National Poetry Day

Tomorrow, Thursday 6th October 2016, is National Poetry Day, and this time Hull based company A Car Load of Poets are getting involved.

Vicky Foster and Ian Winter, the brains behind A Car Load of Poets, continue to work extremely hard to bring, and produce, quality poetry in the next UK City of Culture.

Seven months ago they started Women of Words, a monthly gathering on the first Wednesday afternoon of the month at Kardomah 94 on Alfred Gelder Street.

While that continues to blossom, judging by the proven, and fresh, talent I’ve seen there, and it’s growing audience, our two heroes continue to reach out to the poetry world, and tomorrow is no different.

I spoke to both of them this afternoon at Kardomah 94, Ian Winter said: “Fortunately we’ve got Kardomah 94, and we’ve got Central Library, which are really open to ideas, which has helped get it off the ground.

“I think we’ve got 20 groups taking part, there’s not many I can think of what aren’t involved.

“We’ve got two stages, one at Central Library from 1pm til 4pm, which I’ll man, one at Kardomah 94 from 10am to 10pm, Vicky Foster will be opening that.

“The night time is a top performance poetry night, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Fazackerley and Stan Skinny and a special surprise comedy act is coming.

“We’ve got local poets Mike Watts, Peter Knaggs Lucy Clarke and Josh Overton on. There’s Open Mic and we’ll be doing a few poems as well.”

Newish group The Artful Codgers came into the convesation next: “The Artful Codgers were set up by Terry and Sue Ireland, Dave Osgerby, I think Richard Harris is in it, they just kicked off, I think the more groups we get involved, the more the merrier.”

The idea behind A Car Load of Poets came from a desire to promote talented poetry in Hull.

“Hull has some outstanding poets, who deserve to be on stage with the very best.

Malcolm Scott has also been a driving force behind tomorrow, with his well known enthusiasm for the artistic scene in Hull.

“Malcolm Scott has always been very encouraging, he’s like a breath of fresh air, because without Malcolm Scott in the town, there’d be a lot of writers, playwrights like myself either wrapped up, or just continue taking work out of town.

“Tomorrow will hopefully become a regular event, the groups here will hopefully take them out to the community and schools.

“This is just the foundation for it, to be a bigger and better event. Hats off to all the groups, there’s been no thinking about it, it’s been yeah I’m on board, I’m on board, which is fantastic.”

“There’s another creative outlet coming from this dynamic duo as well: “We’ve got a new thing starting in the new year called The Word Hull.

“That’s going to include spoken word, comedy and music, that’s probably going to be on at Kardomah 94, one evening a month, and that will be like a collaborative event.

“Most of the stuff I do is collaborations, Monologues Slam is done with Andy Wilson and Lucy Thurlow, so that’s 20/20 Theatre with Penny Duck Theatre and Scarlet Lights.

“I’ve got Vicky Foster involved with A Car Load of Poets, I always try to involve other people with stuff like A Car Load of Poets.

“You go to Manchester, you go to York, you go to Sheffield, and they all reach out, Joe Hakim and Mike Watts a few years ago were trying to do that for Hull.

“I’m just picking up from where they stopped really.”

Chatting to Vicky after Women of Words, she said: “National Poetry day happens right across the country every year.

“What we decided to do was try and bring local groups together, so we spoke to the libraries and the James Reckitt Trust, and they kindly funded the day and the night.

“So basically we’re going to be having a stage that runs here at Kardomah 94 from 10 in the morning, until 10 at night.

“That’s going to be in two sections, the first will be from 10 til six, there’ll be about 20 different local poetry groups, they’re all going to pick 20 minute spots, and in between those spots, we’ve got open mic available.

“In the evening we’ve got performance poets, we’ve got Toria Garbutt, Louise Ferzackally and Stan Skinny.

“Also, in addition to that, we’ve got a stage running at Central Library from one til four tomorrow afternoon and you’ll see some of the local poetry groups performing there, and there’s open mic spots available there too.”

The attraction of National Poetry day, it seems, is just a natural progression for our talented twosome, who spend a lot of time travelling around on our behalf.

Vicky continues: “We travel around a lot, listening to, and performing poetry and we’re aware that there are a lot of different groups in Hull doing poetry.

“We just wanted to bring those groups together so people can collaborate.

“Also it just gives people a chance to hear a lot of different voices, which is what poetry is about really.” This statement draws a little giggle from this thoroughly engaging lady.

There’s plenty of attraction for her to this event: “I’m really looking forward to all of it, particularly tomorrow night.

“Some of the performance poets who are coming tomorrow night, I really, really like, so I’m looking forward to seeing them.

“There’s a guy who plays the guitar, from the open mic circuit, and I know he’s been writing a bit of poetry, and he’s coming tomorrow morning to perform some poetry for the first time.

The final question is, If people feel like just doing a bit of poetry, they should just come along to this? She replies instantly: “Yes, that’s right.”

I would readily suggest, please go and support this event, it’s bound to be an absolute triumph, I’ll see you there.

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Photo L to R: Vicky Foster, Hannah Davies and Audrey Dunne

Regina Monologues- Review

Theatrical company the Chameleon Players have arrived at Kardomah 94 with a very compelling production called the Regina Monologues.

The production, which is masterfully directed by David Burton, is six stories in one, and is very well presented.

Cleverly written by Rebecca Russell and Jenny Wafer with some very strong dialogue, it tells the stories of six women and the effect on their lives of relationships they have had with Henry.

Henry has a profound effect on all the ladies in question, mainly due to his bank balance and his sex drive which seems to rival James Bond as he moves from one to another to another again.

All seven characters are beautifully developed, and the characters that you see on stage are very well established early on, and Henry’s background is extremely well presented by the ladies.

Each monologue is an essential part of each story, in itself and the acting is thoroughly compelling, it doesn’t shy away from some challenging subjects, especially with Katie, who is wonderfully portrayed in exactly the right way by Mandy Timmins.

The effect on later characters from previous ones is beautifully communicated and really adds to the tapestry of the story, which is fantastically woven in front of your eyes.

There is comedy aplenty as well at regular intervals with some delicious one liners that the audience can’t help but enjoy. All the characters are absolutely believable in their own way, and each one is connected in more ways than one in some cases.

The way the story is presented is done with such clarity, and yet keeps asking questions of the audience and each character is masterfully written, directed and acted.

It would be so easy for the character of Henry to be dominant in a production like this, but that danger is easily avoided and the ladies very much have their own identities, which are clearly shown and move the story along at a fantastic pace.

Jane, played beautifully by Helen Robinson, is definitely one that you just want to hug on stage, such is her beautifully naive outlook on life, which is very well acted so as to leave no doubt about her story.

Cathy, played by Sharon Burton, and Annie, played by Louise Brown, genuinely have an effect on each other thanks to their superb acting.

Anna is slightly alternative in a very intriguing way, Miranda Van Rossum is superbly cast in this role, and she carries it off with wicked humour that will tickle your ribs wonderfully well.

Katherine, played by Ailsa Oliver, is the genuine gold digger in the autumn of life, but she does it with just the right blend of sarcasm, practicality and with one eye on what’s to happen after Henry is no longer around without any hint of patronising behaviour.

The original music is also perfectly presented, thanks to the efforts of Maurice Houlden.

Tickets are £6, £5 for concessions, and still available at Kardomah 94 on Alfred Gelder Street or ring (01482) 317941, there are shows on Thursday and Friday at 8pm.

Murder Mystery Night- Review

It’s not every day that you see a theatre turned into a restaurant with dining tables, seats and a three course meal with actors interacting, eating and drinking with the audience but that’s what was presented to us at Kardomah 94 last night.

But this was no ordinary evening, it was a festive murder mystery with characters like Santa and Mrs Maureen Claus, the Ice Queen, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Cindy Lou, Jack Frost and The Grinch as the cast.

On entering the theatre we were met by these fantasy characters who were all dressed for the part like the Ice Queen in a long silver dress and The Grinch smothered in green from head to foot which made a very relaxed atmosphere even more convivial and fun with a lot of high octane energy which made you forget what the evening was about.

Once everyone was seated at their respective tables with their host characters the production started with some comedy acting which set out the possible murderous conflicts very well with the revelation of Santa having a fling with the Ice Queen.

From this the action moved to include other conflicts between all the characters with fantastic comedy timing and it kept coming as the three courses of the stunning meal were being served to us.

The different characters were developed through audience/character interaction and ordinary conversations that wove the whole tapestry of the production together with real style.

As the evening proceeded there was all sorts of alternative entertainment which included the Ice Queen treating us to the sound of her fantastic singing voice whilst still holding the poise that her character demanded.

Later it was the turn of Rudolph to take to the stage for some hilarious party games, including one that had members of the audience passing fluffy fake snowballs between themselves without using their hands.

There was a pervading sense of organisation and professionalism running through the whole evening which gave a great festive atmosphere.

When the ‘murder’ of Santa Claus happened it was done swiftly and gracefully and the sense of fun continued as we all had a chance to ‘interrogate’ the suspects before Rudolph was revealed as the murderer and The Grinch was made the Christmas Meister and dressed up in a Christmas jumper and Santa hat.

All in all it was an absolute treat to be present at this evening and one can only hope that there will be more to come in future.

Fracked Off- Review

New Hull- based theatre company Radio Faces treated Kardomah 94 to the first showing of their new confrontational comedy Fracked Off on Saturday night.

The production, which is explained with the title, is a genuinely funny romp in the countryside showing off truly quality writing with bags of character and hysterical laughter along the way.

With great dialogue from writers Mark Bones and Mike Foston the story moves at a very good pace and the relationships between the four main characters Tonto (Jack Holt) Panda (Luke Gillingham) Annabelle (Sarah Hicks) and Janice (Tiolina Puteh) are clearly defined and draw the audience into the world of the anti-fracking urban warriors and the ladies who have a clear interest in the field where the protest is happening.

Throw in a slimy newspaper reporter called Flip Greasley and an angry farmer who is the father of Janice and you have the perfect concoction for a delectably riotous comedy which will capture the heart of all who see it.

The playing out of the would-be relationship of Tonto and Janice is quite heartwarming and the efforts of Panda to try and get fresh with fire-brand Annabelle provide a beautiful balance to the story and definitely keep you guessing about what’s going to happen next right the way through.

The scenes which show when trouble could erupt with police and TV cameras supposedly in the area are handled quite expertly by the actors, and the Jack-the-lad approach of Panda and the great attitude of Annabelle make great comedy look like almost effortless normality.

The show will now move on to the studio theatre at Hull Truck on 6th and 7th April 2016 for its next outing and there is talk of a possible tour of the East Riding to take this production to some of the places where fracking is still an issue, it’s a chance that anybody would be well-advised to take to see it.

 

Six Characters In Search Of A Handout Going To Edinburgh Fringe

Hull-based Theatre on the Edge are taking their smash hit production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016 after its success in Hull this month.

The production, written and directed by Barrie Wheatley, is a gutsy, well paced, utterly realistic story of the hot brick subject of the large increase in use of food banks in Britain in recent years.

However, despite the massively political subject, it isn’t used as a hammer to bash the government over the head about what has led to the explosion of new food banks opening, or what is driving people to use them, instead it explains why they are being used in such vast quantities more subtly and apportions no blame apart from real situations which we all know about.

The show has moved between three nights at Kardomah 94, one night at Holy Trinity Church and finally one performance at the Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) and, all the while, has collected money and food to be given to the organisations who fight daily against food poverty to feed the needy that are being created every day.

After the last show at NAPA the cast said it had all been a great experience for them, this super talented cast of Sara Featherstone, Maxwell Smales, Stan Haywood, Jackie Rogers, Chris Gruca, Molly Robinson, Clare Crowther, Dave Bush, Kirsty Old, Jamie Wilks, Ella Straub and Katy Burgess, who have handled this controversial subject with absolute mastery, explained how they have pulled it off.

Katy Burgess who played the controversial character Katie said that, because of the nature of the character, playing her in the surrounds of Holy Trinity Church was very interesting for her, and Stan Haywood who played the intense but very well meaning Arnold explained they had to change some of the dialogue when they were in the church.

Maxwell Smales said walking down the aisle there “Felt very powerful” and Sara Featherstone said that “Being able to see all the audience in the church was very different.”

Another highlight for the whole cast is that audiences seem to have all really identified with the characters and Sara also exclaimed that Katy had told her “No matter how much we don’t like it, there’s a Katie in all of us somewhere.”

Doing a Q&A after each show also seems to have been something of a masterstroke which has generally been very well received by audiences and participants alike.

This show deserves great praise for its unflinching quality and guts, it is a piece of theatre that everybody can absolutely identify with on different levels and, although tragedy doesn’t put bums on seats, this reality production hits the cause of it squarely between the eyes without being too one sided.

Six Characters

A Bit Of Colour Writing

I arrived at Kardomah 94 about 10 minutes before the show was due to start and introduced myself to the two ladies who were checking tickets and taking donations for the people who are all fighting against food poverty.

Throughout the venue an air of hope and willingness for the cast and production pervaded as everyone knew they were taking on a very risky subject and there were going to be no holds barred in what was to come. The dim lighting added to the atmosphere as people, able bodied and disabled alike, gathered together in the audience to see this tragically prevalent story.

I was here to take notes and write a review, which I subsequently did, but not before I saw what looked like a portion of my former life before my very eyes, it made me want to weep and angry at the incompetence of ‘Authority’ all over again.

This could have been my, or many other people’s, story on a stage for all to see.