Sunday, August 4, 2013

Shakespeare, Harry Potter, and Castles


This past weekend was quite busy and fun-filled! About a month ago, we made plans to head to the Warner Brothers Studio, where they filmed many of the Harry Potter movies and are now doing tours of much of the set and prop displays, with Greg, Amber, and Karen, a friend of Amber's. Our tickets were for Friday at 2:30pm, so on Thursday night after work, Josh and I headed to Greg and Amber's so that we could all leave from the same place in the morning. Amber and Karen had tickets to see A Midsummer Night's Dream on Thursday evening, so Josh and I decided to tag along and I'm so glad we did! The show was being put on by the Abbey Shakespeare Players, who perform at St. Dogmael's Abbey, which was really cool. I didn't have my camera so I didn't get any good pictures myself, but here are some photos I found of the abbey and last year's show to get an idea of what it was like. A few years ago I saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare Festival in Iowa City and it was belly-laugh inducing, and since then A Midsummer Night's Dream has been on my list of things to see as it's supposed to be one of the best Shakespearean comedies--and I definitely agree! Plus the setting made it even cooler, and the evening was rain-free.




Friday we left at about 8:30 for the WB Studio, which is on the outskirts of London. We saw so many cool things there that I can't even begin to cover it all here, but if you're Facebook friends with me you can check out photos here. We got to see a lot of the original sets that were used throughout all the films, like the Great Hall, the Gryffindor Boys' Dormitory, and the Potion's Classroom. Some of my favorite tidbits that we learned:
  • The Great Hall had real flagstone floors, used because the designers realized that the floors would need to withstand a lot of wear and tear throughout the course of the movies.
  • Most of the animals used to play characters such as Fang, Mrs. Norris, and Crookshanks were rescue animals.
  • Most of the moving portraits were painted after members of the crew.
  • The Boys' Dormitory was built to accomodate the actors at age 10-12, and by the final film none of them could lie down in the beds without their legs hanging off the end, so they never filmed them lying down.
  • In shots requiring emphasis on Hagrid's height, English Rugby player Martin Bayfield acted as a body double, wearing a prosthetic head.
I hadn't met Karen before but had heard a lot about her, but loved getting to meet her and really enjoyed her company, as evidenced by the fact that by the end of the tour we were horsing around :)




We got back to Greg & Amber's late on Friday, and on Saturday we picked up Wodge for a trip to Dinefwr Castle in Llandeilo. It was a lovely forested walk up to the castle, where we frolicked about and took lots of pictures.

This ended up being the perfect weekend to take time away, because I finished my rough draft of my literature review this past week and have hit 6,000 words! I also started my data collection, which will continue into this week, but all this meant I didn't have much to work on dissertation-related at this point, so I didn't feel bad spending so much time away. Plus this was my last weekend of adventures planned for the summer, and between now and the end of September the time I spend working on my dissertation will be continually increasing, so I'm not sure how much adventuring I'll get in before the weather turns rainy and autumnal, but I had a fantastic time this weekend :)

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