Sunday, 30 September 2012

Shadow Dancer (film)

The story of Shadow Dancer has been adapted by Tom Bradby from his own novel which was published in 2001. The director is James Marsh (Man On Wire / Project Nim) and this is his first fiction film. He has previously been known for great documentaries. The film is set in 1990s Belfast before the peace-process and stars Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson and Domhnall Gleeson.

A young IRA member is forced to turn informant for MI5 after a failed bomb event and this unleashes a disastrous chain of events. The low-key thriller is a slow-burn film which explores the role of informers during the Troubles. It does not take political sides but tries to understand the almost impossible decisions these people were faced with and the effects of these decisions on their families.

Hailsham Pavilion, Wed 10th Oct, 14:15.
Thu 11th Oct, 14:15, 19:45.
Adult ticket £6.50, concessions £5, Wed matinee £4.50.
Tickets available online, by calling 01323 841414, or in person at the Box Office.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Black Strap Molasses (music)

The ever-popular Eastbourne folk group Black Strap Molasses are returning to the Underground Theatre for two of the Coffee Morning sessions in 2013 - one in July and one in October.

The group was founded by Lamb Folk Club resident Nick Westcott in 1982. They play a range of British and American inspired folk music counting Loudon Wainwright, John Gorka, Chumbawamba, and The Strawbs among their influences. I expect the gig will include tracks from their newest CD, A Shivery Waltz, which was launched at the Underground in May 2012. As well as Nick (vocals and guitar), the line-up comprises of Veronica Clark (keyboard and harmony vocals), Sean Markwick (bass guitar) and Melody Westcott (lead vocal).Advice from the Underground Theatre is to get to the venue early if you want to actually have a seat! Black Strap Molasses are likely to pack out the theatre on both the occasions they play there.

Underground Theatre, Sat 13th Jul 2013, Sat 19th Oct 2013, 10:00-12:00.
Free admission.

Friday, 28 September 2012

St Wilfrid's Big Art Secret

Do you remember back at the end of May I blogged about The Big Art Secret, a fundraising initiative for St Wilfrid's Hospice

Over 550 postcards were donated to the cause including some by celebrities such as Tracey Emin and a trio of Davids: Hockney, Cameron and Dimbleby. Cards have also been donated by dozens of artists, local people and hospice patients. I know that Eastbourne artist Corina Stupu Thomas has a card in the exhibition, as do I! St Wilfrid's is hoping auctioning these artworks will help towards the £5.3million they need to raise to transform end of life care for every person in our community.

The Towner Gallery is the physical venue for the exhibition where the cards will be on show from the 13th to the 20th of October. There will also be ten-day eBay auctions running from the 11th to the 21st of October and everyone is encouraged to bid for their favourite card. Even if 'your artist' doesn't turn out to be a celebrity, this is still a great way to buy an unusual artwork and help a very deserving cause at the same time.

St Wilfrid's say they will be posting the link to the eBay auctions soon. I will tweet and update this page when I know it!  eBay auctions here!

Towner Gallery, Sat 13th to Sat 20th Oct, 10:00-18:00.
Free admission. Closed on Mondays.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Pineapple Poll (dance)

For the ballet fans amongst us, Southern Youth Ballet will be performing Pineapple Poll for-one-night-only at the end of October, together with their own orchestra conducted by Ken Roberts. 

A somewhat bizarre tale of cross-dressing aboard the good ship HMS Hot Cross Bun, the Gilbert and Sullivan inspired piece is a comic ballet which is based on The Bumboat Woman's Tale, written by W S Gilbert. Apparently HMS Pinafore is also based in part on this story. Pineapple Poll premiered at Sadlers Wells in 1951 with choreography by John Cranko. The music is a mixture of Arthur Sullivan's tunes from a number of operas including The Mikado, The Pirates Of Penzance, HMS Pinafore and Ruddigore. 

Southern Youth Ballet was founded sixteen years ago by Liz Buckland and trains ballerinas from eight years and up. The Company enables young dancers from right across the South-East of England to perform in cameo productions of classical ballets. The last three annual peformances have been The Nutcracker (2011), La Fille (2010) and Coppelia (2009).

Congress Theatre, Sat 27th Oct, 17:00.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Les femmes du 6e etage (film)

A light French language comedy, Les Femmes du 6e etage, by Philippe Le Guay is being screened at the Curzon later on this month. It had a couple of days at Hailsham Pavilion last October but I am not sure if it has been in Eastbourne before. Le Guay wrote the screenplay with Jerome Tonnere and the film premiered at the Montpellier International Festival of Mediterranean Film in October 2010.

Les Femmes is set in 1960s Paris where a rich but unfulfilled couple, the Jouverts, Fabrice Luchini and Sandrine Kiberlain (Mademoiselle Chambon), live an austere, conservative life. Their world is threatened when one their maid leaves the household and her place is taken by the young Maria (Natalia Verbeke). Maria is hardworking and gregarious but her appointment causes raises eyebrows as she is Spanish! The other apartments' servants (including Carmen Maura and Lola Duenas from Volver) rally around Maria and, before long, even the master of the house is spending more time on the sixth floor than with his wife and their socialite friends below.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 20th Mar, times tbc.
Tickets £6.80 adults, £4.80 concessions.
Available by calling 01323 731441 or in person at the Box Office (3pm to 7pm daily).

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Rough Justice (theatre)

Courtroom dramas are always popular in Eastbourne and the next to arrive at the Devonshire Park Theatre is Rough Justice which will star Tom Conti, Elizabeth Payne and Royce Mills.

For his Eastbourne debut, Conti will play James Highwood, a journalist who has built his successful career out of challenging the British justice system through his television documentaries. Now he finds himself charged with murder and, instead of hiring proper counsel, decides to conduct his own defence - much to the chagrin of the judge and the court. The case is highly emotional as Highwood has admitted to the killing of his young child.

The wordy drama, written by Terence Frisby, was originally performed at the Apollo Theatre in 1994. The play ultimately asks the audience to be both judge and jury as it questions whether it can ever be right for a person to take the law into their own hands and whether any moral or legal justification exists for taking a life.

Devonshire Park Theatre Mon 22nd to Sat 27th Oct, 19:45.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices. Available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Monday, 24 September 2012

VOICES Choir (music)

If you enjoyed the Eastbourne Shout way back in April 2012, then a new community choir starting up in Pevensey and Eastbourne might be just your thing. VOICES is the brainchild of Diana Terry, a professional singer and actress and also a qualified voice coach.
Diana Terry

When I asked her about the project, she said, "I  believe that singing is good for body and soul! There is such a feel good factor when people sing. I have run choirs before I moved to Sussex for various Music Services, and felt there was a very strong music vibe when I moved down here. Following on from the popularity of The Choir That Rocks and Military Wives Choir, I felt it would be a great thing to bring communities together to raise their voices ... and raise some money for charity at the same time!"

VOICES is a choir of two halves. An existing group began in Pevensey on the 12th of July and already has an amazing 90 members. They meet on Thursday evenings in the Baptist Church at 7pm. A second group meets on Wednesday evenings at Alice Croft House, again from 7pm. Each group will work on the same songs and come together for concerts in the summer and at Christmas. No experience is needed, just pure enthusiasm, and potential singers are welcome to join the Eastbourne group which has a few spaces. Each session costs £5. For more information, call 01323 766994, email Diana, or go along!

Update from Diana: New term starts 09/01/13 Eastbourne and 10/01/13 Pevensey Bay. The Christmas Concert was a great success raising £600 which was split between the Salvation Army and St Wilfrid's Hospice. Congratulations everyone!

VOICES next concert is the 28th of June 2013 at Eastbourne Town Hall, 7pm to 9pm. I will blog with further details & where to get tickets closer to the time.

Alice Croft House, Cornfield Lane, Eastbourne, Wednesdays, 19:00-21:00.
Pevensey Bay Baptist Church, Thursdays, 19:00-21:00.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Simple Life (film)

October's Hailsham Film Club screening will be A Simple Life. The Cantonese language film is from Hong Kong and was their official choice for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards although it did not actually get onto the short list. It was directed by Ann Hui whose first feature-length film was The Secret way back in 1979. Ann Hui had said that A Simple Life would be her last film, but it has been so successful that she is inspired to continue!

A Simple Life is a gentle tale of the relationship between Roger, the son of a rich family (Andy Lau) and the housekeeper, Sister Peach (Deanie Ip), who brought him up. Based on real events in the life of Hong Kong film producer Roger Lee, the film explores themes of care and aging. When Sister Peach has a stroke, she moves from the family house into a nursing home. Both she and Roger need to come to terms with the reversal in their relationship as it is now he who must care for her.

Ultimately heartwarming, the film is being described as powerful but understated cinema. However, there are also mutterings that the 118 minute running time might be a touch too long.

Hailsham Pavilion, Tue 9th Oct, 19:45.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Radio Times (theatre)

Another musical for the Devonshire Park Theatre on today's blog as the wartime musical comedy Radio Times heads to Eastbourne.

Radio Times is a light hearted show featuring the nostalgic music of Noel Gay (Me And My Girl). Songs in the show will include Run Rabbit Run, Hey Little Hen, My Thanks To You and There's Something About A Soldier. The current tour is presented by the Watermill Theatre and stars Gary Wilmot (Chicago, Me And My Girl) and Sara Crowe (Private Lives, Four Weddings & A Funeral). The fifteen-strong cast of actor/musicians also includes Amelia Cormack who you might remember from her strong performance as Freda Jefferies in Murder Mistaken at the Devonshire Park back in July.

In the heart of London’s Blitz-torn West End, the cast of the BBC’s light-entertainment radio show, Variety Bandwagon, are doing their bit for the war effort. But with the bombs falling outside, can star of the show Sammy Shaw hang on to his leading lady and broadcast live to America for the first time?

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 9th to Sat 13th Oct, 19:45.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, and in person at the Box Office and Tourist Information Office.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Liquorice (art)

Encouraged by this year's Hailsham Arts Festival to explore the town further, I discovered a wonderful new-to-me shop last Saturday. Tucked away in The Mews on George Street, Liquorice Gifts has been open for two years and is owned by Phil Crowhurst. He stocks a wonderful array of art, crafts, homewares and stationery, much of it created by local artists. At the time of my visit, Margaret Turton had some of her work in the shop, as did Melissa Shuttleworth. 

A great place for gift ideas, particularly for women although there are some unisex items and some intended for men, there are candles and jewellery, glassware and ceramics, art and photography. I particularly liked a selection of wooden items including a delicate little needle case and A Round Tuit - vital for every home! Plus recycled vinyl items including reasonably priced handmade coasters. There are also several racks of unusual greetings cards - I picked up a couple by Anne Howard and Soul Water - as well as wrapping paper, notebooks and journals.

Next time you've got a birthday to buy for, go take a look!

Liquorice Gifts, Mon-Sat, 09:30-16:30.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Ian Shaw & Sue Richardson (jazz)

October's jazz night at the Underground Theatre looks like it's going to be one of the more unusual ones because of the combination of performers on the bill. Pianist and singer Ian Shaw will be sharing the stage with trumpeter and singer Sue Richardson. The show is expected to be a sparkling evening of jazz standards, both old and new, interspersed with Ian's wry observational humour and the odd surprise tune thrown in for good measure.

Ian's career began on the alternative comedy circuit, alongside such names as Rory Bremner and Jo Brand, until he was spotted by the jazz critic for City Limits, Dave Illic. Now, he tours all over the country and even had his own show at the Edinburgh Festival for most of August this year.He has played at most of the UK's major jazz festivals and was named Best Vocalist at the BBC Jazz awards in both 2004 and 2007.

Sue is one of the few female trumpeter/vocalists. She has been playing as part of big bands since she was sixteen and has gigged in fifty countries across the world. Most of her music is written or arranged herself with her quintet in mind. Her most recent project interprets the life of Chet Baker who is one of her great musical loves alongside Ella Fitzgerald.

Underground Theatre, Fri 5th Oct, 20:00.
Tickets £12 (£11 members/students), available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person at the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Lovers Walk (opera)

Lovers Walk is a newly commissioned chamber opera which has been composed by Glyndebourne's Young Composer in Residence, Luke Styles, with a libretto by Stephen Plaice. The performances will be by young singers from Glyndebourne Youth Opera and Glyndebourne Young Voices Youth Company and the music is written for just four instruments: piano, clarinet, trumpet and cello. The opera premieres at the Birley Centre in Eastbourne on the 14th of October.
Photo by Stephen Plaice

Four couples, each from a different historical period and facing different challenges in their lives, are linked by the common setting of a municipal park. The music is performed by just four instruments: piano, clarinet, trumpet and cello.

Birley Centre, Sun 14th Oct, 19:30, £5.
Tickets from Glyndebourne Box Office on 01273 815000.

Glyndebourne Jerwood Studio, Sat 20th Oct, 14:00. Tickets for this production are available free to ticket holders for the evening performance of Le nozze di Figaro. Call Glyndebourne Box Office to book.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Rivals (theatre)

 Creative Cow is the same theatre company that brought Born In The Gardens to the Underground Theatre in May. They are returning to Eastbourne, this time to the Devonshire Park Theatre, in October with a production of Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 18th century comic masterpiece, The Rivals.

The Rivals is a day in the lives of a group of socialites who are 'taking the waters' in Bath. The play mocks the pretentiousness of fashionable society in the late 1700s, their obsession with status and desire for social improvement - not so different to today then! Sheridan created extraordinary and timeless comic characters including the word-mangling Mrs Malaprop, her niece Lydia Languish, the handsome Captain Jack, and his father, Sir Anthony Absolute. The play is famous for its sharp dialogue where gossip and misunderstandings lead to confusion, duels, madness and mayhem. 

Creative Cow have made a point, for this production, of using actors who have already worked together in the past. This has helped to ensure that they will put on polished, fast-moving and slick ensemble theatre. The company was conceived on a farm in Devon in 2007 by artistic director Amanda Knott and two professional actors, Jonathan Parish and Katherine Senior. Their aim is to present to wide and diverse audiences the very best in classic and contemporary playwriting with imaginative and accomplished performances. The productions and sets are innovative and the company takes pride in touring the same show to 900 seat theatres and 40 seat art galleries.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 16th to Sat 20th Oct, 19:45.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices. Available online from the Eastbourne Theatres website, by telephone on 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Teej Festival

Having been Googling, I have discovered that Teej is a pious fasting festival for Hindu women which celebrates the Goddess Parvati and her union with Lord Shiva. Women pray for the well-being of their families and success in their marriages. Unmarried women might pray to meet a good husband. The festival is held in the autumn to coincide with the arrival of monsoon rains after oppressive summer heat and the 'teej' itself is a species of small red insect which is awakened by the rain fall. Red is considered auspicious so women will dress in this colour for the three days of the festival.

Aided by ECCN, our local Nepalese community will be celebrating Teej this year in an open afternoon on the 22nd of September. The event is being hosted at the WRVS Centre on Hyde Road. As well as foods to try, there will also be traditional music and dancing, art and crafts, and a photography exhibition. Please book your tickets in advance by calling or emailing (details below) so the catering can be planned.

ECCN is the Eastbourne Cultural Communities Network, a wonderful voluntary organisation which was founded in 2004. Among their aims is the promotion of understanding among the diverse cultures resident in the Eastbourne area and they hold a number of celebratory events during year, each themed around a different cultural group. There are also more regular get-togethers such as weekly fitness and zumba classes and they offer advice and support in areas such as immigration documentation.

WRVS Centre, Sat 22nd Sep, 14:00 - 17:00.
Tickets £5, available by emailing or by calling 01323 735772 / 01323 760654 / 07918 743557.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Les Hommes Libres (film)

Les Hommes Libres (Free Men) is a French language film from 2011 which examines the role Muslim immigrants played in the Resistance during the Second World War. The thriller is loosely based on real-life events and is directed by Ismael Ferroukhi (Le Grand Voyage).

Younes (Tahar Rahim) is a fictional character, an Algerian black marketeer. Initially he considers that he is not aligned to any political belief, but as the war progresses he finds himself drawn to side against the occupying Germans and to help persecuted Jews in Paris. Many Jews and members of the Resistance were being hidden in the cellars of mosques while, above ground, Germans visited the buildings to view the Islamic artwork inside.
Michael Lonsdale plays Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit, a real-life man of remarkable courage who led the central mosque in Paris, and Mahmud Shalaby is Salim Halali, an Algerian singer who also existed in real-life.

The screening is being hosted by Eastbourne Film Society which has been in existence since 1949. They show eleven films a year in a season which runs from September to March. Details of how to join the Society are on their website but all their film screenings are open to the public at normal Curzon admission prices.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 3rd Oct, 20:00?
Adult ticket £6.50, concessions £4.50.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Bourne To Write

I came across the Bourne To Write workshops leaflet while at my dentist where a number of colourful flyers had been cunningly left in the waiting room. Led by Roddy Phillips, the workshops will be run as a ten week course with the first Eastbourne session starting on the 19th of September - that's this Wednesday! There is a choice between attending the afternoon sessions - 14:15 to 16:15 - or the evening sessions - 19:15 to 21:15 - both of which will be held at St Saviour's Church Hall on South Street. 

Taking a student-centred approach to creative writing, the course will offer a range of strategies to help aspirational writers develop. Participants are encouraged to explore their creative writing potential through self-awareness and self-discovery. A wide range of genres will be covered, including classic and contemporary fiction, poetry, drama, journalism and life writing. There are timed exercises and participants will be given relevant homework each week and receive appropriate and constructive feedback. Bourne To Write are planning to eventually publish work by the workshop members and ‘e the magazine’ will also be publishing members’ work on their website.

Roddy has worked as a freelance journalist covering and reviewing the arts for more than thirty years. He has contributed to The Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday, BBC Radio, STV and a range of magazines, including The Stage. He also runs other very popular Creative Writing Workshops in Scotland, the Lake District and in East Sussex.

The ten week course costs £120. 
To book your place call Roddy on 07758 367479 or email

Friday, 14 September 2012

Joel White (music)

Joel White first picked up a guitar aged seven, learning to play songs by ear and developing an enduring love of music. Now, almost twenty years later, he is an experienced singer-songwriter who has also worked as a session musician supporting artists such as The Animals, 10cc and Guy Davis. A passionate performer, his style is a blend of funky jazz tones with soulful delivery. He cites musicians from BB King to Lady Gaga, and Steve Vai to Stevie Wonder among his influences.

Tuesday 29th Jan will again see Joel as the performer at Chapter 12's live music evening. The music will begin around 7.30pm and I have been told that it is probably a good idea to call ahead or pop in and book a table. Musicians perform at close quarters in this intimate setting and, I have been told, they very much appreciate the attentive audiences. Chapter 12 have been running their weekly live music evenings since the middle of August 2012 and previous artists have included acoustic duo AKA, Andy Drudy, Pocketsize and harpist Fiona Hosford.

+Chapter 12 Wine Bar, Tue 29th Jan, 19:30.

Call 01323 351898 to book a table. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Film Poster Auction

Hailsham Pavilion will be hosting another of their annual Film Poster Auctions at the end of September to raise money for HOPS, the Hailsham Old Pavilion Society.

The Society was formed in 1993 when the then Mayor June Bourne, together with Councillors, started a fund to restore the historic building. By 1999, HOPS had over 800 members and was in receipt of sufficient funds to complete restoration work. The challenge since then has been to maintain the Pavilion's income at a level needed to keep it open, hence events such as this Auction.

148 large UK Quad Size posters are on offer at the auction. All are from the working cinema and their condition is described in the catalogue. (This is clickable from the poster graphic on the Hailsham Pavilion website home page or you can pick one up from the Box Office.) Titles range from blockbusters such as the Harry Potter and Shrek franchises and Avatar, to Art House releases including Winter's Bone, Chico & Rita and The Illusionist.

There will also be a film memorabilia stall and refreshments available from the Pavilion kiosk.

Hailsham Pavilion, Sat 29th Sep, 10:00 - 13:00.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Fiona Hosford (music)

Photo by NX Photography
Talented harpist Fiona Hosford first came to my attention in the 2012 Under Ground Theatre brochure because she had an evening recital there in December (I've written up my review of the evening in the Comments at the end of this post.) Then, within a few days, I also saw her mentioned as being one of the Tuesday Music Night performers at Chapter 12 in Hailsham. Perhaps I shouldn't have been as surprised that a Harpist would play a wine bar in Hailsham! The evening was very successful and she has since made return visits.

Fiona has also studied violin, piano and singing, but when she was introduced to the harp, aged six, it quickly became apparent that this was where her musical passion lay. She has toured and performed extensively, both within the UK and abroad, and has a wide repertoire of music which makes her playing suitable for a wide variety of venues and occasions. Fiona is also an interesting and entertaining musicians who is happy to share funny stories of her gigs between tunes.

Fiona says, "I enjoy the interaction at each venue, whether it's just playing for a restaurant or in the midst of a full-on wedding ... and my wicked sense of humour tends to go before me I've found! My style of playing is very varied - always performed from the heart (I know, it sounds cheesy), whether it's Debussy, Faure, Chopin or more modern attributes - Sting, Adele, Massive Attack, Elton John."

The Hidden Cellar, Thu 18th Apr 2013, 19:30?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Haunting (theatre)

 If you didn't catch The Haunting when it came to the Devonshire Park Theatre in November 2010, I strongly urge you to book a seat for the current Bill Kenwright production that returns in the first week of October. And if, like me, you did see it before, I think it might just be long enough ago to warrant another viewing!

The play has been adapted from Charles Dickens' ghost stories by Hugh Janes and is directed by Hugh Wooldridge. The thrilling, twisting storyline keeps the audience hooked throughout and there are some wonderful theatrical effects that I remember making me jump several times! The one-room set is a wonderfully detailed library.

In an ancient, crumbling mansion, sheltering from the howling winds that tear across the surrounding desolate moorland, two men stumble across a dark and terrifying secret. When a young book dealer, David Filde (James Roache - Cold Blood, Coronation Street), is employed by a former associate of his uncle, Lord Gray (David Robb - Downton Abbey) to catalogue an impressive library, he finds an incredible array of rare and antiquated books. But as a series of strange and unexplained events conspire to keep Filde from his work, he realises that if he is to convince his sceptical employer that the mysterious phenomena he is experiencing are real, they must journey together to the very edge of terror, and beyond, to discover the source of the ghostly night-time visitations.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Mon 1st to Sat 6th Oct, 19:45.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices. Available online from the Eastbourne Theatres website, by phone on 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Hailsham Festival Art Exhibition

by Dino Mazzoli
We found ourselves with some time to spare on Saturday afternoon so took a wander into Hailsham for the opening day of the Arts Festival. We caught a few songs from the Memphis Flyers set in the High Street and it was uplifting to be able to hear their music as far along as Gallery North, my destination for a quick dash around before the bus arrived! The array of art on show in shop fronts around the town centre is inspiring and adds a great a sense of spirit and community to the area. I was shocked by quite how many units would otherwise be depressingly abandoned.

The exhibition is subtitled 'Celebrating the creativity of Hailsham and beyond!' The ground floor has two rooms showing a retrospective of the work of Italian-born artist, Dino Mazzoli. One of the paintings in the second room was exhibited at the Royal Academy and the works are certainly striking all together, but not quite to my taste.
Friends Clump by David Higgs

Upstairs are works by several artists, four of which particularly caught my eye. As I went up the stairs, paintings from the Colours series by Vicki Disney leapt out (not literally, that would be spooky). The work is vibrant and wonderfully visually textured. The room ahead and to the right has a selection of botanical art including different fruits by Ruth Bodkin, My favourite of hers is of blackberries. Back across the landing will lead you to a fabulously detailed drawing entitled Old Stone Steps which is by John Amos. He has also contributed paintings and the light effect for the acrylic work Snow Light is so beautiful. My fourth pick is David Higgs for whom you will need to return as if about to go back downstairs but turn right first. Higgs has several large landscape photographs exhibited, including iconic local scenes such as Meanders, which is of Cuckmere, and Long Man's Old Man, which is the Long Man of Wilmington. I loved an atmospheric woodland print entitled Friends Clump.
Gallery North, Sat 8th Sep to Sat 27th Oct.
Tues - Sat, 10:00 - 16:00.
Free admission.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Tyrannosaur (film)

 The second film to be screened by Seaford Community Cinema is Paddy Considine's stark and brutal directorial debut, Tyrannosaur. I saw this film at Hailsham Pavilion in December last year and was absolutely blown away by it. I would confidently say Tyrannosaur was my film of the year for 2011. The powerful story is gripping throughout and the performances from all the actors are simply outstanding.

Joseph (Peter Mullan) is an unemployed widower who is consumed by anger. He hits rock bottom after killing his dog in a fit of rage and hides himself behind a rail of clothes in a run-down charity shop. He is befriended by the kind, Christian Hannah (Olivia Colman), who attempts to help him. However when Hannah's husband, James (Eddie Marsan), suspects them of being more than just friends, Joseph is threatened with being forced back into his former life.

Tyrannosaur was filmed in Leeds and Wakefield but is not set in any particular town. Some extras are local people including a busker, Chris Wheat, and the staff of the St Vincent's charity shop where several scenes were filmed. The story was originally a BAFTA winning short film entitled Dog Altogether which starred Olivia Colman, Peter Mullan and Paul Popplewell.

Certificate 18.
Barn Theatre, Fri 5th Oct, 19:00.
Adult ticket £6, members £5. Available online, in person from Seaford Tourist Office or on the door if there are any left!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Fagin's Last Hour (theatre)

Among the many reasons to celebrate 2012, this year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. One of his most famous novels is Oliver Twist and the story in a re-imagined form is being performed at the Underground Theatre by the wonderful James Hyland. Hyland has also written the one-man play and it is directed by Phil Lowe.

In Fagin's Last Hour, the underworld villain, Fagin, who controlled a gang of child pickpockets and thieves, has been arrested and imprisoned. He is sentenced to hang and we join him for his final hour of life as he recounts the tale of his downfall. As madness takes him over, we learn about Sikes and Nancy, the incorruptible orphan Oliver Twist, and the harsh Victorian society which created men like Fagin. There will be a post-show talk by the actor. The powerful performance and subject matter is not recommended for children under twelve years old.

James Hyland, through his theatre company Brother Wolf, performed and produced A Christmas Carol - As Told by Jacob Marley (deceased) which was also at the Underground last year. Fagin's Last Hour is produced in association with Harrogate Theatre.

Underground Theatre, Sat 6th Oct, 19:30.
£10 (£9 UGT members/concessions).
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.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Imogen Skelley (artist)

Boats at sea
Eastbourne artist Imogen Skelley had one of the stalls at the outdoor Art Expo in September. I was attracted to her work as we both share a love of tiny, intricate pictures. She creates abstract and geometric works, as well as subtly coloured land- and sea-scapes

tE: What originally made you want to paint?
IS: I was lucky enough to be brought up in a musical, artistic household full of books and conversation, so it was a natural step for me to follow a creative path. I gained a degree in Fine Art and although I have had many "day jobs", painting has been a constant part of my life.

tE: Working on such a small scale is unusual. Was this a deliberate decision or a natural evolution from previous work?
IS: I learned about ACEOs - Art Cards, Editions and Originals) which are 2.5" x 3.5" in size and collected and swapped by people who like to own little pieces of art and enjoyed working on that scale, leading to experimenting with other similar dimensions. I do like a challenge, and working on a tiny scale (sometimes as small as 1 inch square!) was just that. The work that goes into a tiny painting can sometimes be deceptive!

tE: Being Eastbourne-based appears to significantly influence your choice of subject matter. Do you think you would be the same artist if you lived elsewhere?
IS: I have lived all over the place and certainly the sea and the South Downs has greatly influenced my work in recent years. I have to be honest, though, and say that although I have always loved living on the South Coast, only recently has it really become a direct source of subject matter for my work. I think I would be a less excited artist if I lived elsewhere!

Atmospheric abstract
tE: What direction do you think your work might take in the future?
IS: I can see my paintings becoming more abstract (in the literal sense of the word, with local views as a starting point) and much larger! I am loving working on such a large scale with huge brushes and would like to explore that further. I don't feel the need to pigeonhole myself into one subject matter or style and am happy for the work to lead me in a new direction when the time feels right.

As well as her own gallery website, Imogen has an online Etsy shop and is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

City Of Ashes (music)

Eastbourne band City Of Ashes are returning to the Underground Theatre on Saturday the 16th of March 2013. The gig is the third of four gigs in a new venture for the venue - Musical Showcase - where local acts that the Under Ground believe are destined for big things have been invited to perform.

City Of Ashes formed four years ago and have built up a significant following. They took time out in early 2012 to write and record more material and returned to live performances over the summer including a debut at Guilfest in July where they played the LiveClub stage.

I talked to singer Orion when I blogged about their first unplugged acoustic appearance at the Under Ground in September 2012. I began by asking what had inspired the band to choose the venue?
OP: It's obviously a very different vibe for what could be expected of our normal material. The gig seemed like an opportunity for us to play with something very different from what we usually do. That's the main reason really, we just wanted to play about and have some fun. Although given that our schedule takes us to a gig in Guildford the night before it may be a bleary eyed Saturday morning for us!

tE: How will you reinterpret your music for the acoustic setting?
Photo by Joey Pearson
OP: The songs we play will principally be mellowed out versions of our popular current electric numbers with a few covers thrown in. Our intention at the moment is to find a way to incorporate our bass player and drummer as well but due to how much we have going on as a band this is subject to us having enough rehearsal time to do that.

tE: I understand that City Of Ashes originally started as an acoustic duo. How does the music you will be playing differ?  OP: The music differs enormously from the band's original work. The recent addition of James playing guitar has changed the feel quite a bit but it's a change we're all enjoying.

OP: We're just hoping it will be a relaxed atmosphere that we and the audience can enjoy together. If we get that we'll be pretty pleased!

Underground Theatre, Sat 16th Mar 2013, 19:45.
Tickets £4, available online, by calling 0845 680 1926 or in person at the Under Ground Theatre and the Tourist Information Office.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Walkabout (film)

You might already know that the Underground Theatre screens a series of Sunday afternoon classic films from September to June. In a new development, the venue is now also going to offer vintage Art House films and will screen one a month on Thursday evenings. The first, on the 27th of September, is the 1970 Palme d'Or nominated Walkabout.
The screenplay, by Edward Bond,was loosely based on the 1959 novel by James Vance Marshall. The director, Nicolas Roeg, produced a visually stunning film which is interspersed with shots of Australian plant and animal life as well as the vastness of the Outback. Apparently some of these scenes would be highly unlikely in reality as the wildlife would not voluntarily wander so close to people, but the overall effect is to give an impression of a land teeming with life.

A teenage girl (Jenny Agutter) and her younger brother (Luc Roeg, son of Nicolas) are left alone in the Australian Outback after their father (John Meillon) goes mad, trying to shoot them and then killing himself. They are starting to become desperate for water when they are discovered by an Aboriginal boy (David Gulpilil). The three travel together for a few days, eating food caught by the Aborigine, as the two boys slowly learn to communicate.

Underground Theatre, Thu 27th Sep, 19:30.
£5. Pre-film refreshments will be on sale.
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, 4 September 2012

Starshine Music

An unexpected connection prompted this blog post. I had tweeted about an audio book of Treasure Island I'd just finished and this got me chatting to @Starshine_Music about their musical version of the book. I had heard the Starshine name round and about, but didn't realise quite what significant resource they are.

The music publishing company, which is based just down the road in Hankham, writes musicals, nativities, and songs for children to perform. They include all the back-up materials necessary for teaching the works such as CDs of the music and photocopiable word sheets. My Mum used to be a primary school music teacher and, as a child, I remember hours of 'shhhhh' as she had to compose her own assemblies, nativities and school concerts. Ruth Kenward explained how finding herself in a similar situation led to the founding of Starshine Music.

RK: Our aim is to provide songs and scripts for young performers that a) are appropriate and enriching in content and b) will help develop and strengthen higher order skills. Back in 1998, I was teaching at Bourne School in Eastbourne. I was looking to produce a Christmas musical with my pupils that would be appropriate for the Millennium, and at that time there was very little available in the way of Nativity material that wasn’t way too ‘young’ for juniors to perform. I wrote ‘Miracle Child’ (which begins at a family Christmas party where one of the children doesn’t ‘get’ the meaning of Christmas at all, and is only interested in getting presents!) – and we published it in 1999. It sold 800 copies in the first year… and the rest is history! Since then we’ve published over 50 other titles, and are now moving into single song downloads as well.

tE: What has been your proudest moment?
RK: Oo er… dunno! There have been lots of them. Having our songs performed at Canterbury Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall, perhaps? But it’s just as exciting seeing them performed up the road at tiny Hankham Primary School… it’s always great to see children enjoy performing. There again, it’s also fantastic when – as happened only this week – one of our young singers takes huge strides in confidence and skill, and you see them grow as people, almost overnight – great stuff. That’s why we love the performing arts! 

tE: Do you only work with schools?
RK: Mostly. About two thirds of UK schools have performed at least one of our musicals in the past decade, and we have sold to hundreds of English-speaking schools worldwide as well. We also sell to Sunday schools, choirs, youth theatre groups…

tE: And local connections are important to you?
RK: Most of the local primary schools in the Eastbourne area have performed at least one of our musicals, and several have performed virtually all of them! All of our singers are drawn from local schools and performing arts groups. We’re currently recording children from Parklands Junior School and Bourne Academy.

tE: The Autumn school term starts soon. Are you already looking towards Christmas?!
RK: Oh yes! There’s always a lot of Christmas going on at Starshine from about Easter onwards! We’ve just sent off two infant nativity musicals to the printers, they’ll be published next month, and we’re just about to record two single songs for Christmas that will go in our download collection. Plus we're about to launch two interactive ebooks for iPhone & iPad designed for young children, based on two of our nativity musicals. The two are 'Wriggly Nativity' (which nearly 4000 schools have bought from us) and a new show, 'I Spy Christmas' and they're due out in November. We're really excited about these as they're both brilliantly illustrated and have lots of musical content!

tE: I noticed the SongZone section on your website. What should composers consider before submitting songs for children?
RK: One of the most important aspects of a song for children is that it should have something good to say. Most schools don’t have a music specialist, and children are expected to learn songs from a CD, which only works well if a song is clearly structured, with a catchy melody. At the moment we’re particularly interested in songs that are suitable for choirs, with accessible harmony and counterpoint parts. 

This YouTube clip shows a cast of 9 and 10 year old children from Edinburgh performing Treasure Island.

Although Starshine Music does not have a physical shop, their comprehensive website has details of all their products and includes sound files, script samples and reviews.