So I’m nearly halfway through my Roman holiday and still so much to do! I now understand why the Romans leave the city in August. The heat is almost unbearable. As soon as I step outside, I’m covered in sweat. It’s like walking around in a sauna. I’ve been limiting my time in the sun and trying to do what I can after dark, but of course some things must be seen during the day!
One thing that can only be seen on Saturday mornings is the Palazzo Colonna. And you really should see it. It’s magnificent, and filled with artwork dating back hundreds of years.
I spent my last Saturday morning there, and spent much of my time just chatting with the security guards and tour guides. They all of course were familiar with Roman Holiday, it being one of only two films ever shot there. One of them was kind enough to take several photos of me so I could share them with you.
Palazzo Colonna is the gorgeous gallery you’ll see in the very last scene in the film. Seeing it in colour was amazing. I may even go back again before I leave Rome.
One of the guards wanted to play the Gregory Peck role, so we had a little fun.
I’ve been taking video whenever I go out, to put together at the end of the month into another video for you. I’m also planning on at least one photoshoot, of course! I’m glad I have a month here, because there’s a lot to explore (and I spend every other day in front of the fan at home!!).
I’m packing up now for a quick trip up to Siena to meet a friend and experience the excitement of the Palio race, but I will continue on with my Roman holiday on Saturday…!
So if you read my previous post, you know that I’m traveling around Europe this summer and spending time in the cities where Audrey lived and worked and spent long periods of time. I just spent one month in London, where I took some ballet classes (at Pineapple Dance Studios, and I highly recommend it!) and wandered around getting to know the city a bit better. I took the routes I figured Audrey would have taken between her home(s) and the theatres she worked at while living there. And of course… I made a video. 🙂
I apologize for some of the bad audio, I didn’t realize it wasn’t picking up my voice, and I will do better on my future tour videos! I hope you enjoy it anyway, and if you have any other locations in those remaining 3 cities that you think I should cover, please let me know! I am currently in Rome. 🙂
After moving back to France from Los Angeles, I decided I would take the summer to follow in Audrey’s footsteps, before signing a lease somewhere. I’ve been to many of these places before, but never for more than a couple of days. I’d also always wanted to take some extended stays in certain countries and I thought this might be a good chance to do that! I love to really settle in and get to know a place, make friends, feel at home… when I get citizenship, I want to do something like spend a year in Spain, and a year in Italy, etc….! Oh the things you can do when you are location-independent (and dual-citizen, fingers-crossed)!
It’s been a bit of a challenge pulling it all together over the past few months, and I’m praying things go a little more smoothly for the rest of the summer, but so far I’ve made it to London, where I will be spending the rest of July. I have a new (to me) car which I drove from France to England a couple of days ago and will pack up and continue on with from here at the end of the month. After London, I will make my way down to Rome (I have to decide on where to stop for a rest, because the drive is very long!). After a month in Rome, I will head north again and stay in Tolochenaz for about a week (with a quick day trip up to Oberhausen, Switzerland, where my ancestors were from), before going up to Arnhem for about 10 days. I would have gone simply from North to South, but the Dutch Girl book release is in September along with an unveiling of a new statue, so I thought I would definitely meet some Audrey fans there! I wish I could stay longer in all of these places, really, but I must get back to France in order to deal with some other things, and I’m also finding the traveling to be more expensive than I had anticipated! At least I will get to know her homes a little bit better, and see if I would like to spend more time in any of those places in the future.
So there’s the rough plan! Lots of driving, and lots of exploring. I’ve been in London for a few days, and have mostly been dealing with some issues surrounding parking, the flat, some things I had shipped to myself here, and just setting myself up a bit. But today I wrote down the ballet classes I want to attend while I’m here, at two different studios, and will make sure to go take some classes. I’m mapping out the routes Audrey might have walked between her home, dance school, and the theatres she worked at. I’ll be strolling Hyde park as she did (on Sundays, according to one brief blurb I read). I wish I was able to stay for a whole year and maybe join a theatre production (can I? I don’t even know if I can), or go to drama school… perhaps next year. If I can get a flat for half of what I’m paying this time! ha! But for now, I’ll get to know her city, her neighbourhoods… hopefully I’ll make some friends and have a wonderful experience, and who knows, maybe I’ll leave here with a bit of an English accent if I’m lucky! 😀
So before I packed up everything – including Oscar! – to be shipped to France, I made absolutely sure to make a little video for you. I’m a bit of a perfectionist (“A BIT?!” I can hear my parents saying) but I know this is a process, and I want to share it with you. This won’t be the last time I record this speech, because I want to work on everything until I’m completely satisfied. I have a handful of interviews and film scenes I’m working on, in English, French, and Dutch, and I will be posting videos as soon as I’m confident enough to share my progress with them. I will most likely do each of them two or three times, asking for feedback and suggestions along the way. I’m not working with any wonderfully talented directors or Audrey specialists on these things, so I rely on myself and the astute observations of others to refine my impressions.
Hello out there! I know I’ve been a bit quiet since what, February? Well, I’ve been juggling life and putting in time to practice Audrey’s manner of speaking and soon I’ll share the progress with you. I’m a little nervous about posting any attempts before I’m confident with it, but on the other hand, some outsider’s observations could be quite helpful. I’ve also been working on ballet, since it was such a large part of her life. I’m trying to figure out a way to practice at home, because once I return to France and travel around Europe over the summer, it might be difficult to join classes. And I’m working on her Secret People routine as a bit of an Audrey-specific challenge, but I can’t safely work in pointe shoes at home! If anybody knows how to pointe-proof a floor, please let me know! I don’t want to injury myself or damage a floor.
Tomorrow is Audrey’s birthday, by the way! As if you didn’t know. 🙂 I do so wish we were able to send her our birthday love. I’m very grateful we had her for as long as we did. We don’t know how close we were to not ever having known her! I’ve recently read Dutch Girl, by Robert Matzen, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should. I have to say, it’s my new favourite book about Audrey. Every other book covers the years after the war, but this one is unique. You can buy it on Amazon now, at least in the US:
I posted a brief video update on YouTube yesterday. I decided to get tar filters for the herbal cigarettes (which I’m very slow to smoke, mainly because hanging out outside and listening to the freeway isn’t my favourite thing to do, and if I smoke indoors, well…. I don’t know what’s in them, but they stink!).
Hopefully my next update will be fairly soon. I do have a video I want to make before I leave for France, so fingers crossed I get that done for you!
Last night there was a seance at our house. It was something my flatmate arranged a few weeks back with a few friends and I hadn’t initially intended to take part, but in the end, curiosity won out and I joined in. I don’t think I can say a lot about it, because it was being filmed for a project, but I want to share a little of it, since it involves Audrey. Maybe you don’t believe in this sort of thing and this will sound silly. I have to say I do believe in he spiritual realm, I’ve heard too many stories from people I trust. However of course I’m skeptical about things I don’t directly experience, or things that have other possible explanations. Until I have a real experience of my own, I can’t fully trust everything a psychic tells me. But I don’t disbelieve it. I take it with a grain of salt, I suppose you would say. Here is what happened, in any case!
We sat around the table, in the dark, only candlelight to illuminate our faces and the objects in front of us. We tried a Ouija board occasionally but nobody wanted to spell anything. However the Paratek app on someone’s phone was quite active. I don’t know how to explain this app, but somehow spirits are supposed to be able to manipulate a dictionary in it to pick out words or short phrases. Sometimes the words were pretty appropriately timed, and other times the words seemed out of place and random. Looking online later, it seemed certain numbers, words, and phrases were frequently reported between a lot of users. I’m wondering what the word list is and how it really works. It could just be a random word generator and we could just be searching for meaning in the words that come up. Or energy could really be manipulating it – but whose energy? Could have been our own. Questions, questions…
When it came my turn to ask if there was anybody I’d like to be in touch with, I couldn’t choose just one person and of course have a whole list. But I started with my dog, Meily. I wanted to know that she was OK, and that she didn’t think I had abandoned her. For those of you who don’t know, for the past 13 years I was a Yorkie momma. While I was in Paris in October, she passed away at home, one day before her birthday. I felt so terribly guilty, because it was the last thing I wanted to happen. I wanted to be there for her. The psychic said she was OK, that she would help me pick out and train (haha, Meily, did you learn something since you’ve been gone?!) my next dog when I’m ready, and that she wanted to go this way. She didn’t want me to be there when she passed. Too bad, dog, I DID want to be there for you.
I next asked about Marieke, my ex’s daughter who died in 2006 of an epileptic seizure in the bathtub. She got a visual of her holding her hands out to the sky, gazing up. She saw butterflies and lizards… I’ll have to interpret that one. I would have liked more of a conversation, but I think we got sidetracked by something on that app.
Thirdly, and hesitantly, I asked about Audrey. I know asking for famous people, people you have no relation to, isn’t always productive (she told us her story of Elvis, who only appeared when she unknowingly was speaking with a member of his family), and it also feels a bit silly. But what the heck.
I asked Audrey if she approved of the new series being planned, and through two dowsing rods, she said yes. Most of her communication came through the rods being held by the psychic. The psychic said Audrey was hanging back from the table, and seemed a bit hesitant. She mentioned something about her hair, that there was something Audrey felt self-conscious about when it came to her hair, and something about her thumbs, but I didn’t know what that could have been in reference to. We asked her a few more questions with the Ouija board, but the indicator didn’t move. The board wasn’t popular with the spirits that night! I was feeling so… I don’t know the correct word to use… presumptuous? Well, definitely awkward, but I finally asked the question I was curious to ask – if she would be happy if I were to play her in that series. I was fumbling with my hands and staring down at the Ouija board, so when the psychic laughed with a definite “yes!” in reply, I looked up and saw that she had the rods again, and that apparently they had crossed quite forcefully to indicate her answer. Then they turned to point at me, and now I’m going to have difficulty describing things! The one in her left hand held steady and the one in the right hand waved back and forth. She explained something about how each rod indicates something different (I hope it’s on film, because I didn’t quite understand). She laughed and said it looked like Audrey liked my energy.
Audrey indicated through the rods that she communicates (or had at least tried) with her children, but that they weren’t aware of the ways in which she tried to communicate with them. I felt a little sad over that one.
I have a feeling there are spirits trying to communicate with all of us, and most of us are so blind to it that we will never hear them… I know I tend to overthink, and that prevents me from being open to experiences… I keep trying to work on that. I’m too analytical, and I get wrapped up in the physical world. I don’t spend enough time in meditation or in nature, listening. I admire those who are so open, spiritually.
Well, if we can trust the spirit that was chatting with us tonight, she said she would be helping me to win the role. I don’t know how, but I’ll take all the help I can get, and if it truly was Audrey, I couldn’t ask for anybody better to be on my side! I felt silly asking for her at the table, and I feel silly writing about it, but you know, it’s kind of part of this whole journey, and it’s an interesting little story, so here we are. I just used a bunch of commas there, how many am I allowed in a sentence? ha!
After everyone had left, I got comfortable with some pasta and tea and sat down to watch Green Mansions, which I hadn’t seen in years and years. A sweet friend found it online for me and downloaded it. I found it interesting in one scene where Anthony’s character compares Audrey’s Rima to a hummingbird, because I’d recently received the same observation from someone. Fragile but strong, I believe he explained. I have to say, I enjoyed the movie. Oh, it’s not the greatest of her films, but I loved seeing such a different setting. I loved the tropical forest, and to think most of that was in a soundstage in Los Angeles! I’m so envious. What fun! And to have a little deer to take home, as well. Who else gets to do things like that?! That’s what I always loved about the idea of acting… just getting to experience all sorts of things most people wouldn’t in their normal lives. I haven’t gotten to have that amazing luck yet in my professional life, but that’s why I try to make my real life as adventurous as I can! The difference is that actors get paid for their adventures, while I’m paying for mine. ha! Green Mansions reminded me of my favourite little swimming hole in Panama… it’s one of my favourite spots on earth. No deer there, just snakes and howler monkeys! Well, crossing my fingers and toes that I’ll get to play Audrey playing Rima and have my own “deer” little friend for a brief moment in time. 🙂
Well I woke up bright and early this morning (well, it wasn’t so bright, actually!) for my first session with my dialect coach via Skype. He’s based in England, and several hours ahead so 7am was the only real reasonable time he had available for me. He’s in high demand! I was a bit relieved that his camera wasn’t working today, so he couldn’t see me propped up in bed with a barely smoothed over bouffant left over from yesterday and my ratty blue sweatshirt (hey, it’s been cold here!). I considered filming a few minutes of the lesson to share with you, but I look terrible and throughout the hour I became aware of how many funny faces I would pull (glad he couldn’t see me either!) when I wasn’t sure of what I was doing. I guess you’d probably get a laugh out of it. Maybe next week. We’ll see. 🙂
So I was thrilled to have a professional ear analyzing Audrey’s speech and helping me to break it down. Especially a British ear, because he’s familiar with British speech patterns that I’m not, and can also notice Americanized pronunciations that I might overlook.
He had four pages of notes to go over, of which we covered about three and will finish up next week.
He asked me to pull up a photo of Audrey to look at during the lesson as inspiration, and I chose this one:
A good, easy one to recreate, actually. Should put that on the “to do” list!
Anywho, we spent a whole hour going over his notes and practicing pronunciation. She has quite an interesting accent. He also had noticed that it changed slightly over time. That’s fascinating to me, and something I hadn’t noticed. If I get the role, I want to keep that in mind and hopefully work with him on each period of her life to get the accent right.
My homework this week is to choose a couple 2-4 minute audios of her speaking (interviews or acting – I think I’ll choose at least one of each) to work on verbatim, to prepare as I would a scene or monologue for a scene study class. Then we will go over them and work on improving them in our next session. I’ve gathered a few already from YouTube that I sent to him for the initial research, so I will probably choose a few from there, but if you can recall a good monologue from any of her films you want to suggest to me, please do! I know there are a few in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but perhaps some from her other films? This week I’m going to be rewatching some that I haven’t seen in ages – like Green Mansions and Secret People! What a busy, Audrey-filled week!
My name is Kendal Brenneman, and I believe in dreaming big. In 2020, filming is to begin on a series based on the life of Audrey Hepburn. In 2019, my goal is to become the perfect candidate for the role.
And yes, I’m wearing a pair of Audrey’s shoes. ;-)