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Preview: Ghost Stories at The Lowry – a moment with Jeremy Dyson

As mentioned in last week’s blog post, Ghost walks and Stories and pig heads. Oh my Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s massively, hugely, other superlatives-ly acclaimed Ghost Stories comes to The Lowry this Tuesday 18 February and lurks until Saturday 22 February.

Details of the show are understandably shrouded in mystery, in order for audiences to get maximum enjoyment, a’la Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap (shh please don’t divulge, I’ve still not see it!).

And so it was a cryptic but lovely meeting with Jeremy Dyson ahead of the show – me careful not to ask too many of the details, him careful not to say.

As a punter hoovering up as much horror and dark comedy as I can, I’ve always thought that it must be incredibly difficult for some to get the genre right, without straying in to a diluted version of either, or coming out the other side with pure parody, such as the Scream anthology (no offence Scream anthology).

Therefore, as one quarter of The League of Gentlemen, four writers who lead the way in this genre (in addition to Andy Nyman, of course), I was keen to ask Jeremy Dyson a little about the writing process. What comes first, the horror or the comedy? He explained…

‘It’s not actually thought about in that way. The comedy emerges quite naturally; I’ve always thought that and horror go quite naturally together and something we bonded over as friends.

For myself and Andy, one of our absolute touchstones for Ghost Stories is the film, An American Werewolf in London, which came out during the year we first met each other. It’s a brilliant film, one loved by a lot of people of our age and generation, and a brilliant piece of writing too. As you say, it’s not a parody, it’s a proper story.

It’s in the way you can take sharp left turns between a scary moment and a funny moment, and vice versa. That can be very entertaining for an audience as you don’t know what to expect.’

Fresh off the back of our Ghost Walk around the Quays (fresh being the word, I still hadn’t thawed out), I was also interested in how much of a ‘horror tourist’ Jeremy was.

Under my own morbid belt includes the house and street where the original ‘Hallowe’en’ was filmed in LA, and, of course, Hadfield – the living, breathing location transformed into Royston Vasey, home to The League of Gentlemen. He had. And then some…

‘A few years ago, I went to Transylvania for a travel piece I was writing about the real route taken by the fictional Dracula.

We brilliantly met this guy who claimed to be the real Count Dracula. His family came from Transylvanian Royalty who had fled the area from the nazis. He’d come back to reclaim his birthright and due to his family having since made a lot of money, he was able to return and basically buy this village, ancestral castle and all!

But the best part was getting a carriage, just like Jonathan Harker, up the Carpathian Pass, where the castle sat on the top.

Halfway up we saw this shepherd sat on his own and he may as well have been from the Middle Ages! The whole thing was creepy but brilliant.’

But back to the matter in hand, having seen the film Ghost Stories, I was nervous (and not just because of the official warning of ‘extreme shock and tension). Had I already spoiled my own theatre-going experience? How similar to the film is the theatre production?

‘It’s a completely different experience and very different tonally, for a start. Whereas the film has a very melancholy air to it, the stage show is a lot more energetic.

The great thing about the theatre is that it’s happening before your very eyes which is a very magical thing.

Whereas in the film everything must be literal, you have to have everything pinned down and know what it looks like, part of the magic of theatre is the audience contributes to and becomes an important part of the atmosphere…’

I await my part in proceedings with both excitement and extreme trepidation.

See you on the other side…

Ghost Stories opens at the Lowry on Tuesday 18 February until this Saturday 22 February. For all details including tickets, please visit https://thelowry.com/whats-on/ghost-stories/

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Culture Events Festivals Manchester News People Popular culture salford The Arts

News: The Lowry offers 20 Salfordians chance to headline WEEK 53 Festival

It’s something we’ve known for a long time – there’s a lot of talent in our region but it’s not just the household names I’m talking about.

Thanks to a project called The Twenty, people who dwell in the city of Salford will be provided with the exciting opportunity to turn their creativity into a reality by submitting event ideas on the theme of POWER, the theme of this year’s WEEK 53 Festival.

The Twenty, (credit: The Lowry)

The project developed by The Lowry in conjunction with Salford CVS is encouraging people to unleash their inner artistic talent and come up with events from graffiti battles to knitting groups, with each of the 20 successful submissions provided with a grant of 500 pounds to make it a reality.

The first rule of The Twenty is you do not talk about The Twenty you must live in Salford.

The second rule of The Twenty is you must be over the age of 18

Organisers are keen to stress that this opportunity is for everyone, especially those without previous experience in the arts.

Lynsey O’Sullivan (credit: Nathan Chandler)

Lynsey O’Sullivan, director of learning and engagement at The Lowry, and creative lead for The Twenty says

Everyone has the capacity to come up with a crazy idea for an event – but life can so easily get in the way, be that time, money or space. This project is designed to break down those barriers.

But how does one submit one’s proposal? I hear you cry.

There are three ways:

The deadline for proposals is Friday 14 February at 12noon.

More information about The Twenty can be found at www.thelowry.com/whats-on/week53-the-twenty

WEEK 53 is a biennial cross-arts festival which will take place from Friday 24 April until Sunday 3 May. More information can be found at https://thelowry.com/about-us/festivals-projects/week-53-2020/

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Events Food and Drink News Restaurants

News: Croma to treat Manchester to 2000 prices to celebrate 20th year in the city

Gourmet pizza restaurant Croma and I have two things in common.

The first is that pizza is an incredibly important part of our lives.

The second is that this year marks our 20th year living in Manchester!

To celebrate, I’ll be justifying ever single trip out and drink drunk with ‘it’s my 20th anniversary’.

For Croma, with November seeing 20 years since it moved into their central Manchester location on Clarence Street, the restaurant kick-starts celebrations this month by turning back time and releasing a menu with our favourite dishes sold at prices like it’s 2000.

‘The Croma Chonicle’ will take us lucky diners through the history of the restaurant with a generous serving of nostalgia in the shape of some tasty retro prices.

The restaurant was founded by Andrew Bullock, Kirsty Marshall and Bob Dunn and has since opened further restaurants in Didsbury (check), Chorlton (on to do list) and Prestwich (ditto).

Andrew Bullock said,

20 years has flown by, we feel lucky and proud to have been in at the beginning of the flowering of our city’s restaurant and bar culture…

(Me too, Andrew, me too…)

…and we can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring to ourselves and our extraordinary birthplace.

Back to the menu, I’ve flirted and developed a deep passion for the Garstang Blue and Goats Cheese pizza in recent times, but my first love from 2000 onwards will always be the Inglese which is basically a full English breakfast pizza and as brilliant as it sounds. £5 flipping 80 pence for that little delight under this offer.

With pasta dishes from £5.45 and garlic balls at £1.45 (you literally can’t buy anything from £1.45 anymore. Well not literally but almost), an excuse was never needed to dine at Croma. But if one was needed, this is it.

Head to cromapizza.co.uk and marvel.

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Culture Events News People Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts

Preview: HOME is where the People’s Art is – the first Manchester Open Exhibition

Whilst works, appreciation, opinions and afforded gravitas come in all shapes and sizes, art should be inclusive and HOME is bringing this ethos to life by celebrating the amazing talent of Greater Manchester.

In the first region-wide exhibition of its type, HOME welcomed submissions from all across all 10 boroughs, for the inaugural Manchester Open Exhibition which opens tomorrow, Saturday 18 January and runs until 15 March 2020.

Justine Le Joncour – Newton Street

The exhibition sees entries from all levels of experience; established artists, new and emerging talent, enthusiastic amateurs and first-time artists.

Ben Goring – Rich

Gwen Evans – Ar Lan Y Mor (By the Seaside)

With over 2000 pieces submitted, over 500 works were selected by a special panel which included HOME curator, Bren O’Callaghan and Helen Wewiora, Director of Castlefield Gallery.

The result is a wonderfully eclectic exhibition representing the wonderful people of Greater Manchester, which includes paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, digital and mixed media, video and audio, spoken word, performance and more.

Kat Preston – An Ode to Willendorf

And, in the words of the great Jimmy Cricket (never forget) there’s more…(it was a contemporary reference toss up between him and Columbo)…

20 of the artists have been shortlisted for a Manchester Open Award, and the five winners will each receive an artist bursary to the value of 2000 pounds, in collaboration with Castlefield Gallery, which will be tailored to each individual artist, and may cover such things as travel, materials, studio rent, website development or any aspect of their practice following peer advice. Full details including the names of all finalists can be found HERE

Just one more thing (nobody puts Columbo in the corner), visitors to the Manchester Open Exhibition during the first four weeks will get the chance to vote for the winner of The People’s Choice Award.

All winners will also receive (and I LOVE this) an award made by Stockport’s On The Brink Studio, from Manchester poplar, bog oak and wax from the beehives on the roof of HOME.

Jen Orpin – It’s the Manc Way – Safe Passage

So support Greater Manchester by helping support HOME support Greater Manchester and head on over to the Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME from Saturday 18 January.

I’ll be visiting this week and will share what is sure to be my joy and favourites in a further post and pics on here, Twitter and Instagram.

More details can be found at https://homemcr.org/exhibition/manchester-open/

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Culture Events Manchester News Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts

Preview: Salford Museum and Art Gallery welcomes new Collier Street Baths exhibition

I’m as guilty as the next person at taking our streets of Manchester and Salford for granted.

Focused squarely on not tripping over my own feet (the great tumble of St Annes Square of 2003 – never forget), or striking out straight into the path of a tram, I, alongside many residents, workers and visitors to the area, never think to stop and look around at the many beautiful buildings in our midst, both old and new.

Ready to open our eyes and inspire an appreciation of such, an art exhibition has landed at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, celebrating the beautiful architecture of Collier Street Baths through a collection of paintings by local artist, Ian McKay.

Ian McKay c/o Salford Leisure

Just off Trinity Way in Salford, the Grade II listed building was designed by the city’s own Thomas Worthington, who designed many of the noted structures including The Albert Memorial and Memorial Hall in Albert Square, and the City Police Courts.

The oldest surviving public baths in Great Britain, Collier Street Baths (also termed ‘Greengate Baths’, opened in 1856 by the Manchester and Salford Baths and Laundries Company, but since closing in 1880, has remained derelict ever since.

The good news is that the building is finally to be redeveloped – watch that Salfordian space!

1856 was the beginning of the golden age for public swimming and the baths were used by 50,000 people a year at their peak. Note Oarsman, Mark Addy, who rescued more than 50 people from drowning in the Irwell (yes, that’s who the pub was named after, not the actor), indeed learnt to swim at Collier Street Baths.

Fascinated by the building’s Italianate architectural aesthetic (Worthington having been inspired by a recent trip to Italy), artist, Ian McKay, spent time on location producing a collection of drawings and colour studies of the exterior of the building, which eventually evolved into a series of abstract paintings.

Ian McKay c/o Salford Leisure

Ian says

Collier Street Baths to me is a crucial part of Salford and Manchester’s social history and I felt the building deserved to have its story told visually…the baths played a huge part in the health and wellbeing of people in both cities and gave people a lot of pleasure so i wanted to create this same feeling with an exhibition that is a tribute to this fine building.

Ian also runs Gorton Visual Arts, which teaches new skills to elderly residents, vulnerable adults and residents with learning difficulties, all in a safe studio environment.

The Collier Street Baths exhibition runs until 26 April 2020 at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, is free to visit and open six days a week (excluding bank holidays). A programme of activity will also run to support the exhibition.

For more details, visit the Salford Museum website.

And next time you’re pounding our glorious streets, paved, of course, with Mancunian and Salfordian gold, remember to look around you (check for trams first)…

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Culture Current affairs Events Manchester News preview The Arts

Preview: Manchester Jewish Museum to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with two premiere performances

2020 heralds 75 years since the liberation of the Nazi death-camps.

On Monday 27 January, Manchester Jewish Museum will mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), with two premieres of musical and theatrical performances, staged at Manchester Central Library.

Songs of Arrival

During the afternoon, music by acclaimed Israeli composer Na’ama Zisser,the first to introduce cantorial music into opera, will be performed together with a premiere of brand-new songs in a free pop-up performance installation, entitled Songs of Arrival, from 4pm in the Music Library. 

Pic credit: Manchester Jewish Museum

The Museum’s very own community song-writing group – who have been working with musician and composer Joe Steele to create original compositions – will also perform. These brand new songs will premiere at the Library, and bring to life the Museum’s oral history collection from where stories of arriving in Cheetham Hill in the 1930s and 40s originate. 

Of the four brand new songs written and performed for HMD by the Museum’s community writing group, two are based directly on stories from the museum’s oral history collection. The other two draw on themes of migration and cultural integration more generally; a song created with ESOL students at the Abraham Moss Adult Learning Centre takes as its inspiration the ubiquity of the phrase ‘Thank you, love’, which the students observed after arriving in Manchester, weaving together different translations including Arabic, Portugese and Welsh. Meanwhile, Celebration of Love, written by group member Andy Steele, brings a positive message of ‘making peace, not war’.

Opera Singer Peter Braithwaite, who is also the Museum’s Artist in Residence, concludes this interactive musical installation and line-up with one of Na’ama Zisser’s song Love Sick – performed in Hebrew and based on the Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim) a book in the bible which explores love.

Holocaust Brunch

In the evening of Monday 27th, the Museum’s commemoration of HMD continues with the Northern Premiere of Holocaust Brunch by London based, Canadian theatre makerand performer, Tamara Micner. Fusing and using comedy with beigels, this funny and brave solo show brings to life the true stories of two Holocaust survivors connected to Tamara, and pries open an intergenerational wound to explore why we remember the Holocaust and what it is like to live in the shadows of genocide and displacement.

Pic credit – Holly Revell

Holocaust Brunch tells a remarkable true Holocaust survival story. Micner reflects on her experience of growing up as a descendent of survivors, and explores how communities can heal from ancestral trauma. Holocaust Brunch is a dark comedy, recounting a story not typically told, and Tamara Micner serves up beigels and cream cheese as she pries open an intergenerational wound and asks why we remember, and what it might look like to forget.

Pic credit: Holly Revell

Created with a team of Jewish and non-Jewish artists, Micner’s moving, funny and thoughtful solo performance invites audiences to reflect how, as the next generation, we can keep memories alive. As part of the creation of Holocaust Brunch, Tamara Micner has collaborated with London-based printmaker Yael Roberts, who has made a series of original prints, The Trauma Documents, which respond to parts of the story and appear throughout the show as video projections. These will be on display at Manchester Central Library alongside the performance of Holocaust Brunch.

The Manchester Jewish Museum is currently based at Manchester Central Library until 2021 whilst work is underway to extend its original Cheetham Hill site.

Songs of Arrival is a free drop-in event between 4-5pm – more information is at https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/event/holocaust-memorial-day-songs-of-arrival/

Holocaust Brunch stars at 7.30pm and tickets can be purchased at https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/event/holocaust-brunch-by-tamara-micner/

 The Manchester Jewish Museum is currently based at Manchester Central Library until 2021 whilst work is carried out to extend its original Cheetham Hill site.
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cinema Culture Events film Manchester News Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts

News: HOME brings in 2020 with a retrospective of award-winning Mancunian screenwriter, Robert Bolt

I’m currently trying my hand at screenwriting (under the excellent tutorage of Scriptwriting North), love a regular visit to HOME and dip my toe in the world of film both here and over at What the Projectionist Saw

So battling my way through a frankly annoying barrage of emails in my inbox about Black Friday,  there was only one missive which caught my eye and promised me the ultimate gift (and not a BF reference in sight – a GOOD thing).

HOME are seeing in 2020 with their annual British Screenwriters season, 5-22 January, and there’s a mancunian cherry on the cake.

Manchester-born and educated Robert Bolt will be the subject of a celebrated season of works including the infamous and frankly quite epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Dr Zhivago (1965).

Happy new year to us!

Curated by Andy Willis, HOME’s Senior Visiting Curator: Film and Professor of Film Studies at the University of Salford, the season will screen three of Bolt’s award-winning collaborations with Lean: Lawrence of Arabia, recipient of seven Oscars in 1963 including Best Film and Best Director, with a Best Screenplay nomination for Bolt; Doctor Zhivago, which won Bolt his first Oscar and Golden Globe; and Ryan’s Daughter (1970), a double Oscar-winning epic romance set against a backdrop of war and political turmoil.

Also screening is the 1966 screen adaptation of Bolt’s internationally successful stage play of the same name, A Man for All Seasons, with Paul Scofield reprising his West End and Broadway role as Sir Thomas More – for which he was awarded an Oscar – alongside a cast including Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Vanessa Redgrave and John Hurt and directed by Hollywood veteran Fred Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity). Rounding off the season is Bolt’s final film, The Mission – the haunting, epic tale of a missionary in 18th-century South America starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons and directed by Roland Joffé – winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival as well as a final Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Bolt.

Curator Andy Willis heads up proceedings with a special One Hour Intro about Bolt and his career, commenting…

Bolt is a true Manchester success story – born in Sale and educated in Manchester, he studied at Manchester University before and after serving in World War II. We’re excited to be celebrating this brilliant writer who enjoyed critical and commercial success across such a vast range of theatre and film writing, and possessed a true knack for making history contemporary and tackling moral issues dramatically.

For more details including the full programme list and to buy tickets, head to the HOME website at https://homemcr.org/event/british-screenwriters-robert-bolt/

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Culture Current affairs Manchester Music News People Popular culture The Arts

More than a building…Chorlton Bee Gee landmark needs your help to stay alive!

The Bee Gees belong to Manchester, well Chorlton to be specific.

Yes, ok, they flirted with being born in the Isle of Man,  emigrating to Australia, living in LA, travelling the world, but it was in Chorlton, Manchester,  that the magic first happened.

These fellow honorary mancs formed their first band, the skiffle/rock and roll group, the Rattlesnakes, whilst living in the family homestead on  Keppell Road.

Whilst fans often pay pilgrimage to the terrace house of The Bee Gees‘ childhood, there is another place which carries a significant place in the history of the siblings – The Gaumont – which was previously their local cinema and played host to The Rattlesnakes’ first ever performance!

gaumont 2-1

Since turned into The Co-op Funeral Care, local volunteer group, Chorlton Community Land Trust (CCLT), are fighting to save the building being sold and turned into flats, with their Stayin’ Alive Campaign.

Member, Chris Peacock, explains

Bee Gees fans from all over the world come to have their pictures taken outside – even though it’s a funeral home!

Turning 100 years young next year, local residents are passionate that this historic building is preserved, given that it is such an important part of Manchester’s music scene, and part of the rich tapestry that is the city’s cultural heritage.

Fellow CCLT member, Simon Hooton, adds

Time is critical to save this landmark building – we have just a few days left to persuade the Co-op to change course. It is an important part of Manchester’s historic music scene, so we want to preserve it and celebrate the world-famous Bee Gees and encourage more visitors to the area.

stayin alive

If the campaign is successful, CCLT plan to show the historic site some love by using it to:

  • celebrate the Bee Gees’ heritage

  • Offer a new destination for food and leisure

  • Attract more spending for local businesses

  • Put the site on Manchester’s music trail for visitors to the city

CLT have been working with developers and local residents to generate a plan that would help make Chorlton a more vibrant place for residents and visitors and retain this unique piece of music history.

The plans are to convert the old cinema building into a market-style food hall with flexible scope to also be a performance space for live music and cinema nights. CCLT are also working with the local community health centre to bring forward a new GP Practice with potentially a gym, community space and some affordable housing on the site too.

The campaigners are also keen to integrate the development with the upcoming re-development of the precinct and to create a new public square outside the building too.

CCLT has been liaising with both Manchester City Council and the Co-op  and been given until this Saturday 9 November by to raise £250k. So far, £55k has been raised in the first few days.

HOW ON EARTH CAN I HELP?!

I hear you passionately cry!

Start by heading over to the Stayin’ Alive website and watching this video where you can find out more information and make a pledge.

You can also follow the campaign and show your support by signing upto the following socials:

Twitter: @CampaignStayin

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/stayinalivecampaign

Do it for Chorlton, do it for The Bee Gees, heck do it for Manchester!

 

 

 

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Culture Current affairs Events Manchester News People preview Preview/review The Arts

Preview: Jon Sopel – Inside Trump’s White House (Penguin live)

If like me (I do miss Denis Norden – I interviewed him by fax once…) you are obsessed with all things West Wing (including The West Wing), you’ll be fascinated by the upcoming book by BBC North America Editor, Jon Sopel, A Year at the Circus.

Not only that, you’ll be fascinated to get a foot in the door to both the book and the Oval Office itself, via Penguin Live’s event, Inside Trump’s White House, with the man himself (that is, Jon Sopel) on 18 September 2019, at The Dancehouse Theatre.

Taking us through his experiences as a reporter in the infamous Briefing Room, Jon will bring to life what it’s like to be part of the press pack as Trump’s presidency plays out and tensions continue to soar between him and the media.

Jon will also reveal the real-life inner workings of the White House and share moments, conversations and revelations he’s been privy to during his enviable (or should that be unenviable) proximity to the POTUS (yes I watch all of the Washington dramas).

For more details and your ticket to Trump (so to speak), visit https://www.thedancehouse.co.uk/events/2019/251-jon-sopel

See you there…

To read about previous Penguin Live events, see below:

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

Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

 

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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…