Sunday, 30 October 2011

Why women in radio are starting to talk back

'From awards ceremonies to drive-time presenters, radio is dominated by men. But not for much longer, writes one of the team behind the launch of Sound Women, a pressure group devoted to giving women a louder voice...'


Thursday, 27 October 2011

The lack of women reviewers

Fantastic article outlining many of my issues with being a female critic in a world that is still so laughably embarrassingly far from gender-equal:

PS... "Hi Katy, I'll review some books written by men, if you want... I want."

Monday, 24 October 2011


The Village Social

Published Monday 24 October 2011 at 12:02 by Susie Wild
The Village Social is a surreal musical comedy touring village halls across Wales. Ben Lewis and Dafydd James, the duo behind award-winning 2009 Edinburgh Fringe show My Name is Sue, have again succeeded in creating a deliciously dark oddball hit with a vigorous, well-chosen cast.
Upon entry to the bunting-bedecked hall, audience members become the villagers of Cae Bach (‘Little Field’). They are given raffle tickets as they take their seats for the local fundraiser - so far so normal - but soon the local performance night begins to unravel with perfectly-pitched awkwardness. There have been some strange goings-on in the village and, as the evening progresses, the cast begins to act increasingly bizarre.
The main attraction is running late, and so the characters fill in by sharing the tales of Cae Bach’s history - feasting and parties in a Celtic other world - centring on their recently burnt down ancient yew tree. Then, during a power cut, the hilarious clairvoyant Madame Isis arrives and points a gnarled finger at each of the characters’ secret desires. Clues to the villagers’ mythical demise are given from the very start, with the singing of their prophetic anthem: “Cae Bach our pride and glory/We live to tell your story/Defend ‘til we are gory/This little field of ours.” And psychotropically gory it gets. After Madame Isis curses the people of Cae Bach, the cast transform into their fun and twisted alter egos releasing absurd costumes, secret passions, bad smells and bloodshed.
If let down by some confusion in the sudden, change of pace ending, this is an otherwise truly inventive, enjoyable piece of musical theatre from two of our rising stars.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Open newslist

Guardian open up their newslist. Helpful and insightful or another step towards the takeover of less-informed citizen journalism and media cost-cutting/ job cuts? Discuss...


In other media news...

The Times and Sunday Times cut 150 editorial posts


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

My Blackberry is not working

Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-personality by Elias Aboujaoude. Review by Susie Wild

The internet has been in popular use in the UK for 20 years. Now that is has, essentially, come of age, a string of books has been released examining the effects of the internet on humanity.Virtually You addresses the effect of the disparity between our online and offline personas on our psychological well-being and society. It is a welcome addition to the good arguments already put forth in Alone Together by Sherry Turkle, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier.

The author, Elias Aboujaoude, is a Silicon Valley psychiatrist who helped to lead the largest US study on problematic Internet use published to date. The study looked at the internet habits of 2,500 US adults and 'revealed alarming rates of online pathological behaviour'. This led Aboujaoude to conclude that while the internet is 'a force for good in many arenas', its dark side still casts a long shadow over society. He acknowledges that each wave of new media has had its detractors, yet believes that the internet's 'much deeper penetration into every aspect of our lives today makes it more insidious, and potentially more dangerous'.

The 'I' is omnipresent in contemporary cyberspace. Yahoo ran advertising last year with the strapline 'your own personal everything'. Today technology is all about the first-person singular pronoun  iPad, iPhone, iPlayer. The centre of the webiverse is you, 'the new you', the virtual and improved you. The Photoshopped you. The avatar you. Your dangerous e-personality. In The Fountainhead in 1968, author and thinker Ayn Rand wrote: 'Civilisation is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilisation is the process of setting men free from men.' Today it seems that while, on the [inter]face of things, our online life is personal, we are actually reverting back to the savage and the dangers of mob rule.

Danger, as any good girl will know, is hellishly attractive, but spelt out by Aboujaoude, the dangers of the e-personality are anything but: delusions of grandeur, narcissism, viciousness, impulsivity and infantile regression. Each of these five foes gets a chapter of discussion in the book, before he concludes:

The part of our psyche that usually reigns in these instincts — what psychoanalysts have traditionally called the superego — finds a worthy competitor in the Internet-assisted id, with its infantile self-centeredness and its dark dreams that demand to be satisfied.

In a world where the concept of long-term planning and the future are becoming lost in favour of immersion in the present, selfishness and narcisurfing  the act of googling oneself  the consequences of our actions have apparently become a lesser concern.

Aboujaoude also draws on clinical work, personal experience and academic research to try and make sense of the psychological characteristics that define our e-personalities, the ways we behave and portray ourselves online. The blurring between our work and social lives, our friend circles, our online and offline lives have become such that we are 'living in the existential equivalent of a well-shaken vinaigrette.' The dangers of the e-personality play out to extremes, as given in examples of high profile tragic news stories: 13-year-old Megan Meier's cyberbullying-related suicide;Philip Markoff, the 23-year-old 'Craigslist Killer'; and the online live video stream OD of troubled 19-year-old Abraham Biggs.

Virtually You is also peppered with less extreme case studies from the psychiatrist's own clinical practice in the field of the Impulse Control Disorders. Aboujaoude's clinic in Stanford has seen a large increase in the number of patients seeking help for internet-related addictive and damaging behaviours. We are not all addicts, yet we are all affected by our internet use more than most realise. Often the bleed from online to offline behaviour is played out on a more minor scale: we become more impatient and impolite in our face-to-face interactions. We are less willing to work at it when the going gets tough in our personal relationships. We withdraw into our other virtual lives, lonelier but 'safer'.

Whilst most of the arguments in Virtually You are common sense, this easy-to-read book offers a decent, layperson’s introduction to the broad psychological effects of the internet. At times it is uncertain who the book is aimed at, as basic terminology from the fields of psychology and technology are painstakingly explained. At others, the author’s tone can come across as flippant, while some of the arguments provide more questions than answers. All these complaints aside, Aboujaoude still makes some important points:

Our e-personality cannot tolerate down time. There is always a discovery or a connection to be made; always some fun to be had. Yet idle time, when the browser is shut down, the smart phone is out of charge […] is necessary to our ability to reflect on the world around us and our ability to self-reflect […] to assess ourselves and our place in the world, as well as consider the downside of the new technologies that are keeping us so busy.

Aboujaoude does not call for the internet to be switched off, but he does ask us to pause, to take stock, and then to proceed with caution. Sometimes we need someone to state the obvious, for these are wise words indeed.

Susie Wild is the Associate Editor of The Raconteur and the author of the short story collection The Art of Contraception and the Kindle e-book novella Arrivals

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Next week's editor's blog: Graphic novels, Cardiff’s Literature Lounge and the Daniel Owen Festival

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

THE STAGE | REVIEW | Up ‘n’ Under

Up ‘n’ Under

Published Wednesday 5 October 2011 at 11:02 by Susie Wild
Capturing the competitive highs and lows of amateur rugby union, this Welsh adaptation of John Godber’s award-winning Up ‘n’ Under is an enjoyable production. However, beyond the bellyache laughs one finds many cheap gags and the gut-punching disappointment of a vital missed penalty.
For this intimate new stage tour, John Godber has exchanged Hull rugby league for union sevens in the South Wales Valleys. As a squad, the teamwork of the cast complements each other well under Richard Tunley’s measured direction. There are entertaining moments of energetic physical theatre and slow-motion movement as the four-player squad get into shape and later humorously play both sides in the big match.

One to watch is Gareth Bale - Richard Parker 2 - hauntingly plausible as the downtrodden Arthur. A retired rugby player, Arthur ends up placing a stupid bet with his arch rival Reg that sees him coaching the worst team imaginable for a big local game. Giles Thomas is convincing as hot-headed Reg, but also reveals a light touch with comedy as the teacher who “could’ve played for Wales” while Sara Lloyd Gregory lacks the required bombshell spirit as the gym-owning squad mascot Hazel.

Successfully transcribing such a script to Wales involves more than altering place names and match rules. After seeing great home-grown theatre that manages to include both stereotypical elements of rugby and song whilst avoiding cliche and dumbing down - Dafydd James’ Llwyth - Up ‘n’ Under often feels too obvious, emphasising how much our theatrical landscape has already moved on.


Image: Emyr Young


This old story just got forwarded to me, didn't realise it went live ... a Manchester short for the delightfully drizzly RainyCityStories...

By Susie Wild
Location: Wilmslow Road
The warning signs are there. Jo’s voice is rising in pitch. There is going to be a row. Or tears. Possibly both. We are all hungover, off to see our mate’s mate’s band play for the second night in a row at the same venue.
Fuel; we sure need some.
Manchester is losing its grimy shine, the but-we-aren’t-in-Wales gleam of adventuring appeal. Drastic action is needed. Trailing behind the whiners and need-to-be-drunk-again ditherers I catch Kate’s eye. She knows the drill, the nod is almost imperceptible. She grabs my wrist and we take a sharp right down an alley, careering, our limbs windmilling into the first bar we come across.
In the dimly lit pub we lean summer-sticky arms on the syrup-sticky bar, order two house triples and down them. Apart from the barmaid we are the only women there. Around us the smell of Brylcreem and urinals permeates the air; rows of quiffs compete with each other for vertical space. An overweight Teddy Boy is singing one karaoke song after another, in tune but lacklustre, his beer gut heaving up and down in time to the music, wiggling his skinny tie like a worm. The room ignores him.
We march up to the cuddly teddy and grab the songbook. Choose ‘Big Spender’. Belt it out. Loudly. Tunelessly. Giggling like the schoolgirls we are. The room ignores us. We love that. We order another triple each, down it, and then leave the surreal Lynchian pub. Run back out into the night, eyes wild, shrieking. Finding the others smoking in the queue outside the gig venue. Jo’s eyeliner streaks her cheeks, but she is exhaling laughter with her nicotine. A storm has passed.
Susie Wild is one of Parthian’s Bright Young Things. Her debut collection of short stories, The Art of Contraception, is out now.

There are heaps of other great Manchester tales over on the Rainy City site.

The Good of the Critic (& the novel)

'we live in “an age of drive-by reviewing, when every reader can tell the (electronic) world whether or not they ‘like’ a particular book.”'

Interesting article on the New Yorker site about The Good of the Critic

'The Good of the Novel will not be dogmatic or prescriptive. To theorise about a genre as fluid, capacious and protean as the novel is to risk incoherence or banality. Each novel set the terms of its own reception, makes its own demands of its readers. As Amit Chaudhuri argues here, the reading of a single novel can realign one’s entire aesthetic. Each novel writes its own constitution.'

How did I miss this book? Ordered.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Theatre and critics need each other

Lyn Gardner has written about the New Critics Day in Cardiff that I rushed back from Venice for in The Guardian Stage Blog today, and also mentions the Wales Arts International Critics Scheme that I am currently taking part in. The Wales-based critics met up again this evening to discuss the future. More thoughts and news on this soon.

 Monday 3 October 2011 14.06 BST

Why is National Theatre Wales running a scheme to nurture new critical voices? Because theatre cannot flourish without critics – and vice versa.

Theatre criticism does not exist in a vacuum. It offers a response, and therefore needs something worth responding to. Without Osborne and Pinter, Kenneth Tynan would have been just another mid-20th-century critic admiring the French window sets.
But does it also work the other way? I think it must: I'm not convinced that it's possible for a strong theatre culture to thrive in a place or an area of work where there is little or no critical attention. You only have to look at the Cinderella sectors of British theatre to see what happens when there is an almost complete lack of critical focus. This, in any case, was a question under consideration at the stunning new Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on Saturday in an afternoon called New Critics Day, organised by National Theatre Wales and Literature Wales. It's clearly something that has exercised NTW since its founding, and it's been trying to do something about the state of Welsh criticism through a scheme called New Critics (in which I've participated as a mentor) to help nurture new critical Welsh voices and give them the tools to respond not just to the NTW programme, but also to a broader range of work taking place in Wales. That in turn has spawned another scheme of Young Critics, many still in their teens and early 20s, based around Bridgend. Yet another initiative Wales Arts International has also just begun, aiming to expose critics – and not just theatre critics – to a broad range of work in different countries and cultures."
Read on:

Calm down, dears – it's only a theatre review

'The internet. It sure is grand, but by God is it angry. And in few places, curiously, is this anger more evident than in theatre blogging and online reviews. The very titles seethe with anger. The West End Whingers, Burnt Arts (the text blazing red) and Distant Aggravation are just the tip of the razor-sharp iceberg. The subheadings continue in the same, aggressive manner, with the West End Whingers claiming – albeit, perhaps, ironically – to be "putting London's West End theatre to rights". Just why is the internet so riddled with rage and is it useful to theatre criticism – or merely self-destructive?'

& a few related posts I missed while I was in Venice. 
Yes that VENICE...Yes it was Ve(ry)nice...

Also, this...

Beyond the words. What can critics do beyond their words?