St Peter's College MADD Tour USA 24 April - 7 May 2019
The first stop was New York City. The accommodation at the centrally placed Pennsylvania Hotel linked the group ideally to all the activities planned. The visit to the One World Observatory as well as the 911 Memorial fountain was awe-inspiring and alerted all the visitors that America is very skilled at putting together a great presentation. While the rest of the group checked into the hotel, a small group of three teachers and two students attended a recording of the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Marios Joannou was fortunate enough to ask Mr Noah a question during the show. Our Drama teacher, Mrs Miles, also took two students to watch an extra showing of the Musical “Mean Girls.”
The second day started with a substantial breakfast at the deli across the road, then the underground transport system was attempted for the first time when the group split into four to do workshops in Music, Art, Dance and Drama. The Dance students visited the SLAM Studios of Elizabeth Streb and learnt to go a simple trapeze movement as well as how to fall and land the “Streb” way. The Art Students visited the Guggenheim Museum and produced fantastic artwork at the workshop within the Guggenheim. The Drama students attended a morning workshop at the famous Stella Adler Studios and explored the so-called “Method Acting Technique.” The music students explored rhythm and percussion at the Believe NY and Stomp venue. The afternoon was spent at the renowned Apollo Theatre. This proved both educational as well as aspirational as three students were given the opportunity to perform on the stage. The evening was spent walking to the Musical “The Prom”, which proved an excellent choice and introduction to Times Square etc.
On the third day, the group did a walking tour of the impressive Lincoln Centre which houses the Julliard School of Music and Drama, as well as the New York Metropolitan Opera House, The New York Philharmonic and the jewel, boxed New York Ballet. Time to shop and a visit to the Radio City Music Hall led to the evening’s Harbour Lights Cruise where the Statue of Liberty was a highlight. The evening ended with an unscheduled walk home as the coach company neglected to send our busses, but the students showed great resolve in walking back to our hotel in quite cold conditions.
The last full day spent in New York City, the group explored the rich history and heritage of hip-hop in Harlem, New York. They learnt about Beatboying, MCing, DJing, and the extraordinary tapestry of hip-hop music and then went on to see the spectacular Singular Extreme Action show at the Streb Studio in Williamsburgh. The evening meal was spent at Ellen’s Star Dust Diner where our waitrons sing while we ate traditional diner food.
On Monday, 29 April we left for San Francisco at 3 am in the morning! After arriving on two separate flights, we booked into the luxurious Hotel Zephyr right across Pier 39, driving past the San Francisco Giants Stadium. Some students also took the opportunity to go watch the new Avengers movie, for a real American slice of life. The next day after a delicious breakfast at IHOP, we spent a most instructive day with four workshops and a panel discussion at the American Conservatory Theatre. The workshops covered Movement, Devising theatre, Auditioning skills and Voice work in Shakespearean texts. The evening was rounded off by attending the ACT production of the musical “Vanity Fair.”
Our next day in San Francisco was spent visiting various highlights of the City on the Bay such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Nob Hill, The Palace of the Legion of Honour, Golden Gate Park, the Mission Murals, Castro and China Town. Lots of opportunity for photos and shopping was given with free time at the disposal of the group.
Another early morning wake-up call saw the group prepare to fly, again on two separate flights, to LAX. On arrival, the group went on a coach tour of Los Angeles with lunch at the Hollywood and Highland Centre, the Le Brea Tar Pits, Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as the Ru Paul pop-up store! An iconic photo of the group with the Hollywood sign as a backdrop was also taken. Our hotel was in Anaheim, close to the Disney compound.
Our second day in Los Angeles was spent at the Universal Studios Theme Park. Day Three and Four was spent at the Disneyland compound, enjoying the rides and attending a total of seven workshops with professional musicians, dancers, actors and artists. Groups were escorted backstage under heavy security and were given a unique opportunity to witness behind the scene activities. Each group also received a plaque of recognition from the Disney organization. Late in the evening, our six-hour flight for New York City left.
The next morning, we checked our bags out and in again for the 15-hour return flight. Allowing our sore and fatigued bodies to arrive back in South Africa at 08:05 on Tuesday, 7 May 2019. Last minute delays with a staff member’s baggage prevented a unified exit, but all were glad to see their loved ones again. Fortunately, the next day was set aside for National Elections so the group could try and address the serious jet lag issues.
Mr Botha would like to thank all the staff and students as well as the tour organisers for a wonderful experience. They were amazing!