Wednesday, 21 December 2011

THE STAGE REVIEW | ALADDIN


Aladdin

Published Wednesday 21 December 2011 at 15:43 by Susie Wild
Jimmy Osmond, the youngest member of 70s pop act the Osmonds arrives in Swansea as Wishee Washee ahead of the band’s biggest ever UK tour in March.
The addition of this retro, chart-topping pop star makes this story of Aladdin and his lamp one that is bound to please the city’s grandmothers yet leaves song choices rather bewildering for younger viewers. Still, while they sing along to Little Darling and join in on a ditty about how they think Jimmy is dishy, there are other more universal treats in store for the rest of the audience.
3D glasses offer moments of in-your-face special effects, which feel all the more magical for occurring in a theatre environment. From the genie to the magic carpet ride, all these effects work well, although some might want to use one of their three wishes to delete the spider from the story. Moving from the virtual to the actual, the ever popular pantomime dame Kevin Johns is the real Ga Ga-esque star of the show as Widow Twankey, while Gavin Woods makes a convincingly weird baddie as Abanazar.
Grand Theatre, Swansea, December 16-January 15
Author/producer:
Jonathan Kiley
Director:
Andrew Lynford
Cast includes:
Jimmy Osmond, Kevin Johns, Zoe George, Gavin Woods, David Lawrence, Paul Rivers
Running time:
2hr 25mins

It's a Book


Thursday, 15 December 2011

AMERICA | PHOTO BLOG | CARDIFF LAUNCH

From TheRaconteur.info:

A selection of photos from our Cardiff launch at Chapter Arts Centre. It ended up so busy that we ran out of chairs!  To see all the photos from the night visit our Facebook album.
If you’d like to see inside the covers, you can buy The Raconteur: America for £10.

The America Issue

The Editors (L-R): Susie Wild, Dylan Moore, our publisher Richard Davies and Gary Raymond


America contributor Dan Tyte with his copy of The Raconteur

The audience

Recent online interviewee Tyler Keevel with Jane Llewellyn

THE STAGE REVIEW | ROBINSON CRUSOE


Robinson Crusoe and The Caribbean Pirates

Published Thursday 15 December 2011 at 17:57 by Susie Wild
Ahoy me hearties. This big budget pirate pantomime has some of the bigger names and most expensive costumes in the region if not the biggest laughs. TV personality turned reality TV star Christopher Biggins (Mrs Crusoe) changes outfits well in between plugging his autobiography and wearing the product placements of a high street giant. Aside from the adverts, a posturing Robinson (Paul Zerdin) and his ventriloquist puppet Sam are the real stars of the show. Especially when Sam is left alone onstage and magically ‘comes to life’ - apparently talking and moving unaided.
The action moves from the city of Cardiff to the deadliest place on earth as an ancient map leads all and sundry on a treasure hunt to Skull Island. In these dangerous tropical climes enchanting mermaids, lost tribes and Crusoe-should’ve-picked-her Girl Friday (a stunning Stephanie Siadatan) come together to help Robinson beat the swashbuckling swines. The soundtrack isn’t the strongest but does take in Tina Turner, Celine Dion, Monty Python and The Little Mermaid. David Bedella (Blackheart) is a convincing, if not especially butch, baddie in pimped-up pirate get up. Gok Wan would die for his gold coat. Other highlights include frolicking UV fish, a swish swordfight and the hilarious merman backing dancer.

Production information

New Theatre, Cardiff, December 13-January 22
Author/director:
Ken Alexander
Producer:
Jonathan Kiley
Cast includes:
Christopher Biggins, Paul T, David Bedella, Alexander Delamere, Lucy Sinclair, Stephanie Siadatan
Running time:
2hr 10mins
Production information can change over the run of the show.
See review on The Stage website: 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

THE STAGE REVIEW | PETER PAN


Peter Pan

Published Tuesday 13 December 2011 at 10:43 by Susie Wild
Yo ho ho! The boy who will never grow up leads a large cast on an overly-ambitious swashbuckling festive adventure. Beginning with a good ole cockney knees-up, this patchy pirate tale transports the prim and proper Wendy and her brothers away from their traditional, Conservative London home to the freer, fairy-populated Neverland. Calum Small is suitably stubborn and sprightly as the airborne Peter Pan. Llinos Thomas makes a prettily-voiced lovestruck Wendy and BBC Radio Wales personality Owen Money is his affable self as Smee.
The plot doesn’t throw up any big surprises. There is an unfurling love story between Peter Pan and Wendy which results in a horribly histrionic Tinkerbell (Becci Lewis), and a battle to rescue the Lost Boys from the dastardly Captain Hook. An elaborate set causes stilted scene changes and a disjointed pace. Still, as the show is packed full of audience participation, from ants-in-your-pants actions to the standard shouts of “He’s behind you!” there are few dull moments. Highlights include acrobatic flight, a UV skeleton dance, under-the-sea SpongeBob SquarePants puppetry, and a comic interlude of name-guessing between the pirates Smee, What and How. This season’s most popular song choice - Katy Perry’s Firework - becomes the sing-a-long finale.

Production information

Blackwood Miners' Institute, Gwent, December 12-28, then touring until February 19
Author:
Alan Wightman
Director:
Owen Money
Producer:
Rainbow Valley Productions
Cast includes:
Owen Money, Lloyd Davies, Calum Small, Russell Gomer, Llinos Thomas, Becci Lewis
Running time:
2hrs 20mins
Production information can change over the run of the show.


The Art of Contraception with Susie Wild



Isaac Dwyer reviews the eclectic collection of short stories by Susie WildThe Art of Contraception, and speaks with her about love, losers, upcoming projects, and performance.
Susie Wild, a noted bohemian writer living in South Wales, as well as editor for the literary journal The Raconteur, has published an eclectic collection of stories that succeeds in captivating and entertaining its readers. Focusing on individuals who suffer from issues from the sexual to the familial, The Art of Contraception clings romantically to the reproductively unfortunate.
Beginning with the tragic story of Rob Evans, an obese sloth who takes vacations in the tub and dreams of an underage love interest, readers temporarily find their egos comfortably elevated. This throne of narcissism is swiftly brushed out from beneath their buttocks, however.  They realize how easily they could become like the poor creatures they laugh at when Archie appears – and sweeps them right back into reality. The perspective from which they see Archie’s desires is nearly opposite from where they see Rob’s – suddenly, they’re expected to sympathize:
“He pulls hard on his nicotine stick, feels the rain soaking through his open jacket, his black shirt. It washes away the wine from his freckled skin. He sticks out his tongue to catch raindrops, and feels a thirst long forgotten, a thirst for life.”
The lack of dialogue in Wild’s book serves us well in highlighting the emptiness of the characters’ lives through in-depth descriptions of every detail that surround their measly actions. Through this hyper-examination, we can be brought both to quiet sympathy and to raucous laughter.
The story of Tanja, a pregnant woman who suffers from “the overpowering need that would compel her to stop the car to consume handfuls of dirt grabbed greedily from the side of the road” is one that is both hilarious and unsettling. Readers of The Art of Contraception are sure to find themselves in uncontrollable fits of laughter as well as being emotionally touched.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Susie about her book, while she was in Wales, getting ready to go to India. Corresponding through e-mail, we talked about her opinions of love, losers, upcoming projects, and performance.
Some of the characters in The Art of Contraception, most notably Rob Evans, show that the desire to reproduce can come out in any of a variety of interesting activities – such as taking vacations in a bathtub. What do you believe are the sources for romantic desires? Are they just biological urges, or is there more to it?
I don’t think that there is one simple answer in this case and I don’t think I am an expert. Certainly I feel that some of the feelings and developments of love come from biology – breeding and survival. Yet love is a very complex emotion and part of what I write is an attempt to describe and understand the good and the not so great aspects of this invisible entity that so dominates many lives and cultures. There are so many kinds of love, and few are the sweetened Disney kind of film fairy tales. Some people do get those firework moments, but others couple together because of loneliness, laziness or boredom.
In the case of Rob Evans, really he is just a man trying to understand the object of his affection in much the same way most young infatuations go. There are darker undertones of course, but in essence his is a tale of daydreams and an unrequited crush that goes very wrong for him.
Next to your satirical comedy, you also reveal some oddly depressing characters – such as Archie. Why should we care about the losers? What function do they play in our society?
I think, to an extent, we are all losers if only occasionally to ourselves, our parents or indeed our lovers. We all have fallibilities, insecurities and disappointments, even those at the top of their game. While I was studying for my various undergrad and postgrad courses I worked in a number of rough-around-the-edges bars and met a lot of people down on their luck. Some just had a tough week or month or year, others never found their way back to where they originally wanted to be. Even so, it didn’t always turn out terribly for them. For some, missing out on the things they had their heart set on meant they were free for unexpected opportunities that came their way soon after. Others tried to sit the bad times out and they never left. I am a great believer in going after what you want, and that persistence can change luck, but I’ve also learnt the hard way what an exhausting disheartening struggle it can be to get around those bends.

Then again we may only like to read about ‘loser’ characters because of good ole Schadenfreude or the joyous reassurance that someone, even someone fictional, is worse off than you… and, as life’s great philosopher Dolly Parton says, ‘if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.’



















Are there any particular personal experiences that you have had with contraception that inspired you to write this book?
(If I had wanted to share them I’d have written non-fiction ;) Having read the book you’ll also know that these stories hinge on all kinds of relationships from the sexual to the familial.)
After university I actually worked for a number of years as a journalist for a youth advice charity website that had very frank peer-to-peer discussion boards on all aspects of teenage and student life including sex, so I used to have interesting, sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing and often explicit discussions with my colleagues about the plights of our clients on the early shift, moderating their posts and chipping in advice and helpline numbers. My work is inspired as much by such anecdotes, news stories and snippets from the world around me as it is from my own personal experiences and imagination.
You nearly always mention your enjoyment of performing at dives and dance halls – what is it about these environments that contribute to the performing experience? Is it the people?
That’s just the kind of gal I am. I’d rather have a decent pint of real ale than champagne. Also performance poetry and live literature over here isn’t the most glamorous of games. You perform in cramped rooms upstairs from or at the back of Old Man pubs where sound systems don’t work and there is always some sort of weird and loud background noise and the stage is also probably the walkway to the toilets. Or you are in a marquee during a British “summer” in Wellies and a waterproof. Once in a while I get to read in a bookshop where they bring me tea and cake or a Private Members Club with good wine as part of the payment, but these are rare treats. Sometime it is the people, my favourites are the ones who buy books, I also especially like that couple arguing in the corner and her, there, vomiting on my new boots.
You casually mentioned that you’re going to India – I’m extremely jealous. What is it that draws you there, and have you got any exciting adventures planned?
As well as writing books and poems, I also work as a journalist and arts critic. As such, thanks to Wales Arts International, I am heading over to India to write about Hay Festival Kerala, but prior to that I have tacked on an extra week’s writing retreat on the South Indian coast, and I can’t wait to get out there! Usually I like adventurous exploration when I travel, but for the first week of this trip I am aiming to get some much needed R&R and selfish, sun-soaked writing, sleeping and reading time.
What’s your editorial vision for your new literary magazine The Raconteur? What are you looking for in submissions?
I joined as Associate Editor a few months ago and the first issue in the new paperback format, America, is out any day now with launch parties in Swansea and Cardiff when I get home from India. Dylan, Gary and I look for new writing with passion, skill and wit from both established and emerging writers. Our next issue will be themed Beauty and will launch in May 2012. We are accepting submissions now, but do visit our guidelines before briefly pitching considered ideas.
What have you been reading?
I’ve been stockpiling books of late. I have a stack of novels that I’m working my way through – I just finished Remainder by Tom McCarthy – but I’ve mainly been reading a lot of short and flash fiction including Lorrie Moore’s Collected Stories, Andrew Kaufman’s The Tiny Wife, and Nik Perring’s Not So Perfect. I have an ever-increasing pile of review books glaring at me, neglected, but in India I shall also be taking my Kindle (Murakami’s IQ84 is on there, and so is Ali Smith’s There But For The which I pre-ordered ages ago but then got side-tracked from). I’ve also got a soft spot for Nasty Little Press poetry pamphlets.
What inspires you?
Life, dreams, creative and intelligent others, watery locations, adventures, hangovers and pillow talk.
To submit to The Raconteur, visit:  www.theraconteur.info





Monday, 12 December 2011

Bloomsbury to make 2012 'year of short story'

'Bloomsbury have dubbed 2012 the 'year of the short story'. It will publish one short story collection a month in print and digital formats from January to May.'  These include collections by Roshi Fernando and Jon McGregor.


Read More: http://www.bookshedonline.co.uk/news/bloomsbury-2012-year-short-story

STORYCUTS: Adventures in digital pop lit

'How does the Storycuts series – an overarching brand to sell short stories and as singles out of their collections – fit into this theory? Well, adhering like it does to the iTunes sales model of songs versus whole albums, I think the digital short story can (and should) be the pop music of literature.'

Read more: http://www.theliteraryplatform.com/2011/11/storycuts-adventures-in-digital-pop-lit/

Should Single Short Stories Be Sold Or Given Away Online? (Huffington Post)

'I saw a tweet from @DigitalDan about their new ideaStorycuts. I followed the link and browsed the list. Random House is a fine publisher with a wonderful stable of authors so I was soon tempted and drooling with anticipation. But as I went to download a story by Alice Munro I realized it was going to cost me £1.24 to do so.' 


Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/matthew-crockatt/should-single-short-stori_b_1120000.html

Penguin joins push for short ebooks

'Penguin is the latest publisher to embrace quick, digital-only reads, hoping they can reach a time and cash-starved market'


'And Penguin is not the only major publisher dipping its toe into exclusively digital short reads. Random House debuted Storycuts, a collection of 200-odd digital short stories by authors including Barnes, Irvine Welsh and Ruth Rendell, last month, calling it a "new era" for the short story form. The pieces are largely pulled out of collections and made available as digital "singles", although the range also includes a selection of previously unpublished stories. Pan Macmillan, meanwhile, has begun a programme of digital Short Reads by Peter James, Donoghue and others. Pricing is much of a much-ness: Ether Books has published digital short stories for an iPhone application for between 50p and £2.39, depending on length, since last summer; the Pan Macmillan titles are £1, Penguin's £1.99, the Random House books vary but are at a similar level.'

Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/12/penguin-short-ebooks