©2017 by Gail Shalan: Actor, Puppeteer, Voice Over Artist. Proudly created with Wix.com

A Very Happy New Year in Bristol

January 8, 2018

 

Well, it's been a while since I've written anything. In fact, it's a whole new year... happy 2018 everyone! 

 

As you could imagine, much has happened since I last checked in about a month into my training in late October: Our term continued through November and the first two weeks of December with a Shakespeare text project, a holiday themed song and dance sharing (with the other first year groups), much growth and merriment, and a few mince pies and sherry... because sometimes I think I actually DO go to Hogwarts.

 

BOVTS during the Christmas Season:

 In general, the school did not shy away from holiday spirit, and nor did the city. Christmas markets started late October, and the city was festive and merry all through boxing day (the 26th of December) when a puffy, dreamy, story-book snow fell to tie a bow on the merriment. And my Christmas was particularly joyful as my dear partner, Ben, was able to come over from Massachusetts and spend the entire break with me.

 

It was the best gift I could've asked for to share this amazing life experience I'm having over here with him, and to travel to beautiful places in England, but more on that later. First, I should catch you up on what a dream the second half of first term proved to be. 

 

Some snaps from November and December:

 

November brought  some serious goodies: The BEST thing I've seen in the theatre since arriving, Knee High's The Tin Drum—on which I will write a whole separate post someday, but was basically an expertly executed rock-opera, folk-tale, puppet extravaganza particular to my aesthetic— and my favorite of favorites... a little Shakespeare. Which was good timing, as the homesickness began to hit a new high with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner ( My dear friend Sasha and I did have a very special night at our fabulous local pasta joint - Pasta Loco- where they personalized our menu and made sure we felt well-loved). I was given Olivia from 12th Night to work on, which is absolutely one of my favorite plays, and a brand new character for me. My scene partner, Alice, was a beautiful and talented dream. We opened the Shakespeare project with the initial Viola and Olivia meet scene and, in addition, Alice and I played interlude music with our mate, Kaiya, as an odd trio of Guitar, Ukulele, and Saxophone, calling ourselves "The Strange Bedfellows". It was soul medicine. Also, some of the most enjoyable acting I've done in years, and work I was really proud of at the end of the day. 

 

We also had the pleasure of working with the very talented A & B groups (the other first year students on the 2 and 3 year courses) on a song & dance presentation for the last week of class. We sang traditional carols in four part harmonies and danced historical dances in both court and country styles. It was all very festive and delightful. 

We did a lot more singing, in general, as we received private singing tutorials, and had a singing component of our final internal auditions. For me, this was deeply joyous and a great challenge, and I can't wait for more singing to come this term. 

 

One of the great highlights of last term was a special workshop I got to participate in after school one night in December called LoLa. It was a laboratory experiment in Low Latency streaming between BOVTS students in Bristol and a group of other conservatoire students in London from LAMDA, RADA, The Royal College of Music, and the Central School of Ballet. We collaborated on about two hours of improv inspired by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaiken's Savage/Love The idea behind it is that the streaming happens in real time with no delay on video and audio so that we could create theatre together although miles apart. Albeit exhausted and strung out with end of term stress, or maybe because of it—magic happened in that room and technology found  an inspiring place in theatre-making giving me hope and excitement for the future of theatre. 

 

By end of term on December 15th I was completely beat, not gonna lie. However, I have never felt quite so full. I needed a break to digest all the discoveries I'd made in the past three months. I've found new ways of learning and developing material, discovering character, respecting my instincts, investing in the training of my physical/vocal instrument, taking risks in the moment, sharpening my mind, asking better questions, collaborating with others, and somehow I have developed a stronger passion than I had before for this beautiful and essential form of storytelling I'm privileged to be studying. 

 

I-Group's first group shot... loving each other much!:

Today Term Two began with a morning of Intro to Acting on Camera and an afternoon at the Bristol Zoo to study animal movement and behavior. Like most sophomore endeavors this term promises to be more challenging and yield more growth than the first. I know I'll have much to report on the details soon, but in typical BOVTS fashion the specifics are a bit of a mystery and trusting that the training will be what it needs to be has proven a valid method so far. 

I am beyond grateful for every moment I've had here so far and every one that is to come. A day does not go by where I do not feel the love and support of every person who has wished me well on my way to this point—be it a most meaningful holiday card or text this past month, a boost or a rally towards my fundraising efforts these past seven, a "break a leg" or butt in my audience these past 20 years, or a simple "I believe in you" these past 27.

 

In exactly two weeks I turn 28, beginning my 29th year on this beautiful planet, and I am honored to start it from such a celebratory place of gratitude for how much good and love there truly is in this world and great life can be.  I step into 28 inspired and ready to continue making big changes, to fight for the space to tell beautiful and important stories, and to dare, dare, dare more every day.

 

As the year progresses, I hope to fade out my pitches and pleas, but as artists are still mostly beggars these days I'll practice the craft of asking for just a little more by saying THANK YOU for all you have given me so far. This adventure would not be possible without the generosity of so many. I am still raising money to pay for this incredible experience and every little bit has added up to nearly $10k so far. I need to reach the $15k mark to ensure all fees, expenses, and tuition can be paid, so if you have a little extra to give today, tomorrow, next week, or next month please click this link or share it with someone who can:

https://www.generosity.com/education-fundraising/bring-gail-to-the-bristol-old-vic-theatre-school/x/15435533

 

 

Wishing you all the happiest, best, and brightest New Year!

xx

G

 

P.S. Here's a little photo journal of my magical break with Ben, taking in the "local" riches of London and Cornwall on the cheap, and of each other's company in Bristol: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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