Even When I Don’t Intend To, I End Up Talking About Hamilton

Getting settled in London before the real work begins.

It’s been a good long while since I’ve updated; a solid ten days, at that.  Rather than going in chronological order (so predictable,) I’ll touch on some highlights from the last week and a half.

Seeing All the Shows!

After viewing the second part of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I can officially say that I’m in love with the Malfoy boys.  They stole the show and I stuck around for Stage Door afterwards so that I could let them know that.  The two actors, Alex Price and Anthony Boyle, are ridiculously adorable.  So there’s that…

Cherene, Gabe, and I also managed to get front row tickets to go see In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut musical (which earned him a Tony before Hamilton broke the world and all kinds of records.)  I went into this show with little information, aside from the fact that it was written by LMM about living in Washington Heights.  What I saw was a master class in small-space choreography.  Kings Cross Theatre is on an old, abandoned train platform.  The audience sits on either side of a rectangular stage which is where the train used to dock.  As such, this sets the stage (no pun intended) for a very intimate experience (no really…I almost got kicked in the face by a dancer.)  But the dancing itself was truly wonderful.


For those that know me well, you know that my favorite part of pop-culture is knowing all sorts of random trivial knowledge.  I knew that in the midst of performing In the Heights (literally…they were seconds from walking onto the stage,) Lin mentioned to his cast-mate Christopher Jackson that he had an idea for his next big project.  No audition necessary, Lin simply started calling him Mr. Washington or Mr. President and that was that.

Consequently, my favorite moment was when I heard the character Benny sing and realized that it was the only part that could have been portrayed by Chris Jackson.  Arun Blair-Mangat as Benny performed spectacularly, don’t get me wrong, but I know Hamilton much better than I know In the Heights and I was getting shades of George Washington with every lyric and bit of dialogue that came out of his mouth.

He was also adorable…

I attended my first two screenings with the London Film Festival last week (and have seen two others since.) Ma’ Rosa which was a foreign film about a neighborhood mother/drug dealer living in the Phillipines who gets arrested by corrupt cops and All This Panic which is a documentary about five girls growing up in New York City.  Today I saw The Eagle Huntress, a documentary about a young girl named Aisholpan (a 13 year old nomad from Mongolia) who decided that she wanted to be the very first female ever to tame/train an eagle to hunt for her, a role traditionally suitable only for men.  (It was wonderful.  Go see it if you have a chance.)  I also saw A Day For Women, a narrative on the very first public pool in Cairo and the issues it caused between men and women in the community.


In the upcoming week and a half, I have plans to see 26 films (ahhh!) and attend one industry event wherein I will “watch as a producer, private financier, public funder, sales agent, theatrical distributor and VOD expert navigate the perilous waters of guiding a hypothetical film from development through to distribution in 90 minutes. An entertaining, enlightening way to find out how the film value chain really works: everything is made up; everything is played for real.”

Finally, I obtained a Odeon Limitless pass.  This is a newer concept in the US but the UK has been doing it for a while.  Essentially, I pay 20£ per month and can see as many movies as I want.  Considering I’m attending class three hours a week, I can only fathom that I’ll make use of this.  I’ve already used it to see The Magnificent Seven and secure tickets to Doctor Strange and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (which I’ll be seeing AT midnight in Leicester Square…which is where they’re doing the film premiere…NBD.)

(P.S. I guess this fits in this section as well…I started watching the Netflix Marvel shows in my off time.  I finished the first season of Daredevil in about 36 hours.  I’m now rewatching Jessica Jones so that I can move on to Daredevil season 2 and Luke Cage.  I know that this will make some people very happy.)

Sightseeing Too!

The majority of the museums here are free to enter, barring any special exhibitions.  As such, I’ve now wandered into the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and (for an extremely brief moment) The Tate Modern.

The people watching is pretty great here too.  I found a random guy playing the bagpipes outside Harrods and had to take a picture for Papa.


I finally crossed over the Thames and got all kinds of fun photos from the South Bank.  I walked the Thames for a bit and came across the London Eye, several of the bridges, The Tate Modern, the MI6 building, the Old Bailey, and several other notable (and arguably recognizable) sights.








Cherene and I, at the drop of a hat, decided to follow Anna Kendrick’s advice and hustle to the London Eye one evening to attend a promotional event for Dreamworks’ Trolls.  It’s a unique and truly delightful experience, being able to simply show up where the celebrities are.  This is unfortunately not a luxury afforded to those living in Dallas, Texas full-time.

Sorta Studying?

Classes officially start tomorrow.  However, I’ve had many induction/orientation/fairs/events going on both in and around campus.  I got to meet my professors and several of my classmates.  We are a relatively small program; there are only 13 people in my degree program, several of whom I got to meet up with last Wednesday.

I’ve also had the fortune of meeting up with a Birkbeck Alumni who has already completed the program that I’m starting now.  Martyn and I talked for an hour and a half about the program, the professors, and of course…television and film.

I began my readings preemptively tonight.  One paragraph in particular had me thinking about Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda (because apparently I fixate…who knew!!!)

“… contemporary history is practiced and written not in the certitude of concrete “historical facts” but rather in the productive unreliability and partiality of lived and invested memories, murmurs, nostalgias, stories, myths, and dreams.

Acknowledging both his or her own fascinations and interests in the present as well as the fascinations and interests of those in the past, acknowledging that history is always writing itself over and writing over itself, this new type of historian is one who prevents history from becoming merely history.”

I was drawn to this bit simply because it’s right.  History is written by the victors and it is up to the questioning academic to approach it not as fact, but as one particular viewpoint.  Had Chernow (the author of the book) and Miranda (the writer/star of the musical) not done their research, had they not jumped to conclusions where historical documents were lacking, the show would not have achieved the success that is has.  In delving into the memories, stories, and even locations of history’s Alexander Hamilton, Lin has essentially recreated history, making it relatable to an audience 240 years after it happened (using the arguably dying medium of musical theater, no less!)

I cannot expound the virtues of Lin-Manuel Miranda enough, apparently.  But I will, for your sake, move on.


Last but not least, I have broadened my spiritual horizons by seeking out a synagogue in my area for the High Holy Days.

Unfortunately, the synagogue I found wasn’t exactly what I was looking for (and I doubt I’ll go back.)  They were just a smidge too conservative for me.  However!  I will say that the rabbi who presided over the Erev Rosh Hashana service just so happened to be the very first female rabbi in Britain, ordained in 1975.

The more you know!

Odds and Ends

I now have a working debit card and phone!  I know…I know…several of you were waiting with bated breath to see how that panned out.  It took an act of God (and I only had to go to Shabbat services once!!!) but it finally all worked out.  My phone even has a phone case now!

Now, if only our residence hall had trash cans…or laundry facilities….or…you know…a working kitchen.

Wishful thinking.


Coming Up Next…

  • First day of class.
  • Movies.  So many movies. Kinda ALL the movies.
  • Oktoberfest (if I decide to go. Is it REALLY my scene? >_>)
  • Yom Kippur fasting while attending an Industry Event with the Film Festival.
  • Many Marvel shows and (let’s be honest here…) more Hitchcock films than I ever anticipated viewing.

Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Obtained my Master's in Film, Television and Screen Media in London, England. Now working as a small-group travel coordinator. Nice to meet you!

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