Sunday, 31 March 2013

Cloud Atlas (film)

I was surprised to learn the forthcoming film version of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell's 2004 novel, is an independent production. Although its $102 million budget does make it one of the most expensive independent films of all time. Four years of development were needed before production began in September 2011 at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany and, considering the scope of the novel, this probably meant working incredibly quickly every day! I remember we did have the book in the house because Dave bought and enjoyed reading it. I didn't get round to starting. I'm not sure why, but possibly the sheer number of pages put me off - it is a bit of a brick. Hopefully seeing the new film will inspire me?

Writers, producers and directors Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer have produced a three-hour spectacular which is being praised and mauled by critics in pretty much equal measures.The narrative consists of six (or possibly seven) related stories, set over a period of several centuries. As viewers, we see each story set up before the film begins to dart between them. The same group of actors play different roles, depending on the historical context, and the cast includes several well-known names - Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving and, the man whose enthusiasm is said to have kept the whole project on its wheels - Tom Hanks.

Hailsham Pavilion, Fri 19th, Sun 21st and Mon 22nd Apr, 19:30.
Tickets £6.50 adults, £5 concessions, available online, by calling 01323 841414, or in person at the Box Office.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Eastbourne Festival 2013

Today is the first day of the annual Eastbourne Festival! Originally launched in 2007 to celebrate the opening of the then new Towner Gallery, the three week Festival starts on Easter Saturday and includes a wide variety of arts events in many different venues right across the town. I have blogged about some of these individually and thought I'd take the opportunity today to give a brief overview of what I'm excited to see.

Eastbourne Shout! returns in the middle of the Festival on the 19th April, again on Western Lawns. At the other end (perhaps) of the singing scale, Opera Coast perform La lingua amara dell'amore on the 6th. The 11th sees harpist Fiona Hosford at St Mary's and don't miss the singer/songwriter evening Birley Unplugged on the 16th.

Eastbourne Theatres are really getting into the spirit and have Noises Off, Blonde Poison, Oliver Reed and Charley's Aunt as well as Hardeep Kohli Singh and The Showstoppers.

There's art absolutely everywhere! I'm looking forward to Gillian Toft at the Da Vinci Hotel in Howard Square, Greetings From Eastbourne at the Emma Mason Gallery, and Nadia Wazeera at the Musgrave Museum. The Towner has the East Sussex Open and its 'sister' exhibition at the Linchpin, the Salon de Refuses, showcases artists who didn't quite make the Open. Plus there are dozens of open houses and studios across town - I really must make an big effort to get round these.

Have a great Festival and post your favourite events in the Comments below!

The 2013 Eastbourne Festival is sponsored by Stephen Rimmer LLP who are operating a drop-in information point at their offices in Hyde Gardens. Call in any day between 10am and 4pm during the Festival to pick up flyers and brochures.

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Pitmen Painters (theatre)

photo by Keith Pattinson
You might have a sense of deja-vu at seeing the title, The Pitmen Painters, as this is another play which is returning to Eastbourne for a second visit. I'm quite pleased about this though as I missed it the first time around. Presented by Bill Kenwright, The Pitmen Painters is a National Theatre and Live Theatre Newcastle co-production directed by Max Roberts.

The play is a humorous exploration of the lives of a group of ordinary men who began to do extraordinary things. It examines the roles of art, class and politics in the 1940s and was written by Lee Hall, who also wrote Billy Elliot. Hall was inspired by a book by William Feaver. The cast includes Joe Caffrey, Suzy Cooper, Philip Correia, Catherine Dryden, Louis Hilyer, Riley Jones, Nicholas Lumley and Donald Mcbride.

In 1934, a group of Ashington miners hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collections; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Mon 29th Apr to Sat 4th May, 19:45.
Wed and 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.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Ashes To Ashes (theatre)

We almost won't be able to move for theatrical performances in Eastbourne shortly and I am very much looking forward to the wonderful variety of plays and shows both visiting the town and homegrown.

Eastbourne's Under Ground Theatre is delighted to present their contribution - a Lost in Space production of the Harold Pinter play Ashes to Ashes. The work was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1996 starring Lindsay Duncan and Steven Rea. The Lost in Space production will star Margo Gunn (New Tricks) and Chris Parke and is directed by Neil Brown. There will be two performances on the same April evening, one at 7pm and one at 9pm.

In the living room of a pleasant house in a university town outside London, Devlin, threatened by his wife Rebecca’s recollections of an abusive ex-lover, questions her endlessly in his need for a single truth. In her seamless blending of what she knows of violence with the wider violence of the world, Rebecca reveals an eerie communion with the dead victims of unnamed political barbarities.

Under Ground Theatre, Fri 12th Apr, 19:00 and 21:00.
Tickets £10 (members £9), available online, by calling 0845 680 1926 or in person at the Under Ground Theatre.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Midnight's Children (film)

I read Midnight's Children a few years ago now and remembering loving some parts of the book and being quite lost by others, so I am interested to discover if the new film adaptation will help me to understand the novel in more depth. I like Salman Rushdie as an author and am pleased to see that he has been closely involved with the development of this film.

Published in 1981, Midnight's Children attempts to portray the events before, during and after the Independence of India in 1947. Its primary character, Saleem Sinai, is born at midnight, at the start of the very day of independence, making him exactly the same age as his country. He is bestowed with the magical gift of telepathy which enables him to communicate with other children across India. These other children also are telepathic because their births occurred in the first hour of the same day. Through their disparate experiences and the travels of Saleem's own family, Rushdie explores the various factions that influenced and altered the history of the new India.

Filming in Sri Lanka started in February 2011 and was kept as secret as possible due to fears of interference by religious groups opposed to the work. Rushdie himself condensed his novel into the screenplay and worked closely with director Deepa Mehta on the creation of the film.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing (theatre)

A week of 'for one night only' performances at the Devonshire Park in April should be good for at least one evening of theatre, if not two or more! Four very different offerings are the fantastic Blonde Poison (about which I have already blogged), the subject of this post, Oliver Reed: Wild Thing, cookery with Hardeep Singh Kohli's Indian Takeaway and the improvised musical that is The Showstoppers.

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing is a new one-man play telling the life story of the legendary hell-raiser. It will be performed by Rob Crouch, who is also one half of the writing team with Mike Davis, and has been directed by Kate Bannister. Under the title of 'One For The Road: An Evening with Oliver Reed', the play first premiered at the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival in May 2011 and is currently being toured nationally. Eastbourne is the last stop before the company head out for several dates in Ireland. During the seventy minute performance, the audience is invited to join Oliver Reed in Malta as he looks back over his life from the boyhood excitement of learning he was a descendent of Peter the Great, through the success of Oliver!, boozy adventures with Keith Moon and disastrous chat show appearances. Set in 1999, when Reed was not far from death, Rob Crouch portrays every facet of the man from his furious rages to the pathetic alcoholism that killed him. There are some fantastic reviews on the play's own website and I am definitely going to be booking for this!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Thu 18th April, 19:45.
Tickets £13.50, available online, by calling 01323 412000 or in person at the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Songwriters' Circle (music)

The Under Ground Theatre is branching out in several new directions this year and another 'first' will be taking place on the afternoon of Saturday 6th April - a Songwriter's Circle. 

The basic idea is that three singer-songwriters take it in turns to play and talk about their songs, perhaps helping each other out with harmonies or additional instrumentation if they can pick up the work quickly enough (of if they rehearsed earlier!) I was lucky to catch a few Songwriter's Circle gigs televised on BBC4 which included artists like Fran HealyJustin Currie and KT Tunstall. It was fascinating to see how the different musicians reacted and added to each other's work, and also to hear their shared reminiscences.

The Under Ground's circle will comprise of Ron Turner (who is organising the event), Chris Liddiard and Tim Izzard (both of Cornflower Blue). Cornflower Blue will also be playing for the Coffee Morning session on the same day (10:00-12:00) launching the My Cool Sixties month with a selection of songs from 1963.

Under Ground Theatre, Sat 6th April 13.30 - 15.30.
Free admission.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sam Calver (music)

There were a couple of names I didn't recognise in the EBS Rock The Redoubt line-up so I got myself online to find out more about them. First up is Hastings-based Sam Calver, a husky voiced singer-songwriter.

photo by Daniel Du Cros

Originally from Bexhill, Sam learnt to play the guitar from his father at an early age and quickly began lessons at primary school. From there he progressed to form a band at the age of 14 before deciding to concentrate on a solo career later on in his teens. He cites artists such as Gary Moore, Kings of Leon and John Mayer as his main musical influences but also acknowledges an eclectic mix from dance and hip-hop, to indie, pop-rock and blues. He gigs extensively around the local area including venues like the Black Lion in Brighton and Eastbourne's Buskers Bar, Chapter 12 in Hailsham and TinTins in Hastings. I especially like the following video for Over The Edge and there's several more on his YouTube channel.

EBS Rock The Redoubt, Sat 6th and Sun 7th Apr, 11.00-17:00.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Go Back For Murder (theatre)

A perhaps guilty pleasure of mine is the Agatha Christie Theatre Company and their annual tour. Last year's production, Murder On The Nile, arrived in Eastbourne in March. It had a great set, Christie's trademark twisting plot, much politically incorrect dialogue(!) and was well-acted throughout. This was my third of these plays and the Company is now in its eighth year.

The 2013 production is Go Back For Murder, a thrilling tale of a daughter trying to clear her mother's name. It has been directed by Joe Harmston and designed by Simon Scullion and boasts a well-known cast including Robert Duncan, a stalwart of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company. Other 'names' are Liza Goddard, Sophie Ward, Lysette Anthony, Gary Mavers and Ben Nealon.
Carla Le Marchant learns a disturbing family secret, that her mother, Caroline Crale, died in prison after being convicted for poisoning her father. Caroline leaves an intriguing legacy in the form of a letter professing her innocence and, believing this to be true, Carla is determined to clear her mother’s name. Enlisting the help of Justin Fogg, the son of her mother’s defence lawyer, Carla searches out all the players from her tragic history and brings them back to the scene of the crime to uncover the truth

Devonshire Park Theatre, Mon 22 - Sat 27th Apr, 19.30.
Wed and Sat matinees, 14.30.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Ben Pavey (artist)

Eastbourne Map by Ben Pavey
I was introduced to the art of Ben Pavey by storyteller Sally-Shakti Willow. Ben creates local art, is an illustrator, and also specialises in intricate paper cutting. In common with several pieces currently at the East Sussex Open this is a very labour intensive process bordering on the compulsive and I love the results produced. On the way out of the Open, make a detour through the Towner gift shop as they are currently stocking his A3 prints and mugs. Limited edition A2 prints are at Eastbourne Framing Centre. In the meantime, keep on reading as Ben has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his work for this blog:

tE: What first attracted you to Paper Cut Art?
BP: I was inspired by the work of people like Rob Ryan who create such beautiful, intricate and clever works of art. I also love the traditional Swiss decoupage, often a symmetrical mountain scene as a black silhouette. The functional way it all connects together is often so beautifully done, it's so clever and draws you in to the image.

tE: How long did it take to design and cut the amazing Eastbourne Map?
BP: I started working on the Eastbourne map a year ago, but life took over and it got put to one side. I picked it back up in October , it probably took about 70 hours to draw out. It takes so long because there is so much detail, but also because that detail has to be connected all together and be able to be cut to make one connected piece. I use photos, sketches and Google street view to help compose the illustration. The original intention was to draw it digitally so that it could be cut out by a laser-cutter in wood, they have to be quite big, about 1.2 metres wide and look lovely. I have to make them to order though because they take a day to cut and assemble. The image can also be laser-cut in paper and I've made a few of these, although mostly I have worked with the image as a lithographic print.

detail of Eastbourne Map by Ben Pavey
tE: I saw you are currently also creating a Brighton Map. Do you feel that maps particularly lend themselves to paper cut?
BP: The Brighton map is about 20 hours from finishing, It's taken quite a lot longer and will be a much bigger image. Maps of old towns and cities have a really appealing, artistic quality to them. These urban spaces have evolved as towns and cities and grow out from their old centres creating a focal point that draws you in. I love the way they piece together and create a network that really does lend itself to this sort of illustration. At the moment I am working digitally from my hand drawn sketches and photos to create the paths for the laser-cutter to cut these images out, but I would like to try to make one off hand paper cuts in the future and also experiment with different themes that could be connected in a 'map-like' way but aren't geographical as such.

tE: What future plans do you have for your art?
BP: At the moment, all my energy and time is going into finishing the Brighton map, I'm aiming for Easter and after that I think I'll do a series of smaller pieces to try out some new ideas. I'd like to work in 3D with the same sort idea and I have some ideas for a clock with moving paper cut backgrounds that could be really interesting.

If this blog has whetted your appetite for Ben's work, there's more information on his website and he also has a Facebook page.
A3 prints and mugs are available from the Towner gift shop.
Bigger A2 limited edition prints in blue ink are available from Eastbourne Framing Centre.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Drones (music)

Original and inventive music for today's blog! The Drones have been featured on BBC radio and on Blue Peter and are soon to be performing at the Lamb Folk Club in Eastbourne's Old Town. The quartet hail from London and are Steve Grocott, Jon Petter, Tanera Dawkins and Giles Leaman. They are all multi-instrumentalists with talents including cello, mandolin, clarinet, percussion, car parts, toys, birdcalls, musical saw and items from the garden shed!

Songwriter and prolific composer Steve Grocott founded the band primarily as a place to create and hone new music. The Drones are particularly interested in unusual musical textures and time signatures which explains their preference for bizarre instrumentation. They work extensively in schools, museums and arts centres, running creative music workshops and instrument making sessions. Their fourth album, Drones 4, was released in 2011 featuring fiddle player Elliet Mackrell and one of my absolute favourite folk musicians, Rory McLeod.

Upstairs at The Lamb, Wed 17th Apr, 20:00.
Tickets £6 on the door.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

EBS Rock The Redoubt

I first heard about the two-day Spring Fair that is EBS Rock The Redoubt through the lovely Sally-Shakti Willow who leads the Storytelling Sundays workshops. EBS - Eastbourne Bonfire Society - are effectively taking over the venue for the first weekend in April for the free public event and there will be lots of different entertainments on offer. Sally-Shakti will be one of the storytellers in attendance throughout.

Acts so far that have confirmed they will be appearing include The Sea Gypsies - Eastbourne's very own bellydancing troupe, and Kelly Ann Freeman, a solo bellydancer. The Pentacle Drummers will be out in force on both days and the Denda samba drummers are promised for Sunday. Several bands will be there although I don't have any idea of the playing order or their performance times yet: covers band Random, folk band Touchstone, Eagles and Beatles covers from The Beagles (do you see what they did there!), original songs from Roads To Ruin, and Sam Calver who is a singer/guitarist from Hastings. Operatic Contralto Caroline Jones will be at the Redoubt on both days and you will also be able to see firewalker, Tinker Fay.

Keep an eye on the EBS facebook page for the latest details and additions!

Redoubt Fortress, 6th and 7th Apr, 11:00-17:00.
Free admission.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Wife, The Mistress, The Chair (theatre)

Holly Lindfield in
The Wife, The Mistress, The Chair
Did you see The Green Room ProductionsLittle Gem in November? If not, you did miss a treat! The heart-warming play of three generations of Dublin women showed how family relationships can be strengthened by adversity. 

Now two of Little Gem's stars, Sandra Cheesman and Holly Lindfield, are returning to The Little Theatre with the premiere of a brand new play which is quite the opposite. The Wife, The Mistress, The Chair depicts the aftermath of an extramarital affair, exploring themes of infidelity and revenge. 

Sandra says "It is a story that has been swilling around the old grey matter since 2009 due to conversations our first play, 'The Collector', stimulated. I started writing my own experiences and those of my friends regarding infidelity, and it spiraled from there. Suddenly people were inadvertently telling me stories and I started doing some research on the internet and the play took shape. I started writing it almost a year ago to the day - it has changed a LOT since that first draft!"

Humiliation, pain, anger, suffering, being scared, feeling cornered, having someone else be in control of your life, being unsure of what your future holds .... all the emotions that dominate her every waking moment, since she found out.

Humiliation, pain, anger, suffering, being scared, feeling cornered, having someone else be in control of your life, being unsure of what your future holds .... now it’s time for the ‘other her’ to experience the same.

I have been told that The Wife, The Mistress, The Chair is suitable for audiences aged 14 and over.

The Little Theatre, Thu 18th - Sat 20th Apr, 19:30.
Tickets £11 (concessions £10), available online through TicketSource.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Claudia Thomas (artist)

A walk to buy theatre tickets at the Congress Box Office on a sunny(ish) Saturday a couple of weeks ago led me to discover the art and design work of Claudia Thomas. Claudia is a third year design student at Kingston University and some of her creations are currently on show - and for sale - at Barley Sugar. Fimo jewellery brooches, earrings and bracelets are just inside the door and to your right, or take a walk up the few steps past the till to see her delicate raised paper pictures. These were what first caught my eye. They are made of small repeating motifs cut from recycled papers such as maps and the shapes include hearts and umbrellas. Very elegant.
Claudia has a Facebook page for her Claudia Made This brand.

Barley Sugar has two outlets, the one I visited on Cornfield Terrace which boasts an accompanying coffee shop, and a second shop in Meads. They only opened in June last year and sell an eclectic mix of new women's clothing, jewellery, delicatessen foods and home decor together with vintage finds such as Royal Doulton china in the Country Roses design that my Mum collected for years and a lovely retro coffee set that was very reasonable and tempting!

Barley Sugar, Mon-Sat 10:00-17:30.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Matter Of Life And Death (film)

Vintage film for this blog post in the form of a classic supernatural fantasy romance from 1946, presented by Eastbourne Film Society. Written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, A Matter Of Life And Death tells the story of an RAF pilot who cheats death over the English Channel. It stars David Niven in, I think, one of the best roles he ever played, together with Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey and Marius Goring.

Peter Carter (David Niven) is nursing home a damaged Lancaster bomber after a raid over Germany in 1945. He persuades the rest of his crew to bail out safely, heroically failing to reveal to them that his own parachute is useless. After talking to American radio operator June (Kim Hunter) for a few minutes over the airwaves, Peter leaps supposedly to his death. However, there is thick fog over the Channel that night meaning that Peter fails to rendezvous with Conductor 71 (Marius Goring), the supernatural being who was meant to lead him to the afterlife. Peter wakes up the next morning, having landed remarkably close to June's airbase. Conductor 71 finds Peter and tries to persuade him to accept his death and move on, but Peter has already fallen in love with June and cannot bear to leave her. Peter is given special dispensation to argue his case for remaining on Earth in front of a celestial court.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 17th Apr, 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).

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Noises Off (theatre)

I was happy when Noises Off was first announced as coming to Eastbourne during the Eastbourne Festival. I have never seen it and it is such a classic comedy that I really should do. However, I have now discovered that it is being performed at the Congress Theatre which I just don't like as a play venue. I accept that the Congress can be exciting when packed to the rafters for a big musical or a gig, but if the audience are somewhat lacking in numbers then any atmosphere created onstage doesn't seem to get far over the orchestra pit. The last play I saw there, The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, definitely suffered from this syndrome and I am concerned that if the same holds true for Noises Off, then I might not get my £25 worth.

Written by Michael Frayn, Noises Off premiered at the Lyric Theatre in 1982. The run continued at the Savoy Theatre until 1987 winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. The version now touring has been updated from the original. Frayn continually rewrote the script up until 2000 to eliminate jokes that were too dated although I am not sure if this process still happens. The tour is an Old Vic production starring Neil Pearson and Maureen Beattie, directed by Lindsay Posner. 

The story is a play within a play allowing the audience to view the backstage rivalries, shenanigans and general incompetence of a fictional company and their tour of a farce entitled Nothing On. We see the dress rehearsal where no one has yet got to grips with their cues, an early performance which hasn't much improved, and one of the last shows of the tour which is still disastrous, the jaded company being utterly fed up by this point.
Congress Theatre, Tue 16 - Sat 20th Apr, 19:30.
Thu and 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.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Sussex Police Rock Challenge (dance)

The global phenomenon that is Rock Challenge is appearing at the Congress Theatre at the end of March, promoted by the Be Your Best Foundation. Originally a drama competition that started in Sydney, Australia in the early 1980s, it made its way to the UK in 1996 being introduced by Inspector Mark Pontin of the Hampshire Constabulary. By 2009, there were 9 primary school events, 31 secondary school/college events, 6 secondary school/college Regional Grand Finals, 1 National Grand Final and over 23,000 young people took part!

Global Rock Challenge

The idea is that a team for any school or college that wants to take part decides upon a short dance-drama production that reflects their personalities and interests. They choreograph the dance, record the music, design and create their costumes and build their set. Then all the teams get together for one day, to see each others work and to perform their dances to public audience in the evening. The evening performance is judged with the best team going forward to Regional Finals and, hopefully, the UK National Grand Final.

The teams in the Eastbourne competition will include Bexhill College, Bishop Bell CE School, Brighton and Hove High School and St Leonard's Academy. If you know of any more, please Comment at the end of this post and I'll add them.

Congress Theatre, Tue 26th Mar, 19:00.
Tickets £12, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cyril Edward Power (art)

The Tube Station by
Cyril Edward Power
I'm sure as far as Eastbourne Framing Centre was concerned, I was far too excited by the presence of a particular greeting card in their shop when I popped in to visit on Saturday. The reason was that we had seen a full-size print of this lino-cut image in a tiny shop in Arundel last summer. I had seriously considered buying it as I love the curves and shapes, but the vendor kept pushing the money side of the purchase, how it would appreciate in value and what a great deal he was offering. He didn't even mention the artist's name and I found that very off-putting! So I didn't buy it then, but now I have a mini version to put up on the stairs.

Cyril Edward Power is not the first deceased artist I have mentioned on this blog, but I believe he is the first to get a post to himself. Born in 1872 in Chelsea, he was encouraged to draw from an early age by his artist father, Edward William Power. Cyril was a talented architect, being awarded the Sloane Medallion by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1900, and I think this knowledge is an important facet of his art. The image above, The Tube Station, was done in 1925 which was the same year as Power co-founded The Grosvenor School Of Modern Art in London. Cyril Power died in 1951 aged 78.

Eastbourne Framing Centre, Mondays to Saturdays, 9:00-17:00.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Spark (theatre)

A 'positively Hitchcockian thriller' will be unnerving audiences at The Little Theatre in April when C.A.M. Productions perform Susanne Crosby's new work, The Spark.

The Spark is a full version of a short, one-act play which was performed to glowing praise from audiences at the 2004 Brighton Fringe Festival. As well as writing, award winning playwright Susanne Crosby is also directing this 2013 version and is one of the six-strong cast, the other actors being Sarah Doherty, Andy Crosby, Steve Darvill, David Aitchison and Donna Vaughan.

Mark is recovering from an injury in his girlfriend’s home and is bored. Sweet and kind Nicki buys him a present, a pen, to inspire him to start writing again. As he does, she starts experiencing strange happenings and both of their lives start unravelling. Is Mark disappearing into his world of fiction and his vicious main character? Or is Nicki losing her mind?

The Little Theatre, Wed 10th to Sat 13th Apr, 19:30.
Tickets £6.50 (£5.50 concessions), available online or by calling 01323 744298.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

East Sussex Open (art)

I blogged about Submissions to the Towner Gallery's East Sussex Open exhibition way back in November last year so I was excited to attend the preview last Friday (8th Mar) and discover which works have been chosen. We were told that 220 artists had submitted pieces and 38 had been successful. I like that there is a high proportion of three-dimensional work this year and 24 of the artists are women which was great to see on International Women's Day! Curator Sanna Moore explained the high pressure selection process, that the three curators viewed five slides of every single work submitted, discussed and decided upon the ones they wanted, and the whole process took place over just two days - with lots of coffee!

On my initial sweep of the gallery, my immediate favourites were both themed around lace but of very different types! Teresa Whitfield has drawn vintage lace with every detail perfectly reproduced. Her images are ink on paper, but you have to peer very closely to be sure of this as it looks just like real vintage lace at first glance. My other lace choice is Limb by Vanessa Knott. This is a tree branch which has been completely obscured with red strawberry laces sweets. Sanna said that Vanessa had spent two days in the gallery hand-tying each lace around the branch to complete her work. One of the important features for me is the delicate scent of strawberries that surrounds you as you read the notice. In common with The Forked Forest Path by Olafur Eliasson, the 'star' of the recent Bon Hiver exhibition, I found that the scent really added to the piece and I hope this is an attribute that the Towner will continue to consider in the future.

Back to drawing and Anthony Felton's pencil portrait, Jess, particularly caught my eye. It is just by Chris Hawkins' adorable silver Suit Of Armour For A Small Bird. Hermione Allsopp is exhibiting in the Open for the third year running and her Field Of Dreams is the major work spread across the floor on the left side of the gallery. I think I like this. I definitely like the blend of colours and items but I'm not sure I totally got what Hermione was saying with it. Return visit required! Grace Powell has three works included, the most striking of which - A Murder Of Crows - I found to be reminiscent of the scene from Headlong Theatre's Earthquakes in London when the nannies turn into birds. That was frightening too! For me, the most emotional of the three was Spinsters which is three felted dolls lying 'gathering dust' on the shelves of a model dresser, the cupboard of which contains felted eggs. This work tied in with the photography of Tina Marie Reid. Tina is unable to have children so has created photography featuring herself with a doll in the place of a child. The two at the Towner are entitled Bluebells and Birthday and are very poignant.

Towner Gallery, Sat 9th Mar to Sun 28th Apr.
Tue - Sun, 10:00-17:00.
Free admission.

Monday, 11 March 2013

War of The Worlds (music)

A re-imagining of Jeff Wayne's fantastical War Of The Worlds will be screened at Eastbourne's Cineworld on the 11th of April as a one-night-only special event.

Originally performed in front of a live audience at London's O2 arena in December, The War of the Worlds - Alive On Stage! is a stunning multimedia presentation. A holographic and filmed performance by actor Liam Neeson as George Herbert, The Journalist, is fronted by 45 musicians on stage, conducted by Jeff Wayne himself. Liam Neeson interacts with the live performers who include Jason Donovan, Marti Pellow, Wicked’s Kerry Ellis, Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson and Jett Black’s Will Stapleton.

The first War Of The Worlds was a science-fiction novel by H G Wells, published in 1898, which tells the story of a man trying to find his wife as invading Martians lay waste to Southern England. Jeff Wayne composed a musical version of the story which he released as a double-album in 1978. I learned that it is the 38th best selling album of all time in the UK. Alive On Stage! lasts for 1 hour 40 minutes and includes the hit singles The Eve Of The War and Forever Autumn.

Cineworld, Thu 11th April, 20:00.
Tickets £10 adults, £8 concessions, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000 or in person from the machines in the foyer.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Amour (film)

I didn't spot Michael Haneke's new film in its brief appearance at the Curzon recently in time to blog about it so I'm pleased that Amour has also got a three-day run at Hailsham Pavilion in about a week's time. I enjoyed his previous film White Ribbon which was a bizarre black-and-white German language drama set just before the First World War.

Amour, which was both written and directed by Haneke, is in French but is a co-production between French, German and Austrian companies. (Haneke himself is Austrian.) The film tells the story of Anne and George, two retired music teachers who are now in their eighties. Anne, played by eighty-five year old Emmanuelle Riva, suffers a stroke which paralyses one side of her body. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) becomes her carer, having promised Anne that she will not go into a home. Their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) tries to persuade him otherwise but he will not go back on his promise and Eva cannot help as she lives abroad. After Anne suffers a second stroke leaving her with dementia and unable to speak, Georges struggles to cope with the strain.

Hailsham Pavilion, Mon 18th and Tue 19th Mar, 19:45.
Wed 20th Mar, 14:15.
Tickets £6.50, concessions £5, Wed matinee £4.50, available online, by calling 01323 841414 or in person at the Box Office.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Charley's Aunt (theatre)

Creative Cow are back! Following on from the success of The Rivals last year, which got great reviews from both The Stage and WhatsOnStage, the Devon-based company are soon returning to Eastbourne with their production of Charley's Aunt.

It is 1892 and dashing Oxford undergraduates, Jack and Charley are preparing to propose to Amy and Kitty, but a chaperone is needed or the girls will refuse their lunch invitation. As luck would have it, Charley’s Aunt is arriving from Brazil (where the nuts come from) and will happily serve the purpose. However, a telegram declares that her trip is delayed so their plans are in disarray until they hit upon the idea that Lord Fancourt Babberley, their good friend, should put on a frock and assume her identity.

The farce was written by Brandon Thomas and seems to have been performed almost continuously, somewhere in the world, since its very first performance at London's Royalty Theatre in 1892. There have been several film versions and the original play has been translated into at least a dozen languages for various productions. I'm not usually a fan of farce but, having been so delighted by the National's The Magistrate in January and as this is such a classic, I'll give it a go!
Devonshire Park Theatre, Wed 9th to Sat 13th Apr, 19:45.
Wed and 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.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Stan Tracey Trio (jazz)

photo by Andrew Cleyndert
The first ever Ivor Novello Jazz Award is the latest accolade in the long and distinguished career of Stan Tracey CBE. His amazing career has seen him write and release over forty albums since he began playing professionally in 1943, joining a variety troupe as an accordionist aged just 16. He was inspired to take up the piano a year later and never looked back! Described as "the percussive melody of Thelonious Monk with the robust lyricism of Ellington in a highly unique style", Stan's playing and creativity have influenced musicians for seven decades. His most recent recordings include Soundcheck, a set of duet improvisations recorded with his son, Clark, which was released in 2011.
Stan Tracey will be visiting the Under Ground Theatre for March's jazz night with his trio which comprises of Clark Tracey on drums and Andrew Cleyndert on bass.

Under Ground Theatre, Fri 22nd Mar, 20:00.
Tickets £13 (members/students £12), available online, by calling 0845 680 1926 or in person at the Under Ground and the Tourist Information Office.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Versatile Art

The first art exhibition at Stone Cross Nurseries will be held in March. The official opening is on Wednesday the 20th but doors will be actually be open all week from Monday the 18th until Sunday the 24th, 10am - 4pm. There is free admission and free parking and we are promised a wide variety of art to peruse including sculpture and photography, paintings and prints. There will also be art talks and the possibility multimedia presentations during the weekend.

Garry Winwood, of Stone Cross Nurseries, explained his inspiration for the concept of art at a garden centre:

GW:The Centre now has a CafĂ© (Grape Vine) with an Events / Show room attached and to support this we are holding all types of entertainment. We are hosting many events now at Stone Cross from Wedding fairs to Wassails and Garden parties to Beer / Band festivals through our Big Garden Party Events brand

Stone Cross Nurseries, Mon 18th - Sun 24th Mar, 10:00 - 16:00.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

La lingua amara dell'amore (opera)

The exciting project Opera Coast began in Eastbourne last summer when the group performed Scenes From La Traviata as the culmination of a weekend workshop. This year's summer workshop will be scenes from The Rake's Progress but in the meantime Opera Coast are creating a mid-season 'Interlude' concert. In association with the Eastbourne Festival and as the next step in their mission to bring opera to local people, La lingua amara dell'amore will be performed at the Birley Centre in April. Project Coordinator Anastasia Witts told me more about what we can expect:

AW: Young soloists that sang with us last year or are to sing with us in the future are performing an evening of opera arias and ensembles entitled La lingua amara dell'amore - The Bitter Tongue of Love. In our programme we are including numbers in different languages - from Italian to Russian and Czech aiming to give our audience an opportunity to think about the most powerful of human feelings and the ways it is portrayed in opera.

The soloists will again be joined by Nigel Foster at the piano and the music will be by composers including Mozart, Verdi, Lehar, Rimsky-Korsakov, Dvorak, Walton and Strauss.

Birley Centre, Sat 6th Apr, 19.00.
Tickets £12 adults, free for under 20s, available online through wegottickets or in person at the Tourist Information Office.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Caucasian Chalk Circle (theatre)

I'm starting to think of the Little Theatre at the Cavendish School as the 'go to' venue for serious theatre in Eastbourne. In the space of just a couple of months the venue will have hosted Bootcamp Theatre's production of Bent, Green Room Productions' The Wife, The Mistress, The Chair and, in between, the students of Cavendish School are putting on The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

Fittingly, the first performance of the play was also a student production, but in Minnesota in 1948. German playwright Bertolt Brecht had written it in 1944 while living in America. He had already written a short story entitled Der Ausberger Kreidekreis which was itself derived from an ancient Chinese play, Circle of Chalk by Li Xingdao. I saw an excellent performance at the Devonshire Park two years ago from Blackeyed Theatre which made this one of my favourite works.

Caucasian Chalk Circle is presented as a play within a play and several strands to the tale all interweave as we learn more about each character and their motivations. The main story thread is that of rich Governor and his wife Natella who are forced to flee their city in wartime. In their haste, Natella leaves her son behind. He is rescued and raised by Grusha, formerly their maid. Years later, Grusha learns that Natella is trying to reclaim her son and the two women go to court to decide who is 'really' his mother: the woman who gave birth to him or the woman who raised him.

Little Theatre, Tue 19th - Thu 21st Mar, 19:00.
Tickets £5 (£3.50 concessions), available online or by calling 01323 744298.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Red Lion Open Stage Night (music)

Richard Walder and Ron Turner
My Dave used to play regularly at Chiddingly's Six Bells Folk and Blues Club and at White Horse Folk, but has been 'off' the idea for a while so I was quite surprised when he seemed keen to try out the Red Lion this month. He has been working on some new recordings recently and I think this might have inspired him.

The Open Stage Night at the Red Lion pub in Willingdon happens on the last Thursday of every month. It is hosted by R'n'R, Richard Walder and Ron Turner, and is an opportunity for musicians in any genre of music to showcase their talent to the local community. The evening starts promptly at 8pm. We arrived about quarter to and it's a good thing we weren't much later as the room was already beginning to fill. The Open Stage is held in a separate room away from the bar so the audience can really listen to the performers without distraction. We were told this month was the first time Richard and Ron had dispensed with amps and microphones so everything was purely acoustic. I liked this as everyone was easily loud enough to be heard and the changeovers were very fast without the need for plugging in. Other comments I overheard also seemed to be in agreement but I don't know at the time of writing whether acoustic will triumph!

There was varied good quality music and spoken word performances including folk songs, pop songs, instrumental guitar pieces, self-penned poetry and funny monologues. Richard and Ron are (fairly) efficient and very genial hosts and maintained a friendly, supportive atmosphere throughout the evening. I was very proud of my Dave, especially his slowed-up version of You're The One That I Want from Grease which I had no idea he had been learning! Other performers I recognised included Chris Liddiard (who currently has an art exhibition at the Under Ground), Geoff Morley who runs the Under Ground Open Stage nights, Geoff Jackson of the Six Bells Folk and Blues Club, and the inimitable Terry Lees. I think maybe half of us there were audience, rather than potential performers which made for a nice mix.

Red Lion, last Thursday of each month (except August), 20:00.
Dates for the rest of 2013 are on the Calendar.
Free admission but it is a pub!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Natural Textures (art)

I love springtime! Not only do we get the return of longer days, warmer weather and bright flowers, but venues I've missed during the winter months start opening their doors again. I think the first of these 'closed' venues to re-emerge is Hailsham's Gallery North and their first exhibition of 2013 is entitled Natural Textures.

Natural Textures showcases the photography of Liz and Roger Scott together with the textiles of Julia Desch and Angela Anstey-Holroyd. There is also work from resident artists including Josie Tipler, Andrew G Forrest and current Under Ground exhibitor Chris Liddiard.

Roger Scott is a member of both the Eastbourne and Hailsham photographic societies. He has a selection of photographs downstairs at Gallery North three of which - Frost Patterns, Ice Patterns 1 and Ice Patterns 2 - I liked because of their differences. Frost Patterns has angular spikes and shards whereas the Ice Patterns are curves and circles. Another of his photographs, Nets, was actually taken in Dungeness but the image subject is so global, it could have been Africa or Asia. Four of Liz Scott's photographs caught my eye because of their seemingly magical composition. Liz has captured close-ups of tree boughs and trunks but they appear as human forms. The textiles are beautiful soft shawls and woven pieces by Woolcraft With Wensleydale. There has been a little of their work at Gallery North before but I don't think I had previously seen the fabulous '3D' rugs. My favourites of everything were probably the fabric images by Angela Anstey-Holroyd. She has hand-dyed and painted fabrics, then machine and hand embroidered them to produce recreations of seascapes and of lichen which is amazing to see. I think this work alone would be worth your trip out to Hailsham, if you don't already live there!

Upstairs, the top of the stairs is taken up by bright, bold paintings by Ian Dowding. His Golden Syrup, Heinz Beans and Birds Custard trio are great fun. I wished Dave had been with me to see the Red Cadillac and the gorgeous turquoise blue Cresta. Josie Tipler is showing a number of her fish paintings which I was pleased to see 'for real' having previously only seen them online. The largest piece, Big Pond, is alive with the movement of goldfish. I imagined they were anticipating being fed. The two monochrome Vorticist works are interesting as they show the same essential subject matter but with a very different atmosphere.

I spent quite a while chatting with the twins, the stewards, about the art and also about the Gallery itself. There was some concern over the structural soundness of the building and it is great that Wealden Council, its owners, have agreed to step up and complete repairs.

Gallery North, Tue 26th Feb - Sat 27th Apr.
Tues-Sat, 10:00-16:00.
Free admission, donations appreciated.