Sunday, December 03, 2017

" LITTLE WOMEN" TAKE THE STAGE AT HOPE MILL THEATRE

WHAT ON EARTH would THIS be like?? 
Having read Louisa May Alcott's " Little Women" when I was about 10, I never EVER expected to watch this girly favourite made into such a fantastic Musical donkey's years later.... 
ALL I'll say is.... that we had over 2 hours of sheer joy ......
watching this at the wonderful Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats, Manchester
It's there until  December 9th..I'll say no more..except 
GO! 

" MY wig's nicer than YOUR wig!" said the Old Lady to the Town Criier....

Chester's amazing Town Crier , David Mitchell, kindly ( loudly?!) graced Lit Fest Friend's Coffee Morning and AGM in the Garrett Bar atop Story House on Thursday. 
We enjoyed his visit hugely...and look forward to reading his book about the history of " Crying" before long. 
Here's me with Paul Lavin..Story House Programme Manager and .....isn't it obvious...David, the Town Crier!  
......

" Tis Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas....!"

     Grand daughter A ( 4th from R, front row) with cast of Jigsaw Musical Theatre's next production..
                                                   Looking forward to this in a week or so!

" BELL.... BRANAGH.... THIS WEEK...."


LOVED THIS!
 " FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL"....

THIS "embroidered" story of 1950's American Film Star Gloria Graham's love affair with a much younger guy...made, quite simply, a poignant, brilliant film. 
It starred Jamie Bell with Annette Benning as the dying and beautiful Gloria. 

Set in both Liverpool and L.A....with wonderful supporting roles from Julie Walters....as ageing Liverpudlian mum...plus Kenneth Cranham as her husband...great cameos. 
Very moving indeed throughout...and particularly liked seeing Jamie Bell again. 
Hope we see him more .
ALTOGETHER a stunning film. LOVED IT ( as I've already said...)  

Also saw "MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS"...
having read the book decades ago....seen other versions ..films/plays etc...
THIS version of Agatha Christie's story was certainly visually fascinating...glorious snowy countryside...colourful characters...with brief glimpses ( too brief in some cases) of well known actors....
eg. Dame Judi ( plus dog).....Olivia Coleman ( plus dog).....Johnny Depp ( plus darkly haunted eyes)....Penelope Cruz ( plus darkly beautiful eyes) ... and the likes of David Jacobi.. ( who I can't help but always picture eating teacakes in a cosy Yorkshire caff. with his " Last Tango In Halifax" wife, lovely Anne Reid! .. 
Disappointed by this film to be honest. Shame! 

Branagh With Express Train....Unfortunately Stationary..... BUT Extremely Mobile Moustache.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

" LOUD HAILERS!"........

Here ( BELOW) are 4 Chester Youth Theatre STARS...all talented teenagers....with a great sense of fun...and already showing a dedication to theatre.... that's intoxicating ...and quite frankly... moving 
In my play " LOUD HAILERS!", they each played several parts...
On the left, E played Lillian, a Suffragette on her first March......H was part of our Suffragette Chorus and also a  cheekily affectionate  grandson.... AND also playing the most efficient Butler ever ....N was in the Chorus...and was a teenage granddaughter too....and E, also a grand daughter PLUS member of the Suffragette Chorus. 
AND I'm certainly NOT forgetting E ( not pictured unfortunately) .....who played Jack, loyal brother of Suffragette Felicea, and a strong supporter of the Suffragettes. 
IT WAS A JOY TO WORK WITH THEM ALL! 
HERE'S THE STORY OF HOW I CAME TO WRITE THE PLAY! 
Last  January, the Directors of CTC's Youth Theatre, asked me if I'd like to write a play about Suffragettes. I love that particular period,...so I was delighted to have this chance...
As a starting point, J and P told me of an incident in Chester in 1912...Scottish Suffragette Mary Phillips came here to join a Suffragette March...her intention being to "flour -bomb" PM Herbert Henry Asquith....as he arrived at Chester Town Hall. 
SO...I needed to discover more.
 I spent a couple of mornings in Chester Records Office...discovering news reports of the incident...and as I wandered home, I peered into Carluccio...and spied Ann, who  took part in my 1st play last year, " Mirror Images".
 I joined Ann...(I probably downed a hot choc) ....and I mentioned what I'd just been up to. She was very enthusiastic...because like me, she thought it great to tell a local story..... about something so important in women's history......and particularly to tell it with the help of Cestrians......young AND old!... in fact, Cestrians ages 15 -75!
So there it began.
For several weeks, I immersed m'self in researching that part of our History.  
I learned lots....the more I read/noted ...from the net, books, photographs, paintings, rhymes, songs, fashions, ...the more pleasurable I found the whole experience...the politics, aspects of society, family life, and  particularly women's  lives at the start of the twentieth century...
And of course I thought about my own family....my grandparents, mother, father, my aunts...and needless to say, I wished they were all "still available for this conversation!" . 

Then I wrote the play... introduced the script to J and P....the teenagers... and adult actors who were interested and off we went....... 
It was a very happy,  fulfilling time indeed! ... 
ABOVE: Here's a session with J and P after rehearsing....cast and directors making suggestions...adding their voice to the presentation...
And BELOW: A lively moment during rehearsing... !!
More pictures soon. 


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Viscerally Authentic! Compelling! Moving!" (SUNDAY TIMES)


Waverton Good Read's** Prize Winner, 2017, ex Soldier in Afghanistan, Harry Parker, was both celebrated/congratulated at Eaton Golf Club recently, with a tasty Dinner amid much  fun/laughter.

Then we listened to Harry's OWN story....along with the creation of his novel's story.... and yes, we listened with bated breath..and were delighted by this man's strengths.

His " ANATOMY OF A SOLDIER" tells the story of Capt Barnes, leading his troops into war, when he is gravely injured by an exploding IED. Parker writes vividly of this devastating time...and also the months following.

AND the story is told in the words of 45 objects...an intriguing way of storytelling.. telling a tragic... though marvellous story...

WE were both moved AND thrilled by Harry Parker's novel.

** www.wavertongoodread.org.uk

"DREAMING THE NIGHT FIELD....!"


Once again LITFEST welcomed the amazing ADVERSE CAMBER into its midst...at Story House... see www.adversecamber.org 
They are Story Tellers, Singers , Composers and Musicians, who do nothing less than weave sheer magic...see their website for full details. 
Hopefully the Magic Will Return! 

" Super Soap!" .


Lively Musical at Tip Top the other week....." The Great British Soap Opera"....based on an original production and now directed by the talented Phil Cross.                                                                                                                                                 LOVED IT!

"BLISSFULLY FUNNY!" said the publicity.....AND YES! IT CERTAINLY WAS...!


Superb evening of comedy and music from Rich Hall at his HoeDown at StoryHouse...scripted, yes, some of it...but his Ad Lib interaction with the audience...PLUS his vigorous (!) music...was great...and LOVED his ( anti-) Dylan! ...ALTHOUGH ( Hasten To Add) I shall NEVER be anti-Dylan m'self....
HOPE he returns to Story House...he may well after the reception he got...! 


" Didn't My Mother Wear Chiffon....?"



A recent trip to Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight....to an Exhibition of Fashion and Photos from the 1950's......and WHAT an era..gorgeous "evening" dresses...classy suits...tweedy coats ...some with amazingly nipped-in-waists! )...herringbone...camel...satin and silk...chiffon...elegant shoes...( no boots like mine in sight!)....hats with brims and veils ( to hide/flirt behind!) .....and handbags...I could almost smell their leather ...exuding from the photographs.....

The Exhibition consisted of lovely snaps from the collection belonging to Jane Duncan. 
She was one of Britain's top fashion models in the 1950's. She modelled for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair...long before Jean Shrimpton ...Twiggy...and beautiful Marie Helvin apeared.

Loyts of dresses on show at Port Sunlight...mostly from ther collection of National Museums in Liverpool. 

Quote from Jane Duncan ( 1924-2014): " Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I dreamed those heady days at the peak of my career in the glamour and fashion world of the 1950's...."

" THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE..."

At the Forum ( Tip Top) Chester, a great performance of Frank Marcus's " The Killing Of Sister George"..
The 1968 film was memorable..watched several times...but this viewing as a play.... directed by Mark Newman...was a wonderful mix...poignant/sensitive/funny/quirky. Loved it!

Marian Newman shone as George...Fiona Wheatcroft as Childie..equally brilliant...as were Sally Dillon as Mercy....Pippa Redmayne: exotic Madame Xenia.
Cast are all well known at the Forum..." Shirley Valentine", " Fawlty Towers" " Bouncers"...SO MUCH MORE...but always entertaining...

Sunday, October 01, 2017

" Ithaca!...Loveliest Of Islands..."



To Ithaca, a fortnight ago....the most beautiful  Greek island we've visited 
Here's the ferry arriving to take us from Sami on Kefalonia.... to Vathy on Ithaca. 
Top snap shows the route from Kefalonia across the Aegean to Vathy...the main town of Ithaca, We stayed 2 miles out of Vathy in another lovely villa. 


Here ( below) is our regular early morning visitor... at our bedroom window.....

Me (Below) getting stuck into ...think this was the wonderful novella by Graham Swift: " Mothering Sunday"...


Part of our living room...


Here ( BELOW) is The Holy Monastery Of Kathara...visited by Ithacans from all over the world....
It's on the south-east  peak of the Homeric Bay of Niritos...in a beautiful nook about 600 m from the sea and 15 km from Vathy. 
The drive up was incredible...countless hairpin bends.... going ever upwards...and totally open to the sea...BUT we'll never forget the breadth and beauty of those views...and the aquamarine of that sea... 



(ABOVE) The 2 Maria's, mother and daughter, who look after the Monastery and have a little cafe in their kitchen...







( ABOVE) The KINGDOM  of Odysseus....
ODYSSEUS...outside the Museum in Vathy.


Part of our villa...



One of our loveliest holidays...

" All Or Nothing!"....Was Certainly Something!


Friday, to STORYHOUSE...... Carol Harrison's Musical written to the soundtrack of the music of the SMALL FACES.......Buzzing Evening.....buzzing Theatre......absolute tonic.... particularly for those who remember this music only too well! ( Itchycoo Park..HA!...part of my own personal " soundtrack"!) 
Audience revelled...great mix of ages etc etc...including Alex Ferguson...and ( it was rumoured??)
Ronnie Wood of Stones...and of course, an ex Small Face.

The story Of Steve Marriott was told both colourfully...and very movingly. This Show was a treat.

" FOOTLOOSE!"

Saw this rolicking  Show at StoryHouse...
The Classic 80's Musical ...invigorating!
Multi-talented cast...dancers, singers, actors, musicians..
By production companySellador Worldwide

" VANYA VISITING CLWYD."


Last week Theatr Clwyd to Dress Rehearsal of Chekhov's " Uncle Vanya" 
This was a new version by Peter Gill....fascinating mix of original with brand new " take".

Performance is in the round...in Emlyn Williams Theatre...perfect for this production.

Jamie Ballard ( above) ...a fine Uncle Vanya...and particularly liked Rosie Sheehy as Sonya.
Directed with style by Tamara Harvey. 




Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Last Day Of Summer Hols..."


 Hot/sweaty after 2 hours trampolining at the fabulous FREEDOME at Cheshire Oaks..
                                            Hasten to add adults were merely spectating ...

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

"LOOKING AT POP ART.....AND MEETING GORGEOUS IZZY!

A visit to Harbury near Leamington..... to meet adorable Izzy....
Here she is with her lovely mum and me, her Great Aunt. 

Arriving at Compton Verney. It's an elegant 18th Century country mansion in beautiful grounds.......near Kineton, Warwickshire...
The house is Grade 1  Listed...and inside is the Compton Verney Art Gallery.

A stunning Exhibition is at Compton Verney for another month....and it zigzags into our brains... with its bold colours...its blacks and its whites... its mind boggling patterns...with work ranging from Impressionists like Seurat...to MC Escher...Josef Albens...and Bridger Riley....who ( it's surmised!) may well have visited the Exhibition recently...totally incognito...!  
My eyes were literally opened very wide by thi visit, believe me. 
We were led around by an excellent very approachable tour guide...who brimmed with fascinating facts...which she shared with warmth and enthusiasm. 

My brother, A, stands before a piece by Liz West....she works ...as shown....with light installations...sculpture...and has a special interest in public art.

And back to my brother and sister-in-law's place...here's Izzy ....with her mother and bright-as-a-button brother!.

BARBECUE(S)...........


Bank Holiday Monday: Family Barbecue here.....hope the neighbours had left the country! 


Family....except Grandpa......HE was doing the David Bailey for us....
" WHOSE David Bailey?" comes a youthful Chorus.



Bank Holiday Sunday  BBQ: hosted by Sally of Chester Theatre Club, TipTop etc  ...
with Fiona, thoroughly enjoying Pippa in Victoria Wood flow....ready for her Inset Day???!  
Don't ask!! 
All 3....very entertaining talented ladies! 


                         

Pud created by A aged 9 on Bank Hol Monday....ready for BAKE OFF???


                               

Don't not LOOK BACK IN ANGER...with apologies to OASIS!


ALWAYS one of my favourites....and now at CTC, dates above. Directed by Alison...whose creative direction will no doubt be A TREAT! Go on....get Booking if you are local...and even if you aren't!

Friday, September 01, 2017

MORE CLUES,,,,?!

I have opened a cupboard I rarely open....here is a hat I wore at a wedding....


..and here is a hat i wore for an evening pretending to be a character in TV's " 'all! :allo!"

Another wedding hat....rather sombre, don't you think??

THIS belonged to my mother.....
AND THIS was for my nephew's wedding....

These hats are possibilities for my play....