ISOLATION, INNOVATION & INVITATION
By Norman Warwick
Sandra Kinghorn, a former resident of Bury in Lancashire and now an artist living here on Lanzarote, who was a subject of a post on the Sidetracks and Detours blog https://aata.dev/ a couple of weeks ago, this morning sent all across the arts a facebook worth sharing. It shows Paul Thornton, from the North West of England, who has created an ´online gypsy jazz collaboration project´ to give us something to tap our toes to during lockdown! What started out as a couple of friends doing an online collaboration, Paul says, became an international jam session!
Part of this can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=210182363411622 and if you enjoy this video and would like to see more of what seems a very professional format, then you can donate to Paul and his friends if you wish to help them through this turbulent time at https://www.paypal.me/pthornton82
His You Tube introduced me to some of the finest musicians I’ve heard in a long time, who all seem to be from Paul´s North West hinterland in the UK but who I cannot claim to have known of until this point. I will soon be putting this right, though and will try to find more information of these players who are certainly well worth the attention of Sidetracks and Detours´ readers. The list includes Paul Robinson, on bass guitar, Robin Dewhurst playing piano, Adrien Chevalier on violin and Diane Hammond playing clarinet. Two guitarists, Steve Fairclough and Martin Taylor MBE add their own impressive skills to this line up.
I will check the usual sources of information but if anyone out there knows anything of these ladies and gentlemen then please drop an e mail to email@example.com and if you have any news, interviews, previews or reviews of them we will be happy to post them and attribute you on these pages.
This all proves that even though we are isolated we are not alone as long as we have music, and no matter how fed up you may be, this will raise your spirits.
Lockdown time can be learning time, too, so whilst you are in isolation then pick up any instrument, even if it a wooden spoon and a saucepan and, whether you’ve played before or not, get playing! The skiffle craze started with people playing home-made instruments sixty or seventy years ago. You could become the next Lonnie Donegon !
Where the M62 points traffic to my old haunt of Rochdale, a new all across the arts blog site has been launched to complement the twice weekly all across the arts page of The Rochdale Observer. Its most recent issue reveals that people I remember well from when I lived there are working on clever technological ways of maintaining their interests in the arts during these days of social distancing.
In fact, Eileen Earnshaw, a performance poet, writer and facilitator of the town´s Weaving Words creative writing group argues in her submission this week, that this adaptation to technology is one way of keeping busy and occupied in the UK whilst residents do their bit to keep safe and support the NHS in their fight against the disease that is so debilitating the world at present.
She tells us that the Octagon Theatre in Bolton has launched Octagon on-line which includes a variety of fun educational creative activities that can be enjoyed at home. ´Logging on and taking a look,´ Eileen jokes, ´could just save your sanity.¨
Eileen tells us that the members of her Weaving Words creative writing group, and those of Langley Writers and Touchstones have all been busy co-ordinating their workshops so that everyone will be able to participate in responding to them.
´Even if you have never written anything in your life,´ says Eileen, ´why not give it a go and send something to firstname.lastname@example.org ?
You will even receive constructive feedback form this accomplished writer if you request it.
You never know where that might lead you. In fact, Eileen reproduced in her all across the arts column this week poetry recently written by some of Rochdale´s best known writers, including My Mother´s Hands by Kathleen Proctor, and Solitude by Lynne Lovell. Another regular contributor to all across the arts, and presenter of the monthly poetry readings on a Sunday evening in the town´s famous real ale pub, The Baum, also had a piece included by Eileen. Robin Parker´s ´Isolation Days´ is a thought provoking piece that in many ways invites each of us and all of us to take stock of where we stand, as we use a period of isolation as a period of contemplation.
You can find out much more about these writers, and the groups available in Rochdale on
Steve Cooke´s recently launched all across the arts blog
A writer sure to feature regularly on the Steve´s blog, and who will be featured shortly here on Sidetracks & Detours in a special retrospective, is Katie Haigh. She is a wife, mother of two great kids, brownie leader, performance poet and writer and constant volunteer for charitable work. Her love of the arts is very evidently shared by her teenage daughter Ashleigh.
This young lady was seen with her best friend Jade Kilduff this weekend on Britain´s Got Talent, a performance that is now all over facebook. Ashleigh and Jade were performing with the Sign Along Choir, a group that only sings but who also sign their songs. This all came about because Jade´s younger brother, Christian, is quite severely disable but when he seemed to enjoy Jade´s singing whilst she pottered around at home she took the decision to learn signing for him, so they could communicate through song. She also launched a National campaign for greater awareness of the need for signing and signers and appeared on ITV and BBC morning television to promote it.
Sidetracks and Detours ran a quite extensive piece on Jade Kilduff and Ashleigh Haigh in these pages about three months ago in an article you can find in our archives.
This extremely uplifting and informative all across the arts page produced by Steve Cooke (left) and his team at all across the arts UK also included a short piece by Katie Haigh encouraging people to explore writing and other creative activities on line and there were also details of an on-line choir offering weekly on line sessions of the fun of singing well known songs and exploring how singing helps us connect beyond isolation.
For on line choir details in UK:
Phone 07909 510976 or hello@onlinechoir
On the same all across the arts pages in The Rochdale Observer this week Steve Cooke reported that the town´s M6 Theatre has also found a way to deliver a re-run of one of their most popular performances, Gilly Bakersfield´s Whatever The Weather, and will be streaming the show for the whole of April 2020.
I first reviewed this show, at a performance at M6, several years ago and found it to be enchantingly entertaining, set as it was in a peaceful Alpine weather house. The show is aimed to appeal particularly to children aged from three to seven, but can also be enjoyed by those aged from eight to eighty, and as I was about fifty five at the time I sat with a smile on my face throughout.
I can recall that, at that performance, I was reminded for perhaps the first time in forty years of a rhyme that has never gone totally out of my mind since. It was, I think, written as a spelling aid to be used in schools and I just wonder if anyone else out there remembers
Whether the weather be fine
or whether the weather be not
and whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot,
we will weather the weather whatever the weather
whether we like the weather or not.
You have all seen those miniature alpine weather houses; a traditional toy that has the little woman coming out when it is going to be sunny and the little man comes out if it is going to rain. Our neighbours two or three doors away, have a built a man-shed that looks very similar, and of course here on sunny Lanzarote we the scene from Whatever The Weather Little woman every day, but we haven´t seen the man for weeks-
The little woman and the man in this production couldn´t be less alike but the show explores what happens when climate change blows in on the wind, and of course that represents a very different, and chilling analogy today. In this performance the two toy characters come alive and take us on an emotional journey, with lots of laughter, as they get to know and understand each other better, Of course, they have to get along better so they can learn how to fairly share their environment.
The weather house turns out to be a multi-sensory home and we cannot help but let our imagination wander in this wonderful place as we listen to the comic characters. At the show I saw live all those years ago children and grown-ups in the audience enjoyed the fun and surprises on a journey during which the characters overcame their loneliness and learned to share the gift of friendship.
The town´s much loved M6 Theatre, now something of a national treasure, also has a resource pack and story available that can be used by families as an educational aid during these times of home schooling and isolation.
So, all across the arts on the MEN Media pages in the UK, and on its new blog outlet, will continue to deliver good news, interviews, previews and reviews from the North West region of the UK and beyond whilst we here at Sidetracks and Detours continue to work in synergy with them to encourage you to follow your art around the world via the news that flows in and out of our Lanzarote office.
There are so many amazing parallels that become apparent as we work together in this way. For example, compare the story above, about M6 Theatre, reported in the all across the arts pages with this story below from The Cabildo Of Lanzarote.
The play César, Battle And Fire, by Lanzarote Pedro Ayose, was broadcast free of charge for a period of 24 hours from 8.30 a.m. on 24th April. The writer and his cast relinquished the broadcast rights for the days so that the play could be enjoyed on the YouTube channel of the Cabildo de Lanzarote
The date for this broadcast was especially chosen to mark the 101st birthday of the late César Manrique, the artist who re-imagined Lanzarote and who, even long after his death, remains indelibly the face of the island. To celebrate, the Cabildo de Lanzarote uploaded Cesar, Battle and Fire to his YouTube channel, for free-view for 24 hours. The broadcast, presented on You Tube, under its Spanish title of César, Batalla y Fuego. showed a live performance, directed by José Martret, from 14th February at Teatro Victor Fernandez Gopar ´El Salinero´ in Arrecife. We carried our own positive review of that performance in a subsequent post here on Sidetracks & Detours.
The piece was written by Pedro Ayose, a Madrid-based theatre director and actor who has appeared in Sons of Shakespeare, directed by Juan Carlos Corazza, and starred in the monologue Manning. He has also devised, created and directed What Do You Know About My Sorrows?, a show based on a text by Roy Galán, and the play Pills Rosadas, which was also premiered in Lanzarote and to which the actress Ana Rujas also contributed.
Ayose is responsible for the original narrative and dramatisation of César, Battle And Fire, as well as holding one of the main roles, as part of a cast completed by the Lanzaroten Dariam Coco, the actress and singer Monica Dorta and the actor and dancer, Roberto G. Alonso.
Cesar, Battle And Fire is inspired by the interviews, participations in documentaries and personal writings of Cesar Manrique, and the wider environmental, political and social discourses that, at the time, ´no one dared to pronounce more (boldly) than him´.
The actors and actresses step into Manrique’s shoes, and his voice resonates with different perspectives, highlighting the importance of discourse. Ayose believes that the play today, as Manrique was during his lifetime, is ´making it relevant that this discourse is part of everyone and reaches different generations.´
On the morning of the play´s broadcast on YouTube, the director of The Culture of the Cabildo of Lanzarote, Alberto Aguiar, told Sidetracks & Detours that it was “an excellent opportunity to enjoy this great play, which has so well managed to reflect the indomitable spirit of Manrique.´
The day of April 24th dawned with our part of Lanzarote beneath a very rare low, grey cover of wind-rushed clouds, over what has recently become the too familiar scene of deserted streets, empty roads, closed shops and desolate beaches as, like the rest of the world, Lanzarote remains in lockdown to combat the Covid 19 virus.
That made the gratitude offered by The Director Of Culture, to Pedro Ayose and his team, all the more poignant and he concluded his thanks by saying that ´In these circumstances that we live, caused by this health emergency, the offer made by Pedro Ayose and his team to enable us to transmit Caesar, Battle And Fire, allowed us, from our own houses, to commemorate with all of Lanzarotes, this 101st anniversary of our most universal artist.´