Thursday, 23 March 2017

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Sometimes your Mum can be hard to buy for, especially when it's Mother's Day and you want to say thank you for birthing me and taking the time to bring me up. Its fair to say, its a tricky one!

The Classic - Flowers! A bouquet of flowers in spring, is just the thing to brighten the house after the cold months of January and February.

 (picture from Bloom and Wild -highly recommend!!)

The Ultimate Brownie Points - Cook the Sunday Roast or cook your Mum's favourite meal. On the rare occasion I do this, I always get my Dad to help because I do not possess the skill of good timing.

Thoughtful - be Creative. When I was little I used to write poems and draw pictures for Mother's Day gifts, if you have beautiful handwriting this is still an option as an adult. If like me creativity is not your strong suit, pick your favourite picture together and put it in a nice frame.

Something Different - An evening at the Theatre. I know you're thinking WOAH there, thats a little expensive. It doesn't have to be, see what is playing at a local or fringe venue, take advantage of day tickets or apps such as today tixs.

There are a few different options, at the time of writing I only have the card but will probably go for a mixture of the above ideas.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast ... a few thoughts

Beauty and the Beast, was everything I wanted it to be and more. It made me laugh, it made me cry and feel every other emotion in between.

(what a compelling opening statement, scroll down to read more)

As soon as the opening scene began I knew I would love. Throughout you could really see Emma Watson's take on the character Belle, she followed her own will and didn't change herself in order to fit in. I loved that in the live action version, Belle took on the inventor spirit opposed to Maurice.

The animation of the "furniture" characters was so astonishingly real looking, I'm not sure I will ever look at a candelabra in quite the same way again. Throughout I thought the cinematography was stunning, that alone was enough to start the waterworks.

The additional songs were just scrummy, right now as I write this I have Days in the Sun on repeat!

I loved that this version gave a more in depth understanding of the characters with the history of Belle and the Beast, that as well as them being "real people" or in the Beast's case amazing animation/make up?!, made me empathise more deeply with the characters than the animation version could ever do.

The balance of happy, sad, touching and humorous moments was perfect, one minute I was in tears, the next I would be laughing. There were a few moments when I had to stop myself audibly sobbing in the cinema.

On an equality note there was a wide range of people represented in the film, and not a big deal made out of it. That is so important, it was just a thing that was there. However I know some people would say that Le Fou as the "first openly gay" Disney character wasn't enough of a representation for LGBT+ people. But personally I thought it was enough, because it shows that gay people are not overly sexualised and it just isn't a big deal who a person is or isn't attracted to. Especially in light of the YouTube scandal of blocking LGBT+ content in restricted mode. One day the main story line in a Disney film will be a LGBT+ one, and I feel that isn't so far off. 

I feel so happy knowing that generations of children will grow up watching this film, so full of heart and goodness.


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Jukebox Musicals - Mamma Mia

Is it fair to judge an entire genre of musical theatre, on one musical? The answer is no. But I have so many mixed feels about the production I saw on Mamma Mia the other week.

Before you read my thoughts - Mamma Mia is a great night out and lots of fun. I would highly recommend it!

HOWEVER I've found it so difficult to answer this question: 'So what did you think?', because I thought many things.

I grew up absolutely loving the film and I still watch it a few times a year, it literally makes me feel so happy, even if I am at my lowest. So I couldn't not see the stage version when it rolled into town!

I have seen a lot of theatre in the last few years and I have seen amazing productions in all different genres. Mamma Mia didn't live up to those high standards, and I know already it will soon be forgotten in my mind. Despite the fact Mamma Mia has been around for 18 years, it felt hurriedly put together. There were songs that didn't make sense where they were, in fact I would have cut 'What's the name of the game' because its so randomly placed and ruins the flow of the scene. The dancing feels really early Noughties, I'm sure there could have been some tweaks made to the choreography to stop the show looking dated. Overall I feel the production should have evolved a little bit over time, rather than just keeping it the same, whilst it is still so popular with audiences I doubt that will change. 

Unfortunately I found some of the acting painful, like the actors were being fed the lines through an earpiece. Don't get me wrong, I know its not a hard hitting drama, but some emotional integrity would have been appreciated.

This production neither left me underwhelmed or overwhelmed - just whelmed. If you like ABBA music, greek islands and lots of cheese- trust me you will LOVE it. But if you are going to the theatre looking for 'art' in the slightest, try something else.

What are my thoughts on Jukebox musicals? In all honesty I am yet to be impressed by one.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Bloom by Estee Lalonde |Review | Women's Week

Estee was the first person I subscribed to on YouTube and I have been religiously watching since I was 17.

I will admit when I first heard she was writing a book my response was '*groan* not another YouTuber Book'. My opinion changed. Estee was so open about writing the book, I loved the reason behind it, so I bought it, for myself for Christmas.

Lets talk about the aesthetic of tis book. It is easily the most gorgeous book on my shelf! I love the gold foil title on the spine of the book, the contrast of texture on the cover. The page edges of pastel. Photography throughout is stunning. From the aesthetics alone you can see this is a thoroughly thought out endeavour.

Estee does share things which she hasn't mentioned online, such as her difficult relationship with food growing up. Subjects like 'binge eating' and starving yourself because of outside pressure, need to be talked about. Its so important for people to hear about this to know they are not alone, and they can get through difficult times in their lives.

For me I most related to her school experience, feeling like an outsider never quite fitting into any groups. It doesn't mean your a bad person or weird, especially seeing how popular Estee is amongst everyone in the YouTube and blogging community.

My favourite chapter was Travel. I'm just at the start of the stage in my life where travelling is a viable option, it made me want to see the world, whilst Estee shared her favourite things about the country she has visited.

This book is literally suitable for any age group from teens and up, whether your reflecting on an age or your are living it. 

Bloom was truly a delight to read and when I have a coffee table, it will proudly be place on it for all to see.


Friday, 10 March 2017

Women who inspire... | Women's Week

In the penultimate post in my 'Women's week' I wanted to do a post about inspirational women.

In my life I understand that I have white privilege, in my life I am so fortunate to be surrounded by women who inspire me. Up until recently naively I wondered why Women's Equality was an issue, at school I had women teachers who were heads of departments, head teachers, my doctor was a woman. At home I have never been treated less favourably than my brother, and was (and am) free to aim for the stars. I'm also fortunate not to be asked if I want to start a family, that not being my parents goal for me. Then I have my friends who are all doing amazing things, in many different sectors. I am so proud of them all.

One of my oldest friends Grace is studying English at Edinburgh University, I thought she would be the perfect person to ask about inspirational having gone through a different life experience (going to uni). Here is what she had to say...
The pilot episode of BBC3’s new drama ‘Clique’ shows a strong, successful female lecturer delivering questionable views about feminism from behind her podium, designed to create character and generate plot, maybe to get a viewer to critically engage with ideas of gender. This image was still in my mind when asked to think about women who have inspired me, and reminded me that one of the most inspirational women I have encountered I have seen from the same perspective, separated from me by a lecture theatre stand. Dr Jan Penrose, teaching an Economic and Political Geography course, was a revelation in the ideas and the passion she presented, one of the few times I truly felt my eyes being ‘opened’ to the world in the cliché  that I had expected from university. And once I had considered this, I thought about how many other intelligent and bold female lecturers I have been lucky to learn from over the course of my degree.

I didn’t used to think much about gender in my essays – I thought the arguments involved were ‘obvious’ (forgetting the privilege of holding such a view) and wasn’t that interested in exploring them. But the more I’ve studied, the more I can see how angles of gender are subversive pathways that lead to other, crucial challenges, and how little these female and ‘other’ voices are represented in the canon and university courses. Institutions, academic and otherwise, can be amazing platforms for rethinking and change – but also dangerous and fossilising museums.

I couldn't do this post without mentioning Meryl Streep. I was captivated by her in my teens. She is the most Oscar nominated actor, of all time. She is smart, funny and stands for equal rights for all. Over her career she has been in such a wide range of films Sophie's Choice to Mamma Mia (I don't think you could get 2 more contrasting films) and has never been type cast. She is a woman at the very top of her game, and has been for years. If I could be half as successful as her in any way, I would be beyond happy.

I think now is the perfect opportunity to say, Women's Equality can be achieved only if we Women stop putting each other down. Until we stop collectively doing that, will the patriachy take Equality seriously.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day |Women's Week

Today is International Women's Day!

So what is International Women's Day? It is every year on 8th March, commemorating the movement for women's rights. The 2017 campaign is #BeBoldForChange, on the right hand side of my blog you can see the widget. You can choose to champion: challenge bias and inequality, against violence, women's advancement, women's achievement and women's education.

Personally I am championing Women's Education as I believe that a good education is such a huge part of getting out of poverty. When so many girls in this world do not get an education, it is extremely important.

I work in the Learning and Participation department, the aim being to get a wide array of people from the community interested and taking part in the arts. Something I am hugely passionate about.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

#titgate | Womens Week

You've all seen it on the internet...the world is freaking out about the fact Emma Watson has some bare breast on her Vanity Fair picture. According to some people... that means she can't be a feminist and has double standards. 

“Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing." Emma Watson

I agree 100% with Emma, Feminism is about giving women choice. The choice to present themselves to the world how they want to, what careers are viable to them (knowing they will be equal to male counterparts), letting women love who they want to. 

Men who are successful, can also be "sexy" and that doesn't effect how serious they are about their career or as a person. For women this is not the case, still in 2017. This is what feminism is about, women having choice and not be judged or downgraded for choices that are made, in a way men simply are not.

These past few days, are a stark reminder that as a society we are still not in a good place.

Lets not forget that Emma is an advocate for women's rights, she is a UN ambassador, pioneer of the HeForShe campaign and beatboxer (see here).


Sources: The Guardian, picture

Monday, 6 March 2017

Feminist TBR | Women's Week

On Wednesday this week, it is International Women's Day, so I thought this week I would share the love of women. Starting of this week with some feminist books I want to read. Personally most of the books I read are by women but I would say they are more "fluffy", but the fact they are written by women, when most books that have been published are by men, that is feminism right there. But here are some books I believe are more overtly feminist.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Francesca Cavallo
This is doing the rounds on BookTube, the women featured look really interesting and the illustrations look gorgeous.

In case you didn't know is a Labour MP, the book is about how she managed to become an MP, when the odds were extremely against her. This satisfies my feminist and political interests.

As the title suggests this is an episodic play, each monologue discusses and explores different parts of the feminine experience. I would love to see this performed live also. It was described by the New York Times as on of the most important  pieces of political theatre in the 1990's.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The only book out of this selection, currently on my book shelves. The musical of the book will be touring the US after a period of time on Broadway. This pullitzer prize winning book, explores the lives of African-American women in the southern states of America, this isn't a period of time that I know a lot about, its hugely important to be aware of the past - and I'm excited to read the book.

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
I've read seriously mixed reviews of this book. From what I can gather it is a series of essays...and not for people who are easily offended by humour. This book when it came out was very popular on the internet, and Moran has since written more books.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

The life changing magic of...going to the theatre solo

Hello, last week I did something I never thought I would do, I went to the Theatre by myself.
It is official, you can go to theatre by yourself, if no one wants to see the same thing as you, or you have weird working hours like myself! Its not weird, no one looks at you like you're an alien, it is totally fine.

My advice if you are going alone...
1. Enter the auditorium with about 5 minutes left to go before the curtain goes up
2. Have a glass of wine (this is mandatory for over 18's)
3. Buy a snack
4. Sit back and enjoy the performance!

If I hadn't gone by myself I would have missed Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes, which would quite frankly be a crime!