Saturday, 15 June 2019

Come From Away | Theatre Review 💛💙

I really want to hold onto how I feel after this show and I hope this blog post help maintains that.

Come From Away is the most important show you can see in the West End at the moment. A show based around the events of 9/11 could so easily be emotionally challenging or some kind of trauma porn. 9/11 changed the world we live in, the after effects are still being felt 18 years later, no doubt for decades after that. Whilst the worst of humanity was being demonstrated in New York and Washington. The best example of humanity was being demonstrated in Gander, Newfoundland.

The immediate response following the attack was to close US air space, to stop any further attacks. Planes were told to go back to where they came from or to land in Canada. One of the airports planes landed at was Gander international airport. 38 planes landed that day, the population of the town almost doubling. Come From Away, tells the true story of how the Islanders welcomed with open arms the people stranded in a strange place, in a time of immense uncertainty, a long way from home. The effect on people and the compassion they showed means they are the only place outside the states to have steel from the World Trade centre.

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11 many of the Come From Aways returned to Gander to celebrate those people who had opened their arms and looked after them. The writers of this show went up to Gander on this anniversary. Irene Sankoff and David Hein interviewed people for hours and began to gather stories not knowing quite what they would get. The journey this show has been on is spectacular. After first being produced at Sheridan College, Ontario in 2013. From 2015 It was then produced at various theatres across America breaking box office records, then it went to Canada. Finally before opening on Broadway it played in Gander, in the Ice Hockey stadium.

Come From Away is such an ensemble piece and really is not about "star"names. The show opens with Welcome to The Rock the energy and urgency as well as the sense of community hits as soon as the drum beat starts drawing the audience in. Potentially the stand out moment of the show which shows Sankoff and Hein's mastery is Prayer, another ensemble piece. The passengers from the landed planes come from all walks of life, cultures and countries. About half way through the show passengers of different religions head to the church, to pray in the wake of tragedy. You not only see people of different religions co-exist peacefully, the languages spoken Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi and English and the traditional music build and weave together into this beautiful moment. It is a great example of how Sankoff and Hein use music to throughout the show. 

Other highlights: 28 Hours/Wherever We Are,  The Screech In and Me and The Sky. Also Bonnie Harris' compassion for animals and the 'Titanic Lady'.

I am so mesmerised by this production and the world building done with seemingly little, yet when you look closely it is built into every little detail from the underscore to slight costume changes. At the same time CFA expects a lot from the audience to fill in gap, but doesn't need a fancy set or effects. Come From Away holds it own both the story and the storytellers.

This show is about community, kindness and team work, without being asked, it coming naturally. This is demonstrated by the cast on stage, as every action they take on stage is intrinsically affected by everyone else on stage at that moment. If someone doesn't have a correct prop at that moment, it won't get passed to the next person, or the next, for when it is finally needed by the character who uses it. It's like watching a intricate puzzle being solved over and over again.

The more I look into this musical and the backstory of how it came to be, the more I simply adore it. I have watched so many interviews with the creatives, Broadway cast and the REAL people. I am particularly enamoured with Captain Beverly Bass, such as glass ceiling breaking powerful woman. The first female captain of American Airlines, one of the first people to deliver Boeing 777's to the US. Her life story has been captured in the feminist anthem 'Me and the Sky' and will certainly inspire hundreds and hundreds of young women and girls. It's another slice of history this production has captured and portrayed.

I hadn't really processed the 9/11 terror attacks, I mean it was 3 days before my 6th birthday, that would've been a lot to process. Yet it has arguably even affected my life in Norwich, England. I went back and I watched the footage, and I really had not grasped how huge and horrific it was. Which is incredibly naive. In one the news clips I watched there was a girl who was the same age as me and she saw the whole event happen from the window of the building she was in. I think I needed to process the attacks, for me to understand better the times that we live in.

We’re also doing a show about kindness. A true story about kindness. They want it! I can feel they’re leaning forward. That’s not what’s happening in the world right now. Nobody is talking about kindness or making a show about kindness—and it’s the fact that it’s true. Jenn Colella, Original Broadway cast

Ultimately this show. will make you want to go and tell your friends and family how much they mean to you. To go out into the world and do something positive that makes a difference, no matter how big. Life is so temporary and fleeting you don't know when it will be snatched away.

Friday, 19 April 2019

current favourites

It's been a hot minute since my last 'Current Favourites' so here is a wide variety of things I've been into recently.

Firstly this year  I have been getting back into the at home yoga practise thing. Sitting at my desk all day, is not doing wonders for me tbh. I have properly discovered Cat Meffan and her Heart openers and stretchy flows are the ideal tonic to combat this. Opening my body back out after being rather stationery and stiff in my normal working day.

Katie Jane Hughes, what a makeup inspiration she is. If you haven't heard of her where have you been. Her style of makeup is playful and colourful, yet what she does, doesn't take a really long time to look striking and editorial, unlike the typical insta-makeup. I am always intrigued to see what Katie will do next.

We've not had the best year of weather (apart from this weekend is looking pretty good), so I've been stuck in doors on my time off, therefore I've been playing Sims 2 more than I would like to admit. BUT to stop this time feeling totally unproductive I have been listening to quite a lot of Podcasts. I am pretty up to date with On The Line, which is Estee Lalonde's podcast. I particularly enjoyed 'Period Talk with Nikki and Leah' and 'A Deep Cleanse with Anjali Mahto'. Both of which I learnt to much and they were genuinely fascinating to listen to. Another favourite episode was Zanna Roberts Rassi on the Emma Guns Show talking beauty journalism and founding the brand Milk Makeup.

There's nothing quite like being late for a bandwagon is there, this very week I finally discovered Billie Eilish (I will really try not think about the fact she is 17) and her album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go. Honestly I am listening to it about twice a day my picks, and the tracks stuck in my head are xanny and wish you were gay. If you haven't also joined the bandwagon, take a moment to go listen.

I finally watched Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake with my own eyes which is arguably one of the most influential ballets/pieces of dance from the 20th century. I was actually a little nervous to watch it knowing how many people adore it, and see Swan Lake over and over again.
Once the music started I could instantly tell why Bourne wanted to have his own take on the Tchaikovsky score. It is simply is simply stunning; powerful and dramatic, multilayered, tender and heart wrenching. It really does pull emotion out of all the notes within it. I wish I could travel back to 1996 and see the original audience's reaction, whilst the 2019 audience was completely engaged and captivated, I can't imagine seeing this groundbreaking piece of work then.
23 years later Swan Lake is still incredibly relevant. One of Bourne's inspirations for his adaptation was how the royals act in public, and can never truly be themselves, because of their duties. I think if we look to someone like the Duchess of Sussex, who completely had her own life, career and was extremely open with fans, how this has changed since becoming a member of the Royal family.
Also explored is the idea of masculinity with the choice of the male swans, showing the strength of these birds, rather than just the elegance. This of course leads onto the notion of the 'gay ballet'. I think audiences have become more intelligent, world views have changed. I think the show excellently handled the confusion and suppressing of questioning one's sexuality.

I could go on but to round up, I really enjoyed Swan Lake, and I hope we keep getting top quality dance visiting Norwich.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Thrillers I want to read | TBR

I have many many books on my TBR on GoodReads but you don't want to hear about all of them here. This year I want to get back into the Thriller genre. I've read a fair amount of John Grisham and James Patterson, whilst I've read and enjoyed their books, I've read enough from those two chaps. I'm really looking for some Thrillers from female authors, as men really dominate the market from my experience of the genre. So here are 5 books I want to read.

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

2. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

3. Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

4. Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

5. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

I desperately wanted this to be a post with 10 books, if reading this you have any recommendations from female, lLGBTQ+, BAME and any other under represented groups I would love to hear from you!

Friday, 29 March 2019

Norwich Theatre Royal Brochure: KP's Picks

Pictured on the front of the new style Norwich Theatre Royal brochure is Matilda the Musical, which I actually mentioned about a year ago when it was announced. I can confirm I am still very much looking forward to it.  The buzz around the production is starting to build, with the Matilda map starting to be populated in Norwich and Norfolk.

Dance is becoming more prominent in the programming at NTR as time goes by. This year there's not One but TWO visits from New Adventures. The first production they are bringing is Swan Lake, arguably the work that made Matthew Bourne's name. Somehow I've never seen it, so next week on Wednesday will be my first EVER time watching. The second production they are bringing is Romeo & Juliet. Not only is this exciting because it is new, New Adventures are working with a Young Cast at each of the venues and to my understanding young people are also working within other stages of the creative process.

Keeping on dance, the Mark Morris Dance Group, fairly fresh from a residency at Sadler's Wells, brings Pepperland. An ode but also a re-working of The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club.  This looks zingy and fresh, as well as a nostalgic feel.

I really enjoyed the book Girl on The Train, but I didn't make it more than half an hour through the film. I am intrigued as to how the stage adaptation will differ from the book and the film, and also how the heck they are staging it; the trailer doesn't give much away.

Finally to round this post out with another musical; Kinky Boots tells the story of an unlikely friendship, traditional Nottingham Shoe Maker and Drag Queen. Music by Cyndi Lauper and successful runs in the West End and on Broadway, what's not to be excited about?

Those are my top five picks, that I'm looking forward to seeing later this year.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Company 2018-2019 | Theatre Review

Whenever I think about this production of Company a smile on my face suddenly makes it presence known to me, which is nothing in comparison to the grin which appears on my face when I am telling someone about it.

I've always enjoyed the premise (nothing gets me like an interesting structure/narrative) and Sondheim's score of Company. This production is so special, iconic even as it captivates the mood of the nation at this moment in history. Many of us are yearning for more settled times what with Brexit, Trump, House Prices, the NHS in trouble our lives are seemingly on a knife edge - yet once an aspect of life becomes settled it puts us on a knife edge.

Company opens at the surprise 35th birthday party of our Central character Bobbie. Throughout the show Bobbie is trying to reconcile why she wants to get married, if she wants to get married and how that would look for her; by examining the relationship of her close coupled friends.

Originally the character Bobbie, was Bobby (Robert). In this 2018/2019 gender switched production the above takes on a new poignance particularly for the female audience, and the non straight cis male audience for that matter. There are enough stories about the straight white male at this point in time. The fact Bobbie is female amplifies the societal pressure around being 35 and single. Her friends feeling equals levels of concern and jealousy of Bobbie's relationship status. The overall context is what takes this production of Company to a new level.

Other aspects of this production are female-led Marianne Elliot renowned theater director previously has directed Angels in America, War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime perhaps her most notable productions. This is still not the norm for productions which is frustrating! From reading about her the process with actors is collaborative, the product of this giving the actors real ownership over the role. In the rehearsal process actors played scenes in their own accent with their own names, to help them get close to the character. Which I thought was so ingenious. Elliot had been looking to direct Company, but it wasn't until she formed her production company Elliot and Harper productions, looking for good parts for women, when it was suggested turning Bobby into Bobbie. As I have said this is what has turned Company into something else.

Sometimes when you're watching a production if you find your eyes wandering around the set, instead of looking at the action on stage - you've got a problem. The set in Company doesn't necessarily place the show in a particular era or place. The set is almost like a tetris game or a puzzle, and Bobbie is working out how it all makes sense and goes together. The different sections, to me represent the compartments of thoughts, or how Bobbie compartmentalises different aspects of her life. Whilst also being different peoples apartments/homes, a subway train and a club. Which creates the feeling of a busy bustling metropolitan city. It works so ingeniously on so many different levels.

I don't want to single out any particular cast member, not even you Patti Lu Pone, which goes to show what an ensemble piece Company is, though centring around Bobbie. The harmonies, as expected with any Sondheim, production are tight, not only because Sondheim is partial to those close notes, but this cast does really become one on multilayered notes. The movement sections are equally as insync and detailed. Movement pieces that come to mind are Another Hundred People and Side by Side.

I do have a few highlights of this show, You Could Drive A Person Crazy, the barber shop take on the song is as close to a theatre orgasm I am going to get. The second is the outstanding performances to all those involved in Getting Married Today. Just pure genius. Finally Being Alive, such a huge sing and the perfect round up of the show.

Company is a production is challenging as an audience member in terms of structure, and that it makes you look so closely at your own life. It is also incredibly funny, there are moments where you will want to be extremely unBritish and stand a woop mid-production. I've seen many many productions, and I doubt that this one will move from the forefront of my mind. It's one of those musicals where you think you know it, but you can see it again and again, listen to again and again; each time will you find new quirks and little snippets. That's the sign of a job well done.

Finally you can listen to the cast recording on Spotify here

Friday, 15 March 2019

My London Bucket List

I am so fortunate that I am able to go down to London quite regularly, but I always stick to the same thing each, and every time I visit. My standard visit is now a fail safe, arrive at Liverpool Street, head to Topshop Oxford Circus, watch a matinee, grab dinner (Bills, Pret or Leon) go home. Which is great but not really getting a true reflection of this multifaceted, exciting, bustling city.

I should begin with the places I have featured in the image at the top.
Columbia Road Flower Market, such an iconic place and somewhere you picture when you think of London.
The Barbican Conservatory, I believe this is open once a month, and just looks like a really relaxing place with lots of plants (that as a 20 something millennial I am rather into).
Sketch, this restaurant especially the pink room pictured above and the toilets have reached a rather cult status. I am a fan of afternoon tea, not something I regularly indulge myself in, and boujee surroundings.
Finally pictured is the Sky Garden at the top of the Walkie Talkie building. What a view that place must have and the surroundings inside make my heart sing.

Other places I would like to tick off:
The Natural History Museum
Kew Gardens
The Shard (I am obsessed with this building for some reason!)
The V&A
Tonight Josephine
A Psycle class (this does partially scare me)
The London Eye at Night
A Cat Cafe
Peggy Porschen (again instagram goals, and coincidentally Peggy was my Nan's nickname)

I also want to finally track down Fenty Beauty and see it with my own eyeballs, get a Maria Tash piercing (maybe a 25th birthday treat to myself?!) and finally start trying all the independent coffee shops London has to offer.

Finally being the stagey that I am, I would like to see these 3 shows.
Come From Away - I have heard so many good things!!
Everybody is Talking About Jamie
Dear Evan Hansen - opening towards the end of this year.

That is how my bucket list is shaping up at the moment. London based friends I hope you are ready for a KP visit.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Feminism and Me 2019

Happy International Women's Day!!!

Today I thought I would chat/braindump about my relationship with feminism. I last wrote about feminism in 2017 two whole years ago, I have matured from then but I still have a lot to learn. Since then I have become less naive seeing how different aspects of people's identity has a direct impact on their paths through life. I would now say I am an intersectional feminist, my blinkers have started to fade away and I can see that the fight for equality is not as simple as it seems. 

Also since writing the post the #MeToo movement has seen dramatic and much needed rise in momentum, most notably with the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Since I last wrote on the topic more people are openly feminist and the stigma surrounding the word seems to have eased. ‘The original purpose of "Me Too" as used by Tarana Burke in 2006, was to empower women through empathy, especially young and vulnerable women. In October 2017, Alyssa Milano encouraged using the phrase as a hashtag to help reveal the extent of problems with sexual harassment and assault by showing how many people have experienced these events themselves.' Since then changes have started to be made most notably harassment in the workplace men having to stop and think about what they are saying and somehow only in the 21st century are realising their actions have CONSEQUENCES. They can be told to fuck off, disciplined, fired, taken to court - depending on what exactly they have done.

I have also tried to start educating myself, being aware of what I am consuming.  Last year I read Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, which looks indepthly at the ingrained structural racism in society, which white people aren't even aware of and the ignorance of BAME peoples experience. This was one of my favourite books from last year, but I really need to read it again to let the dense information in this book sink in more thoroughly.  

Jess Phillips MP for Birmingham Yardley has recently been in the news for the Olive speech in the House of Commons.

"Since I was elected I have met many people who earn way more than £30,000 and have literally no discernible skills, not even one.

"I met none before - I thought I had met posh people before I came here, but I had actually just met people who eat olives.

"I had no idea of how posh a person could be.

"Waitrose is apparently not the marker for being really, really posh.

"There is a lovely Waitrose in Birmingham Hall Green; it is the one I like to frequent.

"I have not necessarily met such people in this place, although there is a smattering.

"I would not let some of those very rich people who earn huge amounts of money hold my pint if I had to go and vote while in the bar.

"Because they would almost certainly do it wrong."

She is one of only a few MP's who have a no nonsense attitude, who knows what she stands for and her beliefs. Her book Everywoman was an eye opening read and empowering. In fact when I gave it to Grace for Christmas, before I knew it it had been passed around her work place for all her colleagues to read.

Right to conclude this wordy post, in 2019 I now identify as an intersectional feminist, there have been massive steps forwards for Women's rights (not enough alas!) and I am trying to become more educated and woke, so I can speak more eloquently on things that matter to me.

Feminists Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies curated by Scarlett Curtis a great book to start out on your feminist journey/discovery
The Guilty Feminist (book) by Deborah Francis-White for an overview and wide angle
Becoming Michelle Obama one of the most anticipated books of the year, Michelle's account of the journey from Chicago to the White House
Animal by Sara Pascoe examining how the animal within the human race effects the relationship between men, women and the patriarchy
Every Woman by Jess Phillips a feminist take on parent-hood to labour politics to domestic abuse
Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge what it says on the front cover
The Guilty Feminist
Feminists Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies
I Weigh
The Insecure Girls Club
Leena Norms
Rowan Ellis

In all of the above categories I am looking for more by BAME, LGBT and other under represented people.

Then finally to finish this mammoth post off, a truly iconic advert voiced by Serena Williams