Powerful and disturbing drama from Creation Theatre

George Orwell’s 1984 is just as relevant, possibly more relevant, today as ever it was. It was and is a disturbing book, and Creation Theatre‘s production at Oxford’s Mathematical Institute was always going to be a difficult watch.

It feels odd to say it, but it was bloody fantastic, epic and powerful. It was not an easy watch though. It was both Creation Theatre at it’s best, utilising a unique space in an inventive, effective way, and totally new – normally their shows are fun and fantastic and have you come out feeling good about yourself.

The show began with us corralled us into the bar area beneath a geometrically astounding atrium with the actors heard talking through speakers from where they could be seen on the bridges above. And then we split off in our row orders to be led into the auditorium (in itself a Big Brother-esque act of separation and control). The stage itself was the underground entrance way to the building, in which we watched the action played out in front of us and on computer monitors. The theatre crew were clearly on view working away in the background like they themselves were Big Brother or the Thought Police.

The show featured nudity, scenes of a sexual nature, and simulated torture but it was absolutely in context and very cleverly portrayed. By the end of the play we are left ourselves doubting what is truth and reality. Powerful, emotive drama, absolutely worth putting yourself through if you can get to see it before it closes on Sunday 5 March.

Valentines meals, disturbing theatre, and college friends

Valentines meals, disturbing theatre, and college friends

Friday. Eschewing my bicycle for the first time in three week’s today, Emma collected me from work this afternoon and we went into Oxford, first to wander and potter and buy too many books, and then to enjoy a belated Valentines Day meal at the Acanthus Restaurant in the Randolph Hotel with their special, cheaper, pre-theatre menu. In a relaxed dining environment we enjoyed a lovely three-course meal. Then, we went for something completely different…

We walked up the length of St Giles to the reasonably new Mathematical Institute to see Creation Theatre’s latest site-specific offering of George Orwell’s 1984. You can see my review here. To lighten the mood pre- and post- show we enjoyed bumping unexpectantly into my old college friend Julie and her eldest daughter. She hasn’t changed one bit in the twenty intervening years – has it really been that long?!? – and makes me even more determined that we should meet up again properly soon.

It’s actually scientifically impossible to have too many books.

A gut-wrenchingly open and honest not seen since Maya Angelou

receptfri viagra för kvinnor Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel (A Memoir) by Jessica Bell

Author, illustrator, singer, and songwriter, Jessica Bell is an inspiration to everyone who knows her. There is seemingly nothing she can’t do, and nothing she can’t handle. None of us are entirely as we seem though. We all have our demons that we face, and Jessica is no different. With a life that has ranged from metroplitan Australia (her birth home) to retreats on the Greek islands, and to Athens (where she now lives), Jessica tells it as it is.

I used music to fuel my writing. As time went by, I discovered I was more easily able to express my feelings that way. The problem was, those feelings were no longer mine. They were those of the characters in my books.

Jessica is probably best known as one of the new breed of Indie Author’s, and a successful and creative cover designer. This though is not primarily that story, but one of her childhood and beyond into adulthood, and her journey to becoming a pop/rock star. It is a story that is told frankly but with periods of reflection. The Dear Reflection of the title is Bell looking at herself and talking to herself about how her life has been, and where she has succeeded, and where she has made mistakes.

From a memory of playing shop with her grandparents as a childhood to observations on life, this is a book that is so full of quotable passages I found myself highlighting something on virtually every other page. It is a joy to read, marred only by the breakneck speed of the telling. Sometimes I just wanted the author to slow down a bit, stay longer, tell us more. Even at the speed that it does take though, here is so much more to tell. Part Five, takes from 2005 right up to the present day, and yet her Indie Author career is barely touched on. I shall look forward to reading about that side of her life in the follow-up to this debut memoir.

This is a gut-wrenchingly open and honest account of a life that, by the author’s own admission, has had it’s ups and downs – or to put it another way has had ecstatic highs and crushing lows – the like of which we haven’t seen that often since Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Sometimes hardship leads to goodness. Every day of my life, I have to remind myself of this. I have to remind myself to stop listening to my reflection declare her insecurities and scepticism.

A Poem A Day

A Poem A Day

It has been a longheld resolution to read more poetry, but it is an ambition for whatever reason I find really hard. In all honesty, whilst I consume novels and stories with a passion, I do find it hard to “get” poetry. Last April, on Shakespeare’s birth/death-day we watched the Shakespeare 400 Live celebrations, and enjoyed listening to some sonnets. Some of the staff and students at work also gave a lunchtime reading of their favourite sonnets. I determined to read more of them – well, let’s be honest – some of them… For my birthday I received the Arden Shakespeare’s Sonnets but I have yet to break into them.

I have however read some poetry over the last year. Melissa Harrison’s seasonal quartet of books – so far I have read Autumn and Winter – includes poetry in amongst it’s prose and nature writing, and some of it has been John Clare. It’s true to say that Clare avoided me during my school and college life, but circumstances have conspired to draw him into my life. On Thursday I listened to BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time in celebration of Clare’s life and work, with my colleague Simon Kövesi, and on Saturday whilst visiting my Mum and Dad we watched the biopic, By Ourselves. I borrowed from the work library, a book of John Clare poetry and I have decided to read at least, and hopefully more, one poem a day.

And I shall read those sonnets, and I shall make a habit of consuming poetry. What is it they say about doing something everyday for 21 days and then it becomes second nature. Can reading poetry become second nature?