Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not Your Everyday Trip to London - Anders from Bethel

FALL 2011
When most people think about London, they probably think about unflinching palace guards, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and maybe red phone booths.  But, just as with every other city out there, there is much more to a city or a country than what tourist attractions have to offer.  

Recently, I had the privilege of traveling to the world-famous city to visit a friend of mine from Bethel.  Apart from the great times we had moseying around the winding streets of this old city, there were several happenstances that created a more layered and culturally relevant experience than I could have asked for.  Most of this came from the very fortunate opportunity I had to witness a small piece of local London theatre.

I must admit that I wasn't very concerned with the issues that touch London to the heart, but to use the cliché, my eyes were soon opened after witnessing the drama The Westbridge.  The show centered around an incident of rape that occurred in a not-so-nice neighborhood in London.  Most of the characters are multi-racial and the show seemed to explore the diverse and intricate ties that bound them all together.  What made this show interesting, however, was that the audience sat in the middle with the stage all around.  Chairs faced randomly in all directions, and as the action played out, one really felt like they were there with the characters, feeling what they felt.  As if the topic at hand were not intense enough, the nature of the performance did wonders for drawing the audience further and further into the flawless performance.

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and this definitely came through in the show.  Whether they are black or white, Pakistani or English, people gather from all over to live life in this great city.  Conflict is inevitable, and while many would shy away from such an uncomfortable subject, it was brought right into the forefront of everyone's mind in the audience that night.  It also helped to make me notice more when I was out and about in the city.  Even riding on the London Underground, it was incredibly easy to see people from all different races and nationalities represented.  Clearly there are numerous tensions that arise in a melting pot like that, and I am incredibly blessed and thankful to have had such an experience that could help me to take what would seem to be a routine tourist visit and turn it into something culturally relevant that would help me understand the true nature of such an incredible city as London.

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