23 July Vikki Medhurst Stephen Wrentmore A Monster Calls

Today’s entry may be a little brief. I didn’t really get out because we had a couple of guest speakers and I spend the mid-day having lunch with Vikki and touring some fabric stores with her in Soho.

This morning our guest speaker was Vikki Medhurst, my former student now working in the film industry in London. She spoke to the group about her work on a number films as a maker, a cutter and recently she received an associate or assistant design credit. She is working primarily in film but also television. Currently, she is cutting costume for a new Netflix series about Henry V. She has also worked recently on a new film with Chris Pine, Outlaw King. She was also an assistant cutter on the recent academy award winner for costume, Phantom Thread. I enjoyed listening about her work and she seems to be enjoying it still but, is ready for a holiday. She says in September and October.

After class, she, Christina and I went for lunch at Koox around the corner. We had a very pleasant lunch and conversation. After, Vikki and I went to the gallery next door. They were holding a piece for me and I wanted her opinion. From there, we headed down to Berwick Street to look at some fabrics stores before she had to return to work.

I returned to the dorm for brief break and went down in time to meet our afternoon guest speaker, Stephen Wrentmore. Stephen is joining our faculty in the fall and we were able to convince him speak to the class since he has been working in theater in and out of London for a number of years. He spoke about some of the differences of working in the UK and America. He recently spent a couple of years working in the western US for LORT theaters. I felt he was very engaging and the student seemed to appreciate what he had to offer.

After that, we said goodbye to him and headed off to the South Bank. Tonight we are seeing A Monster Calls at the Old Vic Theatre. This is one of the most storied theatres in the city and has existed for over 200 years. Christina and I picked up the tickets and went around the corner to the Bar & Kitchen for a light dinner. Mine consisted of ice cream. I wasn’t hungry but, it’s hot and I wanted something cool.

We met up with Yoon Bae (Stephen’s wife-also coming to UK on our faculty in the fall) and the students for the show. This is a new play based on a book of the same name and a film. The piece was an ensemble work with emphasis on movement and visual imagery. It is based on a popular book of the same name for children. The production is about young Conor (abt age 13) dealing with his mother’s cancer and ultimate death as well a distant father and bullying at school. It is also a fantasy. I must confess, I was not a big fan of this production. While it has gotten very positive reviews, I thought everything about it was sub-par from the acting to the design. It looked cheap and the ensemble was not particularly convincing. Movement was weak. I could go on and on but, I felt very quickly after it began, “I saw this play four years ago: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night while in London and they did a much better job.”

Vikki Medhurst

After lunch.

Stephen Wrentmore

The Old Vic.

Production photo of A Monster Calls from the web. I DID NOT PHOTOGRAPH DURING THE PRODUCTION. Young Conor and the ensemble.

Production photo of A Monster Calls from the web. I DID NOT PHOTOGRAPH DURING THE PRODUCTION. Young Conor and the ensemble. It looks much better in the photos than it did on stage. Although the projections were terrible. Not very sophisticated and amateurish.

Production photo of A Monster Calls from the web. I DID NOT PHOTOGRAPH DURING THE PRODUCTION. Young Conor and the personification of the yew tree.

Christina and I in front of the theater before the show.