Thursday, 27 May 2010

BUZZ: COMEDY REVIEW: RUSSELL KANE


COMEDY REVIEW: RUSSELL KANE

Russell Kane
Tues 25 May 2010
The Garage Comedy Club, Uplands, Swansea
****
Hyperactive multi-accented metrosexual Russell Kane prances about the stage like a natural jester playing up to the student element of the audience (drunker, easier to please). He is no beginner at this laughs malarkey; as he writes on his About Me section of his website: ‘I’ve had three of those Perrier nomination thingies, I do national tours – I’ve even written a play which is going to the Soho theatre… and I’m writing a novel.’ Get him. In 2010, in Swansea land, the gifted comic wittily fills stereotypes of Guardian and Daily Mail readers, Welsh vs English, Australians and Americans with absurd observations and personal anecdotes.
The Enfield stand-up has plenty in common with his namesakes Brand and Howard, at least in camp modern man-nerisms and flamboyance, if not Dandy dress sense. Plucking out traumas from his own childhood and puberty he turns pain and embarrassment for tricks – the tough father who only has to look at a shelf to put it up, the gran who catches him full-frontal masturbating after a night out on pupil-dilating substances. Kane skips about the stage with a sing-song Oxford voice, upon heading into non-PC territory (jokes about disability) he asides ‘Must not laugh. Quick, let’s make a cone of protection out of copies of the Guardian.’ At other times he gruffs up as a Gary or Dave, leans back on an imaginary transit van.
At the end he stops his meandering musings to tell a standard-form joke: ‘Philosophically speaking a Scotch egg is the most evil snack imaginable for a vegetarian. Because it has death on the outside, and the potential for life within.’
Kane is well-educated, and not afraid to show it, and yet his whirlwind set has its downfalls: often the humour sinks from silly to basic toilet humour or predictable outcomes feeling at odds with the insightful splices of thoughtful truths – relating to xenophobia, racism and bigotry – and the twisted laughs gained from the darker side of human life. Still he is an endearing performer, fast-paced, wide-eyed and swaggering; all skinny jeans and spot-on comic delivery. I’m certain we’ll be seeing more of him.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

MS: Hello Woodstock, Ahem, I mean Hay-on-Wye

The Mslexia Blog


This is my rockstar moment. I’m on tour, on the road and off to the ‘Woodstock of the mind.’ Hay-on-Wye, town of books and dreams. I’m making three onstage appearances during my 10-day stay, one as a journalist, one as a writer of fiction, and one as a poet. I can’t wait. Last year’s Hay Festival was an absolute blast, especially reading to 200 beautiful people who got up for 9am on a Sunday morning to see me chatting about writing on Radio 5 Live with festival organiser Peter Florence. I’ve even dyed my hair Mandarin bright to look the Parthian Bright Young Thing part. My wardrobe has been raided of dresses and pretty things ready to pack; I expect I’ll end up taking ALL OF IT. My Buzz and WM festival previews have been written. The sun has been informed attendance is compulsory. Nothing can go wrong, can it?
I share the bill with some fabulous women writers: Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, Nadine Gordimer, Lynn Barber, Maggie O’Farrell, Gillian Clarke, Stevie Davies, Kathryn Gray, Pascale Petit, and Rachel Trezise. I’m hoping to see all of them, as well as Geraldine Monk, Samantha Wynne-Rydderch, Keri Finlayson, Claudia Azzola, Elisabeth Bletsoe, Caroline Bergvall and Zoe Skoulding at the Hay Poetry Jamboree. I shall be attending launches for the new issues of New Welsh Review and Poetry Wales and a fair few new books. I’ll also be having some literary crushes and trying not to act too like a stalker for my big bookish loves at their signing sessions in Pemberton’s, or less publically in the Green Room. I saw Stephen Fry in there last year, he’s really tall. REALLY tall. And smiley. I’ll be blogging all about my 2010 experience when I get back, fear not.
Readings often bring a sense of trepidation and exposure. I love them. I hate them. That it I hate the run up to them, deciding what to read and in which order. Judging the audience, or trying to. Working out whether swearing is allowed. Or talking about sex. But in the moment, usually, I adore it, and afterwards I feel high as a kite with post-performance adrenalin rushes although I am also, often, my own worst critic. So this Hay I am super excited. I am, after all, talking about my book, not just one story in an anthology of good writing, as last year. I’m also excited beause all the preparation that has gone into Hay Poetry Jamboree, the three-day fringe festival on 3, 4 and 5 of June is to come to fruition and my two hour Word Cloud poetry experiment should be a giggle.
Here are those dates for your diary:
Balloon at Hay
Culture Cymru, Hay Festival, Saturday 29 May, 2.30pm-3.15pm, FREE
Matthew Scott is a writer, Matthew Jarrett is a music buff. In collaboration they have been running Balloon events across south Wales since November 2009  - “nights of prose, poetry and people playing music.” The concept was inspired by Donald Barthelme’s famous short story entitled “Balloon”. Journalist Susie Wild finds out more from Matthew Scott.
Sponsored by Parthian Books
Word Cloud hosted by Susie Wild
Salem Chapel, Hay-on-Wye, Friday 4 June, 11.00am -1.00pm, FREE
A collaborative avant-garde poetry event with live performances from up-and-coming young poets including Ivy Alvarez, Jack Pascoe and Mab Jones.
Part of the Hay Poetry Jamboree
Creative writing programmes and their bright young output
Culture Cymru, Hay Festival, Sunday 6 June, 1.00pm-2.00pm, FREE
Dr Paul Wright chairs a discussion panel of young writers, all successful graduates of creative writing programmes and having debut publications within the next year.
  • Mathew Andrews, University of East Anglia –novel Neurotica Spring 2011 (Iconau)
  • Susie Wild, Swansea University – short stories The Art of Contraception Sept 2010 (Parthian)
  • Niti Jain Trinity University College – anthology Shadow Plays May 2010 (Parthian)
Sponsored by The Dragon Innovation Partnership
Come along and see me.
I am also competing in the Jam Bones Poetry Slam competition in Cardiff on Monday 31 May. (I must practise poems. I must practise poems.) The prize is to support punk poet Attila the Stockbroker on the Welsh leg of his tour. I don’t do slams usually, so this shall be an interesting and possibly really awful experience for me!
See some of you in the town of books – bring plenty of sunshine and sparkle
Susie :)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

BYT: Putting the Bright into Bright Young Thing

Bright Young Things Logo

MAY 2010: Putting the Bright into Bright Young Thing

There’s a wasp in my bathroom. Outside the sound of competing radio shows, pipes clanging, the bang bang bang of workmen’s tools. This is how summers used to be. Waking up too hot, the duvet kicked off, the windows open. Heading to the beach to walk through ball games to sit and read a book surrounded by the smell of cooking flesh and coconut suntan lotion. Families race into the sea in a state of half dress, some even brave bikinis. Ice creams are dropped, shells collected. The Cork ferryhonks its horn three times and about turns, heads out with the tide beneath a moon out too early to steal the show, patiently awaiting her spotlight moment in profile against sky blue.
I apply more high factor lotion, finish off Graham Mort’s wonderful short story collection Touch, which I am reviewing for New Welsh Review. Head back home for homemade hummus and tabbouleh, down some lemonade. Appetite suitably sated, I paint my hair Mandarin bright as it is time for sunshine, and time for being a Bright Young Thing at Hay Festival and the Hay Poetry Jamboree. I will travel over on Friday, starry tent in hand. The start of the BYTs promotional tour – Yay! I am doing two events at the main festival, two of the boys (James and Tyler) will be at another, and I am also running a weird and wonderful poetry experiment as part of the Hay Poetry Jamboree (3/4/5 June).
Here are those dates for your diary:
1. Balloon at Hay: Culture Cymru, Hay Festival, Saturday 29 May, 2.30pm-3.15pm, FREE
Matthew Scott is a writer, Matthew Jarrett is a music buff. In collaboration they have been running Balloon events across south Wales since November 2009  - “nights of prose, poetry and people playing music.” The concept was inspired by Donald Barthelme’s famous short story entitled “Balloon”. Journalist Susie Wild finds out more from Matthew Scott.
Sponsored by Parthian Books
2. A rose in the side of two thorns: Culture Cymru, Hay Festival, Friday 4 June 12.00-12.45pm, FREE
Parthian editor Lucy Llewellyn is in the final stages of editing novels by two debut writers, Canadian Tyler Keevil and Welshman JP Smythe. At this event the two novelists get their day in court with their editor to discuss the relationship and the process.
The two authors will have their debut novels published in Sept 2010 as part of Parthian Books’ Bright Young Things series.
Sponsored by Parthian Books.
**Eek! The above session clashes with my poetry event at the Hay Poetry Jamboree, I’M GUTTED but it would be delightful if you attended either. I’m hoping to do lunch with my fellow BYTs after the shows. Here are the details:
3. Word Cloud hosted by Susie Wild: Salem Chapel, Hay-on-Wye, 11.00am -1.00pm, FREE
A collaborative avant-garde poetry event with live performances from up-and-coming young poets including Ivy Alvarez, Jack Pascoe and Mab Jones.
Part of the Hay Poetry Jamboree
4. Creative writing programmes and their bright young output: Culture Cymru, Hay Festival, Sunday 6 June, 1.00pm-2.00pm, FREE
Dr Paul Wright chairs a discussion panel of young writers, all successful graduates of creative writing programmes and having debut publications within the next year.
* Mathew Andrews, University of East Anglia –novel Neurotica Spring 2011 (Iconau)
* Susie Wild, Swansea University – short stories The Art of Contraception Sept 2010 (Parthian)
* Niti Jain Trinity University College – anthology Shadow Plays May 2010 (Parthian)
Sponsored by The Dragon Innovation Partnership
Come along and see us.
I am also competing in the Jam Bones Poetry Slam competition in Cardiff on Monday 31 May. I must practise poems. I must practise poems. The prize is to support punk poet Attila the Stockbroker on the Welsh leg of his tour. I’m looking forward to the night as Byron Vincent, a top performance poet from Bristol-way will also be doing a set and I haven’t seen him live for ages.
In other news:
  1. Academi Boss Peter Finch mentioned me AGAIN in his column. Excitement. At least I think he meant me. He spelt my name wrong by one letter. He said things like: “In a sense a lot of contemporary Welsh writing in English is following their [the Angry Young Men, the British Beat generation] path. Rachel Trezise’s award winning valley-set street level fiction may have different heroes, and ones who use drugs rather than beer, but the working-class dialogue-rich approach to story-telling is the same […] Similar territory is traversed in the work of John Williams, Sean Burke, Matthew David Scott, Suzie Wild, and Catrin Dafydd. […] Our new writers offer mirrors to the world they actually live in. This world, the Welsh world, the one turning through the streets of Cardiff and flowing over the mountains above Llanystumdwy. Understand that and you’ll know the universe. John Updike, Richard Ford and Don DeLilo have spent life-times creating a fiction that reflects the every-changing America into which they were born. For the twenty-first they need new faces.” Peter Finch, The Insider in The Western Mail
  2. Buy The Western Mail today and you can read my fabulous column in WM on ‘How to… do Hay Festival’. Useful :)
See some of you in the town of books, bring plenty of sunshine and sparkle
Sooz x

Saturday, 15 May 2010

BYT: Book Geek Mobbing

Bright Young Things Logo
May 2010
Second, I always find it unusual to return to old work places or to pass houses that I used to reside in, the buildings seem to reach out and give me a little shake or a lightening bolt jolt of memory and emotion. One place this happens a little less is Waterstone’s on Oxford Street in Swansea. Mainly because it is full of books and I happen to love being surrounded by books. I used to work there, as a Grade 2 Bookseller, no less, with pink hair and responsibility for the Poetry section (result) and also all those GCSE revision booklets that make up Education (nightmare).  Just call me Clementine (Eternal Sunshine). Actually, don’t. As jobs go I’ve had many worse, and several of the familiar faces remain, having now worked their way up the ranks. I usually have a natter with one or two of them after my usual browse of favourite sections, new fiction tables, the Fiction ‘W’ section, specifically the space between WILC and WILE for no reason at all, cough, blush, etc. … and the local interest section, to check they still stock Nu, and to see if there is anyone who has missed my radar for the Mslexia blog.
This week was a little different. On Mondays the library is shut. I hate this. Monday is THE day I want the library to be open. It is my writing day. I write on other days too, but Monday I allocate for creativity.  If I want to check something or read a favourite poem I go to Waterstone’s. There is nowhere else that can provide for such needs in this pretty shitty city. So there I am browsing when Susan passes, smiles, and walks back to stand in front of me. ‘congratulations’ she says. I look bemused. ‘on your book’ she continues. ‘Thanks…?’ I say. I am still bemused. Susan, like all other staff from my time at Waterstone’s, knew I was writing, and had in fact completed a book. I told them this was what I was going to do at interview. I had told them that this was what was indeed happening at our occasional shelf-side chit-chats. She beams, excited as only book geeks (of which I admit to being, also) can: ‘You were in the Bookseller!’ A small crowd of former colleagues has gathered. They point, we all do a little geeky jig. ‘You were!’ They chant. ‘You were in the Bookseller. We saw you.’ I am a child at the best birthday party ever. ‘I know!’ I say. It is all I can do not to squeal.
I was, so were all the BYTs. LOOK!
In other news I’ve been blogging like a blogging thing on lots and lots of arty things for Buzz and I went to see La Roux for Artrocker. I am also getting so incredibly excited about Hay Festival and the Hay Poetry Jamboree. If schedules work out I shall be on stage for 3, THREE things and when the dates have been confirmed I shall tell you all about them. You can read my Hay preview in this month’s issue of Buzz Magazine. Also, ladies, look out for my How To… do Hay Festival column inThe Western Mail’s WM supplement on Tues 25th May.
Finally I’d recommend you go and see The Devil Inside Him at the New Theatre in Cardiff, the Natonal Theatre of Wales’ latest output. I went to the press night and afterparty last night for Mslexia, and it was gripping. Blog coming on that later this week.
Be good kids,
Susie Q x

Sunday, 9 May 2010

BUZZ; AFTER THE END | ART EXHIBITION PREVIEW & NEW GALLERY OPENING



After The End
Elysium Gallery, 96 – 97 Mansel Street, Swansea.
14 May – 11 June 2010 (preview 7-late on Fri 14 May. Gallery open Wed – Sat 12-5 or by appointment)
Elysium Gallery has moved and will be opening the doors for the first exhibition in their massive new three-storey home this coming Friday. The epic show After The End will feature 60 national and international artists working across all mediums from painting, photography, performance and sculpture to written word, film, installation and anything in between. It will be the only time the directors will be using all three floors in this vast maze of a building before the top two floors are carved up into artist’s studios available for rent.
The spectrum of work is diverse and encompasses both up-and-coming young talents including local emerging artists Ann Jordan, Gemma Copp, Sarah Williams and Richard Monahan as well as the more established including top names like tactileBOSCH Director Kim Fielding and Swansea Met’s landscape painter Robert Newell.
It is perhaps appropriate, given the current political climate to be calling an exhibition after the end. Labour have been in power for 13 years. What comes next, following last week’s General Election results is currently anyone’s guess. If it is the end of Labour’s current reign what comes next? What comes After The End? 10 years ago the influential art critic and author Arthur Danto announced that art had ended in the 1960s. For Danto, the art that emerged after this had lost its spirit and its purpose. The past was no longer a place from which to react against, art no longer had to pit an agenda or conform to a certain aesthetic. The meta-narrative was over and so was art’s significance and influence.
  • Is it all over for art?
  • What happens to the characters of a film when it has ended?
  • What happens to a house after the lights have gone out and everyone has left?
  • Memories become more distant everyday and so history dies everyday…what happens after the end?
This group show will attempt to answer all these questions and more.The 60 artists appearing include: Marina Moreno, Dalit Leon, Hannah Lawson, Richard Monahan, Mike Murray, Cyrus Iravani, Paola Minekov, Tom Goddard, Suzy Williams, Fran Williams, Tim Stock, Shellshock Theatre, Lou Reade, Kelly Gorman, Marius Grainger, Helen Finney, Penny Hallas, Kaori Homma, Steph Goodger, Andrew Cooper, Kim Fielding, Alexander Gordon, Nicola Kelly, Jayne Smith, Rabab Ghazoul, Thomas Smith, Naomi Smith, Peter Roseman, Marie Helgesen, Ann Jordan, Economy Art Biscuit & Netley Marshall, Shelley Davis, Claudia Borgna, Roger Lougher, Nazma Ali, Edward Jeavons, Rose Davies, Dawn Lippiatt, Melissa Hinkin, Lucy Read, Emma Rylance, David Theobald, Robert Newell, Erin Rickard, Alex Duncan, Sean Puleston, Bernard Basil Bailey, Kieron Da-Silva Beckerton, Megan Hall, Gemma Copp, Anna Barratt, Stewart Dunwell, Sarah Williams, John Abell, David Marchant, Mark Houghton, Robin Campbell and Thomas Newton.
There will be refreshments, Curry and music by THE DARTH VADER BLUES BAND as well as performances by various artists  to enjoy on the opening night.

BUZZ: CITIZEN | ART EXHIBITION | REVIEW



Citizen, curated by Sam Aldridge, Andrew Cooper, Kim Fielding and Neil Jeffries
tactileBOSCH Studios, Llandaff North, Cardiff.
Until 25 May (open Wed – Sat 12 to 5pm or by appointment – 07860 558169)
** overall / **** for blog-featured artists (see below)
tactileBOSCH (tB) rolled out the red carpet for the 1 May preview night of their drawing, painting and print show Citizen on the first bank holiday weekend of this month. The sprawling, artist-led space in Llandaff has become renowned for openings full of provocative performance art and installations where literally anything could happen. Once a year they decide to drop a dimension and put a call out for artists working in two dimensions to submit work for a show. Citizen is their annual painting, print and drawing showcase, and the naturally lit space they offer is not the traditional white-wall gallery venue many of the artists would have imagined when developing their work. Instead, the curators have explored how they can ‘create a new and unique way to view each piece.’
tB explain why they chose to curate a show in these three mediums: ‘Painting, Printmaking and Drawing has developed dramatically over the last century as artists continually redefine and reinterpret the three mediums, exercising new approaches to form and subject matter that in turn breeds fresh stylistic interpretation. This continued evolution has meant that these three age-old mediums are as relevant as ever, with there now existing almost as many aesthetic styles and conceptual approaches as there are practitioners.’ The result of the call out is a neat, sparsely populated show of 23 artists who take a range of different styles and approaches to these three forms, and exhibits established international artists alongside emerging local talent. I’ll pick out a few favourites for you:
  1. Richard Monahan: the Swansea-based artist was the recipient of the Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award in 2005 for his works combining drawing and painting. Now a PhD student at Swansea Metropolitan, he has submitted the large scale Wallpaper composition in pink, part of a wider body of work concerned with the nature of repetition, to the show. The piece continues earlier themes in the artist’s work concerned with humanity and existential angst. Images of a variety of characters involved in a series of courtships repeat through the piece. Linking these scenes are lines from the final chapter of an 18th Century romantic novel. The artist explains that this work was made ‘firstly to question our claims to a notion of civilisation. Secondly, to present the idea that nothing is guaranteed not to change.’
  2. John Abel: This Cardiff young artist first came to my attention with his recent prolific solo show at Elysium Gallery (Take 1) at the tail-end of last year. Here he shows some of his dark and quirky prints exploring love, lust and ‘the human condition’ charged with ‘a sense of … fear, and death, in a sense of pessimism or even nihilism’ along with a large pinch of gallows humour.
  3. Jonathan Powell: A director of Swansea’s Elysium Gallery, Jonathan is also currently studying towards and MA at Swansea Met. Also showing work as part of the grid57 show in Pontardawe, here he also offers a series of Heads, this time paintings in thick slicks of bright brush strokes. A comment on the dysfunctional species he feels humans have become. A definite One To Watch.
  4. Freya Dooley: The Wales-based artist Freya Dooley’s  expressive life-size charcoal nudes, based in the same gallery room as Monahan’s piece, impress. Dooley concerns herself with the physicality of the mark – the relationship between artist and object and the ‘trace’ of human touch.
  5. Chris Evans: Currently studying Fine Art, through Performance, the artist grumps out at the news that the MAP (time-based/performance) is to be discontinued at UWIC from the end of this academic year by turning himself into a human paintbrush for the night’s only art performance Jackson Bollocks. Suspended from the ceiling his hair made green paint spread across the floor: ‘I have recently been told by the Academic Naunce Nutjobs that my course area will disintegrate at the end of the year. Therefore I have decided to become a human paintbrush.’ Well, you would, wouldn’t you?     
I am very disappointed to say that little else appeals in the show, quite unusual for me with tB events, but I’d say it is worth a hop along to the vast gallery space to view the above alone, so make like a frog and get your hop on.