May 2009 Archives
How's about this for audience participation? This brilliant family snap of our Rebecca was taken during Saturday's Puppet Extravaganza at Newhampton Arts Centre, just round the corner from the home of the legendary Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The brilliant sunshine was actually outshone by a whole array of superb performers and excellent attractions - workshops, exhibitions and simply fabulous shows. It was a day that ended with a face-ache - it was only when we piled into the Mondeo to head home that we realised we had been grinning and smiling all day!
As Festival Director and ace puppet man Clive Chandler put it over a lifesaving can of Coke - it's great but knackering!
I have made a resolution to never be busy again. Please help.
I have just come to the end of a ridiculously frantic three weeks in which I gave two lectures, delivered five teaching sessions in a school and sang in a two-hour jazz gig on top of looking after my family and my day-job as a journalist.
It is worth asking if being busy is a virtue. For me, it is a weakness.
I've recently struggled to the end of an Open University course. It's the first time A363 has been offered, and it needs a bit of sorting out before next year, most of my fellow students agreed. Anyway, one of the brighter spots was listening to Alan Ayckbourn on an OU CD talking about his writing methods and delving into his splendid book, The Craft Art of Playmaking - it's easily available on Amazon and is a great read for anyone vaguely interested in the theatre.
He says he has never consciously decided to write comedy or drama - just 'write a play'. The degree of lightness or darkness involved is often a matter of the theme, he says, and 'the darker the subject the more light you must try to shed on the matter.' Deliberate dramatic ambiguity with that word 'light'.
Hi readers and welcome to a new blog phenomenon. It's called a Zacharanda in honour of Steve, the Birmingham journalist who became a worldwide internet phenomenon by allowing himself to be filmed and broadcast while allegedly filing a report to his newspaper on the US election.
He was simply doing a cut and paste job from the BBC he said, and, on air, as it were, resigned from his staff job. I believe he had already accepted redundancy, but it caused a sensation and made him a hero of reporters everywhere.
So, in that tradition, I've done a cut and paste job, a Zacharanda. Seems utterly pointless me doing a rewrite of a perfectly good report from an efficient press office. The picture up there, by the way, by Robert Day, is of Kim Wall, Dorothy Atkinson and Matthew Cottle on the splendid set of Just Between Ourselves, mentioned below.Here's my Zacharanda:
Yes, I have a problem. But I didn't let it spoil a great holiday weekend.
We made sure we got to the Ikon to see the Thomas Bewick show - now over. The only art exhibition we've been to where we were handed magnifying glasses to look at the work - superb wood engravings by a master who lived from 1753 to 1828. My picture shows the image which is mentioned as frightening Jane Eyre, of Satan's fork pinning down the swag bag of a fleeing thief.
I've been along to two wonderful art events over the last week, one you'll have to rush to catch -- the other is handily distilled into newspaper form.
Echoes from the Edge is an installation that uses film, sound, physical objects you can touch and even smells to evoke people's memories of Digbeth and Highgate. Friction Arts have been collaborating with US artist, Shannon Flattery, to create an interactive exhibition reflecting the voices, thoughts and histories of the residents and workers as the area undergoes it's most significant changes for forty years.
Local Digbeth blogger Nicky Getgood has been effusive with her praise, and I found much to make me agree. The interactive sets are immersive and the audio memories that you find along the trail will bring Birmingham to life. It's really spectacular and on until the 30th May, Thursday to Sundays.
My second art experience also took place in Digbeth, but in the rather more alcoholic atmosphere of the Anchor pub. It was the launch of the new issue of The Eccentric City bills itself as "the World's first dedicated eccentric newspaper" - and I'm sure it is, whatever oddness the Daily Mail et al get up to. It's the work of artist and "eccentric archaeologist" Harry Palmer who edits contributions from around the World, he says it "serves to review, preview, present and promote the nuances of personal and creative pursuits, interests and fascinations".
Showcasing the underground talent of the Midlands this show brings you Ska by 'Tempting Rosie', Ambient from 'Herd', Electro from 'The Baps' and 'Eurovision Reject', Big Beat from 'Squashed Cob', Punk from 'Vincent and the Onepotts', angry indie from 'The Benwahs' and much more besides....Download it free and direct by right clicking and save as here or visit the archive page here
Here's this show's playlist :-
1. Tempting Rosie - Fagin (4:10)
2. The Giveaway - Wrong When Your Right (3:22)
3. Chairmaker - softly (4:15)
4. Rhesus - Narcolepsy Baby (3:59)
5. The Benwahs - I don't give a.... (2:54)
6. Miss Halliwell - Amblecote (2:41)
7. Squashed Cob - No Way I'm Letting Go (4:43)
8. Vincent and the Onepotts - Scene ( It's such a Drag) (2:33)
9. The Baps - Passed T (NCR Remix) (4:10)
10. Mr Bones and the Dreamers - The Towers (3:24)
11. Beyond Redemption - I Am The Voiceless (3:38)
12. The Lampoons - Silhouette (3:57)
13. Rebel City Radio - Rise Above (2:50)
14. Motion Figures - Play Safe (5:07)
15. Herd - Tangent 14 (1:53)
16. Herd - Tangent 15 (1:54)
17. Cathode Ray Catastrophe - A slow night underneath the trains (3:19)
18. Eurovision Reject - Snowtrack (2:52)
19. Hans Gruber - Miserable Subtraction (4:47)
20. Skewwhiff - Skewwhiff (2:50)
21. Red Lite Run - Flags (3:57)
22. The Robot Disaster - Guitars Are Over Rated (2:55)
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Thazz the way ter do it! ... run a puppet festival, that is.
It seems entirely appropriate to use the famous catchphrase of one of the world's favourite characters (Mr Punch, in case you didn't realise - shame on you) to commend in the highest possible terms Dynamics 09 International.
This, the largest puppet festival in England, runs from this upcoming Saturday (May 23) until July 18 has 18 different shows on offer in more than 30 locations featuring the best UK and international performers in this highly specialised and increasingly popular field. Experience of previous events suggests it will be - not to put too fine a point on it - brilliant
It may surprise you to know that I lead a double life. By day, I'm a consultant on marketing & fundraising issues to cultural organisations, but by night I'm a volunteer charity trustee. It's a privileged position as it gives me insights to situations as poacher and gamekeeper simultaneously, as many of my clients are registered charities. This is a very tough time to be working in the charity sector, particularly when involved in income generation, as the recession - or for some the fear of the impact of recession created by media reporting - bites.
Fundraising charities broadly receive their income from one of four sources: public sector support, trusts & foundations, companies, and individuals. Although Arts Council England has set up a specific fund to help arts companies through the recession, some other funders - local authorities, regional development agencies, etc. - have found themselves with dramatically-reduced resources and so have been forced to cut services and sector's support of charities has been cut back (or in many cases simply removed) and trusts and foundations have found their endowments somewhat shrunken in the face of Icelandic banking disasters and world economic turmoil. Fundraisers are now hoping that individuals will feel compelled to support projects close to their hearts - but wait, aren't these the very same individuals who are losing, or worried about losing, their jobs right now? That's right, it's the humble taxpayer who foots the bill. However, we are known as a supportive and generous nation when it comes to charity; as the phrase goes, charity begins at home and recent history seems to bear this out.
Bob Dylan, said to have taken his name from a certain Welsh poet, once memorably referred to something as not his 'cup of meat'. Fabulous phrase. I know exactly what he means, because that Welsh poet has the same effect on me. Ditto Tolkein. Ditto Star Wars. Ditto Ornette Coleman, The Apprentice, gin, and on and on. We're all like that .Diff'rent strokes and so forth.
I wasn't always like that about Mr Thomas. But the boy once wrapped and wrapt spellbound in the warm, wheeling wonder of the web of words woven wild with bardic brilliancy, grew into an adult of some discernment. So, although I'm now a hardcore vegetarian, I can appreciate fine cuisine of all sorts. I just don't want to eat it.