Plague Funeral and Wake to close down for the season and a few of my friends and I went to see it. Here are a few pictures.

The last picture is Richard (who works at the Farm), emma, Mary Lee (emma's friend from St. Andrew's and me.

Guy Fawkes Day, 5 November: In 1605 a group of 13 Catholics dug a tunnel under The House of Lords in Parliament, planning to fill it with barrels of gunpowder. The plan was to light the fuse at the state opening of Parliament, blowing up King James I, and his entire family, killing the King and the Prince of Wales (heir to the throne) and leaving the country leaderless, opening it up for invasion, possibly by Catholic Spain. However, one of the conspirators had a relative in Parliament and didn't want him to be killed as well. He sent him a letter warning him not go to the opening. The man realized that if he said nothing he would be a conspirator and, if caught, executed as a traitor, or he could reveal the plot, which he did.

When the tunnel was discovered Guy Fawkes was found surrounded by barrels of gunpowder holding a lantern (which is now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford). All the conspirators were caught, tried, found guilty and drawn and quartered (I will explain what that is later).

Every year 5 November is Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night. A big bonfire is lit and an effigy of Guy Fawkes is placed on top to burn. It is a lot of fun. I have heard in the far south of England some communities burn an effigy of the Pope as well as Fawkes. There is a song for the holiday that goes like this:

Remember, remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot
I know of no reason the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes twas his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below
To Prove old England's over throw.

By providence he was catch
With dark lantern and burning match.

Holler boys, holler boys
Let the bells ring.

Holler boys, holler boys
God save the King!

You can see the figure of Fawkes on the top of the fire here. He caught fire a few minutes later. He is stuffed with straw, so he went up in flames pretty quickly.

In this picture are Amanda, Red, Thea, emma, Anne and Drew.

And now to Oxford. A couple of us went to Oxford two days ago. We went to Christchurch College (the Cathedral was closed, but oh well), the Bodleian Library and went shopping at Blackwell's Book Shop.

This a gay wedding cake we found at the covered market. My friends called it the Jason Cake.

This is the Divinity School at Oxford. This is the place were they filmed the hospital scenes in the first two Harry Potter Movies. is pretty (understatement but it gets the idea across).

The spot on the street marked with the cross is the approximate location where Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) had Hugh Latimer (Bishop of Worcester), Nicholas Ridley (Bishop of London), Thomas Cramner (Archbishop of Canterbury, who helped to create the most Protestant Book of Common Prayer) burned in 1555 and 1556.

This is the Radcliffe Camera, one of the reading rooms of the Bodleian Library.

This is the dining hall of Christchurch College in Oxford. It is the inspiration for the Dining Hall in the Harry Potter movies. This is basically their cafeteria....lucky them.

We had real Mexican food for dinner. As all of were American, we enjoyed it greatly! Last night we had Taco night at my friends house. It was all Americans and one British guy, who had to have the difference between a Tortilla and a Taco shell explained various times.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010

This is me as Desdemona's handkerchief:


Note the strawberries! THE STRAWBERRIES I TELLS YA!!!!!

Sassy Gay Friend

So these are a series of videos based on the question: What would happen if Shakespeare's tragic heroines had had a sassy gay friend?


Romeo and Juliet


Adam and Eve

The Giving Tree

So you want to get a PhD in the Humanities

As my friend emma says: so tragically sad because it is so tragically true.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

End of Week Four

This week was ok, nothing special really until the Halloween party tonight. The trains between Stratford and Birmingham were down so getting to class on Wednesday was a bit tricky, but we pulled it off.

Yesterday morning I went to a weekly performance workshop at the Institute. During the warm ups I decided to do the leg lifts from my dance class in college.....bad idea. I didn't notice until I was playing futbol, but my hips are killing me now. I almost got a taxi yesterday to take me home 5 blocks. But this morning I am ok. Then I went home and read before going to futbol. My team lost.....again.

I went to the Attic Theatre to see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last night. It is a community theatre in town. I am going to see if they need electricians for the rest of the season.

Tonight is the Halloween party at my friends' house. I am going as Desdemona's handkerchief.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I moved into my apartment three days ago. It is a small one bedroom with the bedroom being a mezzanine upstairs and everything else down stairs. It is in a walled area directly across from Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried along with most of his family. I am in one of eight units that partially surround a central courtyard (called a close). You can see the spire of the church, which is about 800 years old, from my front window.

And that brings me to the bells. Holy Trinity has a series of bells that are rung every day, especially on Sunday morning. I woke up at 7.45 this morning to the sound of bells, and they have gone off three times since, each time for about 15 or 20 minutes. Thankfully though I am enjoying it, at least for now.

I played and lost futbol on Friday (I am beginning to think I am bad luck, but at least I have good time playing). I have been working on a paper all this weekend for my Social and Cultural History of Renaissance England class; it is going well and I may have to actually cut it down, as it is getting long (there is a 2,000 word limit).

My friend who lives in Birmingham is going to be staying with me most of next week, as the train line between here and there will be closed for maintenance.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: I tried out for the Shakespeare Institute Players' production of The Comedy of Errors, and I am Antipholus of Ephesus (or is it Syracuse, I think Ephesus, I always mix them up......they are identical twins separated at birth).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to Heat Soup in a B&B

So let's say you want to heat up soup, but you are living in a Bed and Breakfast with no access to a stove, and only an electric kettle to heat anything with. What is a poor grad student to do?Well here is how you do it in 4 easy steps.
Step 1) Cut off the top of a clean plastic coke bottle. Fill 3/4 full with soup (this also works well with curry sauce).

Step 2) Fill your electric kettle to the max line with water and boil.

Step 4) Now here is the tricky part. Turn off your kettle and float the plastic coke bottle in the water. Make sure you do not leave any soup on the sides of the bottle, or else you have a mess to clean up. This will also be the moment when you find out if you over filled the coke bottle. Now close the lid and wait.

Step 4) Remove from kettle and ENJOY!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Night Football

Just thought I would let you all know that I played futbol again today, and I am getting better at it. Even though I am terrified of getting control of the ball, mostly because I know I will kick in the wrong direction, I am pretty good at using my considerable bulk to block the ball. I was able to hit the ball with my head twice (once by accident and I didn't know it was coming my way, quite a surprise). Attached is a picture of some one hitting a ball with their head, it is not me (obviously) but trust me, it was just as extreme and awesome, if not more so.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pictures from Canterbury

I just uploaded pictures form Canterbury, here are some of them.

This is the site of the old shrine to St. Thomas a Beckett before it was destroyed by the reformation.

The cathedral at sunset.

This is the Martyrdom of St. Thomas a Beckett; the site where we was murdered. St. Thomas stood up to Henry II and eventually three knights of the king attacked him in the cathedral, slicing the top of his head off and smearing his brains on the floor. (That is a VERY simplified version of the story)

Another view of the old Beckett Shrine. In the back (not the one surrounded by a metal gate) is the tomb of a French Catholic Bishop who came to England to help French Protestants. He died in England and his family refused to take his body back since he was a heretic for helping Protestants, so he has been in the cathedral ever since.

This is of the main altar from the quire. The chair barely visible behind the altar cross is the arch-episcopal cathedra, the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury when he is attending services as the Archbishop and not just as the Bishop.

The sixth is a picture of the nave facing the altar.

This was the place for the shrine of the crown. The top of Thomas' skull was preserved and placed in a shrine in this chapel at the eastern end of the nave.

This is the entrance from the nave into the quire.

I think this is my favorite Cathedral in England.