Last semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in England. As you could imagine, it was amazing and I came home with a bundle of stories to tell my friends and family. I decided to tell you all a few of my stories as well and I want to start off with one of the earliest and probably one of the coolest things to have ever happen to me.
When we arrived, the London Olympics were just finishing up (the Paralymics were about to start, but I’ll save that for another day). The country was in a nationalistic frenzy and it was impossible to go anywhere in London without seeing something with “London 2012” being sold in a store. Because of the Olympic spirit, a play was made based on a classic Olympic film called Chariots of Fire. Here’s the opening for reference, when you hear the song, you’ll know.
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This was among the first things we did together on the program along with orientation, cocktail hour at director Bob Cowser’s flat and sleeping for about 20 hours straight. The story is about two track athletes, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, and their journey to compete in the 1924 Olympics. The stage design was a round, rotating track where the actors ran around it as well as through the audience. It was quite an experience and definitely put me in the spirit. But it was after the show where things started to get interesting.
A group of students, including myself, were waiting on the platform at Piccadilly Circus station when one student drew our attention to a man standing far opposite from our group. She said, “Isn’t that the guy from the show?” No one got too close of a look, but it was confirmed that this man was in fact one of the main actors from the show we had just watched. He was the actor who played Eric Liddell. What a coincidence! We all thought, but none of us had the courage to actually approach him and say hello. Until we got to the bus station. Most of us took the Northern line to Highgate station and then took a bus home to our neighborhood called Muswell Hill. As we were standing under the street lamp, we saw “Eric Liddell” waiting in line for the bus. After a few minutes, we elected one girl to talk to him. She told him that we all came back from the show and that he did a fantastic job, things he has probably heard before.
The bus came and we all got on, including “Eric Liddell.” The cabin was crowded, so I was standing near a holding rail. The next thing I knew, “Eric Liddell” was standing right next to me! I had a fangirl moment in my head but kept my cool when he nudged me and said “So how are you liking London so far?” We spent the unfortunately brief bus ride talking about my experience so far, the program, how bad my accent was, how bad his accent was (he’s originally from Scotland) and much more. I learned that his name was Jack Lowden and he actually spent some time in New York and Long Island. He performed at South Street Seaport for a while and did some odd acting jobs here and there. And to make things even more coincidental, he happened to live in the same neighborhood but in an apartment in town. He told me it was a pleasure to meet me and we went our separate ways.
I never did see Jack in town after that. I looked of course, but he was probably busy being an English actor. That night on the bus was such an intimate moment during the semester and most definitely, one story I will be telling people for a while.