A DAY IN THE LIFE AT MIDSUMMER IN OXFORD
Studying at BADA is like acting itself—get ready to run with the unexpected. Every day at Midsummer is different, so bear with me the irony of writing about a typical day. Nevertheless, actors love a good challenge so here’s what a “typical” day at BADA Midsummer in Oxford looks like:
7:15 AM, alarm goes off. Classes start at 9, but today I wake up alittle earlier to do some warm ups and go over my lines one last time before I head to class. I find my stretchiest pair of leggings and set off to breakfast.
8:17 AM, breakfast. I make sure I have all my scripts and head over to get some food. All the meals take place in the mess hall at Magdalen College. It’s a good place to bond with other people in the program that aren’t in my group and talk to professors outside of class. They get hungry too!
8:35 I head over to my first class at the Sheldonian theatre. One of the spectacular things about the Midsummer in Oxford program is that we get to have classes all over town in excellent spaces. Walking around Oxford every day is such a treat. As time goes on in the BADA program we start to walk mindlessly from class to class, our minds filled with lines to memorize. We often forget to observe how astonishing this place is. Today I make it a point to take it all in as I walk around. I get to the Sheldonian, which was built in the late 1600s. Imagine having a Shakespeare class in a building that was built around his time. It really doesn’t get any better.
9:20 After a short warm up, Mary Lou, our Shakespeare professor, instructs us to walk around the space and relay our monologues without words. Today, we are concentrating on our bodies on the stage. Our bodies and physicality are as important as our words. Nothing happens at random in the theatre. We must be aware of the energy we bring to the room and the energy that runs up and down our spines. We work on this a little bit longer, then move on to seeing individual scenes. She continues to instruct us about our bodily presence on stage.
10:45 AM End of Shakespeare for the day! I grab my things and go to the next class with my group. I take all my classes with the same group of 15 people (shout-out to Ravenhill!). Our groups become a small family within the larger BADA family. We head over to our movement class which takes place in Aldates, a church that has many multipurpose rooms. I think today we are embodying animals in class…
11:15 AM Movement class.
We step into movement class with Jackie Snow and have a warm up. After running around the space a bit, we settle and relax. Luckily, I had remembered she asked us to pick and study an animal inspired by one of our characters. We spend the rest of class as these animals. I unfortunately do not have a picture, as I was busy living the life of a lioness.
1:00 PM Lunch time! We head back to Magdalen for lunch at the mess hall. They always have meatless, pescetarian and vegan options available. And, they always have dessert so that’s a plus. Sometimes the days can seem long and stressful, so that sweet pick me up is always appreciated.
1:40 PM Head over to Daubeny for Modern class. Daubeny is a Magdalen building across the street in which we regularly have class. I arrive 10 minutes early to fit in a warm up, as our professor Leo likes us to do before beginning class. Getting our voices, bodies, and minds ready for class is one of the most important things we can do. Often, we are doing many things at once and it is essential to pull focus. Today we work on individual scenes with Leo and we also listen to a BBC newscast about the Kashmir conflict, which is pertinent to the play we are studying. We finish at the end of the day by discussing what we have each discovered.
3:45 PM Last class of the day. My group is thankful for the nice weather as we walk all the way back to Aldates for our voice class with Andrew Wade. Usually we would be mildly annoyed, but the good weather and proximity to Friday keeps us in good spirits. Today in voice class we work on the enunciation and space between words in Shakespeare. We take a speech and dissect it, playing around with the sounds in our mouths. We also focus on breathing and expanding, experimenting with different breath to better support our voice.
6:00 PM Classes are done, dinner time!
I walk back to Magdalen for dinner. Everyone is feeling a bit more relaxed as the classes for the day have finished. I hear other people setting up times to rehearse or making plans for later at night. I sit awhile chatting with others. I’ve made plans to rehearse with my scene partner later at night.
7:15 PM Time to relax a bit. I decompress, writing a bit in my journal and watching some Netflix. One of my characters has an English accent, so shamelessly watching Sherlock is homework, right? I think it is. I go over my lines a bit more before I meet with my scene partner.
9:00 PM I meet with my scene partner to work on our Shakespeare. We’ve been assigned a hearty scene from Richard III. My partner and I spend time helping each other out with lines and applying the techniques we learned in class today, focusing on bodily presence and the enunciation of our words.
10:30 PM End of rehearsal. Woof. It’s been a long day. I need a drink. I say goodnight to my partner and decide that I want to head over to the Old Kitchen Bar to get half a pint and work on some more things. The Old Kitchen Bar is a great place to hang out after meals and grab something a wee bit stronger than a good cuppa. I see some friends and say hello before I settle on my scripts. I’m going to be honest here—I really got nothing accomplished but I’m fine with that, it was a long day!
11:03 PM Time to rest. I leave the Bar and go to my room to get ready for bed. I am exhausted. I eagerly prepare for bed as I remember tomorrow is Friday! Although I am happy it is near the end of the week, I am also a bit sad as it means we are nearer to the end of the program. I have learned so much in these three weeks, it has just flown by. I mean, it’s already August for crying out loud! I quickly remind myself that I still have a week with this once in a lifetime group of people, at this one in a lifetime place. I climb into bed and make sure my alarm is set. On to the next!
By Maria Lourdes Riillo