Monday, April 18, 2011

Starting to say goodbye. Too soon!

It’s so crazy to think that this is one of my last few blog posts from Italy!  I keep telling people that I’m at the point where each day I get more and more excited about coming home but also more and more sad and sentimental about leaving here.  Writing in my journal last night I actually teared up writing the sentence “my last weekend in Arezzo.”  I love this place so much and it really feels like another home.  It’s going to be so hard to leave, and I can’t believe that’s not far off.

So, this week we finished commedia and started mask making.  Our presentation on Wednesday of our commedia improvs went really well.  The only one I filmed was the one I directed, and if you haven’t yet seen it on facebook, here it is:

Someone at the school was supposed to have filmed all of them, so hopefully I can post links to the ones I was actually in at a later point.  Trevor’s was my favorite.  Jonny, Elena, and I made a great team in that one.  Hopefully you’ll all get to see it!

I was very sad to see Michele go… Unfortunately he’s not big into pictures so during this one picture I got he  and David had started singing and look even goofier than normal.  I kind of enjoy that, though.

On to mask making!  This is one of the coolest classes I’ve ever been a part of.  I don’t do enough visually artistic projects in life.  This one may the proudest I’ve ever been of something I’ve created with my hands.  Here’s more or less the process:

First, we used clay to construct the shape of our mask on a generic face mold.  There are not enough molds for everyone to make their own specific one, so Jonny, Rachel and I are teaming up to make a Zanni, who we have dubbed “Jonny Bonnie Ronnie” Zanni.  I wish I had pictures from the very beginning, because we started as the remedial group with no artistic talent.  The blob of clay in no way resembled a face in any capacity, but after a few hours of persistence we emerged with this fantastic product!  I don’t really know how it happened, but we all had equal input and we work really well together.


Rachael (Bonnie Zanni)

Jonny (Jonny Zanni)

The next step is to cover the clay in strips of plaster-aide, as seen here.  You have to be careful to cover the fragile parts (like our nose, definitely the pride and joy of our work) with the most layers.

Plaster layer

Trevor and Elena are making Pantalone

Catie, Olivia, and Sonia are making Dottore.

After that has hardened you remove the plaster cast from the clay.  This was a very frightening moment.  Torbjorn (our teacher) has been using ours to demonstrate many of the steps because we’re working a faster pace since we have 3 people.  So, he grabbed our mold and took a knife to it as Jonny and I clutched each other as if we were watching our mask emerge from the womb.  We were so nervous, especially when the nose was emerging.  We might have just cried if something had not come out perfectly.

But, it did!  The next step is to mix liquid plaster and then pour it into that mold.  That takes a while to harden and is tedious to mix, but if done correctly, you emerge with this final, beautiful mold.  This is where we are now. 
Built a clay base to pour the liquid plaster into

Go team Zanni!  Mixing the plaster!

Torbjorn filling our mold

Pouring in the plaster!
Our final mold.  So beautiful.
Today’s class will actually involve putting leather on and starting the actual masks!  I can’t wait.

Beyond classes this week, I had more fabulous times enjoying this city I live in for one last weekend.  We intend to hit up Cinque Terre next weekend, then the next I’ll be flying out of Rome.  It’s all coming so fast!

Thursday we had part of our Italian final, which was performing the skits we had written.  Our group (Me, Elena, Trevor, and Aubrey) did a condensed “Finding Nemo” in Italian in which Trevor was Marlin, Aubrey was Dory, and Elena and I played all the characters they meet along the way.  It was entertaining, that’s for sure.  The quality of the Italian involved is definitely questionable.  Mastering Italian has unfortunately not been a priority for me these past three months.

On Friday we had a very fun dance party in the Teatrino.  I didn’t get to call contra because I had no microphone, but we did some line dancing and then just boogied the night away to fun club music.  Fun fact:  we have found the solution to making songs like “Cha Cha Slide” and “Cupid Shuffle” bearable.  Actually, not just bearable, but quite fun.  The secret?  Do it as various commedia characters.  A different one each time through.  I particularly enjoyed the image of about 20 Pantalones doing it.

I invited the OU boys to join us, and I think we did just the right amount of frightening and liberating.  Let’s just say that by the end of the night, they were all dancing in their underwear with us and even joined us for yet another round of late-night streaking in the field.

After having a morning class of mask making, I spent Saturday afternoon in town with no goals in mind, just not wanting to be in the villa.  I first went in with Caitie, who needed a haircut.  We got gelato and went into the funny shops in town that we had always wanted to go in but never actually did.  We then went to the park, where I fell asleep for a bit while she went to her hair appointment.  After my brief nap I wandered on my own for a bit, spending a good half-hour or so in the toy store.  I resisted the urge to buy more board games, but it was difficult.

I then hooked up with Elena, Jonny, and Trevor, who were shoe-shopping and wandering.  Then Michael (OU boy) joined me and the two of us explored even more wonderful places in Arezzo that I had never been.  We first walked through a very nice, huge park where there were lovely trees and some very cool displays of graffiti.  After the park we got gelato (yes, making it a double-gelato day for MJ.  Good day).  We then found this Roman amphitheatre, which is I think the oldest thing in Arezzo.  Again, after over two months here I never knew this existed until this weekend.  In addition to the awesome ruins, the grass inside is very nice.  Michael and I intend to organize an Accademia vs. OU ultimate Frisbee game in here before we leave.  I think we’ll be at the slight athletic disadvantage, but maybe we can distract them with our acrobatics or something.  I imagine we'll just give up winning early on and start playing as commedia characters, which I think would be entertaining.
The amphitheatre! 

I said "do something studly and roman"... this is the best he came up with.

Couldn't you see a good frisbee game happening here?

That night I went out with the whole OU gang, which made for an interesting night.  I much preferred the previous night of dancing and getting all Dionysian with each other, rather than this going to bars and getting steeped in good ole American-style drama.  I wasn't involved since I don't really know any of these people, but the OU girls were all bursting into tears and whispering in small bunches all night.  Not appealing.  It wasn’t so bad, I guess, but it made me appreciate how good we artists have been at avoiding social drama over this three months.   Considering we’re all so dramatic by nature and live in such close quarters, it’s kind of a miracle that there haven’t been heads torn off yet.

Yesterday (Sunday) I slept in and lazed about mostly.  The weather was lovely yet again, and I celebrated by not really doing anything.  I went to dinner with Elena, Trevor, Jonny, David, and Aubrey at the “Mexican” restaurant right outside of town.  I can’t wait for American Mexican food again.  

 After this week we’ll be done with “finals” of every sort.  Tomorrow is the written Italian final… All I can really say about that is I’ll be glad when it’s over.  I’m working on a choreography piece with Terri for our movement final, and Jonny and I be sharing our final work on Caliban in voice during that same period.

Elena and I are planning an act for our last cabaret this Wednesday.  Hopefully I can record it and post it.  Again, I’m so glad to have a friend as goofy as me when it comes to creating acts.  Hopefully it’ll go smoothly.

Next week (our last week!) will be devoted entirely to clowning all day.  We have a new teacher, Eli Simon coming in and he’ll be working with us for 7 hours a day.

Home is so close I can taste it.  I can’t wait.  And yet… I don’t want to leave the wonderful home we’ve made here.  I’m starting to see how difficult it’s going to be readjusting yet again.  I’m certainly in for an emotional roller coaster in the next two weeks, and probably beyond that as well.  I can’t wait to see you all.

Love and miss you all!

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