Castle Ruins

March 9th, 2018 || (March 14th, 2018)

Hello everybody! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I spent most of the past two days flying back to Philadelphia while feeling very under the weather and now I’m terribly jet lagged. However, I wanted to make sure I posted this blog update by the end of the day today. I hope you enjoy!

Over the course of my travels, I’ve seen a lot of different castle ruins I thought it would be appropriate to write a small bit about some of the castles I’ve seen since they all hold important aspects about the general history of Ireland.

Castle Dunluce:

Castle Dunluce is now a ruined medieval castle located in Northern Ireland. The first known residents were the McQuillan family in 1513. However, the McQuillans lost possession of the castle after suffering two defeats in a series of battles against the MacDonnell and MacDonald Clans. However, it was the MacDonald Clan that eventually took full control of the castle. According to a local legend, the castle was later abandoned because the kitchen broke off of the main castle and fell into the sea during the 17th century. Although, this legend was disproven by archaeologists who believe that the kitchen didn’t collapse until the 18th century.


Continue reading “Castle Ruins”

Fish are Food AND Friends – China Day 12

Written and posted March 14th, 2018

Today was our first full day in Hong Kong! While the weather was supposed to be nice, when we got up it was raining. We took a tour of Hong Kong, went on a boat ride and explored in the Aberdeen Fishing Village and Stanley Repulse Bay, took a tram to Victoria’s Peak, ate dim sum, had Indian food in SOHO for dinner, and explored the city. We saw pets in the market and also went on the world’s longest outdoor escalator! Today was a good day even with the rain, except we all really missed our tour guide Sunny. This is a short blog post since I am extremely tired. Tomorrow is our last day in Hong Kong and then we go home!

– Anna

Bright Lights in the Big City – China Day 11

Written and published March 13th, 2018

Today we flew to Hong Kong! It was Alex’s birthday as well so we sang and had a cake for her in the airport. When we got to Hong Kong we checked in at our hotel, toured the city, went shopping at Temple Street, and saw a laser show on the river. The photos were taken on my phone and there aren’t that many since it was a travel day.



Don’t Stop Me Now

March 12, 2018 (Week One Complete!)

Hello again!

I’m sorry that it’s been so long since my last post! I flew into Seattle at around 9PM on the 2nd, which was somewhat of a miracle, actually. I had a 101.8° fever less than 24 hours before my flight! On top of that, less than an hour after I flew out of PHL, there was a blizzard that canceled most other flights. Finally, I had a 2.5-hour delay in Vegas because of poor wind conditions. In the end, however, I did make it to the house.

Anyway, what have I done since?


I supported my aunt, who was a panelist at Emerald City Comic-Con. On a panel with four other voice over artists, she answered questions in relation to her work on games, such as Dota 2 and Halo among others. It was very inspiring to see the line that had formed waiting to hear her. In fact, many people weren’t able to as the room had reached its maximum capacity!

I went to two days of the TPS Unified General Auditions at Center Theatre. The first day was Equity day. By that, I mean that only Equity actors were present. You may be wondering: “What does ‘Equity’ mean?”


“Equity” is actually short for Actors Equity Association, an actor union that deals mainly with stage acting. On the other hand, “SAG-AFTRA,” or the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, deals with screen acting. An actor union is essentially a third-party that assures that the relationship between the actor and the producer is mutually beneficial. Before their existence, actors found themselves mistreated by their producers, having to work ridiculous hours and missing job security. For a more comprehensive explanation, follow this link!


The second day I went was Non-Union day, which was a contrast because the Non-Union actors had less experience, usually both in training and in performance, and it was evident. I learned from both experiences and will now share my impression of what worked and what didn’t work in those auditions.

  • Entrance
    • The entrance is all about commitment. I noticed two ways that worked.
      • 1. Don’t acknowledge the audience until you reach your spot, then introduce yourself and what pieces you will be sharing.
      • 2. Acknowledge the audience with a “hi,” “hey,” etc., then, while maintaining eye contact, reaching your spot and introducing yourself and what pieces you will be sharing.
      • Anything in between those two approaches, such as saying “hi” as you walk in, then turning away from the audience; going to your spot silently without acknowledging the audience, then saying “hi” at an awkward moment before you’d actually reached your spot; etc., did not work.
  • Performance
    • Everyone took a pause to get into character before beginning their first monologue/song. I think that was logical.
    • In choosing your monologues, remember quality over quantity. In a 2-3 minute audition, the number of pieces that worked best was two: one dramatic and one comedic. One did not allow for a display of one’s range of ability, while three typically came off as hurried. The audience doesn’t have enough time to care about your character or the story you tell.
    • In ordering your monologues (with the assumption that you followed the last step), present your comedic monologue before your dramatic monologue. It grabs the attention of the audience, which is lost when a dramatic piece is presented first. If doing a song, present that before a dramatic monologue.
    • Take a pause to indicate a switch between audition pieces
      • Do not say “scene,” “cut,” or anything related to that. Please.
  • Exit
    • Hopefully, you’ve timed yourself, so you won’t be cut off. In the off chance that you are, however, after hearing “thank you,” recognize that the audience is no longer engaged with your piece. Do not continue talking or show expressions of discontent. It will make you look unprofessional. Simply reply with a “thank you” and take your leave.
    • If you finish with time to spare, take a pause after your final piece, thank the audience and leave.
    • Leaving
      • Don’t run, but don’t take too much time either. A hurried walk with a casual face usually works well.

There are many small things within these tips that I didn’t mention, but that was a general idea of what I believed worked and didn’t work in the auditions. I hope you either found them interesting or informative!


I was also able to sit in on a recording session with Harebrained Schemes in their upcoming game: Battletech. My aunt will be the main character, and while I would love to share more details, I have sworn to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).


I visited Endeavor One, a group of very skilled game developers who create Virtual Reality (VR) games. I interviewed Sherry Bain, who was very helpful in sharing her knowledge around the growing industry that is VR. After that, I had my first VR experience with the Halo: Recruit Demo that was recently released and can be found in Microsoft stores. While it was only about five minutes of content, it was very fun and left me wondering when the game would come out!

Finally, I’ve also watched a couple shows since I arrived. I will be posting separate theater reviews for those, so be on the lookout!

Thank you for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed!


Goodbye Sunny Days – China Day 10

Written and posted March 12th, 2018

Today was our first full day in Shanghai! We took what was supposed to be an hour bus ride, turned out to be three because of traffic, to the city of Suzhou. Suzhou, the Venice of China, is where T. Bei used to live and grew up so it was really special to see her home. We also were able to meet her parents for lunch and they traveled along with us the rest of the day. T. Bei’s parents bought us yummy Chinese snacks like rice cakes and a type of Jello. Continue reading “Goodbye Sunny Days – China Day 10”

Hill House

Hello everyone! This is just a reminder that due to a lack of wifi and poor cell reception I have been unable to update my blog and that the date these posts were written will be listed first and followed by the day they were posted in parentheses. Thank you!

March 7th, 2018 || (March 11th, 2018)

Today my father and I traveled to Ardara to meet my Uncle Allen Given and his wife, Silva. I say Uncle Allen, but in fact, he is my first cousin twice removed, since my great-grandmother Rebecca was his aunt. Anyway, Uncle Allen is the only living member of the Given family who knows where our family homestead, Hill House, is located. After a short five-minute car ride from the quaint town of Ardara, we drove out to the center of a peninsula on an extremely steep one-way road called Loughros Point road. However, the view of the cliffs that lined the south side of the peninsula was beautiful and the pale blue waters of the “wild Atlantic” were rolling up against white sandy beaches. Likewise, the coast of the north side peninsula was nearly a perfect semicircle, which showcased the raw beauty of the sea. It was in this moment of observation that I finally understood why my grandfather had visited Ireland so many times and why my father had come back here so many times. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever witnessed. More beautiful than the Giant’s Causeway. Continue reading “Hill House”

Beijing, a World of Difference

After over thirty hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Beijing, the capital of China. I will be breaking this blog up by city and then by day. With Bei as our tour leader, we do over five things everyday so it is going to be hard to talk about everything, but I will try my best! Please enjoy!

Day 1:

After arriving at the airport, we met with our tour director, Sunny. Sunny is absolutely amazing and Bei has been working with her for the past couple of years so Sunny is super excited to be working with us! We immediately board our coach bus and our itinerary begins at full speed. Our first stop was lunch in the center of Beijing. Lunch was traditional Chinese food, which wasn’t too shocking, however, I didn’t get out of the restaurant without some culture shock! Apparently in China, there is something called a squatting toilet, I’m sure you can figure out why this was shocking! Continue reading “Beijing, a World of Difference”

Soft as Silk – China Day 9

Written and posted March 11th, 2018

Today we went to the Jade Buddha Temple and Yu Yuan Garden, toured a silk factory, explored Shanghai, walked around the Bund waterfront and Nanjing road, visited the world’s largest Starbucks, and saw an acrobatic show that was incredible.

Enjoy the photos!

-Anna Continue reading “Soft as Silk – China Day 9”

Giant’s Causeway

Hello again! I’m terribly sorry for the lack of blog posts! I’ve been travel through several rural areas of Ireland with horrible wifi and cell phone service. However, I’ve been writing my blog posts all along and now I’m finally able to post them! An important side note: the date that these posts were written will be listed first and followed by the day they were posted in parentheses.

March 6th, 2018 || (March 10th, 2018)

Ireland is a lot more beautiful than I thought it was going to be. Before coming here I had this preconceived notion that in Ireland it was going to be constantly raining, drizzling at least, with cloudy skies, ugly green hills, and dark navy oceans. I was so terribly wrong. After landing in Dublin on March 5th my father and I embarked on our two-hour drive (on the “wrong” side of the road) past Belfast to Ballyclare to meet with my cousins Stephan and Stephanie Deyermond. Then as a group, we drove up to Port Rush and had a lovely dinner together. The following morning my father and I adventured to Giant’s Causeway. In my family, it’s a tradition to visit Giant’s Causeway when in Ireland. For those of you who don’t know, Giant’s Causeway, or simply the Causeway,  is a series of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which formed as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. They are also infamous due to their hexagon pattern. Furthermore, Giant’s Causeway has been recognized as a World Heritage Site and national park. Continue reading “Giant’s Causeway”

Above the Clouds – China Day 8

Written and posted March 10th, 2018

Today we flew from Guilin to Shanghai! While I was extremely excited to be going to Shanghai I didn’t want to leave Guilin and today was probably one of the worst days on the trip. Late last night and into the morning about nine of the twenty people in our group got sick with food poisoning. We still aren’t exactly sure what it was from, however, it made for an interesting morning and day. After we arrived in Shanghai we summited the Shanghai World Financial Center which is the fifth worlds tallest building. It was amazing being able to see the whole city! The sick people then went back to the hotel to rest and I and about ten others explored the Shanghai mall and went to a quick dinner before returning to the hotel ourselves to sleep.

This blog post is extremely short since we didn’t do much with it being a travel day and people being sick. Enjoy!

– Anna