It’s not often one gets the opportunity to be part of something historic, so I was pretty chuffed to be included in Threshold Festival X’s line-up yesterday. Sad that this was to be the final Threshold Festival though. This grass roots festival of music and visual arts has been running annually in Liverpool since 2011. It has been a huge success in promoting local artists and performers, as well as bringing extraordinary national performers to the city. For 3 nights and 2 days each year, every cafe, bar, gift shop and street corner in the Baltic Triangle would be jumping with excited audiences, enjoying their favourites as well as taking the newcomers to their hearts.
It’s no secret that Liverpool is a hotbed of musical talent, and Threshold ensured they were given a platform. But such is the nature of grass roots organisations, that they struggled to get funding and inevitably lost money. So having decided to finish up last year, and then having to postpone it to this year, they took the whole thing online and boy, did it go out with a bang!
You will find all the performances that were streamed online over the weekend are now available on Youtube.
Somebody recently described me as ‘someone who Does Things’, and I have to agree. But I don’t see that it’s anything to be particularly proud or, or not. It’s just who and what I am. I have to be Doing Things. And if I’m lucky, sometimes other people enjoy what I do.
And I’ve released some songs on Bandcamp. Here is the latest. It’s a Paean to the Liverpool weather, which offers never a dull moment.
What to do next?
If enough people buy (and review!) copies – paperback, eBook, audiobook or tracks – I might be able to buy my 4th Kenwood Chef. Amazon are offering a special on the Compact version, which might fit somewhere in my tiny kitchen. And then I can bake and grind even more healthy food for myself. As if I don’t eat too much as it is!!!
Whatever happened to the previous 3 Kenwood Chefs? Ah – that another story, for another time.
Some of my readers are sharing their response to “Sunsets & Kites”
I’ve just finished reading my copy of Flloyd Kennedy‘s wonderful collection!🌅🪁 It captures her many facets and is so personal and thought-provoking.
With kindness, love and a gentleness almost forgotten, I found these words prising open my soul without my knowledge. I am left unsettled, ad my mind and heart are more exposed. There is a slowness in this book that is missing in the world. A kindness. A gentle beauty to the words and rhythms that allows the deeper meanings to move in the shadows. Visible but unseen… and I am changed.
This book is a delight. Make yourself a cup of tea, turn your phone off, sit in the comfy chair and allow yourself to drift gently with the tides for an hour or so. Don’t rush. Don’t look for meaning. Just go slowly. Thank you Flloyd.
I found all the poems and stories entertaining and thought provoking and some of them I’ll go back and read again – and possibly again!
There was a writing competition, sometimes back in the 1980s, out of the BBC, and a friend and I decided we would have a go. We set each other a modest challenge to get us going – she was to write a synopsis for a story, I was to write a synopsis for a radio play. In the event, she wrote nothing, and I came up with an idea for a musical radio play in which the characters were purely voices and musical instruments. My friend then challenged me to write a song for this musical play which included the words ‘sunsets’ and ‘kites’. The resulting song expresses the longing for all that would be lost if the nuclear war we all feared at the time ever happened.
That musical play is now a 15 minute script tucked away in a folder somewhere. The song has been sung many times at concerts, Open Mics, even recorded – you can find it on Spotify, Amazon Music and all the major streaming services.
My first poetry collection, also called ‘Sunsets & Kites’ covers a lot of ground, from before and after those heady days in the 1980s when the worst fate humanity thought it had to face was a nuclear winter. How times have changed. I’ve included some song lyrics and a couple of essays – and believe me, it’s not all strictly autobiographical…
Both print and eBook versions are available on Amazon (UK, USA and AU). I hope you like it!
It’s September already, and I’m back in the rehearsal room with Dame June Bloom, Teddy Edward and Liam the Lamb. We’ve been invited by Live Arts, in the Scottish Borders, to bring the show to their local community, in the tiny village of Westruther.
One night only, Friday 20th September, we’ll be there! Also delighted to be able to offer a workshop on Friday afternoon, open to all comers.
My stage manager for this wee tour is Susannah Finzi, who wrote and directed “The Bottom Line” in July, at the cornerHOUSE Theatre in Surbiton, and invited me to take part in it, creating the role of The Busker.
Our plan is to meet up in York, (from London and Liverpool) where we both have to change trains, carry on together to Berwick-upon-Tweed, then we’ll be met and driven to Westruther.
On Saturday 21st we are hoping to head to Edinburgh, to perform the show at the Columcille centre. This is unfunded, so we are mounting a fund-raising campaign to help cover our travel and accommodation costs. With any luck, we’ll also have an audience!
If you’d like to support us in this endeavour, you can contribute here
Rhetorical question, because the past two years, mixing almost full time teaching with the occasional touring gig has been wonderful, full of amazing experiences, working with talented young theatre artists, alongside some extraordinary teachers. So – farewell, and thanks for all that.
Now, I’m back on the road, just me and my backpack, Dame June’s suitcase with the ukulele and Teddy Edward for company. Our little company has been expanded, as Liam the Lamb joined us in Dublin last year, on our way to the United Solo Festival in New York. He doesn’t have any lines in the show yet, but it won’t be long. He’s very keen.
Looking forward to sharing the adventure at a venue near you some time soon.
I almost wrote “Life of a Vagabond”, because that’s what it feels like! Here I am, presently based in Edinburgh, Scotland, renting a room in a delightful family flat a block from Portobello Beach. I’ve some teaching work at a local acting academy, working with Acting students, and Musical Theatre students, just fabulous.
In between classes, I’m re-rehearsing my solo show “Yes! because…” which I’ll be performing in New York in less than three weeks’ time as part of the United Solo Performance Festival. The venue is @TheatreRowNYC, 410 W 42nd Street.
The lines are coming back fairly easily, fortunately, but my poor weak fingernails are struggling to cope with the ukulele. I think some nice strong fake ones will do the trick.
Of course there has to be a publicity campaign, and being a one-person-band, so to speak, means I have to do that too. Facebook and Twitter offer a way to feel as if I’m doing something rather than nothing, but actually reaching the local audience in New York is proving to be quite a challenge. So I’m working on a series of videos, to introduce my character, Dame June Bloom, and see if we can get some traction on YouTube.
I am in the delightful position right now of playing one of Shakespeare’s great roles, the nurse in Romeo & Juliet. Strictly speaking, I’m probably too old for her. After all, she had a baby the same age as Juliet, just under fourteen years ago, and my child-bearing years ended quite some time before that.
But that’s the beauty of theatre, it’s all about illusion, perception, and expectation. I make no effort to create the illusion that I am younger than I am (apart from using a very expensive foundation that was a birthday gift!): I aim to create the illusion that I work for the Capulet family as Juliet’s chief care-giver, and trust that the audience will perceive me as such. Then it becomes imperative to exceed their expectations.
The great joy of being able to speak Shakespeare’s language is complemented by the adventure of working with a very exciting young company. Timothy Wynn and Cassandra Ramsey have created a genuinely local, community-based theatre which is deeply professional at its heart. For three years they have engaged a mixture of old and young, experienced and untrained theatre artists to present a range of classic and contemporary texts to the Ipswich community. THAT Production Company is a brave adventure, a generous extension to the local cultural scene, driven by its directors’ passion to provide powerfully entertaining theatre that is relevant and inspiring to its participants as well as to its audiences.
For Romeo + Juliet we have a cast of fourteen performers, aged 16 to I’m Not Telling You, but I can assure you I am the oldest. Some have a lot of onstage experience, some have very little. Some bring a wealth of experience with Shakespeare, others are from the musical theatre scene. Some are still at school, others are relatively recent graduates from school or college. Our director Tim and producer Cassie have worked tirelessly to treat us all AS professional artists – in other words, as artists who profess THEATRE. (I know there is a separate debate currently in the Queensland theatre community about what constitutes ‘professional’ theatre, and I’m not going to elaborate on that here).
We had a shaky start to our season at Studio 188. It was a shock to my aged system to discover that this newly renovated church building, custom designed as a studio theatre, owned and managed by the Ipswich Civic Centre, has no bathroom facilities for the artists who work there. The cost of hiring the venue – even for THAT Production Company, which has been named “Company in residence at the Studio 188″ is so prohibitive that we simply could not afford to move in until the last moment. We also had more than our fair share of illness and unrelated crises among the company members during the rehearsal period, but hey – that’s how it goes.
We are now entering our second, and final week of performances. From tonight (6th May) until Saturday 10th May, at 7.30pm we will share our version, and Tim’s vision, of this well-loved play. The venue only seats 48, so it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance.
You may have seen it before. You may have studied it at school. You may even have performed in it. Whatever your experience of the story of these “star-crossed lovers”, I can assure you there is always something new to discover. That’s the magic of Shakespeare’s rich text, and the beauty of live performance.