Odds and sods: January 2018

Right, thanks a bunch Manchester Art Gallery for giving me extra work to do. That’s okay, I’ve been meaning to get off my chest this new kind of censorship that’s been creeping into the arts. However, it does mean that odds and sods is now ten days overdue. I’m holding you personally responsible.

I skip December for odds and sods, because usually not a lot happens apart from pantos, pantos and more pantos. This time, however, there was a bit of a scandal; for a region where the local media says everything is awesome, this raised quite a lot of eyebrows. That kept me distracted for a lot of the last two months. But apart from that, and those silly people over in Manchester, here’s the other things that have caught my eye.

Stuff that happened in December and January

Enter Joe Douglas

So the big news from the north-east is that Live Theatre has chosen a new Artistic Director, replacing Max Roberts who announced he was stepping down last year. That’s about all I can say it this point. Joe Douglas is currently a freelance director based mostly in Scotland, but it’s hard to tell what his background means for live, other than the obvious thing of producing more new writing. As we saw from Paul Robinson’s arrival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, by the time the new artistic director commissions his own work, programmes it, directs it and performs it, it can take over 18 months before you get a good idea of what a new artistic director is going to bring. Continue reading

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Goodbye panto, hello farce

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Sorry to burden you with another Pantogate article. I wrote one, and thought that would be enough. But that was before the shit really hit the fan. Oh boy. Just when everyone thought things had settled down at Times Square Panto after the celebrity walkout, it came to a head on the last day with another walkout, only this time, it was enough to get the last two performances cancelled. It would be extremely tempting at this stage for me to say “I told you this would happen,” but that wouldn’t be truthful. In all honesty, I never for a moment imagined things would be get this bad.

I have a rule on this blog (indeed with life in general) that I don’t kick public figures when they’re down. For reason I’ll come on to in a moment, I think the game is up for Times Square Panto, so there’s little point dogpiling any further. All it’s fair to do now is sum up what happened and ask what lessons can be learned. However, some questions need asking over how this was allowed to get to this point. Had there been some more vigilance, I have doubts it would ever have had to come to this.

What happened

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. Oh boy. Continue reading

What you read in 2017

There’s one final thing to wind up from the year just gone – well, apart from all the reviews I still have to write – which is the annual roundup of what you read on this blog. Without further ado, let’s down to business.

Most popular new articles

Not counting regular articles such as the fringe coverage (which always gets loads of view for obvious reasons), here’s what got the most interest by category.

Mat Fraser as Richard IIIMost read comment piece: The most read comment piece was one I almost didn’t write. Even though I didn’t see Northern Broadsides’ Richard III, I wrote it because the use of a disabled actors in the titular role, I thought, was a very good idea. But I still shied away from writing this because, on the subject of providing opportunities to groups who are at a disadvantaged, I’m hesitant to tell other people what’s good for them. But I went ahead, being careful what I said, and it seems Northern Broadsides agreed because they publicised this and it got an unprecedented number of views. Continue reading

Odds and sods: November 2017

Oh boy, I’ve been spending most of November getting angry over things. One thing that particularly angered me was this business over a student rugby team putting on an event insensitive to locals. I’m not angry with them – their only crime was to do something stupid without thinking, something we were all guilty of at their age – but at the public shaming campaign that was organised in response to this. I won’t be responding to this here – it needs a full article to explain exactly why you should be worried about this kind of stunt. That will come later.

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Warning. Depressing subject material ahead. Here is a cute picture of a kitten.

I’ve also been getting getting increasingly angry with the fallout to the Weinstein saga. After the initial (quite justified) furore over Weinstein himself, the hypocrisy has been getting progressively worse. I’ve heard complaints that people are having careers destroyed over hearsay; I don’t know about that, after Kevin Spacey I lost track of who was being accused of what with what evidence. But what is alarming is that some people who are proven guilty of serious sex offences are getting off with a slap on the wrist, depending on where public outrage is being directed this week. If I ignore all the allegations unrelated to performing arts (and with it some shocking levels of victim-shaming going on across the political spectrum), the two most glaring cases are currently Poman Polanski and James Barbour. This article is a good summary of what kind of child-rape it’s apparently okay to commit if you star in Phantom of the Opera (Barbour has since said he’s leaving the run, but he’s moving on to other shows like nothing’s happened). I’ve already gone on enough about Polanski, so this poem from 2009 sums up the absence of morals quite eloquently. Continue reading

Odds and sods: October 2017

It’s that time of the month again. A roundup of things that happened last month that are worth a mention. A shorter list this time because fewer things than usual came up on my radar. If you’re looking for all things Harvey Weinstein, you can find my thoughts here, where I started off looking at this calmly but got angrier as more hypocrisy came to light. But apart from that, here’s what else has been going on.

Rotunda is returning to Buxton

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Buxton Fringe registrations aren’t opening for another month, but already we have news from the High Peak. Grist to the Mill Theatre have confirmed they will be returning to the fringe in 2018, and booking have opened already. This news isn’t a big surprise – the mood had always been that the Rotunda had done well enough to to  make Buxton a regular occurrence – but it’s been confirmed sooner than we expected. Continue reading

Odds and sods: September 2017

Been a while since I’ve done an odds and sods, what with Edinburgh and Brighton coverage keeping me busy over most of the summer. Last one was June, which now seems to be a distant memory. As usual, not a lot happens in September, with most of the performing arts world in hibernation at the Edinburgh Fringe. But a few things have been happening, and there’s also some post-fringe fallout from some of the more, ahem, “interesting” discussions.

Things that happened in September:

Ladybirdgate Mark II

Greedy lawyers. Relevance to story unknown.

This is actually an event that happened in the run-up to the Edinburgh Fringe rather than after that I somehow missed in spite of it registering on Fringepig’s radar. But it’s on the subject of corporate censorship, a close third of the things I loathe in the arts, after religious censorship and political censorship. According to Fringepig (and proper websites too). One play showing at Edinburgh was Four Go Off on One, a Famous Five parody, and if you’re wondering why they didn’t use the less confusing title of Five Go Off on One, it’s because they got legal threats from Hachette Book Group. Amarous Prawn offered a compromise to rename themselves to The Reasonably Well Known Five: An Unofficial, Unlicensed and Unrestrained Parody. Hachette wouldn’t have it because, to borrow the observation of Fringepig, they seem to think they have exclusive worldwide rights to the number five. Continue reading

Odds and sods: June 2017

Welcome to another odds and sods. It’s been an eventful month and- … what’s that I hear you say? “You didn’t do an odds and sods for April like you’re supposed to?” All right, fine. That was my plan, but at the end of April I was busy preparing for a holiday, and then my Brighton Fringe coverage started, and by the time I had a moment to catch up it was already halfway through May and getting a bit pointless. There, happy now?

Anyway, I’d better do a June update because quite a lot’s happened this month that needs talking about. Continue reading