Monday, 30 September 2013

A Christmas Carol (musical theatre)

Young EODS are returning to the Devonshire Park Theatre soon for their annual production which this year is a musical version of the Charles Dicken's classic tale, A Christmas Carol. The musical is perfect for families with children of about five years and older. It will be directed by Moira Brooker.

The miserly Scrooge is making Christmas miserable for all his employees including the Cratchit family who can hardly afford to live every other day of the year, let alone splash out on something special to celebrate Christmas. But overnight, four ghosts come to visit Scrooge, showing him the error of his ways and trying to persuade him that being light-hearted and generous is a better way to live.

Young EODS is made of young people aged from 8 to 18 and put on a spectacular show every autumn. If you are, or if you know, someone who would be interested in joining next year, application forms can now be downloaded from their web page.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Wed 30th Oct to Sat 2nd Nov, 19:45.
Fri and Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets £12, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Boo Hewerdine (music)

Singer songwriter Boo Hewerdine is the second guest for October at the Lamb Folk Club. He's busily touring right up until the end of the year and has many gigs with Eddi Reader, Brooks Williams or Darden Smith but the Lamb gig will be a solo affair.

A prolific composer, apparently Hewerdine began creating songs and offering them to local bands in his teens, before he had even learned to play an instrument. Now he is probably best known for his collaborations with Eddi Reader and her single Patience Of Angels. However a quick glance at his website reveals a wide range of artists for whom he has written including Jerry Douglas, Melanie Chisholm, Marti Pellow, k d lang, Suggs, and Paul Young (soon to be seen at Hailsham Pavilion - blog post coming on 23rd Oct!). I enjoyed hearing a few of his songs on the BBC4 Songwriter's Circle where he played alongside Justin Currie and Chris Difford.

Lamb Folk Club, 16th Oct, 20:00.
Tickets £7, available on the door.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Lincoln (film)

Were you at Seaford Community Cinema's Oscar Night on Friday? If not, I'm sure you missed a treat!
Composer Stephen Warbeck was their honoured guest, together with his Oscar statuette, for a special screening of Shakespeare In Love to open the new film season. The second film of the season, albeit without such a special guest, is Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

The two-an-a-half hour epic tells the story of the last four months of the life of American President Abraham Lincoln. He is desperately trying to push a bill through the House Of Representatives which would abolish slavery in the USA. However, this is at the time of the Civil War when many thousands of people from the Southern states have been dying to protect their 'right' to own slaves. The film received high praise from reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic and Daniel Day-Lewis is superb as Lincoln. There is a huge cast however and, when I saw the film earlier this year, I found it difficult to keep track of who everyone was and how they fitted in to the story. I think the history is quite accurate for a Hollywood film although there is an almost overwhelming sense of prescience. Also it concentrates on the political bickering so practically all the lead characters are white men making profound speeches. For a film that spends so much of its time discussing the future of black Americans, this does seem to be a missed opportunity.

Barn Theatre, Fri 11th Oct, 19:30.
Tickets £6, £5 members, £3.50 children under 15, available online, in person in advance from Seaford Tourist Office or, subject to availability, on the door.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Spartacus (ballet)

I managed to almost have my cake and eat it over the weekend by finding a 2008 YouTube of the Bolshoi performing Spartacus so I no longer have the dilemma of choosing between this ballet and the Royal Opera House's Don Quixote which are both at Cineworld in the same week. The 2008 isn't exactly the same production and, obviously, watching it on a small laptop screen doesn't impart the same atmosphere but it does star the wonderful Carlos Acosta as Spartacus alongside Alexander Volchkov as Crassus.

A triumphal procession marks the return to Rome of the consul Crassus. Among his chained prisoners are Spartacus and his wife Phrygia, both of whom are condemned to slavery. Spartacus is taken off to become a gladiator and subsequently forced to kill a man in combat. Disgusted, he foments a rebellion and the gladiators escape to freedom. But Spartacus cannot bear the thought of Phrygia as one of Crassus's concubines and leads an attack to rescue the slave women.

I wasn't convinced by the dancing soldiers but the slaves were very movingly portrayed and I can see why Spartacus has become a classic. Khachaturian's most famous ballet was first performed by the Bolshoi back in 1958, but it was Yuri Grigorovich's choreography for the 1968 production that sealed the ballet's reputation as one of the greatest works in the Bolshoi's repertoire. The broadcast has a 12A certificate.

Cineworld, Sun 20th Oct, 16:00.
Tickets £16.11 adults, £12.78 concessions, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, or in person from the foyer.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Merry Wives Of Windsor (theatre)

The Shakespeare play The Merry Wives of Windsor is the forthcoming offering from Creative Cow. This is the theatre company whose elegant production of Charley's Aunt I enjoyed last year. This national tour is running from the middle of September until the beginning of November and will arrive at the Devonshire Park Theatre towards the end of October - so they should all be very slick by then!

The puffed up and degenerate Sir John Falstaff, a Knight of the Garter, is seized with the outrageous idea that to seduce two of Windsor’s wealthy merry wives will prove his virility and give him access to their money. The assignations are made, but with female cunning and a devilish plot involving their husbands, Falstaff is repeatedly tricked by the women. The cast of Jack Hulland, Sean Aydon, Katherine Senior, Jonathan Parish, Jack Wharrier and Maia Gibbons are being directed by Amanda Knott.

Actor and founder member of Creative Cow Theatre Company, Katherine Senior said “When we toured another great farce, ‘Charley’s Aunt’, it became clear how much our audiences enjoyed re-visiting a great and – perhaps sadly – less often performed comedy. So this is another helping. We hope our audiences will have even more fun being entertained by it than we’ve had rehearsing and producing it.”

Devonshire Park Theatre, Thu 24th to Sat 26th Oct, 19:45.
Sat matinee, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Round Ireland With A Fridge (film)

Tony Hawks' 1997 travel book Round Ireland With A Fridge is one that I've meant to read several times but still haven't quite got round to so I might just have to watch the film version instead. Fortunately, it has been chosen as the Under Ground Theatre's Thursday evening Art House screening for October.

In a Guinness World Record Winning expedition, Tony Hawks really did hitch-hike around the perimeter of Ireland, with a fridge, within the space of one calendar month. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole journey was the result of a drunken bet placed with Hawks' best friend for the grand sum of £100!

The RIWAF film was written by and stars Hawks and was directed by Ed Bye. The cast includes well-known comedians Josie Lawrence, Ed Byrne and Sean Hughes and the soundtrack includes songs by Nik Kershaw and Chesney Hawkes. It premiered at the Cambridge Film Festival in 2010 and has a PG certificate.

Under Ground Theatre, Thu 24th Oct, 19:30.
Tickets £5, available online, by calling 0845 680 1926 or in person at the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Mary's Boys (musical theatre)

You might remember back in July, I blogged an appeal from The Haven Players for men to audition for their production of a new musical play, Mary's Boys? Well, now it's nearly time to see how all their hard work has paid off.

Directed by Michael Bale, Mary's Boys was written by Darren Vallier, Michelle Pollard and Gaynor Newnham. The casting involved the ambitious target of finding seventeen men to play a lifeboat crew. I'm sure anyone connected with amateur theatre will appreciate the efforts needed to find that many men! There is also at least one woman: Emma Pierssene (The History Boys, Everything Between Us). The songs are available to listen to through iTunes.

The Mary Stanford Lifeboat sailed out of Rye Harbour in November 1928 in what was then the worst storm in living memory, to save the crew of a Latvian steamer. The boat took three attempts to launch, with the help of the whole village, not realising that the boat they were trying to save had already been rescued. They needn't have gone and the entire crew of 17 men died.

Eastbourne College Theatre, Thu 24th to Sat 26th Oct, 19:30.
Sat matinee, 14:30.
Tickets £10.50 adults, £8.50 students, available online or by calling 01323 767816.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Hungrytown (music)

I got chatting to John Cave when he was one of the three performers at the recent Under Ground Theatre's songwriter circle. He runs Seaford Folk Club which meets at the Royal British Legion in Claremont Road to enjoy mostly traditional folk music. Every week talented guest artistes from a range of musical backgrounds are booked to perform two extended sets in between which they are supported by short spots from the residents and other visiting performers.

This Friday, the 27th September, the visiting artist will be Jimmy Lee and the Edge of Chaos Orchestra, who will be followed on the 4th October by an American duo from Vermont who caught my ear, Hungrytown. The duo are Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson. Rebecca is an accomplished songwriter and vocalist who began singing as a child in church. Ken is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist as well as a talented producer and arranger. He played drums and keyboards in childhood, and has since moved on to bass, guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica. As well as Rebecca's earlier solo work, produced by Ken, Hungrytown have released two albums, the eponymous Hungrytown in 2008 and Any Forgotten Thing in 2011. They spend most of their time now touring the US, Canada and Europe.

Seaford Folk Club, Fri 4th Oct, 19:45.
Admission by donation which is used to pay the guest performer.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Hamlet (theatre)

Rory Kinnear as Hamlet
photo by Johan Persson 
If, like me, you're a relatively recent convert to the delights of the National Theatre Live cinema experiences, you might also be happy to learn that several encore screenings are planned over the next few months. As part of the celebration of 50 years of the National Theatre, popular plays of the last couple of years will be given another 'one night only' so we have the chance to catch up on a few that we might have missed. The first of the encores is to be Shakespeare's Hamlet starring the Olivier award winning Rory Kinnear. (Kinnear is also in the Othello production being screened in a few days time - got your tickets yet?)

Hamlet was originally screened in 2010 and was directed by Nicholas Hytner. The cast also includes Clare Higgins (Gertrude), Patrick Malahide (Claudius), David Calder (Polonius), James Laurenson (Ghost/Player King) and Ruth Negga (Ophelia). Apparently one of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays during his own lifetime, Hamlet is still one of the most popular plays four hundred years later. 

A ghost is discovered walking the battlements of a Danish castle one dark night. He resembles the deceased King and so watchmen bring the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, to him. The ghost tells Hamlet  that he is indeed Hamlet's father, that he was murdered by Claudius, and that Hamlet should seek vengeance on the murderer. A thoughtful man, Hamlet is upset by contemplating such violence and become depressed, even seeming to sink into madness.

Cineworld, Tue 22nd Oct, 19:00.
Tickets £10.50 adults, £8.40 concessions, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, on in person from the foyer.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Cisse And Ada (theatre)

The famous Les Dawson characters of Cisse and Ada, two ample ladies of a certain age who were memorably brought to life by Les and Roy Barraclough, are being given new adventures in a play soon to tour to the Devonshire Park Theatre. The play's title, Cissie and Ada: An Hysterical Rectomy, probably tells us 'quite enough' about the humour!

Cisse and Ada is set around the time of Les Dawson's return to the BBC in the late 1970s and there's a nice interview about it with writer Graham Warrener on Cutting The Strings Theatre Company are producing and the director is John Jackson Almond. The cast comprises of two former Coronation Street favourites, Eric Potts (Diggory) and Steven Arnold (Ashley), joined by Steve Nallon and Natasha Magigi.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Mon 21st to Wed 23rd Oct, 19:45.
Wed matinee, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Don Quixote (ballet)

After the first Royal Opera House opera, Turandot, a few days ago, the Royal Ballet Live will be launching their cinema season on the 16th of October. Marianela Núñez will dance Kitri alongside Carlos Acosta as Basilio. Acosta has danced the virtuoso role of Basilio many times and the Royal Ballet are especially excited that he is creating this new production for them with choreography after Marius Petipa.

The story of Cervantes well-meaning Knight, Don Quixote, and his farmer side-kick, Sancho Panza, has been popular in many forms since its publication in the early 1600s. Marius Petipa's ballet, with music by Ludwig Minkus as first performed by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1869. Coincidentally, I am debating whether to go and see this ballet or the Bolshoi's Spartacus on Sunday 20th Oct (blogging soon!). Don Quixote has wide appeal as a ballet. There are energetic scenes with the whole Company onstage in a crowded port and an uproarious tavern, a grand pas de deux, and atmospheric Spanish music throughout.

Cineworld, Wed 16th Oct, 19:15.
Tickets, adult £17.90, concessions £14.20, available online, by calling 0845 200 2000, or in person from the foyer.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Elkie Brooks (music)

photo by Christophe Cohen
I am told that Elkie Brooks' last appearance in Eastbourne was over ten years ago so there is much excitement at the Royal Hippodrome to have booked her there for-one-night-only in October. Accompanied by her band - Brian Badhams, Melvin Duffy, Stevie Jones, Andrew Murray, Lee Noble and Michael Richardson - she will again astound all who hear her sing here.

Perhaps one of the first popular artists to gain fame through a 'reality show', the fifteen year old wannabe, Elaine Bookbinder, entered at Manchester's Palace Theatre with her eyes firmly set on the prize of a national pop package tour. She won. However pop music wasn't really her thing and, although, she was often pushed in that direction, her love of jazz, R'n'B and blues was what won out in the end. Invited by the legend Humphrey Lyttelton to guest as the vocalist with his jazz band in the 1960s, Elkie found her place in the music business. Their friendship endured until his death with the pair often performing and recording together. Flirtations with rock chickdom in the late 1960s and acting in the 1970s were fun but blues and jazz won out in the end and is the music that she still performs today.

Royal Hippodrome, 19th Oct, 19:30.
Tickets £24.50, £23 concessions, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person at the Congress Theatre Box Office.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Eastbourne Bonfire Society Procession

photo by Graham Huntley
I spotted a small pile of programmes for the 2013 Eastbourne Bonfire Society procession when I popped into Beanzz cafe recently. It's not long until Eastbourne's big night as our procession along the seafront is pretty much in the middle of the season and is on Saturday the 5th of October. Hopefully enough money will have been raised by then in order for the event to go ahead as a worrying article in the Eastbourne Herald suggested the Society is too strapped for cash. Up to date information is available through the Facebook event.

Assuming all is well, the procession will start from the Crown And Anchor at 19:30 and proceed down Royal Promenade onto Sidley Road. There is a turning point at Beach Road from where the procession will retrace it steps back to the Crown And Anchor. After a quick stop to refuel and retorch, the procession will set off again down Marine Parade and onto Grand Parade as far as the Lifeboat Museum where it will terminate and torches will be consigned to a traditional Bonfire. EBS will be joined by several visiting societies, drummers, pipers and dancers, and there will be fire juggling displays at fireworks after the processions.

During the evening, a Bucket Collection will be made with two local charities benefitting: Matthew 25 Mission and Polegate Children With Cancer Fund.

Eastbourne Seafront, Sat 5th Oct, 19:30.
Free to view but please put a handful of coins in the charity buckets!

Eastbourne Bonfiire Society will also be hosting a talk at the Under Ground Theatre this Saturday (21st September). The talk starts at 2pm and is free to attend. "Come and listen to how the Bonfire Society makes the annual torch-lit bonfire procession, fire juggling and firework displays happen and learn about the great bonfire on the beach between the Bandstand and Wish Tower."

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Saturday Night Fever (film)

There's a Cineworld Exclusive Special Presentation on the 24th of September. The original, uncut version of Saturday Night Fever will be screened in 78 cinemas nationwide - ours at Sovereign Harbour being one. I'm not really sure why but who cares! Dust off your white suits and wide collars and prepare to sing along (unofficially!) with The Bee Gees iconic soundtrack.

Nineteen-year-old Italian-American Brooklyn kid Tony Manero (John Travolta) lives for disco. His slick moves make him the undisputed king of the dancefloor. For a few hours each Saturday night, he's able to forget his many troubles amid the flashing lights and pulsating rhythms. Stuck in a dead-end job, Tony lives at home with his disapproving parents and dreams of a better life across the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan. He seizes the opportunity when a dance contest is launched, dumping his adoring partner Annette (Donna Pescow) in favour of upwardly mobile Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney).

Cineworld, Tue 24th Sep, 20:30.
Tickets £7.30 adults, £5.70 concessions, available online, by calling 0845 200 2000, or in person from the foyer.
Saturday Night Fever has an 18 certificate.

Monday, 16 September 2013

John Agard (poet)

photo by Paul Taylor 
Guyanese poet, performer, playwright and children's writer John Agard came to Britain in 1977 and now lives in Lewes. As a touring speaker with the Commonwealth Institute, he has visited hundreds of schools to promote Caribbean culture and poetry and has now been invited to the Birley Centre, part of Eastbourne College, to speak as one of a series of talks on Englishness. The talk is expected to last about an hour.

Starting out as a language teacher and librarian in Guyana, John Agard also wrote features for the Guyana Sunday Chronicle and published his first two books there before emigrating to the UK. His output since has been prolific, winning many awards and also resulting in one of his poems, Half Caste, being featured on the AQA English GCSE syllabus. He won the Casa de las Americas Prize in 1982, and a Paul Hamlyn Award in 1997. He was writer-in-residence with the BBC in 1998 and at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in 2007. His most recent award was the 2012 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. His work combines sharp social observations with playfulness and humour as he explores themes including race, morality, class and religion.

Birley Centre, Wed 16th Oct, 19:00.
Tickets £10, available by calling 01323 452255 or by emailing 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cadfael: Virgin In The Ice (theatre)

A murder mystery with a difference is coming to the Devonshire Park Theatre in the middle of October. Instead of the mid-1900s settings that have been more common recently, we are going right back to the Middle Ages in the company of Medieval sleuth Cadfael.

The Middle Ground Theatre Company (Importance of being Earnest) production, has been adapted and directed by Michael Lunney, and celebrates the centenary of the birth of Cadfael's author, Ellis Peters. The play will star London's Burning's Richard Walsh as Brother Cadfael alongside the excellent Stephen Beckett (Deathtrap / Playing Dead), Peter Ellis from the Bill and Rupert Baker also of London's Burning. The full cast is fifteen people!

It is winter 1139 and raging civil war has sent many refugees fleeing north from Worcester, among them an orphaned boy, his beautiful 17 year old sister, and a young nun. But they seem to have disappeared somewhere in the wild winter landscape of frost and snow – and Brother Cadfael embarks on a dangerous quest to find them. The search will lead him to discover a chilling and terrible murder, and a tale of passion gone astray.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 15th to Sat 19th Oct, 19:45.
Wed and Sat matinees, 14:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Craig Milverton Trio (jazz)

Did you enjoy last night's Red Skies Trio at the Under Ground Theatre? The next jazz night at the venue will be on the 4th of October and features the Craig Milverton Trio performing their Tribute to Oscar Peterson.

Pianist Craig Milverton will be joined onstage by drummer Nick Millward and double bass player Al Swainger. Craig originally recorded his homage to Peterson in 2007 and the music is available as the album Live at the Lights. He has been inspired by both Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans for most of his musical life, his interest in jazz coming from time as a child spent listening to his father's record collection. Much in demand as a solo pianist, Craig also often accompanies vocalists including Stacey Kent and Tina May and his trios are regularly called upon to back vising American artistes.

Under Ground Theatre, Fri 4th Oct, 20:00.
Tickets £11 adults, £10 UGT members and students, available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person at the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Office.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Country Girl (film)

After a couple of screenings of Sunset Boulevard, another William Holden film will be shown at the Under Ground Theatre in October as the classic Sunday Matinee.

The Country Girl was released in 1954 and also stars Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby. It was based on a stage play written by Clifford Odets and was directed by George Seaton. Grace Kelly won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance which saw her depart from her usual glamorous roles to play the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic actor.

A new musical is being cast and director Bernie Dodd (William Holden) decides Frank Elgin (Bing Crosby) should be given a role. Fading star Frank and his wife Georgie (Grace Kelly) are grateful for the opportunity but worry privately that Frank may not be able to cope with the work. Frank is an alcoholic, his addiction caused by the death of his young son, and this causes him to make many demands during rehearsals. Dodd blames Georgie for Frank's behaviour but changes him mind when he realises that he is beginning to fall in love with her.

Under Ground Theatre, Sun 13th Oct, 14:30.
Tickets £6.50 to include tea/coffee and cakes after the film, available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person at the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Office.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Everything Between Us (theatre)

Hot on the elegant heels of August's Joyce Grenfell tribute Just Joyce, The Green Room Productions next offering is a far more serious affair. Everything Between Us is a controversial dark comedy about secrets, lies and reconciliation set in Stormont’s Parliament Buildings on the first day of a newly formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Northern Ireland. The play is only suitable for adult audiences as it contains very strong language throughout.

Sandra Richardson is preparing to take her seat on the Commission when her long-lost sister Teeni explodes into the chamber and assaults the South African chairwoman. To find out if this is a terrorist plot or just her sister’s way of announcing her return to Belfast, Sandra bundles Teeni into a disused room hidden along the corridors of power. With the world’s media waiting to invade, Sandra and Teeni must learn very quickly how to talk to each other.

Playwright David Ireland won the Meyer-Whitworth prize for Everything About Us in 2011. The play was adapted for radio and broadcast last year but is no longer on iPlayer. The Green Room play will star Emma Pierssene (The History Boys) as Sandra and Kirrily Long as Tania. It is directed by Sandra Cheesman (The Wife The Mistress The Chair, Little Gem).

The Little Theatre, Thu 3rd to Sat 5th Oct, 19:30.
Tickets £11 adults, £10 concessions, available online or in person on the door.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Turandot (opera)

The new Royal Opera House live cinema season for 2013/2014 starts on the 17th of September - that's this Tuesday coming. There are five operas and five ballets in the season and the first will be the opera Turandot. The broadcast has a three hour duration including two intervals.

Turandot was Puccini’s final opera – a tale of disguised identities, riddles, ritual executions and powerful, triumphant love. Prince Calàf, who falls in love with the cold Princess Turandot. To obtain permission to marry her, a suitor has to solve three riddles; any false answer results in death. Calàf passes the test, but Turandot still hesitates to marry him. He offers her a way out, agreeing to die if she can guess his real name.

The dark tale has an Oriental setting and the design of this production, by Sally Jacobs, has been inspired by traditional Chinese theatre. It has been directed by Andrei Serban and the orchestra will be conducted by Henrik Nanasi. Turandot will be sung by Lise Lindstrom, Prince Calaf is Marco Berti and Alasdair Elliott will be Altoum.

Cineworld, Tue 17th Sep, 19:15.
Tickets, adult £17.90, concession £14.20, available online, by calling 0871 200 2000, or in person in the foyer.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Helena Markson (art)

The Cathedral 
I haven't blogged about the wonderful Emma Mason Gallery for a while now so I'm going to put that right on today's post! The Gallery announced on Facebook around the end of August that they were adding the work of 'new' artists to their website and one that I particularly like is Helena Markson.

"Artist and Printmaker Helena Markson was born in London. She studied at Salisbury School of Art and then at Central School of Art (1952-56). From 1963-1966 she co-directed the first open Fine Art Printmaking Workshop in London at Charlotte Street. She set up the etching studio at Byam Shaw School of Painting, London and also taught at Chelsea College of Art and St Martin's School of Art, London. She moved to Israel in 1970 where she co-founded the Art Department at the University of Haifa and later set up the Fine Art Print Studios. She taught both lithography and etching and became Professor Emeritus of Haifa University. Helena Markson's beautiful prints are now in collections across the world."

Emma Mason Gallery, Thu, Fri and Sat, 10:00-17:00.

P.S. The Gallery website was named one of the 50 Best interiors websites by the Independent last week!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Late Autumn (film)

The second Wednesday in October gives us the chance to see a vintage Japanese film at the Curzon Cinema, courtesy of Eastbourne Film Society. Late Autumn is a later work of the great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu and was made in 1960.

Akiko (Setsuko Hara) is a widow with a 24-year-old daughter Ayako (Yoko Tsukasa). At a memorial service for her late husband, she discusses with three of his friends potential husbands for Ayako. One turns out to be suitable. His name is Goto (Keiji Sada) and he and Ayako begin a friendship but Ayako does not want to marry anyone because this would mean leaving her mother alone. The three friends begin meddling and one of them decides he must marry Akiko so she will not be alone. However, spilling the beans to Ayako before even asking Akiko causes problems and upset.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 9th Oct, times tbc.
Tickets £6.80 adults, £4.80 concessions, available by calling 01323 731441 or in person at the Box Office (15:00-19:00 daily).

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Barnett Freedman (art talk)

People by Barnett Freedman
An email newsletter from the Towner Gallery inspired this post. They have had a wonderful response to the Lyons Teashops Lithographs exhibition including all the first series of talks being oversubscribed so they are offering further talks, the last of which is the subject of this post. Professor Ian Rogerson will be exploring the life and work of Barnett Freedman, a war artist and Lyons contributor. I particularly liked the monochrome version of Freedman's print, People.

"Barnett Freeman was born in the East End of London in 1901 to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. Following a childhood marred by ill-health he worked as a draughtsman to a monumental mason before entering the Royal College of Art where he met Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious. After marrying a fellow student, Claudia Guercio, he attempted to make a living in fine art but turned to commercial work and part-time teaching in order to survive. From 1930, his work was in constant demand through his complete mastery of autolithography, pouring out a steady stream of bookjackets, prints and posters for such organisations as London Transport, Shell-Mex and the Post Office, and becoming widely known through his design for the King George the Fifth Jubilee stamps." (Towner)

Towner Gallery, Sat 21st Sep, 17:30.
Tickets £6, £5 concessions, £4 Towner members, available in person from the Gallery. It's strongly advised to book in advance!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Butterfly Lion (theatre)

Children's author Michael Morpurgo seems to be everywhere since the success of the stage show War Horse! I've enjoyed listening to three of his audiobooks  - A Medal for Leroy, Private Peaceful and Kensuke's Kingdom all of which had strong, interesting stories. I missed the film version of Private Peaceful last year though. Now another of his books has been adapted for the theatre. Recommended for children aged seven and older (as well as their families) The Butterfly Lion tour will reach our Devonshire Park Theatre in October.

When the orphaned white lion cub he has rescued from the African veld is sold to a circus owner and shipped off to Europe, young Bertie vows he will see his friend again. Little does he realise the adventurous, romantic, shocking turns his life will take before that momentous day finally comes.

The Butterfly Lion has been adapted and directed by Daniel Buckroyd and produced by New Perspectives and Curve Theatre, Leicester. It will star Gwen Taylor (Driving Miss Daisy) alongside Robert Curtis, Joe Jameson, Israel Oyelumade, Sanchia McCormack, Christopher Hogben and Msimisi Dlamini.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Mon 7th to Sat 12th Oct, 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 Eastbourne Tourist Information centre.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Devil's Chimney by Tin Larrick (book)

I've been on the lookout for more Eastbourne-based fiction since I enjoyed reading The Generation Club by Annette Keen earlier in the year. A name that kept cropping up was Tin Larrick and I had several recommendations to read his police thriller Devil's Chimney. So I took advantage of our recent Kindle purchase to download the novel and discover what all the fuss is about!

Tin Larrick is a former police officer so I guess he certainly knows what he is talking about when it comes to process and procedures. I liked his descriptions of various areas of Eastbourne and recognising a place as a story unfolds is very helpful in bringing the tale to life. I even learned quite a bit that I didn't already know, appreciating the little snippets of information about the town's history. The plot itself cracks along at a good pace and I never lost interest. I did find some of Barnes' escapades a bit far fetched - why is revenge always so personal in thrillers?! - and the hero appears to be virtually indestructible, but, all in all, this is a good novel and I'll be getting Tin Larrick's second book, Lone Shark, in due course.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Nabucco (opera)

I've been learning quite a bit about opera this year, thanks to my blog, and have enjoyed three quite different performances: La Boheme screened from the Royal Opera House, The Rake's Progess performed live by OperaCoast and Opera Australia's Carmen screened from Sydney Harbour. What I didn't get to see were the Ellen Kent productions that came to Eastbourne so I'm pleased now to note that two more of her lavishly staged operas are on their way to town. The first, Nabucco, is on Friday the 27th of September.

Verdi's Nabucco is apparently the very first opera that Ellen Kent produced. The story follows the plight of the Hebrews as they are forced from their homeland into exile by the Babylonian King Nabucco. Verdi wrote the opera in 1841. It is based on a story in the Bible and was the first of Verdi's works to really make his name as a composer.

The Ellen Kent production will feature the Chisinau National Opera and National Philharmonic with magnificent sets and costumes, amazing lighting and stage effects. It will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Congress Theatre, Fri 27th Sep, 19:30.
Tickets various prices, available online, by calling 01323 412000, or in person from the Box Office and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Black Rooster Black Shag (music)

An unexpected Facebook message alerted me to the first Eastbourne gig by a new band, Black Rooster Black ShagThe joint creation of award winning Canadian-Kiwi songstress-bassist Mirika, and acclaimed British-Australian troubadour-producer JJ Symon, their debut single, Amsterdam, is a gorgeously dark production, both aurally and visually. Having watched the YouTube video and loved the song, I wanted to find out more about the band ...

tE: With such global roots, how did you and JJ meet and decide to work together?
Mirika: Well it all happened very quickly, but over a long expanse of time. JJ Symon was playing as a solo artist in New Zealand when we first met and we worked together in Melbourne Australia when he produced ’23 Kilos’ an album I recorded as a bass/drum two-piece called Kit and Con. Kit and Con supported JJ Symon on his European Tour and, you know how some people finish each other’s sentences, well we were finishing each other’s melodies! We both had to admit that these songs we were humming into our mobile phones as we toured together, were better than what we were writing individually.
JJ Symon We were due to head out one Friday night to a mate's gig and it just started bucketing down with rain, proper torrential, biblical rain. We were in my apartment at the time and we were essentially trapped on the eighth floor with nowhere to go, and as we watched cars sinking and people swimming by down the street, we started talking about our favourite music which is when we discovered a shared love for garage rock, post-punk blues and 50s inspired harmonies. By the times the rains had stopped, Black Rooster Black Shag was born.

tE: Which musicians have particularly inspired your songs?
JJ Symon: I wouldn't say these artists inspired our songs, but musicians we feel a kindred spirit with are Tom Waits, Pixies, The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Royal Trux, The Slits and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

tE: What inspired the visual style of Amsterdam?
JJ Symon: In our 'downtime' we've always loved watching old films, especially black and white classics from the 'noir' period. We took that simple, monochrome feeling and not only injected that into our visual side, stage clothes and film clips, but also tried to use some of those minimalist theories and techniques in the music as well. The idea of using the dark or negative space to shape the light and central image was something we tried to infuse into the songs. Mirika: We worked with Phoenix Films to create the Amsterdam music video. Because Amsterdam is the place we decided to really push Black Rooster Black Shag when our solo commitments were finished, we really wanted to lead with that song. It’s such a part of our story and the video had to be more personal as a result. You won't see so much of us in the next video though-it is in the editing room now and it is going to look mean.

tE: What do you hope is next for Black Rooster?
JJ Symon: At the moment we're very focused on playing shows and promoting our music to as many receptive people as possible. On the back of that we're looking forward to releasing our debut album which we finished recording 2 months ago and to start touring nationally, and across Europe. And maybe to get on some festival line-ups in the new year.
Mirika: The response has been incredible, especially for such a new band with only a few shows under our belt. We just need to get in front of more people and let our reputation build based on our talent and the excitement of our live shows. We are fortunate that current artists such as Drenge, Temples and The Wytches are creating a really exciting UK rock scene and we are excited to be a part of it.

Busker's Bar, Tue 17th Sep, from 20:00.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Cabaret (musical theatre)

photo by Keith Pattison 
I love Cabaret! It's my favourite musical and I even like the film version too although I much prefer the darker stage show. The best performance I have seen was actually an amateur group in Haywards Heath, maybe fifteen years ago now. The last professional production to come to Eastbourne was five years ago - I - was sure it was more recent until I started researching this post! - and starred Wayne Sleep as a rather odd Emcee. Not 'Joel Gray' bizarre, just odd. Hopefully Will Young will be better suited to the role in this autumn's production!

Based on John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am a Camera, which was in turn adapted from the 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, Cabaret tells the story of the relationship between nightclub singer Sally Bowles and naive writer Cliff Bradshaw. The story is set around the debauched nightclub as Nazism is rising in Berlin.

The national tour began last week at the New Wimbledon theatre so I expect that the first reviews will be published by the time you're reading this. Rufus Norris' production was well received in the West End where Will Young won London Newcomer of the Year from WhatsOnStage for the Emcee. According to my email from ATG in August, the full cast list is Will Young, Siobhan Dillon as Sally Bowles, Lyn Paul as Fraulein Schneider, with Matt Rawle (Cliff), Linal Haft (Herr Schultz) and Nicholas Tizzard (Ernst). Varlerie Cutko will play Fraulein Kost and the ensemble includes Alastair Postlewaite, Alessia Lugoboni, Alexzandra Sarmiento, Cydney Uffindell-Phillips, Emily Bull, Luke Fetherston, Oliver Roll and Shahla Tarrant.

Congress Theatre, Tue 1st to Sat 5th Oct, 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 Centre.