Friday, December 17, 2010

Saved by the Bag

I have never skated in an outdoor ice rink before.
You may ask to this: PFFT, how canadian are you?
and remember, I'm not actually...

so on that note.
Bologna has set up an ice rink near the train station. The other day my friends and I went to check it out. To see prices and all the things around it. By it there are speakers blasting a mix of Reggae ( I don't know) Italian Pop songs and random English music I've never heard...and not sure If I want to hear again. The rink is in the midst of a Christmas market, set up with stalls of jewlery, food that they'll heat for you on the spot and other crazy cra
ft decorations.
When we arrived to the rink- I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES.
There were children learning how to CURL on the ice rink.

Please do not tell me this sport is spreading.
We decided not to go ice skating that day. And Instead opted for Yesterday (Dec 17, which I'm pretty sure from a 13 year old fact-finding knowledge and a very strange Brad Pitts birthday... let me double check.
Curses, one day off. Good thing too

So we arrived
in the morning and paid for rental and skates (6.70 E) but it's skating, in Italy. You can't really put a price on that.

It was so fun! I tried to go backwards, which I just learned last year. My friend Anna used to figure
skate (and met last years Male Gold Winner before he was huge....jealous) and we skated along to strange Reggae, attempting spins. Me attempting to stay up. ( I haven't fallen while skating maybe for 4 years...unless dragged down, like in first year by my RA... and I'm trying to keep the record of not falling keep going as long as I can)

We skated around for maybe an hour and a half. Then disembarked from the ice and took a chilly walk around Bologna. Then three things happened, in this succession that were very strange and coincidental.

1. We passed by the market which is usually only on weekends.
2. I bought a pair of heels for 1 Euro. ( Which I then proceeded to wear.....)
3. Someone tried to pick pocket me

Now, 1 and 2 aren't that great, but 3. Let me get into that. But I'm sure 1 caused 2 and 2 made me look like a tourist (doesn't help we were speaking english), and 3 happened.

I was pick pocketed once before. In a crazy busy market in Thailand. I actually felt the person smash against me and I remember thinking "I just got pick pocketed" but before I could turn around, I was sure the person was gone into a sea of people. We exited the market and sure enough. All documents and the little money I had (when traveling with parents, after all) was gone.

This time was so blatantly obvious I wanted to scream. And yet I said it so matter of factly to people when I tell them.
We're walking down the street and the thing is, It's not crowded at all. Frankly, there's maybe a woman ahead of us 2 meters down and some behind us, but virtually the street is empty. Save for the regular beggar women. The first one come up to me, latches herself on my side and keeps muttering
"Money please, some coins, best wishes, please signora" and I shove her off. She's in my personal bubble, and I'm going to be assertive. When this happens AGAIN not 2 steps later, something is definitely up. As I push the second woman out of my bubble, I catch a glance of her hand exiting my bag from my peripheral vision.

Now I'm wearing one of those loose bags you usually take to the beach. It's a Thailand Beach Bag. There is no zipper. Just a button that fastens it together. Not really doing anything at all. The thing is, you have to stick your whole arm in (probably until almost your elbow) to reach anything in your bag. Or pull it higher towards yourself. Ironically, this is what saved me from getting my new leather wallet (that my grandfather sent me) stolen.

I just don't understand. I always thought of pick pocketing as something sneaky. Maybe a casual brush or bump that you won't notice. But I think I noticed two women clinging to my side. The odd thing is, had I been wearing my other bag...I may not have zipped it up in time. And right now I may have been wallet-less and sad.

Paranoid doesn't even begin to cover how I feel right now about my bag.

But onto lighter things, Like light snow.
Last night my Columbian friend took me to a little known cafe in the center. There are two picnic tables, a small make-shift stage, a bar and barely any room to stand. The problem now is that every Friday, a new music group plays there. We sat around and watched the 5 person band, two guitars, a trumpet, accordion and drummer in a crowd of moving, talking and shoving people.

The songs were sung in english and the guitar and bad acoustics make it hard to hear them properly, but from what I can tell, they're fantastic. We exit shortly after, it's too crowded and the musicians take long breaks, still figuring technical things out. We see snow fall from the sky, but I tell my friend ( who can't speak english) that It's not sticking to the ground.

How wrong I am.
We've got inches of snow here today.
I'm going to go explore it now. Pictures soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

There's no room! (Non c'è posto!)

So UBC ( which I love and miss) back in Vancouver has a registering system. It's hateful, stressful and university students wake up at 7 am to get into their classes. They'll compulsively check every hour whether there is even spot in that class they are aiming for ( for me it was Russian Lit 207 in first year and a course HIGHLY recommended.) I've made a skill even of showing up to classes I couldn't fit into and rushing to the teacher, explaining ( exaggerating even) how much I want to be in their class. After the first few classes, I keep attending, people drop and almost magically my add/drop form is signed by the teacher's hand......

Italy has no such system, I mean of registration ahead of time.
At least not University of Bologna.
You find out when/where the classes are (A sort of frustratingly amazing scavenger hunt) and show up.

Our theatre class had 40 people on the first day. This wasn't a sit down lecture type of thing, this was a laboratory with work on everyone's piece. Another theatre class of mine has more than 100 people ( History of Theatre) and often, students have no place to sit.

You may think this is a god send.
Also we are divided into 4 periods. 2 per term.
You can have a class that runs Period I (Oct-Nov). Or even if you have a class that runs full term, you can choose whether you want to take the exam for 6 credits (Period I) or 12 for both periods.
This allowed me to get out of a stunningly boring Italian Literature class in time for my theatre class ( Period II) to start up.

I emailed the prof ( so he could have a rough number of students attending) and showed up with other students.
Over the course of the three weeks ( I kid you not, our class ran Nov 15- Dec 9) we lost a few students. Some classes we sit on stage while the other perform, just waiting. There is no restriction for people after all.

The city of Bologna is known for it's University ( said to be founded as early as 1088 and in it's attendees even Dante) and it's a University town. Though there is no campus, the classes spread out in different streets within the city. Let's see Zamboni houses a lot of the classroom buildings and libraries, but another 15 minutes away you can find the DAMS (Theatre) buildings. So if you've got classes literally on the other side of town, it can get problematic.

A Popular question is "what do you study"
When I say "Theatre, Literature, a bit of everything" they immediately ask Faculty "DAMS?" and sometimes I explain "no, I'm overseas but technically in the Letter & Filosofia faculty ( department in english) but I'm taking theatre courses. Or I just agree, Yes, DAMS. Because 1. It sounds awesome and 2. I should be.

Each class is scheduled to run for 2 hours. But most start 15 minutes late ( for arrival time) and end 15 minutes early. So if you've got back to back classes, you have a half hour to grab a slice of pizza or coffee with your buddies before traveling across town to your next class.
The city is very student oriented, the night life, the cafes, the pizzerias. It's almost like living on a university campus because the city is so small!

According to the *ever trustworthy* Wikipedia:
UBC population of Undergrads: 46,475 – Vancouver.
Unibo population of students: 95,711 ( 2006 figure)

UBC 4.02 km2main campus
UniBo 140.7 km2 City of Bologna

So when you've completed your short course. You sign in online on your "Piano di Studi" or Curriculum.
And find your classes. Click 'Take Exam" and since the exams are usually Oral, it will tell you when and where.

That's all for now. I'll rant about the system another time. Exams are scheduled in January ( late) but it looks like a have a written ( unnatural!!) exam on Thursday. But I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Italian Theatre Experience

My teacher has a deep voice. He rolls his plaid collared shirt to his sleeves ( I wonder if he knows this is fashion right now in Canada) and begins explaining the project we will undertake in our theatre class for the next three weeks. A class that lasts for 30 hours, beginning November 15 and ending December 9 with a spectacle or performance.

Our "script" is the works of Lewis Carroll. We start the first and second day with exercises. Not those "zip, zap zong" or 'lets fall into each others arms for trust' exercises that I'm used to, but more like rapid speed yelling of words. Unfortunately the words aren't provided and I feel like I'm the only one who isn't fluent in italian. It's not true, at all, over the next weeks I will learn there are at least 8 other foreigners, but the first day, I feel terrified and challenged and by the end of it, feel too exhausted. I'm thinking I hate theatre, I wish I could do this, should I drop the class? And then I realize, I haven't been challenged in a theatre class for years. So let's stick with it, my teacher is good looking enough to keep me hooked. Like a great pilot of an episode. Though he's frightening too, all directors are under stress.

We're assigned a number, then we go in order, after saying our numbers, we go onto other words. Words that describe Alice in Wonderland for us. What captures that looking glass, the make belief world of cheshire cats and fairy tales written by Charles Dodgson (Later and more well known as Lewis Carroll). "Specchio, Racconto, Alice" various easy words are taken and people start yelling phrases. I panic, I'm hardly understanding what we have to say, my teacher is watching, I'm panicking and whatever I say feels childish, foolish. Not my theatre A game.

Then we all are assigned pieces of the text. These are bits of the story our teacher has written. One page sheets featuring dialogue (where we play two characters ourselves) or a straight monologue. They follow the order of the Lewis Carroll books and take the wittiest dialogue and story parts, placing them together in what I can only call an abstract (because of my IB education.)

I somehow am one of the only 4 people stranded without a part. My teacher starts splitting up the longer pieces into twos and threes. I'm last and somehow this prompts my teacher to call me up to the front of the class ( 40 students in a semi circle on a stage) to read a text I have never seen before. In Italian.

I'm so quiet he tells me delicately, using these words ( in his sexy italian voice of course)
"That was very intimate, but perhaps the others would like to hear. There is a class"
So I start again, feeling sweaty and scared and wait, what's this? Nervous?
Reminds me when Jesse St James from Glee said "I remember when I used to get nervous"

But this feels wrong, this isn't the actress version of me. I'm outgoing, crazy, loud. I'm not loud here! People even think I'm shy!. But another language can seriously displace me. And as I'm sure I'm blushing all shades of red, I continue the Italian never before seen text in front of me. Cursing my Canadian accent.


I get a dialogue from the mad hatter and Alice. Since I've received a portion that was split in two, I'm now in a group with another girl. We allocate roles, indicated by who is wearing a hat at that moment. It's an argument, and then I'm Alice in her portion and I run off the stage, albeit not as dramatically as I would like. Our class winds around the stage like a snake. We make a phrase out of our text. Ours is: "RETE AMOROSA" then we have to show this with different objects.

RE is a king from a deck, TE is tea and AMO is a fish hook, ROSA a rose.

We bring these things to a table, arrange them in our order, waiting for #7 to finish ahead of us, ( we're 8 and 9) before I start our dialogue with the condescending
"Ma prendi un po' più tè!" literally, "But take a little more tea."
Problem is, Alice has none: and responds as such. "Posso predeme di più se ancora non ne ho avuto?" Can I take some more if I don't have any yet?

The dialogue continues, then we walk to the back of the stage (Upstage for you theatre folks) and set down our "rebus" (puzzle) again. We sit at the back, while the other 24 pieces of the Alice in Wonderland/Looking Glass are performed.

We had started out in the seats of the audience. Came in front of the tables, picked up our items, brought them to the tables ( there are three Downstage), performed our interactive pieace (one of the few featuring a shared piece and character distinctions) and walked back upstage, patient, non moving in the shadows.

And the last piece ends just how the first one began.
E Tardi.
I'm Late.

It was interactive, strange, un scripted. And at the end of the 30 hours, I only performed for 5 minutes. I am already missing that gorgeous teacher with a decent fashion sense. Missing theatre more than I knew I was able to! Planning out my future and ideas for auditioning when I return.
Now, I'm going to go practice monologues.

PS Memorizing lines is much harder in Italian.

Here are my lines, if you want to check them out.
Also, I wore the beret I got from Paris. Hardly a mad hat.