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Theatre and Dance

A Kind of Conjuration at the Cellars

You would think witch trails a thing of the distant past. However, during the second world war a woman was tried and convicted under the ancient Witchcraft Act.

A play about the trial was performed at The Cellars at Eastney last week. Local theatre companies New Apollo and Cop The Needle brought audiences A Kind of Conjuration. This hour-long theatre piece, directed by Steve Pitt, featured a group of five actors, and was based on the real-life trial of Scottish medium Helen Duncan in 1944, for events that took place in Portsmouth.

The intimacy of the venue worked well for the subject matter, and enabled the performers and audience to connect in a way that isn’t possible in larger venues. When the judge, played by Christopher Marlowe, addressed the jury during the court scene, he spoke to the audience as if they were the jury, making them feel involved in the action.

Angie Lily was fantastic in the court scene, nipping backstage to change elements of costume in-between each character, resulting in a highly entertaining whirlwind of at least five different characters (and accents) testifying in quick succession. Henry Oastler was on comedic top form for his appearance in the court scene, displaying subtle character traits such as a tuck of the chin, transforming him completely from his other role in the play as a newspaper journalist. James Kirby and Tim Lowe also gave entertaining performances.

Writers Stuart Olesker and John Stanton incorporated excerpts from the original court transcript, adding authenticity to this brilliant piece. A highly refreshing and thought provoking performance.

A Kind of Conjuration will next be performed at the Square Tower on 25th June as part of Portsmouth Festivities. (Doors open at 7pm, performance starts at 8pm). On this occasion the play will be preceded by a monologue from the late Harry Price, ghostbuster extraordinary. Tickets from 023 9282 6249 or 023 9273 6288 or online: www.thecellars.co.uk.

Reviews:

Ashley Harley in Portsmouth News:
“a little gem”
“hauntingly good”
“not to be missed”
“solid direction”

Heather James in Portsmouth News:
“I was riveted”
“very witty and entertaining”

David Richards of Remote Goat:
“a sellout”
“a joy to watch”
“superb performances”
“a very high degree of professionalism”
“a very effective mix of the serious and the comedic”
“another triumph and a thoroughly enjoyable evening”

The original flyer for the show at The Cellars

New Theatre Royal and Shakespeare’s Globe Present… King Lear

Following the success of last year’s all-female performance of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, the New Theatre Royal and Shakespeare’s Globe present King Lear between 3rd-5th July. The production itself will be an open air showing in the City Museum Gardens.

Playing the eponymous King will be Joseph Marcell, best known to UK audiences as ‘Geoffrey’, the acerbic and witty butler in the hit show, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’. Joseph has since gone on to become one of the most respected stage actors in the country.

Early bird discounted tickets are available until 23rd April although don’t hesitate as these are likely to sell quickly! To book your ticket, visit online box office at www.newtheatreroyal.com, or call the New Theatre Royal on 02392 649 000.

NTR King Lear

The Camp Bestival Travelling Circus Tour

Celebrating Camp Bestival 2014’s Circus theme, Rob and Josie Da Bank will be beginning their Camp Bestival Travelling Circus Tour in Portsmouth.

Starting in our fair city of Portsmouth, each event will feature the Camp Bestival DJ crew, special guest DJs and a whole host of different amazing circus-themed activities, competitions, face painting and arts & crafts guaranteed to entertain all the family. There’s no excuse not to round up the kids and come along to check them out!

The tour will kick off in at the Aspex Gallery with Camp Bestival Ringmaster Rob da Bank behind the wheels of steel with cool music for cool kids, a supersized ghetto-blaster, art workshops, face-painting, food & drinks, fancy dress, candyfloss and other surprises! This will be a party for the whole family.

Anyone attending the events will also have the special opportunity to purchase Camp Bestival 2014 tickets at face value without any booking fees or postage.

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Photos from campbestival.net
 The Camp Bestival Travelling Circus Tour

Macbeth at the Square Tower

The Scottish play is coming to the atmospheric setting of the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth this week. The Southsea Shakespeare Actors, who performed Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors at the Station Theatre, Hayling Island last November, are swapping tomfoolery and twins for blood and revenge in their production of Macbeth, showing from 12th-15th March.

Rob Bartlett, who plays the title role, tells us why the play is so popular among theatregoers, and what the audience can expect from this production.

This is one of Shakespeare’s plays that most people know at least a little about, whether it be the ‘is this a dagger I see before me’ quote or the infamous character of Lady Macbeth. Why do you think it holds such appeal for audiences?

I think it’s because of the mix of supernatural, unbridled ambition and human weakness – we may not all do what the Macbeths do, but we’ve thought about it! If we were given a supernatural push and told by powers beyond our understanding that it would all be okay, we might just act on those impulses more often.

I also think it’s because Macbeth’s descent into madness is so well observed and written that it makes it utterly compelling, and a joy to play. In one line ranting and in the next line totally lucid. The jerkiness of his thoughts makes it a perfect portrayal of manic behaviour.

The play also barrels along at a heck of a pace – there isn’t the flowery poetry of Romeo and Juliet for example, it’s all plot, character and action. I also think that almost every character gets their moment in the spotlight – Lady M and Mackers obviously, but Malcolm, MacDuff, Lady MacDuff, Banquo and even the Porter get their chance to shine (to name but a few)!

There’s a superstition in the theatre world that it’s bad luck to mention the ‘M’ word on the night of a performance, regardless of the play. What’s that all about?

To be honest I have no idea!!! I talk about Macbeth all the time. I think there was some talk about bad things happening on various productions but to me it seems like a good way to get some publicity! 

You’re performing at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth – how do you think the setting will lend itself to the atmosphere of the play?

I think it will be brilliant! A big bare stone building, dimly lit with lots of shadows bouncing off the walls, candles – it will be fab. Also by doing it ‘in the round’ the audience will be really close. They will feel like they are in the scene, not just watching it. There will be times where they can’t see the face of the actor who is delivering the lines but that wont matter, a bit like when you are out with a big group of friends. You can’t always see the face of the person talking but you get a sense of what’s going on from everyone around you – and yes, that will include the other members of the audience on the opposite side of the room who can see.

We are doing some scenes with candles, so it will be really dim – really atmospheric!

Can you sum up in one (short!) sentence what we can expect from the Southsea Shakespeare Actors’ version of Macbeth?

It’s up close and personal – be ready to be part of the action!

 

To book tickets go to http://ssa.ticketsource.co.uk/events or find out more about the Southsea Shakespeare Actors at www.southseashakespeareactors.com.

The Lost Hour

For the whole day and into the evening of 29 March, venues across Portsmouth will open up to the people of the city, giving them the opportunity to enjoy tours, workshops, exhibitions and performances. Most of the events are family-friendly and they are nearly all FREE!

There’s everything from yarn-bombing masterclasses, drumming and dance workshops, poetry readings, talks and plays about everything from Henry VIII to The First World War, even a Mad Hatters Tea Party!

For more information, visit Facebook or follow @LostHourPompey on Twitter!

To buy tickets for the New Theatre Royal’s three ticketed events, Periplum’s performance of their piece ‘#WeAreAllSpartacus’, Bête Noire’s ‘Fear Floor’ show, and the tours of the New Theatre Royal, titled ‘A New Stage In Time’ check their website www.newtheatreroyal.com!

The Lost Hour 2014

House of Burlesque

Easily one of the most entertaining shows to visit Portsmouth is Joe Blacks House of Burlesque. The next show will be at the Kings Theatre on this Saturday. You can expect laughs, awesome costumes, innuendo, the slightly bizarre and of course beautiful women.

For information on how you can buy tickets check out the Facebook Event HERE. Don’t hang around to get your tickets as this is likely to sell out.

Entertainers include…

Vicky Butterfly – Ethereal being and visually enthralling. Burlesque icon and muse.

Vicky Butterfly

Carrie-Ann O’Dell – Dita Von Teese tribute act! Witness as she swishes in her giant martini glass and lounges in her opium den.

Mr Pustra – Vaudeville superstar and Weimar doll!

Abigail Collins – Hilarious and filthy! There can be no other like her!

Bruise Violet – Brash and bold emerald inferno! Fire eater and shaker of hips!

Arran Shurvinton – Snake boy and seducer of the senses!

Terms Of Unnervement – Resident double act. Cabaret clowns! Strange, unusual and somewhat concerning!

Hosted by Joe Black – Drinker of alcoholic beverages, singer of songs and acid tongued ringmaster.


Be warned this video isn’t for the faint hearted or young eyes!
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The Guide Awards 2013

Last night saw the Kings Theatre host the Portsmouth News 2013 Guide Awards. The awards recognise the best local talent in music, film, theatre, art and food within the area. 2013 was a very good year for Portsmouth and Southsea with numerous events to keep locals and visitors entertained.

It’s great to see one of my favourite local artists Kassassin Street pick up the award for Best Band. They have had a big year which has included playing Blissfields, Southsea Fest, Victorious Festival and a BBC Introducing session. I have every confidence that they will continue to go from strength to strength in 2014.

Best Solo Artist Matt Jarvis is not only one of the best local singer songwriters, he is also one of the nicest fellas you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. Matt has the rare ability capture an audiences attention and silence a room whenever he performs. Matt was also recognised and complimented in music blogs recognised nationally for for his performance at Blissfields last year.

I must admit to knowing very little about the theatrical shows within the area and maybe thats something for me to look into over 2014?

It is also great to see Pete Scathe recognised for being Best DJ. Pete is the man behind Connection at Scandals every Thursday night. I’ve had a few fun nights out there myself, although not for a few years. It still seems hugely popular among alternative music lovers.

Last of all I am chuffed to bits that the King Street Tavern is recognised as Best Restaurant. This is an quite a honour for Sam Foote and his staff as there are so many great places to eat in Portsmouth. If you’ve never been there before make sure you get down there soon!

Fingers crossed the 2014 Guide Awards recognises the Creating Balance Exhibition currently being held in Aspex and the work of Geoff Priestly at the Wedgewood Rooms. Maybe there should even be a few new categories added? I’d personally love to see a category of Best Photographer. If you have any other tips for 2014 then please get in touch with us at Strong Island.

Best DJ
Winner: Pete Scathe
Runner-up: Hipshaker

Best Comedy
Winner: Joe Wells
Runner-up: Instant SOOP

Best Band
Winner: Kassassin Street
Runner-up: Off Beat Offensive

Best Solo Artist
Winner: Matt Jarvis
Runner-up: Jerry Williams

Best Exhibition
Winner: Hayling Billy 50
Runner-up: Albert Road Trail

Best Restaurant/Pub/Wine bar
Winner: King Street Tavern
Runner-up: Roosters Piri Piri

Best Film
Winner: Perception
Runner-up: Send in the Clones

Best Professional Production
Winner: Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat, Kings Theatre
Runner-up: Barnum, Chichester Festival Theatre

Best Amateur Drama Production
Winner: Anne Frank, One Off Productions, Kings Theatre
Runner-up: Hamlet, Southsea Shakespeare Actors, The Pyramids

Best Amateur Musical
Winner: Little Shop Of Horrors, Portsmouth Players
Runner-up: Whistle Down The Wind, CCADS

Best Amateur Actor
Winner: Lewis Bailey as Doctor Watson in Hound Of The Baskervilles, HumDrum
Runner-up: Lewis Robinson as Hamlet, Southsea Shakespeare Actors

Best Amateur Actress
Winner: Samantha Kelly, Evita, South Downe Musical Society
Runner-up: Georgia Hamorak as Anne Frank, One Off Productions

Best Classical Music Act
Winner: Solent Symphony Orchestra
Runner-up: David Price and Portsmouth Cathedral Choir

Special Achievement Award: Nick Courtney


Kassassin Street
King Street Tavern
King Street Tavern, Norfolk Street, Southsea

Sophie Saunders Photography Exhibition Drama and Dance

Photographer Sophie Saunders has her first solo exhibition opening at the Kings Theatre from 27th January to 10th February. The exhibition is a colourful selection of images taken during the season opener at the Kings, a dance show called “FUSED” and a dress rehearsal of “Oliver”. Contact the Kings Theatre regarding viewing.

Sophie Saunders Photography Exhibition Drama and Dance

Present Laughter at the Kings Theatre

The Kings Theatre in Southsea plays host to a variety of shows throughout the year, including a multitude of professional local and touring companies. But when the actors are unpaid, and hold down day jobs alongside rehearsing and performing, it makes the shows that extra bit special, knowing they’re doing it simply for the love of it.

Noel Coward’s Present Laughter opens today at the Kings, performed by local non-professional company One Off Productions. The play follows a few days in the life of successful and self-obsessed actor Garry Essendine, as he faces numerous women trying to seduce him, an obsessed young playwright, tries to placate his long-suffering secretary and avoid his estranged wife, and deals with the unbearable inevitability of all that comes with turning 40.

We had a quick chat with cast member Leigh Cunningham in between rehearsals. Leigh plays Daphne Stillington, an attractive young debutante and one of Garry’s admirers, and like most of the actors in the company she juggles a day job with her passion for the theatre.

The play was written in 1939 and first staged in the 1940s, so why have One Off Productions chosen to set it in the 1920s?

The language and characters are very much suited to the flamboyant 1920s. It gives the actors more leeway to make them larger then life. Setting it in the 1920s was producer David Lippiett’s vision and I believe it works perfectly. It also helps that the 1920s is my favourite era!  

What’s your favourite thing about playing a character from that period?

I adore the era and the lifestyle, if you had the money to be in the upper class of course, like all things. I love the clothes that Daphne wears with all the make-up and accessories. She’s extremely fun to play as she’s young, silly and over the top.

Tell me a bit about how you get into character.

I never fully feel the character 100 per cent until I have the right shoes, hair, make-up, clothes, accessories, everything. Every little detail just brings a little extra for me. I have some down time before a show where I think about what I’m going to be saying and how I react and move. I tend to be in character 30 minutes before a production goes up until the final curtain.

By day you work for Southern Electric – how do you manage to balance a full-time job with rehearsals?

It’s a very hectic lifestyle at times, flitting from place to place, cramming lines and grabbing food on the go, but it’s all worth it when you have such a passion for something. I’d be lost without it.

How long have you been a part of the local theatre scene?

I have been on the local acting scene since the tender age of 10, performing with many locally run theatre groups.

Why should people come to see One Off Productions’ version of Present Laughter?

This is a great, fun show for all to watch and we would love to have a great audience to share it with.

 

Present Laughter opens today and runs until Saturday 28 September. Tickets available on 023 9282 8282 or at www.kings-southsea.com.


Leigh Cunningham, who plays Daphne in Present Laughter.

Get Involved With Creative Activities at The Guildhall

We’ve been manic (as always) this last week and are a bit late posting up the details of some of the new creative activities The Guildhall are getting involved with. The Guildhall is now run by a charitable trust and is actively engaging with the local community in literally opening it’s doors at all times of the day to make the place welcoming and no longer a closed off space until the evening events. As you may have noticed, the large doors at the top of the repaired stairs are now open and when you come in you now have the Zodiac Gallery and the newly refurbished lounge area. The Zodiac Gallery recently was home to both the incredible Storm Thorgerson exhibition and then showing the very best work from the Portsmouth Festivities Spice Island Arts Trail too. This space is home to some incredible architectural finishes based on the zodiac (inspiring the name) and is also home to the huge glass artwork on the wall depicting the city, a sight worth a visit alone.

The lounge area is a comfortable, relaxing space open to the public and if you want to spend some time with friends for a chat or have a meeting away from the city noise it’s pretty perfect. Just off from the lounge is the newly developed music space which will be home to not only the new Rolling Stones exhibition but some exciting new developments too.

As part of their open door engagement with the local community The Guildhall is currently looking for performance artists, speakers, singers, musicians, etc to perform at the small stage area, halfway down the stairs. This space is perfect for small, intimate performances with the stairs themselves becoming seats. The music spaces inside are in the process of being finished and The Guildhall are looking for an artist who can help them decorate the space with silhouettes of famous musicians and an audience.

If either of these sounds up your street then get in touch with them directly ASAP via email: hayley.reay@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk

Get Involved With Creative Activities at The Guildhall

Features

A Kind of Conjuration at the Cellars

You would think witch trails a thing of the distant past. However, during the second world war a woman was tried and convicted under the ancient Witchcraft Act.

A play about the trial was performed at The Cellars at Eastney last week. Local theatre companies New Apollo and Cop The Needle brought audiences A Kind of Conjuration. This hour-long theatre piece, directed by Steve Pitt, featured a group of five actors, and was based on the real-life trial of Scottish medium Helen Duncan in 1944, for events that took place in Portsmouth.

The intimacy of the venue worked well for the subject matter, and enabled the performers and audience to connect in a way that isn’t possible in larger venues. When the judge, played by Christopher Marlowe, addressed the jury during the court scene, he spoke to the audience as if they were the jury, making them feel involved in the action.

Angie Lily was fantastic in the court scene, nipping backstage to change elements of costume in-between each character, resulting in a highly entertaining whirlwind of at least five different characters (and accents) testifying in quick succession. Henry Oastler was on comedic top form for his appearance in the court scene, displaying subtle character traits such as a tuck of the chin, transforming him completely from his other role in the play as a newspaper journalist. James Kirby and Tim Lowe also gave entertaining performances.

Writers Stuart Olesker and John Stanton incorporated excerpts from the original court transcript, adding authenticity to this brilliant piece. A highly refreshing and thought provoking performance.

A Kind of Conjuration will next be performed at the Square Tower on 25th June as part of Portsmouth Festivities. (Doors open at 7pm, performance starts at 8pm). On this occasion the play will be preceded by a monologue from the late Harry Price, ghostbuster extraordinary. Tickets from 023 9282 6249 or 023 9273 6288 or online: www.thecellars.co.uk.

Reviews:

Ashley Harley in Portsmouth News:
“a little gem”
“hauntingly good”
“not to be missed”
“solid direction”

Heather James in Portsmouth News:
“I was riveted”
“very witty and entertaining”

David Richards of Remote Goat:
“a sellout”
“a joy to watch”
“superb performances”
“a very high degree of professionalism”
“a very effective mix of the serious and the comedic”
“another triumph and a thoroughly enjoyable evening”

The original flyer for the show at The Cellars

Strong Island Calendar 2015 #SIC2015

Our 2014 Calendar was a huge success, the quality of images and huge amount interest it received really took us by surprise. We managed to double the sales of the 2013 Calendar, meaning we raised just over £600 for the Feel Yourself Campaign and the Alzheimer’s Society. We received over a thousand submissions by email and by use of the Instagram hashtag #sic2014.

We are excited to announce that we are taking submissions for our 2015 calendar. If you’ve taken a photo that you’d like to submit then you can email your submission via calendar@strong-island.co.uk. If you’ve taken a photo on Instagram that you’d like to submit for consideration you just need add the hashtag #SIC2015. There are no limits to how many you submit, the only rule is that the image must be relevant to Portsmouth.

Along with Instagram this year we also recommend you check out the Faded App. I’ve had a play with this App and you can create images that surpass anything that Instagram can produce. I especially love the overlay function.

If you have been taking any photos during this extreme weather we would love for you to submit them!

You may be aware that unfortunately due to an error our end the original batch of calendars contained a couple of errors. To rectify this the problem with the calendar we re-printed all of the calendars and offered everyone who bought one a free replacement (with free P&P where required). We are confident that we have managed to replace the vast major because of the online ordering records, however if you bought one from Lou Lou’s, Southsea Gallery or the Victorian Market then we don’t have your details so we need you to contact us ASAP to arrange a replacement! Those unclaimed calendars by the end of the week are likely to be donated to the staff of the charities we are supporting

Strong Island Calendar 2015

Here are just a few of the submissions that we have already received that might give you some inspiration.

Charlie Thompson Fratton Park

Charlie Thompson 2
Both Charlie Thompson
Todd Lawton
Todd Lawton
Roberta Curxes
Roberta Fidora
Danny Miles
Danny Miles

Road To Blissfields 2014 by Sophie Perryer

It’s that time of year again, when Southsea’s finest traipse out on a Friday night to listen to some of our home-grown, burgeoning talent. This year was no exception, with the likes of Becky Jerams, Poppobowa, Sabre and the B of the Bang taking to the stage to fill our ears with a range of musical goodness.

The evening was held this year at the Cellars at Eastney, and certainly had a more relaxed atmosphere – Strong Island’s Stuart Barker was even spotted wandering around with a cup of tea at one point!

The relaxed atmosphere lent itself perfectly to Becky Jerams soulful, syrupy vocals, gliding effortlessly over lyrics and melodies alike. Becky has enjoyed considerable success over the last few years with her song writing: her track ‘La La Love’ was featured in a Mandy Moore movie, and she has written for the likes of Chesney Hawkes and Loz Bridge. These accomplishments certainly showed through in her music; her sound was very much grown up pop and polished, while still retaining a youthful, wishful quality in her lyrics. A great start to the evening.

Becky was followed by Popobawa, a Gosport based trio relatively new to the music scene – so much so that Road To Blissfields was their debut live show! To say the boys coped well would be an understatement; they delivered a strong set with some interesting melodic choices which made for a distinctive sound, and the combination of this with hazy vocals akin to Friendly Fires was very striking. The best part? You can download their EP for a ‘name your price’ on their SoundCloud page.

Also hailing from Gosport were SABRE – the fivesome delivered catchy synth beats and impressive vocals not dissimilar to the Maccabees or Bombay Bicycle Club, with a little Two Door Cinema Club thrown in for good measure. Their raucous sarcastic comedy appealed to the crowd, and the banter between the band members was enjoyable.

Last but certainly not least were the B Of The Bang. The contrast of the almost gravelly voice of the lead singer and the Roxanne on keyboard’s ethereal vocals lent an almost eerie sense. The band delivered well thought-out tracks which were both directional and abstract, and conveyed a sense of their musical versatility and talent. Without a doubt a well deserved victory.

Congratulations to the B Of The Bang“>B of the Bang on their slot at Blissfields, and thank you also to the other artists for once again showcasing to us the quality of our local talent! Thank you too to Bellyeyesmile, Joel Ransom, the Cellars at Eastney, Strong Island, and all those others who had a hand in organising a top evening.

By Sophie Perryer

*We will be giving away a pair of tickets to Blissfields over the next six weeks so be sure to keep an eye out.*

Becky Jerams
Becky Jerams

Becky Jerams
Popobawa
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SABRE
SABRE

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SABRE
B Of The Bang
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B Of The Bang
Bellyeyesmile
Bellyeyesmile

Bellyeyesmile
All photo’s by Daniel O’Neill

Victorious Festival 2014

In January the Victorious Festival team announced that the festival will be moving to Southsea Seafront. The team appear to have planned a bigger and better event building upon the success of previous years.

Last week saw the second wave of artists confirmed to perform live. The line up already consisted of awesome headliners Dizzie Rascal, Seasick Steve but they have now been joined by Razorlight, British Sea Power, Slow Club, Foy Vance, Mark Morriss of The Bluetones and The Bog Rolling Stones. There will be DJ sets from Alt J, Terry Hall of the Specials, 2manyDJs and COR. Not to forget some of the best local talent such as Matt Jarvis, Eloise Keating and our favourites the Southsea Alternative Choir are also performing.

Personally I’m really excited about the Sunday line up, I’ve been a huge fan of Seasick Steve for years and I even went to Bestival dressed as him for the Under the Sea fancy dress theme. Sunday also see’s British Sea Power performing, they have been regular visitors to the Wedgewood Rooms during their tours in the past, most recently in April 2013. They are easily one of the best live acts you could ever have the pleasure of seeing. The Saturday headliner Dizzie Rascal isn’t too shabby. I caught him at Bestival in 2010 and I can promise you, he knows how to put on a show and get you dancing!

There will be more artists announced closer to the time. You can find out first by following Victorious on Facebook and Twitter @VictoriousFest, or by signing up to the mailing list HERE.

The event is more than just a music festival, there will be lots going on in the Kids Arena as well a Real Ale Festival featuring many local breweries. For the weekend local seafront attractions will be FREE, these include Southsea Castle, Blue Reef Aquarium, D-Day Museum and Southsea Skate Park. If you would like to be involved in the boutique market then drop the team an email on traders@victoriousfestival.co.uk.

The festival will be held on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th August. There are limited early bird tickets available but hurry as they are only available at the reduced price for the next ten days! Adult Day tickets are currently available for £15 per day and will be £20 after. You can pick one up via the website HERE, or directly at Little Johnny Russells or either of the Belle Isle restaurants. Kids tickets will cost £6 but those under the age of five can enter the festival for free.

Over the next five months we will try and keep you up to date on announcements and preview the performers and attractions that you can look forward to.

Victorious Festival 2014

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum

Tricorn: Controversy in Concrete is a brand new exhibition commemorating 10 years since the demolition of this distinct and controversial building that between 1966 and 2004 was a fundamental part of the Portsmouth skyline. The exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum goes far beyond documenting the building from an architectural perspective, although for the first time many, many original drawings, plans and photographs are on display from the building’s architects, much of it for the first time ever. Where this exhibition explores beyond the groundbreaking and (for many) iconic Brutalist architectural design is documenting how it was experienced and used by the people of Portsmouth. The exhibition opened on the 15th and formally had its opening celebration to a capacity crowd on Saturday 22nd.

The exhibition on the ground floor of the museum is loosely arranged in to two areas, with the first section detailing the origins of the building from concept to design and build. As you enter this space the striking architectural plans on the wall are what first catch the eye. The lines and form of the concrete structure can almost take you back in time to the exciting and economically optimistic early 1960s, with the original and then cutting edge design still feeling strangely fresh even now. This is reinforced with the many original pamphlets, magazines and books that show the enthusiasm the project launched with. This part of the exhibition also establishes where the Tricorn sat within the Brutalist movement and also with some other buildings in the city such as Portsdown Park and Portsmouth Central Library, both of which are in the exhibition in the form of architect sketches and models.

The second section focuses on how the people of Portsmouth experienced the structure over the years it stood in the city centre. Part of this section is an incredible collection of posters and artwork from the nightclub but there is also related music, photos and even period clothing giving a sense of how the building was, for a time, a hub for the community. This section also looks at how the building was a creative inspiration for many, including artwork, skateboard decks and in particular, photography. It is in this section the Strong Island community photo panel is located, with over 100 photos capturing the structure in artistic angles and light. This area is also home to some striking work by Jon King and James Earle, both of who explored the building with their cameras throughout it’s demolition. Both areas also contain oral history, with interviews, opinions and memories on the Tricorn from both architect and members of the public. Also in both areas of the exhibition are feedback walls, which welcome comments from people visiting the exhibition. Despite the exhibition only being open for a week these are already full with amazing contributions.

On Saturday 22nd the exhibition was formally opened including attendance by VIPs such as Owen Luder, one of the original architects, plus many people associated with the Tricorn from right back to it’s design and construction through to its final demolition. The event included speeches by Owen Luder, Celia Clark and Councillor Lee Hunt, possibly the most interesting was the story of the Tricorn told by Owen Luder himself. It was fascinating to see how for him the aspirations for the building were in many ways dashed due to an economic turndown happening with an extended delay in securing contracts with key business tenants. Of particular note were his thoughts on how the space itself has been used “54 years on it is back to how it was when I first saw it in 1960, a carpark”.

The exhibition runs through to the 29th June.

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (1)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (2)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (3)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (4)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (5)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (6)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (7)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (8)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (9)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (11)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (12)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (13)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (14)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (15)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (16)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (17)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (18)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (19)

Macbeth at the Square Tower

The Scottish play is coming to the atmospheric setting of the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth this week. The Southsea Shakespeare Actors, who performed Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors at the Station Theatre, Hayling Island last November, are swapping tomfoolery and twins for blood and revenge in their production of Macbeth, showing from 12th-15th March.

Rob Bartlett, who plays the title role, tells us why the play is so popular among theatregoers, and what the audience can expect from this production.

This is one of Shakespeare’s plays that most people know at least a little about, whether it be the ‘is this a dagger I see before me’ quote or the infamous character of Lady Macbeth. Why do you think it holds such appeal for audiences?

I think it’s because of the mix of supernatural, unbridled ambition and human weakness – we may not all do what the Macbeths do, but we’ve thought about it! If we were given a supernatural push and told by powers beyond our understanding that it would all be okay, we might just act on those impulses more often.

I also think it’s because Macbeth’s descent into madness is so well observed and written that it makes it utterly compelling, and a joy to play. In one line ranting and in the next line totally lucid. The jerkiness of his thoughts makes it a perfect portrayal of manic behaviour.

The play also barrels along at a heck of a pace – there isn’t the flowery poetry of Romeo and Juliet for example, it’s all plot, character and action. I also think that almost every character gets their moment in the spotlight – Lady M and Mackers obviously, but Malcolm, MacDuff, Lady MacDuff, Banquo and even the Porter get their chance to shine (to name but a few)!

There’s a superstition in the theatre world that it’s bad luck to mention the ‘M’ word on the night of a performance, regardless of the play. What’s that all about?

To be honest I have no idea!!! I talk about Macbeth all the time. I think there was some talk about bad things happening on various productions but to me it seems like a good way to get some publicity! 

You’re performing at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth – how do you think the setting will lend itself to the atmosphere of the play?

I think it will be brilliant! A big bare stone building, dimly lit with lots of shadows bouncing off the walls, candles – it will be fab. Also by doing it ‘in the round’ the audience will be really close. They will feel like they are in the scene, not just watching it. There will be times where they can’t see the face of the actor who is delivering the lines but that wont matter, a bit like when you are out with a big group of friends. You can’t always see the face of the person talking but you get a sense of what’s going on from everyone around you – and yes, that will include the other members of the audience on the opposite side of the room who can see.

We are doing some scenes with candles, so it will be really dim – really atmospheric!

Can you sum up in one (short!) sentence what we can expect from the Southsea Shakespeare Actors’ version of Macbeth?

It’s up close and personal – be ready to be part of the action!

 

To book tickets go to http://ssa.ticketsource.co.uk/events or find out more about the Southsea Shakespeare Actors at www.southseashakespeareactors.com.