“A Christmas Carol” at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

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Douglas Anderson School of the Arts put on the winter classic: “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Bonnie Harrison, on the MainStage for the holiday season. First for some backstage photos–
And now into the show–

“Parade” at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

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Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Fla., put on the musical production “Parade” November 2016. One of my photos was featured on BroadwayWorld.com.

Mutter Courage und Ihre Kinder

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I heard Mutter Courage und Ihre Kinder von Bertolt Brecht was playing at the Berliner Ensemble. I got a ticket for 10 Euro, and it was one of the best productions I’ve ever seen.

Brecht holds a specific influence in the direction I’ve taken. I first heard of him in a theatre history class at my high school, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. We learned of epic theatre, and it’s combination of media and theatrical elements. As a storyteller in the 21st century, the increasing significance of technology in communicating ideas was apparent. In middle school, cell phones had just started becoming a thing, by junior year at DA, everyone had one.

I decided to major in journalism at the University of Florida, expanding my skill repertoire to include media. I took German classes, a two-week photojournalism course in Berlin and now, I’ve been living in Germany for six months. Alles ist ein bisschen verrückt (in einem Guten Weg, natürlich).

The show was intense.

I met up with some friends after the show, and Matt and I found lifeguard stands on the sidewalk. Not totally sure what their deal was, but they were fun for a few minutes and we befriended some Polish guys walking by with whom to continue the night’s adventure.

The Wall Lives

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I took a train from Mannheim the Saturday before the Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program began. My host ma picked me up from the station. She told me she had a daughter my age studying abroad in France – she was also a redhead, and I’d be staying in her room. Once I got my luggage up the stairs, all seemed well, until we came to the living room. She said I couldn’t sit on the couches — I laughed, I thought it was a joke… it is different here.

The first day at Brentanostraße 50, I met Matt. He lived just one stop down from me on the S1, at Mexikoplatz. I heard Roger Waters’ the Wall tour was coming to Berlin. (I mean, the Wall!! In Berlin!! Come on.) No one else at the Mensa seemed as keen on it. Matt and I got our tickets and two weeks later were on the U2 headed out toward Olympiastadion.

The show began in a blaze of fire. Our seats were high enough up that we couldn’t distinguish the shadows on Roger Waters’ face, but technology helped out. A wall of screens behind him illuminated him and media messages, in German and English.

A swirl of dark sounds and entangled memories ensued.

Art, Blood, Beer & a Field of Roses

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We kicked off the week with a night at the opera, specifically the Nationaltheater Opernhaus in Goetheplatz, Mannheim.

The opera was “Otello.”

It felt good to be in a theatre again, even if we were a bunch of Americans watching a Shakespearean play, converted into an opera, performed in Italian, with German subtitles. Uhh…

It was awesome. The set was perfect, not gaudy, just enough. Foreboding spikes locked together the wall that characters would throw themselves against in hurls of despair. They glinted as Desdemona’s costumes grew darker.

Though we were still fresh in our stay in Germany, it wasn’t difficult to figure out what was going on, the acting revealed what the subtitles didn’t. It was also neat to see an actor in blackface, I’d learned of it in theatre courses before, but had never seen it on stage. Otello’s face was painted black, darker than any skin-tone I’ve ever seen. As I have no other experience to compare it to, I’m not sure if historically that’s how it’s been done, or if that was the director’s choice to emphasize the contrasts in the black/white, light/dark, good/evil themes. In the first act, Desdemona wore all white.

Am Mittwoch (on Wednesday), Mone, Sabrina, Jason and I went to see “The Place Beyond the Pines” auf Deutsch (in German) at the movie theatre the next day. It was a pretty good flick. The movie theatre was also really nice, much more thought went into the design of this Cineplex than any AMC or Regal I’ve been to in the U.S. Also, they sell beer! What a great idea! They’ve got the usual popcorn, nachos and soda, too, but beer! Not sure on the price or quality, as I had water, but still, come on America.

We bought Eurorail tickets (which are SO much cheaper to order in the U.S. than to purchase here, trust me, I’ve done both) and after class on Friday, eight of us caught a train to Bruges, Belgium.

We hadn’t purchased reservations for seats, however, which meant that we spent a fair portion of the trip hanging out by the WCs (toilets) or sitting on the floor at the fronts/backs of cars.

In the next to last stretch, I did get a seat, though. And who did I end up sitting across from? The travel editor for de Volkskrant, a national Dutch newspaper. He told me of reporting from Afghanistan for six years, and how he helped start a journalism school there. We talked of cameras, the Himalayas, white-water canoeing…it was an interesting conversation, to say the least, one of the best parts of the trip.

I would have liked to learn more about that school, but I had to catch the next train, and didn’t catch his name (so if anyone reading this knows…shoot me an email! sojournjones@gmail.com)

We switched trains again, and made it to Bruges. We found the Europa hostel, dropped our things off and headed into town for food and beer. We discovered mayonnaise is the appropriate topping to french fries here, not ketchup. (Delicious.)

We stepped in a few beautiful cathedrals, including Our Lady’s Church, where we saw the “Madonna and Child” by Michelangelo Buonarotti and carved of Carrara marble. We ate chocolate and toured de Halve Maan Brewery on Saturday, which came with a light beer. But they also brewed doubles, triples and quadruples. So, natürlich, I also tried the quadruple. It was beautiful.

We closed out the day with more beer. It was Belgium, after all, the beer is superb there.

Sunday, we did a great number of things. First, we climbed 366 stairs to the top of the Belfry, which was especially wonderful for me because I recently finished David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, and one of the characters in the book climbs to the top of that same belfry!

We wandered a bit, chilled in a beautiful park, and went on a search for the best beer in the world: Westvleteren. I went solo to the “Basilique du St. Sang,” “H. Bloedbasiliak,” the Basilica of the Precious Blood. Turns out, blood doesn’t look too pretty after 2000 years. It was a beautiful basilica, though.

I bought two books, a euro a piece in the square, and closed out my time in Bruges at Musea Brugge, an incredible art museum. I found the works by artists Jheronimus Bosch and Marcel Broodthaers particularly awesome.

And just when we thought the adventure was over, we came upon a field of roses.

These lands are magical.

For more adventures of UF students studying abroad, please check out the UFIC Blog from Abroad!

„Frühstück,“ for ‘breakfast’

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Sabrina, Jason and I began our Sunday morning with a delicious breakfast Mone prepared for us. Unlike in the U.S., the grocery stores here are all closed on Sundays, so preparation is necessary.
After Frühstück (oder, ‘breakfast’), we took a tram to the Schloss to meet up with other classmates and see the museum, it was closing for the remainder of our time in Mannheim. The museum was pretty much just a sectioned off portion of the palace in which they kept the remaining ornate furniture, rather than desks and chalkboards (yes, our instructors write on actual chalkboards!)

After the ooo’s and the ahh’s at the fanciness dripping from the history of our present University, Ryan, Bryan, Kenny and I caught yet another train to Heidelberg. We were determined to hike to the top of Philosopher’s Walk this time.

“Ein kugel, ein Euro.”
One scoop, one Euro. This familiar phrase sent butterflies of warmth to my ears. I understood without doubt what these four words meant, thanks to my stay last summer in Berlin, when eating ice-cream was at least a once-daily routine.  The delectable Hazelnut and Pistachio flavors are just not as prolific back home. We all got ice cream. Natürlich.

We arrived at the train station and crossed the river to the base of the Philosopher’s Walk. The hike started steep, but we mustered through it at a fair pace, climbing higher and higher over Heidelberg.

And then we saw it.

The most epic spinning playground toy ever.

It plays the up-down weight game like a seesaw, but it also spins 360 degrees around.

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No AC in Fairytales.

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We felt the heat with the start of classes Monday morning. Air conditioning just isn’t a thing here, not even in a palace-turned-university. Here we were, thinking we’d be escaping the scorching Florida Sun for the summer…we were wrong.

We opened the windows, and with a breeze it’s bearable. I now truly understand firsthand why UF’s AC is always blasting…you’re more likely to stay awake shivering than sweating.

But I mean — I go to school in a palace, I can’t complain. It’s just a significant difference between our daily lives and the daily lives of people who aren’t used to being any temperature they desire at any point in the day.

We each have two German classes a day, and were assigned interaction leaders to hang out around Mannheim and speak German with. Sabrina, Jason and I went to the Neckar Strand on Monday to meet our interaction leader, Mone.

We had refreshments with our toes in the sand and watched the sunset right over the Neckar, the northern of the two rivers that pass through Mannheim.

Jason and I got döner from a little place in the Turkish district on the way back to our dorms. It was a tad spicy compared to what I’m used to, but so good. I don’t know how to describe döner if you haven’t tried it. It’s sort of like a gyro, I suppose, but different, delicious and cheap.

Its easy while abroad to want to just eat all your meals out, to taste and experience what this new place has to offer in food — but that is a trap. I learned last year, and though the rationalizations come in full swing again, spending money on train tickets is worth more than good food and beer all the time, even if it is Deutschland.

Marisol, Ryan and I took the number 4 train and found the rock gym! It’s north of the Neckar, not a far trek at all, and totally awesome. I’ll admit, I sort of miss the convenience of the rock gym in Gainesville, though that might just be missing having a bike. When we’re not on trains we’re on foot, and that’s neat, too.

Friday night, the ladies in the program dressed up and wandered to Filmriss, a trying-to-be-indie sort of bar. A few of us made some friends and went to the S.U.I.T.E., a club with two rooms on each side that played different music, so chances are there was at least something alright on at any point in the night. It played all sorts though, within the past 20-30 years. The vibe was cool, and we stayed late.

Days are long here. The sun is up around 4:oo and doesn’t set until nearly 22:oo. Military time isn’t new to me, so I don’t mind the 24-hour clock…except for the next morning, when all clocks tick’d me off a teensy bit…we had to wake up a short time later for a bus-ride to Baden Baden, but we slept on the bus and lack of sleep certainly didn’t get me down.

We went to Casino Baden Baden and if I could only use the word luxurious once, this would be that time.

The place was so decked with a wealth of history and splendor, it made me seriously consider selling my soul to attain such riches for a playroom of wonder like this.

We wandered to see the Roman baths, right down the way from the real baths that people who come to vacation in this town spend on. Baden Baden is a spa town. It is beautiful and clean and full. One day, I would like to return.

We split for lunch, and I saw a crisp orange drink on a blue-checkered table and just had to have it. I ordered the Käse Spätzel as well, and it was mouth-meltingly good.

On the bus again, we turned and twisted along the Schwarzwaldhochstraße, a road that reminded me vividly of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, which I wound around in my Jeep earlier this summer. We could see the blues of the mountain ridges as we rode high above them. The evergreens grew higher than any tree I’d seen before, completely dwarfing the Christmas trees I’d picked from the snow-covered forest that grew from my great grandmother’s land as a child.

We had entered der Schwarzwald — the Black Forest.

We came to a glassy lake called Mummelsee. We were warned to resist the temptation to break its surface so as not to anger Neptune, the water nymph who lives in its depths. I’m not certain of the extent of her fury, as curious as I might have been, but legend has it she’d create a great storm.

Emma and I took off our shoes and let our bare feet feel the rich earth by the water. Mannheim is mostly gray and tree-less, so this was a much-needed natural refreshment.

We continued on to the Triberg waterfalls. It felt so good to be near waterfalls again, having just come from working as a white-water raft guide in the mountains of North Carolina. Since I couldn’t go down them (as I left my canoe thousands of miles west of here…) I climbed up.

For more adventures of UF students studying abroad, please check out the UFIC Blog from Abroad!

That “quiet show”

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Uncle Boongy and his Bufu Nephews.
Jesus Vio.
some apartment//gainesville, fl

Burrito Bros. reopens

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I gathered information from the video produced by Isatou Sarr for WUFT News, and wrote the story to accompany her multimedia during my shift today as web producer for WUFT News.

The Secret Wonders of the Tabernacle of Hedonism

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