In Iceland: Day Two

(This post is by Cathy Campo, BMC class of 2019. Photo credit to Amy Radbill)

We woke up this morning to a beautiful buffet breakfast at the KEX Hostel. Some favorite dishes included: hard boiled eggs, porridge, salami, fresh cheese, fresh yogurt, fresh baked bread with Icelandic butter and jams. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture because my hands were busy stuffing my face.

At 9:00am, we met our dope bus driver, Thor, (it takes a very cool person to pull off the name “Thor,” and let’s just say he definitely pulls it off) for a Golden Circle bus tour. We started out by stopping at Þingvellir National Park (that ‘þ’ is called a ‘thorn’ and makes a ‘th’ sound. It is one of the 10 letters Icelandic has that English does not) where the Vikings would gather in the summer.

Thingvellir National Park Continental Divide 1
This path runs along the continental divide between North America and Europe–the sides are marked by the rock walls you see here. (Which side is which? Honestly, we’re not entirely sure.)
Thingvellir National Park the Settlement
The Settlement at Thingvellir National Park.
Thingvellir National Park water and the Settlement
Another view of the Settlement.

We took a leisurely one-hour walk down the snowy trail, taking in white-blanketed volcanic rocks. Sights included a little stream and icy mountains. Notable occurrences: Catharine made snow angels, Alexandra discovered the mountain from which Gloucester attempts to commit suicide, and the cast tried out method acting by practicing an exercise of Mark’s, ice walking, on actual ice. (But don’t worry, parents–the ice was a solid few feet thick and no one fell in!)

Ice walking Bridget
Bridget, ice walking.
Ice walking
Mark joins the fun!

As we made our way to the geothermal secret-mineral-spring-that-actually-isn’t-so-secret (more commonly known as “Gamla Laugin” or The Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s first swimming pool) we passed the largest lake in Iceland as well as some horses (which they actually eat here).

Speaking of Icelandic food, a classic Icelandic treat, chocolate covered licorice, was passed around while we traveled. I’ll be honest, the taste was not for me, but this could just be because I don’t like licorice. I interviewed a few members of the cast on the subject:

Miciah: “Well, I liked the chocolate part of it. Whatever you do, don’t separate the chocolate from the licorice because then you’re just stuck with licorice and it’s disgusting.”

Amelia: “I don’t like licorice usually, but it tastes good in chocolate. I thought it was really good!”

Caroline: “The first time I had it, it was great. And the second time? Yeah, not so great.”

Maybe Goneril poisons Regan with chocolate licorice? Further research to be conducted in the future.

Now back to the topic at hand: the Secret Lagoon was beautiful! You could see the inviting steam rising from the water. The swimming culture is different and very big in Iceland. You are first asked to shower before entering the water, to keep it as pure as possible. Many people swam with foam noodles, which some of our cast members creatively used to write out “BMC.” (we are artists, after all).

BMC pool noodles Secret Lagoon
(Photo credit to Amelia Couderc)

The water was denser and felt mineral-y (according to Amelia; I did not actually go in). Marisa notes the huge, algae-encased boulders on the ground that you can sit on (she also advises you not to fall in, because of those boulders). It felt amazing to have half your body warm and the other half cold, according to Miciah. Just outside the pool, there was a geyser, or geysir in Icelandic (“a vent in Earth’s surface that periodically ejects a column of hot water and steam,” according to Google) that was hot enough to burn your hands on.

Secret Lagoon 2

Secret Lagoon 3Some of our hearty students were able to last in the warmth of the pool for the full two hours! “I feel like my insides were boiled,” said Amelia.

On the other hand, Alexandra cheerfully says she felt “grounded and earthed” and “no longer depleted of negative ions.”

Roz said: “Did not cure my cough: 2/10. But would spring again.”

On our way out, a miracle happened: It started snowing! On our spring break! Wooo!

Next up was the Friðheimar Tomato Farm. Who knew they had tomato farms in Iceland? Not me! It was this amazing, warm little greenhouse with artificial light for sunlight. A worker told us all about their production of tomatoes. Their pure Icelandic water, which is pumped in through pipes, makes for fine tomatoes. As does the fact that because Iceland is an isolated island, they don’t really have pests and thus don’t use pesticides. She told us about how sometimes they do get “bad flies,” but they simply let loose “good flies” to fight them off. They also import bumble bees from the Netherlands–a queen bee and about 60 female workers in each box–to help with production.

Fridheimar Tomato Farm 1
The dining room in the greenhouse at Friðheimar Tomato Farm.
Fridheimar Tomato Farm 2
The dining room in the greenhouse at Friðheimar Tomato Farm.

We were provided an amazing lunch rivaling our breakfast–the freshest, best tomato soup I’ve ever had along with yummy sour cream. We also tried tortellini with tomato sauce and a flatbread with tomato and cheese. In addition, we had an assortment of fresh breads with a special cucumber spread and Icelandic butter. Dessert appropriately arrived in little terra cotta pots. Tomato ice cream, cheesecake with a tomato jelly, and apple tomato pie. Yum!

After lunch, we stopped at the wee horse farm next door. Despite not being able to pronounce the horses’ Icelandic names, we bonded with them anyway.

Then we bussed to Gullfoss, a breathtaking waterfall that the bottom of the earth swallows.

Gulfoss 2
Gullfoss, or the Golden Waterfall (not looking all that golden at dusk on a March evening, but still utterly breathtaking).

Lastly, we made it to our last stop on the tour, Geysir, at around 6:15pm. Exhausted but still excited, we overlooked the geysers, like the one we saw earlier today at the spring. We watched as they sprang up, up, up every five or so minutes to perform magical shows.

TLDR: All in all, Iceland is an amazing country that teems with gorgeous natural sights, ridiculously fresh food, and horses that are sometimes pets and sometimes served with gravy.

A Report From Rehearsal: Exploring the Physicality of the Characters

(This post is by Cathy Campo, BMC class of 2019.)

We started today’s rehearsal with a check-in in iambic pentameter. For example, mine was “I miss snow. Come back, please. I want to play.” Next, Alexandra led us in a short but wonderful yoga session (pictured).

Lear YogaWe did a few rounds of the ‘chair game’ we learned from the NIE Theatre’s workshop (pictured), further working on our strategy and making sure that not more than one person was going for the same chair at a time. Mark then joined us, offering his check-in about his brain exploding from thinking in iambic pentameter, and then discussing the physicality of our God’s spies. “Where does your God spy live in your body?” He asked. “Be in an engaged body that is not the same as your walking-on-campus body.” He advised us to have a physical adjustment when transforming into our spy and told us to be really alive in our senses throughout the entirety of the play, which is something we’ve been working on a lot through exercises such as “ice walking” and “pranayama.”

Following this, we moved on to our scrap metal game from February 8th. We each made our way onto the large tabletop one at a time. We embraced our power, moving to the best place to scan the playing field. Then we placed our respective metal pieces in the most perfect position. Finally, we moved off the table and to any open chair beside the one we had started in. Our final masterpiece of metal objects is pictured.

Masterpiece of metal objects Lear exerciseMost interesting to me in this exercise was the moment in which the person made her choice of where to place her object. We really took the time to be in our bodies, taking about 15 or so seconds to think of where to place our metal pieces. Something to consider is that our characters in Lear who make much bigger decisions presumably take a lot more time. The game also caused an interesting juxtaposition from the powerful feeling I had in deciding it was my turn to go and the vulnerability I felt at first of not knowing where to place my metal piece.

Finally, we moved onto some movement improv (which was pretty cool for me because I’m actually in a movement improv class right now). “Use the music as a soundtrack to the soul of your spy/character,” advised Mark. We explored questions like, how does our character (both our spy and Lear character(s)) stand? How do they sit? How do they tie their shoes, move around the perimeter of the room, etc.? Together, we interacted and used the space to discover many things about our characters.


A Report from Rehearsal: Approaching the Text With a Variety of Ideas

(This post is by Cathy Campo, BMC class of 2019)

Today’s scene work was broken up into six separate hour-long parts with different cast members. For the first two hours, Miciah, Roz, Catharine, and Cathy worked on pages 5-8 (in which Lear divides up the kingdom, Goneril and Regan pronounce their love, and Cordelia announces she has “nothing” to say). We played around with given circumstances and even set the scene in a nursing home, which added a gentle intimacy to the tone and made Cordelia extremely unsympathetic. We worked on creating very pregnant pauses through Cordelia and Lear’s “nothing”s and discussed how Goneril is an haute-couture wearing gal who knows how to get what she wants. Further, we touched upon the beginnings of assigning actions, such as adding “to caress Lear” and “to honey Lear,” to Goneril’s love-professing monologue.

Mark and Maya in rehearsal Feb 14
Mark and assistant director, Maya, overlook the scene from a position in front of a map of Iceland. Photo credit to Cathy Campo.
Roz Miciah Catharine Sam in rehearsal
A dramatic snapshot of a dramatic scene. Photo credit to Cathy Campo.

For the next hour, we worked on pages 26-30 in which the Fool and Lear banter and Goneril reprimands Lear for not taming his “insolent retinue” (28). Roz sang some of her lines to “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and Catharine and Mark scored professor points for being clever. All around, productive and fun time. Happy Valentine’s Day, folks!