…How did we get here?

Greetings, everyone. I have not written here in a long time (a lot has happened — we have marriage equality and gender recognition, for one), so I’ll do one of those update posts á la Sophie Duncan’s at Clamorous Voice (you all should read that blog, as it is indeed Very Good).

Anyway.

1. I am about ten months into my PhD. I did a bunch of writing this year, passed my GRC meeting in May (that’s Graduate Research Committee, fact fans, kinda like a progress panel), and thus launched into four to five weeks of SO. MUCH. TRAVELLING.

2. The first was a trip to BritGrad at the Shakespeare Institute, which is generally brilliant every year — I always come away from it having spent quality time with old friends and having got to know excellent new friends. It’s essentially a holiday at this stage. Second trip was the STR New Researchers’ Network symposium (I’m a committee member, fnarr) at the Shard, which I came away from loving all of the delegates and all of my fellow committee members, and also feeling very hopeful for the future of theatre and performance studies. Every panel I went to was great, and taught me something new. Third was, following a weekend at Dublin Pride with friends, a trip far down south to Skibbereen in west Cork. I stayed in a very swish B&B, or what my housemate called ‘a sex B&B’. (FYI, I did not have anyone to have sex with in that B&B.) The reason I was down there was that Druid’s latest production, DruidShakespeare, was performing there for a night, and the thesis dictated that I would basically follow that production as much as I could over the summer. Other than the show being Very Good (I’ve seen it several times now), I came away from it thinking that all theatre shows could do with serving free tea at intervals. And then I went to New York to speak at a symposium about the show and then got to see it in the city there too. Which is all pretty good. (All I need to do now is get tickets to see it in Kilkenny — performing at Richard II’s digs! — and then the odyssey will be over for now.)

3. I arrived back from New York on Monday, attended the launch of the Yeats & the West exhibition (you should check it out, it’s so pretty), saw Luck Just Kissed You Hello with my friend Chris that night, and went to see St. Vincent on Tuesday night. The only downside is that now, my body is beginning to revolt, and as a result I am experiencing All Of The Jet Lag. The worst part is the sudden feeling of constantly being off-balance, so now I am in my bed, trying not to lift my head too high, and attempting to strategically drink cups of tea without lifting my head too much. We’ll see how things go. I would like to be able to stand in the shower and not feel nauseous.

4. My department are organising this conference next week and you should go because it’ll be great and I’ll be volunteering at it and being overly chirpy at the registration desk. Oh, and it’s GIAF. Hurrah.

5. I really don’t want to get on another plane for another long while but then I remembered I’ve to go to London at the end of next month. Damn.

6. My tea is now cold. Shit.

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I Am Cymbeline Girl.

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These pieces above are two presents I have received in advance of my birthday next Wednesday. The larger one is a very colourful breakdown of the entirety of Cymbeline (using the Arden 2 edition), spearheaded by Mickum, with assistance from L and my former and much missed housemate SM. The smaller is an original painting of a cat by SM. I love them both, and my friends, to bits. The unveiling of the former last night was only augmented by Easter caterpillar chocolate cake and L adopting random poses inspired by Shakespearean characters chosen by me at will.

It is currently snowing outside, and I am currently not in the library (when your mother calls you up on a Sunday afternoon, and tells you not to go and wrap up warm, then it’s alright, isn’t it?). I have also finished my masters classes for the year. It hasn’t really registered with me yet — Thursday felt like a normal day of classes and seminar and play reading, except us BritGrad elves put on another bake sale and I ate more of Our Fearless Leader’s cake pops. I know that now, there’s a long month ahead of me, in which I’ve got to write 6,000 very good words. And then start a dissertation in May. But first, there’s Easter and turning 23 with the other half and my Stratford friends. And then maybe, the Grand Revelation will hit me then. It always takes its time, where I’m concerned.

This is also my first time composing a blog post from the iPad. It’s been a fraught process, maybe because I keep hitting the wrong buttons on the touchscreen, and having to tell wordpress that NO, I DON’T WANT TO INSERT A LINK RIGHT NOW, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. But I can insert pictures (as you can see), which is very cool.

Baby steps, as you can see. Happy hope-snow-isn’t-obstructing-you-much day to you all. It’s the end of March, for god’s sake.

Days of Whine in Doses*, in which Emer experiments with MS Paint

*I just really liked the rhyme and pun. I couldn’t think of anything else more positive.

Greetings from the second-last-week-of-Masters-classes-sweet-jesus. To add my voice to the masses, I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by. It’s a Tuesday evening in Stratford and the most exciting thing that’s happened to me today was finishing a first draft of an essay due next week, ordering a lasagne in the Garrick Inn, and realising that I HAVE MS PAINT ON MY LAPTOP, and HEY, WHY DON’T I USE IT ON MY BLOG.

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I have such epiphanies sometimes, you know.

But anyway.

1. I am 23 on the 27th of this month. I am almost two years off living for a quarter of a century. Which is kinda cool — I never got why people got so wound up about not being asked for ID once they got past a certain age. I’m also waiting for the whole panicking-about-what-I’m-supposed-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life thing to kick in, but before then, there are essays. And dissertations. And BritGrad (come to BritGrad! Ah, you will. Please?). And stuff. More present things. I had a performance exam last Sunday, so at least there’s potential for a ‘Will perform two select monologues from the Shakespeare canon for money’ cardboard sign. As well as the pointless Shakespearean performance history trivia that has wormed itself into my brain over the past few years. I can tell you when the Swan Theatre opened or when Kathryn Hunter played Lear for five pounds!

2. As represented by the work of art above, it is really cooooold in Stratford. In March. Sometimes it feels like I never left Ireland at all, what with all the indecisive weather. Not pleased with these turn of events, as I did not plan on WEARING WINTER GLOVES IN MARCH.

3. Thanks to the other half, I now have tickets for Richard II at the Barbican this December. One also recommends quite highly A Life of Galileo at the Swan and also looks forward to Hamlet and As You Like It at the RST, as well as the SI Players’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream THIS WEEK (break several legs, guys!).

4. I think I have a dissertation topic. It’s formulating and is still quite embryonic, but I’m genuinely quite excited about it. More anon.

5. Here is a horse. I drew it for you.

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If anyone can think of a name for him, I’d be forever grateful.

It’s slowly dawning on me that this post was an excuse just to draw amateurish pictures on Paint. Bet you loved it anyway.

An Irish Girl In Stratford II: The Berlin Decision, or What You Will

This is pretty much a post-Stratford update, if you will. I didn’t come back to Ireland with a broken or amputated leg, a curse having been put upon me by a vengeful gypsy, or having accidentally blown anything up, so by those standards the expedition went rather well. Stratford, as I’ve probably reiterated over the past few days to anyone who’s asked, is really quite lovely. In size, it’s comparable to Galway, and it’s remarkably easy to get around. It’s CLEAN too (it’s a tourist town, so I guess it has to be).  And having located the Shakespeare Bookshop and Waterstone’s, the place adequately fulfils The Bookshop Quota. So all that’s grand.

The main reason why I came over (other than checking out where I’m going to be living for the next year or so) was for the BritGrad conference at the Shakespeare Institute. The Institute host this conference every year, which is organised by graduate students, and allows graduate students to show off their work and get feedback. As well as that, they manage to bag rather amazing plenary speakers (and this year didn’t disappoint. You can listen to some of them here). Now, Galway is great for meeting drama folk, and I’ve met a lot of them through studying theatre and English or through Dramsoc. I love being able to sit in a café, a seminar, or anywhere around town or college to discuss theatre with those who care about it as much as I do. If there’s one thing I’ll miss about theatre-going in Galway, it’s going to see a performance and arguing about it afterwards with dear friends over tea in Java’s till the wee hours. But what Galway lacks is a proper contingent of Shakespeare heads, and that’s what BritGrad provided in spades. That’s not to say that Everyone In Galway Hates Shakespeare (there are a good few who love him too, including the dashing WordOtter), but it was a nice change to refer to Cymbeline by its proper name rather than as ‘a really obscure play of Shakespeare’s’. Hell, there was a fascinating paper on the play last weekend, which made reference to Maradona’s Hand of God.

what’s a Thierry Henry?

This was all in an institution where people shared the same enthusiasm for the same interests. And also the same infectious excitement as gosh golly, well Professor Whatsername IS GIVING A PLENARY TODAY. In short, it was just wonderful being around people who love Shakespeare as much as I do, and that’s why I’d encourage any postgraduate working in that area (or general early modern drama-ness) to get their tushies over there for next year’s conference. Ah you will. You will now. ‘Gwan. They’re all LOVELY.

An Inept Tourist’s Guide to Stratford-upon-Avon:

a) Shakespeare’s House and Gardens: I regretfully didn’t visit Hall’s Croft and the rest, but there’s a lovely exhibition (voiced by PATRICK STEWART and… some other actress who I can’t remember as I’m terrible at recognising voices) where you get to see a copy of the First Folio (another is in Oxford, and not even Katherine Duncan-Jones is allowed to touch it) and get to potter around in his digs for a bit. The best bit is seeing the performers outside, especially on a very sunny day.

b) The RSC: Pretty much goes without saying. I’d recommend Richard III at the Swan, by the way. And there is such a gorgeous green outside the theatres, with a huge scrum of folk relaxing underneath the trees or buying ice-creams off the boat vendors.

c) Holy Trinity Church: Where you can see Shakespeare’s grave, memorial, etc. I didn’t get a chance to go here, despite being advised to. I’m sure they won’t move it to Shelbyville before I return.

d) The Real Tea Café: Because it was cheaper than Anne Hathaway’s. Well, this *is* supposed to be an inept guide of sorts.

In other news: Double First Class Honours degree, howrya?