Lydia in Moscow

Lydia, a junior President’s Scholar majoring in theatre studies in Meadows School of the Arts and Spanish in Dedman College, is spending fall 2010 in Moscow, where she is studying with the Moscow Art Theater.

Read more from Lydia in Moscow

Brief thoughts

It’s been a while since I have written a blog. This fact is due to another fact: that I have been very very very busy! Every night I think to myself, “I need to write a blog tonight because so many things happened today that deserve discussing and sharing with people.” But bedtime comes quickly after long days of classes and long evenings of shows and rehearsals. Thus, my hiatus. I apologize, please forgive me.

Tonight I break this hiatus with some brief comments, because it is once again quite late and my weary body is telling me that bedtime is NOW, and I want to listen to my body. After all, if I cannot listen to my body, then my Russian movement classes and my ballet classes and my stage combat classes, and my acting training etc. etc. is all for naught. An actor’s body is his instrument. It must always be in check, always ready to ignite instantaneously with the energy of an canon. At least, that is what my body is learning to do. Jumping and leaping and crawling a lot in movement tires one to the point that it becomes difficult to ignite oneself, but alas, that is the life we actors lead. Always, ALLways (ALL – get it?) we must be ready, willing to come alive, willing to throw our entire ability and will into the execution of the art onstage. It’s like the marines without the combat. Unless it’s stage combat … wow, that was dumb – I must be tired.

A few days ago I had dinner with a first-year Russian MXAT student named Ianor. His English was about the same as my Russian. It was a linguistic match made in heaven – a very delightful, patched and laughter-filled heaven. I was trying to pantomime the verb “to want” – talk about an acting exercise! Not sure he got it, but we became friends, and I had a lot of fun. I have been wanting to meet more Russians here, as most of my contact has been with my professors or with the other American students in the program.

Today I was finally able to meet up with a friend of a friend from SMU; her name is Lina, and she has lived in Moscow her entire life. It was a real pleasure to get to know her, and hopefully I will see her more in the future. We met at church, at the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, this afternoon, and went to get coffee before the service. I finally tried the gariechi chocolat (basically chocolate soup – soooooo good!). Just to show you how expensive Moscow is, I payed just over $8 (250 rubles) for a little baby cup of it! It actually ended up being my lunch, so I guess I can justify the expense.

Church was such a treat. My friend Donovan also joined Lina and me for the service, and it was wonderful to be a part of an international community. People from all over the world attend this multi-denominational service. I hope that in the next two months I have a chance to participate in the life of the family there and get to know more people who are excited about worshipping God in Moscow. What a blessing it is to find spiritual family on the other side of the world!

moscow3.jpgBefore church this morning some friends and I toured the State Armoury collection inside the Kremlin. Silver fountains, gold incense dispensers, glass tables, enormous emeralds, pearl-flourished Bibles, silk empress dresses, velvet saddles, jewel-adorned swords, enameled dishes, diamond thrones and genuine princess carriages. Truly some of the most ornate and beautiful items I have ever seen compose this museum of treasures that the Russian Tsars and presidents collected over the years.

Being surrounded by such exquisite detail and overflowing luxury certainly encourages the imagination to flourish as far as dreams of court and royalty are concerned. How amazing it is that people actually lived that way! Of course, it was a very small percentage of the population, but the notion that anyone Once Upon a Time drank mead out of a solid gold nugget is astounding.

Whenever I go to museums I am also intrigued by the simple truth that they commemorate the distance between Then and Now. No longer do we create extravagant carriages or rifles decked in rubies. We do not drink out of golden goblets or commission the master silversmith to create a human-size clock that will stun any viewer into pondering the meaning of life before even consulting the minute hand. I do not mean to advocate luxury and excessive, pompous flaunting of wealth, but a little bit of the princess inside my heart wonders where all the fairytale magic has gone if we are just looking at poofy dresses instead of wearing them …

On the contemporary side of luxury, wealth is very obvious here. Seriously, I have never seen so many elegantly dressed women or high-heeled feet in my entire life!

moscow4.jpg I really don’t know how they do it – stilettos on these streets?? No way, baby. Russian women are talented; you have to give it to them, but from my limited time in Moscow, I have gleaned the notion that there exists great pressure on these women to always appear perfectly kept and gorgeous. Lina, my new Russian friend, seconded my opinion, as did another young woman I met at church. Appearances and money mean a lot here. There are so many crazily expensive stores here.

Today I went with Lina and another friend to GUM (pronounced Goom), one of the largest shopping malls here, and certainly the most beautiful mall I have ever been to. The minute you step in you feel like you have entered a World Fair exposition building. Clothes cost so much more than they are worth, but just walking around is entertaining enough. We got food at a little cafeteria of sorts and chatted for a while about culture and politics and the American embassy. I was thankful for a perspective on Moscow that is outside of the art scene. I want to understand or at least experience as much of Russia as possible from all spheres, not just the family of the Moscow Art Theater.

I am getting tired, and it’s almost 1 a.m., so I will chat sometime soon about seeing theater in another language, as we did tonight – “Marriage of Figaro” the play, performed in French with Russian subtitles… an experience to say the least!

Share this story:
    This entry was posted in Lydia in Moscow. Bookmark the permalink.