Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Stage / Reviews / Beasts and Beauties

The Stage / Reviews / Beasts and Beauties

Beasts & Beauties – Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Beasts and Beauties at Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal: Review
12:10pm Thursday 15th December 2011 in News

By Adrian Mullen »
Arts correspondent

BEASTS And Beauties was a magical and rich blend of finely-tuned storytelling and acting.

Staged at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre, there was no real slapstick but enough knockabout comedy and ‘it’s behind you’ moments to make it feel like festive family entertainment.

Because it’s not a traditional pantomime, I daresay it might have its detractors – but not I.

Put together by professional outfit Spike Theatre, I was totally enchanted and seduced by the company’s fairy tale world and loved the way the sharp script included an engaging narrative to ferry you through each yarn.

From the original writings of Carol Ann Duffy, the highly inventive production was dramatised by Melly Still and Tim Supple.

Each of the eight European tales is told with a visual economy that gets right to the essence of the fable – fabulously.

There was Bluebeard, the grisly tale of a nobleman with a ‘blue rinse’ stubble and an unpleasant habit of cutting off the heads of his wives.

Beauty And The Beast was beautifully recreated with a romantic simplicity that was captivating to watch, and In The Emperor’s New Clothes Spike’s Lee McPherson and Graham Geoffrey Hicks rose to the royal occasion as the ‘two geezers’ who comically duped the king and his household into believing they were the weavers of a noble amount of invisible finery.

Spike also did a grand job at making what is essentially a grim and gruesome story of The Juniper Tree into a fantastic and funny fable with some incredibly clever puppetry, which really was top notch.

And The Girl AndThe North Wind was another tale making amazing use of the minimal but extremely imaginative props. It also starred the excellent Bekah Sloan as the spirited girl who battles to survive the harsh Norwegian winter and outwit an unscrupulous Troll inn keeper.

The cast were all quality performers, including locals Sam Moorhouse and Hannah Plant, both young talents who have risen through the Brewery youth arts programme.

* Daytime performances run until December 31; 7pm shows are on December 23/27/29.

Beasts & Beauties – Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Beasts & Beauties – Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Spike Theatre – The Games blog # 1 – Road trip to Edinburgh – Dreams, memories and Radio 2

Up went the cry, wagons roll; it was time for Spike to hit the road to Edinburgh. The trip up was so much fun, a long drive, but shorter than many will have undertaken. We travelled in 2 vehicles as there are 6 of us up here at the festival, travelling separately always worries me, as there is simply more opportunity for things to go wrong. I am a notorious worrier, I tend to imagine all the things that can go wrong in a chain of events like a relay race of worries. Hence my thoughts below

Will we all get there safely?

Will we make it without breaking down?

Will we get our keys on time?

I could go on, but frankly my worries are my own and are pretty mundane, I want to talk about the good stuff, the fun that a road trip brings, tiny memories that make a journey special. Two particular highlights of our trip were getting a shout out on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show and flyering a National express coach.

The first was witnessed by many folk as the texts and tweets will testify but more importantly by all of the games team. How you might ask if you are travelling separately? Well put simply, luck, both vehicles were tuned in and only moments earlier I had said, ‘we should text in’ when over the airwaves we hear, Steve Wright say, ‘good luck to the games team as they travel up to the Edinburgh fringe festival, that sounds like a fun show and I might check that out’ both vehicles were shouting with joy.

The second moment was flyering anEdinburgh bound coach, we had stopped for something to eat, and there the coach was parked up with lots of folk, an audience with nowhere to go, who knows if they will come but you cant miss an opportunity like that.

There are many more moments I wont forget, the constant banter in the van, singing along to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’ twitter friends, my first KFC, getting lost in Edinburgh, even though we had 3 sat nav’s on our phones. The trip summed up what Spike is about; lots of fun with p

eople you care about, creating memories that will last forever.

August 5-29th (No shows 16th and 23rd) Zoo, Roxy art house, The sanctuary 12:30pm book here: http://www.zoofestival.co.uk/whats-on/theatre?zid=137

This post was originally posted on Creative times http://www.creativetimes.co.uk/news/spike-theatre-–-the-games-blog-1-–-road-trip-to-edinburgh-–-dreams-memories-and-radio-2

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Turning an idea into a reality - 'Stronger together'

It has been a long and inspiring week and my head is a flutter with thoughts about an event 'Stronger together' organised by Northern Stage, Pilot theatre and Arts council North East. The event was about how the arts can collaborate, the mechanisms to enable this and the benefits. The event was broadcast online with viewers from across the world with additional satellite venues in Bristol, Manchester and London. As Marcus Romer, Artistic Director of Pilot theatre noted towards the end of the day, over a million people will have seen the hash-tag #artstogether in their twitter feed and that it had been the top trending event in London.

I imagine 'Stronger together' started as a concern (to protect the ecology of the arts?), someone proposed an idea, that idea was shared, a consensus was found by all and the idea became a reality. A seemingly, simple set of steps, but as any collaboration will testify it takes a great deal of time, honesty and respect to achieve and this was certainly a great example of collaboration. The event has resonated with me and I felt compelled to share my thoughts and offer my version of the day as it unfolded, as you will discover each delegate will have a different story and this one is mine.

The event itself was beautifully managed, stepping into the space you were greeted by hundreds of individual chairs of every imaginable design spread across the theatre, instantly raising a smile and making you relax. This simple staging gave you something to talk to your neighbour about, breaking down barriers and delicately creating a dialogue before the event had even started.

The event, unlike so many I attended, allowed you to pick and choose your journey through it, ensuring a bespoke experience for you, this is a format I would encourage other events to follow, as too often they are dry and seldom encourage dialogue and interaction, other than a quick hello whilst trying to grab a coffee, to put it simply the bar has been set. The other great plus, was the event was free, enabling small organisations like Spike to attend, the recent 'State of the art conference' was beyond our pocket, although we really wanted to be there and finally if you could not be there in person you could interact via text, twitter or simply watch online.

My afternoon started with 6 inspiring provocations, each with valuable insights into collaboration, followed by open space. I love open space a great way of generating thoughts from many different view points, I always leave those conversations the richer. I dived into the soup, a speed dating of sorts but a lot less slower than was intended, the fact that we did not follow the rules was lovely and I spoke with some insightful and inspiring folk. The coffee break normally the chance when everyone runs to check messages or e mails, but really is to avoid looking like you don't know anyone, was opened out on to the grass, where ideas were being freely exchanged, I learnt about new monies available, which I will be applying for.

Spike create theatre in a collaborative manner, it is part of our DNA, Stronger Together proposed some awkward questions for individuals and organisations to consider. I can see why it may hold fears for some, but the benefits of working with another artist, organisations or venue are vast. Collaboration can be demanding, it asks questions of your organisation, Are we good enough? How do we deal with something if it goes wrong? Will it work? These are all questions I turn on myself every time I step into a new project. I have an idea, a group of people and in 4 weeks time we will show a paying audience what we have created, pretty scary huh? In a word 'No' you must trust, respect, be prepared to take your time and all importantly have fun, each project will be bespoke, each experience unique to that time, group of people you shared it with, and you will always learning something for good or bad.

I have at times consciously worked with folk who will cause friction, this is not some kind sado maschocism on my behalf but a considered decision to provoke 'from friction comes fire' this was something that was not touched upon at the event, but as long as everyone works with respect and honesty then a little bit of friction can take you to places you never imagined and for the better. I think my colours are nailed to the mast about the joys, benefits and excitement of collaboration, so dive in and have fun.

PS. for those folk who saw Alexander Kelly from Third Angel perform you were lucky, for me it was like watching myself but better.

PPS. A big thank you to Marcus Romer, Erica Whyman and ACE North East

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Turning an idea into reality - Don't become an ideas bore - do it - #1

This post as the title suggests is the first of a number of blogs where I will attempt to expand the idea of ideas and explore the reasons behind some ideas becoming reality.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the idea of ideas. There are many amazing people in the world who come up with ideas and turn them into a successful reality, but how do you decide which idea to act upon? is there a formula? is it instinct made up of many differing factors based on experience? how do you differentiate, between a good idea and a bad one or indeed are there any bad ideas?

See quite a lot of ideas already, I told you I had been thinking, anyway I have met many people over the years, who have had great ideas but failed to turn them into reality, this is a typical conversation with one particular acquaintance over a period of a year (of course I have kept it brief) but I think it illustrates my point.

March 2010

(Me) : How is it going?

(Friend): Good,

(Me) What are you up to?

(Friend): I have got this idea for a show, it is about .....

(Me) That's a wicked idea, when are you doing it?

(Friend) Well I am getting a few folk together to develop it ....

(Me) Cool, let me know when it is on...

August 2010

(Me) : Heh, how is it going?

(Friend): Good,

(Me) How is the show coming along?

(Friend): Well, I am still working on it

(Me) Cool, when are you doing it?

(Friend) Well I have not got a date, but soon

(Me) Cool, let me know when it is on...

December 2010

(Me) : Heh, how is it going?

(Friend): Good,

(Me) How is the show coming along?

(Friend): Well, I er.. well. In the end I thought it wasn't such a great idea after all.

(Me) Oh, I thought it was great?

(Friend) Well err, suppose so...

(Me) OK, well take care, hopefully bump into you soon.

I am sure this conversation is a familiar one, I am guilty of it myself, and I am sure there are a myriad of reasons why that person didn't create that show. I am sure there are numerous theatre making folk, who have files of newspaper clipping, images, scrawled notes having dreamt something - needless to say I have tons all stored away but none have been turned into a reality - the question is why? Well the simple answer is, I did not pursue them beyond an initial idea an inspiration. If you have an idea, you must act upon them, I appreciate it is easier said than done but don't become that person who talks a good game but years down the line has still not produced anything. I truly admire those people who have the passion and the drive to take a germ of an idea and make it a reality, stop talking and start doing.