Monday, 15 February 2016

Life Lately: Nell Gwynn + Competing in a National Mandarin Competition

Last Tuesday I went to London for two really exciting things. If you'd described this day to me from 5 years ago, one of the things would make her incredibly happy and the other would probably horrify her. Its pretty obvious which is which because this was the day that I got to see Nell Gwynn at the Apollo Theatre and I also competed in a national Mandarin speaking competition. 

Lets start with the horrifying one. Last Autumn my school entered the British Council and HSBC’s Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition and my Mandarin teacher put together a group of us from the GCSE and A Level class. There were individual competitions and a group one; thankfully I was only in the group one because the individual one sounded pretty stressful; I have so much respect for those who entered. So back in December we headed down to London to compete in the regional stages, as it was split into North and South. 

Our piece was written by the girls in the year above and I think the story from a few different Chinese folk tales. To quickly sum it up, three brothers are given a magic pillow by their grandma (nai nai) and wake up with superpowers. Then it turns out that the Nian Shou, the monster of the New Year, is attacking a village nearby, so they go to try and defeat it. It's really fun and the girls did an amazing job at making it funny as well as using language that is sophisticated enough to please the judges. I'm quite used to learning lines for drama but it is so much harder when you have to do it in another language, especially as each syllable has to have a specific tone. 

We got through to the national finals as you already know, which is crazy. Most of the schools that were in our regional were from London and we were one of the only state schools competing so it was even more amazing that we got through! Fast-forward to last week and we went down to London again, but this time to the British Museum to compete in the finals. It took absolutely ages to get in but we arrived and had a little time to get ready before our slot. The whole thing was over so quickly but it went really well. After that we had the opportunity to listen to a cool talk about the history of Mandarin characters and how the early ones evolved into what we see now. 

When the results rolled around, we didn't place but it was an amazing experience and its definitely going on my CV. We went down to Chinatown after that for a cute meal before the others went off to catch their train and I met up with my dad to go to the second cool thing of that day.

We had a spot of time before we needed to be in the theatre so we went to the Theatre Cafe beforehand. I've followed them on twitter for a while now so I had a bit of a fangirl moment when I went in and saw the table with all the signatures of actors. They had original cast recordings playing and there were so many playbills on the walls, I want to spend all my time there. Then we went to see Nell Gwynn, which was brilliant, especially Gemma Arterton's performance. London Theatre Direct were kind enough to give the tickets to me and I'll link my review once it's up on their website. 

How has your week been? Let me know down in the comments!

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo 

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