World AIDS Day 2017 and an incoming, sad anniversary


© hiv.gov

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I want to write about “World AIDS Day” today, despite I realize I’m not really accredited to talk about it. Not sure what I’m writing is right or fair.

I feel blessed nobody in my life has ever contracted the illness and I can only imagine what does it mean to live with AIDS or to be in the life of someone who has it. So, thanks God, I can only write about my impressions about the desease. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant or naive (seeming naive would be better, anyway). At least, I’ve always tried to keep myself informed about it as much as I can.

I can say it looks like we have let down our guard on AIDS, I remember when I was younger and I was hearing about it almost every week from TV, newspapers and magazines. Not from school, sex is always a hard matter to talk about with young people in Italy, and thinking talking about it in class would make the difference. Now, thanks to medicines, patients live a longer life and mass media don’t talk about it like before, they just report some news or statistics from time to time. That’s particularly dangerous for younger people approaching sex for the first time, they should know it must be safe, not just from AIDS.

From studies comes out that there are also irresponsible behaviours from adults who like to play the dangerous game of not using a condom, like in a Russian roulette, finding sex more exciting. Someone even think just one time doesn’t make them contract the virus or that, like it often happens in Africa, going with a virgin could fix them! How dangerous!

The gay community seems the most aware of the problem, despite AIDS regards straight people too. They had huge losses in years and the stigma of having spread the virus in the early years, so they’ve always made a campaign to make their people aware of it.

But there isn’t a definitive cure, yet, which seems strange to me. We go to space, make transplants of organs, but in decades we still don’t have a solution for AIDS! I know we don’t have a final cure for cancer, as well, but I can’t help being doubtful about this matter. You can guess what I mean.

For a long time I’m thinking about that line from William Burroughs’ “A Thanksgiving Prayer” poem which says: “Thanks for laboratory AIDS.” It really impressed me the first time I saw him performing it on screen, I remember thinking: “Yes, of course they did!”. I wouldn’t be surprised if some scientists had received the commission of elaborating the virus for real. If it’s true that about ten years occur before HIV+ persons get sick, it must have happened in years when the then called LGB community was doing its battles for freedom and recognition, late ’60s/early ’70s. Perhaps they wouldn’t imagine the virus would go so far. I know that sounds cynic, but I can’t get it out of my mind. A illness came out from nothing, damaging a precise group of people, is suspicious…

Nowadays, all the world is affected and not all the people have access to medicines. That’s the ugly truth.

I’m following “The AIDS Memorial” accounts on Twitter and Instagram and it breaks my heart to see how many people report about they beloved ones died due to illness related to AIDS: mostly lovers and siblings, but also parents, children, friends, colleagues. Most of them were young men, often in the showbusiness, but there’s an impressive amount of women as well.

I got in touch with them because they posted photos of two late actors I started to know when they were already gone, Richard Warwick and Ian Charleson, both related to the director Derek Jarman, how sad all of them have died because of AIDS! The director was the first famous person with AIDS I heard about, I started to watch his movies at the time he was already dying after I saw his “Caravaggio” on TV. I was too young to follow their careers, despite I remembered later that both Ian and Richard were in movies I saw when I was a child and I’m sorry for that. For a strange coincidence. Warwick and Jarman were both 52 when they died, while Charleson was only 40! What a loss!

Why am I writing this blog right this year? Because this 16 December there will be the 20th anniversary of the death of Richard Warwick and I’m posting on https://twitter.com/RWarwickTribute the stages of his career every day and on that day a PDF file with the roles he played will be available for those interested in his work as an actor. I’m also planning a proper book, but this requests a longer time and more efforts, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it, but I have hope I will.

I’m planning to do the same for Ian Charleson in 2019 (for his 70th birthday) or 2020 (for the 30th anniversary of his death).

I actually wanted to write a blog on my two websites in tribute to the two actors today, but at the end I thought to write on this blog instead.

AIDS is also a matter often discussed in movies, TV series, plays, books for obvious reasons. One of the most moving films I’ve seen, for example, is “Longtime Companion“, about the years when the illness was found out. In particular, I find moving the friendship between Willy and John. The protagonist doesn’t get ill, but sees his best friends passing, one by one.

In Italian, it got the title “Che mi dici di Willy?” (What about Willy?), which doesn’t pay justice to the meaning of the original. The original title of the film comes from the New York Times’ refusal to acknowledge homosexual relationships in their obituary section during this period. Instead, survivors were referred to as “Longtime Companions” of the deceased. In fact, in the film we see ill men who were admired for their beauty facing shame and neglet and their lovers being very lonely after their decease.

What an awful time the ’80s had been to the LGBT community! Not that the ’90s or the new millenium have been better for people with the disease!

Another heartbreaking movie is Blue by Jarman, where there’s just a blue screen, since the director was becoming blind, so the viewer only hears voices of him and the other performers who joined the project, like his muse Tilda Swinton, but also John Quentin and Nigel Terry. Jarman was saying goodbye to the world, it was his testament.

I also remember “Les nuits fauves” by the French Cyril Collard, who also played a role in the film and died for the same illness at 35 in 1993. In the movie he played a bisexual man HIV+ who copes with it and his love for both a man and a woman.

There a are a lot of works, it’s impossible to mention them all.

Here a list of titles with AIDS as keyword on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/find?ref_=nv_sr_fn&q=aids&s=kw

There’s still a hard battle to fight, never let down guard, never lose hope!

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Visit Leicester!


When I was younger, I had a big crush on Gary Oldman and his acting skills and I tried to watch as many movies with him as I could. I still like him, despite the ups and downs in his career, but that’s another story.

To me his performance as Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears is still the best one. When I saw the movie for the first time (I don’t remember the year), I was amazed and it made me want to know more about the writer. I was making my first steps towards the Gay Culture then, so I went to the library of my city and took his biography home. Perhaps I would change my mind reading it today that I’m older, but at the time I didn’t like the man, for his misogyny and other aspects of his nature that came out from the reading. I had a better opinion on him seeing the movie, so I was disappointed. I think I could like him more now if I try to see his life through his eyes and not from outside. Anyway, he must have been a fascinating man to the people around him and certainly he was for his younger sister Leonie, who had always worshipped him.

I  hadn’t the chance to see a play by Orton until this year, despite in my research I find out What The Butler Saw was performed in some theatres of Italy on tour in 2012.

When, unexpectedly, one day the actor Jack Holden wrote a tweet that made me happy: “What The Butler Saw. This is the next play I’m doing. Filthy, frantic, frisky farce.twitter.com/1JackHolden

The city of Leicester was going to celebrate its national treasure Joe Orton on the 50th anniversary of his tragic death, with a play the playwright wasn’t even able to see staged!

I love celebrations and to be in a certain place in years when events happen. Like last year with Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in Stratford-Upon-Avon! I couldn’t miss this one neither!

This was going to be a triple occasion: to see a play by Orton in its original language (a challenge to me, to see if I could like his work), to visit Leicester for the first time and, last but not least, to see Holden on stage again. The cast announced was an extra bonus.

I booked immediately everything for my holiday in Leicester, also involving my friend Laura, who will join me in London next May as well. We were both excited, despite we could book for just a short holiday on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March! In fact, last December I had booked for Ballet Boyz‘s Life on Saturday 18 night in Ravenna and I had to be back in time, while my friend had to work along the week. It’s a pity that the events overlap, or we would have booked for Butler last day, too.

My following step was going back to the library after ages to take a book I remembered I had seen, that collects together three Orton’s plays, included What The Butler Saw, out of print for years here. It’s translated in Italian, but it helped me to understand the story.

I also found a TV movie filmed by the BBC in 1987 imdb.com/title/tt0166875/?ref_=fn_al_tt_6 on YouTube, and watched it in original, despite now I much prefer it performed live. Theatre got a different rhythm when it’s performed for TV or maybe it was how they used to film stage works in the ‘80s, who knows…

I go on with the things I remember, because this time I didn’t write any note, like I use to do. Time was tight.

On Thursday 16 at very early morning, Laura and me were flying to Stansted via Bologna and later we took two trains plus the tube to Leicester. Going there is quite easy, so I’ll certainly will go back there for more theatre. We arrived on the early afternoon.

I couldn’t wait to visit Leicester also because it got another UK national treasure, Richard III, a historical character I have always found fascinating, for better or for worse. I read the news about the discovering of the king’s grave on the web and I wanted to visit it. I found very effective the way the Almeida Theatre inserted the discovery of the bones at the beginning and at the end of their production of Shakespeare’s Richard III starring Ralph Fiennes, a screening I was lucky to see in my city thanks to Nexo Digital. The king was also brilliantly portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the tv miniseries The Hollow Crown and by the Italian actor Alessandro Gassmann, who performed him like a sort of Frankenstein at the Teatro Diego Fabbri in Forlì. This is one of my favourite plays the Bard ever wrote.

Once reached our hotel, we took a walk around Leicester to see where Curve Theatre was located. We had a look outside and inside the Leicester Cathedral, too, which was still open, but a service was taking place so we didn’t visit it. Despite the weather was cold and cloudy, at the sunset the sun came out and spread its light over the buildings. The atmosphere was poetic. The city is beautiful!

On Friday morning (I realized it was Friday 17-03-17, I love such kind of dates!) we had our breakfast at Curve Green Room. it was a nice way to celebrate being in Leicester for the play. Toasts and cappuccino were delicious, have a break there if you visit the city! We had fun seeing a class of children outside warming up with their teachers, before to go inside the theatre. We wondered if they were there to see something or to take part to a performance.

While we were finishing our breakfast, I recognized from their Twitter profiles Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford, respectively the Director and the Chief Executive of Curve, who were sitting at another table. I didn’t know what to do, I was afraid of bothering them while they were having a break. I have a rule: never bother people out of performing time! But my friend Laura, who didn’t want me to miss such an occasion, went on and introduced herself to them, explaining who we were and that we were going to see What The Butler Saw that night. I’m much grateful she did so. Stafford had to go, but Foster stayed for a chat. He seemed pleased we had come from Italy to see the play and that we showed interest in theatre. So he managed for us a wonderful tour of Curve, asking to a member of the staff if she could guide us inside the building. I’m sorry I forgot her name, because she was really nice.

Not only we got to go behind the scenes of WTBS! We also walked through the stage and were able to see the details closely! It was so very accurate, like being inside a real clinic. Our nice guide told us that the set designer made the stage inclined on purpose. I love to discover such tricks. It’s even more incredible thinking that actors had to run over it, the ladies and Holden even wearing hig heels! I had seen some photos of the making of on Twitter, I would never imagine I would walk through it one day! We couldn’t take any photos of the stage, though, due to the copyright, which we understood. The set looked like a treasure chest from the backstage. We could took some pictures there. My friend took a photo of me near the blonde wig Jack Holden wears during every performance, just for me to remember that I lived that day for real! In a corner there were all the clothes I recognized from the production photos, also the leopard dress! I was gloating! It made the wait for the incoming show even more exciting! I thought I got a pic of those clothes, but I can’t find it anymore…

We continued our tour and we saw a rehearsal room and then the workroom when a costume designer was making one wig for Mrs. Prentice: he  told us they make it for every performance because they want it to appear fresh. And on the same floor, as promised by Nikolai Foster, we could attend to the rehearsals of Grease, which is going to Dubai soon! What a honour to be there! He introduced us to Nick Winston, the co-Director and Choreographer, a very kind man. One of the actors, Keisha Atwell, came to shake our hand and told she was happy we had come from Italy! What a warm welcome! Later I searched and followed both on Twitter. We took a seat and seeing them rehearsing was like being inside a movie. Like being inside A Chorus Line for example, but in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere! A dream coming true! It never happened to us! The actors were learning the choreography for “Born To Hand Jive”, one of my favourite scenes in the story. They seemed to enjoy themselves. What great artists performers and theatre-makers are! Rehearsing again and again a single scene for hours, every day for weeks, and then doing it on stage in front of an audience for weeks again, sometimes for months! I definitely can’t say how they do that keeping the passion on, it must be the big love for what they do which brings them ahead! I can understand that! I took a sneaky photo of the wall with the pictures the cast&creative were using as samples for the style of the Grease’s era, I hope they don’t mind.

Our tour came to an end and we had to leave our guests! We were so grateful! Unforgettable morning! I don’t know if we had said thank you to them enough! We kept talking about that morning between us!

Later, we went to the Visit Leicester office to get information about Richard III and what was available to visit in just few hours. They were very kind and helpful and suggested the King Richard III Visitor Centre and the Leicester Cathedral. We also took some goodies they sell.

On our way to “meet” RIII, we noticed a fruit market and had a look around. We love such places, full of colours. There’s also a stall that sells beautiful gift cards! I bought two.

The visit at the RIII Centre was very interesting, they explained with panels and videos about the time he lived in. Scientists used his skull to reconstruct his face, it looks quite similar to the ancient portrait we knew before the discovery was made, and the man that came out doesn’t look like the fierce King we have imagined from the chronicles of the time or from the play Shakespeare wrote! In the room built over the place where bones have been found, a guide explained us about the work made there after a proper research. Then RIII’s remains where transferred into the Cathedral inside a decorated coffin, after a ceremony along the streets of Leicester. Before to leave the Centre, I bought for myself a book with the story of RIII and a notebook for my diary.

Our guide at the Cathedral, a beautiful Gothic church opposite to the Centre in the same square, told us that perhaps all was said about the King came from the bad propaganda Henry VII the winner wanted to be made against him. It wouldn’t be a surprise. If true, history should give him justice! Anyway, Shakespeare’s Richard III is still a much fascinating character actors will continue to perform that way! Below you can see the definitive tomb where RIII was buried and the coffin used for the ceremony.

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And, finally, our time to see What The Butler Saw arrived on the evening at 7.30 pm! We got good seats in the stalls in two different rows. Curve is a beautiful and comfortable theatre! The play is exhilarating, I was crying with laughter, it’s a bit weird laughing on such things, but the script is so brilliant that you can’t get offended by it. I will write my report on seeing this “Filthy, frantic, frisky farce” on this other page (I’m sorry I’m still working on it). This blog is long enough!

But I’m happy to say we got to meet Jack Holden after the show, he was as nice as always, he stayed for a chat and we were happy to talk to him about the play and performing dressed as Geraldine. I was all focused on him, but I loved the performance of all the six actors. It’s really a good cast! Another time, maybe, I will get the chance to meet them. I still have hope that a theatre in London, hopefully in the West End, calls them to perform Butler for the Londoners. I’d certainly go there to see the play again!

I got from Jack Holden the most lovely dedication ever on my programme! The only thing I regret is I didn’t take a photo together with him, like other fans of the cast did, but I asked the autograph already and for sure he was tired after the performance! Maybe next time.

What a fantastic day it has been for us! The Curve’s team made our day on so many levels!

I’m glad we made it in Leicester! And a reply I got on Twitter made me happy again:

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I greatly suggest people to go to see What The Butler Saw in Bath from 27 March to 1 April 2017: http://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/page/3009/What-the-Butler-Saw/1363!

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(Some photos were taken by my friend Laura, some by me.)

First two shows booked for 2017!


I’ve booked for my first two shows in 2017!

whosafraid

As soon as Luke Treadaway was announced to be in the cast of “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf” at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London, I booked immediately! He didn’t do theatre since 2013, when he was in “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” at the Apollo Theatre, and I’m so happy he’s back “in town”!

I never saw the movie with Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis or the play on stage, so I’m looking forward to it even more. The cast of four actors is an extra bonus: Imelda Staunton (Martha), Conleth Hill (George), Imogen Poots (Honey) and Luke Treadaway (Nick). James Macdonald directs this new production of the play written by Edward Albee. I’m also curious to see Imelda Staunton on stage. I heard she’s very good!

Here the storyline: “In the early hours of the morning on the campus of an American college, Martha, much to her husband George’s displeasure, has invited the new professor Nick and his wife Honey to their home for some after-party drinks. As the alcohol flows and dawn approaches, the young couple are drawn into George and Martha’s toxic games until the evening reaches its climax in a moment of devastating truth-telling.

It sounds promising, I expect sparks between the four characters.

I saw Luke in the movie “A Street Cat Named Bob” with a friend on November 12, 2016, she liked his performance so much that she decided to come with me in London to see him live! We booked for the 10th of May 2017 matinee. And it’s our first holiday in London together, it will be fun! She’s a lover of the city like me!

ticket

Some useful links:

information and tickets atgtickets.com

official Twitter account @WhosAfraidLDN

1966 movie imdb.com


life-rabbit-ballet-boyz-foto-di-tristam-kenton

The second ticket I booked for is a ballet. I’m following Ballet Boyz Twitter account for some time, because I love Ballet and their all-male company immediately got my attention. I recorded their ballet on WWI “Young Men“, too, when it was aired on BBC Two on November, 12.

I get the programme of the Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna every year and I was so excited to see their ballet “Life” was on the 2016-2017 season’s programme!

Life. takes an elegant, powerful and often humorous look at life and death.

I got friends involved, again. I booked for me, a friend and her 14 years old daughter, who’s taking part to a dance class! We got some good seats on Saturday 18 March night. I really hope they will like the show!

ticket

Some useful links:

Life on Ballet Boyz official site balletboyz.com

Ballet Boyz Twitter account @Balletboyz

Young Men on BBC iPlayer bbc.co.uk/iplayer


2016 isn’t finished, yet, so my list can still increase! 😉

Ben Daniels has told in two occasions on Twitter that he could be back on stage in 2017, if a project goes on! I’m impatient to know what it could be!

I have hope that some others actors I loved to see on stage will be back to theatre, too.

So, what do you think of my choices?

Three new radio plays are coming this way!


Three new radio plays have been announced, all with terrific actors!

In order of time, there will be:

  • Friday 23 December 2016 at 2.15 pm on BBC Radio 4, “Midnight At Christmas with Luke Newberry in the role of Matt. “A magical drama, set when Christmas Eve turns into Christmas Day. Caught in a snowstorm on the way to see his ex, Matt is taken on an unexpected journey by a series of strangers with a surprising interest in his love life” – Written by Elliott Kerrigan. Produced by Charlotte Riches. Link www.bbc.co.uk

midnight-at-christmas

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  • Friday 23 December 2016 at 8 pm on BBC Radio 2, “A Christmas Carol” for “Friday Night Is Music Night – Merry Christmas!” with Lee Ingleby as Bob Cratchit, Mark Gatiss as Scrooge and others actors, recorded at the Royal Festival Hall. The concert includes six scenes from the Dickens classic, recorded in a new process that aurally puts the audience into the supernatural world of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Here some images Ingleby and Gatiss shared on Twitter:

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  • We have to wait a little bit more for the BBC Radio Drama play “Love (sic)“, the first work by Jessica Swale, with John Heffernan in the role of Tom. It should be broadcast on Wednesday 22 March 2017. There’s no a page on their website bbc.co.uk, yet, but here two images shared by the writer on Twitter:

  • And, last but not least, the radio play “Home Front” is back with season 9 on BBC Radio 4 from today, available to listen on mp3 as single episode or as omnibus as well: bbc.co.uk

home-front

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I love radio plays!

My London-Stratford-London diary!


My London-Stratford-London diary in pictures!

adventure

Everything began last January, when I noticed these two tweets by the theatre expert Terry Paddock:

cymbeline-cast  king-lear-cast

I booked as soon as I could manage a new holiday, I wouldn’t have missed the occasion, even if the two plays got an alternate schedule and I had to think about my booking accurately! RSC Oppenheimer’s actor Oliver Johnstone (an actor I’m following for some time) was going to play two opposite characters, one good person and one villain, Edgar and Iachimo. Edgar is my favourite character in King Lear! While I was new to Cymbeline, we didn’t have it in our bookcase, yet, so I bought the book in double language and read it.

I know that isn’t very popular to say so, but I immediately liked the cheeky Iachimo on paper, more than Posthumus, Imogen’s soulmate. I have the impression that William Shakespeare himself didn’t root for this love story, while the sneaky bedroom scene is maybe the best one he wrote in the whole play.

I don’t like Cymbeline (and his wife and step-son) either, another selfish king in the Bard’s long bibliography, who causes his own ruin, as often happens in Shakespeare. While Imogen is lovely and bold, as well as her servant Pisanio, Belarius and his two sons, who are actually the king’s sons. I found the gender changes in the RSC production intriguing.

I also liked the idea of seeing the two plays in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, on the year of the 400th anniversary of his death. I hadn’t visited the city before.

Since I had to travel via London and to stay a few nights there, I took a look to some more plays to watch.

So, here my diary of that new UK adventure.


TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER

I went to London via Bologna airport. The day was splendid in Italy, so I could see the surface of my beautiful country from above! I was particularly impressed by the shapes of the San Luca mountain near Bologna and of the Lake of Garda! Pity I didn’t think to take photos, but maybe I enjoyed the view better, with my mp3 player on. While, approaching the UK, the weather went cloudy.

At Heathrow, I changed my booking with two train tickets to Stratford. At my hotel on middle afternoon, I had only to wait for the night to come.

Hobson’s Choice, the play with Martin Shaw and Bryan Dick (an actor I admire and I want to see on stage whenever I’m able) in its cast, was announced at the Vaudeville Theatre after the UK tour. I booked for it on that first night in London. It was a very enjoyable show, I wrote my report there. It was great to be back at that gorgeous theatre to see it!

It was also a real pleasure to meet Bryan Dick at the stage door after the show: he was very lovely, hugged me and signed my programme with a nice dedication! He writes my name right, that’s even nicer! Not common in my experience, haha!


WEDNESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER

war-horse

On the morning, I had an appointment with the National Theatre Archive to see a recording of War Horse, before to go to Stratford. I saw the 2013 and 2015 cast at the New London Theatre already, but consulting the archive online, I noticed they had some recordings of previous cast. At home in Italy, I exchanged some emails with a member of the staff: I asked her if it was possible to watch it again, with Luke Treadaway or Jack Holden in the role of Albert Narracott. It looked like it was possible, she told me I could watch the one with Holden, plus I could consult the script and the programme. I was very happy! I saw some scenes with the actor on the NT 50th DVD and in the 2012 trailer and I was curious to see that performance!

So scheduling my holiday, I posponed for some hours Stratford while booking and I decided to take an appointment at the NTA for that morning. But once at the archive, the woman apologized she thought I could watch the one I wanted, but the NTA put away those recordings, so only the newest are now available to watch there. I was disappointed, but I didn’t protest… too much. The recording was the 2013 one with Sion Daniel Young as Albert, so I decided to watch it again, also because I loved Ian Shaw’s performance as Friedrich Müller. But the programme was the 2015 one, so I didn’t consult it, as I have it at home. I don’t blame the NTA, though. I saw some great recordings, there, so I can’t complain.

Once I left the NTA, I took a walk along The Cut, because it was a bit too early to get to the train station. So I took this photo of the Young Vic, in appreciation of them putting these two flags on their balcony:

I had my train for Stratford on early afternoon. At Marylebone, a poster of Cymbeline was waiting for me:

Cymbeline's poster, Marylebone station, London

Cymbeline’s poster, Marylebone station, London

It was the first time I was on train in UK, if we don’t consider the one I took sometimes from Gatwick to London, so I was excited but worried at the same time I could take the wrong train or do something wrong changing it at Leamington Spa. But getting to Stratford was quite easy and I arrived around five o’clock.

I found my b&b Stretton House the office of tourism suggested me by email, a lovely house not too far from the station and the theatres. The owner was very welcoming and gave me a map of Stratford, explaining me the best way to get to the RSC theatres and Shakespeare’s famous places. It was good, I should remember not to trust entirely the Google maps I print, it’s better to ask to hotel’s owners!

I took a walk to the theatres and I was immediately taken by the modern/ancient building from far!

rst-from-far

I visited the bookshop of the RSC and bought the two programmes in advance. I also noticed some stuff I would have liked to buy the following days.

The first of the two plays with Oliver Johnstone, King Lear, was taking place that night.

It’s hard to say if I was more curious to see Oliver playing Edgar, a wonderful character, or Iachimo, the sneaky Italian, a fellow countryman of mine then, who tries to seduce the chaste Imogen. I can say he performed both the men in a wonderful way!

But let’s tell things in order.

On the night, I was sitting at my place inside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It was a very good seat at one side of the stage, on the front row. I didn’t dare to take a photo, but the atmosphere was exciting. A full report on the play will be posted there soon. The whole cast was terrific! The RSC always chooses well!

After the show, I wanted to meet Oliver at the stage door to say congratulations to him for the wonderful performance, but also to tell him I was going to see Cymbeline the day after. That because I read the cast speak Italian, French and Latin in the play, so I wanted to see if he could say any comment about it, knowing I was Italian.

He was very nice and asked me from which part of Italy I came. Then he exuberantly explained that Iachimo is from Siena, while I replied I thought he was from Rome (I didn’t remember that detail from the book). I also told him that I wanted to see him playing such opposite characters and he told me that, yes, they are two very different roles to play, but he finds it stimulating.

I thought that Oliver’s performance was very physical and reminded me of a figure from a painting of Caravaggio. I was right, as later, browsing the programme, I found a page mentioning the painter!

caravaggio

I had a great night.


THURSDAY 8 SEPTEMBER

After a delicious English Breakfast, on the morning I decided to visit Shakespeare’s grave first. It was due to pay homage to the Bard!

With my precious map on my hands, I reached the Holy Trinity Church, a beautiful church with original Gothic architecture. Photos were allowed, so I could take several pictures inside and outside. It was a great emotion to me to be there! Here the gallery with the description:

Outside the historical complex, the garden overlooks the Avon river and the view is stunning. You can see the RST tower from far. I took a walk along the river through a passage in the party wall. Definitely, this city is still focused on Shakespeare, as you can see from the gallery (see the pavillion’s photos, for example):

In my walk, I found by chance the famous The Other Place, the RSC mentions often on Twitter and I wanted to visit. I bet that, if I was looking for it on purpose, I wouldn’t have find it so soon! I liked that place. If I only think that inside there rehealsals take place!!

They use the walls as a glorious gallery of the RSC productions, so I couldn’t help taking pictures. You’ll see why:

I also had a delicious cappuccino at the bar.

Then, I continued my tour along the river and around the RST. I had the whole morning.

I took some stuff for my theatre collection at the bookshop and then I came back to the b&b to get ready for the other play, Cymbeline. You can well see why I wanted this calendar…I don’t think I’ll move the page any further, when I’ll find the one with Oppie….

calendar

There, a bad news: my mobile didn’t charge! Gosh. I had just the time to text my friend Chris time and place for our appointment on the evening, before the battery abandoned me.

I run to be at the theatre in time for Cymbeline. This time, I had a seat in front of the stage, first row. I was very curious to see if detractors of the play were right. They weren’t. Apparently we saw a different show. I greatly enjoyed the play, it was dynamic and funny, played not in a classic way. A full report on the play will be posted there soon.

Meeting Oliver at the stage door again, he smiled at me and told he hoped his Italian was okay and looked glad that I thought so. I can’t talk for French people and I didn’t study Latin, but I think that he did well. Actually, he spoke the best Italian in the cast and I told him so. I have to admit I didn’t understand some lines from the others actors during the scenes taking place in Rome and I had to read subtitles in English on screen, oops! But it was just the languages, because I really enjoyed all the performances!

I would have liked to ask Oliver how he manages two different performances day after day and where did he learn Italian and French, but I felt silly and I left him with his acting secrets.

He also asked me when I was going back to Italy and if I planned to see other plays in London. I replied that I had booked for Pride And Prejudice and Groundhog Day, he told me he was hoping to see GDay, too, once in London. Unless he saw the play on one of the last two Sundays, I’m sorry he will be disappointed, as the play ended last Monday, 19 September! I didn’t notice, or maybe I could have told him. What a pity for him, that musical was great!

I also got the occasion to ask for the autograph to the lovely Bethan Cullinane, I told her I loved her performance and that she and Oliver were my favorite in the cast. She said me smiling that they went to the acting school together, so I told her that I knew that last Summer they made together Young Bloods, a RADA play about Waterloo, too.

They both cheered my day up! Cheeky me, I looked for these two actors at the stage door only, as I think they stole the play.

I was in Stratford just for a short holiday, it’s a pity I could see each play only once, I’d need to focus on details! Who knows if I can make the London season at the Barbican, but looks like tickets are selling fast! So I hope that the RSC will edit the two plays on DVD, next year!

I will always regret I didn’t make an effort and didn’t go to Stratford before, to see Oppenheimer at the Swan Theatre! I found Stratford and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre gorgeous and I greatly miss them already!

On the evening, I had an appointment with Chris, an English friend I met through Twitter. We had dinner together at the RST restaurant. It was a lovely way to end the day. Courses were delicious and a pleasure for the eyes.

I found bizzarre the changes that have been made inside the building, as Chris explained me. They left just three seats on the wall to show where the old circle of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ended. And posters.

After dinner, we walked around to see the city by night. Chris suggested me a shop where I could ask to check my phone in the morning. Pity I couldn’t take photos of Stratford by night, as my camera card was full already and I couldn’t use the phone. The atmosphere outside Shakespeare’s house was magic.


FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER

Another lovely English Breakfast. I had my train for London around 5 pm, but I had to renounce to visit to some Stratford places as I planned, for I had to fix my phone problems and I couldn’t leave my luggage at the b&b for more than few hours, as they apologized they had a last-minute commitment on the afternoon. So I took another long walk through the city, but it was nice.

Then I stayed around the RSC theatres and I sat on Ian Richardson’s bench. What a honour!

But I had enough time to visit the RSC’s free exhibition “WELL SAID, Favourite Shakespeare Quotes” inside the RST. Lines by Shakespeare were chosen by actors, like Ayesha Dharker, Hiran Abeysekera and Paapa Essiedu and inspired new artworks made by some artists.

After that, walking around the ground floor, I noticed that big photo Tom Morton-Smith tweeted about some months ago. Looks like at the RSC are still proud of that wonderful performance by John Heffernan! Oppie is still there! I can’t blame them!

I didn’t want to leave the RSC palace too soon, so I decided to have another lovely cappuccino and a slice of cake at the bar. The British now how to prepare them!

rsc-cappuccino-and-cake

Later, I visited the Guild Chapel, another amazing Gothic church in the city. There are some ancient affrescos in need for restoration, so they’re collecting money. I really hope they can make it.

And around the city there still are some amazing buildings of the time of Shakespeare, fortunately the city saved fro the passing of time. Is part of their cultural heritage, no?

I would have liked to stay in Stratford more days, but I had to leave. I took some last photos at the train station.

I had no plays to see in London in the evening, so I enjoyed an episode of Law & Order: UK on TV. It’s always a pleasure to see James Steel on screen!


SATURDAY 10 SEPTEMBER

I started my day going to The Cut again. In my schedule, I didn’t think I could excange my ticket for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic on Wednesday. Oh well, it was also an occasion to do my ritual: walking along the Southwark, which for me is like throwing a coin into the Fontana Di Trevi to get back to Rome!

Waiting for the Old Vic’s box office to open, I went to the bar of the Young Vic, where I know they do a good cappuccino. It was fun, because the barman asked me if I was there for an audition. Haha! I told him that I wished I was! Then he asked me if I was seeing Yarma, but no, unfortunately.

I took my ticket for GDay and then I went to the Southbank. Everytime, I have to go inside the National Theatre for their bookshop, where I bought a copy of The Stage, and then inside the BFI, where I use to visit the exhibition they set on the mezzanine. This time it was “Recent acquisitions to BFI special collection“. I took with me a programme of the incoming Film Festival, too. I wish I could have attended to it.

I was nervous and excited for the afternoon. I was going ot the Open Air Theatre for the first time, to see Pride And Prejudice, but the weather was cloudy, so I feared it could rain. I was right. As I wrote in my report there, I was able to see just few minutes of it, then the staff interrupted the play! I was so disappointed! For the second time in that holiday, I couldn’t see a play I planned to see!! I just took some photos around.

But I took consolation on the evening, as Groundhog Day was indoors and very enjoyable! My report there.


SUNDAY 11 SEPTEMBER

A brief visit to the British Library to buy a present for one of my two brothers, who celebrated his birthday the day after.

And then, on my way back to Italy, sigh. End of another great holiday! Looks always too short to me! Haha!

I hope you liked the gallery, I had to share how beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon is!

Perhaps this diary matters just to me, really…

I took many other photos, but I posted here just the more interesting.

Bye bye!

the-rsc-by-night

What a great news, Star Wars!


I couldn’t believe my eyes when, last night, Ben Daniels tweeted:

FINALLY I CAN SAY I’M PART OF THE STAR WARS WORLD! (however brieeeeefly…..!) #alloverthese70sfranchiseslikearash

because, before him, The Exorcist’s Jeremy Slater tweeted:

Best part of the ROGUE ONE footage:

Jeremy Slater tweet

So it’s true! Ben Daniels is in the next Star Wars Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

Playing a cool one: a pilot of the Resistance! I couldn’t be more proud of the roles he’s getting! So well deserved!

See him at 2.20 in the celebration reel: youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=HUb_zpdyDpU
The production knew I’m a Star Wars fan, they knew how I love British actors of the saga, so they wanted to give me this big gift! Yuppy!!!!

It was not enough that they chose the wonderful Felicity Jones as the protagonist and that there was a great British cast already in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens??? I want to hug someone! 🙂

Rogue-One-Jyn-Ersa-Geared-Up

It’s Shakespeare, again! In Veneto this time!


I’m in late on this, but it’s worth it to share it!

I’ve just found out on Twitter that brings Shakespeare around the Italian region Veneto!

www.shakespeareinveneto.it

logo Shakespeare in Veneto

Their motto:

SHAKESPEARE IN VENETO
from March to December 2016, 60 shows
in the original languages, in the cities of the Veneto region
where they were set by William Shakespeare.

Celebrating the 400-year Anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, representing Shakespeare’s works in the cities of the Veneto Region where they were set by the author: in the legendary cloister of Juliet’s Tomb in the romantic Verona; in noble, historical, outstanding Venetian Palazzi in Venice; in antique Villas in the ancient Republic of Venice territories and in a fairytale castle with a breath-taking panorama on Garda Lake.

> VERONA: Romeo and Juliet

>VENICE: Othello and The Merchant of  Venice

>PADUA – Legnaro: The Taming of the Shrew

> LAKE GARDA – Torri del Benaco (Verona): The two Gentlemen of  Verona

From 1st March to 21st December, 60 shows to relive William Shakespeare opere in unique places and magic atmosphere.


I’ve just started to follow them on Twitter ad Facebook!

I would like to see one of their shows!

Tourists visiting North Italy could be interested, too!