Monday, June 19, 2017

" I'D LOVE TO ASK THE GHOST OF JANE AUSTEN WHAT SHE REALLY THOUGHT....??!"


ABOVE is "Persuasion's" Anne Elliot...but not as we knew her for A level ( all those years ago) ...
It's the clearly talented Lara Rossi....who stars at M/CH  Royal Exchange until June 24th.....in a new adaptation of Austen's masterpiece" Persuasion"......slickly done by Jeff James with James Yeatman.

It's a bold production to say the least...with actors in bikini and trunks, frolicking in foam....THAT'S Lyme Regis as you never saw it before...
AND there are fewer gloom-ridden moments than there are in the book..in fact, lots of laughs...some perhaps unintentional? ......
AND there's some lesbian hugging.....in fact, a fair bit of hugging in general.....

BUT MOST OF ALL, whether you like it or not, this production  tears off  the stuffed shirts/corsets/hunting breeches etc...... revealing to us how Austen....via this adaptation.... always understood how characters tick, how they feel, how they react....people DON'T change fundamentally over the centuries.........
WE  will always share emotions, situations etc. with those who go before us...and those who come after us....whether in cape and poke bonnet OR glittery silvery dress and stilettos. This production gave food for thought.

WATCHED the play at 5:00 pm...a " Relaxed" performance....doors left wide open....entranced babies .....some with their yummy mummies......people walking about/eating/drinking/feeding said babes...people yelling.....laughing out loud...,,,people in wheel chairs...Everyone "allowed" to do their own thing....ALL THIS made a genuinely relaxed "feel".to proceedings......

BET Shakespeare would've loved it...ALTHOUGH I'm not ENTIRELY sure about Austen.....??! ..and I must admit I'd like to see a classic version again before long....

BEFOREHAND: A Play writing course ( under the WORDPLAY umbrella) led by the lovely poet/writer/lecturer Amanda Dalton...one of her hats is worn as Associate Director ( Education) at Royal Exchange..
Amanda  talked with us about the process of adapting for the stage...lots of juicy details to take away and gorge upon later...... .

"A SWAN, A DRUNKEN DUCK.....AND A SASHAYING SALOME!"...."


To the Swan Theatre at Stratford last week....to a new production of "SALOME"....directed by Owen Horsley...and performed to celebrate 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality. 
I found this a ribald, disturbing play....And I don't think I was alone in feeling this...I spent some time watching the audience's reactions.... 
The stars were Salome "herself"...Matthew Tennyson, slender in flimsy slip.... and staggering in stilettos...touching in many ways...quirkily dancing....jerky, self-conscious...and Herod by Matthew Pidgeon was compelling. 
Music was by American artist Perfume Genius.... which I found both exciting... and ideal for this story of sexual ambiguities.... 
The whole play was about 1 hr 30 mins...no interval..but it certainly provoked .....thew questions at its audience...while  respecting our differences...
Intriguing, yes!. 

AND then a drink was required in the wonderful "Drunken Duck" pub...here are two Cestrian actors... swanning it in the Actors Bar at the famous old pub..They enjoyed this hugely...!

"WOMEN AND CHILDREN......AND LOITERING MEN..."


Visited Manchester this week, and saw photographer Shirley Baker's stunning Exhibition ( "Women and Children...And Loitering Men" .....photos of M/Chester in the 50's, 60's and 70's.....Baker ( 1932-2014) is said to have been the only woman street photographer during postwar years....
 Some pictures were extremely moving....some comic...all echoing a time so distant now....faces and places....moods and views...people and houses...and ways of living....reminding me of Boxing Days in my childhood....when I was lucky to be driving with my family.... from Chester to the pantomime in Liverpool...past bombsites...condemned houses...seeing whole communities living their life on the streets...Images that have paddled in my mind... and swum in my thoughts many times since.. 

 The This free Exhibition is at M/Chester Art Gallery until Monday August 28th.

MEN IN BLUE.... SUPPORT THE RED.......

           Steve Coogan at the Town Hall with R. Coogan was canvassing with Chris Matheson.
              NB matching blue shirts...is R about to be Coogan's next companion for The Trip????

ALICE, AWAITING WONDERLAND...

               Here's granddaughter, Alice, about to see "Alice In Wonderland" at Story house.

She's sitting on the fabulous Story Chair.......commissioned by us....Friends Of Lit Fest...designed and sculpted by award winning Rossett wood sculptor, Simon O'Rourke. It's beautiful: rustic and fairy tale.... and we've heard great comments,,,from little people to Oldies!

Simon's work can be seen at www.treecarving.co.uk

AND BTW, Alice loved seeing "Alice" ....it's adapted from Lewis Carroll by Glyn Maxwell and in Chester until August 20th, including in Grosvenor Park. Looking forward to it m'self! .

STORY HOUSE TAKES CENTRAL STAGE IN CHESTER.....



At last...Chester has its very own and very fabulous new theatre....I've been lucky enough to have 2 or 3 separate tours around in the months before its opening day...and each time, I've felt increasingly excited...and delighted by it! Chester is very lucky indeed! 
ABOVE: Part of the vast new Library area...where we can eat/chat/drink/read/work....A wonderful concept indeed!  

I remember the Old Odeon cinema well! And Story house hasn't forgotten "her"...lots of beloved details...an original sofa has been recovered/renovated...the wide Art Deco staircase is here again...much of the "old" has been flavoured brilliantly with the "new"! 
THE impressive main auditorium. THIS will delight Cestrians ..including my own family...for years to come. I feel PROUD indeed.
SEE: https://www.storyhouse.com for the FULL STORY!!


"GO! ...IF YOU'VE NOT ALREADY GONE!""

ROWDY! BAWDY! GRIPPING! Loved this....STORY HOUSE's VERY FIRST SHOW.......set in 18th century Chester...this choice was a BRAINWAVE...and it's delighted anyone I know who has seen it....BEGGARS OPERA ON until AUGUST 19th. May well go again!

"HAVE YOU HEARD THE ONE ABOUT .....?"


    QUESTION: "HAVE you heard the one about the MP, the School Teacher and the Town Crier...??"

    ANSWER:    "YES! They're 3 local men....... who all live in the same street....!"

 They are Mr Chris Matheson, elected Labour MP for Chester ...with vastly increased majority...which led to celebrations by many delighted Cestrians on June 9th at brilliant new STORYHOUSE......plus my son, G, school teacher and musician with "The Daymons"...plus Mr David Mitchell, Chester's very popular Town Crier...who has his own one-man show at Story house, "For Crying Out Loud",  on Saturday June 24th...tickets  available now.

** RE picture: A local Chester Blogger ( identity secret!) organised a fabulous Fundraiser at Alexander's, in aid of The Samaritans. It included local Bands, eg. G's Band, The Daymons.
                                    An excellent sum was raised for The Samaritans!

"BURSTING WITH PRIDE...!".


Chester Theatre Club recently won an Award from Chester Voluntary Arts,,,for Performance Arts .

Here's RW with John McGinn, collecting the Award ( now displayed prominently in Theatre Club Bar)........
They're on stage with Deputy Lord Mayor Razia Daniels, at Chester Town Hall.

" CAPTURING VIRGINIA WOOLF?"


Saw Edward Albee's classic " Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?" recently....as part of National Theatre Live's programme...

CAST was superb...Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill ( didn't know him at all) were the magnificent warring "can't-do-without-each -other couple"...Staunton wild and wonderful...and Imogen Poots with Luke Treadaway supported them every step of the way...

A long play...but time flew in this compelling 3 hour run...and I could easily have watched lots more...pity there can't be a sequel...from some modern young writer perhaps...?!

" APRIL IN PARIS....AND SIMON BACK ON STAGE!"

John Godber's "April in Paris"at TipTop ( Forum Studio) last wk, starred Simon Price ( late of Chester Theatre Club) and Julie Blagrove .. with Andy Reilly directing with aplomb.
Good seeing Simon on stage again...he's been missed...and also enjoy Andy's work. MORE please!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

" WELCOME, LOVELY WILLOW!"

We have a very long garden...... and for years, 2 massive willows stood in gentle magnificence near the end....they meant a lot to all our family...who climbed in them, hid in them, ate in them, sheltered in them, read in them, drank in them, hugged in them, even cried in them.....however, the dreaded Honey Fungus took over...and both were felled....an amazing operation...leaving a huge open space....tied up with a real sense of loss....

HOWEVER, G, L,G and A appeared with a new (baby) willow......now planted, fairly near RW's Gin Seat....and it's great to see now that it's doing very well indeed.

As I've decided to blog again...probably spasmodically...mentioning this seemed a good starting point! ( Photo by RJ...Thank you...next time someone else must be photographer...!)

Friday, December 30, 2016

GUESS WOT?

                                                             Yes, guess what indeed...!


        I've decided to start 2017 by Blogging again....so shall return in full blogging spirit soon...

Friday, April 29, 2016

GOODBYE OLD BLOG...!

I've been writing on and off here for almost 10 years...and I've now decided almost a decade is long enough...... so I'm bowing out. I've enjoyed recording my happenings..... keeping a sort of online diary.........But enough is enough! Goodbye Jan's Writing Journal,  , you've been fun! XX

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Daymons At Telford's Warehouse...".


                        The DAYMONS ( son G and Band) had a great gig at Telford's recently.
                                  We were babysitting, but hopefully we'll be at the next!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

" 2 Little Cestrians.... avec 6 French Hens!"



Enclosing a snap of O and H...with 6 ( cheeky) French Hens...at Erddig yesterday. We had a lovely time..... following the "12 Days Of Christmas" trail around the Gardens.
This consisted of 12 installations..... in various interesting locations...made by local artist Josie Raywoth..... plus Erddig Volunteers.

More postings ASAP...but for now MERRY CHRISTMAS!

SEE www.nationaltrust.org/erddig@ErddigNT

Sunday, November 01, 2015

"What Do You Call A Pair Of Poets...??"


OK, what DO you call a pair of Poets? 

Well, in Chester last week..... it was" Armitage and Maxwell"....
Simon Armitage, yes, (who was appearing at Chester Lit Festival) ...and Glyn Maxell, also appearing, and also invited as the Festival's Poet In Residence.
I was lucky enough to enjoy 2 sessions: the first being Armitage's talk about his new book......a Radio 4 B of the W...... WALKING AWAY" ( see above) which particularly appealed to me...... as I love the SW of the UK....and Armitage's book tells of his Walk along that coast, taking in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. He walked each day, then sang for his bed and also for his supper, no doubt, in the evenings.

AND after that session....... I managed a swift snack in pub by Town Hall....most Events held in the TH.......and I also managed a zingy glass of prosecco...before.I joined friends to hear Armitage and Maxwell speaking together "On Poetry"....lots of interesting chat between them.....which revealed  their poetry, their lives and their very long-standing friendship..

I hadn't realised that their joint book " Moon Country"....written after a trip together to Iceland....... came about to honour a long ago trip to Iceland in the '30's......made by poets WH Auden and Louis MacNeice.
Another Pair of Poets.... 

See Macneice and Auden's book " Letters From Iceland" ( below) 




"WITH FLOWERS IN THEIR BAYONETS...."


I am very gradually catching up with my posts.....please bear with me....( whoever reads this, although to be honest, I've not much idea who does!) 
The title of this Performance from Chester Theatre Club ( in LitFest Fringe ) was compelling:
 " With Flowers In Their Bayonets".
AND IT WAS was based on WW1 writings from women ( something I've long been drawn to) and beautifully created by Jenny and Paul Shryane, 
Extracts used were chosen from "Women and The Great War" ( ed. Joyce Marlow) and " Scars Upon My Heart" selected by Catherine Reilly.
ACTORS were: Elliott Anthony, John Henry, Zoya Ivanova, Toria Jones, Alison Knott, Ann Massey, Ellie-Mae Smith and Liz Stafford. 
Music was by Catherine Harrison, mother of John Henry.
We had a moving/thought provoking afternoon, watching/listening to this fine performance....
BELOW: John Henry rehearsing in the Salisbury Studio at Chester Theatre Club with Alison Knott. 

" HELLO NOVEMBER.......FAREWELL HALLOWEEN!"


We had 4 scary visitors last night...they were off to a party...BUT THEY decided to HAUNT us first!

PS: Bring back the bowl of water... and the swift ducking for apples!! PLUS my mother's gorgeous parkin.....or was THAT Bonfire Night??