Day 4, Part two: Darwin and Drama

Tuesday, September 15th 2015

Daytime:

Overlooking Hintze Hall, in the Museum of Natural History, London
Overlooking Hintze Hall, in the Museum of Natural History, London

When I left Montreal, it was with one overriding purpose: to be there for Christian’s final performances at LAMDA and for his graduation ceremony.

I went alone, but I was carrying with me the best wishes, the break-a-legs, the excited anticipation and the love of a great many.

For the first part of the day, I was on my own again, in a kind of maternal limbo. But Ifigured that what worked the day before would probably work again, so I set out for South Kensington, this time to visit the Museum of Natural History, which is across the street from the V&A.

I’m so happy that I did. The MNH is a wonder.

The entrance at the Museum of Natural History.
The entrance at the Museum of Natural History.

IMG_1255And a temple of scientific tradition and most especially, a shrine to Darwin and to his legacy, where I found everything I expected including, of course, the fossils of giant dinosaurs.

But what I knew nothing about, and almost missed (it needs to be advertised much more vigorously!) was Cocoon, the monumental new scientific research center/curated biological archive: a dazzling, giant ovoid structure and exhibit.

I was so moved by the beauty of Cocoon. And by its optimism. And because of the magic of cell phones, I was able to share it all with Simon, another of my sons who is a biology professor at a college in Montreal, with whom I messaged my way through it all.

IMG_1271     IMG_1273

Evening: 

And then it was evening. I made my way to LAMDA’s Linbury Studio on Talgarth Road, to see the D’s production of Romeo and Juliet (the D’s are the students enrolled in the Masters in Classical Acting program), and especially, of course, to see Christian play Tybalt.

I’ve developed such a love for theatre, living alongside Christian. He has taught me so much…

About the alchemy of performance and the generation of an energy so electric and immediate that it makes everyone’s heart race;

About the beauty of text and its embodiment;

About  fearlessness and abandonment;

About the discipline and hard work required to create the illusion of effortlessness;

About risk taking and creative collaboration.

About the universality and timelessness of the dramatic arts.

“I’ll have grounds
More relative than this—the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”

Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 603–605

Opening curtain, Romeo and Juliet at the Linbury Studio, September 2015
Opening curtain, Romeo and Juliet at the Linbury Studio, September 2015

(Note: All photographs are mine)

Day 4 Part One: Man on Wire

Christian relaxing pre-performance on his final day at LAMDA
Christian relaxing pre-performance on his final day at LAMDA

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 Facebook post:

As he left this morning, Christian said “Well, here’s to my stage debut in London” (half of his class opened last night in Julius Caesar, while Romeo and Juliet opens today), grabbed his bag and went out.

After everything that he’s lived this year at LAMDA and on his own in this small, spartan room (which I presently share with him) in this huge and glorious city, it seemed like such a quiet and unexceptional thing to say.

No ferocious “trac” (as we call stage fright in French Quebec), no problems sleeping…just the outcome of a year living removed from everything that came before.

A year of living like a man on wire.

Funambulist Philippe Petit
                 Funambulist Philippe Petit