Matilda Day

Today was mostly themed around broadway drama, we got a tour on all the theaters, went to a broadway workshop, end went to see a broadway play.

We started the day going on a walking tour of all the broadway theatres, our guide was very informed and passionate on these theatres, and he had much information to share with us, ranging from the history of places to supernatural rumours  and success rates on the theatres.

Our group was also lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time so we got into  a T.V presentation, we got filmed in a T.V show called TransitTransit news and the film should be up soon.

Then we had lunch at Ellen’s Star Dust Diner where the waiters and waitresses sing and dance while serving!

We also had an actor named Kyle who was friends with Mr.Priester come down to talk about his life as an actor, which was very insightful into what life might be like as an actor.

After this 2-hours tour was complete, the group went to a broadway workshop to learn how actors would go through the process of being in a performance, as well as training to prepare for performances.

After this workshop we went to an excellent broadway musical called Matilda, which is also a film which are both based on a book. The musical was incredibly well done in my opinion, and the children playing the schoolkids and Matilda herself were very good, in an almost inspiring way to give insight into what can be accomplished if kids put their mind to something.

Split knuckle and Julliard

After a hearty New York breakfast, the boys headed off to Pearls Studios for  a clown workshop from acclaimed Split Knuckle teacher and practitioner, Andrew Grusetskie.

In the workshop we were encouraged to make fun of ourselves, and reveal our inner clown hidden behind the world smallest mask: a clown nose.

Through movement and observation each of us was able to begin to mold and create a clown personality, through caricatures of our personality traits and physical attributes. After two solid hours, the boys came away with smiles on their faces and a newfound ability to laugh at themselves.

After the workshop and lunch we made a visit to Julliard, one of the most acclaimed performing arts schools in the world, for a tour. We saw the classroom, facilites and paid a visit to their impressive main theater along with first hand insights into the everyday life of a Juliard student and the audition process for the highly competitive entry to the school.

We finished the day with a guided our of the Lincoln Center, revisiting the Metropolitan Opera and taking in the sights of Lincoln Center’s various venues, frequented by the rich and famous of the world and the every day New Yorker who converge here to see the myriad of high quality productions on display in the number of theaters in the area.

After dinner in the Julliard cafeteria, we headed home for a well earned early night, to rest up for another jam-packed day tomorrow.

CHURCH MOMA

I think it’s safe to say that the “Thessalonia Worship Center”  church service today was a great experience for almost all the boys. We traveled up to the Bronx and were welcomed into an African American church service. We all enjoyed the gospel choir, their attitude and enthusiasm towards their beliefs.

Central Park is one of the most iconic places in the whole of America so to be able to go there is pretty exciting. The trees against the buildings were beautiful. John Lennon’s grave was both quite a scary and an enjoyable sight.

The Museum of Modern Art was a new thing for a lot of us and I think we found that on a whole it was quite good especially the famous “Scream” and “Starry Night”. These chances to see some of the worlds well known and greatest artworks truly does come once in a lifetime.

The boys enjoying the artwork at MOMA

We had a bit of shopping and dinner which is always good and then headed straight to the Empire State Building another iconic sight in America i’d say that the view was definitely worth the long ridiculous wait through lines and customs. 

New York – Day 2

The smell of the salty breeze on our faces over the Hudson River was unforgettable as we drifted passed the Statue of Liberty on our ferry, taking in her radiant beauty. It was a truly great way to start a fine day.

Heading off for some more site seeing, Deborah Bond-Upson, a former colleague of our very own T.Priester graciously allowed us into her stunning apartment where we experienced a 12 story view of the beautiful Hi-Line, a city park created out of a disused elevated train track snaking through the city.

The Highlight most of the boys days: we were fortunate enough to secure a workshop with the renowned Chuck Hudson, who guided us through a psycho-physical, movement class. All the boys drew all their energy in order to perform at their best, and much insight was gained.

To cap the day off, we experienced the opera…a part of the tour I’m sure all the boys were hesitant about. So we dressed up for a night out and walked into the stunning Lincoln Centre to see Rigoletto. All the boys minds were blown away by the sophistication and the awe-inspiring performance.

New York- Day One

After a spectacular night at Steppenwolf, the boys were up bright and early to continue our US journey to the amazing New York.

After a two hour flight we departed New York airport and boarded the bus with Dhalia, a New Yorker of 26 years who knew virtually everything about her homeland. She commentated as we drove and familiarised us with our surroundings.

A quick stop off at the Herald Square Hotel where would be staying allowed us to drop off our luggage and take to the streets for what was an incredible day of sight- seeing.
We were given free time for lunch and an immense improvement in food was noted from that of Chicago (no disrespect :). After lunch the city beckoned and we were able to explore the beauties of Bryant Park, an inner city park, The New York Public Library, and  the world renowned Grand Central Station.

We hopped on a subway train and were taken to Brooklyn Bridge, where the boys were treated to a fantastic view of the New York Harbour. Dhalia spoke of the significance surrounding the Brooklyn bridge and the fact that it is the most famous of the three in the area.

After our tour of Brooklyn we returned to the city and toured the 911 heritage sight, a great deal of respect was shown by both the boys and those around us who gathered to show their respect to those who lost their lives in the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. It was interesting that despite the attacks happening over 12 years ago, the “new World Trade Center” was far from complete and construction is still in progress.

A great way to start our New York experience.

 

Steppin’ into Steppenwolf

What did we do today you ask? Quite a bit.

In honesty I have lost track of time (more than usual)- the experience in Chicago thus far has not only been interesting, but my view of time has been warped into a highly present one- because every face, building, voice, and show is new to every boy to some extent, and it is exhilarating my pants off.

I even watched a man eat a hotdog in pure fascination. And maybe a little disgust (if I see another hotdog or burger I might just spontaneously combust).

Anyhow.

We departed from the comforts of our hotel rooms and ventured into the dull weather towards Steppenwolf (no man left behind on the train today, fortunately).

The blazing fluorescent sign that read “Steppen_ol_” raised some doubts about whether we had in fact reached the theatre, or were just standing in front of a moody pharmaceutical advertisement. Thankfully it was not the latter.

As we steppin’d our way into the internationally recognised theatre, I had a few glances over the memorabilia and info, naturally, to learn that it had been formed by essentially 3 students around our age who had a passion to create theatre. Pretty inspiring stuff if you consider where they’ve gotten to.

We were then given a tour through the theatre, asked some (intelligent) questions, and had a generally cool time.

This was followed by some light shopping and lunch before we returned to the theatre again to see ‘Head of Passes’.

The play claimed to be an African-American rendition of a bible story yet it felt reminiscent of the first few books of Plato’s Republic- an exploration into ‘why should man remain just?’ and testing the beliefs of faith. In honesty, the first few minutes were executed in a manner that expected an audience to pay attention- which means without any hooks or gripping moments, so I admit to not being particularly invested in the first half of the play. What really got me interested was when the onstage house fell backwards.

The hard to grasp American nature of the play quickly was overcome and I was better able to decipher what exactly was going on in the second act. And I realised the collapsed house in the background reflects the characters life, that kind of crap etc.

All in all, not bad innings for one day. And not a bad way to end our time in Chicago.

Next stop, New York … YEEHAWW.

 

New boys meet the blue boys

Today, Wednesday 17th of April we attended the famous musical “Blue Man Group” at the Blue Max Theatre.

Before making our way to the Blue Max Theatre, we were given an hour of free time to do a bit of shopping and have a nice and healthy lunch. There weren’t many stores where we were but we still had a good time.

On the way to the Blue Max Theatre we braved through a long trip with the rain against us. Not only was the weather against us, we also managed to lose our fellow drama member Tristan who missed our stop. Luckily Mr Scott was able to rescue him at the next stop and returned him to the theatre.

The Blue man Group had a magnificent performance, an experience not to be missed. Being a musical with no singing made it more interesting and also more entertaining. The group brought comedy into it by getting the audience involved, using them with some of the scenes and also shooting squashed Twinkies at them. A group of school girls in the audience could not keep their mouths closed, but they weren’t able to ruin such a magnificent performance.

After the performance we were able to have a Q & A session with one of the members of the group and a member of the production staff as moderator. Good questions were asked by the drama members which made it more interesting.

After an enjoyable dinner, we had an evening tour of Hancock observatory soaring at 100 stories. We went to the 94th floor where you can see a full 360 degree view of the city, up to four states, over 80 miles and has Chicago’s only open-air sky walk.

Altogether, seeing the Blue man group and the view of the Hancock observatory is a ‘must do’ and won’t be forgotten

Our day at IO (Impro Olympics)

Today Tuesday the 16th, day 3 in Chicago we had the opportunity to experience iO, one of the worlds most renowned improv schools.

We were priviledged to have acquired this opportunity let alone to have been accompanied and taught by Lyndsay Hailey. Lyndsay, who had been involved in a number of sketch shows at the iO, taught us the building blocks of improvisation. We were tested as individuals and as a group although we managed to pull through and we (through the guidance of Lyndsay) managed to come together to create interesting moments .

We then had lunch at a restaurant of our choice and then continued the workshop iO.

During the second half of our workshop with Lyndsay, we started to look at scenes and how important it is to be unified as a group when improvising in a scene. We discovered new relationships with this task between different people and created a closer bond amongst the boys. I personally found some of the scenes hysterical and a real enjoyment to watch

After finishing with Lyndsay at our iO workshop, we had dinner at a local diner and then returned back to the iO theatre where we had the pleasure of watching The Juno Club and  The Cook County Social Club who where hysterical.

All in all our experience at the iO theatre was extremely enjoyable and was an experience that many of the boys will never forget.

A group photo with Lyndsay Hailey

 

Journey to the Whitney Young High School

Today Monday 15th of April, the Drama group headed out to the Whitney Young School to meet with the Drama students and participate in one of their after school drama workshops.

but before making our way to the school, we were given free time to travel in our groups and explore the various stores and shops down Michigan avenue.

I thought this was great for us to really get out and explore this part of Chicago for ourselves.

After exploring Michigan avenue, we went back to the hotel to change clothes if needed and pick up any forgotten items.

To get to the School we caught the train, which in itself is an interesting experience, after getting of the train, it was only a short walk to the school, but in that time we were able to experience a different part of Chicago, away from all the traffic and skyscrapers.

When we arrived at the school we were taken to their drama class, where we were greeted by the drama students and their teacher. Little time was wasted as we moved into their theatre where we officially introduced our selves to the drama students and get to know the people we were about work with.

After talking with some very ‘creative’ and interesting people, we got straight to it with a, what seemed to be a simple concentration exercise, balancing a stick on our fingers, which actually turned out to be not so easy. The point of this exercise was to learn how to maintain concentration whilst on stage, especially when there can be many people on stage with various roles and lines, I aslo found that the exercise improved my spacial awareness whilst on stage.

We then moved on to work on small sections of both Australian and American plays, and with our partner, we had to help the American students gain hopefully a basic understanding on putting on an Australian accent, and visa versa.

This exercise I think was a great challenge for not only our drama group but also the American drama students. At the end of this exercise a couple of the groups got up on stage to present to the rest of us, their piece, and how well they were able to develop their accents with the time given.

Once this was finished, it was time to say our final goodbyes, and part from the students we had met.

All up todays journey to the Whitney Young High School, to work with their drama students was very exciting and an enjoyable experience, many laughs were shared and friends made, and I’m sure it will be an experience that both our drama group and their’s will not forget.

 

It Begins…

The start of the tour, Offical Day 1! 

After a long sleepless night due to jetlag the boys awoke for an 8:30 breakfast. Breakfast ranged from cereals to breads and from yogurt to apples and included eggs, sausage patties fresh fruits.

After breakfast the boys toured through Chicago’s famous sites, lead by Margerette (who has lived in Chicago her whole life and has worked in the comedy business). These sites included the Chicago Theatre, public artwork displayed throughout Chicago and finally finishing our tour in the Millenium Park where we viewed the Bean (aka Cloud Gate) by the the artist Anish Kapoor.

   

After the tour had finished the boys travelled on the Chicago Subway system to go to Wrigley Field for the baseball match of the Chicago Cubs against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants ended up winning the game 10-7 in the tenth inning. The boys enjoyed both the American merchandise, food and culture at the game.

After the game the boys took a train back home and had a long period of relaxation. We then walked down to the restaurant at the Navy Pier, known as Harry Carry’s Tavern, a sport themed pub/bistro. Then later returning back to the hotel for a quiet nights rest.