Before I go any further I want to just mention Steve M Hammet's exhibition at U.R.B.A.N. Steve's exhibition will be the last in this amazing building that has fed and nurtured the arts scene in Newport over the past two years.
Steve has had his doors opened at U.R.B.A.N 21-22 John Frost Square, Newport, for over a week now and if you haven't popped in you've missed out on; Angel's, Jelly Fish, some fantastic painting and sculpture work by local artists, instillation, a playable mannequin fitted with cello strings, laser trickery, live sitar performance and a chat with the man who made it all come together. A very good experience. I've posted some photo's below.
Thursday the 20th is the last day! So make sure if you want to pop along you do it before then... Besides which...
The End Is Nigh!
So tomorrow we should tell those people we love that we love them just one last time, because if those bloody Mayans turn out to be master of fortune in 24 hours we're doomed to be ashes and dust.
But I'm not panicing.
But today I have pondered the idea of the end "being nigh", as my 2 hour train journey turned into a 4 hour train journey, please, please, please don't ask.
I've been visiting my girlfriend at her parents house in Stourbridge for a few days and today I had to make my merry way back to Newport as work, nature and Dan Rowley called.
After my exhausting train journey back (which consisted of four changes, two mars bars, one old lady elbow to my stomach, a conversation with a semi-literate train conductor and a panic over a lost *not lost just behind the vending machine bag) I played a game of squash with Dan, partly because I felt obliged as he booked the court four days ago and has practically called me every day since to check I'm still up for it, and partly because being trounced in squash by Dan has become one of my favourite ways to relieve stress. I've never beat him, today I came very close, but that was post smashing him the face with the squash ball, which would of hardly seemed like a victory anyway. Afterwards I came home and pondered the idea further.
Thinking about the end being nigh does two things to me;
1. It makes me think of all the opportunities I've missed out on in the past (the ones I definetly know about and the ones that remained invisible)
2. It makes me wonder what's being cut short. What might I achieve? What might I become? What might I do/see/be part of/hear/feel/sense/accomplish/conquer/fail and do I really make the most of all those opportunities presented to me.
Lets be honest, we all think about this every time New Year roles around. We sit and drink and eat and say what we're going to do or change or stop or achieve or resolve, but do we ever actually do it? I know I still smoke occasionally and I haven't seen the inside of a gym since 2010, I definitely haven't written that novel I just know is deep down inside of me. Every year we promise ourselves a better life in the year to come. We talk ourselves into believing we can be better, but come the end of January we've settled back into being our regular good-old selves...
Well, according to the Mayans next year isn't supposed to be here. We are not supposed to be alive after Friday 21st December 2012. By Saturday the 22nd Earth will have become a cold desolate hole which will have been destroyed by some almighty force of nature/God/alien, so if we are here why don't we perform an exercise in "practised-anticipated-destruction" or as I like to call PAD. Let's pretend (it's fun to pretend) that we're all doomed to expire some time relatively soon, and in knowing this, let's think about what we'd do...
This has inspired me to make a gift for George and Antonio which I hope will go some small way to making them "seize" more moments. I've also made one for my beauts girlfriend the K.Goodenough and I'll keep you updated with a) whether or not she's actually using and b) what the consequences of her using it are (that sounds totally different to what it actually is... You'll see...) and George and Antonio can do their own posting and storytelling and explaining right here on this Blog... Although I'm pretty sure when I ask Antonio if he'll do a Blog he's relatively certain that means something you do on some mans chest in a hotel room in Kabukicho... I'll have another go at firing him up to Blog!
If you'd all like this gift all you need to do is read this BLOG on the 1st of every month for a year of PAD! Don't forget you can sign up for email notifications to be alerted every time we Blog and if you're up for the PAD CHALLENGE then great! You can follow our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook from this very Blog page and you can also do fun stuff like answer our peculiar questionnaire on the side of this page.
Christmas in nigh!
Do you Love all this commotion, or do you hate it?
Humbug or Happybug?
What I want to know is: what does it do to/for theatres?
Around this time last year I wrote a blog on National Theatre Wales Community basically slagging off Christmas, Pantomimes and the fact that theatres are never more full than around this time of year, and almost how much of a shame that is. I'll admit, I've had a year to reflect and I think I was being a bit of a Scrooge. Yes I think it's a shame that theatres can't attract audiences as vast as a with a Christmas Cheer, but maybe each year the Panto comes it grows an audience who wouldn't typically visit the theatre, and if it doesn't, why doesn't it and what can we do about that?
From a marketing and audience development point of view there are lots of things you could do to convert Paudiences (Panto-Audiences) into Raudiences (Regular-Audiences (these are all industry terms by the way :D)). I'll use The Riverfront Theatre, Newport as my example. Newport is a hard town to do a show in because the majority of it's population aren't theatre goers, I think it's as simple as that - with a bit of economics chucked in, but there is one time of year that the Riverfront is never fuller and that's Panto time!
Audiences young and old flock for an hour or two of camped-up-fun! The theatre becomes a vibrant place full of life and laughter.
I was talking to a guy on the train last Saturday and in explaining what I do he said he'd never been to the theatre, my go-to response was "Surely you've been to Pantomime", so I think it's a common idea that non-theatre-goers do go at least once a year.
My question is: Why can't this experience harbour something more substantial and long lasting? I think it's a concotion of many things (tradition, expectation and regularity, conveinence), but what if we could do some outreach to audiences during there experience at the theatre. The foyer should become alive with activity, opportunities, publicity, and (although I'm not always a fan) membership deals, maybe even a programme of the next years events tailored to a Panto-Audience, screens with exciting visuals of up-coming contemporary performance, but why stop there? Free cups of tea and candcanes, a bouncy castle, a snow machine, a "put-your-face-in-the-hole-picture-booth", craft stalls, carol singers, I don't know! I just think outreach and audience development are so vital in this current economic climate and perhaps it's time we start showing audiences that Pantomime needn't be the only thing they see this year!
|Robin Hood @ The Riverfront, Newport.|
This year I will be seeking out some alternative Christmas entertainment, as I'd rather hack my arm off with a rusty chainsaw than sit through any kind of Pantomime - I'm a fucking snob and I don't care, maybe when I have kids I wont be... Although I'll be DAMNED if I'm taking my kids to a Pantomime! I'm joking... It's great... I love it... GO AND SEE ROBIN HOOD at The Riverfront, Newport! It's had amazing reviews after it's opening night, it has a great Welsh Cast, an amazing set and is not your typical Pantomime!
Here are two show's I stumbled upon last night, and I'm tipping to be: AWESOME-ALTERNATIVE-JINGLE-KICKS for you to go and see this year! Hope I find more and let you know! I will be attending these.
Bryony Kimmings DIY Nativity @ The Junction, Cambridge.
|Bryony Kimmings DIY Nativity|
I've seen Bryony Kimmings thrice times now (twice in a Cabaret setting and once at Ed Fringe 2011 with the extremely awesome 7 Day Drunk) and I think not only is she a bundle of energy to watch, she makes amazing theatre which responds immediatly with it's audience and she's hilarious to boot. I have no idea why anyone ever considered allowing her to perform in front of children, but I'm sure it'll be a hoot for them what are young and old and middle aged.
A Curious Zoo @ Chapter Arts, Cardiff
Chapter Arts are pulling something out of the bag that sounds like a mix between a nightmare and a dream.
Caroline Sabin (a 7 year member of EarthFall and friends with friends Mr&Mrs Clark) has been making work in Cardiff for years, now this weirdly macabre quasi-Christmas show is being brought to you by her.
|Caroline Sabin presents: A Curious Zoo|
A Curious Zoo promises "a rich and magical snow filled environment with quiet beauty, stark and bloody imagery, warm tales, an angel, music, icicles and mince pies" and the whole thing happens (I think!) in Caroline's house. I don't know much about Caroline's work, but this looks and sounds far more awesome than Widow Twanky.
Danke Schon for reading!
CHAPTER ARTS, CARDIFF
THE JUNCTION, CAMBRIDGE
MY SYNICAL SCROOGESQUE NTW BLOG FROM YESTERYEAR
THE JUNCTION, CAMBRIDGE
MY SYNICAL SCROOGESQUE NTW BLOG FROM YESTERYEAR
Last night my Mum woke me up at 2.45am and asked me to help her look for her keys. As she woke me abruptly, she explained paramedics had just done the same to her. They called her mobile explaining that my Gran had pushed her alarm and they'd been trying to gain access to her house for nearly an hour with no answer. I don't think I've been that struck with that much panic in years. We both searched frantically for the keys, thoughts like a pinball. Mum headed over in the car and for some reason I waiting a minute and then ran round. As I was running there I remembered a conversation I'd once had with an old lady at a bus stop...
We were both sat waiting for a bus. Pigeons were pecking at the crisp-crumbs around our feet and after a few minutes of sitting in silence a conversation ensued. She told me about how she liked the pigeons, she told me about how cheap things were in Aldi, we spoke about the buses, the weather, my shoes, Oswestry, St Martin's, Sunday's and then an ambulance broke through the melody of our mundane conversation. The high-pitched, irritating, screeching of the sirens made me shudder. Struggling for lines of conversation I turned to the old lady and said "What a horrible noise. I hate that sound, it just makes me think of someone lying there dying." The old woman smiled, and before I had time to think about how weird that was, she said "That's not a horrible sound to the person lying there on the floor waiting for it. To them it's the best sound in the World." To be honest it blew me away. I don't think I've ever been hit with such a dramatic counter point-of-view in as fewer seconds that altered my perceptions of something so drastically, ever before. I thought about that moment whilst running round to my Gran's house last night.
To put your mind at rest, my Gran is fine. It was a false alarm. By the time I got round there I could hear her cackle from outside and by the time I'd gotten inside I could see all was well. She'd hit the alarm by mistake in the night and didn't think that anyone was coming out to her. The sense of relief that came over me was immense. A million times more than that moment you pat your pocket and realise you're phone is missing, only to pat the other pocket and find it hiding in there. A million times more than the split-second between dropping the glass and seeing it land miraculously safe on the floor. Far, far more than any moment of relief I've ever registered. Life measured in moments.
Mum's been telling Gran to get here hearing tested for weeks, I think the paramedics may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
Ok so I am being roped into Blog a day December. As you are all aware I don't blog often, mainly because I have nothing of much interest to say.
As in Justin's previous post I don't really have much to say about Tin Shed world as I have been staying in Bristol with my family over the weekend and other than phone calls and emails, all is quiet on the western front.
Now Im all for festivities, I like cosy nights in and Im generally full of joy around the Christmas season, However there is something I cannot abide by CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS! I had the misfortune on saturday of having a 'Christmas Shopper Experience' I, myself had no intention of purchasing any festive goods but as I joined the M32 on saturday morning to 'Pop' into town and by a birthday present I was swarmed by a traffic jam 2 miles in length. Once I had found parking after sitting in said traffic jam for 45 mins, I then entered the lions den of Cabot Circus, It was like the apocalypse, as if someone had told the population that christmas day had been moved a week closer than usual due to some strange placing of the sun. Heres some descriptions to set the scene: Screaming toddlers either hanging from their buggy or being dragged by their arm behind an angry red faced, wild haired woman. Old people in Marks and Spencers deciding whether they would go for the Salmon on croute or lasagne verde microwaved delight. People selling shit (balloons, noisy irritating toys that break on second use, cheap perfume and wrapping paper sold in sheets). I thought we were in a recession? Who are these people so eager to get into the shops? I left Bristol after a 3 hour experience which should have taken 30 mins, hot and bothered and hating all other humans.
I suppose this is a good point to mention why I have entitled this blog 'My Brother runs a sex website'? I shall explain... As i patiently waited for this blog writing page to load my sister sits opposite me eating pop tarts, we start to talk about how my brother, James, visited my grandad the other day and how that was a rare occasion. She then proceeds to remark 'And james showed grandad his website!' And I reply, having no knowledge about said website 'What website? He works in retail?' to which my sister retorts 'His sex website George! James is selling sex toys on the internet with his mate, and when he went to visit grandad, james showed him the variety of bum beads' Now, im not quiet sure what shocked me the most. A: That my brother is helping to run a website selling sex toys. B: That he thought it would be a good idea to show my grandad. Or C: That no one had told me?!
I hope this doesnt offend any of our readers, Its just something I felt I had to share. Anyway, enjoy Blog a day december and come and see our shows, thats why we're here right??
Bon Soir! x
Today I was hung over.
Today I was really, really hung over.
I moved to Newport in July and since then I haven't really been home for any considerable amount of time, but now I'm home for a good few days, and I'm happy about it. Last night went out with some mates and my brother and his mates for a few beers.
When I was sixteen my brother Tom passed away, this year is his 30th Birthday, we've planted this tree in memory of him on the roundabout in my village, Gobowen. It's a very cool thing to have done and it makes me really proud. It really has very little to do with Tin Shed Theatre Co. I just really wanted to blog about it, so I hope you haven't minded being brought here almost under false pretences... If you can call it that.
Happy Birthday Bro, hope you like the tree.
I did want to talk a little about this whole December "Blog" project we're doing (a blog a day throughout whole of December) and other angls of "social media-rising", basically parts of our evil plans to dominate your webspace with our ugly fucking faces. I also wanted to talk about "networks" and what I've learnt about Blogging (with a cheeky Google)... Buuuut it's late, so maybe I'll just wrap it up here.
Two little things I'd like to mention:
Yesterday Mark Watson tweeted us! Because I sort of stalked him at Newport train station, either way it was pretty exciting! Secondly I've found this wonderful BLOGGER blogging blogs about theatre-ry stuff, so if you like our blog go to their blog too! In this link(below) our chums at Kindle Theatre get a mention and a doodle!
I was in London this week.
Had a couple of exciting meetings and sought out a few exciting "art" opportunities. Because if London's praises can be sung for one thing it's that there is never a shortage of stuff to go and see/do/explore.
On Wednesday I had a very good meeting with Michael Harris and Lauren Storr at Riverside Studio's, Hammersmith to discuss our application for Dr Frankenstein's Travelling Freakshow @ The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Fringe 2013. So that's one opportunity already rearing it's palpable head.
On Thursday I tripped over to The Barbican to have a meeting with Emma Bettridge from Bristol Old Vic to discuss us working under their wing as part of the Ferment scheme, but the meeting came a cropper and I instead joined an hour-long-cue for Random International's The Rain Room.
What can I tell you about The Rain Room. It was pretty much what it said on the tin. A room in which it rained. It was cool, but I couldn't help feeling a little let down by my own ambitious expectation. For over an hour I cued for The Rain Room. Reading over the booklet I got proper excited when reading statements like...
"An awful lot happens without people being aware. They come to certain
conclusions and even perform actions without ever really, consciously
considering why. This is what forms both the impetus and the investigation
of the studios work. We experiment with this world of barely perceptible behaviour
and it's stimulation to explore human existence."
Random International 2012
I almost regretted reading this after experiencing what I experienced. Which was 5 minutes of not much more than just a bit of fun with some pretty cool technology. The spectacle was a little more grandeur than the actual experience in some way.
Basically the The Rain Room is an installation in which 5-8 people walk around/through/underneath/in. When approaching it all you can see is a wall of heavy rain, then as you approach the tech has sensors that know where you are and the rain parts for you as you step and walk through it dry as a bone. The noise is immense, like a waterfall indoors. When walking up to the rain through the long tall heavy set corridor of The Curve at The Barbican, me and my five random companions looked like we were walking in some sort of post-appocolyptic clearing zone. Lighting was incredible, and it looked like it came from a single source. Overall I felt the impressiveness of this experience, I appreciated how it made people feel. It made people play and smile and explore. I watched one older dude just stand in awe of this thing. I, on the other hand, felt underwhelmed. Maybe it was because I was a bit ill, or maybe it's because I'd built up so much this experience, maybe it was because I was on my own and really I was jealous of the Spanish girls pissing themselves laughing and taking photographs of one another. I don't know! But I'm writing about it, and it's not often I do that these days, and I'm still thinking about it, and it's not often that happens either. So what ever Random International's aim was, it's had some sort of effect on me.
Most of all I've been pondering what this experience would be like in Newport or even just somewhere in Wales. For me having this experience "for free" was very rewarding, but it was placed in quite a middle-class (quaffy) setting. Being a person who visits Art Spaces all the time you'd think I'd be used to it, but even I felt slightly intimidated by The Barbican... I don't know why, in some small part it didn't feel like a space for me. But upon reflection I know what I enjoyed most about the whole experience; The Spectacle.
As I watched the bearded dude stare up in awe at this awesome rain machine, the image was accompanied by the howls of laughter from the Spanish girls who curved, and crawled, and tiptoed and danced about in the cyborg-rain. I wondered, what would it be like for people who've never even imagined the possibility of rain indoors, people who've perhaps never visited an arts space even. What would it be like to watch them walk and play in this amazing-rain-machine? What experience would it harbour from someone who has no lead in blurb, no expectation, no wait in an hour long cue, but just gets thrust (willingly) into this incredible experience... I think it'd be (for want of a better word) profound.
I've decided. That's what I want us to do in Newport, and that's what I want us to do in MFI. An experience for nothing that makes me smile, laugh, dance, play and all that good stuff. The Happiness-Maker. What deeper effect does that have on us? Being aloud to play in public as adults, and as children in some respects.
Overall I think I loved Random International's The Rain Room for reasons I can't quite explain.