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LIFT – where the city meets the stage

One city, 30 productions, 13 countries, 15 venues, 30 days, and a million emotions, passions, voices and subjects, LIFT festival is back in London for its 20th anniversary. Combining poetry, performances, acting, immersion and experiences that cover the sometimes surprising, shocking, variegated and vast nature of this amazing world in which we live, the festival continues to push the boundaries of theatre.  Using theatre as a way to explore the world, the London International Festival of Theatre integrates art forms to create powerful performance that speaks to and of the world. Where_the_city_meets_the_stage_wide_750 As director Michael Ball says 'LIFT 2014 comes at a time when the world is experiencing seismic change – in our climate, in governments and, perhaps most significantly, in ways in which we can communicate with each other. We have looked at what makes up this astonishingly vibrant and tolerant city and made it a stage on which artists with radical imaginations will conjure visions of other lands, enthralling us with stories born in the worlds from which they come.' Some of these artists work in circumstances that can be difficult or even dangerous, and LIFT gives voice to their revealing work, connecting us all with the big issues of our times. Invigorating, evocative, and wholly original, the programme is one that will you have you thinking and talking - which is what good theatre should always do. It also utilizes multiple venues, including The Tabernacle in Notting Hill, Peckham Liberal Club, and WIlton's Music Hall, introducing people and places. 10365932_10152428898989555_3257486389365585486_n Highlights include After A War, where 23 international artists and companies from the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America, reflect on the impact and legacy of WWI, this first truly global event and on contemporary issues of war and peace. There also explorations of the beautiful game in this World Cup year, in Michael Essien, I want to play as you…which looks at football as a way out of poverty, and Turfed which uses the philosophy of football to explore the global issue of youth homelessness. Change For A Tenner  is a series of gatherings about change, both big and small, is an inspiring collection looking at everything from the value of art to the impact of the baby boomers, and our capacity to make a difference. It's certainly entertainment to make you think, but not in a proselytising fashion. This is provocative art that  entertains as it educates and forces us to ponder the world around us and our place in it. Running throughout June, get your tickets here.

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Blackout poetry – an interview

I saw some images that made me look again. A merger of different forms of art, the words leapt out from colour and texture, an aesthetic delight, a thought provoked. A page of text is reduced to a few words, the meaning altered. It's simple to do, yet requires thought and insight. A new way of looking at the page in front of you. It's blackout poetry. I chat to John Carroll, from Make Black Out Poetry.

Are you a poet or artist?

I’ve never really considered myself either. I’m a writer first and foremost, mainly Flash Fiction. I’ve dabbled in poetry here and there and had never attempted creating any kind of art before I started making blackout poetry. makeblackout3

Is it really poetry?

I think so. It might not be in the academic sense, but then again Charles Bukowski wrote poems about alcohol, gambling and one night stands. Art and poetry are more about expressing yourself in an honest way than following a sentence structure or going to art school. Life is art. Life is poetic. Sometimes you just have to adjust your perception to see the beauty that’s been right in front of you all along.

Where do you find inspiration?

 I find inspiration in everyday life. Life in its very nature is art. We’re all creations. Our lives are stories that we tell everyday with every action we make and every word we say. Like the blackout poetry I make, I try to view life from different angles. makeblackout2

Do you seek it?

I seek truth. You’ll never run out of inspiration when you seek truth. It comes in all shapes and forms and is presented to us constantly. You might have to weed through a lot of preconceived ideas to find it, but it’s there. I believe in some universal truths, but we all have to find our own truth.

Do you use texts you like or just see words in any random passage?

I’m typically not very familiar with the text that I use when making blackout poetry. Most of the books are random. I’ve been using a few books over the last couple of months that I found in a bag on the side of the road waiting to be sent to the landfill.

What could I read into you and your mindset and life from your work?

Blackout poetry is very subconscious for me. I can usually get a decent gauge on my thoughts and view on life while making blackout poetry. When I was struggling with finding purpose and hope in life, most of the blackout poems were very dark. But life is dark and I was being honest about how I felt. I have much different perception of life now, so most of the blackout poems I make now are centered around truth, hope, balance and love, because those are things that I think about most. It came to me more so during the troubled period. I tried to stay busy, so I wouldn’t think about the pain in my life which ultimately just prolonged the pain. Blackout poetry helped me focus and process the grief in a way that was enjoyable and manageable. It helped me tap into how I really felt and It eventually lead me to face myself head on and come to a resolution.


I've heard it called 'creative destruction.' Do you see yourself leaning towards one or the other (a creator or destroyer)?

Life is a cycle. All things that are born, eventually die. I feel like there’s a balance between creating and destroying in most art, but especially blackout poetry. Evolution could be another way to look at it. Changing the the current state of an object, in this case, a page of text, to become something else. A photosynthesis of sorts.

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Neil Hall – An English Baby Boomer – My Life and Times

cover_babyboomer I came to this book looking for some answers. I’m in my twenties, I have a degree, I’ve been brought up by nice parents, and I have a decent job – but I don’t have a good pension, I don’t own my own home, and my savings are lacking. Apparently this is the fault of the baby boomer generation. They screwed me and thousands of others over. Or so I am told. So when a book named An English Baby Boomer – My Life and Times arrived, I hoped that it would reveal a little more about these people, born between the years 1946 and 1964, and what they had that I don’t. The press release and blurb describes Neill Hall as an ‘everyman’ for his generation. An everyman with a privileged background, who was the son of a naval officer, who swans around Knightsbridge, who grew up with servants, was educated at Marlborough College, who lived his formative years in India and other places hugely exotic for most now, let alone in the 1950s, and has made millions as an entrepreneur, creator, and twenty seven years in financial services. Not for him a life of the doldrums. A quote from Ranulph Fiennes on the cover is a result of a personal association. But that does not mean it’s not interesting. Far from it – money does not beget, but certainly allows for, a life full of wonderful opportunities. He’s had some amazing experiences, and tells some of those stories in this book, particularly when it comes to his travels, such as a journey up the Khyber Pass in 1990, hanging out with hippies in Paris in the eighties, and an escape to Istanbul. Insight into a life in finance intersperses chapters about family and friends, and the sensitive and caring tone with which Hall refers to his loved ones is endearing. London in the sixties is described with flavor, and his early years at school evocative of Roald Dahl’s Boy. At times the author veers on clichés, lamenting the politically correct environment he finds himself in, and harking back to ‘good old days.’ ‘Today you can’t have that kind of fun’ he complains. But preconceptions are challenged, particular when it comes to his mystical wanderings and a quest for something outside of the concrete – something not usually ‘characteristic’ of baby boomers. The 380 odd page book is very much a man’s memoirs rather than a fascinating must read. It’s hard to lose the voice in the head wondering why you are reading about this particular man, rather than any other. Which opens up a whole new set of questions around why we find certain people’s stories more fascinating than others. What a celebrity has for breakfast is dull and futile compared to the stories of many ordinary people – and it’s clear that Hall has plenty of stories – so why do we feel more comfortable reading the autobiography of people we think we know? I came looking for answers, and ended up with more questions. A book stimulating curiousity - the mark of a good read?

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Camden Create

camdencreate Given how vibrant the streets are, how bright the décor, how the night hums with music and art and the day with its hangover,  how famous the postcode is, how creative the area is, it's surprising that Camden has never had a festival not only celebrating said creativity, but offering inspiration and advice on how to break into the world, for work and play. From the 13th-15th May Camden Create will curate three days of talks, workshops and events in iconic locations such as Proud and The Hawley Arms from the 13th-15th May. Part of a wider strategy implemented by Camden Town Unlimited (a group of local businesses who have come together to improve Camden Town as a place to work, live and visit) the event spans art and design, careers, media, entertainment and fashion. Renowned Camden figures such as Alex Proud (founder of Proud Galleries) and Wayne Hemmingway (fashion designer and co-founder of Red or Dead) are just some of the local names that will be talking about their work and careers and offering advice to those looking to break into the creative industries.  The programme is busy: with Comedy nights at The Roundhouse, cruises down Regents Canal with Vestal Voyages and their vodka, Food Walks, Video CV Making workshops, public art and graffiti talks and walks, fashion performances, discussions on the importance of regeneration, and of course plenty of opportunities to mingle, it is three days of social, entertaining, artistic and business focused events, all with the aim of getting people excited about Camden. Not just a festival of self celebration, it's a forward thinking and area boosting opportunity - something to be excited about. Tickets are available here.  

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Bambi – Reap From The Dying Love

Frolicking and cavorting along, but behaving nothing like a baby deer, new track Reap From The Dying Love from East London's Bambi is a dance tune of style and substance. Slightly intimidating in its unflustered and intoxicating tone, it's a great representation of their brand of sensitive songs smacked up with riotous beats. Sleek and mathsy but rooted in the best guitar rock, this is one heck of a debut.

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Parlour – Devil's Eyes

A dreamy and drowsy start fizzes into frantic harmonies and searing chords on Devil's Eyes by Parlour. Fuzzy and warm, slightly dishevelled and a bit magical, it's a brave amalgamation of genres and storytelling, spun together in a homespun vision. [soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

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Shoreditch Radio Summer Social – Partly Faithful

Part of the series of songs recorded at the Shoreditch Radio Summer Social. A day of bands, bbq and booze back in August, over in the Stoke Newington studios. Flamboyant and sweetly aggressive rockers Partly Faithful have made quite a name for themselves on the live scene, and even stripped back and acoustic you can hear why. [soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

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Shoreditch Radio Summer Social – Thom Byles

Part of the series of songs recorded at the Shoreditch Radio Summer Social. A day of bands, bbq and booze back in August, over in the Stoke Newington studios. Thom Byles knows how to use his guitar, flexing, strumming, tapping and rapping, to create deeply sensitive and beguiling tunes. From his earlier Step Into The Weather EP this his live version of Escape The City. [soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

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