Archive for July, 2013

Arty Farty

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

My past week has been a whirl wind of work, writing, sunshine (!!!) and cultural activities. Work has been… well… up and down. Some good moments, some great moments, some “Well I might just quit now” moments but overall it has been relatively enjoyable. Plus I have discovered this amazing phenomenon called an “income”. Haven’t had one of those for awhile.

The cultural aspects have been the highlights of my past week. The Manchester International Festival has started and as a volunteer I have been able to get my hands on tickets to some shows. Last Monday, Lesley and I went to the preview of The Old Woman – a play directed by Robert Wilson and starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe. As it was the preview they were still ironing out some of the technical details and there was a few mistakes throughout the performance but it was just BRILLIANT. The play is difficult to describe but I saw it as an insane mix of themes like Crime and Punishment, the style of Waiting for Godot, and the twisted and slightly scary aspects of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The sound, lighting and staging of the play were just beautiful – clean lines, amazing shapes and some very well aimed spot lighting created an extremely visual performance. The script was odd to say the least, and one man walked out of the theatre after the first scene declaring his inability to understand the show very loudly. He probably should have given it a bit more of a go as he missed out on a particularly good performance.

My next cultural adventure happened on Wednesday with a trip to Speke Hall with Lesley and some of her friends. Located next to the run way of the John Lennon airport in Liverpool, Speke Hall is a 16th century estate with an amazing Tudor house and beautiful gardens.

Noisy neighbours.

Noisy neighbours.

Speke Hall

Speke Hall

We wandered through the house, had scones and tea, and then a picnic dinner in the gardens before watching The Lord Chamberlain’s Men perform As You Like It. The weather had miraculously changed from rain and cold winds to a sunny and almost-warm day – perfect for an evening of Shakespeare. It is great watching the all-male cast – the guys who played the roles of women were brilliant and you would often forget that they were in fact boys (that was until the kiss scene when the entire audience became a little breathless over the passionate embrace.)

Next was Thursday night – my friend Andrew offered me a ticket to see Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis, one of festival events. I had been planning on buying tickets to this but had kept forgetting and here was a ticket waved in front of my face like a prized fish! Amazement! It was just astonishing – it was located in Mayfield Depot, an abandoned ex-railway station. It was a huge space with concrete walls and pillars and a high ceiling. Large screens hung from the roof and the crowd was ushered into a eerily-lit space to await the start of the performance. While the name of the event suggests Massive Attack was the more predominant aspect, it was really Adam Curtis’s film about power, politics and truth that was the star of the show. Images, stories and words were projected onto the screens, while Massive Attack performed live, accompanying the visuals. It was sad, funny, inspiring and revealing, showing the hopelessness of humans and the realities of life.

I kept my eye out for zombies.

I kept my eye out for zombies.

On Monday I went and saw The Machine, a play about Garry Kasparov playing against the chess machine, Deep Blue. My least favourite of all of the performances so far but that may have been due to the fact that I had to keep slapping myself in the face to stay awake due to working late the night before and the room being stinking hot.