Thursday, December 19, 2013

London: an artist’s paradise

If there is one thing I have taken advantage of by living in Central London, it is experiencing the great theatre and art landscape. It must be said that being an LSE student brings its perks when needed- free theatre tickets! (which would never be a priority under a London student’s budget). Now who in their right mind would say no to that?

The first was a performance of Georg Kaiser’s “Morning to Midnight” at the National Theatre, an opportunity given to me by the LSE Drama Society (the best decision I made during the freshers’ fair). Even though I had no idea what the play was about, I was so excited to see my first play in London. The theatre was bigger than I had ever seen before. When the first scene started, I was mesmerized by the revolving set and the large screen projections of shadows and on-stage scenes. There were no blackouts between scenes- merely one scene merging into another effortlessly. The story revolved around a bank clerk who robs the till and is forced to come to terms with his sins. The script was witty, smart and had a touch of that old British humor that I had grown to love during my childhood through watching re-runs of ‘Allo ‘Allo and Fawlty Towers with my father.

My second theater visit was to watch the musical “Stephen Ward” at the Aldwych Theatre. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who himself gave away a heap of free tickets to LSE students! The Aldwych Theatre had a more traditional vibe than the National Theatre, with side balconies that reminded me of the opera. Nazreen was eagerly sitting next to me- it was her first musical and I was so excited for her! The curtains opened and we sat and absorbed close to two hours of love, power, political scandal and lust, all brought out by a talented cast with flawless voices as they sang to Webber’s beautiful songs with a live orchestra below. On our way out, we thought we caught a glimpse of the man himself, conducting one final song while a few spectators cheered on…but we will always wonder if it was actually him!

As for the art, I have become a phantom spectator gliding in and out of the many rooms of the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Surprisingly it is not only the art that catch my attention. I find myself observing the spectators as much as the paintings; the French school children, the Japanese tourists, the historians and even the odd couple enjoying the silence. As taking pictures inside the galleries is frowned upon, I try to absorb these new images so that they will be etched in my memory for a long time. Some paintings draw more attention than others, and I stop and stare at the Italian landscapes with its immaculate detail and portraits so real I have to keep my face two inches from the glass to be convinced that it was created by a human being, just like the others. These are my favorite pieces, ones that make you doubt the power of art until you allow yourself to step into the artist’s world, to see the world in new ways. These “moments” I have with London’s art are truly wonderful, and I find myself walking out of the gallery knowing that I have left many sections out, just so I may return again and again to discover the things left unexplored.

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