We had a lovely walk around the park, past Buckingham Palace, and then stopped in for some tea and hot chocolate. After that lovely time together, as we walked back to the tube stop, the setting sun made some beautiful colors in the sky, particularly just above and beyond Buckingham Palace. Orla and I both commented about the winter light that afternoon, so I snapped a picture. Later I realized that the setting sun behind Buckingham Palace served as an excellent metaphor for the final evening of this London adventure.
On Saturday, our sixth day in London, we worked with Corinne Micallef, a facilitator with Phakama, an arts organization based in London. Phakama means "rise up," and it's a fitting name for an organization that works to unite communities across difference and diversity. The company's way of working, called Give and Gain, models theatre for change at its best, and the students had a chance to move through sections of the company's unique devising process to create a piece of art.
Our fifth day featured a workshop with Jonathan Harden, a native of Belfast now living and working in London as an actor. I've known Jonathan for nine years now, as he's a frequent contributor to NYU Steinhardt's Ireland Study Away program in the summer. I asked him to do a version of a site-specific theatre workshop here in Bedford Square that he usually facilitates in Belfast. It's a way of discovering more about a place than simply what's presented as part of the "package." So often on these kinds of experiences, we can just get the tourist version of a city, whereas Jonathan believes (and I've seen that it's rightly so) that when we start to ask others about their experiences in a place, particularly if they live or work there, that we begin to see the place beyond what we get through a tourist's lens.
On our fourth day in London, we spent some time in the morning reflecting on impressions of our time in London so far. We discussed unexpected discoveries about London that had occurred in the first three days, as well as how we now defined the word "international." Some of the expected discoveries included observations about food, different ways of saying things, and the friendliness of Londoners.
Our third day in London was basically all Shakespeare all of the time. The last time I brought students to London in March 2103, we had a tour of Shakespeare's Globe, but we couldn't see anything because the season hadn't started yet. Since then, the company has opened the Wanamaker Theatre, which emulates the indoor experience at Blackfriars. All performances in the winter months now happen in a smaller, indoor theatre lit by candlelight.