Category Archives: Theatre

Short and Sweet- Call for Performers

Short&Sweet are running their first big night in Manchester and are looking for performers. The night is called FOOL and will be held on Friday 1st April at Victoria Baths, an ornate, victorian, empty swimming pool- a beautiful large space called the Gala Pool.

vicbaths

Short & Sweet runs as a continuous series of 3 minute performances all in response to one theme. This time the theme is ‘Fool’. Wise, tragic, naïve or reckless the fool has privilege to violate taboos. Art is foolish. Theatre fools and deceives. Short&Sweet is a evening that originated in Montreal, Quebec where it has been running for over 3 years and we look forward to bringing it over the seas to Manchester. Short&Sweet invites proposals from artists of any discipline for a three minute slot.

Feel free to respond to, rebel from and rework the starting point in any magical way that you wish. But you MUST stick to the three minute limit. We are open to a very varied mix of performance e.g. dance, comedy, theatre, live music, video, singing, circus are just some ideas but something different would be exciting too.

Each performer will get a rider and documentation of their work.

To apply, please email us with your name and an idea of what your performance could be. Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1678876949048986

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 12th March 2016 (midday)

Email: short.sweet.night@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Sorcha and May

Advertisements

An Interview with… Harriet Dyer

Alex Webb sits down with comedienne Harriet Dyer

In September I was taken to Manchester’s Comedy Store for their monthly night ‘New Stuff’ and it was here I had the privilege of seeing Harriet Dyer perform. The Cornwall-born comedienne is a relatively recent addition to Manchester’s residents and we are very lucky to have her!

Toby Hadoke, host of The Comedy Store’s New Stuff, described Dyer as “a comedienne like no other” – and he’s not lying! When I asked Dyer about her style of comedy she said “I’m just trying to be as close to how I am in real life, because I think that’s when I’m at my funniest”. This is something I really appreciate in performance acts. The ability to be yourself whilst being great at what you’re doing makes for brilliant results and is a vital step in becoming respected in your art: watching the high energy Dyer run around the stage in what I can best describe as a hyperactive internal monologue was the highlight of my night at the Comedy Store.

Discussing her writing process, Dyer says that it’s an everyday thing with her finding material in the day to day conversations that leaves friends laughing. In Dyer’s opinion this is down to just how “bloody eventful my life is” which means that her material is the most original it can be: no two people experience things in the same way! One such example that I saw first hand was Dyer retelling the story of a wheelchair user harrietwho tried to leave her show early but got stuck – leaving the comedienne to help her out. Normally this would read as tragic but with Dyer’s relentless energy it was brought into a hilarious light and was probably her strongest sketch of the night.

Like a lot of performing arts, comedy is not something people easily fall into. This was precisely the case for Dyer who originally wanted to be actress, desperate to find an affordable school. Her aspiration led her to Wolverhampton which seemed to be a difficult time in her life, confessing she was “a bit of an alcoholic [who] everyone refused to work with because [she] turned up with a bottle of gin” in hand. Luckily this played to her advantage when, one day, she turned up drunk and was presented with a stand-up comedy assessment. Dyer made her way through the course with a story about how she once died twice, and she promises this is funnier than it may sound. By the end of it, everyone was in stitches and she thought to herself “by Jove, maybe this could be a career path for me” and here she is today.

Dyer is becoming a well-established act, bringing a show to Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 called ‘My Name Is Harriet’ (‘My Name Is Earl’-inspired). Having been in the game for a while I asked Dyer for any advice she may want to give to aspiring Manchester-based comedy acts. Her key piece was, bluntly, “don’t be a dick, be original, work hard and there’s no time like the present so bloody hurry up and get gigging”. This is undeniably sound advice and something that translates to anyone interested in performance. You’re never going to get better if you keep your material to yourself – air it out and let it be hated, loved and most importantly critiqued. In relation to Manchester specifically, Dyer said that we are living in a city with one of the best comedy circuits so there are endless opportunities to practice! If you are interested in getting any advice from Dyer then she has an open email policy (kind of similar to an open door one) so drop her a message and I’m sure you’ll find yourself in safe hands!

For those of us who prefer taking a seat in the audience Dyer suggested some comedy hubs such as XS Malarkey, The Kings Arms Salford (for ‘Gein’s Family Giftshop’s Bargain Basement’), The Frog and Bucket and, of course, the Comedy Store. If you want to find some of the most exciting and varied talent our city has to offer make these places your regular hand outs, all hosting a variety of nights with prices ranging from free (students get on it!) to about £30 for the near-perfected Mancunian comedy shows.

When discussing the future for Dyer, she said that we can expect more gigging, writing and “working like a strumpet, I guess” (whatever that means). If this has made you eager to see what this act has to offer check out her weekly podcast (co-hosted with fellow comedian Lou Conran). Whatever we see from Dyer in the future it is bound to be excellent, confusing and most of all, hilarious.

 

Check out Harriet at www.harrietdyer.co.uk

Give her a follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dyerlinquent

Or drop her an email if you want some advice on starting out in comedy: dyerharriet@yahoo.co.uk

If you want to get a taste of her 2015 fringe show, check out her excellently reviewed 2014 one at http://harrietdyer.bandcamp.com/album/barking-at-aeroplanes

Alex Webb

Hulme Is Where The Art Is

Head over to Hulme for a free community arts festival on Saturday 19 July, 12pm – 6pm! Lots of fun creative stuff to do all over Hulme Park, the community garden centre and more…

“The day kicks off at noon in Hulme Park with The Flying Machine, an interactive family performance from Handmade Theatre where the audience become the crew of a life-sized flying machine. While you’re there visit Slung Low’s The Knowledge Emporium (an old-fashioned sweetshop in a converted 1960’s airstream caravan) who’ll exchange your stories for sweets! They’ll be activities in the park throughout the day as well as musical performances.

Old Birley Street will be a hive of activity with food, music and table-top sales. Venture Arts will tag team with Z-arts and host creative family workshops throughout the day. Amongst the bees and flowers of Hulme’s beautiful Community Garden Centre will be live music, delicious food from Teatime Collective, pop up Garden Tea Room with cakes from Black Cat Cakery, refreshments from Moss Cider Project, local green organisations and crafts on display throughout the gardens.

Running Order:
12 pm – The Flying Machine – Hulme Park
1 pm – Afrotree – Hulme Community Garden Centre
1.30 pm – Arts Workshop – Venture Arts
2 pm – 2nd Band (tbc)- Hulme Community Garden Centre
3 pm – 3rd Band (tbc) – Hulme Community Garden Centre
3.30 pm – Youth Showcase & The Flying Machine – Hulme Park
4.30 pm – Sharkfin – Hulme Community Garden Centre
5pm – DJ Horace closes festival – Venture Arts

Throughout the day:
Mix It Up family arts workshops – Hulme Park
Venture Arts workshops – Venture Arts
Knowledge Emporium – Hulme Park
Table-top stalls – Old Birley Street
Rickshaw rides

#HIWTAI”

http://www.z-arts.org/events/hiwtai14/

See you there!

Review: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh

Alex Webb reads and reflects on ‘The Pillowman’, a Pinter-esque play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh…

Sit down and I will tell you a story. This one is about Katurian, Tupolski and Ariel, one, a writer, and the others, policemen, who interrogate the former about a recent bout of murders. McDonagh’s The Pillowman is a children’s story not to be missed. However, do not expect a story about little pigs and friendly giants, although these all feature, because this script is about children, and the death of them.

Written in 2003, this Irish play has you enter an interrogation room, just as ignorant as Katurian, who could be considered the main character. The basis of the narrative is that you find out what is happening as Katurian, a writer, does, with intriguing results. It would be an understatement to say that The Pillowman is simply “chilling” as you’re taken on a journey where you meet characters such as “The Little Jesus” and the title character who all have darker twists than you’d imagine at first glance. If there is one moral to take from this drama it is this: just because someone tells you something, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Creating a tense atmosphere from the start you learn about Katurian’s sickening stories that have the characters, and the audience, asking “what sort of criminal is worse than a rapist or murderer?”. It is through these questions, the tales related to them and the character’s responses that McDonagh’s characterisation shines. Showing phenomenal skill in such a short story, spanning just over one-hundred pages, you will be ready to re-read it as soon as you put the book down. If I had to criticise this text it would be the shallow plot that could be so much more, but needn’t be. Based in one setting: an interrogation room, McDonagh’s engaging narrative is more than enough to have almost anyone read it cover-to-cover wanting more.

Image

Overall, I cannot praise this play enough, from the moment I put it down it had shot up to become one of my favourite books and within half an hour I had already recommended it to most of my flatmates. Even if you are not one for reading, I beg you to go to your nearest bookstore and pick up this drama. Whilst you may be disgusted, you will not be disappointed.

-Alex Webb

(reference: McDonagh, Martin; The Pillowman; (Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 2003).