Theatre Review – Jungle Book by Metta Theatre

Jungle Book - Photo5 by Richard DavenportWhether you’re a fan of the Rudyard Kipling original, Disney’s animated version or the more recent life-action release, Metta Theatre’s street dance extravaganza adapted and directed by Poppy Burton-Morgan offers something completely new.

Exploding onto the stage at Bristol Old Vic until 29th July, the set is minimal, the cast compact and the story stripped right back, but the energy is overflowing.

Jungle Book - Photo1 by Richard Davenport

Raw, ruthless and stark, the world we enter blurs nature and the urban jungle, with each animal group represented by a different gang. Bagheera (Kloé Dean) is a street artist armed with a spray can, the wolves are skateboarders (Matt Knight and, aptly, Ellen Wolf), and Baloo (Stefano Addae) is an endearingly comical street sweeper. Streetlights double up as trees and crowd control barriers create different areas of conflict and confinement.

Jungle Book - Photo4 by Richard Davenport

Costumes merely hint at the characters we’re witnessing – jackets and hoods with strips of fur, or a slinky shimmer of green in the case of Kaa (Nathalie Alison). More striking are the movements employed by each animal tribe – their postures and rhythms immediately let you know the species being shown.

Shere Khan, played by the disturbingly flexible and double-jointed Kaner Scott, fills the stage with tension every time he limps on. As the lighting by William Reynolds alters hue to hike up the atmosphere or change setting entirely, he picks up pace to chase a mother wheeling a pram off stage, and the sense of something terrible about to happen is palatable.

Jungle Book photo by Richard Davenport

Mowgli, in this instance a girl played by the spirited and charismatic Alfa Marks, brings the opposite mood on stage – bringing humour, light and a great deal of charm. We watch her being tutored by mentors Baloo and Bagheera in the dances that will help her survive jungle life, with each gang having its own particular moves, from sinuous Kaa to the raucous and mischievous monkeys.

The suited humans have their own language, depicted through frenetic, almost robotic steps. Their light is also far colder than that of the more feral parts of the jungle, adding another sinister thread to Mowgli’s survival story.

It’s all enormous family-friendly fun, carrying us through scene after scene on a wave of sizzling vivacity. The scene where Mowgli tries on different formal clothes and samples a series of formal dances shows off the breadth of her talent as well as heightening the contrast between jungle and so-called civilised living, with a healthy dose of comedy. The circus skills, particular those performed by Mowgli and Kaa, are extraordinary to watch, with aerial choreography masterminded by Alfra Marks.

Jungle Book - Photo2 by Richard Davenport

This is a performance that reaches beyond words to attain something far more emotive, animalistic and elevated. My only quibble? Mowgli’s closing speech urging us to use our words to stand up for what we believe in. It’s a confusing conclusion to a play where body language takes precedence so powerfully.

Jungle Book is at Bristol Old Vic Theatre until 29th July 2017.
 
Find out more at www.bristololdvic.org.uk.

All photos by Richard Davenport.

Writing prompt – invasion

Llansteffan barrel jellyfish by Judy DarleyWhen visiting south Wales recently, my mum and I went for a stroll on a beautiful beach where the tide was far, far out. After ambling about for a time, we suddenly spotted a jellied mound in a shallow pool – a gigantic dead barrel jellyfish. Then we saw one on the sand, and another. They were all over the shore, stranded and alien.

Here’s another with Mum’s foot beside it for scale.

Llansteffan barrel jellyfish, Mum's foot by Judy Darley

Imagine encountering an invasion like this. What could have caused it? What might be coming next?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – trickery

Colby Walled Garden gazebo ceiling by Judy DarleyI visited Colby Woodland Garden in south west Wales. It features a gorgeous walled garden complete with a trio of slug-eating ducks and a summerhouse decked out in Trompe l’oeil paintings by American artist Lincoln Taber.

Colby Walled Garden key by Judy DarleyPut simply, Trompe l’oeil, or ‘trick of the eye, is the art of illusion – a fake key hung on a real wall above painted shelves and below painted windows that let in portions of painted sky.

A confusion of real and illusory flowers bloom almost side by side, while real statues shelter false glasses of wine.

Imagine a Trompe l’ceil  summerhouse where no one knows what’s real and what’s not. How could this environment alter a person’s understanding of the world? How might a person living in a place where more is an illusion than real respond to the world beyond the garden’s walls?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know.

With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Colby Walled Garden gazebo by Judy Darley

 

Dragonfly Tea want your short stories

Tea plantation cr Judy DarleySeeking a boost for your short story writing? Dragonfly Tea have launched their 2017 short story competition in partnership with Henley Literary Festival.

invite you a short story on the theme of Journey, and submit it to their short story competition before 11:59pm (GMT) on Monday 31st July 2017. Your tale can’t be more than 3,000 words long; there is no minimum length.

There is also a children’s competition too, with categories for ages 4-7, 8-11 and 12-15. Tales in this section must be on the theme of adventure and must not be more than 500 words long, not including the title.

The the competitions are open to all non-professional fiction writers who are UK residents. In other words, you can only enter is you have never received a fee for your written work, be that fiction or non-fiction. Prize money received as a result of entering work into a competition is not considered a fee.

The competitions are free to enter.

Entries can be submitted via post or online via the online entry page of the Dragonfly Tea website.

Prizes

Main competition

  • 1st – £1500
  • 2nd – £750
  • 3rd – £250

Children’s Competition, in each category

  • £50 voucher for each winner plus £100 voucher for their school.

Finalists from all categories will be invited to the Henley Literary Festival on Sunday 8th October 2017 for a special awards ceremony and prize giving.

Find full details of these creative writing competitions.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at Judy(at)socket creative(dot)com.

Wordy riches

Wordy riches by Judy DarleyI got back from holiday to discover three exciting parcels waiting for me. What a brilliant welcome home! Each package contained a wealth of wordy riches.

The first I opened contained a review copy of The Dragonfly by Kate Dunn, which I can’t wait to start reading.

Sleep is a Beautiful ColourThe second was this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology, Sleep is a Beautiful Colour, containing my story Fascinate.

The book offers up a selection of fabulously quirky and inventive flashes compiled and edited by Santino Prinzi and Meg Pokrass. I’m so pleased to have my tale included!

The third package contained my prize for winning third place in the National Flash Fiction Day NZ competition – my favourite kinds of prizes, words.

In The Wild Wood by Frances Gapper already has me enthralled, and, yes, those are teeny tiny books in the little box in the centre. So enticing!

National Flash Fiction Day NZ 3rd prize

I feel well and truly topped up with gorgeous fictions. Don’t expect to hear from me for a while 🙂

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Writing prompt – glass heart

Glass heart by Peach Perfect

The most beautiful gift just arrived in the post from Kate at Peach Perfect. A handblown glass heart in a mass of jewel colours, it reminds me of being a small child coveting pirate’s treasure chests.

Imagine finding something like this washed up on a beach. From where could it have swept in? How could you keep it safe?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Breath after breath

Waterclour by Liz Butler RWS

Watercolour by Liz Butler RWS

If you visited RWA’s exhibition of The Power of the Sea in 2014, you’ll know how excellent their taste is in choosing works preoccupied solely with one particular element of nature.

This time around the remit was to seek out pieces that scrutinise a more intangible aspect of our surroundings – the very stuff we live in and breathe.

The Balloon over Calais by E. W. Cocks, 1840, oil on canvas, cr Science Museum: Science & Society Picture Library.

The Balloon over Calais by E. W. Cocks, 1840, oil on canvas, cr Science Museum: Science & Society Picture Library.

More than one artist on show creates a sense of substance through the presence of a balloon or several; for others, such as Jemma Grunion and her scattering of oils and resins layered on board, it’s the clouds that transform the unseen into the visible.

Paintings by Jemma Grundon and orbs by Polly Gould

Paintings by Jemma Grundon and sculptures by Polly Gould. Image by Alice Hendy.

You’ll see sculptures representing curls of sky and swooping birds, anamorphic landscapes by Polly Gould, clouds created on tracing paper through the art of rubbing out, a glass trombone and an avian flu molecule. There’s even a depiction by L.S. Lowry of early 20th century air pollution – it’s clear that air resonates with countless possible interpretations – from freedom to sound.

L. S. Lowry, A Manufacturing Town (1922), oil on panel, 43.2 x 53.3 cm. British Council Collection. Photo © Art Image Library LTD. © The Estate of L.S Lowry. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017

L. S. Lowry, A Manufacturing Town (1922), oil on panel, 43.2 x 53.3 cm. British Council Collection. Photo © Art Image Library LTD. © The Estate of L.S Lowry. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2017

The exhibition itself is beautifully laid out, allowing space to meander and contemplate as light streams in through the main galleries’ lovely and very appropriate skylights. Through four centuries of work, there’s an overriding sense of humanity marvelling at the things that soar so high above us, and of the desire to enter, investigate and conquer this nebulous territory. Artworks focused on flight abound, and a colourful windbreak made from shredded plastic by artist Freya Gabie wafts gently in the breeze.

Windbreak made from shredded plastic by Freya Gabie. Image by Alice Hendy

Windbreak made from shredded plastic by Freya Gabie. Image by Alice Hendy

Other works offer an altogether more intimate examination of our relationship with air, not least in Capacity by Annie Cattrall, made in part using exhalations of human breath. Just knowing that gives me delighted chills.

Capacity by Annie Cattrell. Image by Alice Hendy

Capacity by Annie Cattrell. Image by Alice Hendy

For me, the sky has always seemed to be our very best art gallery, offering up colour studies, sunset silks and endlessly reconfigured sculptures.

To host an exhibition concentrated on this extraordinary theatre of the atmosphere is an act of audacity that I applaud.

Jeannette Kerr voyaging through the Arctic

Jeannette Kerr voyaging through the Arctic

As an added bonus, you’ll find Arctic Air, an exhibition by Janette Kerr PPRWA RSA (Hons), made in response to three weeks on a ship sailing up the coast of Svalbard, Norway. The works are compressed with layers of wonder, representing Janette’s awe at encountering icebergs and glaciers, and thinking of “the hundreds, even thousand, of years locked inside, suspended in tiny air bubbles.”

Ancient Air by Jeannette Kerr

Ancient Air by Janette Kerr

Just like the exhibition in the upstairs galleries, this is a contemplation of a part of our planet so otherworldly that it almost feels off-world…

And yet this element is what enters our body and fuels all our vital internal churnings. Without it we could not exist, let alone create and appreciate art.

Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017 is on at RWA in Bristol until 3rd September 2017. Find details at http://www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/air-visualising-invisible-british-art-1768-2017. All images in this post have been supplied by RWA.

Ceramics in Flux

Binary by Yurim Gough

One of my favourite artists-to-watch, the brilliant Yurim Gough, is having something of a busy year. Having just finished exhibiting in The RWA’s Drawn exhibition in Bristol, she’s also been selected to show works at the Flux Exhibition in London this July.

FLUX exhibition is on at Chelsea College of Arts, London, from July 12-16th July 2017.

Binary by Yurim Gough

Binary by Yurim Gough

“The ceramic pieces which I will be exhibiting at Flux are much larger than any I’ve created before, but follow on in development from the bowls I’ve made previously,” Yurim explains. “I had the idea that by setting the bowls in relief into a much larger vase, I could display more than one of my individual as part of the same piece.”

It’s a unique method, bringing together Yurim’s beautiful, provocative artworks into tangible series. “It means that I can have a theme for each piece.”

Loves by Yurim Gough

Loves by Yurim Gough

Her first work in the series is a vase with a single concave face in the side, “like a bowl set into it.” The next in the series has two faces, and three and so on up to the sixth piece, which has six faces (would have loved the surprise here of seven faces, but that’s just my contrary side). “The pieces with one, three, four and six faces have been completed and will be exhibited,” Yurim says.

Mother Earth by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Mother Earth by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Each vase is a study in compare and contrast, with several opposing and complimentary opposites, Yurim tells me, “such the inverted faces and the pointed tops of the vases, like male and female, yin and yang.”

Birth by Yurim Gough

Birth by Yurim Gough

The first piece, pictured directly above, is titled Birth. “It has one face, showing unity, the sperm and the egg.”

The second piece, shown in the first tow images in this post, is Binary, and is shaped into two concave breasts, or buttocks, with the artwork highlighting these feminine body parts so hyper-sensualised by modern ideals of beauty and fashion.

Wind by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Wind by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

The fourth work, Elements, offers Yurim’s take on water, fire, wind and mother earth, while the sixth vase, Loves, reveals six different kinds of love.

“I began adding colour to my work at the end of 2015, and found this enabled me to take a new direction with my art,” says Yurim. “When I began carrying out my life drawings on the ceramics, I saw that the pictures in it prompted me to think about the shapes of the human body and how these reflect on the potential of our lives.”

Water by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Water by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

To explore this idea further, Yurim went beyond her life drawings to sample and blend in images sourced from the internet “to bring the stories I imagined to life.”

It’s an exciting project set to stir intrigue and recognition in viewers to the show. See them for yourself at FLUX exhibition from July 12-16th July 2017, at Chelsea College of Arts, London.

Find full details at fluxexhibition.com and yurimgough.com.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Pianissimo by Louise Gethin

Abandoned piano cr Judy DarleyThe talented Louise Gethin has written this deliciously moving poem in response to last week’s writing prompt – abandoned. Louise is an alumni of Writers Unchained. Thanks so much for sending in your response to the prompt, Louise!

Pianissimo by Louise Gethin

Finger touch tap,
percuss.
‘Why doesn’t it play, mummy?’
Chubby fists beat.
Pause.
‘Can’t you hear it, darling?
Pause.
‘If you listen.’

Boy ears strain for notes.
Insects tickle peeling veneer,
tease strings – no longer rebounding,
or resounding on hammer strike –
struck dumb by rain, by sun
and inquisitive cat.
Weathered sharps softened black to mute,
ivories silent.
‘I’m listening.’

Woman hears chord on wind
stir memory of songs played dolce;
of dances and waltzes stepped to fingertip touch.
Fortissimo, yes, fortissimo – beating heart of home,
wrought, fine-tuned to perfect pitch.
Scales and arpeggios tumbling, turning, slipping, sliding;
minor melancholies resolved in a cadence.

Creak
Hinge squeak
Iron moan
Wheel lost
Woodworm hole
All rots
Shh.

If you write or create something prompted by a post on SkyLightRain.com, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com. It’s magical to discover the flurries  being prompted by my ramblings!

Book review – Elephant Tales by Mark Shand

Elephant Tales by Mark ShandGiven to me by my sister as part of a boxset of Penguin 60’s miniatures, this small volume has been travelling with me everywhere recently, and aptly so as it’s one of the finest examples of travel writing I’ve encountered.

In Elephant Tales, Shand is learning to drive Tara, a female elephant of great dignity, stubbornness and, intermittent whimsy. Like an eccentric great aunt and errant toddler in one, she ambles her way through the pages and into your heart.

The fondness and respect Shand feels for this pachyderm. Carrying him on her back and occasionally, though more often not, doing his bidding, Tara offers the author, and us, an uncommon view not only of the atmospheric Indian landscape, but also of the people and wildlife that populate it.

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