Street Art- And Why I Love It So

Street Art in Cologne

I recently wrote an article about the beauty behind Street Art and what a powerful artistic medium it is; what it can symbolise, and the impact it has on a place, for the magazine and label, Public Pressure. In particular I look at; Bristol, Prague, Varanasi and Malacca in Malaysia.

Vangeyur

Read it by clicking this.

Top Ten Theatre Performances

Being an avid fan of theatre and studying drama from GCSE level all the way up to University, I was urged and enthused to see drama, in all its various forms. This meant I had seen many classical texts come to life, experimental theatre, and numerous fellow student plays. I love seeing theatre, whether a traditional naturalistic play, an immersive performance that makes you think or even a piece of theatre that is unexplainable. All interest, entertain and educate me- although some performances I have seen have really been strange to say the least! In this list I choose my favourite top ten performances.

1. Women in Black

The most powerful and terrifying piece of theatre I have ever seen, this adaptation of the novel by Susan Hill is brought to life at Fortune Theatre. Firstly, the text is powerful and filled with tense scenes and emotive twist and turns that terrifies the reader; however the stage adaptation creates the performance to be even more eerie and spellbinding. With the use of minimal staging, viewers are transported into the action themselves, and with just two actors, the actors multi role, dipping in and out of various characters with the use of accents and body language, which makes the minimal changes within the text and performance even more dramatic. An incredible performance highlighted through the storytelling by the actors and the adaptation choices made by the stage director.

2. A Thousand Pieces by Paperbirds Theatre Company

This Theatre Company came to my school as a Theatre in Education group, where they use drama as a medium to educate others on a certain topic or theme. This was the first time I was introduced to Applied Theatre in one of its forms and boy did I love it. In fact this was the very performance that inspired me to explore Applied Theatre more, further taking it at University, gaining experience as a workshop facilitator and becoming a professional workshop facilitator, which I am this present day.  It highlighted to me, that drama is a powerful tool and can be used for other reasons, rather than just to entertain. This performance uses the elements of physical and verbatim theatre to highlight the atrocities behind sex trafficking. The use of props and repeated actions, as well all actors in the piece performing en masse rather than having individual characters, created this performance to be even more of an emotional journey for those who viewed it.

3. War Horse

Whatever performance that the National Theatre runs, it’s normally a good one. But this performance is extraordinary.  Combining puppetry from the South Africa Handspring Puppet Company with a moving narrative about a young boy and his horse during World War One, the performance is a physically challenging piece and an emotionally moving one.  Using the traditional text of War Horse by Micheal Morpurgo as a platform for performance theatre, War horse is staged with the use of life size puppet horses. This is done by actors using the element of physical theatre to realistically imitate every part of the horse, even using their own body language and orchestrating sounds. The stage is minimal with just the use of a few props to illustrate scene changes, and the element of song is used as an emotional motif as well as a way to change scenes smoothly and effectively. The performance is stunning and one to make you cry (guilty!)

4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I am a big fan of Shakespeare, I love the imaginative characters and plots he came up with, the hidden motifs and themes, as well as the beautiful yet complex language that rhymes off your tongue. It is no surprise that my favourite play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream has made it onto this list. There is something magical about seeing one of your favourite plays in action, but what made this performance even more magical was the setting where it was performed, the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park. Showing on a summer evening, the use of natural scenery and rolling hills really made the play come to life, and the magic element even more real. The theatre was in the shape of the round so actors used all different exits and entrances, placing the audience in the action themselves, as if seeing the performance by accident, a mere coincidence that we were able to see the happenings of fairies one evening in the woods ourselves- which makes it all a little bit more mystical and memorable.

5. Mental Health Play

This play shook me to my very core. I wasn’t expecting it to affect me in such a way, just a recommendation from our drama lecturers to highlight how complex mental health is. The performance is a site specific theatre, where viewers were welcomed into the person’s bedroom and to sit on the floor whilst he blankly told us the story. This piece of theatre was immersive, symbolist,  and documentary told in a naturalistic style, where were told the story of someone who suffered from severe mental health and had problems with the police because of it, using factual information such as visitor records, birth certificates and so on, showed onto a projector. The piece broke the boundaries of traditional theatre and what to expect. It was dark, deep, and most importantly, true.

6. Beautiful, Carole King

I am not really a fan of musicals, I get frustrated with musical theatre performances (why don’t they just say it rather than sing it?) although, if there are a number of good well known songs, I don’t’ have a problem with it- hence why this musical Beautiful has made it onto my list. Watching it on Broadway in New York, I was blown away by the performance that combined Carol King’s personal narrative with so many fantastic songs, quick scene changes, and detailed staging which highlighted each era of the performance so well. Forget blue wigs and over acting, this performance managed to show Carole King’s life with intrinsic emotional attention to detail as well as show stopping performances of wonderful classics- a genuine fantastic performance.

7. Hamlet

Another wonderful place to see any Shakespeare performance is in the very birthplace of Shakespeare, Stratford Upon Avon. I had the luck and fortune to see Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The performance was set in a thrust staging, which was perfect for the numerous monologues which many of the characters have, working as an effective place to talk aloud, as well as connect with the audience. Only essential staging was used which was lavish and suited the performance style well.  The main reason why this performance really stood out to me, was the actor who played Hamlet, David Tenant- he understood and played the character wonderfully.

8. Billy Elliot

Another unexpected musical that I loved. Maybe it was because I was overwhelmed by the swearing in it, or the heart warming plot which intermingled with dance sequences, catchy songs or maybe it was  the revolving stage that wowed me. Either way, this story of a young boy wanting to be a ballet dancer in the North of England and being faced with social class struggles and stereotypical  gender roles is not only a delight to watch, but also an enjoyable narrative to get lost in.

9. Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes

Dawn French, otherwise known as “the Vicar of Dibley” lays her heart out for all to examine in this autobiographical piece of documentary theatre. Forever the comedian, Dawn French tells her personal story and narrative through different chapters of her life, fragmenting areas and states of mind she had at the time. The result? A truthful account of what it’s like to be an overweight woman working in the media industry. Her frank manner of speaking and comedic overacting of certain memories highlights to the audience how hilarious- and sometimes hard, her life has been. Dawn uses audio, video clips and photographic material to drive her performance. It is a wonderful and inspiring account of the difficulties a woman can face in the media industry.

10. Stomp

This performance is purely a physical piece of theatre, no acting or speech is included, unlike a traditional piece of theatre. Stomp is a musical concoction of sounds and movement created by a troupe using elements of dance and percussion with ordinary items like kitchen sinks, hose pipes and bin lids. The end result is a fantastic hybrid of sounds that continually interest and stupefy the viewer, its a wonderful perspective on the use of ordinary items and traditional theatre.

All pictures used are copyright to YouTube.com and Wikipedia

Cirque Du Soleil

When given two tickets to see Cirque Du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall for my birthday, I knew it was going to be a fantastic evening. Partly because of the prestigious reputation Cirque Du Soleil has, but also because of the stunning venue which the performance was set in, the Royal Albert Hall.

Honestly, I didn’t know much about Cirque Du Soleil, all I really knew was what had been passed down to me from word of mouth, that the work which the company did was circus related and that if you watched one of their performances on narcotics, you would sure to find it a three dimensional interactive Neverland, which would take you on a physical, mental and emotional journey.

Fortunately, I stood away from any traces of narcotics and saw the performance of Amaluna in its full glory and my own sobriety. Acknowledged around the world for creating a performance troupe with its own unique and individual style of theatrical performance, I was intrigued and excited to see what was in store; both from a creative and theatrical trained eye, as well as an everyday observer.

Cirque Du SoleilAs the audience stopped shifting in their seats, and the lights began to dim, an actress pasted in garish make up used the performance elements of mime and physical theatre to dumb the venue into silence, and of course burst into laughter.

Immediately, I began to wonder and worry, is the performance going to be entirely based on this slapstick style of comedy, one which is hilarious in moments but embarrassingly awkward at times. However, the scene weaved into the opening act which highlighted the agility, talent and performance that the company is known for, as acrobats began to toss and tumble in the air, twisting and turning their bodies in perfect balance and symmetry to one another, I was memorised.

Acrobats and dancers donned exquisite colourful patterned outfits with feathered and jewelled head pieces all with such ornate detail; any would not look out of place at the celebrations of Mardi Gras. The show began to take a linear turn, based on a loose narrative around a shipwreck and forbidden love, which weaved elements of physical theatre, circus performance, song and slapstick humour, creating a kaleidoscope of colour, movement and sound.

Each circus performance outrageously out did the last act, with different groups of performers coming together and showcasing their array of talents, stunning the audience into an appreciative stupor. Highlights were the aerial straps, the teeter board, uneven bars, a waterbowl, and the lady which managed to balance a numerous amount of wooden poles onto her finger. It could have felt staged, a collisions of acts put together to create a circus performance (like La Soiree I saw- outrageously awesome but definitely a circus performance), but no, Amaluna was a performance which was more than just circus tricks, a creative theatrical awakening.

The Royal Albert Hall was a just setting for such a wonderful performance, acoustically fitting but also ideal for aerial straps and perfect for lighting. The grand venue which has held so many legendary musicians, felt quite right for my first viewing of Cirque Du Soleil and I urge all if can, to watch it here.

Reminding Me Of Home

I wrote the following piece of Creative Writing for a Rough Guides Competition, based on the theme of “home”.

The thick humid air envelops me as I step into the sun and start to wander through the town. I embrace the sweltering heat whilst I slowly begin to wind through the maze-like medina, immersing myself into the chaos. The call for prayer is melodically echoing through the town’s sand coloured walls, mosaic studded doors and dusty streets. Street sellers beckon for the attention of tourists busy fanning themselves, attempting to barter a deal with them. Women in abayas flock together, adorned with intricate henna on their hands and feet, perusing the goods that are on offer, hunting for a specific gem to add to their treasure chest of jewels. Camels grind their gaping teeth standing bored and tired, using their tails to impatiently flick flies away.

Lantern ShopI lose track of time and meander through the souq, passing ornate stained glass chandeliers and curled toe shoes dusted in gold on either side of me. My back begins to accumulate droplets of sweat.  I speak causally in Arabic to persistent street sellers who catch my attention with pleading eyes and cheeky smiles. My heart begins to soar. The language seems foreign on my tongue, yet I feel the most comfortable I’ve been in a while, hearing it around me. I don’t understand the full extent of what they’re saying but shake my head in acknowledgement anyway. I take a deep breath and smile. I feel at home.

Unlike many other blonde, blue eyed, fair skinned tourists that venture into the loud vibrant souqs of Marrakesh, I feel more comfortable here than I do walking on my way to work through rush hour in London. Here, old men smoke on street corners with aged wrinkled faces watching the world wander by with content. Here, life is at a different pace.

ShoeshoppingSpending my childhood in the Middle East has prepared me for Marrakesh. When I studied in Manchester and regularly passed through the Curry Mile, it would send me in reverie to my real home, millions of miles away, where strong perfume is lit on incense sticks and gold shops are in abundance. I crave the dry scorching heat, the wafting fumes of Shisha smoke and the crunchy yet smooth satisfying taste of hummus. I miss the rush of the souqs and the solitude of the desert.

The air hangs with excitement and buzz as the sun begins to set, exploding on the horizon in an array of colours, the shades and hues merging together as the bright stars begin to gradually appear and illuminate across the darkening night sky.  I listen to my growling stomach and stop at an open air café, sitting outside, taking in my surroundings. I breathe in the fragrant aroma of lamb tagine and I vouch to order one for my dinner. I ask for the renowned Moroccan mint tea which arrives with fresh mint floating on the surface and cubes of sugar on the side. The sensation is sweet yet refreshing. I order another.