Friday, December 22, 2017

"Merry Christmas!....And A Happy New Year"

                                Outside The Cathedral: Feeling CHRISTMASSY! Lovely!
                                              And we're all sharing a HALO too?!

LOUD HAILERS...Better Late Than Never...!

Here are pictures from the performances of my play " Loud Hailers!"...directed at CTC by Jenny and Paul....and performed by a great mix of Adult/Youth Theatre ..all this was last month....BUT better posted now than never! 
Above is the lovely painting..... which was a key part of my in Suffragette colours...purple, green, white...painted by friend Sue. 
Loved it.
Delighted to welcome Chester MP Chris Matheson and his family to a performance. 
Here he back but smiling!....with cast and our painting AND angry Suffragette slogans. 
Scottish Suffragette Mary Philips ( played superbly by Alison ) is arguing with 2 arrogant policeman about her arrest....after attempting to flour bomb PM Asquith at Chester Town Hall...
Mary is supported by an elegant Emmeline Pankhurst...performed in dignified but determined fashion by Anne! 
I think they particularly enjoyed wearing their hats! 
THIS is the real Mary Phillips...being arrested. 
Strong Women! 
BTW I have just bought an amazing book for Grandaughter A:
 "GOODNIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS! by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo. 
I wish someone had bought ME this when I was 9!!
In Rehearsal: Wide Age Range ...but great for ALL concerned!
Watching: Some of my Friend From The North (L)...and m'self. 

" JigSaw And ReWind : Christmas Spirit in St Mary's!"

JIGSAW Musical Theatre and REWIND held their Christmas performance at St Mary's this week with their usual aplomb! Great evening!  
AND lovely to see Grand daughter, A, giving a highly energetic and dramatic performance! 

"TALES OF MOONLIGHT AND RAIN...Chester Theatre Club Youth Theatre"

A packed Salisbury Studio at CTC enjoyed the Youth Theatre's production of " Tales Of Moonlight And Rain".This performance celebrated the Japanese art of " Kamishibai"...a kind of street theatre..... plus storytelling..... popular during the Depression...and the 40's/50's.

Here 3 members of the cast show their amazing replica of a toy theatre box....complete with 8 stunning images to be used inside the Kamishibai.

Once again, the teenagers produced a magical show...thanks very much due to the devoted work of Directors Jenny and Paul.

"Theatre In The Quarter's QUARTZ...perform " "A TALE OF OUR TIME" At St Mary's....

THIS IS St Mary's  Creative Space, Chester. A gorgeous colourful version!  
Here's some of the amazing cast in QUARTZ's fantastic production at St Mary's....Grandson G at the front. 
G in full flow! 
The operetta was based on Chaucer's " Prioress's Tale" ....brought into 2017 through the moving story of a schoolboy ( G) who , on walking through the streets of the Infidel on his way to school, decides tto learn the beautiful Song To Mary, Mother Of God ..."Alma Redemptoris Mater"...ready to performfor his mother on Christmas Day. 
However the boy is murdered by the Infidel....but we still hear his singing....
GREAT watching these mainly teenagers...develop in confidence.....performing skills musical skills...each year...and tackling highly creative adventurous work they help devise as they rehearse...

THIS production was one of the best I've seen here. The cast worked so well together...producing a breath-taking and very beautiful operetta. 
Cast and parents are incredibly indebted to the work of the team behind this...headed by Matt Baker and Helen Newell, 

" It's All Happening In Coventry!"

A brilliant my talented brother....Coventry...City Of Culture in 2021!!


AS PART of Chester Theatre Club Christmas Party...John, Malcolm, Ray and Peter appeared as MONTY PYTHON'S  "4 Yorkshiremen"....this was enjoyed by all...particularly, I noted, by the younger ones...(!) 
HERE the old geezers discuss their childhood homes....where one had to drink out of a rolled up newspaper...another lived in one room with his family ...all  126 of 'em...and another worked at the mill for tuppence a month...etc etc....
The way they told it ( as "they" say) was great...but having said that, I felt shivers down my spine...
                       PARTY ANIMAL MASKS....not too sure WHAT I was supposed to be!


                                                                 I REMEMBER!
                                                                 December 1963.
WHEN the Dee at Chester was completely the coldest winter since 1947....And HA! same winter my very first  boyfriend "treated" me ( after school uniform too...WOT a crime!) to fish and chips in Hignett's, Frodsham St.......superlative Chippy indeed!!
                                                 Never mind the Chester Grosvenor..!

Sunday, December 03, 2017


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 

" 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!



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 ageing Liverpudlian 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...)  

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. 
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, 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 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 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 intriguing way of storytelling.. telling a tragic... though marvellous story...

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



Once again LITFEST welcomed the amazing ADVERSE CAMBER into its Story House... see 
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 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...."


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 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 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...