Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Frapetsus, etc

An unusually writerly few days.

Firstly, there was the kind invitation by Tim Rhys and Richard Gwyn to spend a day as a Visiting Writer, on Cardiff University’s postgraduate Creative Writing course. Thus, I showed the students (all female, interestingly) one of my episodes of “Tati’s Hotel”, and discussed the process of going from outline to final draft; set up an exercise in which they had to devise a TV series, giving only a list of hypothetically available actors as a starting-point; and made some (doubtless ill-informed) contributions to the workshop in which they appraised extracts of one another’s work. In the evening, there was an open-mic session at the Promised Land pub-restaurant – more readings, in a slightly more public forum. Very enjoyable, and an encouraging first experience of Creative Writing in academia.

Then, having entered my play “Hunkydory” in Frapetsus Theatre Company’s inaugural “Writer’s Block” play competition (taking place in the Arts Wing of Swansea’s Grand Theatre), I actually won, against stiff opposition in the final (from Rebecca Hill, Anna Poole and Eifion Jenkins). Delighted, but surprised, given the commercial slant of the contest; not that my piece is avant-garde in any way, simply a bit “niche”, its main protagonists being former punk musicians in their fifties. Still, if all goes well, there’ll be a production in 2012, and the script will be published by Stagescripts Ltd. Which will be nice.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Lucid Event - "What Are We Going To Do About Theatre and Performance in Cardiff?”

Following on from a writer-centred event earlier in the year, I attended another Open Space meeting, organised by Lucid at the weekend, at Chapter Arts Centre – this one with the heading “What Are We Going To Do About Theatre and Performance in Cardiff?” Designed as a fairly informal, if structured forum for debate, aimed at coming up with positive solutions, the format involves participants coming up with questions, then breaking up into small, fluid groups to discuss them. I suggested the question “Is There A Problem?”, based on the fact that there appears to be quite a lot going on, theatre-wise, in the Welsh capital, speaking purely as a consumer. The truth, however, as was confirmed by more informed professionals than myself is that there are many perceived problems, such as the “scene” largely consisting of a plethora of small, basically self-funded productions (occasionally with token project grants from the Arts Council of Wales); a focus on “emerging” artists who are then abandoned with nothing to emerge into; a lack of cultural leadership at higher levels, etc. Other questions involved such issues as theatre’s responsibility to reflect a world in crisis, and the existence or otherwise of a keen theatre audience. A tiring, but stimulating day, and I wasn’t sure whether to be depressed or heartened by the fact that people who are considerably more connected and successful than I am are similarly mired in insecurity.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Arctic Monkeys in Cardiff

My first visit for a couple of years to Cardiff’s recently renamed Motorpoint Arena (formerly the International Arena) was a treat – a much needed dose of literate pop-punk raucousness from the Arctic Monkeys. In support were The Vaccines, who I saw on the NME Tour at the beginning of the year, and they seemed slightly less gauche this time round, doubtless having grown used to playing to big crowds over the festival season; their knowingly catchy sing-alongs were as infectious live as on record.

The Arctics kicked off with the engagingly silly “Don’t Sit Down…”, the first half of the set comprising a succession of hits from all four albums; the second half concentrated on less well-known, more reflective material, setting us up for a storming encore. Those of us who didn’t claw our way to the front were catered to by four screens, side of stage, showing band close-ups; there was also the customary dazzling light show. Teddy-boy-styled Alex Turner maintained an easy rapport with the audience, but man of the match was drummer Matt Helders – impressively authoritative. The song that stuck in my head as I wandered home was current single “Suck It And See”. If rumours of a hiatus are to be believed, they’ll be sorely missed.