Second week at Central Saint Martins. Every Monday and Tuesday I get off that train and to quote Dorothy Gale ” I’m not in Kansas anymore”, though Thames Ditton is hardly a dust bowl and I haven’t yet seen Miss Grinch outside Waitrose).
What’s amazing is how a fifteen minute train ride can change your world. Huge walks through brightly lit undergrounds,mega restaurants,men in skirts. Enough already – I’m beginning to sound like the musical number ( usually the third song in) where the ingenue launches into some new world , see Michael Crawford in Hello Dolly, “Put on your Sunday clothes”, but the list is endless.
So far, during the sixteen hours I’ve been there , I’ve had craft sessions in ideas and story structure, lectures on theatre business and my first lab with the head of a theatre company ( Rob Drummer – Company of Angels). But it’s the extras – or rather the guidance leading one to make use of them – that make this feel unique to me.
So, I’ve been to a play set in a Karaoke bar on the Uxbridge Road, watched the stars of the future perform monologues which shall surely earn them a good agent, been to a Q&A with influencers of all stage, screen, radio and TV, and an invite to a naming of a theatre company. Tomorrow night there is a scratch night at the Pleasance, a local fringe venue.
I’ve written five-year plans, story outlines, early pages of the play for our degree, researched theatres, entered competitions and last but not least, this blog.
Yes, I’m a busy bee indeed. Must go – I ‘ve set myself the challenge to write a ten minute short on Britain after Brexit – just hope it won’t prove too hard…
The time has come. I’m about to step through the institute of learning that is Central Saint Martins, not so much “hallowed portals” as industrial chic really. Imagine a huge victorian warehouse with a street running through it. It is actually called “the Street” – a wide avenue with shop-fronted workshops, a café, an art shop, and at the end a bar. I longed to show the girls around, but they were not allowed beyond the ping-pong tables at the far end. Outside a large square with timed mini jets and concrete benches, which can be seen in the latest Bridget Jones film.
I won’t pretend the nerves haven’t kicked in. They have and tomorrow there’ll be screams of panic inside. I have tried to be prepared but I can’t help feeling it is never enough. All last week a plethora of Amazon parcels flew through the door – ten Shakespeares, a volume of Chekhov, books on Screenplays,etc. Luckily I could make up the reading list from a huge collection dotted around here.
This last friday I attended a welcome day which consisted of stalls for the library, students union, health services,etc and lots of lovely designer canvas bags ( no more 10p Waitrose plastic recyclers on my shopping trips thank you very much) and then to the main event.
An assortment of the main department heads of the college – all full of welcomes, advice and humour and the (as in a comedy gig) usual questions of which course are you on? Not many from MAs and I’m sure most people still think I’m Staff. The Acting Course were loudest unsurprisingly, will they still be laughing when they have to perform a scene butt-naked as was the norm twenty years ago at the Drama Centre- all in the name of barrier breakdown?
And then, Jeremy Till. Fluffy white-hair and wise – a modern day Wizard from behind the curtain but this time with a Powerpoint presentation. Short rules which he went on to explain. Be curious, always ask, be yourself and,as CSM is so prized :- Be confident, not arrogant. Hand on heart there is no chance of the latter with me.
I’m away now to pack a bag filled with flashy new stationery, sort out student travel and cram in a copy of Hamlet. Wish me luck.