Monday, 20 October 2014

This week: Romeo and Juliet

Romeo, Friar Laurence, Juliet
"you shall not stay alone
Till holy church incorporate two in one."
Two bootlegging families, both alike in dignity, in fair Chicago where we lay our scene. With Prohibition biting hard Shakespeare’s tale of doomed love comes to life in a basement speakeasy.

Somehow no matter how much you wish for a happy ending it never happens.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet will run from the 22nd to the 25th October 2014 at the Sheffield University Drama Studio, Shearwood Road S10 2TD.

Tickets from: http://bit.ly/RandJ2014 via tickets@midlandplayers.co.uk or on 07928 276 383

Monday, 15 September 2014

Romeo and Juliet

RomeoJulietFlyer400
Two bootlegging families, both alike in dignity, in fair Chicago where we lay our scene.
With Prohibition biting hard Shakespeare's tale of doomed love comes to life in a basement speakeasy. Somehow no matter how much you wish for a happy ending it  never happens.
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s earliest and most popular plays, with timeless tragic themes of love and conflict. Midland Players transport this classic tale of star crossed lovers to prohibition era America; audiences can expect brawling bootlegging families with period costumes and music to set the scene. To meet the challenge of bringing fresh perspective to this tale of woe it is brought to life amidst the hellcat rivalry of the black market. The violence in society plays out under the nose of ineffective authority. As ever it is the tragic loss of young life on both sides that brings matters into perspective for everybody concerned, far too late to matter.
We will be performing from Wednesday 22nd to Saturday 25th October 2014 at 7:30pm At the University Drama Studio, Glossop Road. Tickets cost £8 and are available from www.midlandplayers.co.uk, via tickets@midlandplayers.co.uk or on 07928 276 383

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Dodgy figure on the cost of London cycleways

Professor Stephen Glaister has given his opinion on the new cycleways in London; apparently he said

“the mayor's plans would cost £100 per Londoner”
Mayor of London unveils segregated urban cycleways - BBC News - 03/09/14

As far as I can tell that is the investment number mentioned in the article, £913m, divided by 9 million ish people in "London".
The problems with that are:

  • That number is the total investment in all cycling programs not just the segregated cycleways
  • It is the budget for a decade’s worth of those programmes, people might think he means this year
  • It isn’t just Londoners that pay for Transport for London

As far as that last point goes, to calculate what fraction they do pay is quite complex:
TFL gets about 1% of the GLA component of council tax from residents, plus a large grant from central government, which while we all pay for. (It may be that proportionally more will come from Londoners due to it having more higher earners.)
40% of TFL income is from fares and similar income, but I haven’t be able to find a sensible breakdown between residents, commuters, other UK visitors and people from overseas.
However any case it is easy to conclude that not all of the £913m will be paid for by residents of the capital.

I’m sure that Professor Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation ("…advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist") wouldn’t want anyone accidently mislead by the number as it has been quoted and will be on the phone to the BBC to get this fixed ASAP.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Man of Mode, Romeo and Juliet, and Antigone.

Some things I should have been promoting more, but have slipped recently:

Firstly, The Man Of Mode will be performed by The Company 25th-28th June.

Please buy tickets as it's promising to be a fantastically funny show and £1 from every ticket sold is being donated to charity - a split between Cancer Research UK and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research UK.

Go to www.thecompanysheffield.co.uk/boxoffice to book.


Secondly, Auditions for Midland Player's production of Romeo and Juliet[1] (show week commencing Sunday 19 October 2014).
There will be two open auditions:

Monday 30 June 2014, 7:30pm at the Harlequin on Nursery Street

Thursday 3 July 2014, 7:30pm at the University Arms, 197 Brook Hill

Everyone is welcome and no preparation is required.
If you are interested in auditioning it would be great if you could let us know which date you think you will come to so we have a rough idea of how many people to expect (and so we know to keep an eye out for you on the night!).

We are also looking for people who may be interested in more technical roles e.g. assistant director, sound, lights, stage management, props, etc. If any of these interest you please let us know or feel free to drop in to a rehearsal to speak to us!

Contact christine_almond@hotmail.co.uk for more info.


Finally, auditions for The Company's October production of Antigone (show week of October 5th 2014) will take place at The University Drama Studio rehearsal rooms from at 8pm on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd July.

No preparation is necessary and all are welcome.


[1]Directed by me.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Never stop fighting

If there is one thing we definitely love here on the internet, raising money for charity by making a yourself look like a plonker is it.

The #nomakeupselfie online awareness campaign about cancer has moved through several phases (and probably makes a great social media case study) from women posting selfies without make-up, through the “slacktivism” backlash, the genius move by CRUK’s social media team and now the balancing efforts to raise awareness and donations by tagging men men to post pictures of them in makeup.

A colleague of mine, Natalie nominated me to join in and I said I would on one condition, that doing so directly raised money for cancer research via a friend of mine's Justgiving page. Her mother died just over a year ago and that has driven her to start running to take part in the race for life. I have said that if we raise £50 I’ll get made up and have pictures posted on the internet. This is going to happen next Thursday lunchtime and I'll keep the makeup on until at least the end of the day.

So if you want to see me in full make up donate to Kate’s just giving page with an encouraging message for her and the hashtag #SlapTony

Oh and start thinking of stretch goals we could agree for when this has raised more than £50.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Update to "Oh my god, I’ve been hacked"

I have added an extra section into Oh my god, I’ve been hacked so it now includes the links for turning on 2 factor auth for Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Spoony

I use the term ‘Spoony’ sometimes to identify myself, it comes from the much shared article "The Spoon Theory" written by Christine Miserandino. As you'll read if, no when ;-), you follow the link, it is a tale of one person explaining to a friend of their life with Lupus through the medium of spoons. It has resonated with a lot of people, especially those with "Invisible" Diseases and disabilities and I am seeing it used more and more.

I especially like using it because as well as being a useful metaphor of how I have to interact with the world it is great term to use when asking for help/consideration without getting into details of the specific "impairments" I have. That of course relies on how well people understand the term. It isn't yet used widely enough for me to use it in the really real world at the moment, apart from in the company of those in the know. But currently in this fabulously geeky and jargon infested world online it is becoming my term of preference. So I apologise if by using it I have confused any of you and I hope that you feel better informed now.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Burglar trapping keys

With people breaking into houses in order to go after car keys isn't there more things technology can do to help short of expensive trackers?
First thoughts include fake keys that set off alarms and/or trigger die packs to mark the hands of thieves.
Easier connectivity between house and car alarms so a silent alarm on a house triggers a car immobiliser.

Monday, 1 July 2013

BrewDog – Trolls or clueless about Sheffield?

From their coming soon page about them taking on the former Starbucks on Division Street:

The people of Sheffield have long been screaming out for a BrewDog bar and we have answered the call. We are excited to be joining a thriving community of awesome, eclectic craft beer bars in the steel city, who are all standing up to the mass marketed industrial beers that dominate the rest of the city.

This has got to be either trolling on a massive scale in order to drive eyeballs to that page, like the Daily Mail but fro brewers, in which case I apologise for helping them. Or it is an indication that they know little about the beer scene in Sheffield. Last time the Sheffield and District branch of Camra did a beer survey (this year’s will be on the 13th of July) in a sample of 138 pubs they found Sheffield had 309 Distinct Beers from 140 breweries at an average price per pint of £2.70 hardly a haven for mass “mass marketed industrial beers”. Even if you could only get beers that meet the LocAle criteria Sheffield would still be a mighty fine place to drink beer. But as it is, add in the rest of the real ales and all the keg and bottled beer from all over the world and some hugely knowledgeable publicans and bar staff and this is about the best place I’ve ever been for drinking beer.

In any case this is another blast of blustery bullshit in the phoney war between cask and keg. Just drink the good stuff, ignore the bad stuff and stop trying too hard to win a battle that doesn’t need to exist, you just look silly trying.

EDIT: Having thought a bit more about this, with a turnover over £10 million, a marketing budget north of £200k and $1,000,000 of supermarket sales they are the mass market brewery opening another pub in their chain in Sheffield. We'll welcome them in, but they are definitely not saving us from anything.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Political Compass

Someone on ask.fm asked me "Where do you currently stand on the www.politicalcompass.org" so I redid the test.

I think this is from last time I did this and it was around the time of the last election:

Oh and wow: www.politicalcompass.org/euchart

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Conflicted about Calendar and Ched.

There are a lot of people very unhappy about ITV’s Calendar programme giving a platform for Ched Evans’s girlfriend and her campaign to clear his name.
At no point do I want to suggest anything other than rape is a heinous crime and that is really difficult for victims to get justice.
But reading open letters like this one bring back memories of growing up hearing about the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and others. They also had appeals denied, there was also outrage that the continued attempts to clear their names was insensitive to the victims. Eventually they were released with the original trials thrown out.

I have no idea if Ched’s girlfriend actually has any new evidence or if perjury happened, but I can’t see a way of objectively judging which campaigns should be allowed media exposure to attempt to gain traction to overturn verdicts or introduce reasonable doubt.
Lots needs to be done to end rape culture and ensure that rapists receive their just deserts, but somehow i can’t bring myself to get behind a zero platform policy for campaigns trying to clear someone's name. I know that from my position of privilege my voice is so far from being important on this matter, but it is hard problems like this that society as a whole needs to somehow have a position on.

I apologise for all of you offended or hurt by this doubt, but there it is.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Fish and Prawn Pittas

Chop, blend or pestle the following: 2 teaspoons of chopped red chillis, 2 stalks of lemongrass, 1 knuckle of ginger root, 1 teaspoon of mixed peppercorns, a small handful of coriander leaf, 2 kaffir lime leaves. Put this in a bowl and add the juice of 2 limes and 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce. Throw in 160g cooked and peeled king prawns, and two smoked salmon fillets chopped into large cubes. Mix to get an even covering of the marinade and put into the fridge for a couple of hours.
Heat a griddle to smoking hot, thread the fish and prawns onto four bamboo skewers and char on the griddle. Meanwhile warm and cut open 4 pitta breads, quarter and separate the leaves from a mini gem lettuce and stuff into the pitta breads along with 2 chopped spring onions. When the skewers are done pull the meat into the pittas. Depending on how sticky your marinade turned out, you may feel you need more dressing if so a little Marie Rose sauce works well.

Serves two,  674 calories per portion.

Prawn Cocktail

In a jam jar combine 2 teaspoons Mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons Ketchup, 1 teaspoon chopped red chilli, salt and pepper to taste.
Add in, a spoonful or two at a time, 200g cooked, peeled, cold-water prawns, stirring thoroughly with each addition to spread the sauce.

Serve on crisp lettuce or use as a sandwich filling. 191 calories.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Saag Aloo

A variation on the theme of this classic dish based on what spices I had in stock (when did Safeways close BTW?).

Add 1 tablespoon of oil into a largish heavy pan, add ½ teaspoon hot chilli powder, 1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric and ground ginger, 2 teaspoons each of garum masala and chopped red chillies, and 3 cloves of garlic. Gently heat, stirring occasionally to prevent catching, until strong smells emanate form the pan and the contents are forming a paste. One at a time introduce 150g chopped mushrooms, 2 chopped medium tomatoes, a bag of fresh leaf spinach cooking each one down then add 2 large tins of new potatoes in water drained, with the larger ones chopped in half. Pour in half a pint of water and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Makes two large portions, 445 Calories each.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

I’m an irrelevant publisher

Lots of commentary on the “Draft Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press” it looks like the reach will depend on how “relevant publisher” comes to be defined. Hopefully there will be guidance but at the moment this looks like it will be for the courts to decide.

I'm happy enough that no-one will very think that I am in any way relevant ;-)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Self indulgent but important post*

This post is timed to auto-publish while the dress rehearsal for Silhouette is underway. As director it will be my last significant creative input to the play.
The real downer will be on Sunday, it is all over the gang breaks up and will never be quite back together.
Those of you that do cons, genre weekends, beer festivals etc will know all about this, as the emptiness hits.

This time I want it to be different.

The last few years have been difficult and I have given in to moping, moaning, griping and the like. 2013 has been particularly bad lots of things have come together to make my like worse, piled on top of each other and even a couple of my key coping strategies have been pulled out from under me. So I am going to change one or two things to try and have things move in a positive direction and not slump even more when play week is over.

  1. I will be more positive about myself on the Internet. I don’t want to stop talking about how I feel or my problems but the angsty broadcast messages on twitter and facebook help no one least of all me. You lot, out there are a key part of keeping my sprits up, I still want those conversations to happen, but as directed communication not scattergun moping. Please continue to ask how I am or what I’m up to, tweet, DM, facebook messages, SMS, whatever. I just don’t want to mope as much. None of this of course applies to me getting angry especially about politics and policy.
  2. I will be trying to have a slightly healthier lifestyle. This means watching what I am eating *and* drinking (it is very easy to spot one source of calories that I can cut down on) so even more of those “maybe” responses for meals or social drinking will turn out to be “no sorry” in order to help with this. I will be trying to use MyFitnessPal so will be after people to add as peer reinforcement on there. I’ll also be trying to do more exercise, but have limited energy. On that note
  3. I will be increasing my efforts to pace myself properly. Or rather decreasing my efforts and insuring I have breaks, evenings off, quiet weekends etc planed. There are a number of my friends who are good at telling me off, hopefully I can get to the point where these wonderful people don’t have to do this and we can talk about nice stuff instead. Again this probably means more “maybe” responses turn into no.

Sorry to all of you who are just casual readers and don’t *know* me or my problems, but this was far too long for twitter or facebook and this seemed to be the easiest way; everyone else *hugs*

*Who am I kidding all blog posts are self indulgent and while important to me this isn't important in the grand scheme of things.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The nasty party

As a label, the term ‘nasty party’ does nothing to differentiate between the main parties in Westminster politics.
Pick any coalition policy you detest and you will find it difficult to get a silver rizla between it and the last government's position.
Also as close as the Tories and Labour are on many things it is often not easy to predict which party will take up the most right-wing stance.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Discussion point around gender

With the exception of the provision of healthcare (and statistical work to plan that care) is there any reason why the government, its agents or any private organisation needs to know a persons gender?[1]

The good side if the world started stepping back from Genderism is we no longer need all whole rafts of overly complicated legislation. The stuff that always causes issues for some people by accident or design, while trying to redefine who can do what to whom and what legal rights they get while doing it. Or what is written on a piece of paper that really shouldn’t be as powerful as it is. Add in throwing away societal restraints about how many people can be joined together in these “legal relationships” and we will have made a move towards trying to have a world where we just treat each other as human beings.

But more pragmatically would anything important break if forms, official or otherwise, paper or electronic ,didn’t question us about this?

[1]I know why organisations like Facebook asks to help target adverts and power social graph features, but a) they still don't manage to target ads and b) that is a want not a need

Monday, 26 November 2012

Silhouette by Simon Brett

Midland Player's spring production (20-23/03/13) will be Silhouette by Simon Brett, and I am directing. 

Table reading Wednesday 28/11 at The Three Cranes. Auditions will then be held on: Monday 03/12 at The Lord Nelson, and 06/12 at The Three Cranes. Turn up from 7pm, the hard work starts at 7:30pm. Get in touch if you are planning to come, or what to be considered but can't make the auditions. They will be open auditions with no preparation required.

Simon Brett’s witty two act thriller centres on the murder of Martin Powell an award winning actor, husband of Celia Wallis and serial philanderer. Everything points to Neville Smallwood, a nervous journalist, who argued with Martin shortly before the murder and has an unhealthy interest in Celia. Of course nothing is as it seems.

Character list


Celia Wallis

Elegant and successful. She uses her acting skills a lot during the course of the play. Big part. Needs to do a little singing.

Detective Inspector Bruton

A solid police inspector of the old school, needs to do a very good “professionally menacing”.

Neville Smallwood

Younger, naive, nervous, maybe a bit creepy. Has some singing but doesn’t matter if it is atrocious.

Martin Powell

Slightly older than Celia for preference, needs to have real presence.

Detective Sergeant Fisher

Inspector Bruton’s team; will need to create the appearance of a busy, professional unit that have worked with each other for years and do this day in day out. The actors in these parts will have to do a reasonable amount of making themselves busy without distracting from the main action.

WPC Leach

Detective Constable Wilkins

WPC Carter

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Seat gifting, like 'Baby on Board' the other way around.

In the early hours of this morning, that arch node Dan Sumption passed on a link to a blog post by Thayer Prime called: Would you be happy to give up your seat, no questions asked?.

Basically the premise is that while TFL’s ‘Baby on Board’ badges are a good idea they are

  1. only for one segment of the travelling population that needs a seat;
  2. requires zoned out commuters to spot them;
  3. only (as far as I know) really in use in that London.
So what is Thayer's plan? Simple design new badges, get people happy to give up there seat to wear them, make life easier for all sorts of people who may need a seat on public transport and finally dance on the ruins of the stupid stage.

I have a selfish interest in seeing this work; I recently weaned myself off walking with a stick and still have problems with walking to far or standing to long. Mostly this isn't a problem, Sheffield's tram system covers most of the journeys I need and living at the end of a line is great for getting a seat in the morning. But just occasionally I don't get a seat on a day I really need one and having got rid of the stick have no visual clue for people to offer me a seat (and being terribly British I'm not going to ask, who knows what maybe wrong with them?).

So for now, I’m spreading the word, but if it looks like this is a goer then I’ll be supporting it however that may be.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Spring season at Sheffield Theatres

Today Sheffield Theatres announced their season for next spring. Below are my highlights including the dates I’m going to see stuff. There are several other things, mostly Lyceum shows, I may go and see but haven’t decided yet. As per usual if you want to come along with me, get in touch. Tickets on Sale to members 10/11/2012 and to the public 17/11/2012.


Bull
PDR
06/02/2013
Previews
07-09/02/2013
Dates
11-23/02/2013
I'm going
16/02/2013 (4pm Matinee)
A new play by Mike Bartlett, one of the UK’s most exciting young writers. Award-winning theatre director Clare Lizzimore, who previously directed One Day When We Were Young as part of the Theatre’s Roundabout Season, returns to Sheffield to direct this razor-sharp new play about office politics; or playground bullying– depending which side you’re on.

 
The Daughter-in-Law
PDR
27/02/2013
Previews
28/02-02/03/2013
Dates
04-23/03/2013
I'm going
16/03/2013
One of the greatest plays of the twentieth century, Set in a Derbyshire mining town, the play concerns the turbulent early stages of a miner's marriage - as bonds between his new spouse and mother are stretched to breaking point. This new production will be directed by Sheffield Theatres’ Associate Director Paul Miller (Democracy) and stars Lynda Baron (Open All Hours, Fat Friends) as Mrs Gascoigne and Claire Price (Company, The Pride) as Minnie.

 
NT Connections
Dates
21-28/03/2013
I'm going
At random depending on availability
Celebrating young theatre talent with 10 thrilling new plays to be performed by local young companies. Ten brand new plays for Connections 2013 have just been announced. A stellar line-up of some of the most influential British playwrights who have all written exclusively for National Theatre Connections.

 
20 Tiny Plays about Sheffield
Preview
08/04/2013
Dates
09-13/04/2013
I'm going
10/04/2013
Sheffield People’s Theatre, who, after the success of their inaugural production, Lives in Art, present a unique compilation of five-minute plays about Sheffield from Monday 8 – Sat 13 April. 20 Tiny Plays about Sheffield, written by twenty local writers and spanning a range of performance genres, will be directed by Sheffield Theatres’ Creative Producer Andrew Loretto (Lives in Art, LeanerFasterStronger).

 
Taming of the Shrew (Propeller)
Dates
08-11/05/2013
I'm going
08/05/2013
Two, disguised, competing suitors clamour for the hand of beautiful Bianca whilst gold digging Petruchio agrees to wed her viciously ill-tempered sister Kate sight-unseen. The difference between marrying for love and marrying for money, however, becomes increasingly difficult to judge. This brash, brutal and darkly comic story pulls no punches.

 
The History Boys
PDR
16/05/2013
Previews
17-20/05/2013
Dates
21/05-08/06/2013
I'm going
22/05/2013
Set in a Sheffield Grammar school in the 1980s, The History Boys questions the purpose and means of education. In a school where the headmaster cares only about exam results, a bunch of excitable sixth-form boys go about their pursuit of the important things: sex, sport and a university place. Alan Bennett’s award-winning play, one of Britain’s funniest comedies full of one-liners and teenage anxieties, will be brought to life by director Michael Longhurst (Constellations, Royal Court and Duke of York’s Theatre) in a new production which sees the play staged in the city where it is set.

 
Sheffield Sizzler
Dates
31/05-01/06/2013
Experience performances from the best local talent as Sheffield Sizzler takes over Sheffield Theatres and Tudor Square with live music, performance art, poetry, comedy, drama and more.

 
This is my Family
PDR
19/06/2013
Previews
20-22/06/2013
Dates
24/06-20/07/2013
I'm going
06/07/2013
A brand new musical comedy by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) in the Studio Theatre. Sheffield Theatres’ Artistic Director Daniel Evans will direct Bill Champion as Steve, Janie Dee (NSFW, All’s Well That Ends Well) as Yvonne, Evelyn Hoskins as Nicky, Terence Keeley as Matt, Rachel Lumberg (The Way of The World) as Sian and Sian Phillips (Cabaret, Little Dogs) as May. The show centres on a teenager who enters a writing competition to win a holiday for her dysfunctional family. Is there any place on earth she could take them that might make a difference?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Oh my god, I’ve been hacked

Your social media account is suddenly spamming people like crazy, all your friends are badgering you, sending you lots of messages that you’ve been hacked! Well often as not you haven’t, you’ve been click-jacked. A link that someone sent you took you to a page with an exploit that is now using your account to get more people to go to the page with the exploit, and so on, ad infinitum. It doesn’t really matter how they got you though, in most cases doing the following will sort it out:

  1. Change your password:
    1. Pick something strong, correct horse battery staple or get a password manager and use long random strings full of symbols as well as letters and numbers.
    2. If your account has actually been broken into you may need to use the “Forgotten password” functionality, it will be a link under the password box on the login form.
    3. You can change your password here on twitter and on this facebook page.

  2. Edit: Turn on 2 factor authentication
    1. Two factor authentication means that you need something else as well as your password to log in, in general a short code sent by SMS or generated by an app. It doesn't give complete protection but it in general makes it a bit harder to take over your account.
    2. For Facebook this is either by SMS and/or the code generator in the mobile app.
    3. Twitter also does both methods of 2 factor authentication
    4. If you like this as a concept other websites are now adopting it such as Paypal and Ebay, banks seem to be doing it in an annoying way by providing physical devices to put your card in. To those of you in IT and/or MMORPG playing these concepts have been a long time coming to the general public.

  3. Check your authorised apps list:
    1. Look at everything that has permission to use your account and revoke any you don’t recognise/use any more, worst case is if you revoke something you do use you’ll need to authorise it again.
    2. Twitter now prompts you to do this after password change, but you can also go find the list yourself and again here is the page for facebook.

  4. BE MORE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DO ON THE INTERNET. IT IS A JUNGLE OUT THERE.
These examples are for twitter and facebook, but the same concepts apply to other sites.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

What the Mutton Chops are for…

"Enter a Free Man" by Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, Brazil, Shakespeare in Love, Parades End) Directed by Ruth Deller.
Wednesday 24th - Saturday 27th October 2012 at the University Drama Studio. Doors at 7pm, curtain up at 7:30pm.

Set in the not so swinging suburbs of a London estate, Enter a Free Man by Tom Stoppard is a classic 1960's comedy-drama which focuses on the lives of the Riley family. Father of the family, George, is a self proclaimed inventor, devoting his life to dreaming up all manner of unusual creations. Having failed to make any breakthroughs, however, George is forced to rely on financial help from his daughter, Linda, much to her chagrin. But life is about to change for both George and Linda. George’s latest invention, attracts the attention of a local wheeler-dealer. Linda, meanwhile, is sure she’s finally met “the one” after a string of relationship disasters. Now, at last, the father and daughter are set to escape the domestic life they loathe. Enter a Free Man is full of wickedly clever, witty and intelligent dialogue.

You can either reserve tickets to collect and pay for on the door or buy tickets online using PayPal.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Odd posters for the PCC elections

15nov

The Home Office have issued some posters as part of the effort to get out the vote on the 15th of November. I’m not sure i understand what they are getting at. I am in favour of any attempts to  increase turn out at elections, but I can’t see what the benefit to criminals is of a low one. Is there a quoracy clause in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act that I haven’t spotted? If people don’t vote is there a risk that areas won’t elect someone at all?

It maybe that there is some market research that shows that of the suggested campaigns this was the one that would work best in convincing people to vote. But the cynic in me thinks that it is more about promoting the climate of fear the Home Office (under any recent government) promotes in order to try and persuade people it needs more and more illiberal powers such as the 'Snooper's Charter'.

Personally I haven’t seen any good research that suggest that the election of PCCs will have any positive effects, but I will be voting because I think that it is an important thing to do. For lots of links about registering to vote and even advice on how far you can go protesting but still have your ballot count see the Sheffield Votes blog.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Excitement and really wild things AKA Batfink and plays

October events

dolls "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen
Wednesday 10th October – Saturday 13th October
Sheffield University Drama Studio
£8 (£5 concessions)

Online box office

Facebook event


batfink_front Batfink: Sheffield's favourite Goth/Alternative/Beepy/Cheesy gloomfest returns for a one-off night to celebrate DJ Crispy's birthday and Batfink's own 10 year anniversary.
Friday, 12 October 2012, 21:00 until 02:00
The Raynor Lounge, Sheffield University Students Union, S10 2TG
£3

Facebook event


enter "Enter a Free Man" by Tom Stoppard
Wednesday 24th October – Saturday 27th October

Sheffield University Drama Studio
£8
Warning: Contains me

Online box office

Facebook event

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Sheffield Theatres Dates

The autumn season at Sheffield Theatres is announced tomorrow and is Top Secret until then (apart from the Full Monty, which has already been in the papers). As a centre stage member I can book from Saturday, although depending on people getting back to me I might wait until later in the weekend.

Once the season is public I’ll amend this post to include the titles, but wanted to get this up so those of you who regularly come along with me can check your diaries beforehand.

I hope I don’t get in hot water for releasing this scant information ;-)

MACBETH
By William Shakespeare
Wed 5 September – Sat 6 October

War. Three witches and a prophesy. An assassination.
Visions and ghosts. Murder. A suicide.
Shakespeare's most bloody tragedy is directed by Artistic Director Daniel Evans.
Public Dress Rehearsal Wed 5 September £1.00
Previews £17.00
Mon – Thu 7.15pm £23.00
Fri & Sat 7.15pm £25.00
Matinees 2.00pm £18.00
Fri 21 September 2.00pm £20.00
Centre Stage discounts apply
Crucible
THE VILLAGE BIKE
By Penelope Skinner
Thu 13 September – Sat 6 October

Becky’s frustrated. She’s pregnant, horny as hell and she’d love a glass of wine – or three. But her husband’s been reading The New Pregnancy Ideal and isn’t having any of it, so she takes matters into her own hands.
Written by Penelope Skinner and directed by Happy Days director, Jonathan Humphreys, The Village Bike is a daring and hilarious play about moving to the countryside, making babies and sorting out a plumber.
Public Dress Rehearsal Thu  13 September £1.00
Previews £10.00
Mon – Fri 7.45pm £15.00
Sat 7.45pm £18.00
Matinees 2.15pm £13.00
Centre Stage discounts apply
Studio
A TASTE OF HONEY
By Shelagh Delaney
Thu 25 October – Sat 17 November

Set in 1950s Manchester and exploring Britain on the precipice of change, A Taste of Honey celebrates the spirit of one young girl with the strength to rebel against the social constraints of her time. A seminal first play by the late, Shelagh Delaney. This brand new production – the first since the writer’s death last year – features a live jazz band on stage and is directed by Polly Findlay (National Theatre's Antigone).
Public Dress Rehearsal Thu 25 Oct £1.00
Previews £10.00
Mon – Fri 7.30pm £19.00
Sat 7.30pm £21.00
Matinees 2.30pm £15.00
Centre Stage discounts apply
Crucible
STRAIGHT
By DC Moore
Thu 1 – Sat 24 November

When is your best friend not your best friend?
Waldorf and Lewis are typical, regular guys. However, on one fateful night out, they make a bet that will take their friendship to a whole new level.
Directed by Richard Wilson, this is the world premiere of Straight, a razor sharp comedy by award-winning writer DC Moore.

Public Dress Rehearsal Thu 1 November £1.00
Previews £10.00
Mon – Fri 7.45pm £15.00
Sat 7.45pm £18.00
Matinees 2.15pm £13.00
Centre Stage discounts apply
Studio
MY FAIR LADY
Based on Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw and adapted by Alan Jay Lerner. Music by Frederick Loewe (1956)
Wed 12 December – Sat 26 January

Packed full of sensational songs including the classics On The Street Where you Live, With A Little Bit of Luck and Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, My Fair Lady will make you want to dance, dance, dance all night…
Directed by Sheffield Theatres’ Artistic Director, Daniel Evans, My Fair Lady is one of the greatest musicals of all time – a perfect treat for all the family.
Public Dress Rehearsal Wed  12 December £1.00
Previews £17  
Other performances £20.00 - £30.00*
Centre Stage discounts apply  
*Prices vary on performances. Please check with the Box Office for details.
Crucible
THE FULL MONTY
By Simon Beaufoy
Sat 2 – Sat 23 February 2013

The world première of a new play of The Full Monty which Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the screenplay, has adapted for the stage using songs from the film.  
Priced from £9.00 - £30.00*
Centre Stage discounts apply from Sat 2 – Sat 16 February only.
*Prices vary on performances. Please check with the Box Office for details.
Lyceum

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Twitter Arms, your local.

Recently there has been a spate of people misunderstanding twitter. I hate it when people attempt to mandate what twitter is and isn’t *for* but I think a little thought and debate about how it is in general used is a good thing.

In my mind twitter is very much like going down the pub. It is one of those modern places that manage to cultivate a mixed audience, mates out for a few pints and a chat, the odd suit who is always selling, the TV is on set to a rolling news channel and you might see a celebrity wander in. It is also probably in an area of town that has a certain sort of reputation as every so often someone unsavoury wanders up to the window and tries to tempt you to their palace of porn and trojans.

Most of the time you are there, you’re just having a chat with your social circle about whatever is happening in the world at the time. An actor or writer may wander past and you might say to the person next to you that you thought the last thing they did was great. If you are next to them at the bar when you go to order drinks and catch their eye you might even ask them a question about what they are working on or drop a compliment.

What you wouldn’t do in a real pub is shout across the lounge bar at them “You are a talentless, dull and should never work again” as that would be exceptionally rude. This is seen often in our fictional boozer, twitter, someone wants to say something about someone and includes their username as an ‘at mention’. The person cited isn’t being particularly egotistical by looking at the tweets that mention them, most clients include a column or page for replies and mentions and twitter itself will email you about them. If someone shouted an insult at me across the pub I would be rightly annoyed, so it always strikes me as odd when people are surprised that the tweet they sent saying bad things, about the person whose username they included, gets that person riled and they reply with ire. If you don’t want someone to get pissed off and say angry things to you, don’t shove your ill opinion in their face.

Later on one of your group says something a bit off colour, something not quite PC. The social feedback engine kicks in and it is explained why that isn’t acceptable and that you don’t really want to hear it even if it is what they truly believe thankyouverymuch. As the mood re-lightens some jokes are made around the subject.

This often happens on twitter, for example some racist thug tries to get their followers wound up about something and the reaction from the rest of the crowd is a mixed of informed debate, dismissal and derision. While it can be heart warming to see a topic trending for the opposite reason to the one intended, I do wonder sometimes about how far it can go and how vicious it can get. In situations like this the equivalent in our fictional pub is it ending up as a group of people standing round the person and shouting in their face. However abhorrent these people are there comes the point where they should be left to slink back to their dank slimy pits and left alone.

If a situation like that get out of hand and people start getting threatening then the law might arrive. This is where we have a more complicated problem online than in a physical space. Tone of voice is very effective at helping to communicate how seriously we mean what we say. It helps distinguish proper threats from jokes and sarcasm for example. This is a lot harder to get across in text, especially with a restricted character limit and there have been famous examples of the law not getting this. We need to somehow impress upon the legislators that regulation of ‘speech’ online needs reforming so that the abusers and threat makers are still dealt with but you can’t be banged up for making a joke.

Then someone on the table next to you gets a message from a mate, something is happening on the other side of town. Glancing at the TV there is no mention. More people are hearing about it and the talk is of almost nothing else (apart from the suit who is still trying to see someone his Acme Snake Oil). It is difficult to separate fact from fiction at this point but you instinctively trust some things more than others, because of who said them, or who they say said them.

Twitter comes into its own at times of breaking news, it is much faster than traditional news gathering but this isn’t always positive. While social media (and throughout I imagine this post applies to networks other than twitter) will bring lots information in very quickly it will have been through little corroboration and fact checking. You have to make the judgement call about what to believe and what to scoff at. These days there are lots of journalists out there who bring their experience and training to what they are receiving via twitter and only passing on the bits they think their followers should know. They also apply that information into their work and often will keep twitter informed while waiting for their story to go out. On the other hand there are the standard set of people hanging around being credulous or disingenuous so be careful what you accept as true. After all you wouldn’t believe everything some random stranger told you in the pub would you?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lovejoy’s Law

"As any political debate about introducing an illiberal measure continues, the probability of someone mentioning paedophiles approaches 1."

It was suggested by @Erica_Jane_MP that we needed an equivalent to "Godwin's law". This is to be used for when Home Secretaries and other authoritarians are promoting the cause of a measure that will restrict the freedoms of the many to satisfy nothing more that the rants of a vocal minority.

It is especially true when discussing over-complicated, expensive to implement, almost entirely ineffective legislation, that could easily be replaced by a tiny amount of parental responsibility.

The law is named for Helen Lovejoy and her catch phrase on the Simpsons.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

What should be in a manifesto?

I am thinking of writing a political manifesto.
More as a way of thinking about and crystallising what I believe in, than as part of any serious thoughts about standing for office.
That said it will be written from the perspective of the UK's political realities i.e. as if I were trying to be elected as an independent M.P.
What questions would you want to see it answer?
Please put them in a comment below or send them by whatever means you see fit.