Friday, March 22, 2013

Kicking off the visitor season

Last week finished with Kenz burning out in the library and our friend, Nye Simmons, arriving on business. He showed up early and is staying late to hang around London and take a quick trip to Copenhagen.

She claims to have found her first boring essay topic. 
Not long after Nye arrived on Saturday, we headed out to see The Book of Mormon. I pre-ordered tickets as soon as they became available eight months ago; I had heard the buzz about the show all the way from Broadway and didn't want to risk the show selling out before we got a chance to see it. Owen and Celia were meant to come with us, but Owen's (characteristic) schedule fumble was recovered by Nye and Alejandra. The four of us went while O&C were in Brighton for the weekend.

We did a matinee 

"No pictures inside the theatre" means "don't get caught"

A weary Nye, post 10 hours of overnight travel and a 2 hour play. 
The play wound up being much better than any of us had expected. We giggled, chuckled, and outright laughed throughout the entire production. I think it's on tour in the States right now; I recommend going if you get the chance. That is, if you can stomach the type of satire Trey Parker and Matt Stone are known for.

After the show, Nye requested traditional English cuisine. Fish'n'chips it was...

Nye headed out to Stonehenge, Bath, and Stratford on a big, tour-guided coach bus Sunday morning.

We'd already done the trip, so we opted to stay back and endeavor to catch people on FaceTime. It's always a shot in the dark, but we usually get a few people to answer:

Mama Kiki & Baby Lucy

Whitney & Nala

Whitney, making us Petro's-jealous

Patti's St. Paddy's hat

Gracie & half of Brian's head
Nye returned for dinner on Sunday night before heading to his hotel for the week. It wasn't until he'd sat down to eat that I realized the shirt he was wearing in honor of the season's celebration:

He ain't scared to represent his politics. 

Kenz and I wound up engaging in separate activities this week. Her school is on its month-long Easter break. Instead of sitting on the couch, however, Kenz decided to take a week-long model making course over in Deptford. The class is 10am-6pm each day, and she's been sending me several pictures throughout the week.

"I'm learning how to solder!"

I was reminded of the replica my grandmother made of her living room at Christmastime.

The first two days were cool, but then Kenz started sending me pictures of these creepy little hands she was making. They used a copy machine to shrink their own hands and began making molds from them.

They start with a 'base' and add to it to make it more lifelike. It's likely the creepiest thing I've seen in 2013.

She included her finger for scale

Honestly, I don't know how I feel about these things returning to the house. 
As Kenz was creating creepy hands, I was busy ruining my own:

I finally ripped my calluses at the gym. It was not a fun experience, and I've been paying the consequences this entire week. 
Of course, that wasn't all I did. 

Jim & Hunter came by for a visit. 

I made cauliflower 'rice' 

I saw a drunken celebrant on the tube (at 10am; daydrunk), harassing passengers.

Learned a new phrase for pigeons: sky rats.

Encouraged the sun to keep rising earlier
On Wednesday, Kenz went over to Alejandra's for dinner. She sent me this picture of, likely, the greatest plate of all time:
Full English breakfast plate? Yes, please!

So, there I was, on Wednesday night, tired, on the couch, sore hands, scrolling around on the Internet, thinking I had the night to myself. I had decided that I'd settle into an evening alone, rewatching old episodes of The West Wing on Netflix when I remembered that I could do that anywhere - and that I should really be doing something more 'London'.

I booked a ticket to a play I knew nothing about, and was out the door within thirty minutes.

Turned out the play was conveniently located in the Bussey Building, which is home to The CLF Art Cafe. It's a club that moonlights as a cafe and theatre. The convenient aspect is the fact that it's in South London, about a stone's throw from Kenz's school. It only took me 20 minutes to get there. That may not sound like much, but it is. Most theatre is either in the West End, Chelsea, yadda, yadda, yadda - the glamorous parts of the city - not nearly as close as Peckham Rye.

The play followed the life and work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, which inevitably included lots of Warhol as well. If you're interested, you can read more about it here; I assume you'd rather I avoid a 2k-word summary of theme, structure, characterization, set design, and performance(s).

I was interested in this show because Basquiat is my friend Joey's favorite artist of all time. He had me watch a great biopic several years ago, and I thought the play would provide another angle on the story. It did.

The Bussey Building has some tremendous graffiti in its smoking area.

This is the entrance to the actual building.
Since I was riding solo for the night, I stayed open to conversation with anyone that seemed nice enough. I chatted with the gentleman who gave me my ticket. He asked if I was from Boston, naturally, as everyone does when I'm wearing my Celtics hat. Slightly embarrassed, I admitted that, whereas I was from Tennessee, the Celtics were the first team I supported when I began watching the NBA (the self-centered fear that plagues me always has me apologizing for supporting a team located in a city in which I've never lived and only visited once as a youngster). I also got to speak to one of the co-managers of the CLF Art Cafe itself, since the cafe was relatively dead (it was a Wednesday night and I was super early). He told me about all the events they house, a bit about the building's history, and more about the new theatre they're soon to open in Clapham.

I take after my dad when it comes to talking to strangers, which I'm grateful for. It doesn't cost anything to be nice and I usually wind up learning something in the meantime. I don't understand why it's easier to do so when I'm alone, but it is what it is. I think part of it is that if I'm with a friend or Kenz, I get nervous that they'll make fun of me for being so gregarious. In fact, the more people that are around the less likely I am to speak to anyone! I'm a lunatic. I digress...

All in all, the show was great, verging on exceptional. The house was small - about fifty people in a 95-seat theatre. The seats were stadium style - the stage was on the floor. That size show is a double edged sword. The intimacy draws the audience in, but it also means that any mild disruption doesn't go unnoticed.

And, in this case, the disruptions weren't mild.

About five minutes after the show had started, two older people walked in. Ok, I think I'll forgive that. People arrive late all the time. Maybe they got lost on their way - it is South London after all. Ten minutes after that, those two decide to walk across the front of the stage to the other side of the house. That was rude. Ten minutes after that, one of the two pulls two wine glasses and a bottle out of a bag he brought in. Loudly. Really, bro? You're in the front row. The actors are literally five feet from you, and you're clanging glasses together? Then guy decides to get up and walk out. I didn't know why. Five minutes after that, a phone begins to ring. No. Freaking. Way. Who leaves their phone on during a play? The phone wouldn't stop ringing. It became clear that the woman that came in with this man isn't the owner of the phone - that the guy who walked out left his phone in the theatre.

The man who sold me my ticket rushed over and removed the jacket that apparently housed the phone. Nope. Phone wasn't in the jacket. The phone began ringing again (this was the third phone call in ten minutes). These poor actors. 

The man returned at the beginning of intermission, visibly drunk. Not tipsy. Drunk. I decided to stay in my seat during the interval, and heard him ranting on and on in some slurred, nonsensical fashion about all the theatre he's been to, yadda, yadda, yadda. It seemed like he was in the mood for a fight, which was strange because he looked about as frail as a bird. The two left and returned with a third stooge just before the intermission was over.

By this time, the actors had taken their places on stage at a dinner table. There were five or so actors , Warhol in the middle (wig and all), and they'd begun what I'd call a 'soft start'. The show hadn't started back yet, the house lights were still up, people were taking their seats, but the actors were engaged in dinner party talk on stage. Well, the third stooge appeared, to me, to be a hybrid of drunk and simply out of his mind. It was as if he had no idea where he was. He went up to the dinner table on the stage and began chatting with the actors. Is this really happening? The actors took it in stride, played along, and commented on the man's appearance - he looked strikingly similar to Warhol himself; he didn't need the wig. "It's good to know I have an understudy," the actor said as this man was ushered to his seat.

It's important to note that this was a play with a series of really heavy moments - it tackled drug addiction, AIDS, heartbreak, death, family dynamics, the relationship between artists and their work, their message, and the art dealing community. Of course, there were moments of levity, but this wasn't a comedy per se.

And this freaking third guy started speaking, audibly, during the final act. Like, just chatting to his friends. I didn't know whether to be filled with contempt or pity. People started shushing him to no avail. Wine glass guy took the liberty of lying down across four seats and promptly passed out.

Then, during one of the final monologues, the chatty-Kathy-Warhol-look-alike got up, began staggering near the stage, headed toward the opposite side of the theatre. He then began to speak at/to the actor on stage. The man who sold me my ticket jumped into action and began to escort the asshat out of the building. Thank god, this'll be over soon enough. Some people. No class. There was resistance. Wine glass guy woke up and rushed to his friend's defense. He began to yell and curse. Oh no. The rest of the cast ran over to help the situation. The man delivering his monologue threw up his hands, walked to the audience, and plopped himself down in a seat. A ruckus ensued as the actors tried to get the drunks out of the theatre. Protestations of 'get your hands off me! I'm calling the police!' An audience member went over to try and reason with the inebriates. You can't reason with a drunk person, dude. 

Finally, we were rid of the crew. Everyone applauded and the play resumed. Credit to the cast - by the end of the show, the incident was only a footnote in our memory.

After the show, I went to catch my bus - and there they were! I turned to the guy on my right, recognized that he had been in the audience as well, and shared that it was 'just our luck' that these three amigos were waiting at the same bus stop as us.

The culprits
That guy and I discussed our feelings on the show, shared contempt for the disruptors, and maintained smalltalk for the next ten stops. I found out that the guy who gave me my ticket and escorted the jacklegs out of the building was, in fact, the author of the show. The two of them were friends. I told him to text the author and tell him that a 'redneck from the hills of Tennessee thought it was fantastic'. He had no idea what a redneck was; he was from Tobago.

All in all, quite a different night than I was expecting. South London, baby - home sweet home.

Last night, Owen, Celia, Kenz and I went to see one of my favorite comedians - Louis CK - at the Apollo Hammersmith. We've had these tickets for months as well. I was slightly disappointed in our seats, but the show was fantastic. If you've got HBO, his special will be airing soon in the States. I wouldn't miss it if I were you.

Owen and I travelled together - during rush hour

I was not enjoying myself

It was a night of giggles and gut laughs

This week's dismount is a series of random photographs and shoutouts:

Shoutout to MOMA. 

Shoutout to anyone who used to dine in Newport, TN!

Shoutout to Kara, queen of the breakfast beverages; I'm now rocking 3 in the morning. 
As for the 'visitor season': we've got about 8 visitors in the next three months, many of which will be travelling together. Prepare yourself.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!