Sunday, July 09, 2017

"THE HOMECOMING"...PINTER's Classic comes home to CTC


Harold Pinter wrote this play in 1964...in 6 weeks...and as Director Marian Newman, at this week's CTC production says: "The characters are ODIOUS ....(YES!) ......but they make you laugh ...their relationships are dysfunctional...( You could say that!)....and although the situation IS bizarre, it's also ( weirdly!) believable.....
AND there's lots of room for you to make your own decisions about this play......what the subtext is...what is really happening....
Hugely enjoyed it. Great cast, amazing touches..... sprinkled liberally. 
And Marian's delight in Pinter's work is clearly evident! 

In 1975, Peter Hall directed "The Homecoming" , starring Ian Holm, Cyril Cusack and Vivien Merchant. 


Richard Steventon (Sam) and Ray Bengree ( Max)..... thoroughly out of their dysfunctional characters...relaxing in the Bar after the Show....

Best Heads Of Hair in ChesterTheatre Club: jet black Phil Cross with red head Kat Tancoz . 
Loyal Bar Staff!  

Ray with Marian  ( Director)...she played character Ruth over 20 years ago....





THEATRE IN THE QUARTER'S JIGSAW MAKES A "PROMISE"!


THEATRE IN THE QUARTER'S Musical Theatre Group  "JIGSAW" performed " The Promise" at St Mary's last week. 
It was a tale of recovery...in a city called Barleycorn.... which had been wickedly plundered. 
The play was written by the cast themselves, with help from Millie, Sarah, Matt, Erin..... and other wonderful folk who do SO MUCH to support these youngsters...THANK YOU! 
Grandson George,  far right, behind all those boxes!  

AND here's granddaughter Alice....with fellow actor, Eddie....expressing her part with her usual brilliantly expressive face! 

"DEBUT NOVELISTS....SEEN LURKING IN WAVERTON!

Tamara Harvey, Artistic Director at Theatr Clwyd, with Gwen Goodhew. 
Gwen is one of the "inventors/creators"  of the popular Waverton Good Read  www.wavertongoodread.org.uk 

Tamara came to a special night recently.... when Readers voted for their favourite book......after they'd  read from a superb selection of debut novels published over the last 12 months..
Tamara next directs at Theatr Clwyd Chekhov's " Uncle Vanya" running from Sept 21st until Oct 
14th. 


On voting evening , I "championed" this fabulous novel: " The Words In Her Hand" by Guinevere Glasfurd ( Faber/Faber) ...telling the love story of a young Dutch maid and the philosopher, Rene Descartes...
BUT the overall winner was Harry Parker's " Anatomy of a Soldier"( Two Roads) ...so hope we meet this fine debut novelist at the annual dinner at eaton Golf Club in October...

OTHER Waverton Winners have been ( to name a few):
The fantastic " Boy A" by Jonathan Trigell.....a personal definite favorite......" A short history of tractors in Ukranian", by Marina Lewyeka....Rachel Joyce's " The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry" and Mark Haddon's fabulously succesful " Curious dog..."
                                                              Excellent choices...

Saturday, July 08, 2017

"CRYING OUT LOUD! WHERE'S OUR MP???!"

Here's Chester's popular Town Crier, David Mitchell, standing before one of our city's  landmarks.....the Eastgate Clock.  

AND a couple of weeks ago, we had a lively evening in StoryHouse.....David performed his One Man Show. It was full of hilarious anecdotes...often involving foreign tourists....who had stopped at the Cross to hear his " Crying"....and also brimming with amazing bits of history about Chester.......facts which were clearly new to lots of us...
In the audience was our newly re-elected MP, Chris Matheson, along with his daughter...clearly enjoying the Show...WHEN suddenly my son, G....plus another strapping fellow.....grabbed our amiable MP, marching up to the stage with him....where they promptly locked Mr Matheson in the Town Crier's scary set of Stocks! 
The Interval was duly announced.. or rather "CRIED"...by David, of course, and Mr M was, for a few short mins, left in the Stocks...HOWEVER, his captors relented...and he WAS let out...in time for a very welcome, well deserved drink! 
WHAT a guy! Chester is very lucky to have him! 
AND we're also lucky to have such an amiable raconteur as our Town Crier! 


" 20 Holidaying HOOLE-IGANS ....!"


                     Here with a battered old suitcase is Sue, a talented member of my Hoole-igans**......

She's photographer/painter/writer....and here, she's leading a Summer Session at Hoole CC. She gave us a great morning last week!

We  have a super-friendly venue......access to lovely Amy's "Hobsons Caff"....in the next room...for drinks and cakes and biscuits and sometimes lunch...

I've led the class for ages ...always Sept to March...and during Summer, class members take turns leading. Fun...discussion.....great work created...several very successful published and/or prize-winning writers in class too.

Last week, my Friend From The North, joined us.......shared her own poetry from her recent anthology: " Words from the Wardrobe"...we really enjoyed it...and BTW, I KNOW that very wardrobe!!

" HOOLE-IGANS"   is our personal alias for my WEA course: " Write Stuff"....it's  for prose writers/poets.......we look at modern writers......workshop relevant exercises...share our stuff...

We frequently have "guests"...eg. Canal Poet Laureate Jo Bell, John Donahue ( 2016 Waverton Good Read Winner.......SEE  www.wavertongoodread.org.uk)... .....Margaret Murphy ( crime writer).... Jon Mayhew ( Young Adults)...... and lots more!

VERY MUCH LOOKING FORWARD TO MY NEW COURSE STARTING LATE SEPTEMBER!

                                                 

" BACK ROW VIEWING IN STORYHOUSE......"...



WHAT an asset.... having a fine new Cinema at STORYHOUSE.......in the centre of Chester....with comfortable seats too......( the back row is great!)...... .and so far, I've gorged on 4 films...
Here's a scene from the new film version of Daphne Du Maurier's " MY COUSIN RACHEL" starring Rachel Weissz...as the enigmatic Cousin Rachel.
Did SHE?...OR DID SHE NOT??? THAT is the ultimate question... 




LADY MACBETH" starring Florence Pugh...the film was inspired by other writings...Shakespeare.....yes!......also " Lady Macbeth Of The  Minsk District"..a Russian novel....
This film is  a beautiful and wickedly subversive sensual treat! ....


AND NEXT: " THEIR FINEST".......

YES! This was Bill Nighy at his Bill Nighy best! 
Love his casual, disarmingly laid-back humour...including some lovely cameos with HelenMcCrory. 


THEN " SENSE OF AN ENDING".......




           BEWARE SHOCK TWIST at the end...but I'd read the book, so saw it coming! AND Jim Broadbent, like Bill Nighy, was at His Best!  Some great ( whisper!) elderly male actors are still giving their all....!

"How To Be A Kid....in a ROUNDABOUT way!"


Last week, a trip to Thear Clwyd to an amazing POP-UP Theatre called ROUNDABOUT....built by a national theatre company called Paines Plough. 

Along with Theatr C and The Orange Tree Theatre, they presented a short play by Sarah Mcdonald-Hughes, called " How To Be A Kid". 
Actually I don't think I need much help in that direction...but along with my friend, we loved this performance....featuring 3 young actors...who portrayed children... brilliantly...one MUST'VE  studied my youngest grandson!.....plus several other characters each.

A highly energetic, colourful Show. 

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!!