Tag Archives: Liverpool

No Second Bite

Award-winning actress Lynne Fitzgerald stars in the new comedy play ‘No Second Bite’ by Belvedere Pashun (writer of Norma Jeane The Musical and WAG! The Musical). Fitzgerald plays Bella, a bored, single, forty-something entrepreneur who has a life-changing encounter when she buys an apologetic cup of coffee for a complete stranger, Chris (played by Jaiden Micheal).

After bumping full force into Chris on a bustling high street, they arrange to meet up in Bella’s apartment later that evening. Bella has the place all to herself, or so she thought. Her flatmate Angie (Charlie Griffiths) arrives home early carrying a large bottle of cherry Lambrini. She needs consoling after being stood up by the latest loser in her long list of tosspot boyfriends. Bella uses every tactic to get Angie to leave her home alone before Chris calls around to deliver more than just a pizza…

This fast-paced comedy has been referred to as ‘The Liver Birds on acid’.

No Second Bite

ten minutes hate put Fitzgerald in the spotlight, ahead of the play’s run at the Lantern Liverpool, to talk rituals, Ava Gardner and how graft does indeed equal craft.

Lynne Fitzgerald

10mh: What do you do before going on stage, do you have any particular superstitious rituals, routines or habits?

What a great question, absolutely. I became a single mum at 18 to my only child, Frankie. I couldn’t get a day job, so as you do I decided I would become a stand-up comic, the innocence of youth. On my first gig, which was quite terrifying for a teenage girl, I carried a photograph of my boy with me and as I stood at the side of the stage I kissed it and said ‘I’m doing this for you’, then stuffed it inside my bra and on I went. I was booked six times that night and have never performed in any show without that picture and repeating the same ritual, kiss, words, bra and action. He is now 27!

10mh: What was your first memory of the theatre?

Ah, don’t put your daughter on the stage, Miss Worthington! I was four years old when I was put on the stage performing a poem called ‘I blew myself a bubble that was bigger than myself’ at the Southport Art Festival. I forgot every word and the adjudicator made me stay on the stage and repeat it parrot fashion after him, the tears tripping me, but I can honestly say after that experience I was – and still am – always fully prepared and off-script before any performance.

10mh: Who are the playwrights that you admire?

Jim Cartwright is one of my favourite playwrights. Louis Emerick and I have performed in his incredible two handed play TWO in many venues covering Manchester, Merseyside and Scotland over the past five years. He is such an incredible writer with his talent for light and shade, an actor’s dream.

I was also lucky enough to have Jimmy McGovern as my English teacher at my secondary school. I credit him for my ability to write my own plays, he was so inspiring as a teacher.

10mh: What has been your favourite play or project in your career so far?

There have been so many fantastic plays I have performed in. Two, as mentioned, being a favourite. Also a one-woman show, Bunty the Bouncer, which was written for me by playwright Mark Gee (Al’s Lads) over 20 years ago. We had a sell-out run at The Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh during the festival and returned to be nominated for a Liverpool Echo award, being pipped at the post by Johnny Vegas. That was a highlight.

I will be returning as Bunty at the Epstein Theatre in June this year for one night only after it first being performed there over 20 years ago, and of course I have now had five of my own plays produced around Merseyside. That is always a great feeling: seeing your own work come to life. A pilot of my last play Hey Girl Show Us Ye Tips has recently been filmed and is currently in production renamed Life down the Pitts.

10mh: If you could gather an ensemble of actors to put together for a stage project, living or dead, who would you like to cast

Living: I work with great actors all the time: Louis Emerick, Mickey Finn, Crissy Rock – I could go on. I would love to work with Victoria Wood, Julie Walters, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. One of my all-time favourite actresses is Bette Midler.

The past: It would be some of the Hollywood greats, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Phil Silvers and Ava Gardner, the list is endless. I’m an old soul at heart!

10mh: What makes a good performance?

Hard work, hard work, hard work, preparation, preparation, preparation, and also a true understanding of the character and their emotions. Hug the words, make them your own, and did I mention hard work and preparation?

10mh: What advice would you give to anyone who yearns to act or is starting out in the business of treading the boards?

Be prepared for a lot of hard work and a lot of disappointment. The industry is more competitive than ever but saying that, there is an upside, there are a lot more opportunities with social media if you use it to network – and not just for Candy Crush!

The internet provides a great platform for promoting yourself, even filming your own shorts and getting your work out there. Acting is a real inbuilt passion, if it is in you there will be no stopping you and don’t take rejection personally, all actors have their fair share of rejection you just have to dust yourself down and carry on.

No Second Bite runs from 21st-26th April at Lantern Theatre Liverpool, Blundell Street.

Tickets are £10/8 to book visit the website or call box office 01517030000.

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Tongue like a cactus

A tongue that can be like a cactus, both naturally beautiful and toxic, Gerry Potter is a passionate orator.

cactus

A performance poet, playwright, director, actor, and both creator and destroyer of the infamous gingham diva, Chloe Poems. Liverpool born, Gerry is now also a favourite son of Manchester. He has a reputation for putting his Scouse voice on the line, and is strong on poetry and strong on the causes of poetryism. One of my favourite poems is BINGE DRINKING EVIL GIRLS.

Dark glitter blouse cloud lived under for decades.

There where wild screams are,
wild pack pitch black mascara.
Top it up with powder; drown it with shooters,
bitched into knickers ‘n’ attitude.
It’s gonna be a bumpy rude.

Often when I walk around the streets of Liverpool, particularly at the weekend I can see the origins of this painfully accurate observation and witness first hand all that is described in real time. This poem is in his fifth volume THE CHRONICLES OF FOLLY BUTLER. A collection described as,

domestic fantastic theatre verse. A genre defying opus.

His writing is completely plugged into the here and now. The electricity that fuses through his work is energising, ecstatically passionate and explosive. It demands to be spoken out loud, performed, taking on a life of its own, adding another dimension to it.

face

ten minutes hate had the privilege of a private audience with the legendary Northern poet.

10mh: Do you have a particular piece of work that you like to perform?

I still perform an old Chloe Poems poem called The Effeminate.

It’s a ten minute epic exploring what power is and isn’t to a camp kid from a working class background. It’s hugely autobiographical, ribald, moving and the audience love it. I’m fascinated about where power is and isn’t in our society and about how powerful we actually are at our weakest. The Effeminate pulls no punches in discovering/uncovering those moments.

10mh: Who influences you?

Life influences me, the visceral joy of existing. Struggle is a huge influence too, I’m far more interested in people and things if there’s a genuine story behind it. I’m no stranger to grief so the rip of death informs the work a great deal. Family, friends and dancing, queers dancing through grief is a big writing turn on for me.

10mh: Can you craft a poem in seven words?

We will all fall off the cliff.

10mh: Pick a favourite music album?

Rock Follies and Rock Follies of 77. This programme and The Little Ladies probably made me gay, certainly pointed me in the direction of who I’d become. These albums had me in my mirror being Julie Covington, still one of my happiest Scottie Road memories.

10mh: Any standout moments in your career so far?

I don’t think of my life in terms of career so it’s hard.
Every time I feel me and the audience are on the same planet and page.

10mh: Where would you most like to perform?

I really want to do more stuff in Liverpool. I hardly get to play my home town. I’d like to do The Everyman.

10mh: Who would play you in a film?

Emu.

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Smells like a surreal story

Picture the scenario.
You wake up from your slumber.
You are a little groggy.
You are resisting getting out of the womb-like duvet.
You will rise but you will not shine.
You make your toilet.
You feel a little peculiar.
You splash your face with water and it is then that you notice.
It cannot be so.
You must be in one of those dream-like states were you think you have woken up but you really have not. You look closer.
You cannot NOT notice!
Your nose, the centre of your face.
Your nose has disappeared.

This is the predicament that Collegiate Assessor KOVALYOV finds himself awaking to in the surreal short scrap of literary genius, the BOSS little tale that is Gogol’s THE NOSE.

gogol

(Please note to the non-Liverpudlian reader, ‘boss’ translates as fantastic, wonderful, splendid etc.)

To make things all the weirder he later spots his Nose casually walking in the street!

Strangely enough, I mistook it for a gentleman at first.
Fortunately I had my spectacles with me so I could really see it was a nose.

Gogol’s writing has always captivated me. As a storyteller he really grabs the reader with both hands and drags him or her directly into the action of the narrative. 

To celebrate 80 years of Penguin Little Classics, the publisher has released 80 shorts by everyone from Thomas Hardy to Edith Wharton. 80 titles priced at just 80 pence. I have taken advantage of sending Gogol’s surreal tapas of the written word to friends around the UK and Internationally.

I am actually quite jealous for those readers who have not read this title or heard anything about it as I would love the sensation of looking at it once again for the very first time. I distinctively remember reading it in my room decorated with pop posters of PULP, BOWIE, SUEDE and BJORK. It was a dismal winter’s evening, howling winds licked the window glass with rainy saliva. Gogol blew my mind with his clever satirical wit.

It was CAMUS that said,

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilisation from destroying itself.

Clearly Gogol wanted to hold the mirror up against the society he lived in and attack it. His play The Government Inspector is a classic example of this. If you are suitably impressed by the Russian writer’s imagination, I implore you to also take a peep at DIARY OF A MADMAN. It is absolutely hilarious in all of its complete insanity.

And keep an eye on your nose!

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Twang there goes another rib!

It is a difficult thing to make people laugh, to be able to deliver a gag with ease. One guy in my walking group has the poised skill of an absolute professional. He has the ability to make a comment in natural conversation with a punchline subtly planted. Even better, the actual gag is usually quite bad. One example from his repertoire is a guy whose wife has left him because he confessed he has a pasta fetish, to which he mutters, ‘I am okay, I guess but occasionally I feel cannelloni’.

 

 

(Kind of lonely).

Matchbox Comedy Club is a brand new, carefully curated showcase of alternative comedy featuring everything from sketch and stand up, to clown and storytelling. It gives comics the opportunity to trial new material, test routines and sets. It is in a sense a laughter laboratory. I have been to the gig twice and admittedly some acts are funnier than others, but it is all about preference. Some people worship acts like Miranda and Sarah Millican, personally I find the only way I’d possibly laugh at their monotone voices and predictable routines is if they were slapped across the face with a giant piece of fresh trout. Each to their own I suppose, comedy is subjective.

I recently caught up with the comedy night’s resident compere Alastair Clark to see what this clown has to say for himself and talk about the monthly humour fest that he describes as,

A little matchbox full of joy.

10mh: Tell us a joke.

To be honest, I don’t really feel like it. I may have been inclined to do so, if you hadn’t been so rude. I mean… You didn’t even say ‘please’. No ‘hi, you are you?’ Just straight in with the demands. And while I would like to be cooperative with your interview I can’t help but feel that telling you a joke now would only reward your negative behaviour. So I feel that it would be for the best if we put this whole sorry affair behind us and try to start fresh with the next question. I can only hope you are more courteous in your interactions in the future.

1omh: What is the funniest book you have ever read?

I once read my mate’s diary from when they were 14. It was hysterical! Bad poetry and confessions about boys she fancied. Epic stuff.

10mh: Who are your comic influences?

The Incredible Hulk mainly. While most superheroes are just adolescent power fantasies, the Hulk embodies an essential moral relativism. Dr Bruce Banner is a normal scientist who tries not to let his emotions get the better of him. When he does get angry the consequences are dramatic and unpredictable, I think we could all learn a lot from the Hulk.

10mh: What should audiences expect from the comedy night?

Oh right Matchbox, yeah. Erm, dunno… Something a bit different definitely. I feel like this is a really exciting time for comedy in general. There’s a whole new crop of people who are looking at things from a totally different perspective, comedically speaking, and they’re really pushing the boundary of what comedy is in terms of style and content. And what we try to do is get some of those people, put them in a theatre and set them loose on an unsuspecting (but consenting) audience. So expect things that are a little unusual but also brave.

We also try to book diverse lineups, mixing styles and practices in a way that is pleasing on the pallet. Perhaps the best thing for an audience to expect would be to expect nothing. Not because we will deliver nothing, on the contrary we will deliver a lovingly handcrafted tapestry as elegant as the Bayeux and as long as the Nile. But because if you expect nothing then you won’t have any preconceptions, bringing a totally clear and open mind will allow us to make magic in your head space. Whereas if you’re sat there with your arms folded thinking ‘When are they going to talk about the differences between men and women?’ you will definitely be disappointed. Whatever way you look at it, it’s better than an arrow in the eye.

10mh: Is there a formula for comedy?

Is there a formula for any art? There are people far more qualified than me to answer that question. There have been thousands of years of discourse on aesthetics and I dare say that they are no closer to an answer now than when they started. To be honest, if you were looking to me to sort that problem out, I think it would be fair to say that you had unrealistically high expectations of this interview.

10mh: If you could have your ideal comic line up for an evening who would it be?

Hulk (obvs), Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow… Just The Avengers really.

10mh: What makes Matchbox stand out from all the other comedy nights in Liverpool?

Loads of things. Its fun, it’s different, it’s exciting, and it’s in a lovely space… Like I said, loads of stuff. Come and see for yourselves. I could try to tell you everything there is to know about Matchbox comedy nights all the facts about: what goes on; what happens; how it works: but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it’s like to experience it. You’d have to experience it yourself to know that.

The subjective act of experiencing creates a new fact over and above physical reality that cannot be communicated. If you don’t get what I mean, try reading some Thomas Nagel. Or just come to Matchbox. Up to you.

Matchbox Comedy Club –

Matchbox

The Lantern Theatre, 57 Blundell Street, Liverpool, L1 0AJ
8th Apr / 13th May / 10th Jun / 8th Jul
(Monthly, Every second Wednesday of the month)
Doors 7.30pm, Show 8pm
£3 in advance or £4 on the door
(Tickets available from The Lantern Theatre)

Alastair Clark is the resident compere and curator of Matchbox Comedy Club. A respected act on the alternative Liverpool comedy scene, Alastair’s style is a mixture of insecurity, honesty and offbeat delivery.

The Lantern Theatre is an atmospheric and intimate family run Fringe theatre venue located in the heart of Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle.

THAT Comedy Productions is an independent live production company, based in Liverpool and run in association with THAT Comedy Blog.

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Sandi Hughes’ Vie en Rose

What a funky lady Ms. Sandi Hughes happens to be.

sandi

She has been documenting the LGBT gay scene in Liverpool since the seventies. Sandi is currently in the process of developing her archive to exhibit her work in the Pool of Life; the very waters she has swam and danced through.

I meet lots of people to interview for ten minutes hate, but I must confess this was my first meeting scheduled to last for only 45 minutes that turned into five hours! Time that seemed like five minutes and climaxed with a little boogie-woogie in a discotheque to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda. In between striking a few poses, ten minutes hate managed to ask this maverick lady a few questions about her creative work and what makes her tick.

10mh: Sandi, can you describe your archive in five words?

Liverpool stories in my house.

10mh: If your life had a soundtrack what tunes would you have to include?

Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed
Four Door Aventador – Nicki Minaj
Billie Jean – Shinehead
Same Love – Angel Haze
Feeling Good – Nina Simone
You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester
Selassie Love We – Vybz Kartel
I Feel Love – Diana Ross
La Vie En Rose – Grace Jones
Rigor Mortis (I Love You) – Flesh and Bones
Can’t Knock the Hustle – Jay-Z
Sexy Chick – David Guetta ft Akon
Have U Eva – MC Lyte

10mh: LGBT history has gone through many changes, what have been the standout moments for you?

The Capital of Culture paying me to film Liverpool’s Black Gay stories, being able to adopt kids and get married, Liverpool Pride, UK Black Pride, Homotopia, featuring in the Lord Mayor’s Parade, Museum of Liverpool representing transgender stories (2014) and LGBT stories (2015).

10mh: If you had to be a type of food what would you be?

A pistachio nut.

10mh: The best piece of advice so far?

‘Don’t believe everything you hear.’ Jayne Casey.

10mh: Who are your LGBT heroes and heroines?

Myself! Lady Sian, Tracy Wilder, Gary Everett, Elaine Clarke, Holly Johnson, Frank Mason, Chris Bernard, Frank Clarke, Shaun Duggan, Tony Burns, Jennifer Johns, Peter Tatchell, Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Queen Latifah.

10mh: What are your plans for 2015?

  •  Capture the love again and go deeper with my girlfriend

  • Finish Level 2 Music Technology in the City of Liverpool College and carry on to Level 3

  • Produce an exhibition with my LGBT video archive for the Museum of Liverpool

  • Take the above exhibition to the gay cinema in Chicago

  • DJ in the Hector Peterson Residential Home for the LB unseen party (which will be shown in the Museum of Liverpool in April

  • DJ at the Kaya Art festival in August in South Wales

  • Produce an album of soundtrack to fit the moving images of my video archives

  • DJ at Sound City Liverpool.

Keep on dancing Ms. Hughes. Let that glitter ball keep on spinning!

You can hear Sandi’s work on Mixcloud.

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News From Nowhere

Established May Day 1974, News From Nowhere celebrated forty years in business in 2014. Forty years of supplying the people of Liverpool and beyond with books and information, to empower, bring about social justice and to sculpt the world we live in.

Gandhi

Gandhi famously stated,

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Independent, not-for-profit, workers’ co-operatives – like this valuable book store – help people to realise this missive. I have been dipping into the Bold Street premises, and encouraging friends and colleagues to do so, for many years. Here I have been introduced to a diverse cast of authors such as Rumi, Sarah Waters, Edmund White, Ruby Wax and Gerry Potter, to name a few.

ruby wax

It is also an integral gathering place for book launches, debates and activist talks. Last year Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else by James Meek was just one example of the type of informative interview one can expect from this book lovers’ church.

High streets are becoming increasingly a blue print of sameness, with no real differentiator between them. You could be in any UK town or city! The usual suspects take up retail space, the abundance of mobile phone shops, discount pound dealers, loan sharks and – the most deadly of shark – the convenience express stores. Every little doesn’t always help. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that treasures like News From Nowhere are appreciated, not overlooked, but used and used frequently. Once they are gone, they are gone!

Increasingly on a day-to-day basis, small independents face financial struggles. It is a tempestuous economic sea to try to navigate through. Everything from seasonal slumps in trade, competition from the bigger bookstores, chains or supermarkets and rising overhead costs, tries to drown business and wash away the remains before noticed. Even the festive trade and the traditional purchasing of book tokens as gifts is on the decline.

What was interesting this holiday Liverpool, like most city centres, had the European Christmas Markets. False-looking wooden huts selling overpriced craft and novelty gifts were plonked in front of shops in desperate need of trade. If I were an independent trader this would serve to fuel a festive bonfire of bitter, bitter resentment. Increase the competition at the time when local business needs support instead, that makes sense. But I guess it is all about the profit, I wonder how much extra revenue can be gained for the Council? Hopefully they can then start to clear the chewing gum plastered pavements or seagull poop that naturally marbles all the concrete. I do wonder if European visitors have British Christmas Markets, stalls selling watch batteries and traditional British fare like Roast Beef and Spotted Dick. (Of course, not on the same plate.) Eating a German sausage and drinking mulled wine outside the flashing neon blue and white X of Halifax Bank, is not festive, it is actually depressing.

So please, please, please do not forget the local businesses. News From Nowhere needs people to support them and there are a number of ways that you can:

  • DONATIONS – whether financial or as unwanted books that they can sell second hand
  • INTEREST-FREE LOANS – long term or short term
  • CREDIT LOAN – repaid in books and other purchases
  • REGULAR STANDING ORDER – for example £5 or £10, as a donation or a credit loan

In addition, you can search and order more than 1.5 million titles on their website. ORDER FROM THE REAL AMAZONS!

News from Nowehere

The future of small independent stores really lies in all of our hands. We need the sparkling stores of individuality to add a bit of Technicolor in an increasingly charcoal cityscape full of the bland. Loyal support will keep them open. Let’s not lose them!

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The words of the prophets are written on the (Subway) walls

Sometimes a simple statement, a simple phrase, can have maximum impact. Less can indeed be sometimes more. A match when struck and left on a pile of paper can cause an inferno. I find graffiti can have a similar effect on me. Just glancing over a statement can play on my mind for the rest of the day.

To complement the fabulous art galleries in Liverpool like the Fallout Factory, TATE and the Walker – to name but a few – there is another type of canvas on display all around the Pool of Life. Art pieces randomly pop up creating an external gallery populated by the graffiti artist.

Happiness is a journey

As a lover of words it is the notable turns of phrase picked up on the streets that really have a deep impact on me. Like, for example, the ‘Happiness is a journey, not a destination’ painted in bold yellow on Maryland Street. ‘Dream Big, Dare to fail.’ Found etched in gaffer tape in the window of a College. Or the simple ‘Money eats brain.’ I first encountered this simple piece of syntax walking past a disused public toilet by the St. Georges Hall. It made me chuckle and really think about how cash can in fact rot the cranium.

There is also a Banksy in Liverpool. I still to this day mourn the loss of the giant rat that was sadly annihilated by property developers, like so many beautiful things in Liverpool.

Banksy rat

We also have our own spray can legend, TOMO.

While the student club BUMPER always offers advice outside on its billboard. Just before term erupted last September there was the warning:

HIDE THE NOODLES, THE STUDENTS ARE COMING

and recently in the aftermath of the Christmas selfie avalanche that bamboozled the internet:

Ann Summers has been selling selfie sticks for years.

I am aware the influence pointing out graffiti art has had on my ten year-old niece, as we bomb around the city together on a Saturday.

banksy_liverpool_love-heart-loop-plane_lonely-villein_unurth_dec12_2_1000-460x345

The ginger minx presented me with a drawing of her own.

heartair balloon

Shame the kid wants to be an accountant. Apologies to people who work in finance and the world of filthy lucre, but let’s just get one thing straight, all the worlds’ top economists and financial experts did not predict or see the triple dip recession coming at all. An equation that for me simply does not add up!

Please keep your eyes on the hunt for any interesting pieces of street art and let ten minutes hate know. And you will soon see that sometimes the City’s best galleries can be outside on the very streets.

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