Friday, 31 August 2012

Double Indemnity (film)

The first of the new season of Sunday afternoon classic films at the Underground Theatre is scheduled for the 16th of September. Doors open at 14:10 with the screening beginning at 14:30, and they are usually pretty prompt! Tea and cakes are served afterwards which makes for a nice opportunity to meet the other cinemagoers and discuss the film.

Double Indemnity was released in 1944 and stars Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, a married woman who is having an affair with an insurance salesman, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray). The couple decide to murder Phyllis' husband and claim his life insurance payout. They stage an elaborate 'suicide' for the husband but have not reckoned with claims adjuster Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) who begins to suspect the truth.

Director Billy Wilder also co-wrote the screenplay with famous author Raymond Chandler and the black and white film was nominated for seven Academy Awards. It was based on a novella of the same title written by James M. Cain, which in turn was based on a true 1927 murder case where a woman living in the Queens area of New York, Ruth Snyder, persuaded her lover to murder her husband.

Double Indemnity is now considered to be a classic and to have set the standard for all that followed in the film noir genre.

Underground Theatre, Sun 16th Sep, 14:30.
£6.50 to include tea & cake.
Tickets available online, by telephone on 0845 680 1926, or in person at the Tourist Information Office or the Underground Theatre when it is open.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

We Built This City (musical theatre)

We Built This City is a brand new musical which has been written by Paula Woolven, especially for Seaford Musical Theatre. The show includes great songs originally recorded by Queen, Elvis and David Bowie and will bring glamour, comedy, rock and romance to the stage of the Barn Theatre.

In a futuristic city built on the principles of rock and roll where all other music is banned, rebel group the Fusions want to bring harmony to the new world. Will Johnny Goode stay true to his father's wishes and uphold the law or support the love of his life, Peggy-Sue?

An Operatic Society was formed in Seaford and put on their first show, HMS Pinafore, way back in 1927. They have had various titles - Seaford Operatic Society, Seaford Operatic & Dramatic Society, Seaford Musical Theatre - over the years and have also coped with a variety of venues until they found their permanent home, The Barn Theatre, in 1983. But the Society has kept going strong and is always happy to welcome new members, both performing onstage and working just as hard behind the scenes.

The Barn Theatre, Wed 12th to Sat 15th Sep, 19:30.
Sat matinee, 14:30.
Adult ticket £8, student £7, child £5.
Available in person from Seaford Tourist Information or by calling 01323 897426.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Snared (theatre)

Snared is a powerful new play which explores the age old battle between humans and wild animals in Africa, particularly in Zambia, focussing on the conservation debate. There will be a discussion with the cast of the issues raised following each performance.

The play is a blend of live action and prefilmed footage which will star Suzanne Procter and Philip Poole, and feature Zambian Anti-poaching operative Manny Mvula. It was first performed by Eastbourne College students Alex Mackwood and Oceane Slipper, designed by Sophie Millns and Lucy Tomkins. Since then, the work has been further developed by South African writer Floyd Toulet and Dr Cheryl Mvula of Tribal Voice Communications and the High Five Club.

A white poacher has been captured by an anti-poaching unit. Bound by his own snares, he is confronted by a female environmentalist and pleads for his life. The following atmospheric trailer was filmed by Smokescreen Visuals who are presenting Snared in association with the Underground and Perf@ECT.

Underground Theatre, Thu 20th - Sat 22nd Sep, 20:00.
Sun 23rd Sep, 16:00.
Ticket £10 / £9. Suggested for audiences of over 12 years.
Tickets available online, by telephone on 0845 680 1926, or in person at the Tourist Information Office or the Underground Theatre when it is open.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

EBS Rock The Redoubt

Update: Visit my new blog page about the April 2013 EBS Rock The Redoubt!
 * * * * * * * * * 

September will start with a bang when Eastbourne Bonfire Society host a two-day spectacular at the Redoubt Fortress. Entitled EBS Rock The Redoubt, the event will include several bands, drummers, storytellers and dancers, as well as various stalls with local crafts, hot & cold refreshments and local ales. Four charities will benefit from the event: Eastbourne Bonfire themselves, WRAS Wildlife Rescue, Canine Partners and Demelza.

Bands currently named in the line-up are Nomad Trash, Random, Matt Cooper, Gary Davies, M25 Band, Samba Lanco and Dende Samba Band. The Pentacle Drummers will be there as well as Tub Thumpers from Lewes Cliffe Bonfire and The Sea Gypsies will be dancing.

Eastbourne Bonfire Society was formed in 2001. Apparently this was the same year as the Lammas Festival, the Eastbourne Giants and the Pentacle Drummers began - there must have been something in the air! Historically, Eastbourne had previously had Bonfire processions and celebrations, but there had not been an official Society since 1966. The Society has gone from strength to strength since its inception but is still keen to welcome new members. Membership is only £10 per year and full details are on their website.

Redoubt Fortress, Sat 1st & Sun 2nd Sep, 10:30 to 16:00.
Free Admission.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Be Our Guest! Again (musical theatre)

Be Our Guest! Again is the 2012 annual production from Eastbourne Stagers at the Devonshire Park Theatre. Previous years' musicals have included Annie, Summer Holiday, and the Madness-inspired show, Our House. Be Our Guest! Again is a highlights show taking songs and dances from a variety of famous shows for a non-stop evening of musical theatre hits. There will be numbers from Oliver, The Lion King, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Wicked and many more. You might be thinking of similarities to the recent Gotta Sing Gotta Dance production but, while they had a cast of six plus the band, the Stagers will be bringing a cast of over sixty!

The Eastbourne Stagers theatre group is run by Dotty Briant and gives opportunities to local young people to perform and work backstage. They begin preparing in January and each show is the result of many hours over months of rehearsals to say nothing of the immense task of costuming so many people!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 11th - Sat 15th Sep, 19:30.
Sat matinee, 14:30.
Tickets various prices. Available online through Eastbourne Theatres website, by phone on 01323 412000, or in person at the Tourist Information Centre and the Box Office.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Conspirator (film)

The first Eastbourne Film Society offering in their new season is The Conspirator, an historical American thriller from 2011.

Directed by Robert Redford, the film boasts an amazing ensemble cast including James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Huston, Justin Long, Colm Meaney, Alexis Bledel and Tom Wilkinson.

In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, newly-minted lawyer, Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait and hostage in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her own son, John (Johnny Simmons). As the nation turns against her, Surratt is forced to rely on Aiken to uncover the truth and save her life.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 19th Sep, 14:20, 20:00.
Adult ticket £6.50, concessions £4.50.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Hailsham Art Group

 The inaugural meeting of a new Hailsham Art Group will be on the 17th of September at the lovely Gallery North which is just opposite Prezzo's. The Group is the brainchild of local artist Josie Tipler who will lead the meetings. 

Josie specialises in pet portraits, is a Director of Hailsham Creative and is much involved in the Hailsham Arts Festival. She also runs the Arlington Arts Group who have been active in sprucing up Hailsham's empty shop fronts over recent months. As part of the Hailsham Arts Festival, she is leading the Art Of Movement workshop which aims to teach the portrayal of a sense of movement in paintings of fish and birds. The workshop is open to artists of all abilities but it is essential to book your place in advance.

Hailsham Art Group's meetings will consist of tutor-led sessions with the subject and medium of each being published the week before. The intention is to have a half-hour demonstration at the beginning of each meeting, followed by the opportunity for members to work on their own projects, swapping advice and encouragement as they do. All artists are welcome, whatever their level of experience, but everyone will need to bring their own materials and equipment to each session.

The first meeting will be in the afternoon of Monday the 17th September from 14:00 to 16:00. A second meeting is planned for Tuesday evening on the 18th from 18:30 to 20:30 with this pattern of Monday afternoons and Tuesday evenings continuing until the Group becomes too numerous for Gallery North to accomodate. Each session will cost £6.

Art Of Movement Workshop, Gallery North, Thu 13th Sep, 10:00-13:00, £15.

Hailsham Art Group, Gallery North, Mon 17th Sep, 14:00-16:00, £6.
Tue 18th Sep, 18:30-20:30, £6.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hunters Moon Morris workshop (dance)

 I saw Hunter's Moon Morris most recently dancing at the Eastbourne Lammas Festival in July. They perform the 'Border' style of Morris which is a dramatic form of the dance with black and silver tattered costumes, blackened faces, clattering sticks and much exhuberance. It is very different to the 'pretty' beribboned dances that I remember from school May Day fetes of the past.

The side are based in Eastbourne and were formed in 2001. Their first performance was at the Lammas Festival in the same year and the group now numbers around twenty-five dancers. They meet on Thursdays in Langney to rehearse and are always happy to meet potential new members. If you would like to get involved, there are contact details on their website.

There will also be opportunities to try out Border Morris in September when Hunter's Moon are putting on two open evening workshops. The dates for your diary are the 13th and the 20th of September, both Thursdays, and you can choose which to attend. I'm planning to get along to the one on the 20th. The venue is West Rise Junior School on Chaffinch Road and the workshops start at 19:30. Call 01323 520440 for more information, although booking is not essential, and we will need to wear comfortable clothing. Also, sparkly dancing shoes should be left at home and decent trainers are advised instead!

West Rise Junior School, Thu 13th & 20th Sep, 19:30.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

All In Good Time (film)

***** Also being screened by Eastbourne Film Society at the Curzon Cinema, 23rd Oct 2013, times tbc *****

An exciting new venture for Seaford is opening its doors for the first time on the 21st of September 2012. Seaford Community Cinema will show selected films at The Barn Theatre in Steyne Road (Saxon Lane car park) with two or three screenings each month and a total of seventeen films in the first year. The plan is to offer a friendly, sociable cinema experience which I imagine will be similar to that offered at Hailsham Pavilion. SCC is a non-profit making organisation and events will be staffed entirely by volunteers.

The very first film, All In Good Time, will receive Gala Opening treatment for its screening. The director, Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls, Made In Dagenham), will be in attendance and will introduce his film personally. This is likely to make the event very popular and The Barn Theatre only seats 130 people, so I would definitely advise booking your place in advance!

All In Good Time is  the screen adaptation of the stage play Rafta Rafta by Ayub Khan Din (East Is East). The gentle comedy of inter-generational differences stars  Reece Ritchie (The Lovely Bones) as Atul and Amara Karan (The Darjeeling Limited) as Vina, a newly married couple who find themselves living with his parents.  Overshadowed by meddling family, nosy neighbours and  a community seemingly built on gossip, the young couple struggle to make a go of their marriage. The film also stars Meera Syal (Goodness Gracious Me, Anita And Me).

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Just Between Ourselves (theatre)

As part of this year's Hailsham Arts Festival, Hailsham Theatres are presenting Just Between Ourselves, a play by Alan Ayckbourn. The local amateur group has been active in the town for over sixty years originally being Conrose Players and C.A.T.S. until the two groups joined forces. Hailsham Theatres is the result. They perform plays and pantomimes with their usual venues being Summerheath Hall and Hailsham Pavilion.

Just Between Ourselves is set over a period of just under a year and follows the relationships of two couples - Dennis and Vera, Neil and Pam - as each one celebrates their birthday. Dennis is quietly destroying his wife, Vera, with his constant undermining and belittling of her while Neil and Pam's cosy coupledom is also showing strain. The play was first performed in 1976 and shows Ayckbourn at his most perceptive. The Hailsham Theatres performance will be directed by Sam Elsby.

Summerheath Hall, Thu 13th - Sat 15th Sep, 19:30.
Thu & Fri adult tickets £8.50 / concessions £5.50.
Sat ticket including a three course meal, adult ticket £15 / concessions £12.
Box Office at Hailsham Jewellers, 36 High Street, Hailsham.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Hailsham Arts Festival

The annual celebration of all things artistic that is Hailsham Arts Festival has nearly come around again and this year's programme is certainly packed and varied. There's a party, a parade and a fiesta, two plays, workshops, concerts & gigs, talks and poetry, and even space left for art exhibitions, displays and open studios. Are you sitting comfortably?!

The Festival committee have produced a clear and detailed Programme Of Events which is available in printed form from Gallery North or as jpgs and an interactive diary on the website. Therefore, I won't even attempt a full list here, but will pick out a few of the events that particularly caught my eye.

The Festival begins at 10am on Saturday the 8th September when a pop-up box office will open in the town centre for all your ticketing needs while the Memphis Flyers serenade the queue with 1950s rock & roll. The Cajun Dawgs are hosting a Cajun Zydeco Party which should be great fun. Theatrical offerings come from Ropemaker Theatre Company, with Comedy Of Terrors, and Hailsham Theatres with the Alan Ayckbourn play, Just Between Ourselves. Downlanders are hosting an afternoon of poetry at Callenders and The Amrak Trio play an evening of jazz at Chapter 12.

There are twelve open studios where local artists will be exhibiting and selling their work. Each has different opening times and days so check out the website before you set off! Several studios are offering tea and cake to sustain visitors as you travel between them. Plus, an amazing thirty Hailsham shops are joining in the High Street Art Trail - pick up a map from Gallery North - and more work is on show as part of the Art in Empty Shops project.

Hailsham Arts Festival, Sat 8th to Sun 16th Sep.
Various venues, times and prices.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Carillon Music Festivals

I had a well-I-never-knew-that moment on Saturday afternoon. The laptop wire stretches just about through the kitchen window so I was out in the garden enjoying the sunshine while perusing the net in search of something musically unusual to blog about. And I found it! And it's in Eastbourne!
Carillon Studios, founded by accordionist John Romero with his wife, Jackie, have been hosting specialised Music Festivals for over ten years and are returning to the Cumberland Hotel this year for a series of four events through the autumn and winter. 

Each Festival takes place over a four-day weekend and will be on one of two themes, either Organ/Keyboard or Accordian. Attendees are able to meet and watch a number of leading musicians both in a concert setting and in informal jam sessions. There will also be trade stalls and seminars and, in the case of the accordian festivals, one-to-one tuition periods although I believe these will need to be pre-booked. Plus, of course, being in an environment with so many other enthusiasts will mean lots of opportunities for swapping tips and tricks, impromptu music-making, and just possibly discovering that new artiste that you might never otherwise have found!

Provisional programmes for both of the next two Festivals are available on the Carillon website together with full booking information. You can also see the professional musicians who have been booked to appear and the traders who will try to tempt you.

Autumn Organ/Keyboard Weekend, 14th - 17th Sep 2012.
Autumn Accordian Weekend, 12th - 15th Oct 2012.
Winter Accordian Weekend, 15th - 18th Feb 2013.
Winter Organ/Keyboard Weekend, 22nd - 25th Feb 2013.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Pride & Prejudice (theatre)

Jane Austen's classic tale, Pride And Prejudice, is going to be performed by Chapterhouse Theatre Company at Michelham Priory at the end of August. The professional Company specialise in putting on outdoor productions of historical classics and are now in their twelfth year of touring. Other plays in their repertoire include Jane Austen's Emma, Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. They often perform in the grounds of castles and stately homes, including National Trust properties, so the cast should feel right at home in the 13th century Michelham Priory.

Jane Austen's novel has been adapted for the stage by the exciting young playwright Laura Turner. Laura has written for the BBC and also several theatre companies including Hull Truck who brought DNA to the Devonshire Park Theatre earlier this year.

Elizabeth Bennet lives with her sisters and her parents in relatively genteel surroundings. While her mother desperately tries to pair her off with the detestable Mr Collins, Elizabeth Bennet meets the rude and abrupt Mr Darcy who has recently arrived with his friend Mr Bingham. She is initially offended by his behaviour but as Darcy begins to fall for this 'lower class' woman, Elizabeth also struggles to overcome her prejudice against him.

Michelham Priory, Mon 27th Aug, 19:30. Gardens open from 18:00.
Adult £13.50, child £9.00, family (2 adults, 2 children) £40.00.
Tickets available online from or by calling 0871 2200260, or from Michelham Priory by calling 01323 844224.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Terminus Road Art Expo

Terminus Road Art Expo
2nd event proposed for Sat 10th Nov - further details as known!


Another new venture for Eastbourne is an outdoor Art Expo. The event will be held on the pedestrianised section of Terminus Road between Debenhams and TJ Hughes a week from today on Saturday the 25th August. So far over twenty local artists and photographers have signed up and will be exhibiting and selling their work on the street. I'm imagining something along the lines of Bayswater Road in London!

I've been given a great long list of the artists and am happy to see some previous bloggees among them as well as many new names to discover: Kay Warner, Tania Long, Jane Hay, Jan Mirisola Jones, Angela Osmond, Mary Beany, Anne Barrell, Angela Haywood, Gill Hamper, Jasmin Stringer, Sonya Tatham, Adrian Bowd, Jeni Townsend, Julie Snowball, Louise Jones, Lucinda Guy, Andy Butler, Darren Coldwell, Gillian Toft, Simon Swift, Jeremy Strong and Will Gudgeon. Wow!

Terminus Road Art Expo
The Expo has been organised by The Secret Garden, with the aid of the Council who they say have been fantastically helpful. They are hoping it will be the first of a series of events promoting local business, leisure and culture. The Secret Garden guys are also heavily involved with the weekly Street Market and seem to be fast turning this area of Eastbourne into a vibrant Continental-style plaza. If you haven't yet visited, the Market is on Wednesdays from 09:30 to 14:00 at the seafront end of Terminus Road. Yes, I'm stuck at work then too but have heard great things about it from people who have gone - apparently the olives taste amazing!

There is still room for more artists to get involved with the Expo so, if you would like to showcase your work, please get in touch with Tim or Caroline at The Secret Garden asap on 01323 640931 or email to

Terminus Road, Sat 25th Aug, Sat 1st Sep, 10:00 - 16:00

Friday, 17 August 2012

Tortoise In Love (film)

For two afternoons at the beginning of September, Hailsham Pavilion will be screening Tortoise In Love, an independent romantic comedy that was filmed in, and by, the Oxfordshire village of Kingston Bagpuize - yes, it is a real place! I'm hoping there will be an evening screening too, for those of us who work all day, and will update this post if one is added. Evening screenings on the Sunday & Monday - see end of post!

Many of the 500-strong village of Kingston Bagpuize have been involved in the production of Tortoise In Love. Local man, Guy Browning, wrote the screenplay. Some villagers made costumes, provided catering services, transported cast & crew, or took roles as extras. They raised the £180,000 budget and then travelled, en masse, to the newly refurbished Leicester Square cinema for the well-deserved red carpet premiere.

Tom (Tom Mitchelson), the gardener at the big house, is not a fast mover with women. In fact he's glacially slow. When beautiful Polish au pair Anya (Alice Zawadzki) arrives for the summer, Tom falls for her catastrophically. Tom's adviser in matters of the heart is young Harry (Tom Yates), abandoned by the rich owners of the house to run wild in the gardens. Harry's secret wish is for the Red Arrows to appear at the village fair. Tom's is to win the heart of Anya. Both seem impossible dreams until the whole village decides to lend a hand.

Hailsham Pavilion, Wed 5th & Thu 6th Sep, 14:15.
Wed matinee, £4.50. Thu matinee, £6.50 / £5.00 concs.
Sun 9th Sep, 19:45, £5.
Mon 10th Sep, 19:45, £6.50 / £5.00 concs.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Medieval Festival

Photo by Chris Buggins
 The Medieval Weekend at Michelham Priory is being run by the Michelham Bowmen for the first time this year. The archery group is based at the Priory and shoots the longbow every Saturday afternoon in the grounds from noon. They have been involved in the Festival in past years, organising archery demonstrations, so have plenty of experience and understand what the event is all about.

This year, archery will again be a big part of the festival with the public being given the chance to try for themselves - study that Olympic YouTube footage! - as well as an archery tournament for those who already know what they are doing. There will also be Living History displays where you can see re-enactment groups are living as though they are in Medieval times. Medieval Traders will set up a variety of stalls around the grounds. From past experience, the mead is well worth a try and some of the clothing is gorgeous. Story Tellers and Wandering Minstrels will provide entertainment and 1066 Falconry will be bringing several of their hawks, owls and eagles. It is amazing to be able to see these birds close at hand. Men At Arms will be demonstrating fighting techniques which is always exciting to watch but best to keep your distance! There will also, of course, be the traditional Beer tent and Barbecue for refreshments. 

Photo by Chris Buggins
The Priory itself will be open and your entrance price will include the cost of both the Festival and the Priory. I'm hoping the watermill will be open too as the flour from there is particularly good. 

Michelham Priory, 15th & 16th Sep, 10:30 - 17:00.
Adult ticket £7.30, senior £6.30, child £3.90.
Archery tournament entrance fee £4.00.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Comedy Of Terrors (theatre)

Tamara Wilder
 Ropemaker Theatre Company is a new company, founded in March 2011 by Hailsham resident John Wilders, a professional musician and actor, with many Shakespearean roles to his credit. John has produced two plays locally in the last few years: 'Love And Life' at the Underground Theatre in 2009 and 'The Mystery Of A Woman' at Hailsham Pavilion in 2010. The Company plans to bring a variety of live theatre productions to Hailsham and to strengthen the development of arts in the region. All their productions will employ professional actors.

The first Ropemaker production will be The Comedy Of Terrors written by John Goodrum. First produced in 2003, the play is a fast-moving madcap comedy of multiple mistaken identities. Five roles are played by two actors who, at the Pavilion, will be Aonghus Weber and Tamara Wilder.
Aonghus Weber

Jo Smith has an audition at her local theatre with director Vyvian Jones, but it transpires that she’s been invited there by Beverley, Vyvian’s twin brother. He wants her to impersonate her own twin sister Fiona to scotch rumours that Beverly has slept with Fiona. A reluctant Jo accepts this acting role and pretends to be Fiona to Vyvian. But then the real Fiona arrives ...

Hailsham Pavilion, Tue 4th - Sat 8th Sep, 19:30.
Sat matinee, 14:30.
Tickets £11 in advance, £12.50 'on the day'. Matinee tickets, £9.
Available from the Hailsham Pavilion Box Office or online through Hailsham Pavilion and Ropemaker Theatre Company

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Monsieur Lazhar (film)

Monsieur Lazhar will be screening at the Curzon in Langney Road towards the end of April in its second local outing. I saw this when it was previously shown at Hailsham Pavilion in September last year. It's not a 'change the world' film but I think definitely worth a viewing.

Released in 2011, Monsieur Lazhar is a French language film from Canada directed by Philippe Falardeau. It is based on the play 'Bashir Lazhar' by Evelyne de la Cheneliere and was Canada's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards, also winning seven of its nine nominated categories at Quebec's Jutra Awards.

Monsieur Lazhar is set in an elementary school in Montreal. When a teacher commits suicide in her classroom, Algerian immigrant Lazhar (Mohamed Said Fellag) is hastily employed to replace her. There are huge cultural differences between Lazhar and his students and he does not find the rigid school system easy to work within. As his students are trying to come to terms with the loss of the their previous teacher, Lazhar himself attempts to overcome his own secret tragedy, the murder of his wife and son.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 24th April, times tbc.

Tickets £6.80 adults, £4.80 concessions, available by calling 01323 731441 or in person at the Box Office (3pm-7pm daily).

Monday, 13 August 2012

Pocketsize (music)

I first heard Pocketsize at the Six Bells in Chiddingly during a Folk and Blues Club night where they played a beautiful version of Krauss and Plant's Long Journey. The duo perform regularly from Hastings to Eastbourne to Lewes and the YouTube clip below was filmed at the Under Ground in 2011. The Eastbourne-based group are husband and wife duo Liz and Darren Pearson. Liz has a stunning voice and plays autoharp, Darren is a talented guitarist who sings beautiful harmonies. The duo are often joined by other musicians including the fabulous Richard Walder of R'n'R on tea chest bass. 

Darren, who also plays bass with The Cajun Dawgs, is particularly drawn to the Americana style of harmonies, which Pocketsize have perfected, and I love the chilled rhythms of their own songs such as Walking, Shivering and the surreally titled Squashy Lemon Squeezy. 

2012 has seen an expansion of venues for Pocketsize with gigs at the Wheatsheaf in Willingdon, the Snowdrop in Lewes, Eastbourne Beer Festival, the Jenny Lind in Hastings and Chapter 12 in Hailsham. They are already lining up gigs for 2013 with new gigs including the Underground Theatre Coffee Morning and an evening at the Ranelagh in Brighton.


Underground Theatre, Sat 12th Jan, 10:00-12:00.Free admission.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Small Wonder Story Festival

My attention was drawn to Charleston's Small Wonder short story festival by Sara Humphrey. I know it still seems a long way off at the moment, but some events are already selling out so, if you want to get involved, don't wait much longer!

There are about twenty linked events that go to make up the festival including readings, discussions, workshops and performances. Some are directly concerned with short story writing and telling and others are complimentary to the theme. All the events will take place either in the traditional barn or in the fabulous Arabian tent. City Books of Hove will be providing a bookshop facility throughout the festival and most of the speakers are expected to be signing their books after their events. The Charleston Shop and Cafe will both open and the Festival will have it's own Bar. 

Slam, on the Friday evening, is the open mike competition mentioned by Sara. Participants read aloud a three-minute story they have written themselves with the theme 'The Final'. The audience then votes for their favourite.

There is an amazing list of authors who will be attending Small Wonder at some point during the four days: Margaret Drabble, A L Kennedy, Jonathan Coe, Angela Carter, Kevin Barry, Jackie Kay, Roshi Fernando, ... There will also be a screening of Moonrise Kingdom in the Arabian Tent (£5 to include hot chocolate and popcorn!)

Charleston used to be the home and workplace of the artists known as the Bloomsbury Group and is still kept in their style. The interior was painted by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell and it is possible to visit the house and grounds from April to October. There is also an extensive range of cultural events held at the house and in the exhibition gallery throughout the year.

Charleston, Thu 27th to Sun 30th Sep.
Tickets various prices depending on whether you book by the day or for specific events. Booking options and box office details are on this page of the Small Wonder website.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Lament For Lorca (flamenco dance)

Leading flamenco dance company Cancion Gitana have created a unique dance biography of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca which they are bringing to the Underground Theatre later this week

Lorca is considered to have been Spain's greatest modern poet and playwright until his life was shockingly cut short when he was assassinated by a fascist gang in 1936, in the opening days of the Spanish Civil War. Born in Andalusia, he was fascinated with gypsy culture and had a great love of flamenco dance and song. Gitana is the Spanish word for gypsy. He was friends with the great artists Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel Portoles and these friendships are also dramatised in Cancion Gitana's biography.

Cancion Gitana's performance has been choreographed by flamenco dancer Helena, and is a 100 minute fiesta of colour, costume and passion in twenty scenes. The dance will be accompanied by narration and poetry in both Spanish and English, dramatic lighting and projected film. The performance will also feature the vocals of Fernando Reyes and the guitar playing of Tomas El Jardinero.

Underground Theatre, Thu 16th Aug, 19:45.
Tickets £16 / £12.50 concs. Available by email from, by phone on 07758 752257 or 07963 959262, or on the door.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Chapter 12 Music Evenings

Chapter 12 Wine Bar in Hailsham is launching their new live music evenings in August. Starting on Tuesday the 14th, the evenings will then continue weekly. The plan is to showcase a variety of music styles from jazz to country, swing to classical.

The first performers to grace the Chapter 12 stage will be AKA. The duo, Mel Hayes and Richard Cruden, are both experienced musicians who gig regularly around the local area. The live lounge set will be guitar and vocals. AKA do also play as a plugged in four-piece but I expect this gig will be acoustic. The music will begin around 7pm and I have been told that it is probably a good idea to call ahead or pop in and book a table. The telephone number is 01323 351898.

Situated on Hailsham High Street, Chapter 12 opened their doors for the first time on the 26th of May this year. They offer a wide range of wines as well as other drinks, both alcoholic and otherwise, and also serve light food such as salads, mezze dishes and desserts. Opening hours are from noon until midnight every day. 

Also possibly of interest to the literary types among you, Chapter 12 will start to host a Book Group on Tuesday afternoons, starting on the 7th of August. The Group will meet from 2pm to 3pm. If you would like to join, just pop in chat to Kerry.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

LGB Brass (music)

Lewes, Glynde & Beddingham Brass Band are celebrating their 90th anniversary this year with a busy concert programme that takes them across southern England. 

Olympic Torch day (photo by Tom Elliott) 
They originally formed in Glynde in 1922 under the leadership of the station master at Glynde, William Turner. The Glynde & Beddingham Brass Band added Lewes to their name and became LGB Brass in 2002. They now meet at the All Saints Centre in Lewes on Thursdays.

A significant amount of silverware has come their way in recent years. As well as being London & Southern Counties 4th Section Champions in 2011, they have also managed a 3rd place on promotion to the 3rd Section this year. Plus they were winners of the scaba Spring Contest this year too!

LGB Brass will be playing two concerts in Eastbourne in the near future. On the 15th of August, it is their turn to perform the popular 1812 Firework Concert in the Bandstand. Then, three weeks later on the 7th of September, they are undertaking a fundraising concert for the RNLI's new boat 'Diamond Jubilee' at the King's Centre on Edison Road.

1812 Firework Concert, Wed 15th Aug, 20:00.
Tickets £7.75 / £3.75. Available online, by telephone on 01323 410611, or in person at the Seafront Office.

RNLI Concert, Fri 7th Sep, 19:30.
Tickets £5 from Bright Ideas on Sovereign Harbour Waterfront, from the Eastbourne Lifeboat Museum or from the King's Centre.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Premier Marina Photography Competition

The owners of Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour Marina, Premier Marinas, are holding their first ever photography competition in the run up to the 2012 Southampton Boat Show. The competition is open to anyone aged over 18, except for employees of Premier Marinas. As well as cash prizes, you might also see your photo in print in their future marketing literature.

Simply take a photo or a video of one of the marinas owned by Premier - which includes Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour and email it in. Photographs should be JPEGs and a maximum of 5MB. Videos should be MPEGs and no longer than 2 minutes.

Each Friday, the judges will pick their favourite photo or video from all the submissions that week. The winner will get £100 and their picture will also be put forwards to the grand final where another £500 is on offer! Be quick to get into the first draw - submissions must be made by 3pm this Friday! - although there are then three more chances to enter. 

The four closing dates are Friday 10th August, 17th August, 24th August and the 31st August.

Full terms and conditions are on the competition page. It has been taking several minutes to load for me though, so you might want to go and make a cuppa while you wait!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

42nd Street (musical theatre)

 Eastbourne is doing well for musicals this year and the roll call continues with the classic 42nd Street which is coming to the Congress Theatre at the beginning of September.

The show has won two Tony awards, one for Best New Musical when it first appeared in 1980, and then another for Best Revival Of A Musical twenty-one years later in 2001. Several of the songs are now famous in their own right including Keep Young And Beautiful, We're In The Money and the title song itself, Forty-Second Street. It is also famous for its tap dance routines which are some of the most spectacular seen on stage. The Congress performances will feature the stunning sets and costumes from the American production. The stars will be Dave Willets (Les Miserables, Cats) and Marti Webb (Evita, Blood Brothers).

42nd Street was originally a novel by Bradford Ropes. This book inspired a Warner Brothers film in 1933, and the stage show is based on the film. It tells the story of arrogant director Julian Marsh's attempts to put on a successful stage extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression. Small-town girl Peggy Sawyer arrives in New York just in time to bump into Marsh, literally and manages to get a part in the chorus. But Peggy accidentally trips the show's star, the diva Dorothy Brock, who breaks her ankle. Peggy is summarily fired but the rest of the chorus support her and persuade Marsh that this young dancer could lead the show.

Congress Theatre, Tue 4th - Sat 8th Sep, 19:30.
Thu & Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices. Available online, by phone on 01323 412000 or in person at the Box Office.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Sara Humphrey (poet)

I met poet Sara Humphrey on Twitter. Someone had shared a link to one of her poems and I felt a real connection to her words as I read. Sara is also a talented photographer and her work is illustrating this post.

Sara is twenty-five, lives in Eastbourne, and is a published poet. She is also an award-winning poet having won the Brighton Festival Peacock Poetry Prize in 2012. Her work is dark and provocative and uses powerful imagery. She is not afraid to broach traditionally taboo subjects, but does so with great sensitivity and understanding.  I was very happy when she agreed to be interviewed for my blog and she has given fascinating insights into her approach to poetry. I have linked to the poems that are named in the interview and you can also listen to Sara performing three poems on her own blog.

Beach Comber
tE: Do you remember what first drew you to write poetry?
SH: I started writing poetry when I was really young. I have some schoolbooks that my family have kept from primary school and there is one poem I have written in there that starts " I would like to paint a moving image" It's the first record I have of my writing, but I wrote all sorts of songs and lyrics when I was a kid. There are lots of embarrassing home movies of me singing them too! 
I studied English Literature and Philosophy (amongst others) at college, but didn't start seriously writing until I first moved out at 21. I was living in a flat-share that was pretty depressing at times, and that’s when my work got more gritty and dark. I'd just retreat into my bedroom and write for hours. You can definitely read the story of my mindset through my poetry, even if most of my work doesn't relate to personal experience, although most people assume it does. If I'd really lived through all the situations I have written about I'd be in counselling. There's a lot more contentment in my work now.

tE: Do you set aside time to write or does your muse strike at any moment?
SH: I've never really written in the way you are supposed to, drafting, editing and refining your ideas. I write so much about capturing 'that moment', that I think too much editing stifles it. I write best on trains and bus journeys, often while listening to acoustic music to drown out any background noise. Poetry quite a quick process for me, with most written in under 20 minutes and then uploaded instantly. I tend to write straight into Evernote, an app on my phone, which makes editing really easy and you don't have to work around the scribbles. It also means I can write wherever or whenever I want. If I can't get it right first time, allowing for a couple of tweaks, I'll scrub it out and start the whole concept again from a different angle. Saying that, I have had writers block for a fair few months now, mainly due to starting a new job, but I've just started writing again, which is a relief. I write the most when I am unhappy; it's a way of coping with my feelings. I went through a really bad time when I lost my Nanna and was tracing my birth parents at the same time. The work from March 2011 is some of my best, and there is one there that I wrote about 20 minutes after I was told she had died called 'Loss of Inspiration'. She was the person that most encouraged me to think independently and form my own opinions; she was writer too and a fiercely passionate person.

tE: What other poets have inspired or influenced you? 

SH: I'm a really bad poet….I don't really like poetry. That may sound stupid, as I love writing it; I just don't really like reading it. John Donne's 'Twickenham Gardens' will always be the poem that inspires me most, I even have a tattoo starting "Take my tears which are love's wine," on my forearm, but it goes back to the capture the moment thing. It means a lot to me because of where I was in my life when I came across it; it just resonated and never left.
One thing I learnt quite early on when approaching publishers was that if you want to be successful you need to read the work of your contemporaries so I have made a real effort to do this and do have a lot of anthologies at home. My favourite modern poets are Jack Underwood who writes for Faber and Bukowski, as I love his very no-nonsense style. My friend Chris Gill, who I studied at college with is also amazing. He has just published his first collection, Verses, and it's great to know that someone with a similar background to me can get there. To be honest though, most of the similarities I see in my writing are more with artists like Damien Rice, Ray Lamontagne and Kate Rusby, musicians rather than just poets.

tE: How did you get involved with Performance Poetry?
SH: I first got involved in performance poetry through a local man called Damian Barr. He was compering an short story writing event at the Charleston Festival, where you write a 3 minute piece and read it aloud. I didn't get to read, but showed him my piece afterwards and he said it was more poetic than prose and that I should come to the poetry event he was running. I did, and read Dawn Chorus and Enigma, but soon realised the other readers had a far more performance like style. Some poems are meant to be read alone, and others performed. It's two very different things.

tE: Has speaking your poetry to an audience changed the way you write? 
SH: That was when I first started really experimenting with writing, I'd already broken past the conventional rhyming scheme, which sounds like it should be easier but there is so much more freedom writing with rhythm than rhyme. I had also just been rejected for a job I'd applied for on the basis that I don't have a degree, so just outpoured this massive complex and fast paced poem, Passing Paper Judgement, on the train to work. I was so excited that I'd actually written it. When Sex Was Wild will always be the best to perform though, the intonation has to be there, and if you listen to the recordings on my blog you will soon see how the line structure changes from the text version to the spoken word. It can be awkward when you have a mixed age audience though. 
Performance poetry really allows the poet to convey every intent to the reader. I have still to get the hang of using my body for more expression, but at least I can recite from memory and hold the gaze of the crowd now. It's good to know there are still things to learn. Poetry evolves as you do, and that keeps you excited about what direction your work will take you in next.

tE: Unfortunately, I don't think we have a regular Performance Poetry venue in Eastbourne so Sara travels to Brighton in order to perform her work. However, if you would be interested in setting something up, if you do know of a local event, or if you'd also be interested in getting involved, please shout about it in the Comments below!