THE SHED | A new venue with a mission

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We’re 18 months out from America’s next Presidential election and lecterns bearing the names of candidates with bold visions are 10 a penny. Familiarity with the sheer number of campaign launches that have been photographed, streamed and reported over the first 3 months of 2019 therefore lent some camouflage to just how heavily The Shed borrowed from the political playbook throughout its press launch this week. Then again, this is entirely apt for the plucky new cultural contender with civic, national and indeed global ambitions — the candidate’s name on the lectern this week was ‘The Shed’.

Putting its best foot forward, the launch of New York’s latest cultural institution ties in to three crucial areas of political success: policy, personality and philanthropy (cash money). The first of these dominated the podium section of the launch. The team at The Shed has carefully built an institutional philosophy that offers a framework for collaborating artists, a brand for New York’s audiences to latch on to and a yardstick by which success can be measured. To this end, it was set out that the venue is to give a sense of ownership and collaboration to the city it stands in and the creative contributors it welcomes. This is to be a venture that champions risk taking, curiosity and adventure. A beacon of innovation on the West Side of New York that reaches out to all of the boroughs as to fund creativity and facilitate exploration. There will be no high and low culture at The Shed, only culture — a message reminiscent of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ message that got so horribly mangled in the UK’s 2010 election. Speaking to this point specifically, Tamara McCaw —The Shed’s chief civic program officer— borrowed from Nina Simone to say that they aimed to ‘reflect and respond’ to the communities of New York City.

On personality, the backers of The Shed are hoping that their institution’s name and reputation becomes synonymous with the celebrated creative DNA of Alex Poots. The founder of Manchester International Festival has proven on more than one occasion that he has the trust (another popular buzzword throughout the launch) of artists, audiences, funders and administrators. Moreover, he’s demonstrated what alchemy can be achieved with this level of artistic belief. Speaking confidently without notes, Poots was compelling and clear about how he sees The Shed’s mission and is convincing on the topic. Perhaps one of the star qualities that would prevent him from running in an actual Presidential race but makes him the perfect candidate for this one is his European-ness. In fact, of the four artistic curators that sat in a panel during the launch of New York/America’s new arts centre, three were European (Emma Enderby and Hans Ulrich Obrist completing the group with Tamara and Alex). The Shed seem to be betting on this transatlantic skillset bringing international flare to the venture, not an uncommon leadership skillset pursued by New York’s established Anglophilic art centres such as The Metropolitan Museum and most recently Lincoln Center.

It was however left to the bonafide politician in the room to say the word that was being skirted around in all the artistic conversations, a word that underpins the ability to get to the point of launching any ambitious American candidacy. Mid-speech, Dan Doctoroff —Michael Bloomberg’s former Number 2— stumbled momentarily saying that it took ‘so money…I mean, so many people’ to pull this all off. It was a moment of accidental humour, a Freudian slip that was disarming in its brief, truthful nudity. It has taken so much money to make this all possible. It was $45million from Frank McCourt that got the ball rolling, a $25million gift from Ken Griffin that kept it on track and the priceless use of City Land that motivated countless other philanthropists, sponsors and supporters to generate an initial budget of over $500million. That’s the money that’s giving the Shed a chance to disrupt the US arts scene and put the wind up veterans such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and BAM. That’s the money that brought in the architectural invention of Liz Diller and David Rockwell to craft a positively European space capable of delivering a mission more akin to London’s Barbican or Southbank Centre. That’s the money that has filled their offices with superstars like Poots who can bring in super-duper stars like Steve McQueen and Quincy Jones to advice that they should bring in yet more star power, lending this clout to the newest addition to an already bulging cultural scene.

Every good political campaign needs a soundtrack; Bill Clinton harnessed the power of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’ and Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ mantra was fashioned into a harmonised battlecry by will.i.am. To that end, The Shed’s quest for the hearts and minds of New York and the world beyond really gets going in the 5 shows that comprise Soundtrack Of America: tracing the family tree of African American music as performed by the next generation of that mighty organism (a concept devised by Poots and McQueen). Will it be the soundtrack to launch the sort of career that all at The Shed are hoping for? They’ve given themselves every chance of success, it only remains to be seen if the following years deliver the diversity of voters…I mean audiences from the cross-section of their immediate society (and the world) that they’ve so clearly set their sights on.

Explore the length and breadth of The Shed’s inaugural programme here.

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ONE MAN BAND FESTIVAL | London, The Blues Kitchen

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Innovative, unique and utterly bizarre, One-Man Band Festival celebrates the supreme talents of those Dick Van Dyke-inspired musicians that take to the stage solo, but still deliver the full sounds of a multi-piece band: this is an unmissable week-long celebration of some of the very best in the game.

1. Wednesday 20th March: Dollar Bill + Hollowbelly in Shoreditch (Free)

Dollar Bill is a one-man band that seemingly achieves the impossible with the wide collection of sounds he delivers at once. It’s raw, stripped down, stompin’ and rockin’ blues with drums, a guitar, a harmonica and singing going on all at once.

Hollowbelly is one-man punk blues band, with a 3-string cigar box guitar in his hands, a blues harp at his mouth, a pre-war marching drum at his right foot and a 1930’s low boy at his left. Authentic, fast and furious stuff.

2. Thursday 21st March: Son of Dave + One Man Destruction Show in Brixton (£10.50)

Son of Dave is a maverick Bluesman, providing a one-man harmonica and beat-box experience. He performs catchy, original, world class shows all around the globe.

One Man Destruction Show has created his very own one man rock n’ roll garage n’ blues band.

3. Friday 22nd March: Bob Log + King Size Slim at Jazz Cafe, Camden (£15)

With Bob Log, Delta blues meets electro in a live show that can only be described as a man in a jumpsuit and full-face helmet rigged up with a telephone receiver barrelling around in a lifeboat while beating away on a hollow-body guitar.

King Size Slim’s music is rhythm-led, heavy on the bass and rootsy in the melody. A powerful performer and a must-see on the blues circuit.

4. Tuesday 26th March: Ian Siegal + Big Joe Louis in Brixton (£15)

Ian Siegal presents songs from his latest album All The Rage. Titled Best Male Vocalist and Best Acoustic Artist in the UK Blues Awards 2018, Ian Siegal is a must-see musician for 2019. Classic Rock tags Siegal “a national treasure” and MOJO magazine ranks him “the cleverest writer and most magnetic blues performer in the UK”.

Big Joe Louis is a powerful force on the modern UK blues scene, whose style and authenticity are unparalleled on this side of the Atlantic.

5. Thursday 28th March: Lewis Floyd Henry + Hip Bone Slim in Camden (£4)

Lewis Floyd Henry busks daily on Brick Lane, and has clocked up millions of views on YouTube. A one-man, multi-genre, traveling sonic medicine show, it’s Jimmy Hendrix one moment and Biggie Smalls the next.

Hipbone Slim (aka Sir Bald) plays stompin’ rhythm and blues on guitar, harmonica, foot drums, and maracas, in a very eclectic set.

Book online for these amazing one-man band shows.

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LITTLE ECHOES | London, The Hope Theatre

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Published this year by Methuen Drama, Tom Powell’s Little Echoes now receives a full run at The Hope Theatre in Islington. Three haunting monologues interweave amid lightbulbs and microphones in this 90-minute exploration of London “as you’ve never seen it before”.

16-year old Danielle (Maisie Preston) meets danger in the VIP area of a pop concert. Professional relationship manager June (Ciara Pouncet) seems cool and collected, but all is not as it seems. Shaj (Mikhael DeVille) navigates feelings of intense anger and hatred in the wake of a violent acid attack on his young brother.

One of the UK’s most up and coming new playwrights, Tom Powell won the OTR National Radio Drama Award and the Footlights’ Harry Porter Prize. He is part of the Soho Writers Alumni Group and in 2015 he was shortlisted for the Soho Young Writers’ Award for his first play the bear hunt. This year he attended the Royal Court Introductory Group and was shortlisted for HighTide’s First Commissions programme. His third play White Light has recently been selected for the Arcola’s PlayWrought festival.

The production is directed by Stephen Bailey, and partnered with Beyond The Streets, a charity that works to create pathways out of sexual exploitation.

Little Echoes is playing until 9 March 2019.

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COMPANY | Hong Kong, Sha Tin Town Hall

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Sondheim’s groundbreaking 1970 musical comedy is coming to Hong Kong in a brand new Cantonese translation by Jacob Yu and Wong Ming Lok. The musical revolves around Bobby, a single man who is unable to commit fully to a steady relationship — let alone marriage. The five married couples who are his best friends, and his three girlfriends, all come together in a celebration for Bobby’s 35th birthday.

As well as the main translator, Jacob Yu also directs and produces, and set designs too. Stoa Lau is the Music Director and Sound Designer, with lighting by Ivan Chen and costumes by Shybil Yuen, in addition to choreography by Nikki Ng. The cast includes: Amanda Lee, Peco Chui, Andrew Cheung, Beilosi Fung, Margaret Cheung, Sung Boon Ho, Lan Chun Chun, Tunes Ting, SiuLung Wong, Joanna Ko, Billy Yip, Vivian Chan, Tony Li, Terrence Leung.

The original Broadway production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards, and won Best Musical. Many of the songs have passed into musical theatre legend, including: “Being Alive”; “Side By Side” and “You Could Drive A Person Crazy”. The current gender-flipped production in London’s West End is also nominated for many awards.

Don’t miss the chance to experience this hilarious, punchy musical about love and relationships in Cantonese.

Book online at Urbtix until 24 February 2019. Check out Theatre Space’s Facebook page for more information.

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY ON ICE | London, SSE Arena Wembley

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The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice has been touring worldwide since 2017 and finally, for the first time, reaches the UK. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse invite fans on a treasure-filled journey bound for heartwarming adventure.

Audiences can expect a huge selection of excerpts from from across all of Disney’s hits, including: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1939); Aladdin (1992); The Lion King (1994); Tangled (2010); and — of course — Frozen (2013). You’ll also get the chance to see characters from The Little Mermaid (1989); Toy Story (1995); and, for the first time in the UK, Finding Dory (2016).

As well as all this, there’s also Disney Princess parade, and the whole clubhouse gang come to join in the fun too. Plus, you can learn the Mouse Bounce dance during the Fit to Dance pre-show!

Disney On Ice shows are always inspiring, featuring a huge cast of some of the best figure skaters in the world. Produced by Feld Entertainment, Nicole Feld says, “Whether this is your first time attending Disney on Ice or you’ve been coming for years, our goal is to create an atmosphere where families can create a dialogue between generations and bring to light their cherished memories.”

The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice brings beloved characters, both classic and new, to life through cutting-edge figure skating, incredible costumes and stunning set designs. Innovative lighting, thrilling special effects and breathtaking skating make it an experience the whole family will remember forever.

The Wonderful World of Disney On Ice plays at The SSE Arena, Wembley, 13 – 17 March 2019.

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Scotland’s East Neuk Festival unveils 2019 programme

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Scotland’s East Neuk Festival (ENF) returns for its 15th festival, 26 – 30 June 2019, inviting audiences on a musical adventure in beautiful and unique locations along East Neuk’s picturesque coastline. The festival promises major artists, unique collaborations and a large-scale art installation for the 2019 ENF, filling the hidden corners of Scotland’s coastal area of the East Neuk in Fife.

Percussionist Colin Currie and his new Colin Currie Quartet will be teaming up with community musicians of the East Neuk, for this year’s Big Project for massed percussion. Pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, Pavel Haas Quartet and Belcea String Quartet will all be coming together to present a unique series of five concerts, while Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita will make their ENF debuts with a three-concert residency.

A large-scale art installation in the grounds of the National Trust for Scotland’s Kellie Castle will celebrate the communal Drying Greens of yesteryear, and culminate in an afternoon of family activities and pop up performances from the Tullis Russell Mills Band (in its centenary year).

An evolution of the ENF Retreat sees two past Retreatants – violinist Benjamin Baker and violist Diyang Mei – return to the festival to play solo, chamber and concerto dates. Festival Director, Svend McEwan-Brown, said: “ENF is all about relationships: we love when our favourite musicians return, collaborate and take new directions at the festival. Experimenting is a risky business, and we are proud that artists of such stature trust us to support them as they do it.”

Read the brochure, get excited, and start booking.

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CIRCA | London, Old Red Lion Theatre

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After premiering with a cast of twelve at the Theatre de Meervaart, Amsterdam in 2016, followed by an acclaimed run with a cast of seven at The Vaults in London, Tom Ratcliffe’s company work.Theatre returns in a co-production with Harlow Playhouse.

“I can’t wait to be bringing Circa back this year for a longer run in London, and then to Harlow,” says Ratcliffe of his debut play. “The play has become even more topical over the past two years, and loneliness amongst the gay community is something that needs to be spoken about. The play has developed over the past two years and it’s something I cannot wait to share with everyone.”

In the 21st century, being gay is supposedly more integrated than ever: marriage is legal, parenthood is possible, and #LoveWins is trending on Twitter. But in a world where sex is readily available, what does it mean to be in a gay relationship in the modern age? And why are so many gay men still lonely?

Circa explores the blurred identity of the gay relationship in the modern age. Following the story of one man’s romantic life, we are taken through the different relationships and encounters he experiences over a period of thirty years, joining him through the joys and pitfalls of love.

Book online at www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk. Tickets from £12.

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2018 HONG KONG BALLET BALL: THE GATSBY CHRISTMAS SOIRÉE | Hong Kong, Grand Hyatt Hotel

Event

As one of the signature charity balls in town, the Hong Kong Ballet Ball boasts a history of 33 years. The funds raised on Tuesday 4 December 2018 will be used for Asia’s premier ballet company to continue staging inspiring productions, encouraging emerging choreographers, nurturing the next generation of audiences, as well as launching education and community outreach events.

The guest-list of more than 300 society figures and celebrities attended an evening of fine dining and fabulous entertainment. This Great Gatsby Gala took the guests back to the roaring twenties with its themed decorations and Art Deco chandeliers.

The stylish black-tie event featured mesmerising performances from Hong Kong Ballet’s upcoming production, Septime Webre’s The Great Gatsby, and a very special Christmas trees charity auction. In addition, guests bid on luxury items at the silent auction and danced the night away after the dinner, courtesy of a live jazz band.

In collaboration with Key Partner LANDMARK, three stunning Christmas trees elegantly decorated by world famous brands Balmain, Cartier and Jimmy Choo from the Ballet for All Christmas Tree Campaign were auctioned at the Ball. These trees will be reconstructed by the brands at the donors’ designated locations afterwards, further spreading the joy of sharing through families and corporations.

The proceeds of the charity auction will be used to support the staging of a Relaxed Performance customised for special needs audiences with autism or intellectual disabilities and their caregivers.

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【 The 2018 Hong Kong Ballet Ball: The Gatsby Christmas Soiree │2018香港芭蕾舞團:《大亨小傳》聖誕籌款晚會】 The 2018 Hong Kong Ballet Ball: The Gatsby Christmas Soiree was held successfully last night! This Great Gatsby Gala took us back to the Roaring Twenties with its exquisite Art Deco themed ballroom and mesmerising performances from our upcoming production in February 2019– Septime Webre’s The Great Gatsby, and a very special Christmas trees charity auction. Guests danced the night away with a live jazz band! 昨晚舉行的「2018香港芭蕾舞團:《大亨小傳》聖誕籌款晚會」以舞團明年2月公演,由藝術總監衛承天創作之《大亨小傳》、咆哮的二十年代為主題。當晚由香港芭蕾舞團舞蹈員演出《大亨小傳》的精彩選段,以及別開生面的聖誕樹慈善拍賣,嘉賓在爵士樂隊的現場伴奏下翩翩起舞,盡興而歸! #hkballet #hkballetball2018 #thegatsbychristmassoiree #TheGreatGatsby #LANDMARK #PerrierJouët #HongKongTatler #GrandHyattHongKong #Balmain #Cartier #JimmyChoo #SeptimeWebre

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Hong Kong Ballet’s The Nutcracker opens Friday 14 December 2018.

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INTERVIEW: SARA DEE

Interview

 

Sara Dee has been described as “a hybrid of Patsy Cline and Madeleine Peyroux”. The L.A. based singer-songwriter talked to The Prickle about her new Christmas single, ‘Christmas in California’.

 

How did you get into singing and songwriting?

Sara Dee: Growing up there was always music on in my house — a pretty balanced diet of oldies, rock ‘n’ roll, standards, and classical.  I always gravitated toward music, and as a kid would stay in my room for hours, teaching myself instruments, and analyzing my favourite songs.  So I suppose the singing and songwriting came as a natural part of my obsession with imitating what I admired.

What inspires you to write?

Sara Dee: I love to write about conflict. And love! Really I find inspiration in anything I’m willing to pay close attention to. But conflict and love are pretty powerful motivators.

Who are your musical heroes?

Sara Dee: There’s so many; if I have to make a short list: Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Beach Boys, Queen, Ella Fitzgerald, Over the Rhine, Lianna LaHavas, Dr. John, Janelle Monet. I mean, I could go on…

Tell us about your new single.

Sara Dee: I wrote ‘Christmas in California’ basically in one sitting, which doesn’t always happen. It was Christmastime; I was on my bed looking out my window; and it looked like summer outside. I felt no ‘holiday spirit’, and honestly, it was kind of sad! I love the subtle rushes of holiday magic, and when I looked around I didn’t see one sign of winter or Christmas. That’s when the lyric, “Christmas is a state of mind”, popped into my brain. From there, I just started thinking about all the imagery of experiencing winter in an endless summer town. And really, the hardest part about that was whittling down which ones to leave in — there are so many! And it was also a great way to pay some hommage to my city of Los Angeles.

What’s next for Sara Dee?

Sara Dee: A couple more singles before the big album in February 2019, In Joy, Vol. 2. It’s my third full-length album, and I’m really excited about it! But first, this is the perfect time of year to check out my Christmas single.

Sign up to be first in the know about all things Sara Dee.

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ANNABELLE, GLIMMER THEATRE | London, Streatham Space Project

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Glimmer Theatre are renowned for their “Rich Theatre by Little Means”, which takes audiences on unexpected flights of fancy, crammed with good humour, live music and bold images. With their emphasis on recycled props and costumes, like a rusty hat box, a cracked slide projector, newspaper and dustsheets, Glimmer Theatre create astonishing, emotionally charged works.

In this new production, Glimmer Theatre use live music and magical visuals to tell the riotous story of Annabelle Howgego, the extraordinary fen skater who set her village free. Following a private industry performance earlier this year, Glimmer Theatre immediately received maximum funding from Arts Council England, for Glimmer Theatre’s most ambitious project to date.

Starring Sophie Crawford (War Horse, West End) and Rozzi Nicholson-Lailey (The Railway Children, Genesius Pictures), Annabelle tells the true story of Annabelle Howgego, who cast off her life as a scullery maid and became a champion fen skater. But this year, something terrible rises up from the icy river and sends the village into disarray.

Director, designer and actor Andrew Brock is known for being the driving force behind all of Glimmer Theatre’s previous productions, which have toured nationally, as well as his work for Queynte Ladies and other companies. Glimmer Theatre’s Instagram (@glimmertheatre) is also full of their trademark humour, and a window into the exciting things to come.

Annabelle is skating into Streatham Space, London on 6 December 2018, and the Undercroft, Peterborough on 14 December 2018.

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