twenty-nine – a night at the theatre

I love many things about theatre.

The lights, the music, the camaraderie, the set design, the choreography, the props, the costuming, the audience–even the countless rehearsals and late nights, if I’m involved with a show’s production.

I also have a running mental list of moments I want to remember forever: climbing the holly tree with my brother when we lived in Virginia, belting Let it Go with my sister for no reason in particular, Meghan’s surprise when she found the cherry limeade I’d left her on our porch, helping Becky get her stuff to the car in the pouring rain, dinner with my parents before leaving for another summer in North Carolina, the taste of fresh strawberries in Galway, the awe that comes from staring at the Alps.

Theatre, though–there’s something about particular moments in theatre that resonate so completely with me, moments that make me understand how the Greeks used theatre so adeptly for catharsis. Of course, that’s not always the case, but sometimes–

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Sometimes, there are moments in theatre that make you feel utterly, impossibly alive.

Last year, I saw Les Miserables on stage about a month after I’d seen the movie. The story had completely inundated me. Let’s be real: a story whose central moving force is grace extended, grace accepted, grace transforming and who has a character death centered around the fact that he simply could not accept grace? I was sold from the get-go.

As much as I love the movie, though, the theatre production goes above and beyond what a film could ever do. In the production I saw, the final scene closed with these two set pieces sliding apart. The entire stage is swathed in darkness until the golden backlight fades in, silhouetting all of those who died as they move slowly through the fog towards Valjean, singing.

Chills. 

Also, tears. Pretty sure Emalyn and I sobbed our way through that finale.

Well, a few weeks ago, Basia and I joined some other friends and people from our building to see Phantom of the Opera when it was in Philly.

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Both of us have a deep and abiding love for this play, so we were pretty excited.

In the production we saw, the prologue concludes (as always) with the auction of Lot #666–the repaired chandelier, originally covered in canvas and hanging somewhere above rows J and K. As the auctioneer cued the spotlights towards it, the canvas was sucked into the chandelier and, as the lights sparked off of the set piece, it began to move.

You know the song. Basia and I practically wept our way through the rest of the play.

Some people, I realize, are not huge fans of theatre (my best friend among them). While I don’t completely understand that, I do understand what draws people in to theatre. Whether we’re working backstage, reciting lines, or watching from the audience, theatre is about contributing towards a story.

And there’s something about a good story–whatever the narrative and its form–that inherently captivates us, reminds us that there is purpose in life and that our lives can be part of the most magnificent story ever told, that everyone around us carries their own stories, too, and sometimes those of others–

that we can always be learning; that we are always works are always works in progress; and that we are always, always full of possibility.

You don’t have to love books or theatre to enjoy good story. You just have to be human.

twenty-four – all life is here, mrs. ainslie

Why would you not go out? There’s so much to see.

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Parnell Square East, Dublin, Ireland

I went to Italy this past weekend. Somehow, one of the biggest American holidays rolled around without me paying any attention to it: I turned around suddenly and the Black Friday e-mails had swamped my inbox, my mother was sending me pictures of one of my Thanksgiving favorites (squash rolls, for those of a curious nature), Hanna accompanied me to Thanksgiving dinner with some friends in Maynooth, and next thing I knew I was stepping off a plane in Italy.

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twenty-three – missed flights and other dorky moments

Otherwise known as Stories from Study Abroad: Dorks in London — the Extended Edition, or “Hanna and Connor adventure in London and then miss their flight back to Dublin.”

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Ah well, we had a good time. I’m always saying that the Extended Editions are the best ones… I suppose it’s time I took my own tastes into account for travel. In any case, moving on!

As it happens, Hanna and I are currently stranded in London. We missed our flight by one. freaking. min — nope, nope. I’m not going to go there yet; it’s making me wince just thinking about it.

On the bright side, this trip has been amazing and the friends we’re staying with are absolutely marvelous human beings of incredible understanding and are, to put it shortly, awesome. Also, we’ve succeeded in our mission to be as dorky as humanly possible. Now we’re just going to be able to take that a bit further!

Plus, as Basia always reminds me, It’s not an adventure if everything goes right.

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twenty-one

Nope, no quippy titles or alliterative themes for this post. I just can’t quite think of one that’s appropriate for the subject matter.

When last I updated this blog of mine, Lis and I had just concluded three marvelous, marvelous days of adventuring through Edinburgh. They really were quite amazing. Since then, we have gone to the Cliffs of Moher — or, for you Princess Bride fans, the Cliffs of Insanity — and, with our “reading week” off from class, I flew off to the Netherlands and then met up with Lis in Berlin.

Highlights from the Netherlands include seeing the lovely Erika, eating delicious Dutch food, attempting to learn Dutch — really, I’m quite dreadful at it — and seeing the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House.

Highlights from Berlin include my awe at their train system, a fun restaurant called Wok to Walk, a tour of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, a bicycle tour of the city and, on a lighter note, eating Berliners with Lis because, you know, Ich bin ein Berliner. 

But before diving in with the deep-thinking and heart-aching accounts of my travels, here’s a glimpse of the Cliffs of Moher  –because they are extraordinary and, quite frankly, staggering — not least because of the incredible gusts of wind.

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Do be warned: this post, at least, focuses on some rather bleak experiences, and if you are looking for another happy-go-lucky, all-is-well, “I’m seeing the world and study abroad is the best thing ever!!1!!!!11!!!!” post… this is decidedly not that, so read with caution.

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fourteen – dubliners

As someone born on Bloomsday, I appreciate Joyce.

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(Okay, that’s actually a bit of a lie. When we read Dubliners in high school, Allison was the one who loved it; I was the one who said, “Ehhhh.)

Since said days of disdain, however, I have come to appreciate Joyce (even though, more than likely, he will never be one of my favorite authors), and I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for Dubliners, whether person or narrative.

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eight – an odd collection

I collect endings like others collect souvenirs. 

Take a list of my favorite books, and I will point you to passages within their pages that give them that status with me. Ask me what my favorite movies are, and I will share my favorite scenes. The same holds for plays, television shows, sometimes even music. The beginnings and the middles, the characters and plots and movements — all race through my head when given the chance. Endings, though — endings, I collect.

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seven – ohana

I come from a family full of stories.

Books, certainly, but also road trips, slips of tongue, song writing, witty comebacks, restaurant fiascos, prayer-sharing, secret recipes, inside jokes, legendary sunburns, concert attendances, safety-dad-teasing, loudly singing, church-going (and skipping and planning and planting and loving), tears flowing, laughter running stories.

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We like to laugh, my family and I.

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