Strong Island Co.

Theatre and Dance

Here to be Performed by Southsea Shakespeare Actors at Rosie’s Vineyard from 28th to 30th July

Do you fancy seeing a spot of theatre and supporting a fledgling director, all in the lovely setting of Rosie’s wine bar? Jennie Rawling, our strong island contributor for all things theatre and literature, is directing Michael Frayn’s play Here for the Southsea Shakespeare Actors (SSA), to be performed at Rosie’s wine bar tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday at 8pm.

The play follows the daily life of Cath and Phil, a young couple who move into a studio flat, as they bicker, banter and struggle to stay on the same page while creating their own little space. All this happens amidst the rather inconveniently-timed interruptions from the landlady living downstairs, Pat.

We spoke to Jennie about the rehearsal process, drama school, and how she feels to be directing to the public for the first time:

Why did you choose this play to direct? Isn’t the SSA a Shakespeare company?
Our main focus is Shakespeare (Southsea Shakespeare Actors – the name says it all!), but we also try to put on smaller, more contemporary productions throughout the year. It’s a good way of showcasing our work to people who may be normally put off by Shakespeare, and it gives our actors a chance to try something different.

I came across Here when I was looking for audition pieces for drama school – it didn’t have any big enough chunks that I could use as a monologue for Cath, but I loved the banter between the couple and thought I’d like to have a go at directing it. I love the way it exposes the minutae of daily live in a couple living together – I think there’s something everyone who’s ever lived with a partner will recognise in Cath and Phil’s to-ing and fro-ing.

This is your first time directing to the public – how does it feel?
A bit terrifying! I directed an in-house production for the Southsea Shakespeare Actors a few years ago but as that was just to company members and friends it was less scary. There’s so much more to think about when you’re directing to the public at an external venue, and more logistical issues to sort out. There’s also the company’s reputation to uphold!

Here to be Performed by Southsea Shakespeare Actors at Rosie's Vineyard from 28th to 30th July (3)

Were there any challenges you faced along the way?
Yes! There are always challenges with any production, because you never have everything perfect (set, venue, timing, props, budget), so you just have to think around any problems and be creative. In the play there’s a scene where Cath and Phil are wearing identical jumpers, and at one point they’re both in the same jumper. So we needed to find two matching jumpers but in slightly different sizes – easy, right? Not so easy when you’re trying to buy big stretchy jumpers in the middle of June! After nearly garrotting Faye, who plays Cath, several times with one jumper, we finally found a pair of v-necks that fit the bill.

We also needed a threadbare toy dog – Theodore – which features heavily in the play. We managed to find one in a charity shop but he looked too pristine, so we were discussing how to mucky him up a bit and maybe tear an ear and I realised I just couldn’t do it. I guess the big kid in me couldn’t bear the thought of ‘hurting’ a soft toy haha. It’s become a bit of a joke – the others had to inflict the matting of fur with paint and toothpaste and coffee on him as I chickened out.

You can read a bit about Theodore and find out what we got up to in rehearsals on the SSA blog at ssaproductionblog.wordpress.com.

Here to be Performed by Southsea Shakespeare Actors at Rosie's Vineyard from 28th to 30th July (2)

You’ll be going to drama school in September to do the MA Acting at East 15 acting school. Do you think you’ll return to directing once you’re a professional actor?
Definitely, if I have the opportunity to. I want to focus on acting, but I really enjoying the directing process as well. It’s a different kind of creativity, and I like the project management side of it. Plus you get the opportunity to work with some very talented actors and guide them through the process whilst trying to get the best out of them.

Here is showing at Rosie’s Vineyard, Elm Grove, 28th–30th July, 8pm. Tickets: £9 (£7 students and unwaged). Book online at ssa.ticketsource.co.uk, or for more information go to www.southseashakespeareactors.com.

Here to be Performed by Southsea Shakespeare Actors at Rosie's Vineyard from 28th to 30th July (1)

Joe Wells and Chris Coltrane Fringe Preview Show

This Wednesday night from 7:30pm you can catch a preview of Joe Wells and Chris Coltrane’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival show at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth.

Joe Wells – Night of the Living Tories
When there’s no more room in hell, The Conservative party will walk the earth!

Critically acclaimed stand-up comedian, and New Theatre Royal Associate, Joe Wells (Alexei Sayle tour support, No Pressure To Be Funny podcast, Amnesty International’s Human TV) digs up the grisly past of the Tory party. Sell-out show Brighton Fringe 2013 and Leicester Comedy Festival 2014. ‘Some of the most surprising and thought-provoking material coming from any comedian in his early 20s’ (Guardian). ‘A skilled jokesmith who threads great gags through intelligent political material’ (Comedy.co.uk). Warning: this show contains graphic descriptions of Michael Gove.

Chris Coltrane – There’s No Heros Left Except For All Of Us
Join comedian and activist Chris Coltrane for an hour of uplifting, Tory-smashing political comedy!

The world is corrupt, politicians are garbage, but we are awesome! Let Coltrane show you how to use activism and fun to kick the bad guys out, and make the world a better place. A show for people who like silliness, social justice, feminism and joy. Come for jokes, stay for revolution! (Scotsman). (Chortle.co.uk). (Skinny). * (ThreeWeeks). ‘One of a few comedians who are the future of British political comedy’ (Mark Thomas).

For more information on how you can get a ticket, check out the New Theatre Royal website HERE.

Joe Wells & Chris Coltrane Edinburgh Fringe Preview

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.

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

A Kind Of Conjuration Returns

Earlier this year New Apollo and Cop the Needle brought us ‘A Kind of Conjuration’, a play based on the 1944 Portsmouth trial of medium Helen Duncan, who was accused under the 1735 Witchcraft Act of ‘a kind of conjuration’. As part of Portsmouth Festivities, audiences will have another chance to see the performance this Wednesday at The Square Tower in Old Portsmouth, this time with the addition of a prelude featuring ghost hunter Harry Price. We had a quick chat with Stuart Olesker, one of the writers on the project.

The play is based on a true story – why did you choose this particular story to tell?

The notion of the trial was certainly intriguing. The discovery that the plaintiff was nationally acclaimed and with local connections was even more intriguing.

My collaborator, John Stanton, and I are founders of Cop the Needle Productions which specialises in dramatising curious and lesser known lives and events associated with Portsmouth’s multifaceted character. Here was a story about beliefs, deception, careless talk, wartime paranoia, and the distortions in the reporting of truth. The courtroom scenes in the play are verbatim dialogue from the trial. The exchanges between prosecutor and witness were, we thought, so bizarre that we could not improve on the original – so we left those bits in as ‘verbatim theatre’. The rest is our invention.

What attracts you to using a true story as the basis for a performance?

We have found that audiences never tire of hearing stories about their own city or of discovering unusual tales that require merely writers, actors and a director to bring them to life. In this we are lucky to work alongside New Apollo who ensure that the results are lively, memorable and true to the spirit of their sources.

Since its performance at The Cellars, Eastney earlier this year, you’ve added a prelude where ghost hunter Harry Price tells of his experiences while investigating the psychic claims of Helen Duncan. Why did you think the piece needed this addition?

Harry Price was a colourful individual in the 20s, 30s and 40s who, like his friend Harry Houdini, was a tireless investigator into the claims of mediums and ghost watchers. He could spot frauds – while himself being accused of fraudulent practice. He was at first convinced – and then dismissive – of the claims of Helen Duncan. Indeed he was continually changing his attitude from belief to scepticism – and back – throughout his life. As he saw it, he and Helen Duncan had much in common: a wish to believe in the supernatural, a desire for attention and the acuity of the performer/entertainer. The addition of a prologue by ‘Harry Price’ is essentially to place the trial in its historical and social context.

25 June 2014, The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth
Doors: 7pm, Show:8pm. Tickets: £10 advance, £12 on the door
Tickets available from www.thecellars.co.uk, but hurry, there are only a limited number left!

Henry Oastler in A Kind of Conjuration

Henry Oastler in A Kind of Conjuration

House Of Burlesque – Competition

Over last weekend we offered you the chance to win two tickets House Of Burlesque at the Kings Theatre this Saturday. All you had to do to was answer a question inspired by the host Joe Black. Which Arrested Development star who was also in the movie Meet Joe Black? The correct answer was b) Jeffrey Tambor.

The lucky winner is Jocelynne Kingsford.

If you have never been to any of these shows then you are certainly missing out, they are a lot of fun and the audience often get into the spirit by wearing their best suits and most glamorous dresses. If you would like to go then you can purchase tickets from the Kings Theatre directly or via their website HERE.

House Of Burlesque

The line up on the evening includes the following characters;

The Boy With Tape On His Face – International mime sensation. As seen on ‘The Royal Variety Performance’ and the ‘BBC Comedy Proms’ at the Royal Albert Hall. It is with an astounding pleasure to bring his deliriously brilliant performance to the Kings Theatre for one night only!!

Lili La Scala – Sensational songstress and operatic diva.

Cherry Shakewell – Burlesque powerhouse and mistress of the tassel twirl.

Coco Deville – Glamazon showgirl. Feathers, lycra, glitter… Not a dry seat will be left in the house.

Coco Deville
Coco Deville by Emmest Photography

Jackie Le – Circus girl, aerial acrobat and contortionist extraordinaire.

Rio – Direct from New York City USA. We see the return of the belly dance whirlwind herself. Hips that just won’t stop!

House Of Grand Parade – Drags newest unnatural disaster. Turning female impersonation on its wig.

Terms Of Unnervement – Resident double act. Concerning, sexy and somewhat confusing.

Joe Black
Joe Black by Infinity Photographic

House Of Burlesque – Competition

Next weekend the Kings Theatre welcome the gin addled piano playing host of the House Of Burlesque, Joe Black. He has of course brought along an unique, sexy and humorous bunch of performers for your entertainment.

If you have never been to any of these shows then you are certainly missing out, they are a lot of fun and the audience often get into the spirit by wearing their best suits and most glamorous dresses. If you would like to go then you can purchase tickets from the Kings Theatre directly or via their website HERE.

Joe and the team at the Kings Theatre have been kind enough to donate two tickets for us to give away this weekend. All you have to do to win this prize is email stuart@strong-island.co.uk with your answer to the following question.

Name the Arrested Development star who was also in the movie Meet Joe Black?
a) Will Arnett
b) Jeffrey Tambor
c) Henry Winkler

The deadline for entries will be midnight this coming Monday with the winners to be announced Tuesday morning.

House Of Burlesque

The line up on the evening includes the following characters;

The Boy With Tape On His Face – International mime sensation. As seen on ‘The Royal Variety Performance’ and the ‘BBC Comedy Proms’ at the Royal Albert Hall. It is with an astounding pleasure to bring his deliriously brilliant performance to the Kings Theatre for one night only!!

Lili La Scala – Sensational songstress and operatic diva.

Cherry Shakewell – Burlesque powerhouse and mistress of the tassel twirl.

Coco Deville – Glamazon showgirl. Feathers, lycra, glitter… Not a dry seat will be left in the house.

Coco Deville
Coco Deville by Emmest Photography

Jackie Le – Circus girl, aerial acrobat and contortionist extraordinaire.

Rio – Direct from New York City USA. We see the return of the belly dance whirlwind herself. Hips that just won’t stop!

House Of Grand Parade – Drags newest unnatural disaster. Turning female impersonation on its wig.

Terms Of Unnervement – Resident double act. Concerning, sexy and somewhat confusing.

Joe Black
Joe Black by Infinity Photographic

Avenue Q Comes To The Kings Theatre

Avenue Q, the winner of the Tony Awards ‘Triple Crown’ for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book is coming to the Kings Theatre, Portsmouth between 8th – 12th Sep 2014.

Created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Co-creator of Book Of Mormon and writer of the songs for Disney’s Frozen), Avenue Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the story of a recent college graduate named Princeton, who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. Where he meets Kate (the girl next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the internet sexpert), Lucy The Slut and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his true purpose in life!

Following five years in the West End and sell-out runs internationally this hugely entertaining show is hitting the road on a brand new tour.

This is a great opportunity to see one of the best loved comedy shows on our own doorstep. You can purchase tickets from the the Kings Theatre website HERE.

AVENUE-Q

AvenueQNEW_large

Tender Loving Care At The New Theatre Royal

The New Theatre Royal is proud to present Tender Loving Care, a new play from acclaimed playwright Vickie Donoghue and Portsmouth theatre company Old Salt, about the women of the D-Day invasions.

The show, which will run from June 4th-21st at the beautiful Square Tower, Portsmouth, looks at the lives of the women who remained after the invasion and their struggles to find their place and identity in a much-changed world.

Vickie, writer of the award-winning Mudlarks play which played to rapturous audiences in London as part of the High Tide festival, has been hailed as one of the most important new voices in theatre in Britain. She is shortly to become a writer on attachment at the prestigious Royal Court.

Tender Loving Care is the touching, moving and largely untold story of the female efforts which underpinned the great invasion across the Channel.

The show is directed by Portsmouth-born Ian Nicholson, a former student at the Portsmouth Grammar School, who has since gone on to establish himself as one of the best up-and-coming directors in the country. His company, Old Salt, is a proudly Portsmouth-based enterprise, focusing exclusively on stories related to Portsmouth and it’s citizens.

Ian has plans to create future theatre pieces about other elements of Portsmouth history, including Portsmouth Football Club’s infamous 657 Crew.

Ian, 30, said: “It’s really important story to tell, because when we think about D-Day we think about the beaches of Normandy, we don’t necessarily think of the women who remained and held the city together, and it’s important that we hear that story as well as commemorate those who fought on the frontline. Seventy years on, it’s good to recognise the humanity of the situation, as well as the heroism.”

Tickets cost £12, but there are concessionary rates of £8 available for all current and retired servicemen and women and their families.

Tender Loving Care

Portsmouth Street Games This Weekend!

The Portsmouth Guildhall Square and surrounding area will this weekend be open as an outdoor festival venue with its first showcase being the Portsmouth Street Games on 31st May and 1st June, organised by the Portsmouth Cultural Trust and Big Adventures with support from Arts Council England.

The event will feature a range of local acts of national and international repute such as free runner Mitch Lee, one of the UK’s leading Mountain Bike display riders, Chris Doney, and Effraim Catlow, BMX flatlander king from Southsea Skatepark. Visitors can also look forward to a programme of street dance by local crews Most Wanted and Streetforce plus live music as well as a street style arts & crafts market with a variety of food offers and family activities.

A life size New York subway train replica will act as a graffiti canvas for the street art element of the Games, curated by local and internationally known artists My Dog Sighs and Lex Luther.

facebook.com/portsmouthstreetgames

Below is the new teaser film featuring the Most Wanted dance crews (you can view the previous teasers featuring MyDogSighs & Effraim Catlow HERE):

Portsmouth Street Games at Guildhall Square (1)

Portsmouth Street Games at Guildhall Square (2)

Portsmouth Street Games at Guildhall Square (3)

Portsmouth Street Games at Guildhall Square (4)

In Conversation with Ian Nicholson

Earlier this week you may have read about ‘Tender Loving Care’, a new play by Vickie Donoghue and Portsmouth theatre company Old Salt. A few weeks ago I caught up with the plays’ director Ian Nicholson in craft ale pub The Brewhouse next door to The New Theatre Royal where preperations were underway for the play. We discussed everything from Ian’s intriguing background and training to why it’s so important to develop creativity in Portsmouth and keep it here.

As Ian arrives to meet me next door to the theatre in the warm and relaxed Brewhouse it’s hard to not to be warmed by his bright smile and even brighter yellow coat. I’d first met Ian a few days earlier on a photo shoot for the productions’ poster at Old Portsmouth’s Hot Walls. I was intrigued to learn what draws successful creatives back to Portsmouth after leaving it for opportunities in London or further afield. ‘After graduating I studied a Masters at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’ says Ian as I enquire about his education and training, ‘after that I went off to France to train as a clown’.

This was something I didn’t expect to hear. It’s hard not to smile as Ian talks about this transition to clowning, something that inspired his first play The Last March which tells the tragic story of Captain Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole. ‘There is something funny and tragic about Scott’s expedition, they took a piano with them and other useless items; it was doomed.’

Photo by Josh Knill.

Ian has spent several years involved with youth theatre and working with young people at the Stafford Gatehouse before he set up Tinder Theatre which subsequently became Old Salt Theatre. So what drew Ian back to produce work in Portsmouth as he currently divides his time between here and London, where he is very successful? ‘Portsmouth feels like home but it feels like there are lots of stories waiting to be told.” Ian extolls, his passion unflinching, “I want to invite writers here, take them round the city and see how it inspires them.”

Drawing on his experience of working on youth productions, Ian recognises the essential role children play in telling the citys’ stories, “It’s also important to get families involved, especially children as workshops in schools are a great way for children to see how a play is made. People move away to London or elsewhere but we should make art in the city, for the city.’ We carry on talking enthusiastically about the importance of culture in Portsmouth and move onto Ian’s current play Tender Loving Care which opens in June. Using D-Day as the back drop to tell the story of women in wartime, the production utilises a predominantly female cast. Inspired by Ian’s grandmother who worked as a clerk in the Portsmouth Dockyard during WW2, the play has an exceptionally personal connection to him and Portsmouth.

Ian’s passion is real, he doesn’t simply preach about how we should create new creative work for Portsmouth, he is actively doing it. It’s not always easy and I admire his determination and obvious affection for his hometown. Tender Loving Care runs from the June 4th to 21st at The Square Tower. You can book tickets here.

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Vintage Southsea Postcards

You know we love a bit of vintage nostalgia here at Strong Island, and these old postcards of Clarence Pier are no exception. I always pick them up at the Car Boot sale opposite Clarence when I see one. When does the Car Boot start up again? Got to be soon. Answers on a postcard…

h2022

h1924

Vintage Portsmouth Photographs

Following up from our Vintage Portsmouth Postcards article on Monday, Strong Island reader Centro Design posted a link to some rad old photographs of the city.

As always click read more at the bottom to see a small selection, but be sure to click this link to view all of them online.

clarencebeachfishtent

workers

Someone Invent A Time Machine

The photography exhibit The Birth of British Rock at the Museum is now in it’s last week so be sure to make it down before it finishes on June 6th. Looking through the Pompey Pop Pix Flickr, which contains loads of local photos, tickets and posters, I came across this poster for what must have been on of the best line-ups the Guildhall has ever had.

Created Local – Cat Vaughan

Cat from the Inksquatch collective has some of her prints available for purchase in The Southsea Gallery on Albert Road. They should be in and ready for sale this weekend, 3rd July. Some nice little illustrations as always. Go and grab a local bargain.






Local Photographer: Paul Thurlow

I’ve been following local photographer Paul Thurlow’s blog for a little while, always some wonderful photos from our little piece of coastline plus some incredible portrait and wedding photography too. Put what you’re doing to one side for a little while and have a look through Paul’s website and Flickr too, so many beautiful photos including HDR images too.

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