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Preview: Will Self: A Life in Writing, at The Lowry 24.11.19

Will Self has written his memoir, Will, and we should all rejoice. Almost as much as I rejoiced when he took part in the Geordie Jumpers sketch on Shooting Stars.

Yes I know his incredible back catalogue of daring and original writing and I bring Geordie Jumpers into it (oh just Google it and thank me).

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Brought to The Lowry theatre by Penguin Live, this Sunday, Self will be discussing his book and taking us on a journey into his memoir which, in turn, promises to take us a world which is funny, frenzied and brutally honest, from battling drug addiction in the 1980s to a foray into post-uni adult and, indeed, literary life as the author of both novels and books of non-fiction.

These include Great Apes; The Book of Dave (a personal favourite of mine); The Butt (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction in 2008); Umbrella (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2012; and his most recent novel, Phone, which was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize in 2017.

For more information head to https://www.penguin.co.uk/events/2019/will-self-life-writing/

Tickets are on sale and available from https://thelowry.com/whats-on/will-self-a-life-in-writing/

The performance starts at 2pm and when booking tickets, you can pick up a discounted copy of Will for just £8 (RRP £14.99) to collect on the day.

See you there (I’ll be the one not mentioning Geordie Jumpers).

To read about frankly fabulous previous Penguin Live events, please see below..

Review: Jon Sopel – Inside Trump’s White House (Penguin Live)

Review: Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future – Penguin Live

Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

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Current affairs Events Literature Manchester Preview/review The Arts

Review: Jon Sopel – Inside Trump’s White House (Penguin Live)

Politics, eh?

What larks.

I heavily, heavily jest. But if like me, you’re fascinated by the goings on in that big White House across the pond, you can would have been equally fascinated by BBC North America Editor, Jon Sopel, as he talked about his new book A Year at the Circus.

Given a foot in the door to both the book and the Oval Office itself, via Penguin Live’s event, Inside Trump’s White House, at The Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester, we were all enthralled as Jon chatted candidly but never salaciously about what it’s like to be part of the media pack when the POTUS is one Donald John Trump.

And if Alec Baldwin ever falls out with Saturday Night Live, Jon does a mean Trump impersonation.

Touch wood he voices an audio of the book which, if his excerpts and anecdotes at the Penguin Live are anything to go buy, promises to entertain, enthral and indeed educate with what I perceive will be a balanced, fair but candied account of life at the BBC when posted to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Find out why the press require protection at a Trump rally;

Just what it takes to quote the Leader of the Free World on the BBC news, when that quote is,

I’m fucked

and what to do when you’re quietly having dinner in a D.C. restaurant and the Pres’ and his First Lady are at the table next up you having a frosty dinner in the wake of Stormy Daniels…

A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump’s White House is out now at all good book shops and websites, and is published by Penguin Books.

For more Penguin Live events, visit https://www.penguin.co.uk/events/

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Culture Events LGBT LGBTQ+ Literature Manchester News Popular culture preview The Arts Theatre

Preview: Penguin Pride 2019 (part of Pride at HOME)

Last year I shared my immense joy at what was an evening of entertainment, enlightenment, education and laughter (I couldn’t find a synonym for lolz beginning with ‘e’, ok?):

Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

Well it’s back and I’ll be there and you should be too. And I’ll tell you for why…

This year, Penguin Pride will take place on Wednesday 21 August at my own home from home – erm, HOME.

In this, the year commemorating 50 years since Stonewall, Penguin Pride will be looking back and celebrating how far LGBT rights have come, where we are now and what the future may hold.

This year’s line-up includes a mix of old and new Penguins Live faces:

Multi-award winning poet and playwright, Toby Campion, returns as MC and yes, you may have even seen him outside that photo booth in those adverts with his BFF…

Other writers and performers taking part include award-winning Yorkshire poet Andrew McMillan, arts writer and Attitude columnist Paul Flynn, Glasgow based author, Kirsty Logan, Liverpool based writer, Emma Morgan and LGBTQ+ writer roo

For full details and tickets, head to https://homemcr.org/production/penguin-pride/

To read about last year’s event which included performances from this year’s Toby Campion, Paul Flynn, Kirsty Logan and Andrew McMillan, head here to Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

If it’s half as good as last year’s, I’ll run out of superlatives.

See you there…

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Culture Current affairs Literature Manchester preview Preview/review The Arts

Review: Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future – Penguin Live

I’ve been to a few book readings/launches/talks now.

Two of those have been under the Penguin Live moniker (the first being the rather marvellous Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute.

As someone who has earned their stripes as a regular book club member to boot, talking about a book retrospectively can have its merits – it can also have its arguments too…(the Snowman was terrible and I stand firm on that – oh Nesbo’s, not Briggs’ – I’m not a monster).

But what is life if not for differing perspectives, opinions and a good old literary ruck.

What’s even more rewarding is bringing a book to life, and certainly a book of non-fiction, by having the author either read their words or discuss their premise/theories/beliefs/hyphotheses.

An amuse bouche to the book, if you like. In some cases, the book’s content and reputation proceeds even this early stage and the literary tour consequently goes away (mentioning no names. Well, I mean, it’s Moby, isn’t it).

Penguin Live events serve as a living, breathing preview to a piece of work that you can immediately own, take home, devour, reflect back on discussions.

You might say it’s a try before you buy. I mean I wouldn’t say that as it sounds a bit basic. Ok, I just have, but it’s so much more.

Writer, film-maker and leading thinker, Paul Mason, gave us ‘so much more’ at the Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester, last month: Penguin Live: Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future

Interviewed by fellow Wigan-er (Leigh-er?) Stuart Maconie, Paul shared a taster of his new book ‘Clear Bright Future – a radical defence of the human being.

To paraphrase dear old Macca, in this ever-changing world in which we live in, we can give in and cry or we can try and see a future where we have…well a future and still have some say in proceedings.

Just in case you’ve managed to avoid all media outlets and live in a blissful bubble of ignorance and, well probably general happiness as a consequence, the three main threats outlined by the book are:

  • the rise of authoritarian politicians,
  • the possibility of intelligent machines; and
  • a spreading fatalism and irrationality, which has made millions susceptible to the mythologies of the new right.

Yes, I know, but remember that the title of the book is Clear Bright Future and I don’t think it’s weighed down in sarcasm.

Take for instance the prospect of intelligent machines. Man vs Machine.

Now our thoughts can go all 2001’s Hal at this, but that’s not to say the technology will. I mean it might, but we still get a day in this too.

Indeed, Paul (sorry, I always feel awkward with the last name thing, as though I were his headmaster so forgive the perhaps overly familiar use of the first), points out that if driver-less cars take ‘our jobs’, perhaps it frees up those who drive for a living a more ‘interesting’ option.

One main thrust of Clear Bright Future is that humans would all receive a universal income, and the machines would provide a freedom.

Consumerism is placed on the road to extinction and humanity is…reborn?

Understand that I am simplifying this to an incredible extreme. Incredible.

Drawing on early, humanist Marxism, sticking it to Nietzsche along the way, and with more than a soupcon of neoliberalism, Clear Bright Future: a radical defence of the human being, published by Penguin is out in all good bookshops and online outlets (ooh Man vs Machine again…) – visit Penguin for more information.

However of equal note and the point of this post (no, I’m not side-stepping having to discuss neo-liberalism any further) is that Penguin Live is a wonderful way to meet, question, even challenge an author’s view points and text, bear witness to a live preview of your next book, and, indeed, even open your eyes to the book that wasn’t necessarily next on your reading list but soon would be.

Just maybe don’t hold out for Moby.

For more events, visit https://www.penguin.co.uk/events/

 

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Culture Literature Manchester preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Review: Richard III at HOME

It was the late, great, Mr Manchester himself, Tony Wilson, who said if it’s between the truth and the legend, print the legend (someone else said it first but all should defer to Tony).

I’m a sucker for legend. It’s always more fun.

The Bard must have listened to Tony Wilson (I know, but like I say, Tony Wilson transcends all, including the linear concept of time), when writing the dark, blood-thirsty account of, let’s say, Richard III’s ‘driven’ ascent to the throne (and subsequent exit via a bloody end on the battlefield).

Indeed history tells us he wasn’t responsible for all those in his path who fell by the wayside.

The death wayside.

But Shakespeare tells it different.

I recall watching the unbelievable account of the discovery (and verification of such) of Richard’s skeletal remains underneath a car park in Leicester.

One such expert involved (no names – that is, I can’t remember it), was distraught and almost defensive of Richard as a long lost love, when it was suggested that he was anything but righteous and, indeed, up-right. I don’t think suggesting that he was suffering from scoliosis of the spine is somewhat scurrilous in nature, but perhaps she’d taken Shakespeare’s depiction of the King somewhat quite to heart.

 

Hopefully she swerved Headlong’s production of Richard III at HOME Mcr last night, as it pulled no punches in staying true to this dark tale, directed by John Haidar.

Whilst the words are Shakespeare’s, their delivery belonged completely to Tom Mothersdale in the lead role who owned both those and the character.

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Tom Mothersdale as Richard III, pic credit Marc Brenner

We were truly in the presence of extraordinarily talented actors all round, there was only one person in Theatre 1 last night and that was he and his wonderfully, dark, deliciously humorous, physically contorted creation (a wonderful actor ‘creates’ his character – and he did), of one Richard III.

Indeed, and I don’t mean this anything other than complimentary, shut your eyes or even squint your eyes and you could be watching, hearing, being captivated by another legend (and kind of first namesake) Rik Mayall – the mannerisms wild, but appropriate, the asides and occasional breaking of the 4th wall biting and ‘laugh out loud’ funny, but these elements were contained to those moments where warranted, suddenly reminding the audience of the evil behind the character (none moreso when he proceeded to bite off an ear – oh.yes).

Highly stylised, the use of two way mirrors which would light up to reveal the ghosts of those slain, the smoke, the scissor-sharp strings of the music which punctuated the scenes and the crackling and flashing of the lighting to depict death and destruction, all contributed to an electric atmosphere in Theatre One, when at times you could hear a pin drop (those times were usually followed by a ‘jump out of your skin’ moment.

I’m still recovering.

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Tom Mothersdale as Richard III,  John Sackville as Henry, pic credit Marc Brenner

Indeed, when towards the end, Richard uttered those immortal words,

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse…

I was ready to dash out onto Whitworth Street and track one down, such was my desperation to prolong his life and, in turn, the play.

Tom Mothersdale as Richard III, Heledd Gwynn as Ratcliffe, Stefan Adegbola as Buckingham, Derbhle Crotty as Elizabeth – pic credit: Marc Brenner

Whatever the truth of this contorted monarch, in both character and body (or not), the entire outfit delivered a legendary performance.

Catch this extraordinary production at HOME until this Saturday 4 May.

For times, tickets and all other details, visit Home Mcr website

 

 

 

 

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Celebrity Culture Current affairs Events Literature Manchester News Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts

Preview: Writer and film-maker, Paul Mason in conversation with Stuart Maconie – 30 April 2019

Writer, film-maker and leading thinker, Paul Mason, is coming to Manchester on 30 April 2019, to discuss his latest book, Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being, with BBC 6 Music’s, Stuart Maconie.

On the eve of publication, Penguin Live, will play host, at The Dancehouse, Manchester, to what promises to be a fascinating discussion about Mason’s latest work, which explores just what it is to be human.

The book argues that humans are facing a triple threat:

  • the rise of authoritarian politicians,
  • the possibility of intelligent machines; and
  • a spreading fatalism and irrationality, which has made millions susceptible to the mythologies of the new right.

Depressing times.

However, whilst many will share the view that this spells for a bleak future, Mason’s vision is that we are not merely cogs in the machine, and that we people are still capable of shaping our future.

During political unrest and trying times, such optimism is welcome and timely, but is it realistic?

Join leading thinker, Mason, and broadcaster and journalist, Maconie, for what promises to be an impassioned, through-provoking and lively discussion. See you there…

For more details and tickets, visit https://www.thedancehouse.co.uk/events/2019/227-clear-bright-future

Read about my last experience at a Penguin Live event: Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

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Culture Literature Manchester News preview The Arts Theatre

Preview: Jackie Kay – She’s coming HOME…

Scottish writer, poet and patron of HOME Mcr, Jackie Kay, is heading back to Manchester and bringing with her, the gift of theatre!

September 2019 will see Red Dust Road, Jackie’s memoir of her life growing up as a mixed race adopted Scot, brought to life on stage at HOME, after its premiere at the Edinburgh Internal Festival.

Red Dust Road

Adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta and directed by Dawn Walton, Red Dust Road will bring to life Jackie’s story of self-discovery – from her realisation as a young, adopted little girl, that her skin was a different colour to her peers, to the tracing and finding of her Highland mother and Nigerian father birth parents.

Jackie Kay

Jackie says,

I’m truly delighted that HOME – a place dear to me and close to my heart – is to put on the National Theatre of Scotland’s co-production with HOME of my memoir Red Dust Road.

The book explores belonging and adoption and the many roads that lead us to where we are, and what makes us who we are, genes or porridge, and it seems so fitting to me that it should be on at HOME, a place, as a proud patron, I feel I belong to, and where I always feel entirely at HOME.

Red Dust Road was first published in 2010, winning Scottish Book of the Year and the London Book Award.

A patron of HOME since it opened in 2015 , Jackie has picked up numerous other awards for her novels and story collections throughout her career, including an MBE in 2006. Her connections to the area also extend to her position as Chancellor of the University of Salford.

Tickets and more information can be found at https://homemcr.org/production/red-dust-road/

Check back here in September for a review of what promises to be a moving and adventurous tale of soul-searching and belonging.

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Celebrity Culture Events LGBT Literature Manchester News People Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

*Preview* Penguin Pride comes to Manchester

Penguin Pride is winging its way to Manchester next week, with a wonderful line-up of LGBTQ+ writers, poets and performers to celebrate the city’s incredible diversity.

Taking place at Z-Arts on Thursday 23 August, poet and playwright Toby Campion hosts this special event which will showcase some of the UK’s most exciting queer talent.

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Presented in partnership with GAY TIMES and Manchester Literature Festival, the line-up includes:

  • Kate O’Donnell, an award-winning, transgender theatre maker, activist and artistic director. She’s currently touring the autobiographical show You’ve Changed.
  • Paul Flynn, an acclaimed arts journalist and columnist for Attitude. His book, Good As You: From Prejudice to Pride, has been praised as ‘one of the most important books about gay culture in recent times.’
  • Kirsty Logan, a Glasgow based writer whose books include The Gloaming, The Gracekeepers and A Portable Shelter. Her short story collection, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales, was awarded the Polari First Book Prize and featured twenty tales of lust and loss, lascivious queens, paper men and island circuses.
  • Andrew McMillan, an award-winning Yorkshire poet. His new collection, Playtime, explores the different ways we grow into our sexual selves and our adult identities.
  • Manchester-based performance poet Ella Otomewo, who is a member of Young Identity and M(.)IST Collective, a collective of queer female artists working across various art-forms. Her work is feminist, personal, powerful and candid.

Each ticket sold will include a £1 donation towards the great work done by The Albert Kennedy Trust, a national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity.

So what are you waiting for? For further info and to p-p-p-pick up a ticket (I’m really sorry Penguin Pride), visit www.penguin.co.uk/pride

Doors open 6.30pm. The event will run 7.30-10pm including intervals.

If I haven’t been banned for that appalling pun, I’ll see you there!