‘Working’ at Southwark Playhouse

I recently saw a production of the musical ‘Working’ at Southwark Playhouse, south of the river in London. This was the European premier of the musical, following success across the USA, with writing by well-known theatre names including Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights [see my blog post here], and Hamilton). The whole story of the musical, particularly the characters and their dialogue, is based on the book of interviews by Studs Terkel: ‘Working: People Talk About How They Feel About What They Do’. (What a title!).

This musical performs a range of people from different jobs and backgrounds – a topic that is becoming an increasingly discussed with arguments surrounding jobs given to migrants, both in the UK and US. However, I agree with the idea around this musical, that it’s something that should be explored, and theatre is a perfect way to do just that! The cast was brilliant in this production, with a group of six older, experienced actors in contrast and six young performers, who had just graduated (and were all very good!) I really liked this contrast of experience and new. To me it really emphasised another overarching theme of the musical: passing on working knowledge from the old to the young.

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Derby Book Festival, 2017

This summer is the third year of the Derby Book Festival, and this year I have been lucky enough to both attend one of the events and work for the festival too, on a placement organised by my university to help organise one of the events.

I received my placement through the School of English at university, and it was a brilliant opportunity. When I got the news that I had received the position, after going through the application process at uni, I was so excited to start – particularly working at a book festival, which seems such a unique experience! I was partnered with a fellow English student, and we were given the task of creating the Children’s Book Trail along one of the streets in Derby centre. It felt like such a huge amount of responsibility (and still does): not only were we organising an entire event by ourselves, but it was also the first event of the festival!

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Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick

I really like Anna Kendrick – both her career as an actress and her personality, as a lovely human being (if you don’t follow her on twitter then you really should, she’s hilarious!). So when I found out she was putting her funny little quips into a book I just couldn’t resist picking up a copy. Well I wasn’t disappointed! I loved this book a lot; it had me chuckling with laughter to myself all the way through (and if that’s not a mark of a good book, then  don’t know what is!). I know it’s rather cliché, but it felt like she was in conversation with her readers, using a colloquial writing style that put me at ease and made her anecdotes stand out as even funnier.

I’ve read quite a few autobiographies, but never one by an actress, so I was really iterated in finding out more about that type of life – particularly Kendrick’s career on both stage and screen. The book follows her life and developing career from a child working on-stage on Broadway, all the way up to her recent cinematic appearances, such as Pitch Perfect, her time working with Zac Efron, and even working on the Twilight franchise.

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The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler

So if you can’t tell from previous posts on this blog, I love Jane Austen – and that was what made me initially attracted to reading this book. (I mean, her name is in the title!) However, it turned out to be not quite what I expected.

The premise of the book is that the lives of the characters of the bookclub start to resemble the books that they are reading. But to be honest, I didn’t really get it. I don’t know if it was just me and my forgetful nature about the details of the book (some of which I read quite a while ago), but I felt like it was just a gimmick to entice the readers by using Austen’s name, rather than a well-used device that improved the novel. Continue reading

Gender-Bending Shakespeare?! Twelfth Night at the National Theatre

A couple of weeks ago I went to see the National Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night in London. It’s one of my favourite Shakespeare plays – as a twin myself I’ve always been drawn to it – so I was pretty excited to see what the National would do with it (and wow, it did some very interesting stuff!).

The big selling factor for this production was the decision to change character’s genders: specifically, making Malvolio female – played by Tamsin Greig. In a play that is already fascinated with gender and sexuality, this seemed an interesting, but not foolish, decision. (Well at least, I think so, since its a part of my dissertation topic for next year!) They even changed the character’s name to ‘Malvolia’ for the female inflection, and referred to her as ‘madam’, rather than ‘sir’. Naturally this had quite a big impact on the play and production as a whole; I was especially hit with the realisation that by using a female Malvolia, it changes the humour of the play that comes from gender and sexuality confusion.

Malvolia (Tamsin Greig)

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Second Year = Complete!

I’ve finished my second year of university! I can’t believe it! This has been a super crazy year, especially this last term which I feel like has gone super quickly (but at the same time when I look back, it seems like the term started so long ago…).

I feel like I’ve developed a lot this term, both personally and academically. I haven’t got my essay results back yet, but I think (hope) that my writing has improved a lot over the year. It was nice this year that I had a lot of freedom with my assessments, being able to choose what texts and topics of what I write about – I feel like this really helps me, to enjoy my writing (at least to start with, before I actually need to write it all) and therefore write better.

I’m also just a lot happier this year – living with my friends and feeling less stressed about work (despite this year actually counting towards my degree, and all my extra curricular stuff, including being in a show at the theatre and my placement at the Derby Book Festival!). But maybe I’m just forgetting all the bad stuff.

Perks of spending a lot of time at the theatre on campus in the run-up to a show…!

I’m so excited for the summer holidays now though – I’ve already started reading my own choice of books. (It’s the little things, ya know?). Now all we need is some more sun!


The Glass Menagerie

I saw The Glass Menagerie in London a few weeks ago with some friends. I had already read the play by Tennessee Williams as few years ago, as part of my IB studies at school, so I was looking forward to seeing it onstage.

This was such a very good production – the costume, set, lighting, acting, sound, all of it! Williams was very specific in his stage directions about what a production of this show should look like (although he did have quite an over-the-top way of going about his descriptions). So, having studied the play in such detail before going to see this play, it made me particularly aware of the use of these production elements.

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