Rainy But Not Rotten

Today began with an early start. After some morning shenanigans we headed off to breakfast. However, today all the boys experienced something we hadn’t yet experienced in the Big Apple, rain. We all quickly ran to the nearest convience store to purchase our flimsy overpriced umbrellas.

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We then all headed to a workshop focusing on the Broadway musical Something Rotten. The newly released musical has been a theatre sensation, due to its unorthodox storyline. All the boys were excited as this was a once in a life time experience. In the workshop we sang the opening number of the musical. After memorising the lyrics, we were taught the ensemble dance to the opening number. This was a definite highlight for all the boys on the tour as not many of the boys would imagine themselves learning a Broadway number.

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After the incredibly fun workshop the boys all got some well deserved lunch and took it back to the hotel. Their was still a buzz amongst the boys who were still signing “Welcome to Renaissance” as later in the afternoon we were going to see Something Rotten.

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The show really did blow everyone’s mind! It was a amusing script as well as a ridiculously hilarious and engaging storyline. Everyone was also amazed at the dance numbers, coming from first hand experience it’s never as easy as it looks.

Straight after the show we travelled via Times Square to the very distinguished Hard Rock Cafe. Followed by our famous healthy hard rock dinner we departed from the cafe for some last minute shopping time in New York City’s busiest place, Times Square. After that excursion we walked back through the centre of New York’s night life to the hotel.

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We are all now at hotel frantically trying to stuff out suitcases with our newly bought clothes in preparation for tomorrow’s flight.

The Curious Incident of the Drama Students in New York 

We started our day off with the usual early routine of waking up and getting breakfast at the local cafe or diner. Arriving back from breakfast we were greeted by our amazing guide Jeff. 

   

 From the hotel we caught the train to the very prestigious tisch school of arts. A guide showed the group around the school and then we were given a description of the process of applying for the school. Our guide gave us some very valuable tips and tricks that may have been for applying to the school but also applied to other drama auditions. 

  Jeff then guided us to the famous Chelsea markets where we were given free time to shop for lunch and gifts. Some students ventured onto the highline to see the beautiful view of the city. 

   

 After our time at Chelsea markets Jeff led us to china town for some more shopping. 

For dinner we went to Guy Ferier’s all American diner and said our last goodbyes to our tour guide Jeff. Having spent the last few days guiding us Jeff has been an amazing source of knowledge and amusement. I think I speak on behalf of all the students when I say that Jeff made this tour very enjoyable. 

   

 To top off the day the group was taken to watch the crictally acclaimed show the curious incident of the night dog in the night time. The show was a hit and having spoken to the most of the boys this show was their favourite in the entire tour. 

Mon, 28 September 2015 – New York

Today started with a much needed sleep in before moving on to breakfest. We then met Geoff our guide who took us to a number of sites such as central park, an unexpected oasis to St Patrciks Cathedral which has just been refurbished. We then significantly boosted New Yorks economy with free time which is basically  used to spend all our money on expensive clothing. Before returning to our hotel we also stopped by Times Square. After a long day of walking we finally made it back to the hotel to quickly get dressy for the opera later that night. All looking sharp we ate dinner before being guided around the various theatres next to the opera house by Geoff. At 7:30 we were seated at the Metropolitian Opera House ready for Otello: a truley unforgetable theatre and show. A great experience  

    
    
    
   

Day 6 – Songs of Praise and Art for Days

Our tour guide Jeff rejoined us early and day 6 started with a subway ride up to the Bronx for Sunday Mass at Thessalonia Baptist Church. The service was superb and all involved were very welcoming to our school. Songs of praise were mixed with dancing and other verbal forms of worship to shape together the beginning of a sermon. After an hour of the service Newington and the other visitors were invited to leave the church for their regular sermon to continue.

Our next was the Cathedral of St John the Devine, the largest cathedral (not basilica) in the world. Construction started on the cathedral in the late 1800s and even based the most conservative estimates, it will not be complete until 2100.


Our quick break for lunch consisted of some boys taking the opportunity to visit Tom’s Resturant, the diner of Seinfeld fame.


After lunch it was off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum is enourmous and features some of the most influential pieces of art ever created. We all enjoyed exploring the musuem and were enthralled by the fantastic tour given by Jeff, our tour guide.


Our final stop of the night was the famed Empire State Building. Dinner in the ground floor resturant preceded the 86 floor climb to the observation level. A view of all 5 boroughs of New York was on offer and we enjoyed taking photos and immersing ourselves into the experience.


  

1st day of New York

Day 6 started of with one of the most uncomfortably early starts i have endured in recent memory, a crisp and fresh 4:30 departure to the airport.
However the box breakfast and inconvenient flight time was all worth it in the end when we reached the big apple at an efficient time of roughly 9:30. After a quick 50 minute bus ride we were putting our bags in our rooms at the extremely luxurious Yotel in the heart of Hells Kitchen. Immediately as we entered the hotel we were out again going to get lunch to eat on a nice little patch of grass next to the big aircraft carrier from ‘I am Legend’.
Around 2 pm we started the highlight of the day which was the walking tour of cultural New York covering: the 9/11 memorial site, time square from a distance, Wall street, and a general history of the city. We are incredibly blessed to have our tour guide Jeff (who will be accompanying us for the next 3 days) to be taking us around the city and talking about every date of every major event to occur in the city for the oast 250 years!
The day concluded with a quick drop in at Chipotle to pick up out 35 Burritos and chips for a hotel room meal with our fellow roommate chums. I am excited to see what the rest of the trip has in store in order for me to unlock my full dramatic potential.

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Final Day in Chicago

The last full day we had in Chicago was not only educational but also set a high standard for New York to beat. We started the day with a workshop run by the Lookingglass Theatre Company. In this workshop we learned the importance of communication and unity in an ensemble. They taught us this in many different ways such as ‘the Sculptor and the Clay’ activity. The aim was for the Sculptor, using only physical communication (no talking or mirroring the shape they wanted), had to mold the Clay into the position he wanted.

After the workshop we headed of to the baseball game at Wrigley Field where we dove right into thick American culture: the anthems, baseball food, merchandise and general enthusiasm of the game. Although the Chicago Cubs lost the game to the Pittsburgh Pirates it was still a tight match that I believe everyone enjoyed.

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We then dined at the renowned Bubba Gump for dinner, the restaurant inspired by the award winning film Forrest Gump. Complete with movie trivia and unlimited refills, it was a fun and casual way to dine for the last time in Chicago.

Finally, the highlight of the day was seeing The Tempest directed by Aaron Posner performed at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (CST) and prior to which got the chance to speak with the actors of Ferdinand, Gonzala (originally Gonzalo), Alonso, the musician Bethany Thomas playing the ayres of the isles. In the half an hour we had to them they explained the inspirations for the play, the changes they made to it, their purpose for it and answered a few questions including “What makes this play Shakespeare?”

It was most definitely the best show we’ve seen so far containing fantastical magic tricks designed by Teller (of Penn and Teller) himself! These illusions combined with music originally written by Tom Waits and adapted to by the group Rough Magic (using over 90 different instruments), it became an understandably magical play to remember. After seeing the Bell Shakespeare version back home at the Opera House, it was interesting to see the subtle changes they made to support the directors vision for this piece; be they in lines, characters, relationships or physicality. Although I enjoyed the Australian version, the CST takes the cake with ease.

Overall this was a packed day with so many different experiences that will be eternally remembered. I think I speak for everyone when I say getting up at 4:00 to leave Chicago will be hard but I can’t wait to see what New York has in store!

Day 4 – Improv madness – Louis Nicholls

Today, 25th of September, has already made its place as one of the biggest highlights of the trip so far (or so it seems) in the minds of myself and a lot of the other boys. The day consisted of the usual early breakfast start followed by a short waterfront walk, followed by a shopping spree, an Improv workshop at the esteemed iO Improv bar and theatre, and to wrap it all up, we witnessed what I (and lots of other boys) consider the most impressive and crazy, zany, action packed Improv show we’ve ever seen.

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Most of our day’s action was dictated by the way our two workshops went. They were 4 hours each and quite different from what we were expecting, as most people had a different experience from the next person. As the workshop started, it occurred to none of us that maybe we should have left our somewhat immature inside jokes behind as we walked into the room. Though it started out slightly awkward and somewhat irritating, through help of our leader and instructor, ‘Caesar’, we soon discovered that improvising with the truth, how a character would realistically react, was more important that making a gag to get laughs from our audience. This was what we concentrated on for most of the workshop, as this style is taught and valued highly as the most appropriate way to improvise by iO.

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Though the workshop was a great learning experience for all of us, it let some of us down slightly as there wasn’t as much playing or improvising as we might have hoped. The lessons learned, however, were arguably more valuable than that. That being said, with some kids slightly disappointed, we eagerly awaited the Shakespearean Improv show which we had all heard so much about. Despite having heard it’s reviews and such, nothing could have prepared us for the ‘magic’  (excuse my lack of a better word) that we saw on the stage that night.

Improvised Shakespeare is a company which has been around for 10 years or so, working with iO to bring a brand new Improvised show fours nights a week, every week. The shows always have some sort of Shakespearean theme, the actors speak in Shakespearean, characters have motives taken from the playwright’s famous plays. Though not directly referenced, one character might have a certain motive or some sort of Huberis similar to any of those in the well known plays, though no direct comparison was ever made.
To try and describe to you the story or anything which happened in this 2 hour show would be pointless, and their promise which they made to us before they even started the piece held true; everything was made up. The actors made a point to tell the audience that everything and anything in the show which we saw was completely made up, nothing like what we would see has ever been seen before, we witnessed both the opening and closing of the show within 2 hours of each other. It felt uncomfortable to know that the actors did not have any knowledge of what they were going to do before they acted it, though to fully enjoy the experience we had to place our full trust in them and not doubt any of their decision making.
As the play started, a monologue consisting almost completely of rhyming sentences brought us into the play with its prologue. By the thirty second mark we were all transfixed, whispering quietly, curious to how he could possibly had just made all of that up. The title, which was suggested by an audience member and very cleverly interpreted into the performance was ‘Truth be Lies’. This brought a nervous laugh from the actors who, despite their doubt, excellently pulled off the play in direct relation to this stimulus. The performance went on, we were excited and very impressed to see that the actors, with almost every sentence would rhyme their words in couplets and speak in the Shakespearean rhythm of Iambic pentameter.
Continuing to be more and more impressed as this show went on, the group of us, sitting in the front row might have missed the show if we’re laughing any harder. The performance was not only intriguing but ruthless, thrilling, hysterical and at times just downright dirty, an almost perfect combination for it’s crowd that night.
The play finished with spectacular style, indescribable in content, however, as it was so chaotic that I don’t believe even the actors themselves knew entirely what was happening at that time; it brought the audience to their last leg with laughter, I felt personally like i was out of breath for the last 15 minutes as these actors attempted successfully to round out this very complex story which they had spun themselves.
Spoiler warning: everyone dies.

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The day was an incredible experience for all of us and really made us think about improvising in a new light. The fact that the workshop taught us techniques which we then got to see used in action was a great privilege for all for us, and most of us would be tempted to move to Chicago and watch that show for the four nights it’s on for. Overall an incredible day and a real highlight of the journey; this day will stay in all of our minds for a long time.

Day 3 – By Jack Crawford and Liam Wood

Today has been our biggest day of the tour so far. We made our way all over Chicago by foot and rail, and experienced how it felt to be a local as we ventured through the surrounding neighbourhoods of the city.

In order to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, the group had to walk through the peaceful suburb of Armitage. This suburb is as cliché as it gets for an American neighbourhood and I think it gave everyone a sense of déja vu.

After strolling through the suburbs we came upon the Zoo, which was simple yet amusing. Although there weren’t many animals in their cages, most of the group was more shocked by the amount if squirrels that congregated at the Zoo.

   
 After that we returned to the foodlife place for a feed. Everyone was pretty pumped after hearing that we could eat anything in one hour, no charge!

After having filled ourselves up we fought the heat to the art institvte. This art galley gave us an amazing view not only into American culture but also just some incredible works such as the works of Picasso, Monet and El Greco.

  

     

After this relaxing time we set out for another feed and got some Chipotle and afterwards we went to see the Steppenwolf adaptation of “East of Eden”. The play was captivating, despite its three-hour duration. Particularly amazing were the visuals. Large, complex sets rolled smoothly on and offstage, or even came out of the stage! 

  
Exhausted, we got back and hit the sack. Overall, the whole day was a highlight and as always we have fun!

Day 2 – Taking in the Sights – Patrick Draper

Good morning from Chicago! Nice and early morning after our 15 hour flight. Not to mention that most of us had been awake for over 24 hours.

We started our day with a walking tour around the city. The views were amazing and the boys could enjoy the beautiful Lake Michigan, and look up at towering skyscrapers all around.

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We then went past the Chicago and Iroquois theatres, we were told a rather horrifying story about the biggest theatre fire in history killing over 600 patrons in 1903. The Chicago theatre was a highlight as the boys felt like they were in a movie.

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Next stop was Millennium Park where we enjoyed stumbling across a “Seniors Festival” in the park where a choir sang “America the Beautiful”.

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We then strolled through the snake trail to the ‘Maggie Daily’ park and everyone loved going down the longest slide that any of us had seen.

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Finally we arrived at ‘The Bean’, we all took selfies into the bean.

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We ended the night at Gino’s East (a Chicago institution!) for our first Chicago ‘deep dish’ pizzas. The pizza was so thick, only a couple of us actually made it to a third slice. Great thing about Ginos is that it is customary to write on the walls. Vincent tagged the wall pretty good with “Mr Bean has been here . . .”.

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There’s not much else to say but check out the photos down below. This was an amazing start to the trip and we all just can’t wait to see what else is in store.

 

Day 1 – 2 Days Squashed Into One – Harry Carr

We’ve had quite an eventful 48hrs with delays as you will read. To keep you updated, here’s an overview. After leaving Sydney on time we headed on our way to Dallas Fort Worth on what would be for many of us, the longest nonstop flight we will ever go on!

IMG_7246We landed in DFW at 18:30 local time, (time lapse link below). We then collected our bags, which as predicted were incredibly late. This combined with the series of long lines for security and the enormity of the airport meant some of the group were on time, however, some were late and we missed our connecting flight. Thankfully after about an hour of negotiation from Ms Smith and Mr Priester, American Airlines managed to find us two separate flights half an hour apart. We had to transfer to separate terminals via a train and Ms Smith and Mr Williams traveled with the larger group for the earlier flight and Mr Preister took a group of 8 on the later flight. At least we can all now say we’ve had a true American Airlines flight.

IMG_2042We then transferred by bus to Ed Debevic’s a true American diner, apart from the fact that the ‘server’ Olive abused us the entire time! It was an experience and every one got their fair share of abuse and an incredible memory. We then walked for 5 minutes to our hotel where we checked in and ‘should’ have been in bed by 11PM.

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Landing in Dallas