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Showing posts from 2012

It's nice to the people serving you!

What would it be without a mini rant?

It's Christmas, everyone is busy you're rushing around trying to get everything done...and you snap at the girl/boy at the bar/restaurant/shop...ahem theatre....

Now to be fair, personally I've not had any major rudeness (yet... still time...) but as this marks something like my 12 years since I started working in customer service in some form (I had mercifully 3 of those years without working a Christmas when I had an office job.) I wanted to say: appreciate the people who serve you wherever that may be.

Just because someone is wearing a uniform, they're behind a bar or till (or wielding a torch in a theatre!) doesn't mean the following:

1. They're an idiot who is incapable of getting another job so therefore deserve abuse.
Most people I work with in my 'uniform' job are studying, are actors or have 2 or 3 other jobs on the go. They have assignments to complete performances to rehearse and are every bit as clever a…


No, not my impromptu audition for 'A Chorus Line' (I think you need to be able to dance for that) but my reflection on my first choir concert of the festive season, and actually my first in a year. Yes a year.

It's been an up and down year for choir. You may recall a previous blog post on that. A choir dissolved, a choir was re-formed. I moved from one choir to another and back again to another.

I toyed with writing this bit, how honest to be. And well, let's all cut the crap, this post is going to end well so we can get through this bit.

I followed one choir because, well at that point it was that choir or no choir. So as all I really ask from my choir on a basic level is to turn up and sing, I chose choir. It wasn't personal. If there had been two choirs to choose from things might have been different, but there weren't. So I chose. That choir for a while was ok, it was fine, it was a choir. The I heard another choir was formed, out of members from the old. M…

Reviews: 55 Days

A weekend in London (I can't help but sing that to the tune of 'A weekend in the country' but that's just me....)

55 Days, Hampstead Theatre

This is one of the best pieces of theatre I've seen in a long time, I wish I could get to see it again because there's a lot to take in. Of course it does combine a couple of my favourite things historical geekery and Mark Gatiss, but even without the latter it would have been wonderful (although his performance as Charles I is simply wonderful).

A new play by Howard Breton and directed by Howard Davies the play follows the 55 Days of the title that led to Charles I's trial and execution. If you have a working knowledge of the period it does help as you can sit back and appreciate Breton's innovative re-telling, however total novices to the period will find the play easy to follow and come out suitably enlightened.What actually comes over most strongly is Breton's use of the past to illustrate the present. It&#…

Review: Our Boys,

I did resolve to use this blog for more reviews, so here goes...

Our Boys by Jonathan Lewis

I went to see this as a Birthday outing for a friend who is rather fond of Lawrence Fox, as it happened this play also had Arthur Darvill of Dr Who fame and Matthew Lewis of Harry Potter fame. I was expecting death by fangirls at the theatre but luckily they behaved themselves.

It's also a worry with a group of young-ish actors, known for tv/film and with less theatre experience that carrying a West End play could fall flat. Not one of the cast dropped the ball at all, there was a real sense of an ensemble cast but with each getting their moment to stand out. Of the three 'known' actors Matthew Lewis gets least to work with, as the solider in for an adult circumcision he is very much posited as a comic relief character (not that the others don't have riotously funny roles) with simply less 'meaty' scenes it could seem he isn't as strong but actually he brings a round…

The F word and the B word....

Yes this is a blog about Feminism and about Babies. I'm treading dangerous ground here I realise. I'm not talking theory, I'm talking about day to day in practice ways in which I've felt, frankly disappointed, let down and even hurt by my gender recently  And that, whether it seems to be or not is actually linked to feminist issues.

Putting aside for a moment that I watched a student ridicule another for being a feminist in the second week of term. She stood up for herself and I didn't intervene because I thought it was important for her to do that, and she did so admirably. The following week, with the same group I stood up and said 'I'm a feminist  (I did have context I didn't just barge into the classroom and shout it, though it may have gotten their attention) And the student who'd make the negative comments the week before got involved in a discussion and I feel things progressed. Now this is all well and good, I happen to work in an environment…

I see Angels everywhere....

No I haven't joined a religious cult...I haven't totally lost it yet.

I did however get to thinking about how aspects of my PhD have infiltrated my whole life. Not least that I see AIDS and gay characters everywhere I look. Watching Doctor Who this weekend (Spoiler alert across the blog!) where the Weeping Angels take over New York was I yelling 'Don't kill Rory again Moffat' no. I was shouting, and I quote:

'Oh no Moff, not my Angel, the Angel Bethesda is not a weeping Angel.'

Now of course the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park is no more a Weeping Angel than any of the others, nor is she 'my' Angel (I said I haven't totally lost it) however I am incredibly attached to this particular fountain. Every time I go to New York I go there, I greet the Angel with a 'Salut' and in winter I mutter something about 'ice in the pipes' that it's my 'favourite place in the park'. None of this actually has anything to do with me, i…

Six directions at once...

It's probably not a good sign when you want to start a Friday morning with a ranting blog post is it?

Well one week into term and that's what I feel like. Obviously with term starting I knew things would be busy but it's like everything I'd forgotten about and more, no matter what resolutions I make to try and prevent that happening nothing seems to work.

There's the classic pull between teaching, other paid work and PhD but also the various responsibilities that come with all. In teaching I'm only there paid by the hour, I'm not a salaried full time staff member but I take my responsibility seriously. I also want to do the best job I can, but there's always a fine line between being as helpful as you can and showing willing and being the one who does everything.

There's also working an evening/weekend job as well, so my job doesn't end with my teaching I'm off to the other job, I'm working late etc. But there's another dimension to …

Once more into the breach...

I did think about calling this entry something original like 'back to school' but good old Hal actually sums up my feelings more aptly this year.

Partly as I had a horrible year last year. I'm not being (too) unprofessional in saying so. And I'm not unprofessional (or stupid) enough to go into exact details here.What I will say here is nothing I wouldn't say to my head of department: last year was horrible. Some things were nobody's fault, some things were, some things maybe I could have handled better, some things other people could have handled better. But at the end of the day, it was a horrendous year so instead of excitement I'm approaching this year with a sense of gathering dread. 

It's partly because I'm already so tired. This week has been a week when all 3 jobs and PhD are demanding my time, which has mean some long days and late nights. More importantly it's a reminder I have 3 jobs and a PhD. I teach, I work for Student Services and …

Without You (Review of sorts)

I plan on using this blog to do more reviews as I reason I see a lot of theatre and blogging about it rather than  just my general moans occasionally makes for more interesting reading.

I also quite pride myself on my critical eye when it comes to theatre-seeing through the hype and also giving credit where credit's due. Or just being my usual blunt honest self, whichever way you look at it.

The review I'm starting with however I hold my hands up and say it's hard to be impartial for. Without You is the one man-autobiographical show from Anthony Rapp, for those who don't know the original 'Mark' in Jonathan Larson's musical Rent (one of my PhD texts for those not keeping up) and the show covers the period in his life around Rent and specifically the impact of the deaths of first Jonathan Larson and then Rapp's mother. Based his book of the same name the show combines music from Rent with original music with the characters brought to life alongside Rapp&…

New York-Theatre Reviews

I'm back from New York, and will get to blogging about that, but priorities and all that-first I'm posting reviews of what I saw. It's a lot-I saw ten shows along with the six recordings of shows I saw as research. However this was quite a disappointing trip theatre wise-not with what I actually saw which on the whole was brilliant, but in choice. Usually on a trip to New York, as with London I'd be seeing a show every night and still wishing I had time for more. This year however a combination of prohibitive ticket prices ($130 dollars being a 'standard' Broadway seat now) and an overwhelming 'British invasion' of shows (that I'd either seen in London or didn't want to see in the first place!) made it a disappointing selection.

Anyway onto what I did see:

Clybourne Park

I saw this at the RWCMD in the Spring and loved the play. While the students gave brilliant performances seeing this with age-appropriate actors certainly helped! It's a bri…

Not so happy holiday

So any of you who have been following this blog or listening to me moan over the last few weeks will know about my New York travel saga. Short version: internship I thought I had fell through at the last minute, I changed my plans and am now going for less time. In theory to get some research done and also have a holiday.

But here's the thing: I really don't want to go. I know it sounds ungrateful and childish to say just because what I wanted to happen isn't. But it isn't just that, I wasn't looking forward to it anyway. I've spent the last four or five months having increasingly frequent moments of utter dread at going. I don't know why, but I just never was as enthusiastic as everyone else seemed to be. But everyone told me it was an amazing opportunity I couldn't turn down, and they weren't wrong had it happened. But it hasn't and that has just amplified the feeling.

So now I really wish I didn't have to go at all. And it feels like a &#…

It's called 'research'

One of the things that has been increasingly annoying me over the last few weeks is people not understanding  what I do.

I don't mean what my thesis is (Lord knows I have days when I question that) and actually I was really pleased when a few weeks ago I was out to dinner with some friends I hadn't seen in a while and not one but a few of them not only remembered but had a pretty good grasp on what my thesis is on. So hooray for them-you made my week.

Other people struggle with the basic concept of 'I'm at University but I'm not an undergraduate' or 'I'm at University but I don't go to lectures' or just 'It's called research.'

The other aspect people don't grasp is therefore it isn't a 9-5 leave your work at the door kind of job. Its a work until you can't anymore or more often in my case work whenever you get the chance kind of arrangement. Research and more accurately the writing of it, particularly in the humanities do…

Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction

Writing this in part because if I hear one more damn thing about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ I may have to hit someone. Instead I refer you to this:
It will be a far better use of your time I promise you.
That aside you may or may not know that the book is based on a fan fiction story for ‘Twilight’ (which is still online so I suggest you read that and save your money)  And while ‘Twilight’ may be the only works on which written work can only ever be an improvement on the original, when reviews/TV programmes mention that 50 Shades originated in fan fiction I want to scream ‘it’s not all like that’.
Because here’s my dark secret: not only do I admit to reading fan fiction…I write it too.
Now some of my friends are saying ‘Pfft and? We know we’ve read it!’ some of them are saying ‘fan fiction what now?’ and others are deleting my number from my phone as we speak….
Well actually I’m not (that) embarrassed and I honestly think that after friends and family f…

No more daydreams

"All those daydreams become fantasies rather than possibilities"

That's a quote from one of my favourite films 'Third Star' highly recommend it (have tissues at the ready). It's a highly accurate quote, and while I for the most part stopped dreaming of the big things a while ago (I think it's called your mid twenties) I had thought my more moderate dreams were still obtainable.

My more moderate dreams consist of a good job-recently either a decent standard academic, knowledgeable and relatively successful in my field or should I choose the other route, a fairly successful component in the British theatre machine. I don't want to run the National Theatre, I'd just like a decent literary manager post or a publicity position. Nothing fancy just something I'm passionate about and can enjoy. More and more I feel like even my modest dreams that I work hard for are slipping further and further away.

We'll come back to the fact that my PhD is some…

Sex Swansea and Sian Phillips

Little review of ‘Little Dogs’ or ‘How I went to the pub with Arthur Darvill’ So me ‘The Watson’(as regular readers of this blog may know her) and another work colleague took a road trip to Swansea in the rain (is there any other kind?) to see National Theatre of Wales/Frantic Assembly’s ‘Little Dogs’. Our friend Lisa Well-Turner worked on the production as ‘Emerging Director’ and well, she wont be ‘emerging’ for long because she’s fabulous, so watch this space…or her space. Anyway I digress…. The formally grand Patti Pavilion-now attached to an Indian Restaurant is a fabulous space for a promenade performance. Inside it was transformed in to what I can only describe as a theatrical playground, as we all sat like good little children cross legged on the floor waiting for the performance to begin all I could thinklooking at the pieces of set scattered around the room was oooh what’s going to happen there. I wasn’t disappointed. Having sat like good theatre going folk quietly on the floor…

Busy doing nothing….the art of procrastination

The irony of writing a blog about wasting time isn’t lost don’t worry. But come on, 3 years (and the rest) of independent study? Surely you get a PhD for actually stopping wasting time and writing something? Anyway given I’ve spent the last few weeks marking procrastination has been my best friend, but I’ve come to realise there are good and bad kinds. So here is my list of the worst/best/ most/least productive ways to waste time (until you really have to do something) Don’t judge me. You’ve done worse in the name of wasting time… The Worst/least productive. Ok these are the things that are the biggest waste of your time, the least useful (but ironically perhaps not the most embarrassing)

Reading trashy websites The Daily Mail/E online/Ok!/Hello/delete for trashy website of choice. Double points taken away for the Daily Mail are you are feeding the spawn of Satan. Looking at a reality TV star’s cellulite or reading about Jennifer Anniston’s love life will not enhance your life in any…

This week...Chichester

Geek joke in the title as usual as always points (but no prizes) for the reference. 

Perhaps this blog should be called 'the things we do for love' or 'are you completely nuts?' Yesterday myself and three companions drove from Cardiff to Chichester and back to go to the theatre. And I think its safe to say it was worth every mile. 

I'll come to why at the end, first a brief review as I keep meaning to add reviews here and it's been a long while...

So Chekov's Uncle Vanya in a new version by Michael Fryan. Having a love of Chekov (and I find it's either a love or hate thing with the Russian) and for Fryan I was not disappointed. The dialogue sparkled with a new freshness but meanwhile felt wholly Chekov. As an academic I reveled in the jokes about nitpicking irrelevant analysis and the overally superfluousness of the profession.  While the design by Peter McKintosh which managed to both incorporate the intimate living space of the house and suggest the vast…

That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever done

That was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done
Geek points for the quote. It’s that kind of blog post. General Sherlockian geek warnings apply to this post. And actually no points for the quote-it’s too easy.
So yesterday  I went to London and back in a day to see a play (that I’d already seen shhh) and indulge in what was long ago christened ‘geeky day of fun’ with my Watson, Keira.
The purpose of the trip was to see the wondrous Mark Gatiss in ‘The Recruiting Officier’ at the Donmar Warehouse-and also to fulfil my ambition of actually getting to see a play there (plans that were frequently thwarted in one way or another previously). More on that later.
So as we were there and alone we decided to fully indulge our geek (though being with others rarely stops us come to think of it.) First stop Baker Street, the real one. Specifically number two-hundred and twenty one (insert dramatic pause) B.
Here we saw the wonders of Holmes’ bedroom:

My Watson wanted to stay in Watson’s room forever.