SMU-in-London: Arts 2014

Students in the SMU-in-London: Arts spend five weeks in the city, becoming 21st-century explorers while taking two courses. Associate Theatre Professor Gretchen Smith in the Meadows School of the Arts teaches London theatre history from the era of Shakespeare to the present. Dance Professor Shelley Berg teaches about London as a metropolis filled with myriad “performance” experiences – cultural, social, historical and political.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle draws tourists from all over the world – including famous ones! Emily scored a shot of basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal when she and Stephanie visited the landmark.

Stephanie at Windsor Castle, 2014

Stephanie at Windsor Castle. Photo credit: Stephanie/SMU Adventures

Windsor Castle grounds, 2014

The beautiful Windsor Castle grounds. Photo credit: Emily/SMU Adventures

Shaquille O'Neal at Windsor Castle, 2014

Even the great Shaquille O’Neal enjoys being a tourist. Photo credit: Emily/SMU Adventures

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Last taste of Paris

Theatre majors Stephanie, a senior; Ryan "RP," a senior; and Jenna, a junior; enjoyed a final jaunt to Paris and hot chocolate at Angelina's.

Theatre majors Stephanie, a senior; Ryan “RP,” a senior; and Jenna, a junior; enjoyed a final jaunt to Paris and hot chocolate at Angelina’s. Photo credit: Ryan/SMU Adventures

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Parisian postcards

Dance majors Emily (’16), Emily (’16) and René (’17) enjoying the sunshine and sunsets in Paris.

Dance majors Emily, Emily and Rene in Paris

Photo credit: René/SMU Adventures

Dance majors Emily, Emily and Rene in Paris at sunset

Photo credit: René/SMU Adventures

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Weekend in Paris

Kinga in Paris - SMU-in-London Arts 2014

Kinga (’16) makes a weekend visit to Paris during her sojourn at SMU-in-London. Photo credit: Kinga/SMU Adventures

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Borough Market

Borough Market produceAfter visiting Borough Market and experiencing the vast array of food and food-related products, I find it extremely difficult to choose one experience to describe. A walk through that market is an adventure in new tastes, smells, and sights the likes of which I hadn’t even imagined before.

Kangaroo meatballs were featured next to gigantic wheels of cheese that seemed straight out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. All morning I was bombarded with food experiences, many of which did not even require the act of consumption. Despite the overwhelming sensory input, one market stall stands out from the rest. Just as I began my walk through the market, I turned a corner to see what must be the most visually striking produce stand in all of London.

The area covered in ripe, colorful fruits and vegetables occupied about the same amount of space as two smaller food stalls, and the myriad of colors and textures on display immediately drew me closer. Upon closer inspection, the produce was just as beautiful and wholesome as from afar. The proprietors of the stall had obviously spent a great deal of time cultivating their collection of produce, including many items that were new to me. Strangely shaped doughnut peaches, dragon fruit, and out-of-season pomegranates sat side-by-side with more common, but still enticing grapes, apples, and carrots.

I wanted to touch the beefsteak tomatoes, drawn as I was by their shape and bright red skin. The air smelled of fresh dirt and the sweet scent of slowly ripening fruit, and I felt that my senses were uniting to enhance the experience. After I had browsed at my leisure, a gruff man greeted me with a rough paper sack to fill with produce. He didn’t dote on me as a customer, and I actually have no idea if he spoke English. It didn’t matter. He was as authentic as the nectarines I selected for my lunch. (Emily, B.F.A. Dance ’16)


Borough Market breadMy sense of smell commands my feet to move to the center of the market and there I am in front of a giant, delectable bread display of croissants, breadsticks, muffins, and many other carb-heavy treats. The sign in front me reads “Karaway Bakery” and I know I cannot leave the stand without having a taste of the bread that produced the alluring aroma from across the market.

I ask the lady behind the counter about her recommendations, and with a thick Russian accent she replies, “All my favorites, baked fresh every day.” I glance at an article on the table that describes the bakery’s birth, “founded in London by a family with 120 years of baking experience and roots in Russia, Lithuania, and Ukraine.” I come to the realization that the bread in front of me is not just an enticing food display; it portrays a family tradition that has been passed down through countless generations. I start thinking back to my family’s own cherished, traditional recipes that represent countless years of heritage and pick out a 2-foot-long olive and cheese breadstick.

I smile and thank the lady and am ready to continue my trek through Borough Market, breadstick in hand. With the first bite I immediately taste the pungent cheddar cheese laced with the flavor of fresh olive. One bite leads to another and I am already almost halfway through eating the savory breadstick, I slow my pace because I know I have to save room for other culinary gems.

As I finish the last salty morsel, I stop myself from going back and ravishing another breadstick. Instead, I capture the memory of eating food that not only stimulated all of my senses, but also evoked a rich sense of globalization, family, and tradition with every mouthful. (Aymen, B.S. Biology, B.A. Spanish ’15)


Borough Market paellaMy favorite food experience by far was the paella I had for lunch. Coming from a Spanish background, I was so excited to taste another version of the dish I have had so many times before.

The sight of the dish was enough to bring me over and have a taste. All of the colors in the skillet, as well as the way the various seafood pieces were arranged on top, created a beautiful image. After I had a taste, my mind was decided. They gave me a portion that had a mixture of each part of the dish. It was then that I was truly able to appreciate all of the different tastes as they came together.

What I found even more interesting was the comparisons I was able to make between the paella I had at the market and the dish I had in Barcelona. The two dishes actually tasted pretty similar, which attested to the authenticity of the food in the market. The paella I had last weekend in Barcelona had a slightly more fishy taste, and the colors were much more vibrant in the dish from the market. I really enjoyed being able to have each of my senses aroused through color, smell, taste, and even the different textures provided by the different vegetables and fish pieces. (Melissa , B.A. English and Psychology, ’15)


Borough Market seafoodWalking through the Borough Market was like entering 70 countries at one time. Each stand was different, from exotic zebra meats to the aromatic smell of Italian fresh bread.

I was astonished by the specificity of the displays, some selling specialized olive oil soap while others sold luxurious truffles. In order to sell these exotic items and make a decent profit, each stand had to apply specific tactics to attract the audience.

This performance of selling merchandise varied dramatically, as some advocated live music while others simply were cooking in front of the audience. Other stands let the aroma of the food speak for itself, such as the truffle stand in which a giant sign stating “smell me” pointed to a jar of large truffles. (Kinga, B.S. Biology, ’16)

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Happy birthday, Queen Elizabeth!

Emily (’16) and René (’17) attended Trooping the Colour on June 14, 2014 – the ceremony marking the Queen’s official birthday. To their surprise, not only did they see Queen Elizabeth waving and smiling just a few feet away from them, but also Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, as well as William’s younger brother, Prince Harry.

RAF flyover, Buckingham Palace, June 2014

The royal family watches an RAF flyover from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Photo credit: Emily/SMU Adventures

Queen Elizabeth, Trooping the Colour, June 2014

Queen Elizabeth waves from her carriage during Trooping the Colour, June 2014. Photo credit: Emily/SMU Adventures

Prince Harry and Duchess Kate, Trooping the Colour, June 2014

Prince Harry and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, participate in Trooping the Colour during Queen Elizabeth’s 2014 birthday celebrations. Photo credit: Emily/SMU Adventures

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Brighton Pier and Trafalgar Square

Brighton Pier, daytime

Theatre majors Jenna, Becca and Steph at Brighton Pier.

Becca and Steph in the Brighton Pier tunnel. Photo credit: Jenna/SMU Adventures

Becca and Steph in the Brighton Pier tunnel. Photo credit: Jenna/SMU Adventures

Theatre majors Jenna ('15), Becca ('16), Parker ('16), Stephanie ('15) and Ryan ('15) in Trafalgar Square.

Theatre majors Jenna (’15), Becca (’16), Parker (’16), Stephanie (’15) and Ryan (’15) in Trafalgar Square.

Becca with actor Andrew Scott (a.k.a. Moriarity in the PBS series "Sherlock") after his performance in Birdland at the Royal Court Theatre. Photo credit: Becca/SMU Adventures

Becca with actor Andrew Scott (a.k.a. Moriarity in the PBS series “Sherlock”) after his performance in Birdland at the Royal Court Theatre. Photo credit: Becca/SMU Adventures

Steph, Becca and Jenna and the evening lights of Brighton Pier.

Steph, Becca and Jenna and the evening lights of Brighton Pier.

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London and beyond

Sophomore dance majors Emily, Emily and Rene at Stonehenge.

Sophomore dance majors Emily, Emily and Rene at Stonehenge.

An update from Professor Berg:

The students in the SMU-in-London Arts program have been busy soaking up the sights, sites, scents, sounds and sun (!) of London – and visiting town and country near and far.

In the city this week, we have attended an intriguing performance of choreographer Akram Khan’s “iTOMi,” his tribute to Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, sampled the foody delights of the marvelous Borough Market (fabulous pictures to come) and viewed the sobering exhibition “The Great War in Portraits” at the National Portrait Gallery. Several avid fans of The Lord of the Rings even tracked Gandalf to his, um, lair – in fact, they REALLY chatted with Sir Ian McKellen at his riverside pub, The Grapes, and joined in a very British pub quiz!

Last weekend, many students ventured out of London, seeing the marvels of Stonehenge, the seaside resort city of Brighton, the elegant spa city of Bath, and braved the Highlands of Scotland. Where will we go and what will we see next week? Stay tuned for more pictures and updates from our students.

Sophomore theatre major Parker with Sir Ian McKellen

Sophomore theatre major Parker with Sir Ian McKellen

Stephanie, a senior majoring in theatre, at the Tower of London. Photo credit: Stephanie/SMU Adventures

Stephanie, a senior majoring in theatre, at the Tower of London. Photo credit: Stephanie/SMU Adventures

Senior theatre major Jenna at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Photo credit: Jenna/SMU Adventures

Senior theatre major Jenna at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Photo credit: Jenna/SMU Adventures

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Views of the Scottish Highlands

Students in the SMU-in-London: Arts program toured the Highlands of Scotland:

In Scotland: Bailee, a senior majoring in applied physiology/sport management; Melissa, a senior majoring in English with minors in psychology and education; and Kinga, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry. Photo by Melissa/SMU Adventures

IMG_5413

Photo by Melissa/SMU Adventures

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High tea and ‘King Lear’

SMU-in-London Arts students at high tea. Photo credit: Melissa/SMU Adventures

SMU-in-London Arts students at high tea. Photo credit: Melissa/SMU Adventures

Seeing "King Lear" at the Olivier Theatre: Melissa, a senior majoring in English with minors in psychology and education; Bailee, a senior majoring in applied physiology/ sport management; Aymen, a senior majoring in biology; Kate, a senior majoring in business, film and media. Photo credit: Melissa/SMU Adventures

Seeing “King Lear” at the Olivier Theatre: Melissa, a senior majoring in English with minors in psychology and education; Bailee, a senior majoring in applied physiology/ sport management; Aymen, a senior majoring in biology; and Kate, a senior majoring in business, film and media. Photo credit: Melissa/SMU Adventures

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