Welcome to my brand new feature for 2016. I am going to be doing a roundup of various stuff going on that grab my interest. Major things will still continue getting their own posts, but may get a mention here too. I’m planning to make this a monthly thing, but it depend how much happens that’s worth writing about. Basically, I’m making up the rules as I go along until further notice.
Okay, the enforced theatre break in almost over. With December full of pantomimes, pantomimes and more sodding pantomimes, and January not having much at all, I know you’re all itching to go again. So I’ve been scanning through the programmes between February and May, and picked out recommendations.
A new thing I am starting this year is recommendations outside the north-east. As usual, a reminder that I there’s a lot of stuff out there which I don’t know about, some of which will be good. I may try to draw up a list of rules I go on when compiling these recommendations, but for now, the only caveat you need to remember is that this should be considered a cross-section of what’s out there, rather than an exhaustive list of recommendations. Continue reading →
As you might be aware, I don’t write much about what’s going on in London because I live in Durham. Up to now, my coverage has been limited to the odd play I’ve seen when I’ve been passing through London for whatever reason. Well, this time I’m going to write my first preview piece for a London event because, you lucky lucky London people, Durham’s #1 arts festival is coming your way this week. Lumiere has been coming to Durham every two years since 2009 and its popularity just grows and grows, but recently they’ve been branching out to other cities too. In 2013 it was Derry/Londonderry, and now it’s the turn of London.
In spite of Lumiere’s runaway success up north, London, I think, will be a bit of a gamble. There was a real festival feel in Durham with Lumiere dominating the whole city centre for four days, but central London’s too big for that. Instead, there will be one cluster of installations around Soho, and another cluster around St. Pancras. And Lumiere can expect much fiercer competition in London against all the other festivals in the capital city. Can they recreate the format that works so well in Durham? On the other hand, with 8 million inhabitants of London in reach, if it’s a success, the sky’s the limit. We should know which way it’ll go next week. Continue reading →
This is my first two articles I wrote in the aftermath of the high-publicised row between Miriam Elia and Penguin Random House, when I still thought it was possible to calm down the hostilities. For the more up-to-date article following the online nastiness I got from Penguin supporters that prompted me to completely side against them, see Why I don’t believe Penguin’s side of the story.
COMMENT: The success story of the grown-up Ladybird books is overshadowed by an artist they took legal action against. Here’s why it’s time to make peace.
Over Christmas, a lot of you will have given or received any or all of the eight “Ladybird Books for grown-ups”. Just in case you’re one of the people who’s not heard of this, it was a brilliantly simple idea, sanctioned by Ladybird themselves, of writing new descriptions to illustrations from the classic children’s series Ladybird. Out goes the story from Tiptoes the Mischievous Kitten, and it goes a tip from the Ladybird Guide to Dating as to how this woman pictured has been so busy running her online macaroon business she realises one day she’s forgotten to get married and sleeps on a torn mattress in the attic. This is largely the creation of Joel Morris and Jason Hazely, two writers who regularly contribute to Charlie Brooker’s wipes.
And this would be a lovely success story were it not for the allegations of plagiarism and legal shenanigans. The issue is that the year before, a small-time artist called Miriam Elia produced her own parody of a Ladybird book. That time, it was a parody of Peter and Jane where Mummy takes them to a modern art gallery; and it eviscerates the crap passed off as modern art, and also eviscerates the bollocks praise that people like Mummy lavish on the aforementioned crap. To the credit of many modern art galleries, they took this in good humour and some of them even stock the book. But Penguin, Publisher of Ladybird, claimed copyright, came to a settlement with Miriam Elia that involved pulping most of the books, and it wasn’t until this year – when the laws on copyright changed and parody was accepted as “fair use” of copyright material – that the books were reprinted. Continue reading →
So with the excitement of the 2015 awards out of the way, there’s just time to look back at the most viewed pages on this blog. Usual technical caveat apply here: I am counting pageviews as determined by WordPress. The geeks amongst you will know that there is no 100% reliable way of distinguishing the real pageviews from the bots and spammers. But when comparing different pages of the same blog using the same tools it’s reasonably reliable.
Also be aware that articles published earlier in the year are at a slightly unfair advantage here as they have longer to build up stats that later articles (some articles build an audience over months or even years). I’ve also omitted the live coverage of the Edinburgh and Brighton fringes as that would have had lots of people returning to the page as and when it was updated.
Anyway, enough technical waffling, let’s skip a razzmatazz intro and get to the details, shall we? Continue reading →