Theatre review – A View From The Bridge

A View From the Bridge_l2r Mark Letheren as Eddie, Laura Waldren as CatherineArthur Miller’s powerful human drama examines the loves and loyalties that can threaten to destroy us, if we let them have their way.

In the second production from Tobacco Factory Theatres’ inaugural Company season in Bristol, director Mike Tweddle has forged a suspenseful examination of the layers that make up a family, and the forces, both internal and external, that can threaten it.

Eddie Carbone works tirelessly at the piers of 1950s’ New York to provide for his wife Beatrice and the niece, Catherine, he has raised as a daughter.

A View From the Bridge4Catherine is seventeen, almost a grown woman, and Eddie’s protective side is struggling with the fact she’s increasingly attracting admiring gazes as she walks down the local streets. If he had his way she would remain a child forever. “Katie, you are walkin’ wavy! I don’t like the looks they’re givin’ you in the candy store. And with them new high heels on the sidewalk – clack,clack, clack. The heads are turnin’ like windmills.”

A View From the Bridge_Mark Letheren as EddieActor Mark Letheren inhabits Eddie as a man seething beneath the surface, while projecting himself as a man at ease within his neighbourhood and adept at out-manoeuvring any difficulties that arise.

Everything accelerates when his wife’s cousins arrive from Italy as desperate illegal immigrants.

A distinctively pared-back set by designer Anisha Fields represents the Carbone home and dockside – with just a few blocks, chains and sparse pieces of furniture, a whole world is conjured. As meagre as Eddie and his fellow pier-workers’ incomes are, these are the wealthy relatives compared to those still in Italy, where jobs are so scarce that babies are fed water when they cry.

The two men who arrive couldn’t be more different, despite being brothers. As Catherine points out, one is as dark as the other is light. And as Eddie observes, “Marco goes around like a man,” while his brother, Rodolpho, played by Joseph Tweedale, prefers to sing, cook and sew – details that palpably discomfort Eddie.

Catherine, on the other hand, is instantly charmed.

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Laura Waldren, fresh from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, is a delight as the beloved niece who unwittingly sets this story on its tragic journey. Lively and expressive, she portrays a young girl struggling to grasp the changing expectations of her. “It’s wonderful for a whole family to love each other, but you’re a grown woman and you’re in the same house with a grown man. So you’ll act different now, heh?” urges her aunt Beatrice (a beautifully nuanced role from Katy Stephens, last seen as Lady Macbeth in The Tobacco Factories’ breathtaking first Company production).

Eddie’s disturbed when Catherine and Rodolpho begin to spend time together, and believes Rodolpho is only after the papers he needs to begin his US citizenship. But his distrust, his wife believes, is less to do with Rodolpho than his own feelings towards Catherine.

A View From the Bridge, Aaron Anthony as MarcoAlongside this is Marco (played by Aaron Anthony, (another Bristol Old Vic graduate, who played Banquo in the afore-mentioned production of Macbeth), who says far more with action than with words and bristles with unspoken levels of familial devotion and angst.

This is a story of possessiveness and machismo, where a man’s good name is worth the world. As Eddie’s fear of losing Catherine rises to the fore, his humour disappears and we see a man riddled with jealousy. The transformation isn’t a pretty one. Eddie becomes a man trapped within his own lies to himself, building up an elaborate network of reasons for not wanting his niece to be with Rodolpho.

Simon Armstrong as Alfieri the lawyer says, it was “a passion that had moved into his body, like a stranger.”

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There are moments of sheer majesty in the production – scenes that will stay you, resonating with unuttered tension. A chair lifted is a warning from of one alpha male to another, while a few lines of a song can make you shiver with the richness of the loss echoing in the space.

All images in this review are by Mark Dawson Photography.

A View From The Bridge is on at Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol until 12th May 2018. Book tickets and find out more: www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com/shows/view-bridge-arthur-miller/

Seen or read anything interesting recently? I’d love to know. I’m always happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

Poet and artist in residence opportunity

Mackerel skies over Temple Meads cr Judy DarleyThe University of Bristol is seeking one poet and two artists-in-residence to commission to work with the University and local communities. The successful applicants will be expected to reflect on, imagine and daydream about the new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, which is due to open close to Temple Meads in Bristol in 2021/22.

Each residency will pay up to £8,000, with each artist expected to work for around six to eights weeks within one calendar year from the start date, which is likely to be June 2018.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Tuesday 8th May. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview to present their proposals on Tuesday 22nd May.

They say: “The Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus will give us opportunities to work with the city, create jobs and celebrate Bristol culture. The development will turn an eyesore into a green, open campus that benefits the whole city. The new campus will concentrate on educating postgraduate students, attracting top talent from across the UK and around the world. We’re talking with communities, businesses and the Council to shape our plans, which include landmark buildings for postgraduate teaching, learning and collaboration. Work here will focus on digital technologies, the innovation they drive and how they’re used by people, organisations and industry.”

Find full details of how to apply here.

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

Writing prompt – fable

Ugly Duck cr Judy DarleyHere’s a challenge. The Ugly Duckling is a story we’ve been told all our lives. It seems that magazines, movies and all the other elements of popular culture agree that the ending’s only happy if the ducking emerges as a radiant swan.

I suspect this genre of fairytale is part of the reason why our society puts such value on our outward appearance.

So how do you take such a well-known tale of redemption through beauty and give it a fresh, more positive, less shallow twist?

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

Enter the Bridport Prize

Port cr Judy DarleyOne of the UK’s most prestigious writing competitions, the Bridport Prize is currently seeking submissions of short stories, flash fiction, poems and debut novels.

The deadline for all competition entries is 31st May 2018.

First things first, choose your writing species: novel, short story, flash fiction or poem.

Bridport Prize artwork cr Paul Blow

Image by Paul Blow

Poems may be up to 42 lines in length. The entry fee is £9. The winning poet will receive £5,000.

Short stories may be up to 5,000 words long. The entry fee is £10. The winning short story writer will receive £5,000.

Flash fiction may be up to 250 words long. The entry fee is £8. The winning flash fiction writer will receive £1,000.

Novel extracts may be between 5,000 and 8,000 words long, and must be from the opening chapters. You must also supply a 300-word synopsis. The fee is £20.

First prize prize is £1,000 plus a year’s mentoring through The Literary Consultancy’s Chapter & Verse mentoring scheme (worth £2,340), and a short, written report on the winning entry from the named judge.

If, after the mentoring process, the finished novel is suitable, A.M. Heath Literary Agents will have first option to represent the winner and to offer it to a publisher they recommend.

The first three chapters of the winning and runner-up novel will be published on the Bridport Prize website after 22nd October 2018.

Find full details and enter your creative works at www.bridportprize.org.uk.

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

Writing prompt – tenant

Reggie cr Judy DarleyOur new home came with an unexpected lodger, who seemed rather surprised to discover us peering into his pond after months, or even years, alone.

Imagine a couple moving into a house only to discover someone or something is already resident. What could ensue?

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

Write for a Flash Walk

Totterdown coloured houses cr Judy DarleyI’m happy to say that after a year’s hiatus, the #FlashWalk is set to return as part of the National Flash-Fiction Day celebrations on 16th June 2018. Far less seedy than it sounds (depending on the tales submitted), the Flash Walk will take place in Bristol, celebrating fiction in its shortest and most intense form.

The Flash Walk will take place in central Bristol, and your words can be part of it.

To be in with a chance of being included, all you need to do is send us a piece of flash fiction, prompted by some aspect of the theme Urban Landscape. You can take this idea in any direction you choose, using any theme and any genre, providing your tale is between 40 and 400 words in length.

Bristol can be but doesn’t have to be a source of inspiration for your submission.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 21st May 2018.

The selected stories will be shared by  actors during the walk, so if yours is chosen, all you need to do is come along and enjoy the performance!

The walk begins at 10.30am on 16th June, just outside the main entrance to Bristol’s M-Shed on the harbour side. It will finish at the GreenHouse, Hereford Street, BS3 4NA (just under a mile’s stroll away), between an hour and an hour and a half later.

The GreenHouse will also be the venue for the afternoon’s free writing workshops

To be part of National Flash-Fiction Day‘s #FlashWalk2018, submit your entries to bristolflash@gmail.com before midnight on Monday 21st May 2018. There’s no charge to enter, so why not give it a go?

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.

Bristol Short Story Prize 2018

Bristol hot air balloons cr Judy DarleyOne of my favourite writing competitions (and not just because it’s local), Bristol Short Story Prize 2018 is now open for entries. Flick through any of their anthologies and you’ll discover a wonderful breadth of theme, topic and style.

The closing date for entries is May 1st 2018. Submissions can be up to a maximum length of 4,000 words.

The 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Dima Alzayat  for her story, Ghusl. Following her win Dima has been signed by literary agent Juliet Pickering.

BristolShortStoryPrize-vol-9-coverThe 2016 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Stefanie Seddon for her story, Kãka.

The 2015 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Canadian writer Brent van Staalduinen for his story A Week on the Water.

The 2014 Bristol Short Story Prize was won by Mahsuda Snaith for her story The Art of Flood Survival.

Find the full competition rules here.

The writing competition prizes

First prize is £1,000. Second prize is £700, and third prize is £400.

Each of the 17 remaining shortlisted finalists will receive £100.

For full details or to enter, go to www.bristolprize.co.uk.

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

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Wading in

Big Blue No. 1 by Emma JacksonI’ve been entranced by the art of Emma Jackson ever since encountering the contemplative peace of her canvasses at Bristol Affordable Art Fair and discovering that she is prone to wading right into the watery scenes she recreates. It’s an immersive technique that helps her to fully experience her surroundings, and thereby convey them more compellingly to us, the viewers.

“The more directly I come into contact with nature, the more I am able to make an emotional connection with and make sense of a place,” she explains.

Big Blue No.5 by Emma Jackson

Big Blue No.5 by Emma Jackson

For her recent BIG Blue series, she’s delved into recreations of an underwater world glimpsed off-shore from Australia and Hawaii “where I was lucky enough to go diving and experience at first hand the ethereal quality of nature and life beneath the ocean.”

Back on dry land in her studio, Emma uses a range of photographs for an initial set of drawings, “then I create a music playlist to set the scene before I can start painting. I played Modern Kosmology by Jane Weaver over and over again during my Blue painting sessions.”

Big Blue No. 2 by Emma Jackson

Big Blue No. 2 by Emma Jackson

Each of Emma’s paintings begins as a search for “the ‘Genius Loci’ the spirit of a place. I’m quite often drawn in be a certain light at a certain time of day. I’m currently experimenting with some nighttime photography to capture that very special light between day and night.”

Quarry No. 6 by Emma Jackson

Quarry No. 6 by Emma Jackson

Forests, oceans, quarries and streams all play their part in feeding both Emma’s urge to be outside. As she mentions in her artist statement, “I start the creative process by getting outside, walking and exploring, sometimes trespassing searching for unusual and remote areas within the landscape. This could be a deserted slate quarry in the Lake District, an ancient woodland in Scotland or island-hopping in Finland. It’s important to make an emotional connection with the place before I can start to make art. I will spend a lot of time in one place, taking photographs and making quick sketches. It is essential to capture the ‘sense of place’ before I head back to the studio and start making art.”

Finland No. 6 by Emma Jackson

Finland No. 6 by Emma Jackson

Her pieces offer slices of shadow and light, and a hint of the movement of a breeze over water and through leaves. There’s a suggestion that if you concentrate and inhale with care you may just catch a whiff of damp earth and the heat of living things. “I’m aiming to recreate the emotional experience I had at the time of being there,” she comments. “This is sometimes representational or it can be quite abstract. I think my work is most successful when they reflect both styles – semi abstract.”

River No. 1 detail by Emma Jackson

River No. 1 detail by Emma Jackson

Life as an artist suits Emma through and through, as she relishes “thefreedom and diversity, and the opportunity to travel and see the world.”

From 21st-25th March Emma was lucky enough to head to the New York Spring Affordable Art Fair where she exhibited with London-based gallery Wills Art Warehouse.

For details of all Emma’s latest work and exhibitions, visit emmajackson.org.uk

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

Writing prompt – brink

Stepping stones cr Judy DarleyThis image captures a moment of carefree fun, just before one small child (not pictured) fell in with a squawk and a splash, and another (also not pictured), lost his rag and threw his welly into the mire.

I love the concentration on the kids’ faces as they traverse this perilous series of stepping stones. Could the older boy in the background actually walking on water? So many fantastic story possibilities!

Um, and yes, that is the bobble of a bobble hat in the foreground, but make of it what you will 🙂

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

London Book Fair 2018

English Pen Literary Cafe

London Book Fair 2018 runs at Olympia, London, from 10th-12th April, so don’t expect any in-depth response from agents or publishers for a while! I attended some years ago with a publisher I was working with, and it was one of the most exhausting, intriguing, chaotic, exhausting, extraordinary events I’ve ever attended. Sorry, did I say exhausting twice?

It’s a vast, sprawling space filled with people who haven’t slept in days and aren’t quite sure where they’re going – a bit like an international airport but with the added requirement of being ready to schmooze at a moment’s notice.

Previously I’ve urged aspiring authors not to attend with the aim of pitching unpublished novels, but last year for the first time there was a special Author Club area at the fair which is returning in 2018 and will be well worth investigating. Plus there’s the London Book Fair Insights Seminar Programme covering everything from the impacts of Brexit on the book publishing industry, to how to publish books about mental health.

On the whole though, this is very much a trade show, where the emphasis is on publishers pushing titles, discussing international rights and new markets, seeking out new business collaborators, stifling yawns and drinking rather a lot of coffee.

If you’re going along, good luck!

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