Therapeutic Theatre

The relationship between the Call to Adventure and the journey towards self actualization is one of the most common themes of mythology and one of the richest in symbolic value. This call to adventure helps to establish the stakes of life’s personal and professional games and makes clear our goals as an active participant.

A very special experimental cutting edge theatre group that is dedicated to empowering individuals to freely nurse their imagination and originality in a safe supportive space is Drastic Productions founded by Liz Clarke and Lotty Lowri in 2006 as a positive response to offer performance experience to groups of people who might not normally have access to it.

Super Heroes & Alter Egoes - Lottie Psychottie

The highly committed team at the theatre helps people to identify those aspects of self that require creative release, discharging exciting new energy into the psyche and dissolving long held inhibitions in the process and activating powerful archetypes. These archetypes could be said to represent specific functions and parts of the personality which resolve the tension in responsive feeling.

The valuable work that Liz and her talented team facilitate is unique in that it draws on a broad spectrum of post modern climate and cultures. As a combination of professionals they radiate enthusiasm and warmth as well as being vitally interested in creating an environment that offers a variety of mental stimulation, movement and experimentation. The team strength lies in their highly specialized approach to working imaginatively, providing a catalyst to bring about a profound transformation in others. Like a true catalyst in chemistry, they help bring about a change in a system and help guide others in their growth. Drastic Productions helps individuals to explore their surroundings in unfamiliar ways such as the use of taste, touch and sound. They believe that we are all creators and artists of our own individual experiences and responses to life. By living art, we become art.

In the concept of the Holy Grail an ancient and mysterious symbol for all the unattainable things of the Soul that all heroes and heroines search after, the ultimate boon or reward is a certain self knowledge and transformation that follows when we take possession of whatever we are seeking. It is the fundamental character of the universe to be active in the production of wholes and that the evolution of the universe, inorganic and organic, is nothing but the record of this whole-making activity in its progressive development.

The unifying force of all life phenomenon suggested by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who lived about “ 546-470 BC” was named physis and was conceived generally as the creative force of nature. It is the healing energy behind illness, the energized motive for growth and the driving force of creativity in an individual. The human will playing a crucial role as it represents the seat of primal power-the striving force that can be found in all creative individuals. Any act of deliberate creativity is a reaching out to create or co-create a relationship with another. All creativity therefore implies relationship and a desire for connectivity. The creative expression of the individual towards life is closely mirrored in the relationship between the creative individual and the collective –society. We are pro-social relationship-seeking beings who in order to evolve and rediscover ourselves have to continuously pay attention to our experiences, preserve our integrity, to experiment and promote our creative impulse.

Drastic Productions through its innovative programme of workshops and interesting series of seminars intends to heal the splits and divisions of the person and in doing so, valorizing personal responsibility and freedom to choose one’s life based on making healthy choices through the celebration of curiousity and joy in learning and unlearning for oneself, inspired by welcoming diversity, spontaneity and playfulness in an abundant sharing of emotional experience. Their workshops offer an opportunity for playful improvisation, communication and idea sharing. Liz and Lotty delve into character, story telling and physical theatre, always striving for inclusion and promoting positive images.

Each workshop leader has professional qualifications and experience in working with minority groups in quite challenging and unusual environments ranging from high security units, psychiatric wards, prisons and even nightclubs! Referrals by mental health services are accepted with participants presenting with an array of health issues such as depression and schizophrenia. The team do not work with a social label or medical diagnosis but with the whole person. They are not a drama therapy group and all their work is carefully planned and complies with their Vulnerable Adults Policy. Their skill in working with vulnerable people ensures that they manage any creative risks sensitively. Each session offers an opportunity for reflection and feedback.

Their most important and exciting work to date is dealing head on with how women with mental health issues are portrayed in the media. The team’s social and theoretical influences range from sex positive artist Annie Sprinkle to the work of long standing theatre companies such as Candoco and Back to Back in Australia. As Liz Clarke is a practicing live artist her work is mainly body based and so she brings in influences from this sphere. At present the team are planning to bring out their ‘The Dare Devil Divas Compendium of Super Heroes and Alter Egos’ which will be a graphic novel working in partnership with Bristol organizations and leftfield art book publishers. They have also been asked to perform and facilitate at several festivals this year and are hoping to take their place in national Arts and Health debates.

Super Heroes & Alter Egoes - Betty Bruiser

Good teachers and Mentors are enthused as the word comes from the Greek word en theos , meaning god-inspired or being in the presence of a god. Drastic Productions as modern day mentors who seek to empower individuals to make the most of themselves are strongly concerned with collective issues, what we all experience in common-the major victories and tragedies of our times and especially the expansion of consciousness and understanding that help us on our heroic journey to wholeness.

In the anatomy of the psyche, mentors represent the Self, the god and the g-ood within us, the higher noble self or conscience that acts as our inner guide when there is no one there to protect us or teach us right from wrong. Symbolically mentors stand for our own highest aspirations. Another important function of the Mentor is to motivate us and help us overcome our fear through encouragement.

If you would like to unleash the hero or heroine inside of you then I am confident that you will be fully supported in your personal quest by contacting E-mail: info@ or call Liz Clarke on 07748 805 674.

May the force be with you.


Capra, F.( 1978) The Turning Point: Science, Society and The Rising Culture. Toronto: Bantam.

M,Leau-Ponty, M (1962) Phenomenology of Perception. (C. Smith, trans) London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Zohar, D (1990) The Quantum Self. London, Bloomsbury.

Images reproduced from

Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde

Today on City Connect, our Born This Day series celebrates the anniversary of the birth of inimitable playwright, poet and writer Oscar Wilde who was born on this day in 1854. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde became one of the most well-known personalities of his day.


Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, plays and the circumstances of his imprisonment, followed by his early death.

Wilde’s parents were successful Dublin intellectuals. Their son became fluent in French and German early in life. At university Wilde read Greats; he proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. He became known for his involvement in the rising philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin.

Wilde also profoundly explored Roman Catholicism, to which he would later convert on his deathbed. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States of America and Canada on the new “English Renaissance in Art”, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist.

At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Wilde to write drama. He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, whilst his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde sued the father of his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, for libel. After a series of trials, Wilde was convicted of gross indecency with other men and imprisoned for two years, held to hard labour. In prison he wrote De Profundis (written in 1897 & published in 1905), a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure.

Upon his release Wilde left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.

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Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Happy Birthday Lord Attenborough

City Connect celebrates the 88th birthday of The Rt Hon Lord Attenborough, CBE – better known as actor, producer and director Richard Attenborough. He became a life peer in 1993 and his title is Baron of Richmond upon Thames in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. He is an acclaimed actor, director and producer and has won countless awards over the years including BAFTAs, Oscars and Hollywood Golden Globes.

Lord Attenborough is probably best known as the director and producer of the film Gandhi which depicted the life and assassination of India’s great political and ideological leader Mahatma Gandhi. The film won 8 Oscars, 5 BAFTA Awards, 5 Hollywood Golden Globes and the Directors’ Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement.


Lord Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England on 29 August 1923. He is the elder brother of naturalist and wildlife filmmaker Sir David Attenborough. His father was a don at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. During the Second World War Attenborough served in the Royal Air Force.

Lord Attenborough’s film career began in 1942 as a deserting sailor in In Which We Serve, a role which would help to type-cast him for many years as spivs or cowards in films like London Belongs to Me (1948), Morning Departure (1950), and his breakthrough role as a psychopathic young gangster in the film of Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock (1947). Lord Attenborough worked prolifically in British films for the next thirty years, and in the 1950s appeared in several successful comedies for John and Roy Boulting, including Private’s Progress (1956) and I’m All Right Jack (1959). Early in his stage career, Lord Attenborough starred in the London West End production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which went on to become the world’s longest-running stage production. Both he and his wife were among the original cast members of the production, which opened in 1952 and as of 2010 is still running.

In the 1960s, he expanded his range of character roles in films such as Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) and Guns at Batasi (1964), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). In 1963 he appeared in the ensemble cast of The Great Escape as Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (“Big X”), the head of the escape committee. It was his first appearance in a major Hollywood film blockbuster and his most successful film up to that time.

In 1967 and 1968, he won back-to-back Golden Globe Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actor, the first time for The Sand Pebbles starring Steve McQueen and the second time for Doctor Dolittle starring Rex Harrison. He won another Golden Globe, for Best Director, for Gandhi in 1983. Six years prior to Gandhi he played the ruthless General Outram, in Indian director Satyajit Ray’s period piece The Chess Players. He has never been nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category.

He took no acting roles following his appearance in Otto Preminger’s version of The Human Factor in 1979 until his appearance as the eccentric developer John Hammond in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 1993 and the popular film’s 1997 sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The following year, he starred in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street as Kris Kringle. Since then he has made occasional appearances in supporting roles, including as Sir William Cecil in the 1998 historical drama Elizabeth.

In the late 1950s, Lord Attenborough formed a production company, Beaver Films, with Bryan Forbes and began to build a profile as a producer on projects including The League of Gentlemen (1959), The Angry Silence (1960) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961), also appearing in the first two of these as an actor.

His feature film directorial debut was the all-star screen version of the hit musical Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), and his acting appearances became more sporadic—the most notable being his portrayal of serial killer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (1971). He later directed two epic period films: Young Winston (1972), based on the early life of Winston Churchill, and A Bridge Too Far (1977), an all-star account of Operation Market Garden in World War II. He won the 1982 Academy Award for Best Director for his historical epic, Gandhi, a project he had been attempting to get made for many years. As the film’s producer, he also won the Academy Award for Best Picture. His most recent films as director and producer include Chaplin (1992) starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Charlie Chaplin and Shadowlands (1993), based on the relationship between C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. The star of the latter was Anthony Hopkins, who also appeared in three other films for Lord Attenborough: Young Winston, A Bridge Too Far and the thriller Magic (1978).

Lord Attenborough also directed the screen version of the musical A Chorus Line (1985); and the apartheid drama Cry Freedom based on the life and death in police custody of prominent anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko and the experiences of Donald Woods. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for both films.

Lord Attenborough is the patron of the UWC movement (United World Colleges) whereby he continually contributes greatly to the colleges that are part of the organisation. He has frequented the United World College of Southern Africa (UWCSA) Waterford Kamhlaba. With his wife, he founded the Richard and Sheila Attenborough Visual Arts Centre. He also founded the Jane Holland Creative Centre for Learning at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland in memory of his daughter who died in the tsunami on 26 December 2004. He passionately believes in education, primarily education that does not judge upon colour, race, creed or religion. His attachment to Waterford is his passion for non-racial education, which were the grounds on which Waterford Kamhlaba was founded. Waterford was one of his inspirations for directing the Cry Freedom motion picture based on the life of Steve Biko.

A lifelong supporter of Chelsea Football Club, Lord Attenborough served as a director of the club from 1969–1982 and between 1993 and 2008 held the honorary position of Life Vice President. On the 30 November 2008 he was honoured with the title of Life President at the club’s stadium, Stamford Bridge.

In December 2008 Lord Attenborough suffered a fall at his home and was briefly in a coma. His health deteriorated after the fall and in May 2011, David Attenborough revealed in the Telegraph newspaper that his brother was now in a wheelchair but is still capable of holding a conversation and talking about old times. David Attenborough also said that his brother has been “watching his beloved Chelsea in the Premiership”. Lord Attenborough’s spokesman has confirmed that the actor/director probably won’t be making any more films.

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Happy Birthday Peter O’Toole

On 02 August City Connect celebrates the birthday of Peter O’Toole, the famous Irish actor who shot to stardom after his 1962 portrayal of T. E. Lawrence in the classic film Lawrence of Arabia.


Peter Seamus Lorcan O’Toole (born 2 August 1932) is a highly-honoured film and stage actor, now retired. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most competitive Academy Award acting nominations without a win. He has won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA, and an Emmy, and was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2003 for his body of work.

After starting out in British theatre, O’Toole’s major break came when he was chosen to play T. E. Lawrence in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), after Marlon Brando proved unavailable and Albert Finney turned down the role. His performance was ranked number one in Premiere magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. The role introduced him to American audiences and earned him the first of his eight nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor – he is the most-nominated actor never to win the award.

Peter O’Toole has starred in countless films and was most recently seen in the 2004 blockbuster Troy where he played King Priam and the 2006 film Venus where he portrayed Maurice. O’Toole’s latest appearance on the small screen was in the second season of Showtime’s hit drama series The Tudors, portraying Pope Paul III, who excommunicates King Henry VIII from the Catholic church. O’Toole has narrated the forthcoming horror comedy film Eldorado, which was directed by Richard Driscoll.

In an interview with National Public Radio in December 2006, Peter O’Toole revealed that he knows all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets. A self-described romantic, O’Toole regards the sonnets as among the finest collection of English poems, reading them daily. In the movie Venus, he recites Sonnet 18, “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day.”

Peter O’Toole has written two memoirs. Loitering With Intent: The Child chronicles his childhood in the years leading up to World War II and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1992. His second, Loitering With Intent: The Apprentice, is about his years spent training with a cadre of friends at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The books have been praised by critics such as Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote: “A cascade of language, a rumbling tumbling riot of words, a pub soliloquy to an invisible but imaginable audience, and the more captivating for it. O’Toole as raconteur is grand company.”

Peter O’Toole has said that the actor he most enjoyed working with was Katharine Hepburn, his close friend, with whom he played Henry II to her Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter.

On 10 July 2012, O’Toole released a statement that he was retiring from acting.

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Happy Birthday George Bernard Shaw

On 26 July, City Connect celebrates the anniversary of the birth of George Bernard Shaw. He is well known for his play “Pygmalion” which was made into the popular Hollywood musical “My Fair Lady” starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. However there is a lot more to Shaw than meets the eye. Read more about this fascinating playwright below.


George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.

He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles. For a short time he was active in local politics, serving on the London County Council.

In 1898, Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. They settled in Ayot St. Lawrence in a house now called Shaw’s Corner. Shaw died there, aged 94, from chronic problems exacerbated by injuries he incurred by falling.

He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name), respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honours, but accepted it at his wife’s behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English.

Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (1912) is probably Shaw’s most famous play. It is about a professor of phonetics called Henry Higgins who makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a comment on women’s independence, packaged as a romantic comedy.

In ancient Greek mythology, Pygmalion was the creator of a sculpture which came to life and was a popular subject for Victorian era English playwrights, including one of Shaw’s influences, W. S. Gilbert, who wrote a successful play based on the story in 1871, called Pygmalion and Galatea.

Pygmalion was the most broadly appealing of all Shaw’s plays. But popular audiences, looking for pleasant entertainment with big stars in a West End venue, wanted a “happy ending” for the characters they liked so well, as did some critics. During the 1914 run, to Shaw’s exasperation but not to his surprise, Tree sought to sweeten Shaw’s ending to please himself and his record houses. Shaw returned for the 100th performance and watched Higgins, standing at the window, toss a bouquet down to Eliza. “My ending makes money, you ought to be grateful,” protested Tree. “Your ending is damnable; you ought to be shot.” Shaw remained sufficiently irritated to add a postscript essay, “‘What Happened Afterwards,” to the 1916 print edition for inclusion with subsequent editions, in which he explained precisely why it was impossible for the story to end with Higgins and Eliza getting married.

He continued to protect the play’s and Eliza’s integrity by protecting the last scene. For at least some performances during the 1920 revival, Shaw adjusted the ending in a way that underscored the Shavian message. In an undated note to Mrs. Campbell he wrote,

“When Eliza emancipates herself — when Galatea comes to life — she must not relapse. She must retain her pride and triumph to the end. When Higgins takes your arm on ‘consort battleship’ you must instantly throw him off with implacable pride; and this is the note until the final ‘Buy them yourself.’ He will go out on the balcony to watch your departure; come back triumphantly into the room; exclaim ‘Galatea!’ (meaning that the statue has come to life at last); and — curtain. Thus he gets the last word; and you get it too.” (This ending is not included in any print version of the play.)

Shaw fought uphill against such a reversal of fortune for Eliza all the way to 1938. He sent the film’s harried producer, Gabriel Pascal, a concluding sequence which he felt offered a fair compromise: a romantically-set farewell scene between Higgins and Eliza, then Freddy and Eliza happy in their greengrocery/flower shop. Only at the sneak preview did he learn that Pascal had shot the “I washed my face and hands” conclusion, to reassure audiences that Shaw’s Galatea wouldn’t really come to life, after all.

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One Love – Community, Circus, Change

“Community-led development” has become a bit of a buzzword in the NGO world, the Holy Grail, it would seem. More laudable, however, is “community-initiated,” especially when the people leading the change are children. In 1998, a group of children in the Ethiopian city of Awassa began to practice circus. They practiced with an untiring dedication and their hard work began to be recognized. First came the accolades in competitions, and then came the notice of Awassan Aster Dabels and a German friend Dr. Herman Hunzinger. The artists of Debub Nigat (Southern Dawn) may have drawn audiences in to spectacular, beautiful worlds as they performed, but the reality of their daily lives was sobering. Many were hungry and unable to afford an education. Some had lost family members to AIDS or Ethiopia’s turbulent history. Dabels and Dr Hunzinger raised the money that kept Debub Nigat’s performers in school with food in their stomachs.


Three years passed. Muscles strengthen as stunts become increasing challenging, the stack of circus toys grow and fade with use. In 2002, the troupe collaborated with American director, David Schein, to create a performance promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. It was a topic close to the hearts of the performers and the audience, and performed with uncommon insight, creativity and skill. The Awassa AIDS Education Circus was born. Recognizing its contribution to HIV/AIDS awareness, the town of Awassa donated land to build the Debub Nigat Circus and Vocational Training Center. Then came tours of Ethiopia.

Touring as One Love, the group began to spread awareness all over the country. From remote towns to the capital, from markets to schools to theatres, the group brought a unique perspective to life-saving messages. They broadened their topics, developing works on topics as diverse and challenging as FGM, land-mine awareness and khat addiction. Their skills in awareness-raising were recognized by an ever-increasing number of NGOs and IGOs, including the UN and the American Embassy.


Now One Love works under their own umbrella NGO, Action for Youth and Community Change (AYCC), which also provides a home for the Awassa Peace Dojo, an immensely popular aikido centre. As Ethiopian’s only centre for studying the peaceful martial art, the Awassa Peace Dojo is a haven of respect, hard work, and global citizenship. The AYCC Campus is alive with creativity, a meeting point for all of Awassa’s children to learn and grow. Classes in theatre, dance, music, visual arts and sports keep young minds and bodies active. Academic assistance, life skills and counseling keep them healthy. Dedication and perseverance come from the children and young people themselves.

Some rehearse for a music video, others turn endless handsprings, somewhere a child is singing, while others draw. There are cheers from the football court, the whistle from the basketball game. It’s a place of love, learning and inspiration.


Nowadays, performers have found themselves capable of competing with circus performers the world over. Casting directors came calling, offering the performers positions in circuses all over the world. Fame came for some; others found work at One Love, mentoring a new generation of performers. A true rags to riches story – although the riches found are often kind heart, a willing mind, a strong body and a bright future.

Help One Love Theater continue to produce impeccable performances that are literally changing the lives of rural Ethiopians. Visit to donate. Be sure to put One Love Theater in the note line and receive your written confirmation. If you are interesting in volunteering with this wonderful organization or any questions please contact Sintayehu Mengistu at or David Schein at

Happy Birthday Ewan McGregor

On 31 March, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Ewan McGregor OBE, the Scottish actor who has had widespread success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. He is perhaps best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting (1996), Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999–2005), and poet Christian in the musical film Moulin Rouge! (2001). He has also received critical acclaim for his starring roles in theatre productions of Guys and Dolls (2005–07) and Othello (2007–08). Ewan McGregor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to drama and charity.

McGregor at the 2009 Venice Film Festival


In 1994, McGregor earned critical praise for his performance in the thriller Shallow Grave, for which he won an Empire Award, and which marked his first collaboration with director Danny Boyle. His international breakthrough followed in 1996 with the role of heroin addict Mark Renton in Boyle’s Trainspotting, an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name. The film was the first of several times that McGregor would appear nude on screen.

McGregor played the male romantic lead in the 1998 British film Little Voice. In 1999, McGregor starred in the blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originally made famous by Sir Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars trilogy. In 2001, he starred in Moulin Rouge! as the young poet Christian, who falls in love with the terminally-ill courtesan Satine, played by Nicole Kidman. The role was a perfect platform for McGregor to display his impressive singing voice.

McGregor reprised his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi for the subsequent prequel Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones in 2002. In 2003, he starred alongside Renée Zellweger in Down With Love. He also portrayed the younger Edward Bloom in the critically acclaimed film Big Fish alongside Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman and Billy Crudup. During that year, he also received critical acclaim for his portrayal of an amoral drifter mixed up with murder in the drama Young Adam, which co-starred Tilda Swinton.

In 2005, McGregor appeared for the final time as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. He took very special care—especially in Revenge of the Sith—to ensure that his portrayal of Obi-Wan’s mannerisms, speech timings, and accents closely resembled Alec Guinness’ version. Also in 2005, McGregor played two roles—one a clone of the other—opposite Scarlett Johansson in Michael Bay’s The Island, and he appeared in Marc Forster’s Stay, a psychological thriller co-starring Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling.

From June 2005 to April 2007, McGregor starred alongside Jane Krakowski, Douglas Hodge, and Jenna Russell in the original Donmar Warehouse production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre in London. He played the leading role of Sky Masterson, made famous by Marlon Brando in the film of the same name. McGregor received the award for Best Actor for his performance in 2005, and he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2007.

McGregor with Jenna Russell in Guys & Dolls

In 2007, McGregor starred opposite Colin Farrell in the Woody Allen film Cassandra’s Dream. From December 2007 to February 2008, McGregor starred as Iago in Othello at the Donmar Warehouse alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor as Othello and Kelly Reilly as Desdemona. He reprised the role on BBC Radio 3 in May 2008.

In 2009, he co-starred with Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris and appeared in Amelia alongside Hilary Swank. Also in 2009, he portrayed Camerlengo Patrick McKenna in Angels & Demons, the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel of the same name.

In 2010, McGregor starred in the film The Ghost, a political thriller directed by Roman Polanski and adapted from the Robert Harris novel, The Ghost, with the screenplay written by Polanski and Harris. It also starred Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams. McGregor was awarded with the European Film Award for Best Actor for his role as the Ghost Writer. In the same year, Ewan McGregor also had a starring role in Beginners, a romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Mike Mills. It tells the story of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), a man reflecting on the life and death of his father (Christopher Plummer) while trying to forge a new romantic relationship with a woman (Mélanie Laurent) dealing with father issues of her own. Beginners premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, where the Los Angeles Times heralded it as a “heady, heartfelt film” with a cast who has “a strong sense of responsibility to their real-world counterparts”.

In 2011, Ewan McGregor played the role of Kenneth in Haywire, a action-thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh, which also starred Gina Carano, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender. In the same year, McGregor also has a starring role in the movie Perfect Sense directed by David Mackenzie and starring Eva Green as the female lead. The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews.

In 2012, Ewan McGregor starred in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a British romantic comedy-drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and also starring Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. The plot centres on a fisheries scientist (McGregor) who finds himself reluctantly involved in a project to bring salmon fishing to the wadis of the Highlands of Yemen, a project which surprisingly changes the course of his life.

Also in 2012, Ewan McGregor starred in The Impossible alongside Naomi Watts who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. The film is based on María Belón and her family’s experience of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

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Video reproduced from YouTube / trailers
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

From Whichever Angle, it’s a Great Venue!

I visited the Angles Theatre a couple of times last year and was pleasantly surprised. Situated in Alexandria Road, the Angles Theatre is the local Arts Centre in Wisbech. It is housed in a Georgian building and has an interesting theatrical tradition stretching over 200 years, and one of the few working Georgian theatres in the UK. Built in 1793, it was used as a theatre for over fifty years and then became home to a grain store, the Town Library, a school and a tent maker’s. Nowadays the auditorium is owned by the Christian Spiritualist Church.

Locals know it as an arts venue and with the reintroduction of live theatre over twenty years ago, Angle’s 105 seat auditorium is once again hosting events and showcasing talent from the world of music, dance, poetry, theatre companies and other performing arts projects. It also has regular events such as live music and quiz nights. I was given a tour of the theatre and brief history of the building before relaxing in the licenced bar. There is a pay and display parking area a few yards from the theatre which is free after 6pm.

The Angles Theatre has moved on quite a bit from the halcyon days of it’s 18th Century provincial theatre roots, especially as they were only used for two months every two years. Future productions include the award winning musical/comedy The Drowsy Chaperone, which is being staged by the Wisbech Operatic and Dramatic Society from 15-19th May. The Flatlands Comedy Club are staging ‘Searching For Doctor Branovic’ from 17-21 July. RATz will be performing their annual pantomime again in December.

Several local clubs use this venue and include The Cynthia Maxey School of Dance and RATzcool of Musical Theatre, both of which foster local talent. Last December I was invited along to see my pantomime, Dick Whittington performed at The Angles Theatre by RATz and was blown away by the talented young cast. Although it is a thriving theatre Angles is almost self-funding and relies heavily on volunteers in a variety of ways as front of house, back stage crew etc. Patrons include a few famous names from the world of theatre and music, Sir Derek Jacobi CBE, Dame Cleo Laine OBE and Jo Brand.

The young stars of tomorrow meanwhile have plenty of opportunity to learn and develop their skills here. From Mon 30th July – Weds 1st August there is a junior summer workshop for 5-10 year olds. The musical challenge workshop for 10-18 year olds is the iconic musical Happy Days and runs from Mon 13th-Fri 24th August. Both of these are reasonably priced and culminate with performances. It all sounds like great fun – I wish there had been something like this when I was younger.

Angles foyer area also plays host to various displays, including the recent exhibition by William Ironside, of Fenlands Photography. There were thirty or more A3 colour prints of recent theatre shows (including the RATz production of Dick Whittington) and travel photos from locations including Arizona, Greece, Hawaii, Italy and Japan.

If, like me, you are only in Wisbech for the day then the High Street and market place have a wide range of established speciality shops and well-known shops with plenty of eating places. I love walking down old streets admiring the architecture and trying to absorb the history. The North and South Brink in Wisbech are known for their Georgian streets and little has changed over the years resulting in film crews using these wonderful locations in various productions. Part of the BBC TV period drama David Copperfield was filmed here.

With something for everyone the Angles Theatre provides an invaluable service to the community of Wisbech, and is well worth a visit.

Check the website for listings and productions at

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Theatre Review: Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing - Stage Show
Dirty Dancing comes to the stage. I definitely wanted to see this. Dirty Dancing is only one of three films that’s always in my top ten from the 1980s. Could this ‘Be My Baby’? or become a ‘Wipe-out’?

If you’ve never ever seen the film? Why not?!

Basically it’s coming of age story for our heroine Baby Houseman who meets Johnny Castle at a holiday park in the summer of 1963. Her father wants her to change the world but only on his terms and when she becomes involved with Johnny – it’s trouble!

Paul-Michael Jones and Jennifer Winternitz take over the roles of Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman. From the first scene Jennifer and Paul-Michael did an amazing job playing the lovebirds from different classes.

I loved Paul-Michael’s accent and his dancing was thrilling. Jennifer was able to bring a sweet naivety yet sassiness to the role of Baby. I loved her learning to dance.

The stage show did a fantastic job of keeping mostly to the film. The only major omission I could see was no Mrs. Schumacher, there was only a Mr. Schumacher (charmingly played by Tony Stansfield).

Nicky Griffiths played Penny, and all three leads did a great turn keeping the dance routines alive and energetic. There was the Mambo, the staff area where Dirty Dancing itself is performed in secret. Baby gets a shock when she offers to carry a watermelon to help Billy, one of the staff she likes. This is where she gets to speak to Johnny and utter the best chat up line ever, ‘I carried a watermelon.’

Humour came from Stefan Menaul who played Neil Kellerman, the ‘dad dancing’ and awful jokes were just superb! He looked like he was having a lot of fun.

The way they got over Johnny and Baby practicing their dancing in the woods and lake was very imaginative.

Nearly all the major songs also return with a couple of new ones. I enjoyed the differences, as what works on film might not on work on stage. I don’t think an exact word for word, scene for scene would’ve worked. These are different people and they must be allowed to bring their own personalities out.

I believe the actress who was playing Lisa might’ve been one of the understudies, Tara Verloop? She played her perfectly, I loved her song and routine in the run up to the Kellerman’s talent show!

The stage props were excellent and I loved the idea of a rotating circle in the middle to help with moving scenery, plus the way the doors would come out. There was either a projector or TV screens that helped with the splendid mountain views.

Everyone pitched in and it just made an enjoyable afternoon show for all involved.

This is one of those times, where lack of a ‘big’ name has no impact on whether the show is a hit or miss. The cast gelled so well and made me believe I was in Kellerman’s.

There was some great singing too and I predict a lot of the cast will become stars and household names.

10/10 from me for this extravaganza. I’VE had the time of my life!

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Theatre Review: Midnight Tango

Midnight Tango Picture
Midnight Tango, starring Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone from Strictly Come Dancing, is a great show from start to finish, from the breathtaking dance scenes right through to the comedy of the two bar owners.

They used every inch of the stage, even an upstairs balcony. There was also a real band. Miguel Angel was the main singer, the theme was Spanish and although I couldn’t understand the words, I was spellbound.

Argentina has a rich history. It might’ve once been overlooked by the Spanish Empire. A great land with good soil, weather and resources. The only thing lacking was workers. The government got people from Europe to come over with offers of free food and housing for the first week. Many came, men outnumbered women sky rocketing the population. The only way they could get dates was through dancing. That dance was the tango. The women loved it and so learning it was a very good idea!

With so many men, women were very choosy. You had to stand out or end up dateless as word would spread around. Talk about tough!

As the men had to practise so much, they became good at teaching, as they learnt both sides (leading and following). Once the tango started spreading through the rest of the world, the craze set it. By 1913 global domination had occurred, only Word War 1 interrupted as communications were lost, leading to the discovery of dances like the foxtrot.

After watching this show, I can see why the tango is so magical. It’s very rare that I’ve enjoyed a show that has no dialogue at all. It’s all music and dancing. But it doesn’t matter, the music is the language. I wanted to get yup and dance on the stage with them. The songs were so rich in flavour and depth. Like a strong espresso, you are left buzzed.

The most famous of the songs was ‘Sway’ which the likes of Michael Buble have covered plus in 1999 a group called Shaft did the same.

The main story is there’s a fight for the fair hand of Flavia’s character Sofia. Vincent’s character Pablo loves Sofia but he gets a rival in the shape of fellow dancer Ricardo.

The bar owner’s wife sang a song ‘Temptation’ and that was very good. I’m glad that wasn’t comic, she had a great voice.

The second act kept the pace of the first, more comedy moments from the husband and wife gave good chuckles. Although again there’s no speaking, they relied on facial expression and timing. It’s was perfectly executed.

Can the husband get in his wife’s good books? Who will win Flavia?

There’s a fight between Pablo and Ricardo, a great dance routine really helped define the tension and anger of the two men. The chorography was just mind blowing. The other dancers kept the flow and although they were milling around in the background, they were not a distraction. It melded into one glorious and breathtaking dance.

I will give this 10/10. This is one stage show you should add onto your list. Viva Midnight Tango!

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History facts taken from the programme purchased.

Musical Review: Sister Act

I liked the show but it wasn’t as good as the film. An enjoyable event but soon forgotten afterwards.

Cynthia Eviro did a good job as Dolores Van Cartier, who if you haven’t seen the film, witnesses a mob murder and has to go into hiding. The police put her in a convent where she joins the choir and uses her mo-town/disco songs to liven things up.

I can’t put my finger on it, but the show lacked something. I found myself waiting for Whoopi to come in and take over.

Denise Black (Coronation Street) played the Mother Superior and again I wanted Maggie Smith there. Denise lacked the authority and the humour of Dame Maggie. (Although I don’t know if Dame Maggie Smith CAN sing!)

And having Michael Stark from ‘Brookside/The Royal/Corrie’ fame as the priest O’Hara was a dreadful decision. How did he get that role??? There wasn’t anyone with stage presence. Whoopi owned Sister Act, she had comic timing, a great voice and snazzy lines.

The new songs were good but for me they weren’t Sister Act. It was more like an episode of that ITV show Heartbeat. Heart warming – yes. But it wasn’t supposed to be about THAT show.

A lot of the backing singers lacked character and while the dance routines were good; I felt it wasn’t anything new or different. The voices sounded all the same and no one, even Cynthia wasn’t memorable afterwards.

Having some disco songs straight of the bat rather than hymns being jazzed up just didn’t feel right. The cast lacked the harmony the movie sisters had. When Whoopi’s crew sang ‘My God’ (which isn’t a hymn jazzed up) it was cute. This new crew just wasn’t.

I think the best analogy would be to compare this to remakes of some TV shows. Sometimes it’s better to leave it alone! It felt at times, they were doing something else and the people just happened to share the names of those from the movie. Like an odd alternate universe or something.

It did make a good afternoon out but I wouldn’t want to see this team again.

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Video reproduced from YouTube / sisteractthemusical

Theatre Review: South Pacific

South Pacific was on at the Ambassador Theatre in Woking. I went to the Thursday matinee. I was delighted by the whole show and cast.

I was most surprised by Samantha Womack, who was in Eastenders as Ronnie Mitchell, a role I didn‘t like much. Seeing her live however has completely changed my mind about her. She had a good American accent and her singing is unmatched.

I remembered some of the songs like ‘Some enchanted evening’, ‘There’s nothing like a dame’ ‘Happy Talk – if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?‘ and ‘I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair’.

There were splendid dance routines with a fantastic orchestra, all in all making it a great show.

There was another Eastender star – Alex Fearns who played the evil Trevor who terrorised Little Mo all those years ago! I didn’t recognise him however until afterwards. Then I was like – no way! Wow!

Alex Fearns and Samantha Womack

There was a different actor playing Lieutenant Cable than billed, I think it was James Austen Murray rather than Daniel Koek. I got a programme and he looked more like James. Hope I’m not wrong! Apologies if it was another actor!

His singing was very good, especially his solos and it’s always nice to see understudies being given a chance to shine.

The show itself, for those who don’t know, is based in the 1940s; during World War II. Dealing with relations between the army and civilians. How we related to natives in different countries. Love and desire are placed against ideals and tested to the maximum. Samantha played our heroine Ensign Nellie Forbush who loves the nice Emile de Becque (played by Matthew Cammelle).

Can Nellie look past the fact Emile had a Polynesian wife before? Which was a big no-no in that era. Can she put aside the prejudice she’s been taught for the man she loves?

Lieutenant Cable falls for Liat, the daughter of Bloody Mary a Vietnamese immigrant (played by the magnificent Jodi Kimura who provides some great humour with her one liners). Again a doomed love affair, complicated when Cable contracts malaria. Cable doesn’t know how he can marry Liat and take her back to the base/America.

To forget their problems for a while both men decide to take on a dangerous mission. Billis (played by Alex) creates a distraction to allow Emile and Cable to get past the Japanese defences and launch a daring strike. Will they come back? You’ll just have to go and see! (If you do know or seen the film/play before – go and see again anyway!)

The cast were impressive, the set changes were speedy and I thought well timed. The beach set was most impressive it looked like there was a sand dune at the back with a gorgeous sea background. But it was solid as the actors/actresses could run across the dune it without throwing sand up (which would’ve been messy and problematic!)

The actors who played Commander Harbison and Captain Brackett could’ve picked up the pace a bit. They seemed a little tired compared to the energy of the rest of the cast.

I liked the fact all the actors/actresses were used, even if it was just walking along in the background. No one seemed to be missed out, which is rare in the plays I have seen.

Some of the background actors/actresses did start doing other things that caused distraction though. One pair were playing catch. Two girls lit a fire in a steel drum, to sit on the beach and others were having animated conservations which detracted from what was going on at the front.

Still it didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment. It’s a pity it wasn’t on long enough! I wanted an encore! Encore! Encore!

I would definitely want to see this team again. I would fully recommend it.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

In the peak of summer, where would you most likely spend your holidays? For a lot of people, skiing in the Alps or sunning on a beach in the Caribbean has a lot of appeal. However for over 20,000 people, it is the capital of Scotland has the biggest drawing point.

Edinburgh. A city of history, a city of culture and for twenty-four days a year, a city of eclectic artistic talent, as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe comes to town. Filled with varying music, dance and comedy acts, the festival lives up to it’s reputation as the largest arts festival in the world.

Growing in size each year and averaging an intake of just under £300,000 the festival is the place to be for a breakthrough act. Predecessors including Eddie Izzard (comedy), Gabriel Byrne (writing) and UK beatbox champion Beardyman (music) have all had their say at the festival and in doing so, have left big shoes to be filled. Now it is the turn of new acts and fresh faces to leave their mark on their respective artistic world.

The festival gives plenty of support for any act trying to make their name. From debutants, such as the Mugging Chickens comedy troop, to seasoned professionals such as Dizzee Rascal headlining the festival’s musical strand, everyone has a place in the line-ups.

With the festival, boasting 259 venues last year, made way for an astounding 2,453 shows, 1,206 of which were world debuts. And it could be this festival that makes or breaks an act. The multitude of festival awards, prestigious in their nature, can give you that extra credit needed to become a more recognized talent.

If you are looking to attend the festival, fear not, as it will not cost you an arm and a leg to have a good time. Ticket prices will set you back an average of ten pounds for a better known act, the guarantee being that they hopefully know what they are doing.  However there are many fantastic performers which have free, live shows (558 in 2010) and in a lot of these cases, it is the intimacy of these acts makes them all the more enjoyable.

Absolutely Legless - Irish Dancers

This year, remember to look out for some groundbreaking acts: Paco Erhard, the world’s funniest German; Abandoman, a Radio 1 smash-hit hip-hop act; or Irish music, song and dance extravaganza Absolutely Legless. Several acts, debutants and returners alike, have a potential to not only shine but to progress on to greater, vaster plains.

Now in to its 65th year, the festival has a lot to live up to. But with acts travelling from as far as Japan, New Zealand and the United States to try and expand their fan-base, this year’s festival looks set to be bigger, better and bolder than ever before. So don’t miss out, book your tickets early and make your way to Edinburgh for August 5th, for a month’s worth of diverse artistic events you will be sure to never forget.

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Real Dracula at Cambridge’s ADC Theatre

“There, in one of the great boxes, of which there were fifty in all, on a pile of newly dug earth, lay the Count! He was either dead or asleep, I could not say which – for the eyes were open and stony, but without the glassiness of death – and the cheeks had the warmth of life through all their pallor, and the lips were as red as ever.”

This extract, from Jonathon Harkers journal in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, conjures up the most iconic image of this sinister character. Without a doubt he is one of the most famous of all the legendary horror figures.

The book was first published in 1897, and is a story told through journals and fragments of letters, that recounts the struggle of a group of men and woman (Dr Seward, Dr Van Helsing, Jonathon Harker and his wife Mina), to destroy a vampire who’s earth filled coffins are found in a ruined chapel next to a mental asylum. For today’s standards this may not sound that bad, in 1897 this would have been a pretty terrifying read, not to mention some of the underlying themes that would have appalled certain prudish Victorians, such as female sexual repression and incest.

Bram Stoker brought his character to life after reading about a Prince of Romania, the ruthless warlord better known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler.

This barbaric leader, who reigned in the 1400’s, and favorite method of torture was impaling his enemies, completely inspired Stoker to create this monster. The life of Vlad the Impaler was far more bloodcurdling than the fictional creation. Now a days Dracula and Vampires have been turned into a brand, being used in popular culture time and time again, comic strips, cartoons, computer games, over 170 films and more recently inspiring the Twilight saga, the list is endless.

In 2004 just south of Transylvania, Romanian police were called to a graveyard to investigate a violation to one of the graves. Later six people were arrested; it was believed that a family, who thought their Uncle had returned from the dead as a vampire, was visiting his niece when she was asleep and feeding on her heart. They had broken into the graveyard, dug up the corpse, cut out his heart and burnt it on the stroke of midnight. Police then discovered about twenty other similar rituals had taken place over the last few years. This is the power of literature crossed with folklore and history.

It was this true story that inspired this Pleasant Danger Productions creation ‘Real Dracula’, directed by Paul Holloway and written/produced by David Geasor. It was showing at the ADC theatre in Cambridge from 20th – 24th September, also on 30th September and 1st October.

Real Dracula is a story of love and survival set in a remote Romania village. The two main characters, an Englishman Jonathon, and Ileana (played by Andrew McKeane and Mia Keadell) are a young couple that met whilst teaching at a school in the city of Bucharest. Together they travel back to Ileana’s family home to attend her Uncle’s funeral. After the funeral, strange things start to happen and Ileana falls mysteriously ill. Both these actors give a performance to remember as their characters love develops on stage. Andrew McKeane’s small slip up of one of his lines, in a crucial point in the performance strangely made the scene more realistic and added to Jonathon’s terror. As Ileana becomes frailer and dreams more frequent, you found it hard not to be on the edge of your seat, as Jonathon is desperately trying to come to terms with the problems they are facing.

The first scene is set with Ileana’s beloved Uncle lying in an open coffin in the sitting room. Here we are introduced to her frail and emotional Auntie Magda (played by Priscilla Gray), you could not help but feel sorry for the widow, as Priscilla convincingly takes her character on a roll a coaster of melancholy and despair as she grieves her loss, and a strange family friend Dragana (played by Andrea Miller). Who’s mysterious air in which she presents the character on stage was exceptional; it was obvious she added her own personality to Dragana, and on a number of occasions she pleased the audience with a very dry sense of humor.

Alexandru is Ileana’s jealous childhood friend and want to be lover (played by Oliver Tilney, who has had nightmares of vampires since the audition) keeps reminding the audience of his macho status, he’s a very crafty character and has a huge presents on stage.

The faceless Uncle who appears in Ileana’s dreams was the star of the show, thanks to the technical director Mathew Maude, who mixes up a combination of well-timed atmospheric music and sound effects, with a drab and dark set design. This seemed to seize a perfect ambience for a chilling tale.

It is very difficult to portray horror convincingly on stage; Pleasant Danger Productions seem to do it effortlessly. Pity and terror are aroused continuously throughout the play and there is always a sense of something horrible about to happen. I await the next Pleasant Danger Production with baited breath.

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival

July sees the return of the UK’s best-loved open-air Shakespeare Festival. The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 2011 runs from 11 July until 27 August. The festival takes place in a number of Cambridge University private gardens and promises to deliver some of Shakespeare’s greatest works in the timeless and magical surroundings of the College Gardens.

The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival includes performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anthony & Cleopatra, Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet. Eight plays will be performed throughout the summer and up to 25,000 visitors are expected to attend the productions across the eight weeks of the festival.

The actors perform in period costume with live Elizabethan music adding authenticity to each production and the garden setting offers a unique atmosphere as the setting sun and moonlight provides the open-air venues with special lighting that could never be recreated inside a theatre.

Before each evening’s performance, the audience can picnic in the picturesque College Gardens before settling down to watch the actors bring Shakespeare’s plays to life with their dramatic interpretation of the Bard’s work.

The absence of the usual trappings of a stage production means that the focus remains on the actors themselves and brings the audience closer to the action. The Company presents each play in such a way that even those who are unfamiliar with Shakespeare can enjoy their first experience of the tragedy, comedy and history of Shakespeare’s plays.

Performances take place every evening during the Festival except Sundays and begin at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15 and can be purchased on the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival website, on the door or in advance from City Centre Box Office on Wheeler Street.

Special charity matinee performances will be held on Saturdays at 2.30pm and support the Children’s Hospice in Milton and St. John’s Hospice on the Wirral. Click here for further details.

Below is a list of productions taking place during the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival:-

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 11 to 30 July – St John’s College Gardens
  • Anthony & Cleopatra – 11 to 30 July – Robinson College Gardens
  • The Winter’s Tale – 11 to 30 July – Downing College Gardens
  • The Comedy of Errors – 11 to 30 July – Girton College Gardens
  • Much Ado About Nothing – 1 to 20 August – King’s College Gardens
  • Macbeth – 1 to 20 August – Trinity College Gardens
  • All’s Well That Ends Well – 1 to 27 August – Robinson College Gardens
  • Romeo & Juliet – 1 to 27 August – Girton College Gardens

Click here to see a video about the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival and experience the magic for yourself.

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Cambridge Arts Theatre 75th Anniversary Season

Although more often than not we all love to jump on a train and hit the West End to see the best actors and actresses in the London theatre, with some of us even being extravagant enough to board a plane to New York for the weekend to catch the latest show on Broadway.

However look no further than your local county as Cambridge Arts Theatre is celebrating its 75th anniversary season.

Cambridge Arts Theatre had promised us that through the months of June to November they are going to provide us with their best ever season to mark their glorious 75th anniversary. Their press release states that these months will be jam-packed with new productions, classic revivals, comedy shows, family shows and a special appearance from one of the London’s stage top legends.

So far June has seen an amazing launch of the Cambridge Arts Theatre 75th anniversary season with the very popular Avenue Q then moving on to Communicating Doors a popular Ayckbourn play. The summer season that the Cambridge Arts Theatre kept hotting up even though our weather was not keeping up with the ground breaking introduction of a new play called Love Love Love by Mike Bartlett. This play takes us back to the summer of love following a hedonistic couple originally from the 60s and how forty years later generational clashes begin to emerge.

If this play was too high brow for some of you, the Arts Theatre also provided a scratch and sniff stage version of David Walliams’ book Mr Stink. Apart from reeking out the auditorium the younger members of the audience were astoundingly happy with the gruesomely smelly and wickedly funny event ending off the June season, City Connect is pleased to announce that the Calendar Girls are back still daring to reveal nearly all and to our delight starring the likes of Lesley Joseph and Ruth Maddock.

If June was not enough to whet your appetite then July has an even better packed month for you. We start this month with a black Irish comedy called Beauty Queen of Leenane. This play was written Martin Mcdonagh whom you may be more familiar with from his In Bruges fame. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a story of a lonely spinster and her overbearing mother. We at City Connect are looking forward to attending this play.

July then shows us more comedy in the form of Alarms and Excursions which is a show which has been broken down into eight short plays which consist of new material especially written for the 75th anniversary season. As we near the end of July and enter into August, we are delighted by the return of Mowgli and his adventures with that lovable dancing bear Baloo in this children’s classic The Jungle Book. It has been mentioned that this production as presented by the Birmingham Stage Company brings a totally new aspect to the story.

Cambridge Arts Theatre calms down the energy with a performance of JB Priestley’s Eden End set in the early 20th century concentrating on hidden heartaches of the main family of the tale. If that’s not enough The Woman in White, a favourite classic Victorian chiller, has confirmed that Colin Baker of Dr Who fame will be starring alongside Peter Amory in the Wilkie Collins classic.

As the summer sun hopefully rears its head the Arts Theatre will once again be going al fresco this time in the glamorous setting of the Masters Garden at Corpus Christi College. Cambridge Arts Theatre has joined forces with The Globe (London) and we have it on good authority that their rendition of Hamlet in the open air of such historical grounds will definitely be one not to miss.

For an added bonus and a definite highlight of this 75th anniversary season of the Cambridge Arts Theatre we welcome back a student who first appeared on stage here at Cambridge University to play an important role in Eduardo De Filippo’s The Syndicate. If this gripping tale of organised crime in both Naples and New York was not enough to get your attention, City Connect highlights that this Cambridge student is none other than Sir Ian McKellen.

From September to November as we say goodbye to summer and welcome in the autumn, the Cambridge Arts Theatre 75th anniversary season still keeps us glued to our seats with Moliere’s Tartuffe which has been updated by Roger McGough. We also have End of the Rainbow telling the tale of Judy Garland’s 1968 comeback and another Ayckbourn classic Seasons Greeting graces the programme.

A personal favourite of mine is Alan Bennett’s original play The Madness of George III steeped in royal destinies, political travesties and personal upheaval and I’m looking forward to the autumn when it graces the stage. One of my fellow editors is just as excited if not more so that the National Theatre’s production of an Inspector Calls is also making a welcome return to the Cambridge Arts Theatre.

For those of you with children, Horrible Histories complete with 3D bogglevision is appearing at half term followed by Mike Bartlett’s second play of the season Earthquakes in London.

This fabulous line-up for the Cambridge Arts Theatre 75th anniversary season is rounded off by Nick Fisher’s latest comedy Basket Case and if The Madness of George III was not enough to keep me happy this season then I’m even more pleased to announce that Nigel Havers will be starring in Basket Case.

With such an amazing season of theatre in store, one wonders what the Cambridge Arts Theatre will bring us for Christmas however in the meantime I look forward to living in the present and booking my tickets.

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Magic of the Dance in Cambridge

Magic of the Dance are finally coming to Cambridge!

The spectacular Irish dance show is coming to the city on May 2 and will perform in the Corn Exchange. This is bound to be a highlight and a spectacle not to be missed. Magic of the Dance use a mixture of tap dance and modern dance that creates a unique entertainment experience.

The show is a mixture of a great light spectacle and highly energetic tap dances on the floor, tables and chairs. This is a show for every age and the viewer will be mesmerised by the sheer amount of skill and precision the dancers show. The group have given over 2000 shows and millions of people world-wide have been enchanted by their spectacular performances. Tickets are still available and are selling fast! This is certainly an event not to be missed this spring. Tickets are available at the Corn Exchange Box office or online.


Verdict – Cambridge Arts Theatre

The Agatha Christie Company proudly presents Verdict, one of the most riveting and compelling dramas by Agatha Christie, the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime.’ With an all-star cast, this gripping play will captivate the crowds of Cambridge when it performs at the Cambridge Arts Theatre from 11 April to 16 April 2011.

Following the huge success of The Hollow, The Unexpected Guest, And Then There Were None, Spider’s Web, and most recently Witness For The Prosecution, the Agatha Christie Theatre Company is coming to Cambridge to entertain and enthral theatre-goers at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, one of the region’s most exciting Arts venues.

The all-star cast is led by Dawn Steele, from the hit BBC drama Monarch of the Glen and the popular ITV series Wild at Heart. She is joined by Ali Bastian (The Bill, Strictly Come Dancing, Hollyoaks), Peter Byrne (Dixon of Dock Green), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter film series), Elizabeth Power (Eastenders) and Sixties teen idol Mark Wynter.

Verdict tells the story of the brilliant and idealistic Professor Karl Hendryk who, having been forced to flee persecution in his home country, leads a content and morally upstanding life with his invalid wife. The prospect of a life-saving treatment for her persuades him to take on a new pupil against his better judgement.

Professor Hendryk’s world is then turned upside-down by this new pupil, Helen – a spoilt, scheming minx who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. After a terrible murder leads to a tense court case, the anticipation of the verdict about to be delivered has us on the edge of our seats as we hold our breaths as we wait and see if justice will be served.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Box Office on 01223 503 333 and are subject to a £2 booking fee.