Sunday, March 29, 2015

"CYCLOPS AND SIRENS...PIROUETTES AND TUTUS..."


A couple of weeks ago, we were transported to the island of Ithaca, by the fantastic cast of Jigsaw Music Theatre's latest production: "THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF ODYSSEUS". And we congratulate them all: he playwrights, Musicians, Directors, Managers, Everyone involved gave us a TREAT and we look forward to more!

We were battered by winds, saw Lotus Eaters, a scary Cyclops ( didn't realise HOW  loud grandson G could be!!)..... an enchantress called Circe and we shivered to the the dangers of Scylla and Charybdis...Must also mention the Sirens: 3 boys in wigs and dresses and plentiful makeup ( G, plus talented friends A and S) swaying and dancing and singing along with Celine Dion...! THey "hammed " it up and it was hilarious...

THE RECIPE: the children start with title and intro and over the weeks, they develop the production...it's about creativity, writing, scene making and of course, acting.It develops confidence and very probably, a long-term delight in theatre.... SEE www.theatreinthequarter.co.uk

ALSO recently: my granddaughters are both members of Miss Emily's Dancing School ( emilymooredancevpweb.co.uk and we watched 2 performances: the 1st included both children and adults, displaying some remarkable talent...the 2nd featured H aged 3 plus one other little girl..... taking part in their weekly class...finishing with "LET IT GO" from " Frozen"! The teachers dedication and the children's pleasure was there for us all to see!

The children are very lucky to have these talented artistic musical grownups people, both at Jigsaw and at Miss Emily's.,

"DRAMA WORKSHOP PLUS WAVERTON'S GOOD READ"...

2 other enjoyable events , organised by different groups.

FRIENDS of Chester LitFest invited actor Kevin Dyer to lead a play writing workshop for us. This took place in the new Club Room at Chester Theatre Club, an ideal venue.
Kevin, an essential ingredient and writer at local Action Transport Theare ( swww.actiontransportheatre.org),  led a fascinating session, using innovative workshop techniques...successfully leading to the exposure of the bones of some fine future plays!

Then last week, Waverton Good Read ( www.wavertongoodread.org.uk/  ) invited Jane Stubbs, ex Cestrian, now living in the south, to talk about her debut novel" Thornfield Hall" . This book cleverly and imaginatively reveals secrets we never knew...never suspected.... about " Jane Eyre". A very good read, whether you've read Jane Eyre ...or not!

"GAIL BLEW IN.... TO A STORM OF INTEREST..." .........

Hoole-igans had a breezy morning recently when play writer Gail Young visited. Having said that, we have LOTS of breezily lively Wednesdays; my class is a particularly good mix at present. We learn lots and have FUN.Last class until September next week.... but we'll cop a few Summer Sessions to keep us all on the rails...

We had an enlightening time with Gail. We heard first about her play" Cheshire Cats", now produced all over the world. It's about the London Moon Walk ( in aid of Breast Cancer) and tells the story of a bevy of women doing the Moonwalk and enjoying a riotous Girly Weekend at the same time. It's due to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe again this Summer, this time by an Edinburgh based company.

Gail's 2nd play " Bothered ad Bewildered" was 1st performed to many accolades last year. It takes a look at Alzheimers, through the eyes and voices of Irene ( the sufferer) and her 2 daughters.
Irene, bothered and bewildered, believes she is talking with Romantic Novelist Barbara Cartland. It's
about memory, loss and hidden secrets ( good recipe! ) and it seems Cartland's son, Ian McCorquordale, read Gail's play, declaring it brought out his mother's humour superbly. Another  accolade.

Hooleigans much enjoyed Gail's visit and hope she'll breeze in any time at all!!

" Sitting On The Front Row At The Whitworth...."


A friend and I really WERE on the Front Row.....while watching a recording of R4's"Front Row".... at the newly vamped Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester......( see 1st picture, last picture)

On the Panel, led by John Wilson, were: Maria Balshaw ( Director of Whitworth) also artist Cornelia Parker ( see her work in 2nd picture)  also Barrie Rutter ( founder/artistic director of Northern Broadsides) plus Daniel Evans and one of my favourites, actor Richard Wilson.

Catastrophe hit when fire bells rang loud just a few minutes into the recording..... ( "Would you Believe it!") and the recording was halted. Everyone trouped into the cold outside for a good 15 mins while the Gallery was inspected. Turns out the culprit was " dust in the doings"...not surprising, considering the fantastic building/redesigning work that's taken place,

The " new" Whitworth ( cost 15 mill) is a light, spaciously fabulous place. It's utterly 21st Century with wide-open spaces, its exhibitions ( see 3rd picture) its glass, its viewings....... but marvellously, it retains glimpses and echoes of  its precious Victorian Mancunian roots.......

Saturday, March 21, 2015

"VERY BRIEFLY: MY 3 VERY VARIED VISITS TO GLADSTONE'S LIBRARY...!"

In the past few weeks, I've enjoyed 3 visits to Gladstone's Library, Hawarden.

Having read Jessie Burton's Best Seller " The Miniaturist",  I HAD to hear her talk. AS well as hearing how Jessie has become such a popular writer, we heard how the book was "born"...... after a trip to Amsterdam with her boyfriend....  and in particular to the RijksMuseum, where Jessie saw a fantastic dolls house, which ( as thousands now know!) became the basis to this intriguing story.!  


One misty Sunday afternoon when the gardens of Gladstone's library looked almost ethereal,  I listened to lovely French writer Muriel Maufroy reading her favourite Sufi stories. These are compelling: both exciting and soothing.... in both the empathy and beauty they bring to the Reader.

Muriel's own book ( see above) is a fantastic read....." Rumi's Daughter".....telling the tale of Kimya and the amazing spiritual journey she makes.

I got to know Muriel when she became a Hoole-igan ( my writing group) and it was a delight having her with us. Her background is fascinating: Born in France, she worked for the BBC World Service and travelled the world over. She's studied Persian at the School of Oriental and African Studies and she's also published a book of Rumi's quotations " Breathing Truth" .

MY FINAL VISIT to Gladstone's recently was joining a course on MINDFULNESS....led by Avril Roberts. I dipped my toes in...and may well plunge a whole foot in before long......

FOR MORE : see www.gladstoneslibrary.org/contact .Lots of new courses etc coming up!

Friday, March 20, 2015

INTERNATIONAL HAPPINESS DAY...

TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL HAPPINESS DAY!  SO HERE ARE SOME ESSENTIAL SOURCES OF MY HAPPINESS....!!

LIVE TREATS FROM STRATFORD.........


2 superb sessions of Royal Shakespeare Company LIVE productions from Stratford at a local cinema: " Love's Labour's Lost" followed by its "sequel" " Love's Labour's Won". Particularly enjoyed Michelle Terry as Beatrice and Nick Haverson as Constable Dogberry.  A TREAT!

Heavenly Happenings at CHESTER THEATRE CLUB...


All this week at CHESTER THEATRE CLUB: 
A 5 year old play by Richard Everett: " Entertaining Angels".......the story of Dead Vicar, Bardy......his Exceedingly Alive darkly attractive Wife, Grace, .....also the new and youthful blonde Lady Vicar, Sarah, .....plus the Wife's daughter, Jo,  and her Sister, Ruth. 

There are family revelations and family complications...... which evoke smiles and laughter......sighs and sorrow......with some happening all at the same time. 

A small tight cast featured: 
Janice Fryett as Grace, with a strong assured performance,  superbly hilarious and thoughtfully contemplative in equal measure...... ......plus Ian Dunn, exactly right as Bardolph, Dead Vicar.... with his natural dignity and wonderful dark chocolate voice.... 

Liz Stafford was Ruth the Missionary who gave us ( and her sister!) a Very Big Surprise  ...and Laura Smith was the caring kindly daughter, Jo. 
Newcomer to Little Theatre Naomi Turrell, clad in cassock kindly loaned by Chester Cathedral,  played Jo, the new Vicar, with serene but approachable, aplomb!  

The play was directed by Margaret Bennett who never fails to produce one of the Club's best plays. She was assisted by the highly experienced Hilary Egan. 
ABOVE: Snap of the set, designed by the dedicated and creative team of B ryan Conlon, Roberty Gay, Carol Kenny, Keith Long, Dick Pole, John Sands and George Westgarth, with Set Artwork by Rob Symington. 

There's only today AND tomorrow to CATCH THIS PLAY BUT IF YOU'RE IN CHESTER IT REALLY  IS WORTH SEEING...
****SEE the theatre's website for details of 3 new productions: Alan Bennett's " Habeas Corpus", Tim Whitnall's " The Sociable Plover" and  Joe Orton's " Entertaining Mr Sloan"**** 
www.chestertheatreclub.co.uk 


Thursday, March 19, 2015

" Sonnets And Sarnies!"


LOTS AND LOTS TO CATCH UP ON....so shall attempt to do so over the next day or two...PROMISES! PROMISES!

On Valentines Day ( OK, I'm weeks behind!) Friends Of Chester LitFest visited Theatr Clwyd, where we had a guided tour around the theatre....... intriguing peeps at props, costumes, scenery, the lot. 
We then enjoyed a Picnic Masterclass on Shakespeare from Terry Hands, plus a wonderful selection of Shakespearean sonnets.... read by actors who were part of the production of " Hamlet" .
I must add that the sarnie selection went down well too! 
The snap shows various props placed ready for use on stage that very evening....
Tomorrow, another Picnic Play: " The Collection" (Harold Pinter) and on April 24th, the actors will read part of " Thinking Aloud" ( Emlyn Williams) and also " Gardening For The Unfulfilled And Alienated"!!! ( Brad Birch) 
The sarnies will be good again too....




Ophelia's lovely posy waits to go on stage..





"BELATED SNAPS....!!"

Artistic Goings-on in The Faulkner Pub, Hoole! 

Uncle G and Niece H.... 
                                         Yet again, G ends up on stage in the Panto...!
Christmas Day Drink in the Faulkner....

                                         My Sons Lovely Womenfolk....plus a beaming R!!
                                                         
Cousins In Arms....

"WHIPLASH.......WAS CRACKING...!"


Since Christmas, there's been a VERITABLE PLETHORA of brilliant films! SUCH fabulous contrasts...in stories and locations, characters and plots...I feel privileged to have seen these films.

AND I have to say it: However often I go, I STILL feel there's something a tad rebellious.....and a slither luxurious....about seeing films in the afternoon...... lolling in a comfy seat while millions work......Accountants accounting....surveyors surveying....teachers teaching.... people in offices "officing"(?)........... lorry drivers lorry-driving.... doctors doctoring  ....vicars vicaring (?).........all makes me feel slightly on the way to decadence..........BUT ALL the films I've seen have been...quite frankly...superb.

" WHIPLASH.", telling the story betwixt an American drumming student ( Miles Teller) and his music teacher ( JK Simmons) .... was eye-opening and I absorbed everything in it ........story line... tense, mind boggling, centering on the striving betwixt student/teacher.... the desires to release and reach an absolute potential....
AND amid all this, we heard plentiful fabulous music.The OSCAR received by JK Simmons  was utterly deserved and Teller's performance was terrific too.

Superb insights... the discipline that culminated in bullying...the envy generated by competitive musicians betwixt each other.....but also the delight in mutual success.....AND essentially, the horrendous hard work/pain success can entail.We saw the drawing of blood ( literally)........ and the breaking and making of dreams. .

This week " STILL ALICE".....movingly beautiful,,,,shivers were sent rippling down my spine and, I believe, my friends too. We scarcely moved at the end. Julianne Moore captured the dreaded horrific Alzheimer's in the most wonderful manner, ie. the disease itself....,.the havoc it brings to the lives of so many.......PLUS the pain that radiates out to family relationships: husband, wives, grown up children. But there was also much beauty: Alice's colossal strengths, her FIGHT...,also her younger daughter's eventual and ultimate support.....AND there was, of course, the speech Alice made at a conference before her illness finally clutched her. A Remarkable Fim.

ALSO " THE IMITATION GAME ...Benedict Cumberbatch starring in a part perfectly made for him...and Eddie Redmayne, magnificent, in " THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING", where his portrayal of Stephen Hawkins, both man AND harrowing horrific disability, will be long remembered. Redmayne's OSCAR should be doubled in size AND its "goldenness"! .....AND a treat  seeing comparatively youthful actors.... who will leave us spellbound for years to come......

ALSO enjoyed " THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL" with its cast of stars we know well. Once again, the unforgettable combination of the 2 Dames ( Smith and Dench) ....as well as the introduction of Richard Gere ......who, BTW, still dancs like an agile Indian teenager...Must say too how I loved the performance of Dev Patel as  loopy madly- in- love Hotel Manager, Sonny, ...who eventually ( THANK GOODNESS!) got the gorgeous girl.
A FEELGOOD film and looking forward to the 3rd BEST EXOTIC" ASAP.Keep taking the tablets please, cast...!

AND " TESTAMENT OF YOUTH": Read the book donkeys years ago...lost the book....now got the book and looking forward to reading it all over again...

*** AND WITHOUT DOUBT: Must NOT forget Peppa Pig's " GOLDEN BOOTS". Watched this in a throng of little girls ( dressed in their crazy best....a fantastic motley garb of clashing colours.... there were wellies....silly hats....Snow White dresses....Peppa masks...... lots of blue dresses from "Frozen"....... PLUS an interesting smatter of Yummy Mummy's.....and quite a few grandparents hugely enjoying their popcorn........


Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Merry/ Peaceful Christmas....!!"

                                                        Visiting Father Christmas

" Different Faces ...."

Off to A Rock Gig in M/Chester....
Backgammon: A Serious Proposition...
Tristram Hunt visiting Chester
                                         
                                               

"A Frosty Blue Skied Day At ERDIG..."

                         Grandpa And H, wearing dressing-up hats found in a summer house  at Erdig .
                     
                 This is a National Trust House and Estate on the edge of North Wales.
H, riding the Wolf in The Wolf's Den...

" Little Theatre's Christmas Party..."

Chester Theatre Club Christmas Party...Fun And Games as usual...!
Andy ( Games Organizer Supremo) with Charley 
 
                                                          Jane With Christmas Tree                  
                                                     Delys, caught on camera!          
Hilary and Malcolm, in fine fettle

John, last seen in Breaking The Code...
Ann, Antlers and Santa hat
                                                       
                                                    Ray and Laura, what moves !

                                          Fiona, explaining something intricate to John and Marian...


Fiona and Antony

Hide And Seek....UNDER The Bar!
HIDE AND SEEK: A Quizzical look from John McKay ( IN the Bar) 
Rhapsody In Blue: Laura, not hiding, so she must be Seeking...! 
Baby, It's Alright ( probably!) Now!" 
Andy The Organizer's Table...but I think he must be away organising...
" Just A Minute"...(Owen, Jane, Ray, Delys) with Andy Asking the Questions....
Here's Fiona Answering the Questions.
An Excellent Party after a Season of Excellent Plays!