The Seeing Eye photography exhibition – Farnham Pottery

Farnham Pottery is not only a place to learn how to throw a pot, do some life drawing or write a masterpiece (to mention just a few of their programmes) it also makes an engaging exhibition space. At the latest exhibition – Seeing Eye – Responding to the environment – works by six photographers are given extra dimension by being displayed on walls and in corners that seem to hum with almost 150 years of creativity.

The six photographers are varied but fit together neatly. Headlining is Jacqui Hurst who delights in gardens and urban areas colonised by unexpected plants and will return to the same spot time and again to find the right light and the composition that works to create her beautiful  work. Angela Shaw also turns to nature for her inspiration and works as an “environmental artist”.

“I am not a photographer, I am an artist working with light,” she says. She has created intriguing installations, placing items in Alice Holt Forest and playing around with them then photographing them, and also uses pinhole cameras to take pictures over months, something that allows her to capture the changing seasons.

“It’s about slowing down to spend time in nature,” she says.

In contrast, Hugh Rawson literally “shoots from the hip”. A headteacher at a local school, Hugh turned to street photography in recent years as a creative outlet and is particularly drawn to urban environments where, camera on his hip, he takes thousands of pictures from which he chooses just a few. He chooses well. The results are cool, compelling glimpses of lives, mostly in black and white, which leave you wanting more.

Mike Green, on the other hand, also produces black and white film but works the old way – 36 prints per film, each shot lovingly often after a long wait. “I often find a spot which speaks to me as a place and then I wait for perhaps a couple of hours and I see how people interact with that space.” The results are little stories which draw the viewer in.

Luke Whatley-Bigg takes a different angle – usually from the sky. Just 13 years old, he specialises in drone photography and takes his drone out to local landmarks where somehow me manages to hold the drone steady and work out exactly the right angle for stunning photographs. He is certainly a name to watch.

Finally, Wrecclesam resident Miriam Windsor is exhibiting six intensely personal photographs of women who have suffered from post-natal depression, alongside letters written by the present-day women to their former selves. Among them is a picture of Miriam herself and it is photography which helped her to find a sense of herself when she was ill after the birth of her daughter 10 years ago. The portraits are regal, like ones you might find on the walls of a stately home, the letters are intensely moving and the combination is a reminder of both the dignity and the fragility of human life.

The exhibition continues until December 7. For details see www.thefarnhampottery.co.uk or call 07733 325138.

By Stella Wiseman

Petersfield gets All Shook Up with Elvis musical by PTG

All Shook Up (Petersfield Theatre Group)

Festival Hall

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

All Shook Up is basically Elvis Presley songs strung together with a Twelfth Night storyline – girl dressing as boy, love triangles, and a Shakespearean happy ending where all the couples get together. There’s nothing demanding about it – it’s a fun romp with lots of comedy and plenty of musical numbers to sing along to.

There are also a fair few stereotypes – the museum lady who turns into a nymphomaniac at the read of a sonnet (I was waiting for the ‘why Miss Jones you’re beautiful!’ moment as Emma Twist, playing Miss Sandra, went from glasses and tweed to skintight dress and loose hair); not to mention the man-weary landlady who only needs the love of a good guy to loosen her up a bit and make her less shrill and carping… hmm… but that’s an issue I have with the book by Joe Dipetrio, not PTG.

Sadly, Amy Perkins who was due to play one of the leads, Natalie, was ill, so was replaced at short notice and with great success by Charlotte Turnbull. Natalie, the ‘Viola’ character in this, is a tomboy mechanic who pretends to be a boy in order to get close to the “guitar-playing roustabout” former jailbird Chad, who sweeps all the girls off their feet when he rocks into this sleepy American town on his motorbike. Ross Cobbold played the swaggering, sneering, singing trouble maker with great style. He has good comedy timing and a remarkably Elvis-sounding voice too.

Also excellent was Ewan Wharton as Dennis, Georgie Gardner-Cliff as Lorraine and Ethan Emery as Dean. These youngsters were all very natural onstage, with lovely singing voices. Well done to director John-Paul McCrohon for getting the best out of them. I look forward to seeing all the young leads onstage in Petersfield again.

Kerry McCrohon as Sylvia, the world-weary, seen-it-all, been burned by love landlady of the town bar, was very moving in her song, There’s Always Me. She brought experience to the stage, as did Conrad Stephenson as the widower Jim. His transformation from sad dad to Chad impersonator was very funny.

But the standout of the show was, for me, the diminutive Michelle Magorian as the battle-axe (another stereotype, tut tut, Mr Dipietro) Mayor Matilda Hyde – marching across the stage, never letting Sheriff Earl (played in hilarious hangdog silence by the perfectly-cast George Stephenson) get a word in. Her guitar contest with Chad surrounded by a bunch of angels was inspired. Hilarious. More please.

The ensemble members were hardworking and obviously enjoyed performing this show, at one point getting the audience up to dance. The band, led by Darren Alderton, certainly produced a lot of sound, but unfortunately, because of its placing at the very front of the stage, drowned out quite a lot of the songs. Actors seemed to be struggling to be heard above it, even with mics, which was a shame.

I liked the set with its two levels and the wide corrugated iron doors opening out at the back to change the setting. Set changes were speedy and effective. Costumes were wonderful, too.

This is a great fun show – it will certainly put a smile on your face and a spring in your step on a grim autumn evening. The show continues until Saturday night.

Kat Wootton

Russian cellist gives free concert for Making Light charity

Russian cellist Mikhail Lezdkan is giving a solo recital on Sunday, November 12 at 3pm, in St Laurence Church, Station Road, Petersfield.

The programme includes two solo suites by Bach; no. 1 in G and no. 6 in D, plus Suite 3 by Benjamin Britten (written for Rostropovich).
There will also be some short intervening readings from Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Admission is free, with a retiring collection in aid of the charity Making Light. 
Refreshments will be available in the interval. 


McKellen returns to play Lear in crystal clear production

REVIEW

 ‘King Lear’ by William Shakespeare

Minerva Theatre, Chichester

The first season with Daniel Evans and Rachel Tackley in charge of Chichester Festival Theatre is crowned with a memorable production of King Lear in the Minerva. Any doubts about staging yet again one of Shakespeare’s bleakest, bitterest and bloodiest plays are removed by Jonathan Munby’s exemplary direction and a fine ensemble cast, led by Sir Ian McKellen.

This production marks another return to Lear in the last few years. These include: Frank Langella’s superb performance at the Minerva in 2013, the somewhat disappointing National Theatre version with Simon Russell Beale in 2014, and Anthony Sher in Gregory Doran’s RSC production last year. In the current programme notes, written by the actors and production team, Sir Ian says that he welcomed the chance to play Lear again when he himself was a similar age to the character, in his eighties.

“I’m not the first actor who has wanted to return to this play, as if unfinished business. Perhaps it’s just that the closer you get to the king’s age, the more telling it becomes; for some, more a therapy than a job.” Sir Ian was a highly praised Lear directed by Trevor Nunn at the RSC 10 years ago, and this was turned into a TV film. Sir Ian also wanted to perform in the intimate surroundings of the Minerva.

King Lear embraces authority and chaos, misjudgement and madness, age and infirmity, betrayal and brutality, justice and injustice. At the end there is reconciliation but only when Cordelia lies dead in the arms of her father who is briefly finds humility and sense. But Britain is left in ruins, without government. At the end of the play Edgar speaks to our time, when untruth has become so significant in our world: ”The weight of this sad time we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”

At first Lear is an unsympathetic character. A quick-tempered authoritarian, used to absolute power, he is removed from knowing or understanding himself, his children, his court or his circumstances. Haunted by his age and a fear of madness even in Act 1, Lear is fevered with his lack of self knowledge: “‘Tis the infirmity of is age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.”

And he also has a sense of his own senility: “Oh! Let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven; Keep me in temper; I would not be mad.”

For a start, Lear was mad to believe that he could surrender his power to his daughters while keeping their love and support, and retaining his authority without responsibility; that he and everyone else would be happy with his retirement hunting and roistering with his 100 knights; and that power would not corrupt his children and turn them against him. “Does thou call me fool, boy?” He asks his Fool, who replies: “All thy other titles thou hast given away; that wast thou born with.”

Lear’s anguish is mirrored by that of his servant Gloucester, an adulterer who trusts his bastard son Edmund rather than his natural heir, Edgar. The engrossing action works well within the close confines of the Minerva, whether Lear is celebrating at table with his knights, or out on the bleak, cold, rain-lashed heath. We were warned before the play began that there would be two hours before the interval but the production did not drag for one moment and time passed swiftly. This is a tribute to the work of director Jonathan Munby. His production is far bigger than the sum of its parts and he brings great clarity to this complicated work.

Phil Daniels exemplifies this as a Fool who looks and performs like a cross between Eric Morecambe and Elvis Costello; he is both witty and wise, whereas sometimes the character seems crass and convoluted. Some of the playing is uneven, and that includes Sir Ian. Neither Goneril (Dervla Kirwan) nor Regan (Kirsty Bushell) completely convince as the evil sisters. Damien Molony does not seem devilish enough as Edmund. But Danny Webb makes a convincing Gloucester and Michael Matus earns his laughs as the servant Oswald.

While it is a surprise to find the Earl of Kent/Caius played by a woman, Sinéad Cusack brings great vitality to the part of a noble who is both loyal to the king and outspokenly blunt (especially when disguised as Caius after his/her  expulsion from court). These minor criticisms should not detract from an extremely high-class exposition of King Lear, which runs at the Minerva until October 28.

www.cft.org.uk

Nick Keith

Ladies charity style evening at Haslewey

Three local ladies are organising a Style Evening at Haslewey, Haslemere, to raise money and awareness of Walk the Walk, a breast cancer grant making charity, most well known for organising the MoonWalks in London.

The event on Friday, September 8 will include a presentation by a professional image consultant and stylist, and makeup tips, tricks and demonstrations by local experts. There will also be free make overs and consultations, reflexology tasters, and a number of local businesses will be supporting the event showcasing their products and services. The evening will be fun and informal, and ladies of all ages are welcome. Tickets are £10 which includes a glass of Prosecco and are available directly from Haslewey or by emailing sal_barr@yahoo.co.uk.

If you are not able to attend the event but would like to sponsor the ladies for their Arctic Marathon, please visit https://arcticchallenge2018.everydayhero.com/uk/theteam.

Free Heritage Open Day at Waverley Abbey House

Every year in September, thousands of hidden, historic places open their doors to the public for free during the Heritage Open Day event, to celebrate our fantastic history, architecture and culture.
And you can take this rare opportunity to explore the stunning setting of Waverley Abbey House for free.

Waverley Abbey House

Learn about its rich history, dating back to King George I’s reign, discover the remarkable role that Waverley played during WW1 and walk in the footsteps of some famous visitors.
Find out what happens today at Waverley Abbey House and enjoy a free day out with family or friends in the beautiful Surrey countryside.
Free guided tours of the house will take place throughout the day and a history display will be available on the first floor, accessible by stairs only.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy the grounds and a game of badminton or croquet, weather permitting. The ruins of ancient Waverley Abbey are only a short stroll across the footbridge opposite the house.
Homemade light lunches, delicious cakes and refreshments will also be available in our café.

Free lecture on tuberculosis history at Haslemere Museum

Historian of medicine and science, and author of ‘Spitting Blood: the history of tuberculosis’, Helen Bynum, is presenting a free lecture at Haslemere Museum on tuberculosis in the context of the history of the sanatorium movement.

The lecture, A Design for Living, takes place on Thursday, September 21 at 7.30pm and is one of the events being held by Haslemere’s Holy Cross Hospital for its centenary. The Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross of Liege established the Hospital as a tuberculosis sanatorium is 1917.

Tickets for the lecture are free and available from Reception at Holy Cross Hospital. There will be a reception on arrival and a chance to take in the Hospital’s centenary exhibition which will be on display at the Museum from September 1-30.

See www.haslemeremuseum.co.uk to find out more.

Petersfield Shakespeare Festival is As You Like It

The Petersfield Shakespeare Festival is set to return this summer and love is definitely in the air…

Themes of disguise and mistaken identity dominate the joyful programme which is packed with comedy, romance – and quite a lot of cross dressing.

The intimate theatrical festival takes place in the inspiring grounds of Bedales School in Steep, next to the 17th century Sotherington Barn between July 19-30.

This year’s centrepiece is a production of Shakespeare’s  most elegant comedy, As You Like It which will be directed by last year’s dream team of Jake Smith and Chris Cuming. The show will create an energetic world which captures a joyously displaced portrait of life and theatre in the Elizabethan era and now.

Company in rehearsal

A firm favourite among Shakespeare’s comedies, and featuring some of his best-loved characters, as well as four weddings and no funeral, As You Like It will be performed July 19-24, and 29, at 7.45pm, with a 2.30pm matinee on July 28.

To inspire and delight audiences further, the festival is pleased to welcome two acclaimed touring companies, Illyria and Merely Theatre.

The Comedy of Errors (July 27 at 7.45pm) is the bard’s shortest comedy. Two sets of identical twins, separated at birth, unknowingly end up in the same city, and through a series of chance meetings their lives and sanity begin to unravel. Illyria returns with its intrepid band of five actors, desperately trying to work out how they can possibly reach the end of the play without needing more actors! It’s fast, polished and authentically Elizabethan in style.

Merely Theatre are joining the festival for the first time, on July 30 presenting fascinating productions of Romeo and Juliet (2.30pm) and Twelfth Night (7.45pm).  Each actor is twinned by another actor of the opposite gender, and they rehearse their parts together. The result is men and women playing every role in any and all potential combinations, creating five-hand Shakespeare plays with immense energy, pace and clarity.

And to cap it all the Petersfield Shakespeare Festival presents the world premiere of two short, Shakespeare-derived works – The Buried Moon, by Laura Turner and Shakespeare’s Lost Women, by Greg Mosse and John Gleadall.

Shakespeare’s Lost Women charmingly tells, through dialogue and song, the stories of some of the Bard’s forgotten female characters. Actress Deirdre Compton has made a career playing victims and luscious milk maids, fools and clowns. Meanwhile, her mother plays Desdemona, Titania and Lady Macbeth. They do not get on. With words by well-known local writer Greg Mosse and onstage music by John Gleadall, Shakespeare’s Lost Women is performed by the wonderful Harriet Benson, who returns to the festival for her fourth season.
In The Buried Moon, playwright Laura Turner uses a 21st century Lincolnshire setting to explore the youthful relationship between Miranda and Caliban, charting its twist and turns. Miranda is a young woman struggling to come to terms with her mother’s death and to understand her father. Caliban is an awkward outsider. A friendship is born between them but Miranda is never sure if Caliban is a malignant spirit of the marshes or a lost soul looking for a home.

Both performances begin at 7.45pm.

Book tickets for Petersfield Shakespeare Festival online at petersfieldshakespearefestival.co.uk or go to One tree Books, Lavant Street, Petersfield – 01730 261199.

Audiences are encouraged to bring picnics or order a pizza and relax with a drink from the Courtyard Bar prior to the performance.

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Headley Theatre Club predicts a Riot!

Riot! cast outside the gates of Headley workhouse (now Headley Grange)

 

In November 1830 a mob of several hundred men stormed the dreaded workhouses at Selborne and Headley and laid them waste.

This year Jo Smith’s play called Riot!, performed by members of Headley Theatre Club, brings the action to life again as a team of actors visit local venues to tell the story with music, words and action.

The production runs over two weekends from July 14-22, visiting Alton Assembly Rooms (8pm Friday 14), Liphook Village Hall (2.30 and 8pm Saturday 15), The Rural Life Centre, Tilford (2.30pm Sunday 15), The Triangle Liss (8pm Friday 21) and Headley Village Hall (2.30 and 8pm Saturday 22).

Tickets can be obtained from the individual venues, or centrally by visiting the Headley Theatre Club website www.headley-village.com/drama or by ringing 01428 717358.