‘I don’t think we’ve met’ – Trashed Organ Festival of Belonging Fringe Finale

May 3rd 2012 at The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle
Hosted by Trashed Organ
Only at a Trashed Organ event could you find video, poetry, music, live painting, flash fiction andaudience participation all mixed up like some weird art-based game of Twister.
John Challis and Melanie Rashbroke (Trashed Organ Directors aka The Organ Grinders) are making a bit of a name for themselves in arts and literary circles in the North East. Last night’s I don’t think we’ve met; part of the Festival of Belonging Fringe programme, showcased some of the creative collaboration they encourage. 
The night centred on the festival theme of belonging and presented new collaborations between artists from different backgrounds. The night was punctuated by sets from Fiona’s jazz express giving the impression that you’d stumbled into some underground club where no-one really knew what might happen next.  The result was a real melting pot of set pieces.  However, you could see that the whole thing was planned meticulously and kudos to Trashed Organ for pulling this ambitious night off!
Poets and musicians united to bring us beautiful words interwoven with musical notes. The poetry of Degna Stone was set hauntingly over a backdrop of music provided by percussionist Ged Robinson supported by Adam James Cooper. Writer Viccy Adams’ piece was accompanied by video images of Newcastle, sympathetically underpinned by Scott Hartley’s fiddle playing. 
Alex Lockwood read pieces of Flash Fiction (sprinkled with audience shout outs) while artist Tim Jago Morris produced a painting live, mural-like, against the windows of the Bridge Hotel (the resulting painting will be displayed at the Scrumpy Willow and the Singing Kettle.
Dedication to the cause Hannah Costanzo  delivered Helena Venaki and Jake Campbell’s piece with the added complication of having to learn some Greek in order to do it! 
The night saw the premiere of the Suitcase Monologues – a set of shorts in development with Trashed Organ: Samantha Bell and James Barton were the artists involved and they both delivered their pieces with confidence and emotion.
As if that wasn’t enough, there was also a Trashed Laureate bottle of port up for grabs for some on the spot poetry and the opportunity to submit a Lonely Heart ad for a trashed date (that’s a purely creative collaboration request you understand, not some romantic date that includes lashings of wine).
Trashed Organ run events regularly at The Bridge Hotel: go, watch, get involved. It’s great fun.  Look out for more Trashed Organ events http://www.facebook.com/trashedorgan
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Kalagora by Siddhartha Bose

May 2nd 2012 at Central Bar, Newcastle
Part of the Festival of Belonging Fringe Programme
Hosted by Trashed Organ in association with Gem Artsand Penned in the Margins

“From…Mumbai to London’s East End via Manhattan…” so said the blurb about last night’s event.  I’m betting that poet and performer Siddhartha Bose wasn’t expecting to complete the marketing with “…and ending in a performance upstairs in The Central Bar, Gateshead”. 
Presented as part of the Festival of Belonging (most main events kick off tomorrow and run over the weekend in conjunction with the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts), this was part of the Trashed Organ Fringe Programme. Trashed Organ brings together poets, musicians and visual artists, puts them in slightly unconventional surroundings and watch the creativity flow.
So, here we were, in the upstairs of a bar, the floor space cleared and backed by a white curtain onto which visions of various cities and their associated sounds were projected.  The simple set was engaging and set up the stage cleverly for Bose’s initial scene.
The sound stops and we witness the main character Kalagora visiting America for the first time, his first taste the hostile and unrelenting border control.  Bose is an engaging performer and communicates the mannerisms of himself (seen as Kalagora) – an unsure youth travelling for the first time from his native India into a sprawling new world – and the border control with dexterity and humour. It’s a great opener and Bose’s rich use of language and physical performance reaches out to the audience: this not just a poetry reading.

Rewind to Mumbai and the backdrop comes alive with colour and the air filled with sound. The contrast is exquisite though somewhat overwhelming and I almost covered my ears to block out the shouting and traffic noise. 
Cut to Manhattan on Millennium eve and Kalagora, while now illegally extending his stay in the States and virtually homeless, described his time there with great excitement and an infectious joy. Descriptions of the dark underbelly of the city abound and we see life in New York through a curtain of intoxication.
Kalagora’s experience of moving to Britain was presented very differently, his words read in a cut glass accent through the audio with Bose speaking over and with them emphasizing his new identity in the UK.  
Kalagora was an unexpected journey for me, I found the visual elements worked well (both the screen and the physical performance), and the sounds lifted the performance while never overtaking Bose himself. All that was missing was the smell of his cigarette smoke. 
Three cities: three experiences: one man – Kalagora really brings to the fore questions of identity and belonging. 
Find out more about:

Photography: Spurious Nonsense Photography – find them on Facebook and see the rest of the images at Trashed Organ’s Facebook page

    Richard Wiseman and Derreny Derren Brown in conversation

    Last weekend I was up in Edinburgh for a follow up ‘hen do’ (aka an excuse for a girlie night or two away with lots of food and drink).

    When planning the trip I was elated to discover that two of my favourite people in the entire world: Derren Brown and Professor Richard Wiseman, would be ‘in conversation’ as part of Edinburgh Science Festival.

    Was it luck? I don’t really consider myself a lucky person (even after reading Richard Wiseman’s Luck Factor and watching Derren’s recent show on whether a whole town can be lucky). But I managed to get tickets to the sold out show. One of the friends on the trip spotted it had changed location (otherwise we would have all missed it) so maybe luck was on our side. Either that or it was some sort of spirit intervention.

    The afternoon was thoroughly entertaining and satisfyingly exclusive (there were no recordings or photography allowed). There are some pictures of the event over at Richard Wiseman’s Blog (which you should all follow): http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/derrenbrown/

    Questions from the audience were permitted and my favourite has to be the following exchange:

    Audience: “Derren, with your interest in taxidermy, if you were to be stuffed when you die, what position would you choose?”

    Derren (with a twinkle in his eye): “Well obviously I’d like to be mounted.”

    Richard: “Who would you prefer to be mounted with, Sally Morgan or Derek Acorah?”

    Yes it was a very deep and meaningful, scientific discussion 🙂

    Blogging for the Live Theatre – the final days….

    As I was Live Theatre’s blogger for March you’ll have noticed that my residency has now ended (what with it being April and that).

    Here are links to my final entries:

    They’re also on the look out for future bloggers – I’d highly recommend going for it. Live Theatre is a great venue and everyone there was really friendly.

    The story so far…blogging for the Live Theatre, Newcastle

    Back in December, Live Theatre put a call out for bloggers, they wanted one per month to go and see plays and shows and generally promote the theatre more informally.

    They asked for a summary of why you enjoyed theatre and if they liked  it, you were in. I got in!

    I am the March blogger, a bit like the March hare but instead of running crazily through fields, I’m crazily going back and forth to the theatre.

    For it seems that every two years in March, Live Theatre run a New Writing Festival for nine days. This means that there are events, plays, Q&As and music on daily and sometimes twice daily. Thankfully I haven’t had to go to everything: but I’ve been to a lot.

    It’s been really enjoyable though, a right mixed bag so far.

    Here are the blog posts that have been published:

    There’s another four or so to come!

    I’m ready for a lie down.

    Donna Disco

    First theatre review of 2012 was Donna Disco at Live Theatre. I love the Live Theatre: it’s intimate enough to be able to see the plays properly, has a nice bar (always important) and has plenty of lovely eateries nearby.

    I enjoyed the play – it tells the story of a fourteen year old girl facing up to bullies, being a bit of an outcast, yet somehow being the most optimistic person around!

    Read my full review of Donna Disco.

    One, two Freddy’s coming for you….

    *I am assuming that most people know the story of A Nightmare on Elm Street before I begin, if not, my comments might not make sense and may contain spoilers*

    I should start by saying that I have a big problem with movie remakes. I don’t really understand why any director or writer feels the need to re-engineer a perfectly good (in some cases iconic) film. I’ve heard the arguments about presenting a foreign film for the English-speaking market, showing a different slant on a story to give it appeal with a wider audience and updating the special effects because advances in film techniques allow it. But I generally don’t think these justify a remake.

    So it was not with an open mind this Hallowe’en that I approached the remake (or re-imagining or rebooting or whatever other wanky phrase you want to dress it up in) of my favourite ever horror movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street.

    I avoided it in the cinema as I feared I’d be made too angry by paying to see it. I planned instead to purchase it when it hit the 5 quid DVD bargain bin. As luck would have it, a fellow horror fan agreed to lend it to me so my watching of it was free. Had he known the extent of my hatred of remakes, I think he might have demanded a fee to cover the costs of the DVD in case I got too annoyed by it and stamped it into the ground.

    So, the movie: I tried, I really tried.

    I should have known that I would hate it as soon as I read the back of the DVD case.

    “a sinister man with a disfigured face, a frightening voice and a gardener’s glove with knives for fingers”

    A frightening voice? Really? Really? Since when have you heard anyone comment on the scary nature of Fred Krueger’s voice? Surely his screeching knives being dragged across red-hot boiler pipes, or his face in fedora shadow, or his penchant for gutting teenagers in their sleep is a tad more terrifying than his tone of voice?

    Anyway, where to start?

    The story has been altered slightly so that Fred Krueger is no longer a child killer but a child molester (and gardener at the local pre-school – hence the need for a gardener’s glove in the DVD blurb). Apparently something that Wes Craven considered in the original but dismissed. The re-imagining of Freddy in this way is in part a step to create a more sinister, lecherous character and tries to take him away from the comedy clown he became in the sequels. My problem here is that if we’re comparing like for like ie Freddy in Elm Street 1 with Freddy in remake 1 then I think we’ve ended up with a weaker demon.

    In the remake he comes across as more human. This is achieved by using a deeper back story which calls the accusations of him as child molester into question. Was he wrongfully killed by the parents of Elm Street? Is Freddy actually in the right? I found this jarred with me as Fred Krueger should exist purely as a figure of evil, or what’s he doing terrorising and taking the piss out of potential victims in their sleep? New Freddy was weaker, lacking in the wicked sense of humour and personality of the original. I’m not meaning this as a criticism of Jackie Earle Haley (brilliant in Shutter Island), I had high hopes for him in this role. I just think that Robert Englund is too much a part of Krueger’s character for him to be successfully re-imagined by someone else.

    Can I talk about the voice now?

    Freddy’s new voice was laughable. I spent much of the movie thinking ”who does he sound like?”. Then it hit me. Fred Krueger sounds like Paul McKenna. Look out for his hypnosis DVD to help you sleep, just in time for Christmas!

    I thought that yes, the new special effects were good. But they’d had 26 years of redevelopment time to come up with this and to be honest I’m not sure it was all that much better. There’s a kind of charm about the old Freddy and his Mr Tickle arms dragging across the walls in darkened alleyway. The Tina/Kris scene where she’s flung around the room by the unseen Freddy was much improved. But other key scenes from the original seemed to have been filmed just to keep them in. The result was a mismatch of storyline, as if everything had been shot, thrown together and then mixed up for the final edit. Weird.

    For a balanced review I guess I should comment on other aspects of the story and to be honest I didn’t hate any of the actors in it. But at the end of the day I have a fondness for Englund’s Krueger. I grew up with him and I don’t like him being messed with.

    I was so unhappy with the remake that I followed it swiftly with a rewatch of the original!

    I’ll end with a comment from Tina’s mother (from the original of course) on her daughter’s torn nightdress:

    “Tina, either you cut your fingernails or you stop that kind of dreaming”.

    Sleep tight and don’t dream.