Showing posts with label iabf. Show all posts
Showing posts with label iabf. Show all posts

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Review: King Lear (alone) (Inamoment Theatre, GM Fringe)

Thursday 19 July 2018
International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Another Greater Manchester Fringe review from me… this time, a one-man show performed at the Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Inamoment Theatre staged a production of Frank Bramwell’s sequel/reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear: King Lear (alone). The piece begins with Lear alone (funnily enough) on the heath, after the events of Shakespeare’s play have ended. The erstwhile king reflects on the things that have led him to this point, variously railing against his perceived persecutors and beseeching comfort from his family and followers. It’s an intense monologue, which moves Lear through heightened emotions of anger, fear and distress, to more reflective moments, tenderness and even acceptance.

That said, King Lear (alone) isn’t a straightforward sequel. This isn’t simply what Lear did or thought after Shakespeare’s play finished. Nor does it move Lear to a different place or introduce new actions or characters. Rather, Bramwell’s script is more of a reimagining of Shakespeare’s play, told entirely through the voice of the protagonist. Other characters are addressed, but do not speak. (There are points at which Lear calls out to Goneril, Regan and others, and appears to hear something in response, but the audience only gleans this through his reaction.) Bramwell weaves lines taken from Shakespeare with his own lines (and, at one point, a bit of a plot twist) to create a version of the narrative presented entirely from the perspective of the unstable – and abandoned – king.

And this really works. Bramwell’s own lines fit seamlessly into the reordered Shakespearian dialogue, but also reveal the presence of other influences. In particular, the fragmented futility of Lear’s desperate ramblings feels almost Beckettian in places, as lines and phrases were repeated ad absurdum. This is heightened by the absence of response from other characters. No matter how much Lear wants the situation to be explained or resolved, no reply is forthcoming.

Of course, a play of this type lives or dies by the standard of the performance. Fortunately, things were in very safe hands here. Bob Young plays Lear excellently, fully embodying Bramwell’s pitiful, yet not quite resigned, king. Young’s Lear begins as a broken and confused man, but over the course of the performance moves back and forth as the quixotic moods of the character demand. Young offers a (slightly unhinged) joviality in his delivery of lines from early in Shakespeare’s play, a deep melancholy in his depiction of Lear’s lonely state, and full-blown Shakespearean wrath in his condemnation of those who have abandoned him – without going over-the-top and losing the audience’s engagement with the character.

For me, this engagement was one of the most surprising things about the production. I will admit to never being a huge King Lear fan (though I’m pretty familiar with the play), due to the distinct lack of sympathy I’ve always had with the central character. In King Lear (alone), however, we are invited ‘in’ and asked to consider things more directly from Lear’s perspective. While my anger and annoyance at Lear hasn’t entirely gone away – Bramwell’s script and Young’s performance don’t entirely dispel the notion that Lear brings much of his suffering on himself – there is way more scope to pity, sympathize and (most surprisingly) forgive Lear for his erratic excesses.

The staging of the play adds to this effect. As expected, King Lear is indeed alone, on a sparse set (no backdrop, save a wonderfully evocative bare tree) and minimal props. While there are no other characters, he is ‘joined’ on stage by two figures. A creepy (and eyeless) jester’s marotte becomes a companion for a time, and Lear addresses this ‘fool’ with Shakespeare’s lines and Bramwell’s interpolations. And from that evocative tree hangs a blonde-haired doll, which (rather effectively, I thought) Lear ignores until around two-thirds of the way through the play, building a dramatic tension in audience member’s familiar with Shakespeare’s play and growing curiosity in those who are not.*

Ultimately, there are a couple of different ways to interpret King Lear (alone). For some people, it will be a reimagining of Shakespeare’s play – i.e. we’re seeing Shakespeare’s play unfold, filtered through the perspective of a single character. For others, it is a straightforward sequel (sidestepping the death of Lear) – the events of Shakespeare’s play have concluded, and Lear is left to reflect on all that has happened in order to decide what the future might hold. But it’s also possible – and very tempting – to see this as an even closer sequel to Shakespeare’s play – Lear has indeed died, and all that we see is a dying man’s dream or a purgatorial vision.

I thoroughly enjoyed King Lear (alone). It’s great play, made even better by Young’s strong work in bringing this version of Lear to life. Like all good literary reimaginings, it has made me reconsider the original and has changed the way I look at King Lear. While the play has now finished it’s GM Fringe run, it is moving to the Edinburgh Fringe in August, and I would highly recommend it.

* I should say, I went to see King Lear (alone) with my other half, who knows nothing about Shakespeare’s play. This gave us the chance to compare our experiences of the play, given the different awareness we had when we came into the performance.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Psychic Spiders! Launch Party

Thursday 29th January, 7-9pm
International Anthony Burgess Foundation
3 Cambridge Street
Free event

Come and join us for the launch of Toby Stone's phenomenal new novel, Psychic Spiders!

George is an unusual spider. Born with the ability to control human thoughts, he has a unique insight into the human psyche. And he doesn't like what he sees. It's time to deal with the problem.

George's crusade to save arachnidkind takes him on warped journey through the city, to the one place where he can make his voice heard - the local television station. But George's quest for media domination brings him up against an array of unlikely opponents: Igor, a troubled man long abandoned to a nursing home by his angry daughter; Tobias, a sensitive spider with a fondness for Countdown; Captain Ahab, a man with no past (that he can remember, anyway). And it's only a matter of time before George's activities catch the attention of The Web - a shadowy organisation whose furry legs stretch around the globe.

Will George succeed? Will humanity survive? Will television ever be the same again?

Join us on the 29th to welcome our new arachnid overloads. Readings from the author, free wine reception and giveaways.

For more information, please visit the Hic Dragones website. And check out Toby Stone's debut novel Aimee and the Bear - 'a book as unique and astonishing as it is chilling'.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Hauntings: An Anthology - Launch Party

International Anthony Burgess Foundation
3 Cambridge Street
Manchester M1
United Kingdom

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Come and join us at the launch party for Hauntings: An Anthology, a new collection of short stories from Hic Dragones.

Hauntings: An Anthology - twenty-one new tales of the uncanny

A memory, a spectre, a feeling of regret, a sense of déjà vu, ghosts, machines, something you can’t quite put your finger on, a dark double, the long shadow of a crime, your past, a city’s past, your doppelganger, a place, a song, a half-remembered rhyme, guilt, trauma, doubt, a shape at the corner of your eye, the future, the dead, the undead, the living, someone you used to know, someone you used to be.

We are all haunted.

Join us at the launch party on Thursday July 31st. Readings by: Tracy Fahey, Mark Forshaw, Hannah Kate, Sarah Peploe, James Everington, Michael Hitchins, Daisy Black and Rachel Halsall

Free wine reception, giveaways and launch discount on the book. For more information, please visit the publisher's website.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Impossible Spaces Launch Party

Friday 19 July, 7.00-9.00pm
Free entry

International Anthony Burgess Foundation
3 Cambridge Street
Manchester M1 5BY
United Kingdom

Join us at the launch of Impossible Spaces, a new collection of short stories from Hic Dragones.

Sometimes the rules can change. Sometimes things aren't how they appear. Sometimes you can just slip through the cracks and end up... somewhere else. What else is there? Is there somewhere else, right beside you, if you could only reach out and touch it? Or is it waiting to reach out and touch you?

Don't trust what you see. Don't trust what you hear. Don't trust what you remember. It isn't what you think.

A new collection of twenty-one dark, unsettling and weird short stories that explore the spaces at the edge of possibility. Stories by: Ramsey Campbell, Simon Bestwick, Hannah Kate, Jeanette Greaves, Richard Freeman, Almira Holmes, Arpa Mukhopadhyay, Chris Galvin Nguyen, Christos Callow Jr., Daisy Black, Douglas Thompson, Jessica George, Keris McDonald, Laura Brown, Maree Kimberley, Margret Helgadottir, Nancy Schumann, Rachel Yelding, Steven K. Beattie, Tej Turner and Tracy Fahey.

Free event, with wine reception from 7pm. Readings from Douglas Thompson, Rachel Yelding, Tracy Fahey, Jeanette Greaves, Nancy Schumann, Jessica George and Hannah Kate. Launch party discount on book sales and competition/giveaways.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Coming Soon... Aimee and the Bear by Toby Stone

So, this post is about a book I've recently edited, rather than a book I've written, but I'm so excited about it I thought it deserved a post.

Aimee and the Bear is the absolutely stunning debut novel by Toby Stone, to be published by Hic Dragones in February 2013. It's a dark (sometimes very dark) fantasy story about a troubled young girl who makes a dangerous journey into the world of her imagination. Stuffed to the brim with echoes of Oz, Wonderland and 100 Aker Wood - but with its feet firmly in early twenty-first-century Manchester - Aimee and the Bear is no children's story. It's captivating and unsettling piece of Manc magic realism that'll change the way you look at teddy bears (and Russian dolls) forever.

Aimee and the Bear is being launched on February 7th 2013, at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, with readings and wine reception. It's a free event, and there's more details on the launch party website. If you can make it, it'll be a great night. If you can't make it, I strongly recommend you get hold of a copy of the book as soon as you can!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Returning to Oz: The Afterlife of Dorothy

Thursday 7 February 2013
International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, United Kingdom

Registration is now open: please visit the Hic Dragones website for more information.


9.30-10.00 Registration

10.00-11.00 Keynote Paper: Geoff Ryman (University of Manchester)
Harrowing the Land of the Dead: Oz, Was and Joseph Campbell

11.00-11.30 Coffee

11.30-1.00 If I Only Had a Heart: Storytelling and Oz
Chair: TBC

Matthew Freeman (University of Nottingham): Across the Rainbow: L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz as the Historical Origins of Transmedia Storytelling

Hannah Priest (Hic Dragones/University of Manchester): The Once and Future Dorothy: Intertextuality in Tin Man

Alexander Berezkin (Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok): Dorothy Gale and her twin Ellie Smith in a magical land of the USSR

Dee Michel (Independent Researcher): Gay Folkloric Beliefs About the MGM Film and Judy Garland

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30 If I Only Had a Brain: Theorizing Oz
Chair: TBC

Johanna Schorn (University of Cologne): “Just you and I / Defying Gravity”: A Queer Reading of Wicked

Ashley Wilson (University of Cambridge): East or West, Home is Best: Using Place/Space Theory to Identify the 1939 Wizard of Oz as the True ‘American Fairy Tale’

Sorcha Ní Fhlainn (Manchester Metropolitan University): The Oz you haven’t see before!’: The Gothic Sublime in Return to Oz (1985)

3.30-4.00 Coffee

4.00-5.30 If I Only Had the Nerve: Merit and Madness
Chair: TBC

Maria Cohut (University of Warwick): The Grotesque and the Sinister in The Wizard of Oz: Perpetuating Christian Models of Merit

Karen Graham (University of Aberdeen): ‘Now what are we going to do about Dorothy?’: The Judgement of Dorothy in Gregory Maguire’s The Wicked Years series

Carys Crossen (University of Manchester): We’re off to See the Psychiatrist: Madness, Feminine Symbols and Female Power in Disney’s Return to Oz

5.30-5.45 Short Break 5.45-6.45 Special Guest (via Skype): Gregory Maguire (tbc)

6.45 Conference Close

For more information about the conference, or to register, visit the Hic Dragones website or email the conference convenors.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

CFP: Fifty Years of A Clockwork Orange

28 June - 1 July 2012
Manchester, United Kingdom


To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962), the International Anthony Burgess Foundation is organising a multi-disciplinary conference to examine its profound and enduring impact on literature, film, music, theatre and society.

The conference will assess the history and reception of A Clockwork Orange in all its manifestations. Papers of 20-30 minutes in length are invited on any aspect of A Clockwork Orange and its legacy. Possible topics might include the linguistic and/or musical aspects of Burgess’s novel; invented languages; the film versions directed by Andy Warhol and Stanley Kubrick; the stage adaptations by John Godber, Anthony Burgess and Ron Daniels; translations into other languages and media; the history of book design; the political and Cold War contexts of the book and films; and the continuing influence of Burgess’s text on popular music, fashion, or other aspects of youth culture and counter-culture.

The conference will be supported by, a new Burgess/Kubrick exhibition at the John Rylands Library (in collaboration with the Stanley Kubrick Archive), a film season at the Cornerhouse cinema, new commissions of contemporary classical music, and more.

If you would like to submit a paper, please send an abstract of 200-300 words to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

She-Wolf Fringe Events

In addition to our academic conference programme, we are also running two 'Fringe' events on Wednesday 8th September. These events are open to the public, and booking is not required.

She-Wolf: Writing the Female Monster
Wednesday 8th September, 6-8pm

A creative writing discussion panel and workshop, featuring Manchester's very own Vampire Queen Rosie Lugosi, and Chantal Bourgault du Coudray, screenwriter and author of The Curse of the Werewolf. Writers will be performing and reading their work, and discussing the rewards and challenges of writing the female monster. Other local writers will be in attendance to discuss their work, and the panel will be chaired by Manchester poet Hannah Kate.

Film Screening: Ginger Snaps
Wednesday 8th September, 8.30pm

Following on from the workshop, we will be screening the classic female werewolf flick Ginger Snaps. Come and join us for some lycanthropic fun!

Both events will be held at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY. Tickets cost £3 per event, or £5 for both (payable on the night). For more information, please email Hannah Kate or call 07968188727.