Young people band together to fight cancer

Eden Fisher of Aegis

 

Live and Picking Junction Festival poster 2014

Live and Picking Junction Festival poster 2014

To celebrate a year of a new event giving young people a chance to perform with their bands, an outdoor event will showcase seven bands and raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity.

The Live and Picking event, held every six weeks at The Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, is run by city youth worker Curtis Shelton, Paul Roberts, a teacher at the city’s Aldersley High School and his fiancee Emma Krzyszowski in their spare time.

Over the past seven events more than 20 different young bands have performed before more than 1,000 people and any profits have been ploughed back into the events.

Paul said: ‘The Live and Picking Events help provide a space for young people to watch or play live music as we noticed that such opportunities are not available in Wolverhampton.’

“We started running gigs every six weeks a year ago, supported by the Newhampton Arts Centre. We have seen more than 20 bands come through and more than 1,000 young people come to the gigs.

“We started thinking that maybe with this sort of volume we could raise awareness of some issues and asked the young people involved what effected them. They chose the Teenage Cancer Trust as it was close to their hearts.’

“The young bands are absolutely fantastic and they are very talented so we would love to give them the exposure they deserve as well as raise money for charity.’

“We are hoping to get as many people as we can along to the gig to help raise money for charity’

“It’s free to watch but we will be shaking buckets and hoping for change.”

The event, part of the annual as part of the Junction Festival promoting music, art and beer in the city’s Chapel Ash area, is being held at The Royal Oak pub, Compton Road, Wolverhampton on Saturday 12th July from 12.30 – 8pm. Organisers can be contacted via Facebook.

Eden Fisher of Aegis

Eden Fisher of Aegis

Bands and artists will include Eden Fisher of Aegis and George Smith of Tinned Astronaut.

George Smith of Tinned Astronaut

George Smith of Tinned Astronaut

 

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Both sides now – lovely music from a veteran and a rising star


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Saw Wolverhampton/Shropshire’s veteran singer/songwriter Bill Caddick and up-and-coming singer/songwriter Louise Jordan

at the Newhampton Inn, Riches Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, on Saturday 12th April.

A total steal at £8 to listen to two contrasting but superbly talented artists.

Here Louise Jordan sings Salley Gardens

and Bill Caddick sings Constant 

 

Comedy stars step up to help save theatre group with laughter


A 30-year-old Black Country theatre group battling to keep going has announced some of the top UK comedy acts who will be trying to help them keep delivering high quality drama for thousands of people – with another two top TV acts to be included in the lineup over the next few weeks.

Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT) was in danger of losing all of its £13,516 Wolverhampton City Council mainline funding but will this year (2014/15) get £2,450 after the council was hit by massive cuts to its income from central government.

Ben Clark, left, with Tom Parry, right, and Matthew Crosby make up Pappys

Ben Clark, left, with Tom Parry, right, and Matthew Crosby make up Pappys

Comedian and MC Daniel Kitson

Comedian and MC Daniel Kitson

Ex-members Tom Parry and Ben Clark, stars of Pappy’s and BBC TV’s Badults have got award-winning stand-up comedian, actor and playwright Daniel Kitson to compere the Hilarity Charity Gala at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre on Thursday May 29th (7.30pm).

Last year he took his new stand-up show After the Beginning. Before the End’on a UK tour and into Europe.

Although he has a reputation for shunning TV he was in That Peter Kay Thing, The Arena, and as the recurring character Spencer in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights.

Comedian Josie Long

Comedian Josie Long

Appearing with him will be Josie Long, who has appeared on Have I Got News for You and has been a 3 times Edinburgh Fringe Nominee and Isy Suttle, who played the character Dobby in Peep Show, and also appears with Pappys in Badults.

She  and Welsh comedian Elis James (8 Out Of Ten Cats, XFM and also a regular pulling full houses at the Edinburgh Fringe) will be appearing with two other TV headline acts who will be announced over the next few weeks.

The show which is recommended for those aged 14 plus.

Tickets are £20/£15 concessions from the Grand Theatre box office on 01902 429212.

CYT will also be helped by a  £10,000 grant from the Local Education Partnership for delivering educational work in the city. News of loss of its grant saw CYT launch a petition which gathered 2,532 signatures.

Director Jane Ward, MBE, said: “It is brilliant news for us.

Central Youth Theatre Director Jane Ward

Central Youth Theatre Director Jane Ward

“It means we have a bit more time and a bit more breathing space while we raise the money needed fro the year after that. It’s a big relief.

“We know the council has been put in a very difficult position with a huge cut in central government funding so we are grateful that they were able to give us some help.

“We have had many years of working successfully with the council to promote the city with great productions and to help equip thousands of young people with skills and confidence – now our top comedy friends are stepping up to help us continue that work.”

Help also came from Eton College with a £2,300 donation to mark CYT’s anniversary.

 

Branagh’s mad Macbeth in ‘Madchester’

Kenneth Branagh - back with a brilliant Macbeth

Kenneth Branagh - back with a brilliant Macbeth

Kenneth Branagh – back with a brilliant Macbeth

Branagh’s mad Macbeth in ‘Madchester‘ was some return after more than a decade away from Shakespeare used his sword and the text with relish (a bit too much relish for one actor apparently).

Presented in a deconsecrated church in Ancoats, Manchester, for the Manchester International Festival, the nave provided more of a wooden oblong rather than the classic ‘wooden O’ – and all the more effective for that .

The audience, seated on benches either side after being walked there by the festival volunteers, were perched as for a medieval joust.

That gave us an extremely close-up and personal view of the opening battle scene as quite cool refreshing ‘rain’ poured down from the roof (quite good after the bright sunshine Manchester was bathed in) and sparks flew from clashing swords .

Beneath the actors’ feet the mud got wetter and an earthy smell permeated the building.

My youngest daughter, Susie, thought the direction and choreography produced an action film effect and even thought she saw real blood on one of the actor’s heads.

She was right – and it has now been confirmed that one of the actors was hurt -http://lunerontheatre.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/london-lookout-actor-injured-during-macbeth-performance/

However, in no way did it detract from the delivery of the poetry of the text – it helped underscore the desperation and dark ambition of Alex Kingston‘s Lady Macbeth to hit the heights of the Scottish  Royal Family  and the rapidly unhinging Branagh Macbeth.

A bloody Banquo’s ghost and a hugely impressive McDuff – almost as unhinged as Macbeth when he learns that his children, wife and household have been murdered on Macbeth’s orders.

I thought the spittle effect accompanying the actors’ delivery at The Swan Theatre in Stratford was pretty special – but nothing compared to Branagh.

He breathed his lines inches away (we were on the front row).He madly slatted mud about (we copped for some but not as much as the lady next door).
He also illuminated the dark with the sparks from swordplay.

Not any old mud - this is Kenneth Branagh mud

Not any old mud – this is Kenneth Branagh mud

Blazing flames sent heat searing down the space from the candlelit ‘altar’ end to our ‘dark’ end where the super-Goth witches literally hung out of the wooden walls to taunt all and sundry.

The soldout production cost an eye-watering £65 a ticket (good job it was a special event/present).

However, to be fair, this was brilliant stuff and on Saturday 20 July a big screen relay could be seen for £8 in the open air at the NCP Bridgewater Hall car park, Little Peter Street, Manchester, M15 4PS (8.30pm). People could take drinks and picnics, blankets and cushions but there were no seats and the usual health warning about the Manchester weather applied.

It is was also shown at some cinemas nationwide before being prepared for a trip over the pond to the US.

The Manchester International Festival programme

The Manchester International Festival programme

The Manchester festival, which also celebrates music, the spoken word, dance, food and drink, seems a fantastic way of showcasing the arts and arts venues and sets you thinking about some places have big thriving city or town-wide arts festivals and some having none.

Birmingham and Manchester do and smaller places such as Lichfield and Codsall (a large village near Wolverhampton) also have them but others do not – such as Wolverhampton.

It has just had its City Show in West Park which has all sorts of entertainment and it has some great venues such as the Civic Halls and Grand Theatre hosting tremendous shows and acts but there is no city-wide multi-arts event.

Perhaps it has something to do with size, resources and drivers. Drivers – people with the time, resources, determination and ability to make it happen may be the most important in a place which does not have that kind of history.

Manchester is a much bigger place and has massive cultural and artistic foundations to build on (I remember being totally enthralled when I was taken to see the Halle Orchestra perform when I was still at school and attending the Commonwealth Games more recently).

When I was working in Liverpool I couldn’t work out why my colleague Tony Wilson kept wanting to nip back to Manchester at every opportunity instead of coming to play football or watch Liverpool/Everton.

Innis & Gunn beer

Innis & Gunn beer

Of course he was a Manchester United fan but he was also working up to building on those foundations setting up Factory Records, The Hacienda, Dry Bar (where I was able to prepare for ‘The Scottish Play’ with some excellent oak-aged Edinburgh Innis & Gunn ale – also magically available in the 63 Degrees Restaurant after) and all those other ‘Madchester’ things.

Wall inside Dry Bar, Manchester, detailing how it was set up to mimic those in Barcelona etc

Wall inside Dry Bar, Manchester, detailing how it was set up to mimic those in Barcelona etc

Wolverhampton has some really good venues/potential venues (the city’s Central Youth Theatre have pioneered international productions in them), a fantastic array of talented people still working the area as well as others who have gone on to ‘greater’ things elsewhere.

Perhaps the city falls between the stools of not being a a big city or a smaller town/village. An arts festival might still be worth giving a whirl to showcase the venues/potential venues and the talent here and elsewhere.

Man on The Oss is back – and a bit of a coup


The renovated Man on The Oss (Prince Albert) statue in Queen Square, Wolverhampton

The renovated Man on The Oss (Prince Albert) statue in Queen Square, Wolverhampton

“The Man on the Oss is out of his den – we’ll gather around him again and again” – an awful rewrite of an old Chartist chant from earlier in the nineteenth century.

The “Man on the Oss” in Queen Square, Wolverhampton, –  actually a statue of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert  on his horse created by Thomas Thorneycroft (1815-1885) has had the boarding surrounding him and his horse removed after a major clean-up and renovation.

After Albert, died in 1861 people in Wolverhampton led by Alderman Underhill raised the money to erect a statue in his honour. It cost £1,150 and after  five years of withdrawing from all public appearances the Queen agreed to come to the unveiling on November 30th 1866.

A public holiday was declared in the town and many turned out to see the Royal party tour the town centre.  There were also illuminations and a firework display at the racecourse.

The sculptor had also created a life-size statue of Mr G.B. Thorneycroft, the first mayor of the town (apparently no relation) for the town in 1857.

Not many people know it, but Wolverhampton has long had a reputation for creating first class sculpture and sculptors – one sadly overshadowed by a current one for fighting, overindulgence in vertical drinking barns and being sick in the gutter.

The Sensing Sculpture space at the city’s art gallery, a few moments walk East of the statue is well worth a look after its relaunch.

Despite the cliches above – which could apply to virtually any city, town or etven rural centres of population -a glimpse of  Wolverhampton’s other – cultural – side is on show after a big revamp and a reopeningwith new commissions, mainstays of the gallery’s collection, audio, interactive exhibits, video and poetry.

It has been created with assistance from Wolverhampton University students and alumni led by sculptor and MA Fine Art course leader Benedict Carpenter, with help from others including the Friends of  Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museum, a cash-strapped Arts Council of England and others.

Most of the works have audio interpretation panels with recorded discussions about the sculptures between Benedict, Honorary Fellow of the University of Wolverhampton Ron Dutton, also president of the Friends, and two current Fine Art studentsand a flavour of it all can be had by viewing the gallery’s Sensing Sculpture slideshow

In exploring the contrast between traditional and modern approaches to sculpture the exhibition displays pieces made from traditional materials such as wood, stone and bronze from the gallery’s collection which have not been on public display before.

Sculptors in the display with a connection to the University, or its predecessor institutions, also include Robert Jackson Emerson, Glynn Williams and John Paddison.

Benedict said, in a media release and also, in effect,at the relaunch: “It is fascinating to see so many connections between the sculptures in this new permanent display and the staff and students, past and present, of the Fine Art Department at the University of Wolverhampton.”

Carol Thompson, Curator at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, said: “We’ve focused on maximising interactivity and we encourage visitors to touch everything in the gallery.”

Sensing Sculpture official launch

Sensing Sculpture official launch

At the launch the city’s contribution to sculpture was detailed by Ron, former head of sculpture at Wolverhampton School of Art from 1964 to 1984, now the University’s School of Art & Design, and Benedict.

To one side the work and contribution of two dozen Wolverhampton master sculptors from the late nineteenth century to the present day is illustrated, including that of Robert Jackson Emerson who taught sculpture from Wolverhampton School of Art, in the same building as the gallery from 1910.

One of his pupils, Sir Charles Wheeler, born in Codsall, south Staffordshire, but brought up in Wolverhampton, was the first sculptor to hold the Presidency of the Royal Academy (1956-1966).

His work includes the big bronze doors and sculptures at the Bank of England and many more around London, including the Earth and Water figures outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall. He also crafted the statue of Wulfrun/Lady Wulfruna outside St Peter’s Collegiate Church, next door to the gallery.

Work such as the more recent bronze statue of England and Wolves footballer Billy Wright outside Molineux is illustrated in a light and easy setting with even more modern interactive work which the young people who attended the launch seemed to get to grips with in double-quick time.

Wolverhampton art gallery, with 12,000 artefacts, really does give the lie to the one-dimensional negative view of the city constantly on offer and has something of a coup with another exhibition starting on June 1.

A mainstay of the gallery is its Pop Art collection and Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman (1938-1966) will be the first major exhibition in a public art gallery devoted to Boty’s work – 47 years after she died and became largely neglected.

It also comes half a century after a sex scandal rocked the political establishment. Andrew Lloyd Webber is creating the music for a new musical – Stephen Ward about one of the key figures who killed himself during the legal aftermath of  the 1963 Profumo affair which saw the resignation and disgrace of the Tory Minister for War.

Another key figure – Christine Keeler – was the subject of a work by Pauline, Scandal 63. What happened to the painting is still a mystery.

Boty, who died in 1966 aged 28, was part of what was known as ‘Swinging London’. The painting draws on a famous photograph of  Christine Keeler, apparently nakcd astride a chair. At the top of the painting the men in the affair appear. It was last seen in the year it was painted.

She also acted – and was very good looking – something which some critics seemed to use as a stick to beat her with. She played one of Michael Caine’s girlfriends in the film Alfie, worked in TV drama, on stage at the Royal Court and presented a BBC radio arts review.

Boty danced on TV pop show Ready, Steady, Go, and helped show then uknown US singer/songwriter Bob Dylan around London in the bitterly cold winter of 1962-63 when he left the US for the first time to appear in a BBC TV drama.

Her death from cancer came after refusing chemotherapy over worries for the baby she was carrying.

She died four months after daughter, Katy, was born.Her paintings were stored in a barn owned by one of her brothers.

The exhibition has been developed with the artist’s family, Whitford Fine Art and the Mayor Gallery, London and will continue until the 16 November, 2013.

A glimpse of what she gave to the 1960s can be seen at http://www.guardian.co.uk/inpictures. But more of that after the launch, alongside another exhibition – Tipping Point – tackling global climate change – on Friday 31 May at the gallery.

At a pre-event on the 31st Zoe Lippett, Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator at The New Art Gallery, Walsall, will be in conversation with Dr Sue Tate, Co-curator of the Pauline Boty exhibition.

West Midlands folk gathering’s heady new brew – of music and beer


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Folk music enthusiasts from all over the West Midlands met to explore how grassroots small venues can develop new audiences and had a special brew of beer for the day.

The Folk 21 West Midlands event at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Wolverhampton, on Saturday May 11 also had a special beer brewed by city brewer Andy Brough for the occasion.

In 2011 Black Country singer/songwriter John Richards wrote a blog about the fate of small venues on a folk website and the movement took off from there encouraging and assisting small venues (folk clubs, village halls, arts centres, music cafes etc) which book guests and present small scale concerts.

John Richards

John Richards

It is led by a committee of organisers, artists, agents and audience members working together to help sustain and strengthen the artist-booking folk scene in the UK, now and for the future.

On May 11 there was a full afternoon of discussion at the arts centre, which hosts regular folk music evenings, followed by an evening showcase of acts from other areas who want to work in the West Midlands.

Those that took part thought that quite a few useful ideas came up in the two sessions of discussion and some suggested that a forum should be kept going until the next opportunity for a Folk21 gathering in the West Midlands.

Phil Preen and Julie Palmer, from The Poppy Folk Club, Nottingham, led a discussion on how to attract new audiences and retain existing ones.

Both spoke off the back of starting up a folk club in their area and some of the initiatives they used were noted by others – for example having their own Poppy Club beermats in the pub where they meet. Some thought you should get rid of the title folk club – and its apparent beards and sandals image – and find something broader. Roots?, traditional? Bluegrass? Acoustic? All terms which could be applied to some of the music in clubs.

Pam Bishop and Graham Langley from the West Midlands’ Folk Monthly and Traditional Arts Team spoke about how relevant good quality graphics, posters, leaflets and publicity material was in the wider community and within the existing folk network.

Jim Barrow - the Burslembandit - speaking at the Folk21 West Midlands event at the Newhampton Arts Centre , Wolverhampton

Jim Barrow – Burslembandit – pictured by David Derricott at Folk21

I – Jim Barrow, aka Burslembandit, emphasised the power of the spoken word and one-to-one communication with club organisers, artists and members acting as ‘permanent persudaders’ in the community. Not boring the pants off people constantly but still inviting them along to enjoy music and song in a social setting.

I emphasised that millions still read newspapers and magazines (despite falling circulations and ad revenue) and that it was important to keep sending in media releases, picture opportunities and any newsy material you could lay your hands on – as well as getting to know journalists and trying to temp them out of their comfort zones in the big arenas with apparent superstars old and new.

The same goes for local radio, TV and increasingly internet radio and TV. Social media like this is increasingly important as younger people tend to consume this more often than anything in print – or even on mainstream TV.

However, once the talking and eating (very nice teas in Jesters Cafe at the Newhampton Arts Centre – but I would say that being a paper shuffler on the board there) were over it was time for the stuff all the talking was about.

First up at the showcase was a  Long Lankin, a female three part harmony group from London using guitar, mandolin and fiddle with a freshness and zest that typified all the showcase acts. A sample of their style comes with their version of their namesake’s antics. Listen here to Long Lankin 

They told us they were in the process of recording their first EP in the week following the concert.

A little more established is Alun Parry a singer/songwriter from Liverpool who brought back memories of my time on Merseyside in the early seventies when the dockers were still fighting their corner all the way with his take on life on Liverpool’s waterfront and can be best heard by clicking on this version of If Harry Don’t Go

He pays homage to US legendary folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie with Woody’s song and his set was shot through with an upbeat scouse tilt on Irish-American folk and he also unashamedly champions the people at the bottom and those still prepared to fight for them.

Harp and a Monkey, described as an ‘Incredible String Band’ for the now, from Manchester came over with a very different sound – harp and banjo driven electro-folk storytelling – as they say themselves.

The sounds produced by Martin Purdy (vocals/ glockenspiel/ electronica/ accordion), Andy Smith (banjo/ guitar/ melodica/ electronica) and Simon Jones (harp/ guitar/ strings/ electronica) come from, they say, influences including World War One history, sound and visual art, electronic and video technology, as well as “bacon butties and beats”.

What came out sometimes seemed almost reminiscent of those that my former Liverpool Post & Echo colleague Tony Wilson helped bring to the world in his ‘Madchester’ days at Factory Records and  The Hacienda.

Formed in 2008, the band are apparently content to have been described as “Elbow for seafarers and ramblers” and the “bastard sons of the Oldham Tinkers locked in the BBC Radiophonic Workship with only the British Film Institute back catalogue and a handful of scratchy folk LPs from the early seventies for company.”

They were hugely entertaining and had a very professional promotional pack – a precursor for a new album out this year. They have also played the festival in another of my favourites from Lancashire – Ramsbottom. Here they are with Katy’s Twinkly Band.

Roger Davies, a singer/songwriter from West Yorkshire came over as a sort of Yorkie John Denver with a wicked sense of humour.

He is well established with albums Northern Trash, The Busker, Live in Concert Vol One and Songs in Plain English as well as his new single Stephanie. He wrote a very local take on the Olympics and Yorkshire called Carry That Fire

The Raven, a guitar/flute/concertina duo from London had a store of folk miserablism delivered in fine style – although they also do upbeat stomping sea shanties as well.

They have a new album out in the autumn and are well worth a listen as with this version of Black is The Colour (of My True Love’s Hair)

Singer and songwriter Jez Lowe, who has taken his songs of life in his native North East England to audiences around the world headlined after the other acts.

 Jez Lowe pictured by Alan Reynolds
Jez Lowe pictured by Alan Reynolds

The arts centre website said of him – “His latest album, his fifteenth, entitled “Wotcheor!”, has once more thrust him into the spotlight, with a successful series of stage shows, and a fistful of outstanding reviews, and a renewed interest in his brand of pointed, poignant and powerful musical epistles from the North, that have brought him a nomination for Folksinger of the Year in the BBC Folk Awards, an “album of the year” award in the US-based Inde-Acoustic Awards, and a Sony Radio Award for his contribution to the prestigious Radio Ballads series for the BBC, over the last five years alone.

As well as his own performances and tours around the globe, featuring Jez accompanying himself on guitar, cittern, mandolin and harmonica, Jez’s songs also travel independently, thanks to cover versions by the likes of Fairport Convention, The Dubliners, Cherish The Ladies, The Tannahill Weavers, The McCalmans, Bob Fox, The Black Family, The Clancys and scores more folk acts around the world.

2011/12 included tours of the USA, Canada, Germany, Holland, Australia and New Zealand, plus a slew of UK gigs including a special one-man show based on his own Radio Ballads songs, and festival appearances at Sidmouth, Broadstairs, Grove, Chester, Bromyard, Moira, and Wath in the UK, and Albany NY, New Bedford MA , Middlebury VT, the California World Festival and Calgary AB in North America.

‘Jez Lowe is one of our finest songwriters.’ says BBC Radio 2 and here he is 

New folk for a good night out ?


It is odd bracketing a singer /songwriter/ producer who has put out tracks for more than a decade as nu-folk but that is what sprang to mind listening to Jim Moray at Wolverhampton’s Newhampton Arts Centre on Saturday.

Perhaps it was the contrast with the support by the excellent, but more time-travelled John Richards that did it.

Jim, born in Macclesfield and brought up in Brocton, near Stafford, also seems to be part of a batch of classically-trained young musicians turned out by Birmingham Conservatoire – a bit like a musical equivalent of Dario Gradi’s youthful football conveyor belt at Crewe.

He and others, such as The Old Dance School, have got stuck into the folk scene with a vengeance – and top class results.

Jim has been clocking up awards over the years – the most recent being the one for his version of Lord Douglas at the BBC Folk Awards – but I had been warned his live performance could be a bit hit or miss.

This time it was very much hit with superb vocals and excellent instrumental work leading us through a ghost story and the ‘broken token’ song Seven Long Years with meticulous sourcing of where they came from.

Sweet England, collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and from Jim’s first full length album, Sweet England, was truly sweet as was the instrumental work to go with it.

Guitar work was great and when he addressed the keyboard he almost morphed into a lounge singer.

He showed he was a lot more than this singing without an instrument and with the delivery and explanation of Lord Douglas.

Jim bases it on versions of Child Ballad no.7 (Roud 23) with a new tune and words drawing in some influences from the Danish variation ‘Hildebrand and Hilde’ and the Norse version.

Cheerfully enough Lord Douglas  and his lady Margaret die of their wounds when she completes his mother’s curse by calling his name.

Interesting crossover from the Scandinavian here – a bit like Kathryn Roberts’ Hidden People.

Horkstow Grange is basically a punch-up on a farm involving a tyrant of a farmer’s foreman and a waggoner  – old Steeleye Span (hence the name of the group).

During his set Jim did say he had one cheerful number but I’ve forgotten which one it was – they were all quality though.

The evening at the arts centre folk club in Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, came two weeks before the Folk 21 event at the same venue.

This is a continuing exploration of how grass roots small venues can develop new audiences and get people into intimate settings to see artists away from the big arenas and large festival settings.

It formed in 2011 after John Richards wrote a blog on The Demon Barbers website.

Now it encourages and assists small venues (folk clubs, village halls, arts centres, music cafes etc) which book guests and present small scale concerts.

It is led by a committee of organisers, artists, agents and audience members working together to helpe sustain and strengthen the artis-booking folk scene in the UK, now and for the future – says its website at http://www.folk21.net/

On Saturday May 11 at the West Midlands event there will be a full afternoon of discussion followed by an evening showcase of acts from other areas who want to work in the West Midlands.

Jez Lowe will headline the concert. Admission for all delegates from clubs, venues, magazines and organizations is free to the daytime events for up to 4 delegates per organization.

Folk 21 says: “The purpose of the day is to fully understand the challenges faced and explore how the movers and shakers of the local folk scene can maximize co-operation and share ideas and initiatives.”

Kelly Alcock, one of the Folk 21 team says the showcase lineup will be released shortly.

SSAFA’s new brand puts families first


A charity which supported more than 300 forces veterans and their families in the West Midlands last year has changed its name and branding to help it reach more younger veterans – many in their 20s and 30s.
West Midlands North Branch of military charity SSAFA Forces Help changed its name to SSAFA in a rebrand aimed at improving awareness of it amongst members of the Forces community in Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
It aims to help SSAFA reach more clients by describing the charity, and the support it provides, in a more clear and consistent way.
SSAFA’s teams of trained volunteers work hard to ensure help and advice are always close at hand – work, along with its long history of supporting the Forces and their families has made it Britain’s most trusted charity[1].
A brand audit found many people thought that the charity needed to modernise its identity to better reach its key audiences as it is increasingly helping younger veterans, many in their 20s and 30s[2].
Families have always been at the heart of what SSAFA does and they have been put at the centre of the brand.  A new descriptive strapline reiterates the charity’s commitment to families as well as those who serve.  The change of name is supported by a modern new logo with a three-colour underline to represent the charity’s lifelong support to the Navy, Army and RAF.
Colonel David Hill Chairman of SSAFA West Midlands said: “These changes follow a long period of consultation with volunteers and staff as well as members of the military community.
“SSAFA has supported our Forces and their families for more than 125 years but the work we do now is more vital than ever before.
“It’s really important that those who serve and those who used to serve in our Forces know that SSAFA is here for them and their families for life, and is contactable on 01922 722778 or 01902 864030.”
  SSAFA provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families. Each year staff and 7,500 volunteers are there for more than 50,000 people, ranging from D-Day veterans to the families of young soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
[1]  Charity Brand Index 2012 Third Sector Research
[2]  Last year, SSAFA supported 3,812 veterans and their families in their 20s and 30s.

Creative training project looks for people to dig deep into city’s shopping and trading history


A creative training project is looking for people to help record and celebrate the history of shopping and trading in their city.

From now until September run Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT) will work with people on the project, called ‘Our Town.

They will be providing training in oral history, working with computers, researching information, meeting the public and designing an exhibition.

Using these skills, participants will help record the rich heritage of shopping in the city centre by interviewing local people, stallholders and shopkeepers about their memories.

These will then be used to produce an exhibition which will be on public display in the city centre in September.

Our Town is being funded by the European Social Fund which supports local community-based projects that help enhance participant’s employability and provide valuable new and transferable skills.

CYT Director Jane Ward said: “This is a marvellous opportunity to find out how and why Wolverhampton became such a tremendous place for shopping, eating and entertainment in the past – and what we can learn from this today.

“We are really eager to hear from anyone who is interested in learning something new and taking part in an exciting local history project.

“People taking part need to be 18 or over, unemployed or economically inactive to take part, but can be working up to 8 hours per week or claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

“No previous experience is required”.

People who would like to take part in this project or would like any more information should contact Joe Twilley on 01902 572091 or email joe@centralyouththeatre.org

ENDS

Appeal for Contemporary City Criers


Central Youth Theatre is looking for a diverse range of performers to join a magician, musician and a poet who have applied to take part in the the Wolverhampton Portas Pilot Inititiave which aims to bring the city to life and help to revitalise the city centre.

The scheme invites volunteers of all ages to use their talents and become part of a team of new Contemporary City Criers who will help promote the city and special events from May to December. Central Youth Theatre will be providing costumes and training.

Three sets of three day training programmes spread over the year will cater for people joining at different points during the lifetime of the project and will include themed character development, voice projection, health and safety, site visits, costume idea development and fittings, planning and customer relations.

Jane Ward, director of CYT, said: “Traditional town criers used a bell, had good standing in the community, the ability to read (when most could not) and shout out, without modern microphones, news and proclamations. Contemporary City Criers could do the same – or sing, dance, use music, rap, poetry, juggling or any other skills and we want to hear from anyone who has an idea they would like to share with us.

“We can provide a tremendous range of costumes from our 10,000-plus resource at the new Arts Market Space in Salop Street, which volunteers will use as a reporting station, changing space and relaxation area during breaks.

Auditions will take place at The Grand Theatre, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, on Saturday, 20th April, between 9am and noon. For information or to book an audition people should contact us via citycrierse@gmail.com, 01902 572091 or the website at www.centralyouththeatre.org

Wolverhampton was selected as one of the first round Portas Pilot towns ahead of stiff competition from 371 other locations and was awarded£100,000 of funding to undertake a range of innovative projects aimed at increasing entrepreneurial activity and filling vacant shops, supporting independent traders and improving the vibrancy of the streets.

Wolverhampton Portas Pilot is split into five projects. One of the projects is Sights and Sounds which aims to improve the vibrancy of the city centre, promote activities and events and increase visitor numbers.

Contemporary City Criers is part of the Sight and Sounds project. Funding for the City Criers training has been provided by the Arts Council along with funding from the Wolverhampton Portas Pilot project. For further information visit http://www.wolverhamptonportaspilot.co.uk

The award winning Central Youth Theatre (CYT) is based at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton. It is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

 

Hollywood award-winning film on its way back to the West Midlands


Alex Edwardson as Jack, and Susannah Wells, as Lucy, in Titanic Love

Alex Edwardson as Jack, and Susannah Wells, as Lucy, in Titanic Love

A film premiered in Hollywood will next be brought back to be shown free where it was made – in the West Midlands.

Romantic comedy Titanic Love, which won the Best Screenplay award in the Kick Ass Awards at the end of the Los Angeles Comedy Festival, will be shown at Wolverhampton’s Light House Media Centre on Friday April 5.

Black Country filmmaker Mark Pressdee will be screening his award-winner between 6 and 7pm alongside Travels With Morris – a series of comedy shorts made by the city’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT), based at the city’s Newhampton Arts Centre.

Titanic Love, made in Birmingham and costumed from Central Youth Theatre’s (CYT’s) 10,000 plus costumes in its Actors Wardrobe resource, tackles romance and obsession with the Titanic – just over a century after the world’s most famous ship sank.

Former Sandwell College student Mark brings the film back to where he studied film – at the Lighthouse Media Centre.

As well as the Hollywood award it also last month won the Best Short Film Award at The Black International Film Festival’s Music and Video Awards and the Best In It’s Block at the Kontrast Film Festival in Germany.

After the Wolverhampton showing the film has been selected to be screened at the Shart International Comedy Festival in Canada as the flagship romantic comedy film of the April festival.

In the same month it will also be show at the Maryland and the Lifetree  international film festivals in the United States.

It is also being considered for more than 50 other festivals and Mark said: “I am so excited for the screening at the Light House. I am an ex-Light House Media student so the training I received has already paid off.

“I am also really looking forward to seeing the Travels With Morris films that will be screened in conjunction with Titanic Love and the accompanying behind the scenes documentary of Travels With Morris.

Passion and creativity

“Travels With Morris was produced by CYT in conjunction with more than 40 young people and a small team of professionals. My role was as a film mentor on the project.  The film was funded through First Light Films, who are the education arm of the British Film Institute (BFI).

“The sheer passion and creativity displayed by the young people on the project was incredible.

“We premiered these films at the Light House last year to a full house that ranged from young to old and the films went down a storm.

“I would advise people to come along and support what is being achieved by these young people in the Black Country.

“In fact they did such a good job that we will be announcing a new comedy project – “Salt N’Malt” commissioned by the same funder which will be shooting in April and May this year.”

Mark, a regional filmmaker, has established himself as a producer director in the Midlands, but travels globally as a filmmaker and
has worked for all terrestrial TV channels and many satellite channels. He has a passion for comedy.
He has had work previously screened on channel 4, channel 5 and ITV but has always had strong links to the Black Country and the Midlands.
His short films have been previewed in Cannes & the  Edinburgh Film Festival with previous films Evil Resident nominated for a Made in The Midlands Award, The Westerner, Winner of The BBc Drama Award & TV Documentary, Fistful of Alice also nominated for a BBC Drama Award.
He established his own production company in Birmingham 2003, Macoy Media, specialising in educational projects.
In the same year Mark graduated at The University of Birmingham with a Diploma from the European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs programme where he studied in Austria and Germany.

Midlands links

He developed and put into production Titanic Love, which he wrote in 2009 to explore various themes including the Midlands’ links to shipbuilding and Titanic.
The script gained favourable response and interest in London but was turned down regionally for funding as too ambitious.
As a result Mark self-financed the film and sought sponsorship from the Midlands, including Jane Ward and The Actors Wardrobe who supplied all costumes and assorted props. Titanic Love went into production in late 2011 and was then entered into festivals where it was screened at Stoke Your Fires Film Festival.
In the film hero Jack, played by Alex Edwardson, is a small man in a Titanic world.
He longs to lead a settled life – to have a good job, the gaff in town, money in his back pocket, and to have the perfect life with his girlfriend Lucy, played by  Susannah Wells.
The only problem is, Lucy has an obsession…with all things Titanic!Lucy has found a ‘Titanic Love Cruise’ and wants to re-live the Hollywood dream. Jack doesn’t!
They can’t afford it and Lucy is furious. Their relationship hits rough waters, so Jack calls on his best friend Delroy for advice and a cheap alternative. True to form, Delroy and his trusty sidekick Jaz come up with a cunning plan that could change their lives forever.Delroy is going to bring Hollywood and Titanic to Birmingham! There is no turning back, and Jack has no choice but to entrust his future with Lucy to Delroy. In a thrilling climax, all will be revealed as Jack, Lucy, Delroy and Jazz experience the voyage of their lives.

The cast of Titanic Love and their characters (from the film website)

Susannah Felicity Wells

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aka Lucy TupperSusie is a graduate from Birmingham Theatre School and it was here she first auditioned for the role of Lucy, later to be cast as the lead. As an actor Susie was inspired by someone who had a similar obsession to her character in real life. She has since gone on to play a leading part in the opening of the Olympics in 2012 and has appeared in the BBC One drama, Father Brown.

Lucy is obsessed with the Titanic and all things connected to it. The flat is covered head to toe in memorabilia, she relives the flying scene on a nightly basis, she’s seen a re-enactment cruise and wants it! She won’t stop till she gets it and Jack knows it.


Alex Edwardson

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(aka Jack Doe) Alex another Birmingham Theatre School graduate, was top of his class with his stage performances. He has an ability to step into character and his use of facial expressions to convey emotion is superb. He has a touch of Leonard Rossiter about him. For such a young actor making his debut performance on film his acting is outstanding.
Jack is Lucy’s the long-suffering boyfriend who wants an easy life. He goes to work, worries about bills and sometimes forgets what is important to Lucy. He gets annoyed with Lucy’s obsession with ‘the boat’ but goes along with it for a quiet life.

Loxley Logan

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(aka Delroy Jones) Loxley, also a Birmingham Theatre School graduate from the same year as Susie and Alex. Loxley  made Delroy’s character come alive and brought the ‘Brum’ identity to the film. He has been involved in Birmingham-based community film projects since graduating and is a  joy to work with, dedicated and passionate and always done with a trademark Delroy smile.Delroy is a wheeler-dealer; man about town, always got something to sell at cut price and a solution for everything albeit shady or outrageous! He’s Jack’s best mate and wants to help him out of the Titanic disaster he has found himself in. How does he do it? The only way he knows, Delroy’s way, with a little help from his business associate Jazz.     

Ryan McKen

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(aka Jazz Doff) Ryan also, a theatre school graduate studying at the Bristol Old Vic. Ryan is a superb actor, never forgetting a line. Even though Ryan’s role in Titanic Love was smaller than the rest it by no means diminishes his performance. In fact, at times, he steals the show with his brilliant portrayal of Del’s sidekick.

Jazz, aka the Bellboy, is Delroy’s business partner, the Rodney to Del, the one that does all the hard work with little credit. Delroy comes up with the plan and Jazz does it, albeit not very well! His idea of class comes in the form of Lambrini, sausage rolls and cut-price crabsticks. Jazz is a good-natured soul who blunders through life blissfully unaware of mishaps and is constantly told off by Delroy.


Extras are ;Laura Taylor – Lizzie, Lydia Gribbin- Catherine, Earle Whitman, Captain Of The Boat, ,Andrew Lound- Ticket Man, Man In Pub- Pete Iles

Theatre group going very much in One Direction


A West Midlands theatre group will be going very much in One Direction tomorrow night (Friday 8 March) as it holds a quiz night to help raise funds towards £6,000 target needed to send members abroad to represent the area and the UK at global and European festivals.

As well as having signed programmes and a T-shirt donated by Boy Band One Direction Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT) now have two tickets for the band’s show at the LG Arena, Birmingham, on Saturday March 23.

Since appearing on the X-Factor the band, including Wolverhampton’s Liam Payne, have become one of the top bands in pop with two number one singles, a platinum selling debut album and more than a million hits on YouTube.

For those worried about the future of the band Liam recently Tweeted to say he was definitely not leaving them – after rumours that he was.

These and a programme signed by girl band Little Mix will be sold by silent auction at the quiz night at 7.30pm at West End Working Men’s Club, Merridale Street, Wolverhampton.

Bids for the silent auction can be accepted anytime this week either by email to jane@centralyouththeatre.org or to CYT’s office at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 4AN

CYT Director Jane Ward said: “The Quiz will be a fun night for all the family.

“If people don’t have a complete team we can help make up teams on the night. Besides the quiz we will be running the silent auction and tombola, with refreshments also available during the evening.”

The proceeds of the auction will go towards the group, which is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, sending young people to festivals in Czech Republic at the start of May and also to represent the UK by performing in Monaco at the World Amateur Theatre Festival in August.

Fourteen members of CYT will be staging a one hour version of Burnt by The Sun, by Peter Flannery, which is an examination of the full horror of Stalin’s rule in the Soviet Union.

The group will be performing in the historic Salle Garnier Monaco Opera House on 22nd and 24th August.  CYT members will be joined by 23 theatre companies from the Far East, Africa, India, Scandinavia, Europe and the USA.

West Midlands theatre group telling Tales of the Town


 

Tales of The Town flyer front

Tales of The Town flyer front

A West Midlands theatre group will be telling Tales of the Town with extracts from nine classic plays set in shops, cafes, pubs, hotels and markets.

Central Youth Theatre will present them at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton on Sunday 10th

Tales of The Town flyer back

Tales of The Town flyer back

February.

From 2pm they will perform extracts from Laundry Girls by Bill Owen, Hobsons Choice by Harold Brighouse and On the Razzle by Tom Stoppard.
These are followed, from 4pm, by Absolute Hell by Rodney Ackland, California Suite by Neil Simon and Two by Jim Cartwright.
The final set of extracts, from 7.30pm, are Satin & Steel by Amanda Whittington, Market Boy by David Eldridge and What Are You Doing Here? by David Compton.
CYT director Jane Ward said: “These extracts are full of characters making you laugh – and sometimes cry. We have around 70 young people involved in the performances, and they have been working hard on these since last October.”
“This project has been planned as a precursor to what we hope will be a larger project celebrating the history of Wolverhampton City Centre.
“We are currently awaiting to hear whether a bid to the Heritage Lottery has been successful, so that we can move on to explore the history of trading and shops in Wolverhampton.
“A team trained in inter-generational research would work alongside the City Archives, the Mary Portas project to revive shops and shopping, and people of the city who used the shops, cafes, pubs and hotels and markets in years gone by.
“During 2011 we had huge success with our heritage project Everybody Dance Now – which was based around the history of social dance in the city – which culminated in a huge international festival in the city in 2011 and the temporary conversion of the former Low Level Railway Station into a ballroom”
Tickets for Tales of the Town are £7 for adults (£5 concessions) with family tickets for two adults and two concessions at £20. The box office is on 01902 572090. Online booking is available at www.ticketsource.co.uk/newhamptonartscentre/

 

Black Country band launching The Lifeboat


The John Richards Band, from the left, Ronin Tudor, Chris Drinan, John Richards, Jim Sutton and Emma

The John Richards Band, from the left, Ronin Tudor, Chris Drinan, John Richards, Jim Sutton and Emma

A Black Country band whose material has been used by some of the biggest names in folk will launch a new album this week.

The John Richards Band’s The Lifeboat will be launched at The Newhampton Inn, Riches Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, on Saturday 26th January at 8.30pm.

Singer/songwriter John Richards, from Coseley, has been writing since the 1970s with bands such as Fairport Convention, Show of Hands and other top folk acts performing his songs.

He and daughter Emma, along with Jim Sutton, Chris Drinan and Robin Tudor had copies of the new CD delivered from their production company in Plymouth over the weekend despite the bad weather.

The title track The Lifeboat tells of John and his family’s difficulties in dealing with the financial sector following the crash of 2007/2008 on a CD which includes five new tracks and four previously recorded bonus tracks.

Emma, John’s eldest daughter, has been singing with her father since her earliest days and in 1996 joined him in Wolverhampton band Desperate Men.

The other ‘youngster’ in the band is Robin Tudor, from Halesowen, a classically trained violinist and pianist, guitarist, mandolin, banjo and accordion player as well as a singer.

Double-bass player Jim Sutton, of Stourbridge, who also has a background in heavy metal,rock and jazz – appearing as house bass player at The Trumpet, Bilston, – is joined by Chris Drinan, of Walsall, on flute, tenor sax and 5-string banjo to complete the lineup.

Tickets costing £8 in advance or £9 on the door are available for the launch. A cheque made out to ‘Folk Club Upstairs’ should be sent to Dianne Maher at 73, Allen Road, Wolverhampton, WV6 0AW or email dlmaher50@yahoo.com for details to pay by bank transfer. Further information is available on 01902 820958 or 340603.

Black Country building brought back to life dramatically


The former antiques market, Salop Street, Wolverhampton

The former antiques market, Salop Street, Wolverhampton

A bank and council have helped a theatre group bring a Black Country building back to life again as a theatrical resource for the whole West Midlands region is being relaunched.

Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT) has moved more than 10,000 theatrical costumes into the city’s former antiques market in Salop Street.

Now, with the help of Lloyds Banking Group (Birmingham Midshires) volunteering team, the building is being renovated to help provide a costume hire facility for schools, colleges, community, voluntary and theatrical groups throughout the region as well as for CYT.

CYT director Jane Ward said: “For the last five years we housed our costumes in an empty wing of Northwood Park Primary School, Bushbury.

“However, this summer, the school needed to take the classrooms back to meet the demand for more places at the school.

“Thanks to Wolverhampton Council we were able to rent the empty antiques market building.

“We moved the costumes in a huge operation involving members, past members, Trustees and volunteers but shortly afterwards flash-flooding hit the building and we needed a big clean-up.

Some of the costumes after the move to the antiques market

Some of the costumes after the move to the antiques market

“Now we want to get the building in tip-top shape and the Lloyds (Birmingham Midshires) volunteering team, based at Pendeford, Wolverhampton, who have painting, cleaning and DIY experience, very kindly came in to help us out on Tuesday 30th and Wednesday  31st October.

“This will help to provide a space for costumes which will be a resource for the whole region.”

“It has some great features – especially the dressing room which dates back to the 1960s when the venue was The Woolpack Civic Restaurant and was packed as it hosted dancing and live bands such as the N’Betweens, Californians and Montanas.

“Drummer Don Powell, lead guitarist Dave Hill, Jimmy Lea and Noddy Holder transformed the N’Betweens into Slade (http://youtu.be/A0NpJ7mcfPo) and went on to huge success – as did Robert Plant, who also performed there, when he went on to become a key part of the Led Zeppelin supergroup.

“Glenn Hughes played there with Trapeze and he went on to join Deep Purple.

Poster for Trapeze at The Woolpack Restaurant

Poster for Trapeze at The Woolpack Restaurant

“In a way I suppose we are restoring the link with entertainment the building had.

“We will continue to develop the building but the costume hire side has now been relaunched and anyone who wants to take advantage of the amazing range of costumes should contact us by calling 08450511167 or emailing info@theactorswardrobe.co.uk”

Forces charity reshapes organisation


A forces charity which helps more than 50,000 people a year has reshaped its Black Country organisation.
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help has amalgamated its Walsall, Wolverhampton and Dudley branches to create a new West Midlands North Branch.
The branch, under the chairmanship of Colonel David Hill, will be operating from today at Wolseley House Territorial Army Centre, Fallings Park, Wolverhampton.
SSAFA Forces Help provides practical, financial and emotional support to members, former members and families of those who have served in the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force – Regular, National Service or Reserve Forces.
Help is available irrespective of when or where he or she served with all enquiries treated in strict confidence by trained dedicated caseworkers.
New or existing clients can contact the new branch via the Wolverhampton office, which has a 24 hour answer phone, on 01902 864030.
Colonel Hill said: “Our reorganisation is aimed at improving our service to our clients and to improve efficiency.
“There are always opportunities for suitable volunteers to undertake specific thorough training to join the team.
“If anyone can spare some time to help our serving and veteran service personnel they should telephone 01922 722778 or email david@ssafawalsall.co.uk

Theatre group looked at hard times East and West


Burnt by the Sun at the Arena Theatre

Burnt by the Sun at the Arena Theatre

Great Expectations at the Arena Theatre

Great Expectations at the Arena Theatre

Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre excelled with the first of two highly challenging productions.
On Tuesday, July 17th July and Monday 16th July they gave a revealing take on the way in which repression in Stalin’s Russia overwhelmed families and friends.
share. At the Arena Theatre in the University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Burnt by The Sun, Peter Flannery’s examination of the full horror of Stalin’s rule in the Soviet Union.

Set in 1936, the revolutionary hero Colonel Kotov spends what seems to be an idyllic summer in his dacha with his young wife and family. Things change dramatically as a face from the past re-enters their lives. Amidst a tangle of sexual jealousy and retribution, the full horrifying reach of Stalin’s rule is about to invade their lives.

Burnt by the Sun Director Jane Ward says: “Burnt by the Sun is a play about social change, political corruption and the re-structuring of society with the consequent impact this has on people’s lives.

“Whilst we have been working on this production, we have seen contemporary history being made with the breakdown of economic living standards in many countries in Europe and the political corruption that has brought countries low, destroying the lives of so many people.

“It has been very interesting for our cast to realise that a production such as this has contemporary parallels”.

In contrast, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens Central Youth Theatre (CYT) staged an exciting adaptation of Great Expectations by Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan. The classic story followed the twists and turns facing orphan Pip who becomes a gentleman when his life is transformed by a mystery benefactor.

Performances for Great Expectations were at the same venue on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th July. Both productions were sumptuous costume dramas costumed from CYT’s amazing theatrical wardrobe – assembled over the last 29 years.

Holly Phillips, directing Great Expectations, says: “We had over 50 young actors in both productions and over a hundred period costumes being used to set the two plays in the different decades”.

 

Shakespeare Turned Upside Down – by the ladies

Neanderthal Man and Seven Ages of Woman flier

Neanderthal Man and Seven Ages of Woman flier

Neanderthal Man and Seven Ages of Woman flier

In the year of the World Shakespeare Festival members of a Black Country theatre have  a very different take in a show they will take to Eastern Europe in the autumn.

The Seven Ages of Woman is a devised comedy by Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT) that explores the seven ages a woman will experience through her life from birth to death.

The performance, developed as a response to William Shakespeare’s ‘All the World’s A Stage” speech in which he catalogues the seven ages of MAN, strangely forgetting to mention WOMEN.

It was staged on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th July, 2012 at the theatre at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans.

Director Holly Phillips said: “Although taking inspiration from a famous Shakespearian quote this performance is very definitely not Shakespeare !

“The show has no dialogue – and is highly physical. At the start of the process we engaged a professional mime artist Mollie Guifoyle to work with both casts and give them an inspirational start to the project. Since then the cast have been creating all their own ideas through a devising process”

The play forms part of a comedy double bill with another hilarious devised show Neanderthal Man directed by CYT director Jane Ward, assisted by Holly Hale.

In early September the cast of Seven Ages of Woman will travel to Siauliai in Lithuania where it will be staged at the Festival Of The White Crow.

Off down South America way


Ecuadorian dancers/musicians in Dudley Street, Wolverhampton

Ecuadorian dancers/musicians in Dudley Street, Wolverhampton


Day One
On the bus from Wolverhampton to catch the plane to Buenos Aires, Argentina from Heathrow to get us over the wet bit inbetween (all 13 hours of it).

Not sure why when we can find this sort of stuff (above) in Dudley Street, Wolverhampton. However, they are from Ecuador  – which is a bit further up than Argentina.

Buenos Aires also offers the opportunity of meeting up with our daughter, Susie Barrow, and her partner, Mattie Harling.

They abandoned blogging two months ago in the US in favour of millions of (rather good) pictures on Facebook .

Skype is great for keeping in touch where they can find good wifi but it will be great to meet up for some real FaceTime.

There is also the tango dancing. However, just I will not spin on my head at a Northern Soul night, I do not favour the split skirt for myself and will be quite happy to watch the experts.

Similarly, unless there is a mobility scooter variety, the goucho experience may be given a miss.

It is disappointing that our ‘Train to The Clouds’ – El Tren a las nubes – has been cancelled but it may be understandable.

This railway goes from Salta, in Northern Argentina, taking nearly 7 hours to get up to nearly 14,000 ft in the Andes. It was a link to mines up there but is now a tourist attraction.

However, at the moment, it is not after the train derailed in a tunnel half way along its journey last month. The 400 passengers had to get out and make there way out of the tunnel as a road support vehicle following the train went to get help.

Unfortunately the vehicle crashed and overturned injuring the two staff inside and the train passengers had to wait for the military to arrive with vehicles to get them back to Salta.

Since then the state government in Salta has taken over and it looks as though the railway will be shut until next September.

My wife, Anna, seems quite relieved to be having a day in Salta rather than riding the rails or bouncing around on dirt roads following the route of the railway.

However, an excellent account of what it might have been like to have taken the trip has been provided by Aussie blogger Olivia Oyster at http://oliviaoyster.com/travelblog/tren-a-las-nubes/

Her pictures are also excellent. Here is one to show what I mean –

Olivia's train to the clouds

Olivia’s train to the clouds

 

After jetlag recovery and a city tour in Buenos Aires comes the tango experience and for some reason the others want to go wandering around a cemetery to see who is buried there.

Our trip oop north will be to the Iguazu waterfalls on the border with Brazil. This is why we had to have yellow fever injections.

Mine had me flatlining with next to no blood pressure so they had better be a step up from Niagra with jungly bits.

If we survive this it will be another plane oop north and to the east to Salta – minus the train trip.

However, there is always white water rafting – or more likely sia pedalo on the lake.

A trip to Cafayate to test the waters (wine) looks interesting before bouncing back to Buenos Aires before flirting back oop north to Mendoza – heart of the wine-growing region.

More wine will be followed by a six and hour bus ride over the Andes to the Chilean capital to tat around there and down to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

Plane South to Punta Arenas en route to Torres del Paine and on to chill out at the Perito Moreno Glacier and a boat ride through the national park glaciers.

Buenos Aires beckons again afterwards for a bit of rest and recovery before that long hop over the wet bit to get the bus back to Wolvo.
Day two

IMG_2965.JPG
Well Heathrow still very much an expensive shopping mall with aircraft attached but safely down in sunny Buenos Aires.
Anna thinks I may have slept through a thunder and lightning storm on the way but all I can remember is turning down another orange juice and the shame.
I think a 13 hour flight is an ordeal but the young guy sat next to me was a polo player on his way home to Buenos Aires from Malaysia after a two hour break in London.
As well as sleeping and knocking back a few wines (none for me after reading the advice about DVT and dehydration ) he looked after his 10 month old baby girl and chatted happily with his partner.
Perhaps it’s a young person thing.
Anyway, after arriving, not having baggage stolen or being ‘disappeared’ by immigration or customs our guide, Jorge, took us into Buenos Aires to drop our baggage , meet Susie and Matt and do the three hour city tour.
This was a surprise after 24 hours plus from leaving the edgy streets of Tettenhall but he assured us it was a good way of getting our bearings – and he was giving up watching the Argentina rugby team play South Africa on the telly to do it.
He was right. Hugely visually stimulating city from the Casa Rosada of Eva Peron to the edgy (just like Tettenhall and me Massive) streets of the Boca barrio (really nice coffee and choccy biscuits – up there with Tettenhall’s best).
The crash course in how not to get ripped off by taxi drivers with false
100 peso notes and not getting robbed by yoots who disappear into the multiple lanes of traffic on ‘the widest road in the world’ was also useful.
He was reassuring, saying that only 1 per cent in the Buenos Aires province were villains – but 18 million people live here.
The Boca looks worth a return visit (not sure if we will get to see Boca Juniors and their crazy fans) as does the cemetery at Recoleta where Eva Peron and Buenos Aires’ great and the good (and not so good ) have their tombs .
The gentrified old docks and the thousands of acres of parks littered with art works also look worth a return.
However, a flying visit might not stretch to a boat trip across the River Plate to Uruguay or a train trip up the coast to Tigre.
After the three hour tour we tipped goodbye to Jorge and driver Juan Carlos but were still too early for our 3pm hotel check-in so were forced to sit drinking beers until the appointed time.
Not sure if this rates as human rights abuse as much as the shopping I have been threatened with.
Once allowed into our room we were able to lavish supplies on Matt and Susie – replacement phones and charging leads for cracked and wonky ones, jungle grade insect repellent, a pink poncho , Aussie shampoo and conditioner, fashion items from H&M and Topshop, diving instruction cards and DVD and three big bars of Galaxy chocolate.
Anna and I also got lovely presents – including a lovely grey Andean jumper with llamas on it. This can double up as a Christmas jumper methinks.
After fruitless attempts at sleep but a refreshing shower it was off to do some serious meat eating at a place recommended by some people in Susie and Matt ‘s hostel.
After negotiating quite a few broken pavements – they have had a few economic maelstrom and high inflation visited upon them – we were lucky to get a table before people poured in after 9.
Steaks for me, Anna and Susie did not disappoint, along with cheesy spinach and potato wedges but Matt was a bit disappointed with what he described as ‘the rest of the cow’.
He found the kidneys, chitterlings etcetera a bit dry – but the red wine helped despite them not having any Malbec !

IMG_2993.JPG
Flowers at the Duarte tomb in Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron was laid to rest
Day Three
Buenos Aires’ Microcentro has a pretty tightly arranged group of historic monuments, sites and pretty parks.
Walking seemed the best option for the day – as a prelude to dinner at a tango dancing show.
Sunshine all the way helped as we ambled around the Plaza de Mayo, the wide avenues and tight back streets before being lured away down the longest street market we have seen in our lives – the one called San Elmo.

The quality and variety of stuff on display was impressive – as was the street food and live music popping up on corners and nooks and crannies as crowds swarmed up and down the narrow street lined with stalls.
On days like this stops to rest and refuel with coffee, snacks and beers were essential – especially as we headed off down to the old docks to join the crowds strolling around the new restaurants, bars and cafés among the old cranes, grain silos and turtles sunning themselves on a sunken ship’s hull.
After this we needed hotel rest and recovery before being picked up for dinner and the tango how at Esqiuna Carlos Gradel.
It was a night of more mighty steaks accompanied by a film looking back over tango’s history and super-athletic dancing,sparkling shiny costumes and tight quality music.
It was an ambitious and largely successful attempt to encapsulate a cultural form that has captivated the country.
Elsewhere in Buenos Aires the World Festival of tango dancing was going on at different venues – and on the streets.
Another passion of Argentines – football – was also being indulged in on Sunday as River Plate and Boca Juniors fired up the fans.
Day Four
A trek to the Boquebus terminal proved fruitless because heavy holiday demand (they roll their weekend hols over onto Mondays) meant we could catch a fast SeaCat ferry to Colonia in Uruguay but not get back until 1 in the morning.
As we had to be ready to go to the airport for the flight to Iguazu Falls at 7a.m we declined – perhaps next time.
The walk back took us to the Galerias Pacificas shopping mall/centre so me and Matt ran away and left Anna and Susie to it.
After negotiating the cambio cambio cries of the money changers on Florida we made it to the beautiful Teatro Colon – once the biggest theatre in the Southern Hemisphere.
After taking on coffee and water and finding out when the last tour in English was we returned to the shoppers only to find the shoppers wanted food.
A table on the street brought the usual big portions and a couple of big beers.
After returning to the hotel for rest and recovery it was off down a block or to to El Museo de jamon for excellent tapas and Argentinian Malbec.
Day Five
Time to leave Buenos Aires just as Dawn comes up over the River Plate.
Over to the left jumbles of concrete continue to reach towards the sky on old railway land where people have DIYed their own homes and, according to our somewhat envious/bitter guide live free of the payments ‘normal’ Portenos have to pay.
Up and away after persuading airport staff all our baggage evens out to meet the 15kg per person hold baggage allowance.
The one hour fifty minute flight took us into the 30degree C of Puerto Iguazu’s winter (winter ends in September and then the humidity and heat really take off).
Going up this way the plane follows the River Parana, which becomes the River Plate at Buenos Aires.
As the earth turns a deep red and sub-tropical jungle appears low cloud and mist may fire up overexcited passengers into thinking they can see Iguazu Falls.
Similar false alarms stem from plumes of smoke from stubble burning.
A warm (temperature and manners) from Brazilian guide Alex was a prelude to a minibus ride to our riverside (if you count 200 steps down to the pier swept away in June floods) hotel, Loi Suites Iguazu.
Here a cool timbered reception area looked out over the hotel’s three linked swimming pools and the red stone paths and wood swing bridge walkways connecting the accommodation blocks.
Blocks sounds a bit severe for nicely designed units with rooms containing huge beds, superb showers and baths, air conditioning and ample room.
One weird feature we have noticed in a variety of hotels lately is the desire to display bathrooms, toilets and showers to the rest of the room.
It started with a tiny boutique hotel (only two rooms above a tea room/coffee house) in the village of Romenay, Bourgoune, France.
The high-tech shower pod was tremendous and wash basin, toilet etc were fine – except there was no door.
The place was also weird as the owners lived a few streets away and after the tea rooms closed we were on our own with our own key for the night.

Queen rewards theatre director’s 30 years work


Wolverhampton Central Youth Theatre (CYT)  director Jane Ward was presented with her MBE by the Queen (nice picture in the Express & Star here http://bit.ly/IpHa0x) to recognise 30 years of  service to Drama and the Community of Wolverhampton.

Jane, of Bradmore, Wolverhampton, has led CYT since founding it in 1983, winning awards and leading the group to represent the city throughout Europe, including Austria, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Yesterday (Thursday 28th November) she was at Buckingham Palace to receive her award from the Queen before Jane and ex-members working in theatre, film and TV had a celebratory meal at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

It was hosted  at the BAFTA195 Restaurant by BAFTA  member and ex-CYT member Liz Griffiths, who dressed the set of new Richard Curtis Film “About Time”.

Other ex-CYT members included lighting designer Tim Routledge, who programmed the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Tom Parry and Ben Clark stars and writers of BBC3 sitcom Badults.

This year CYT, working with city 8-25 –year-olds, represented the United Kingdom at the World Amateur Theatre Festival in Monaco, performing their own adaptation of the play Burnt By The Sun in the Salle Garnier Opera House in Monte Carlo.

CYT has also staged city-based festivals and exchanges with groups from across Europe, the latest being the Everybody Dance Now festival in 2011 which was a Cultural Olympiad Inspired project, culminating in a festival involving theatre groups from Austria, Italy, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Poland.

CYT, currently based at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton,  is now under threat from financial cutbacks being imposed on Wolverhampton City Council, as part of the Government’s austerity programme.

Jane said: “To receive an MBE is a tremendous honour for myself, CYT and the city.

“It’s a bitter sweet irony that I am receiving the award at this difficult time for the council and ourselves, but I  hope that the award will help people to appreciate just how hard we have worked for 30 years, the hundreds of thousands of pounds we have raised and spent in the City, and help we have given to more than two thousand young people to acquire skills and abilities which have served them well in their careers – not just in the entertainment and theatre industry – but in all walks of life.

“For example, recently as we were in Leicester Square getting a national film award at the National Youth Film Festival Awards for our film Salt ‘n’ Malt.”

Central Youth Theatre flashmob in Queen Square

Central Youth Theatre flashmob in Queen Square

More than sixty CYT members took part in a flash mob in the city’s Queen Square on Saturday, with music from each of the three decades that the group has operated in.

CYT assistant Holly Phillips said:   “Preparing the flash mob was really fun and we wanted to show the people of Wolverhampton just how much CYT means to young people – and why it’s important it gets support to carry on providing more amazing opportunities for decades to come, particularly at this time when our Director is being honoured for her achievements.

“CYT has faced many adversities over the years, and Jane had to work like crazy to keep it going. Members are all immensely proud of her going to the Palace.”

Queen presents MBE to recognise theatre director’s 30 years


Wolverhampton Central Youth Theatre (CYT)  director Jane Ward was presented with her MBE by the Queen to recognise 30 years of  service to Drama and the Community of Wolverhampton.

Jane, of Bradmore, Wolverhampton, has led CYT since founding it in 1983, winning awards and leading the group to represent the city throughout Europe, including Austria, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Yesterday (Thursday 28th November) she was at Buckingham Palace to receive her award from the Queen before Jane and ex-members working in theatre, film and TV had a celebratory meal at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

It was hosted  at the BAFTA195 Restaurant by BAFTA  member and ex-CYT member Liz Griffiths, who dressed the set of new Richard Curtis Film “About Time”.

Other ex-CYT members included lighting designer Tim Routledge, who programmed the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Tom Parry and Ben Clark stars and writers of BBC3 sitcom Badults.

This year CYT, working with city 8-25 –year-olds, represented the United Kingdom at the World Amateur Theatre Festival in Monaco, performing their own adaptation of the play Burnt By The Sun in the Salle Garnier Opera House in Monte Carlo.

CYT has also staged city-based festivals and exchanges with groups from across Europe, the latest being the Everybody Dance Now festival in 2011 which was a Cultural Olympiad Inspired project, culminating in a festival involving theatre groups from Austria, Italy, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Poland.

CYT, currently based at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton,  is now under threat from financial cutbacks being imposed on Wolverhampton City Council, as part of the Government’s austerity programme.

Jane said: “To receive an MBE is a tremendous honour for myself, CYT and the city.

“It’s a bitter sweet irony that I am receiving the award at this difficult time for the council and ourselves, but I  hope that the award will help people to appreciate just how hard we have worked for 30 years, the hundreds of thousands of pounds we have raised and spent in the City, and help we have given to more than two thousand young people to acquire skills and abilities which have served them well in their careers – not just in the entertainment and theatre industry – but in all walks of life.

“For example, recently as we were in Leicester Square getting a national film award at the National Youth Film Festival Awards for our film Salt ‘n’ Malt.”

More than sixty CYT members took part in a flash mob, with music from each of the three decades that the group has operated in.

CYT assistant Holly Phillips said:   “Preparing the flash mob was really fun and we wanted to show the people of Wolverhampton just how much CYT means to young people – and why it’s important it gets support to carry on providing more amazing opportunities for decades to come, particularly at this time when our Director is being honoured for her achievements.

“CYT has faced many adversities over the years, and Jane had to work like crazy to keep it going. Members are all immensely proud of her going to the Palace.”

 

Getting a lift to the future?


Makeshift 2013 at the Newhampton Arts Centre

Makeshift 2013 at the Newhampton Arts Centre

Makeshift 2013 at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton, had a tremendous range of inspiring ideas and it will be interesting to see how many develop in the same way that the three which took off from last year managed to do.

The ‘unconference,’ aimed at finding new ideas and new ventures that people can make happen for themselves, heard that the gap fillers idea of bringing spare or waste land in the city had been developed as had Scribble and Scribe – volunteers helping people to get over the difficulty of filling in forms.

In Wednesfield a free organic garden had been established , vegetables successfully grown and distributed among people working the land and the surplus donated to charities in the city helping people in difficult circumstances.

The garden was still being developed and there was the possibility of other gardens elsewhere.

This year there were  high levels of energy and interest in the ideas pitched during on Saturday, November 9, and a positive desire for things to happen.

At the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, which itself is expanding its activities to fill the college hall and offices at the front of the site, multiple ideas were pitched.

One was for book swapping – setting up ten locations (cafes, bars, community centres etc) in the city to swap/exchange books without cutting across the services already provided by libraries, bookshops and book clubs.

Jester’s Cafe in the Newhampton Arts Centre has been doing this for some time now so perhaps that can be added on to Jerome Turner’s list of sites. He is also already off the mark with a cafe in Wednesfield.

Steph Clarke of the WV11 website, which uses social media to engage the community in and around Wednesfield, talked about how Facebook and  Twitter and other social media tools could support initiatives at a community level. The website is at http://www.wv11.co.uk  where there is a contact form. The phone contact is 07855 409 319.

James Clarke, Steph’s partner outlined Lookup Wolverhampton – a photographic project looking at the wonderful and varied architecture of buildings in Wolverhampton above street level. An exhibition could highlight the rooftops of the city and views that many people may miss.

Another take on being positive about the city came from Paul Darke with Wolves in Wolves – putting large plastic sculptures of Wolves through every ward in the city and elsewhere involving communities, schools and artists and sponsors in creating the sculptures.

This would be similar to how Bristol had Gromits, Milton Keynes, Manchester, and Vancouver had cows and Liverpool had penguins.

People could then follow a trail around the city taking in the sculptures.

At the end of the event, over a number of months, the cows would be sold off to raise funds to fund another public art project. Paul is the director of the Outside Centre arts organisation, based in Wolverhampton, and can be contacted at  paul@darke.info and also has the Digital Disability page on Facebook.

Kevin Wilkins spoke about how people involved with Finchfield Community Association were looking at trying to take over the disused St Thomas Church and the land around it to create a community centre which could also help less advantaged people in the community.

At present, they say, the building is owned by a property developer who wants £195,000 for it. There is also a little possible legal difficulty over the way in which the church was vacated and a covenant left behind over its use.

They are looking for people to join them to produce ideas about the building and support from organisations who might be able to help with advice on their project.

Their email contact is finchfieldca@gmail.com and their website is at http://finchfieldcomunityassociation.co.uk

They are also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/finchfieldCA or Twitter @FinchyC

Angela Lewis, who runs Little Hippo Presents (@littlehipposhop on twitter) at Apley Farm Shop, shared plans for an arts and crafts co-operative and hub in the old boot factory development on the opposite side of the ring road to Sainsbury’s in April 2014 and a pop-up shop in the Mander Centre from January to March 2014.

Matt Henderson of Wolverhampton Friends of The Earth pitched for setting up a city centre for alternative technology which would demonstrate how people could save energy and even ‘live off the grid’ in the same way as the centre at Machnylleth in Wales had been doing for decades.

He can be contacted via their Facebook page, or by calling 01902 238539

Elliot Lord, of Our Own Future, who has been developing the organic garden with people in Wednesfield, argued for an upcycled furniture business which would re-use materials to create furniture with the help of designers and those good at making things.

Elliot can be contacted at ourownfuture@gmail.com and their website is at http://www.ourownfuture.org

SWEDA, who are based at The Business Centre, Church Street,  West Bromwich, B70 8RP, and aim to help grow the social enterprise sector in the West Midlands and to support community projects,  were there to flag up their work.

These include workshops at The Goldmine Centre, 14a, Lower Hall Lane, Walsall, WS1 1RL, and the resources they have to help projects.

Their way of operating and helping was outlined by Tony Andrews and they can be contacted on 0121 525 2558, by fax at 0121 580 0103, or by email at sweda@sweda.org.uk or the website at http://www.sweda.org.uk

Since Makeshift SWEDA  have been in touch with Elliot to express interest in the upcycled furniture project.

Rob proposed a custom build housing project where people can design and build their own homeswith the help of architects, designers and those with building expertise.

He has posted a form at http://tinyurl.com/customhomebuild for people to indicate an interest.

Christina from the not-for-profit social enterprise Schools and Community Arts Resource Facility (SCARF), in Colliery Road, which has been going for a decade, brought along examples of exciting and unusual materials which are often difficult to obtain but which had been donated and reused after being collected rather than thrown away by businesses.

Scarf is looking for a larger space to store materials such as paint and decorating materials and to help develop a tool library and distribution. They can be contacted on 01902 558603 or emailed at info@scarf4art.co.uk

Hirin Patel is trying to set up a community association, ‘a social steam engine’, to provide low level care and companionship for vulnerable people and Des Halestrap spoke for expanding an initiative in Pendeford where older people come together for conversation and companionship.

He would like to see safe and comfortable places set up all over the city which would also be intergenerational so that younger people could interact with the older generations.

Kathleen Fabre (find her on Twitter) went for Art on The Move – creating art at various sites around the city – including derelict and semi-derelict sites – and also at all major transport hubs and on trains, buses and taxis. There could be a trail leading from one art installation to another throughout the city.

Kathleen is on Twitter @KathFabre and on Facebook at facebook.com/KathleenFabreArtist

Julian raised the question of what should be free in the community and why? Food and water were touched on and also how that could happen.

Liz Millman led a session on building and developing international links and understanding through Wolverhampton International Links Association (info@wilaonline.com 07711569489 http://www.wilaonline.com).

The association already lists international links through education and schools, development, business, health and care, families and community. It was also suggested that arts and cultural groups with international links could join in.

Makeshift itself is on Twitter @makeshiftevent, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/makeshiftevent and has a website at http://www.makeshiftwolverhampton.wordpress.com/

The person to contact is Sam Axtell, Consultation and Community Involvement Officer, Policy Team, Office of the Chief Executive, Wolverhampton City Council, Civic Centre, St Peter’s Square, Wolverhampton, WV1 1SH. The ideas textline is 07584 175348.

It would be great to see projects come to fruition and it was also really nice to continue the discussion in the Newhampton Inn afterwards.

At the same time as these great grassroots ideas for possible futures are being developed here – and in many more places as well – many resources and spaces for the general good built up over decades, sometimes centuries, are in danger of being swept away.

I don’t agree with the argument that ideas and projects like those pitched at Makeshift are a bit like building sandcastles on the beach while doing nothing about the economic and austerity tsunami that is only partly arrived.

Many fantastic developments that have had a huge global impact started in garages, sheds, back bedrooms, rooms above pubs and all sorts of unlikely places.

And many of them were developed in very adverse circumstances – think Microsoft, Apple and lots of great art – or even further back Marstons/ Sunbeam moving from bicycles to cars that beat the world landspeed record.

However, the neo-con/austerity agenda of making the people who never caused the economic crisis pay for it threatens so many things that are of great use to millions of people. True, it would be nice if people had a little energy/effort left to protect and help some of the good things survive – libraries, parks, public transport, public open space, arts facilities, gardens, schools, health facilities etc.

I know it is a big ask when people have to put so much into day-to-day stuff (I am still feeling the effects of Sunday doing catchup on the final? weeding/turning over) and growing their own projects but it would be nice to support efforts to save and keep on using assets which many draw great benefit from.

The other areas I was interested in were tapping into the experience already gained elsewhere and linking up with possible changes at a city level.

For example, Elliot’s organic/community gardens idea has parallels in the Incredible Edible movement in Lancashire and Yorkshire (Ramsbottom and Todmorden).

The Transition Network pulls together information on ideas/projects on a global/national and local scale as does Friends of The Earth and many other organisations.

There may well be a data base where these links exist but perhaps Makeshift could tap into these – without drowning folk under a rainforest of paper or computer overload of data. The final one – promise – was the way in which cities could and are being changed.

During the  week of Makeshift a book was published called Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.

Tackling the city issues

Tackling the city issues

My copy has only just arrived and I have not had a chance to read it through but as far as I can see journalist Charles Montgomery draws together positive experiences of changes in cities as varied as Bogota, Columbia; Paris, France; Copenhagen, Denmark, London and various others.

These include reclaiming privatised spaces for public use, moving away from cars to bikes, walking, clean public transport, local green energy development, incorporating art into development etc.

At the same time the New Statesman was running a piece about cities getting too big and what can be done about it – smart water, smart rubbish, building in green spaces, using new tech (solar home-lighting), agricultural hand pumps.

The summer edition of Friends of The Earth’s magazine Earth Matters also ran a piece on future cities which included recycling sewage, water harvesting, car sharing and urban farming.

Perhaps there is a strand of development here that micro-projects suggested at Makeshift and being pioneered by others elsewhere could possibly link in with.

However, I may be barking up completely the wrong tree. Will have another think when I have found the time to read the book.

I never pitched anything at Makeshift but I have had an idea buzzing around in my head for some time.

Why doesn’t Wolverhampton have a city wide festival to showcase all the fantastic people, art, dance, music, food and drink, skills and abilities that it has?

Codsall has one, as does Kidderminster, Stafford, Stone,  Dudley, Netherton, Lichfield, Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Brum, Walsall – in fact everybody but us.

I know we have the Wolverhampton Show, Deaffest at the Lighthouse Media Centre, , the beer festival (there’s a winter one this year at the Newhampton Arts Centre on Friday 13th December and Saturday 14th December), vegan food festival, the Junction Arts Festival in the Chapel Ash area and Central Youth Theatre have held international theatre and dance festivals but an all-embracing event which would give the lie to a lot of the negativity about the city might be nice.

Perhaps I will work up sufficient head of steam to pitch next year.

One Direction’s Liam sees Robbie Williams get help from Black Country theatre group


One Directions's Liam Payne saw Robbie Williams - take over The London Palladium with the help of Wolverhampton's Central Youth

One Directions’s Liam Payne saw Robbie Williams – take over The London Palladium with the help of Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre

Wolverhampton’s Liam Payne of boyband One  Direction saw ex-Take That star Robbie Williams get help from a city theatre group as he took over the London Palladium for a show with songs for his One Night Only show.

Liam, just back from One Direction’s world tour, was with girlfriend Sophia Smith – counteracting rumours that the couple had split – saw the Staffordshire-born superstar sing No One Likes a Fat Pop Star clad in a big padded suit while being told off by Victorian urchins dressed in costumes provided by Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT) Actors Wardrobe costume resource at The Arts Market, Salop Street, Wolverhampton.

The one-off show was a first chance to hear tracks from Robbie’s new album, Swings Both Ways, as he performed with his orchestra and guests.

Instead of Nicole Kidman duetting on Something Stupid Robbie had Muppet Miss Piggy as his partner.

Kermit the Frog appeared, as did Rufus Wainwright and Lily Allen but the big applause was reserved for when Robbie brought dad, Pete, on stage and when Robbie performed a track dedicated to his 18-month-old daughter.

Robbie Williams: One Night At The Palladium was filmed for BBC1 in front of invited guests and fans on Friday, November 8th,  and is intended to be shown at Christmas.

His new single “Go Gentle”was out on the Monday (November 11) and new album “Swings Both Ways” is out tomorrow (Monday, 18th November).

Robbie featured in last Monday’s return of BBC Radio 4’s Mastertapes.

The UK’s best-selling solo artist of all time joined presenter John Wilson to discuss his career-defining album. Broadcast over two consecutive days each two-part edition of Mastertapes involves an in-depth interview with the artist (for the ‘A-side’), questions from the studio audience (for the ‘B-side’ on Tuesday) and exclusive live performances of songs from the albums.

Robbie talked about his debut solo album Life Thru A Lens, released after leaving Take That. His solo career has, so far, included six number one singles and more BRIT awards than any other artist. It includes two of Robbie’s best-loved songs ‘Angels’ and ‘Let Me Entertain You’.

Meanwhile, also on Friday, 6th November, ten CYT members and CYT Director Jane Ward were round the corner at the National Youth Film Festival Awards 2013 at Vue  Cinema, Leicester Square, to receive an award for their short comedy film about everyday goings on in a Black Country chip shop in the Round My  Corner category hosted by actors from Horrible Histories.

Salt 'n' Malt
Ben Davies, top, consults the menu at Pennfields Plaice, Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton, as Priyasasha Kumari tries to control the enthusiasm of Annabelle Evans, left, and Marcel Numez in a scene from Salt ‘n’ Malt, Central Youth Theatre’s film nominated in the National Youth Film Festival Awards on Friday 8 November

Salt ‘n’ Malt. was made at Pennfields Plaice, Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton, this summer after a £5,000 award from First Light Film, the education arm of the British Film Institute.

CYT member Lauren Riley, aged 20, of Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, came up with the idea and devised, wrote and co-directed it with Kieran Bird, 20.

More than 20 young people were involved in making the film, premiered, with behind the scenes footage, at Wolverhampton’s Light House Media Centre in June.

All films nominated were shortlisted by an industry panel and the winning films were selected by a group of celebrity judges. Judges this year include Toby Jones, Damien Jones, Mel Giedroyc, Jason Solomons, Danny, Leigh, Dan Zeff and more.

This slapstick comedy was filmed in the style of a Spaghetti Western with much fun and comedy being derived from the Black Country dialect.

Black Country filmmaker Mark Pressdee, who was the Film Mentor to the young people, has recently had great success with his short film Titanic Love which has been winning awards at film festivals all over the world during 2013.

CYT member Lauren Riley says: “I am very honoured to gain such a great experience with Central Youth Theatre, if it wasn’t for being a member I would never imagine attending a London film festival, let alone one where my film idea is being nominated.”

Central Youth Theatre Director Jane Ward

Jane Ward, of CYT (pictured above), based at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans,  Wolverhampton, said: “We are very excited about winning the award but also about the fantastic costume order from Robbie. It is a great tribute to the quality of costumes we hold.

“Like all charities and voluntary groups we are feeling the effects of austerity policies and cuts in funding. This year we are making the resource more widely available beyond theatre, film and television by hiring out making costumes available for the whole community to hire during Christmas and holiday season.

“We can costume Santas, Elves, Fairies, Victorian ladies and gentlemen and children, knights and damsels, pirates, very fashionable vintage – anything you can think of for celebrations and parties.

“We try and make the most of what we have got to help us cover costs and to continue working with young people developing their confidence, abilities and skills so that they can enjoy theatre work and stand a better chance of employment when they go looking for careers.

“Over thirty years we have worked with thousands of young people in the area, helping many into excellent careers, and we want to keep doing so.

“We realise that the council and others who have helped us with funding over the years are having a very tough time at the moment but our members and their families have always contributed to the running of youth theatre and we have always tried to raise funds in as many ways as we can think of.

“Recently we have bag packed at Tesco at Burnt Tree Island, Dudley, had two ex-members run the Birmingham half-marathon to raise funds and had a fun family quiz night at the West End Working Men’s Club, Wolverhampton – to help us keep providing a great service to young people in the area.

“As funders find it more difficult to help we are doing our utmost to draw on our own resources – and making our costumes more widely available to hire than just for theatre, film and TV seemed a good idea. It is also a way of helping others to have a really good Christmas celebration.”

Actors Wardrobe, based at  The Arts Market, Wolverhampton Market, Salop Street, WV3 0SF.

Theatre group film wins national award

Salt 'n' Malt

Salt 'n' Malt

Ben Davies, top, consults the menu at Pennfields Plaice, Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton, as Priyasasha Kumari tries to control the enthusiasm of Annabelle Evans, left, and Marcel Numez in a scene from Salt ‘n’ Malt, Central Youth Theatre’s film nominated in the National Youth Film Festival Awards on Friday 8 November

A film about everyday goings on in a Black Country chip shop has won a national film festival award.

Salt ‘n’ Malt was made at Pennfields Plaice, Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton, this summer by the city’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT), after being awarded £5,000 by First Light Film, the education arm of the British Film Institute.
CYT member Lauren Riley, aged 20, of Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, came up with the idea for the film and then helped to devise, write and co-direct it with Kieran Bird, 20.
More than 20 young people were involved in making the film, which was premiered, with behind the scenes footage, at Wolverhampton’s Lighthouse Media Centre in June.
It won the Round My Corner category at the National Youth Film Festival Awards 2013 at Vue Cinema, Leicester Square, London, on Friday, November 8.
Ten members of CYT, based at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans, travelled to London to the awards ceremony which was hosted by actors from Horrible Histories.
All the films nominated were shortlisted by an industry panel and the winning films were selected by a group of celebrity judges.
Judges this year included Toby Jones, Damien Jones, Mel Giedroyc, Jason Solomons, Danny, Leigh, Dan Zeff and more.
This slapstick comedy was filmed in the style of a Spaghetti Western with much fun and comedy being derived from the Black Country dialect.
Black Country filmmaker Mark Pressdee, who was the Film Mentor to the young people, has recently had great success with his short film Titanic Love which has been winning awards at film festivals all over the world during 2013.
CYT member Lauren Riley says: “I am very honoured to gain such a great experience with Central Youth Theatre.
“If it wasn’t for being a member I would never imagine attending a London film festival, let alone one where my film idea is being nominated.”
A clip of the film can be seen here
For a superb account of Central Youth Theatre’s thirty years you can do no better than look at the blog by Ed O’Driscoll http://www.westmidlandstheatre.com/central-youth-theatre-wolverhampton-thirty-year-anniversary/ at the excellent westmidlandstheatre.com site (www.westmidlandstheatre.com)

Robbie Williams gets help from Black Country theatre group


Robbie Williams - taking over The Palladium with the help of Central Youth

Robbie Williams – taking over The Palladium with the help of Central Youth Theatre.

Superstar singer Robbie Williams got help from a Black Country theatre group as he took over the London Palladium for a show with songs from forthcoming album “Swings Both Ways”.

Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT), who were round the corner in Leicester Square recieving a national film award, provided him with more than sixty costumes from the 10,000 plus held by their Actors Wardrobe costume resource at The Arts Market, Salop Street, Wolverhampton.

The one-off show was a first chance to hear tracks from the album as the Staffordshire-born singer performed with his orchestra and guests including Rufus Wainwright, Lily Allen and star Muppets Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog on Friday, 8th November.

Robbie Williams: One Night At The Palladium was filmed for BBC1 in front of invited guests and fans and is due to be shown at Christmas.

His new single “Go Gentle” was out on Monday (11th November) and new album “Swings Both Ways” is out tomorrow (Monday, 18th November).

Also on the Monday (11th, November) he was on Mastertapes as returned to BBC Radio 4 for a third series.

Robbie, UK best-selling UK solo artist of all time,  joined presenter John Wilson for a two-part edition of Mastertapes involving an in-depth interview with him  (for the ‘A-side’), questions from the studio audience (for the ‘B-side’ on Tuesday afternoon) and exclusive live performances of songs from his debut solo album Life Thru A Lens.

He released the album after leaving Take That and it was the the foundation for a solo career that has, so far, included six number one singles and more BRIT awards than any other artist. It includes two of Robbie’s best-loved songs ‘Angels’ and ‘Let Me Entertain You’.

Meanwhile, on the same Friday of Robbie’s show, ten CYT members and Director Jane Ward were at the National Youth Film Festival Awards 2013 at Vue  Cinema, Leicester Square, to receive an award for their short comedy film about everyday goings on in a Black Country chip shop.

It won the Round My  Corner category hosted by actors from Horrible Histories.

Salt 'n' Malt

Ben Davies, top, consults the menu at Pennfields Plaice, Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton, as Priyasasha Kumari tries to control the enthusiasm of Annabelle Evans, left, and Marcel Numez in a scene from Salt ‘n’ Malt, Central Youth Theatre’s film nominated in the National Youth Film Festival Awards on Friday 8 November

Salt ‘n’ Malt. was made at Pennfields Plaice, Birches Barn Road, Wolverhampton, this summer after a £5,000 award from First Light Film, the education arm of the British Film Institute.

CYT member Lauren Riley, aged 20, of Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, came up with the idea and devised, wrote and co-directed it with Kieran Bird, 20.

More than 20 young people were involved in making the film, premiered, with behind the scenes footage, at Wolverhampton’s Light House Media Centre in June.

All films nominated were shortlisted by an industry panel and the winning films were selected by a group of celebrity judges, this year including Toby Jones, Damien Jones, Mel Giedroyc, Jason Solomons, Danny, Leigh, Dan Zeff and more.

This slapstick comedy was filmed in the style of a Spaghetti Western with much fun and comedy being derived from the Black Country dialect.

Black Country filmmaker Mark Pressdee, who was the Film Mentor to the young people, has recently had great success with his short film Titanic Love which has been winning awards at film festivals all over the world during 2013.

CYT member Lauren Riley says: “I am very honoured to gain such a great experience with Central Youth Theatre, if it wasn’t for being a member I would never imagine attending a London film festival, let alone one where my film idea is being nominated.”

Central Youth Theatre Director Jane Ward

Central Youth Theatre Director Jane Ward

Jane Ward, of CYT, based at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans,  Wolverhampton, said: “We are very excited about winning the award but also about the fantastic costume order from Robbie. It is a great tribute to the quality of costumes we hold.

“Like all charities and voluntary groups we are feeling the effects of austerity policies and cuts in funding. This year we are making the resource more widely available beyond theatre, film and television by hiring out making costumes available for the whole community to hire during Christmas and holiday season.

“We can costume Santas, Elves, Fairies, Victorian ladies and gentlemen and children, knights and damsels, pirates, very fashionable vintage – anything you can think of for celebrations and parties.

“We try and make the most of what we have got to help us cover costs and to continue working with young people developing their confidence, abilities and skills so that they can enjoy theatre work and stand a better chance of employment when they go looking for careers.

“Over thirty years we have worked with thousands of young people in the area, helping many into excellent careers, and we want to keep doing so.

“We realise that the council and others who have helped us with funding over the years are having a very tough time at the moment but our members and their families have always contributed to the running of youth theatre and we have always tried to raise funds in as many ways as we can think of.

“Recently we have bag packed at Tesco at Burnt Tree Island, Dudley, had two ex-members run the Birmingham half-marathon to raise funds and had a fun family quiz night at the West End Working Men’s Club, Wolverhampton – to help us keep providing a great service to young people in the area.

“As funders find it more difficult to help we are doing our utmost to draw on our own resources – and making our costumes more widely available to hire than just for theatre, film and TV seemed a good idea. It is also a way of helping others to have a really good Christmas celebration.”

Actors Wardrobe, based at  The Arts Market, Wolverhampton Market, Salop Street, WV3 0SF.