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NOVEMBER | 2013 EDITOR & DESIGNER Josh Brown

SUB EDITORS

Chloe Walton Seona McClintock

LITERATURE EDITORS Lucy Brown Jennifer Edwards

MEDIA ARTS EDITOR Joanne Dawes

MUSIC EDITOR Matthew Hewitt

PERFORMANCE EDITORS April Heath Andrew Skipper

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Tanya Reynolds

HEAD OF CREATIVE WRITING Rhonwen Parsons

ADVERTISING INQUIRIES miromagazine@live.co.uk

ON THE COVER By Kindr a Nikole

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NOVEMBER | 2013 04

Our Contributors

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Letter from the Editor

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To Russia With Love

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Competition Time!

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Up & Coming with Matthew Hewitt

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National Novel Writing Month

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Photographer of the Month

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50 Years on Stage

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Miro’s Unmissables

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EXCLUSIVE: The CC Smugglers

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Rome & Juliet go to Hollywood

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On Stage With… Andy Pilbeam-Brown

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Photographing A Levitation

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A Dialogue of One

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And… Relax

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Fiction of the Month with The Creative Collection


CONTRIBUTORS | NOVEMBER 2013

Paddy Freeland

Isla Jeffery

Amelia Oakley

Louise Parker

Faye Thomas

Christie Grattan

Katie Overstall

Rhian Jenkins

Beth Sullivan

Isabella McCarthy-Sommerville

Ellie Overthrow - Jones

Geoff Williams

Adam Carver

Rhonwen Parsons

Kindra Nikole

Jack Glanville

Sam Luffman

Annie Harris

Andrea Peipe

Jamie Moore

Lily Penfold

Ellie Burd


Letter

From the

Editor FOUNDER & EDITOR Josh Brown

Tweet Josh

S

o here we go again with issue number two! It has been a hectic month at Miro and the whole team (including myself!) has had to learn the dos and don’ts of publishing on their feet because of the completely unexpected success of our first issue. When we received our first set of statistics and figures we all had to pick our jaws up from the floor. A HUGE thank you to everyone who has taken the time to scroll through the pages of Miro – everyone has worked so hard and your opinions mean so much! This month we have tried to push ourselves even further and the magazine is now interactive! Hoorah! So get that mouse grooving all over the place because you never know what you’ll find. In addition Miro is pleased to announce its first official competition! Tanya Reynolds has set all those budding photographers a special autumn challenge which is super exciting, so make sure you get involved. Also I discovered a love for an entirely different kind of music and I am confident you guys will as well thanks to Bethan Sullivan’s exclusive interview with the CC Smugglers. You absolutely have to check those guys out – we love them! The articles we feature in this magazine are but a few of the marvellous words pieced together by our wonderful contributors so please make sure you check out our website regularly to read all of November’s stories. Enjoy!

#LiveToWonder

@MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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Get Involved! Do you like writing? Designing? Marketing? Editing? Reading? Web development? Are you a lover of the arts? We are looking to expand our team and if you want to get involved drop us an email for more info. We promise to get back to you.

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To

Russia

Love

with - By Adam Carver -

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any of you will remember the open letter Stephen Fry wrote to David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier this year. If you didn’t read it Fry makes a compelling case for the imminent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to be disbanded and relocated as an international stand against current Russian regimes which discriminate against its LGBT+ communities. Fry ends his letter with an emotive comparison between the current Russian regime and the escalation of Hitler’s persecution of minorities in Nazi Germany: ‘Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.’


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espite the Winter Olympics remaining scheduled for Sochi, Stephen Fry’s letter along with the campaigns of many organisations has brought the current Russian climate of intolerance and hatred to a world audience. Indeed Fry seems to have the noble mission of keeping homophobia a key issue in contemporary society. His recent two-part television documentary documented his two-year long journey around the world to investigate the many disgusting and often brutal ways in which LGBT+ peoples across the globe are treated. Having met with mixed reviews, critics have universally acknowledged that homophobia is a vital and urgent problem that deserves to be thoroughly addressed both nationally and internationally.

It was this debate that led me to assess the other ways in which these kinds of traumatic and disturbing incidents and their parent ideologies are presented, as they so desperately need to be, to mass audiences. The difficulty lies in the presentation of any given issue and our ability to faithfully and justly present the subject matter. In the case of exploring sexual identities and discrimination against them it is not at all surprising that many choose the arts as their conduit. Looking back over my own experiences as a young person struggling with their sexuality I found a great deal of solace in theatre, and this is an experience which is repeated time and time again. Perhaps it is the escapist nature of the artistic process that affords so many people an outlet to explore these struggles and in turn attempts to communicate a great amount of truth and information to a wider audience. Whatever the reasoning, a great many people including Stephen Fry in have turned to the cinema, television, theatre, art, music, photography, and numerous other media to explore what Sally McGrane described in as ‘a void in Russian culture’.

In her recent article ‘A Terrible Time to be Gay’ McGrane discussed the story of the film festival in Russia. Set up in 2008 seeks to establish an open cultural space through screening films with LGBT+ driven subject matter in the hopes of establishing a positive dialogue and thus continuing to struggle against discrimination. , whose tagline is ‘Different Love, Equal Rights’ has been shut down four times by the Russian Government and is currently facing a fine equivalent to £100,000. Under current law organisers are unable to promote or advertise the festival for fear that it will promote homosexuality to minors. In a society where this law also forbids offering young people help, advice or guidance on their sexuality Putin’s regime seeks to render organisations such as impotent and in doing so forces many LGBT+ teens to desperate measures, and in a growing number of cases suicide. Whereas the historic battles of American and British civil rights have been documented and represented in film, photography, conceptual art, and theatre, LGBT+

The work of Russian photographer Anastasia Korosteleva in her 2013 photography series visually demonstrates the invisibility of the lesbian community in Russia. She literally burns the faces of the women on the photograph to ensure the safety of their identities leaving physical representations of an enforced anonymity.

@MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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t is perhaps in these kinds of representations that we can be confronted with the impact of this homophobic assault on the Russian nation. But whilst Putin’s regime attempts to quash Russia’s artistic responses to the plight of its LGBT+ community people from across the world are channelling their reactions into the arts. London recently saw Tess Berry-Hart’s fuse verbatim testimony with media coverage to ‘raise awareness of Russian LGBT people undergoing hardship in Russia as a result of Putin’s anti-gay propaganda legislation and potentially more legislation to come’. All of the proceeds from the performances at the King’s Head Theatre went towards Spectrum, a Russian organisation trying to counter discrimination and abuse towards LGBT+ people.

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Similarly, Mickey Rowe, Artistic Director of the Arts on the Waterfront Theatre, Seattle, announced this month that they would produce a reworked staging of the classic Kander and Ebb musical with an all male cast set in modern day Russia. This production will combine theatre, drag performance, and video footage of actual vigilante and neo-Nazi activity in Russia. In an interview Rowe said that ‘the whole point of the show is to draw connections between the beginning stages of the holocaust in the 1930s and the current situation in Russia’. It is this connection between the early systematic abuse of German Jews in the thirties and contemporary discrimination and repression of LGBT+ citizens in Russia that brings us back to Stephen Fry’s open letter. What is clear is that across the world people have already reacted and are continuing to react to the situation in Russia with similar responses.


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n the interests of bipartisanism I feel it necessary to broach the effectiveness of the arts in presenting and challenging this crisis. Perhaps people may argue that it is in fact inappropriate for us to attempt to present these issues through artistic mediums. I must clearly state that I do not believe that a performance, a film, or a series of photographs will directly change the political stance or activity of Putin’s reign of oppression – however, indirectly they might. It is in the combined power of artistic ventures such as the few examples I have illustrated here that we will find the ability to alter opinions, open dialogues or, at the very least, inform people about the fight for equality raging across the world and specifically in Russia. I am reminded of Alvin H. Rosenfeld’s writing on artwork about the Holocaust: ‘If it is a blasphemy, then, to attempt to write about the Holocaust, and an injustice against the victims, how much greater the injustice and more terrible the blasphemy to remain silent.’ Perhaps even more vital when regarding Russia, we have a responsibility to outwardly support, help and inform each other of these social injustices in the hope that collective attitudes will pressure world leaders into taking action. It is for this reason that any venture that has the potential to spread this message should be celebrated and supported. These works are not just banging away at the big gay pity drum but, in their own way, are an active contribution towards educating people in an attempt to improve the lives LGBT+ people everywhere.

@MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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Last month Miro Magazine found its voice. Last month we signed All Out’s petition to stop anti-gay laws and protect all citizens from violence and discrimination in Russia. Now we invite you to to do the same. Check out the link below to find out how you can help the campaign.

Find Your Voice


So because here at Miro we love Autumn and we love seasonal photographs, we want to see some of yours! These pictures can depict the trace that Autumn has left on your town, a snap of a Halloween party, or just generally what you love about this time of year, wherever you are in the world. We want to see images in your own personal style, from whatever part of the globe you are in, so send in your favourite snap of the season and we’ll showcase our favourites right here in the magazine. Go on make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside while we go and play with some conkers. Send your entries to miromagazine@live.co.uk #LiveToWonder & Happy snapping!

- Tanya Reynolds -

For photographers, this time of year is a treasure trove of beautiful photo-ops, what with those golden coloured leaves, the bare trees, skin slightly pink from the cold, scarves and gloves finally coming out for the first time since early May (if you’re in the perpetual winter that is Britain, with those few sunny days in July).

Autumn Competition

It’s Autumn! There are fallen conkers on the ground, we get to wear scary costumes, the heating finally goes on, the wool comes out, and we start getting bubbles of excitement for the chubby bearded man who brings us gifts every year. (If Father Christmas doesn’t immediately spring to mind when I say that, then…well, I’m not too sure what to say.)


- With Matthew Hewitt -

You can keep up with Vance via the links below and make sure you listen to his tunes - Miro loves them!

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iptide’, by singer-songwriter Vance Joy, was comfortably my song of this summer and, if you haven’t heard it yet, it will be sure to give you some seasonal Australian sunshine during the winter months to come. The flagship of his fantastic debut EP , the track heralded his arrival on the world stage, earning him high praise from the likes of Radio 1’s Fearne Cotton, and the quality of his album suggests that he is definitely not just a flash in the pan. I caught up with him last month to talk about his music, his recent tour and, among other things, his dream of owning a waterslide.

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www.vancejoy.com


Y It’s been great! Seen some beautiful landscapes and met some rad people at shows.

Great! He is lovely and his band and crew are all really friendly.

I started playing in primary school on the piano – I wrote really average songs in high school.

Listening to other people’s music – I think it can also be an addiction of sorts.

Thank you! No I didn’t anticipate the reception that it has had. Absolutely! Good songs speak the loudest.

‘From Afar’ is my favourite. Vance Joy is a character I took from a Peter Carey novel called Bliss.

I really like all that music so maybe it comes out through me in some way.

Yes you should be very scared of that! Nah, I was always into music but I enjoyed studying too – they were not incompatible. Doing both now would be pretty tough though.

I would have a solid gold car and a waterslide.

@MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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Ryan Adams. What was the first record that you ever bought? Savage Garden.

Norah Jones – Sunrise.

I have a sweet tooth – anything sweet with a cup of Joe. [That’s coffee by the way!]

I’d go to the Gatsby era. I don’t know how I’d go with the come down. I would want to put my hair flat with pomade 16

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Take a look at Miro Mag’s tune of the summer, Vance’s song ‘Riptide’


M Image: ruifernandes, Flickr

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National Novel Writing Month - With Ellie Overthrow-Jones -

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s a child I was part of a small church choir, and while singing psalms and hymns out of key I met a friend for life. Helen and I don’t often see each other nowadays, but we had bonded over a love of fiction, epic stories that drew us in and inspired us to write our own. Today we still keep in contact over Facebook, and just over a year ago Helen told me about a writing challenge known as NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The premise of the challenge is this: participants register on the website with an idea for a book before November begins, and aim to write a 50,000 word novel within the thirty days.


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t has been a dream of mine to get a novel published and to follow in the footsteps of legendary novelists, and so in 2012, in the middle of my Masters degree, I signed up, immediately adding Helen as a writing buddy so we could track each other’s progress. Needless to say, I did not ‘win’ that year. There were too many history essays to focus on. National Novel Writing Month has received an abundance of criticism, some sceptics branding it an artificial way of writing, forcing a budding author into creating a novel with no substance, plot or planning. The strict timeline of a month might put many writers off, and once you’ve fallen behind on the word count, you might be discouraged to continue. Last year I agreed with this. Within a week and half I fell behind, and eventually gave up.

NaNoWriMo does not provide you with a quick fix to writing, nor a polished work. Instead, it is an endless network of online support, including regional experts to answer questions and organise local ‘write-ins’, where fellow NaNoWriMo entrants meet and can spend hours writing together. The website has numerous forums which help to tackle the questions of new writers: ‘how do I form a plot?’ and ‘how do I avoid clichés?’ It does not claim to help writers to create a perfect novel first time round. On the contrary, it sets a goal for its writers, and encourages them to plan time every day to write their first draft. If you ask any published, successful novelist for advice on writing, their number one suggestion will be ‘write every day.’ Indeed, some of these novelists have written articles filled with a wealth of advice on how they go about writing, all available to read at your leisure on the NaNoWriMo website.

Take me to the website! @MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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elen ‘won’ last year. Once you have written your 50,000 words, you participate in a word count verification. Apart from getting a badge on the website saying ‘winner,’ there is no physical prize, apart from the option to have five free copies of your finished manuscript, once edited. However, for a NaNoWriMo winner, this is where your journey as a writer begins to unfold. December is known as the editing month, and the NaNoWriMo website provides further support with the editing process, and finally gives advice on how to get the finished work published. I read somewhere once that there is a story in each of us. I have been using September and October to plan my new story. I have researched widely and deeply, in addition to completing plot exercises, character worksheets and writing prompts. On my iPod I’ve compiled various pieces of epic, instrumental music to encourage the creative juices to flow. By hook or by crook, I will win National Novel Writing Month this year.

Why not join me? If you have ever had an idea for a story, take the challenge. Set yourself the goal of writing 1,666 words per day during November. Assign two hours every day, find yourself a comfy spot by a window, grab a caramel latte and listen to your inner novelist. This is why National Novel Writing Month is such a gem: it is encouraging a new generation of novelists in their first steps, and the first step is to pick up that pen and write. Who knows? Perhaps this time next year I will be asking you to sign my copy of first published novel.

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Elizabeth Gadd Photographer

Of the month


@MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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Of the month - By Kindra Nikole -

he instant one sees Elizabeth Gadd’s work, it is clear that she is a lover of nature and animals. She has a very distinct style that is easily recognizable, and her images are not only breathtaking but the sort that many return to time and again—it seems there is always something new to be found in each image. Gadd’s work is a breath of fresh air. Uplifting, natural, and spiritual. The following is an interview conducted with Miss Gadd—read on to get to know her and her body of work a bit better!

I'm 20 years old. I was raised as one of five siblings and was homeschooled my whole life, which allowed me the flexibility and freedom to play around with photography and other art forms while most other kids were in public school. I've loved animals and nature for as long as I can remember, and my two dogs are my constant companions on my hikes and adventures. When I'm not taking photographs or exploring nature, I can usually be found on a couch reading a book while eating chocolate.

I'm from Vancouver, Canada. I think it's pretty easy to say my favourite thing about where I live is the beautiful landscape. Mountains, ocean, forests, fields, lakes – you name it, we have it. The diversity of all the locations is perfect for constantly creating new photos without having them all look too similar.

Oh boy, there are so many places I would love to live in. It would be a dream of mine to live for a year in each of my favourite countries (with Canada always as home base of course!). On the top of my list of countries to live in is Iceland. The landscapes there are so unique and fascinating. I would love to spend at least a year in that land of fire and ice!

No, I am entirely self-taught. @MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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I first discovered my love for taking photos of animals and nature around 2006-2007. By 2010, I stepped it up a notch and started a 365 project of self-portraits. It was a real challenge, but I stuck with it, and my passion for photography has only sky-rocketed since!

I mostly use my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, as well as my Sigma 24mm f/1.8. What do you enjoy most about self-portrait photography? I've discovered lately that when I'm taking self-portraits out in nature, it's almost like a therapy or a way of meditation for me. I'm often by myself on most photoshoots 24

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(well, other than the company of my two dogs!), and I find it calming to take my time going back and forth to and from the camera, often taking hundreds of self-portraits until one stands out as the final image. I enjoy letting my mind wander during this time. But that being said, this isn't always the case on some of my more dramatic photoshoots in stormy or freezing weather, when all I can think about is how much I can't wait to get back to my warm house! In that case, what I enjoy most about self-portrait photography is the part where I can edit the photos by the fireplace while eating chocolate.

I like to show that there is still so much beauty in this world, and sometimes it's worth it to slow down and look, just look, at the nature surrounding us.


Whether it's the sun glowing through leaves on a tree, the way the grass moves in the wind, or how the clouds gather at the mountaintops, it's beautiful and calming to just watch. It's moments like these where I most feel the all-loving presence of our Creator, and I hope other people can feel that peace when looking at my photos, too.

Geez, how do I answer that?! I've narrowed it down to my top eight favourite photographs, but I simply can't decide which one is the most special to me. Choosing at random: "Run Home" is special to me; it depicts my passion for adventure and portrays the mountains as my home, where I'm running to. I feel entirely awe-struck and yet safe when tucked away between my towering mountains. It's a wonderful feeling.

Each of my photos can take anything from one to five hours to finish in post-processing. I'm always experimenting with the editing tools and trying to get my photos to look just right. I don't want to over-edit the natural beauty, but I want to edit it just enough to really bring out that beauty to its full potential. I use Adobe Lightroom, as well as GIMP for editing.

I think what needs the most improvement is my courage. Courage to work with people and to get my own photos out there more. I've always been rather shy and quiet, so lately I've been pushing myself to do more interviews, to collaborate with others on photoshoots, to contact people about showing at art galleries, and even pushing myself to do

to do more client shoots (which the scariest thing on my list considering how people-shy I am, but hey, money has to come in somehow!).

I'm not sure if I could choose any one person. There are so many photographers and friends who inspire me and who have influenced my work in so many ways! But if I have to choose someone, it would be God. As I mentioned earlier, I can allow myself to most feel at peace when I'm surrounded by nature and creation, and I think it's that love and peace that drives me forward and influences my work, as well as the rest of my life.

I guess the Swiss Alps would be pretty cool, eh?

My advice is to never give up. Put in a few hours of photography-related work wherever you can. When I did my 365 project, every single day I spent an average of 4-5 hours shooting photos and editing. It was only by the very week of that entire year that I discovered my niche or style in photography, and because of the hundreds of hours already spent learning the skills behind a camera and post processing, my work suddenly exploded into photographs I was really proud of. So, keep practising. Your endless hours will pay off!

@MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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Elizabeth Gadd

Photographer

Of the month

Follow Elizabeth


- By Annie Harris -

2013

marks five decades since The National Theatre - as The National Theatre Company gave their first ever performance under the watchful (and smouldering) eye of Lord Laurence Olivier. The company was based at London’s Old Vic at the time but in 1976, under director Peter Hall, the theatre was relocated just a short distance down the Southbank to its striking current location. From its tender beginning to the present day, The National Theatre has presented over 800 productions to worldwide audiences via stage, screen and the magic of society’s favourite toy - the internet. Some of these productions have, in turn, transferred to the West End and Broadway as well touring in both the UK and internationally.


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urrent director, Nicholas Hytner, took the reins in 2003, following in the very big footsteps of former directors Sir Trevor Nunn, Richard Eyre and Peter Hall. I’m sure a lot of Miro readers will be familiar with the Entry Pass Scheme he successfully launched, offering discounted tickets to 16-25 year olds, but if not you . can find more information

The National now has audiences in the millions every year, and in the last financial year alone generated a record income of £87m. This year, it celebrates fifty years of remarkable work with a variety of performances, exhibitions and broadcasts that celebrate those who made The National Theatre “one of the most cherished and creative of British institutions on stage, screen and online”. On Saturday 2nd November BBC2 aired ‘50 Years On Stage’, featuring some of The National’s most treasured and celebrated actors, inclduing Benedict Cumberbatch, Derek Jacobi, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.

For an evening of live performance and rare glimpses from the theatre’s archives to celebrate the theatre’s very own Golden Jubilee The best seats in the house were your very own sofa! In addition, The National Theatre Lampoon are also hosting an exhibition in the Olivier Exhibition space which takes a look into the history of The National Theatre through rarely-seen satirical cartoons and records from the theatre’s archives. I highly recommend this charming insight into the impact that the theatre has had on our society over the last half-century. In all, the work of the National Theatre has been, and continues to be a stellar example of the rich and varied tapestry of theatre that we Brits are so lucky to have instant access to. Long may it reign over our Southbank - and here’s to another fifty years! I wonder if, when it hits 60 years, we’ll all get a day off work! You can find more information on the National Theatre’s birthday celebrations via this link;

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- with Andrew Skipper -

Unmissables

The

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U N M I S S A B L E S - With Andrew Skipper -

With a cast featuring the likes of Ben Whishaw, Rupert Grint and Colin Morgan this play will sell out. Almost instantly. And there will be huge crowds at stage doors and a plethora of shouting for autographs. However ‘huge’ the names may be the revival reunites Jez Butterworth with the director of both his West End hit 'Jerusalem' and the original 'Mojo' production, Ian Rickson. This should be very interesting.

Legendary poet and spoken word artist Kate Tempest tells an 'everyday epic' over a live score. Performed at the Jerwood Downstairs stage for three nights only these tickets will sell quickly!

From 13th November

November 14th - 16th

Harold Pinter Theatre

Royal Court Theatre

When a trip to the countryside takes a turn for the worse, Bertie Wooster is unwittingly called upon to play matchmaker – reconciling the affections of his host’s drippy daughter Madeline Bassett with his newt-fancying acquaintance Gussie Fink-Nottle. If Bertie, ably assisted by the ever-dependable Jeeves, can’t pull off the wedding of the season he’ll be forced to abandon his cherished bachelor status and marry the ghastly girl himself! From 12th November Duke of York’s Theatre

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Photography - Tanya Reynolds


Exclusive

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- By Bethan Sullivan -

first discovered the CC Smugglers in an intimate performing space at the Cambridge Folk Festival. Their new take on country and blues, with hints of ska and folk thrown in, gave them a fresh sound, but it was their energetic performance that really stole the show. Describing themselves as a rag-tag British, 6-piece busker band, the Smugglers have made their way from playing on the streets to performing at festivals such as Glastonbury and Bestival and now, with a documentary about their music soon to be released, I thought that I’d find out just how a Smuggler works. I find them backstage before they perform a sell-out show, just as lively in person as on stage.

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Richie: I was playing a lot of blues on my own, and then thought, ‘I don’t want to be on my own any more, I want some friends.’ Two mates came down from America and Australia and they had a background in country and that’s how the two genres first merged. After that we never stopped playing with styles.

Richie: [ Well CC is a motorbike engine size. Dan and I used to ride motorbikes, so that’s the CC part. The smuggler part, we can’t actually tell you. Make of it what you will.

Richie: I can’t remember why we started busking, probably because of Seasick Steve. That first time, I was just hassling. They came because I wouldn’t shut up about it. ‘Let’s go. Let’s go. I promise you something amazing is going to happen. When we did it, it was outside Seasick Steve’s show and when he came out, he put £20 in our case.

Richie: Partially. That and our enthusiasm. It’s only raucous and fun if you love it so much you become excited. It’s not chosen, it just naturally comes across.

Dan: I feel more comfortable on the streets. It’s nice that this sort of music can be played on the streets, it’s not like we have to plug everything in. I like that if people want to watch you, they will. If you’re at a gig and it’s not your show, people might be watching you just because you’re there. @MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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hen you’re busking, people stop because they like the sound of it. Every audience member on the street is fully there. And it’s a good little money earner, but it is non-stop playing.

Richie: I’ve always written music – since I was 12 I’ve pumped songs out. Not all of them are good but these boys filter. Every couple of weeks I’ll say I’ve got a couple more songs and show them. If they go, ‘Yeah! This is amazing,’ we’ll play it and sometimes it’ll stick. Then we structure it together and make it a CC Smugglers song. Dan: The songs don’t always have the same instruments in. A song might sound better with a banjo rather than guitar. We experiment. It’s a good job Ryan, Sam, Flo and Dave can play multiple instruments.

Richie: America, Nashville, or Jools Holland. But that will come when we’re top of our game. We’ve got a single and an album to promote first.

Sam: It was very much another one of Rich’s crazy ideas. Richie: I generally do come up with stupid ideas that are way too big to do and then go on about it until we get it done. Dan: If you want to convince anyone of anything, get Rich on the job.

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Dave: Forget about the money. Richie: If you start a band, you will never get to watch TV again, or have any friends or a social life. But it’s well worth it. If you’re going to do it, you have to put everything in. All or nothing is our motto. My advice would be to approach people, be friendly. It’s all about networking.

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Dan: You meet the right people; the world is your lobster.

ccsmugglers.co.uk.

Photography - Tanya Reynolds

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Romeo

& Juliet Go to

- By Louise Parker -

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n 11th October Julian Fellowes’s adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies, , was unleashed upon the cinema lovers of the UK. On hearing that the film was to be released, the one question that I couldn’t help but ask was ‘but, why?!’ Shakespeare has not had a huge presence on the big screen over the last decade, and Baz Luhrmann’s sizzling 1996 packed such a punch that it still rests fresh in cinema history; it does not quite seem its seventeen years of age. So, if you’re taking it upon oneself to let The Bard out of his cage, why ? To be fair to Fellowes and his choices, this is a question I would likely find myself asking when any reboot or remake of a classical/canonical text is announced. Shakespeare’s , assumedly first performed in 1595, has a firmly established place in the Western Canon. The problem with The Canon is that, generally speaking, it is filled up with work by white heterosexual men and thus many of these supposedly great works of art are somewhat lacking in terms of racial and gender equality.


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herefore the prospect of an adaptation raises many questions, the most obvious one being: how will a filmmaking team deal with the fact that the canonical text will perhaps contain material that is not necessarily deemed acceptable, or at least should not be deemed acceptable, in current society?

It may already be obvious, but I am by no means a Shakespeare purist. To stay true to how Shakespeare would have been originally performed would mean the removal of women from the stage, and as a female actor/human being this is not something that I would support! Of course, there is also absolutely no way of truly knowing how Shakespeare would have been staged. In March 2012 ‘The Telegraph’ published an article on what accent Shakespeare would have been performed in, stating that ‘

audiences are not consuming something that fuels inequalities that are still very much present in society. Funnily enough, one adaptation of that did not fall spectacularly at this hurdle was the 2011 animated feature . Although this film only used smatterings of Shakespeare’s original language and rewrote the ending to a ‘happily ever after’ affair, Juliet here is a funny, adventurous and passionate little gnome who fights her father at every turn for her right to ‘get off her pedestal’ and make her own way in the world. This is a much more appropriate and enjoyable depiction of Juliet than Hailee Steinfeld’s portrayal of the same character in Fellowes’s adaptation. This is not necessarily the fault of the young actor, for the script has been largely shorn (some would say butchered) by Fellowes in such a way that leaves Juliet somewhat silent for the first portion of the film, even more so than in Shakespeare’s original. Here we can perhaps see evidence of Larmour’s prophecy of the ‘blueprint’ that means

. This completely debunks the infuriating notion that Shakespeare be performed in a genteel RP English accent. More recently, ‘The Guardian’ published a piece by Vanessa Thorpe who suggested that perhaps The Bard was to blame for the fact that women are often short changed in terms of the quantity and quality of role choice. She quotes director Brigid Larmour who makes the very interesting point that

Therefore when adaptations come around there is always a huge question mark with regards to whether they will uphold gender (and other) imbalances or try and reinterpret the text

Fellowes’s treatment of Shakespeare’s text has been the subject of much scrutiny due to his decision to rewrite some of the original text. In order to ascertain what makes a relevant and important adaptation of a canonical text, it is interesting to compare Fellowes’s to the RSC’s 2010 piece of online theatre, , which saw the plot of unfold on Twitter as performed by six actors (Juliet, Romeo, Mercutio, Tybalt, Jess – nicknamed Nurse – and Friar Lawrence) over five weeks @MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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he actors improvised their dialogue following a framework set out by writers Bethan Marlow and Tim Wright – thus utilizing none, or next to none, of Shakespeare’s original poetry in this version. As was happening I formed a slight obsession with it. It was a fascinating venture as these online characters, with their trials and tribulations, seemed as real as those of that girl or boy you might follow on Twitter. It was extremely refreshing and gave the opportunity for a whole other perspective on the play, a perspective which allowed the characters to live and breathe free of what can be constricting language. Surely that is what a new adaptation should do: shed a new light upon the art. Theatre critic Michael Billington’s tweeted opinion was that ‘

There certainly is no denying the beauty of Shakespeare’s poetry and it would prove difficult to argue that his unique way with language has not been a major contributing factor to the lasting popularity of his work. However, it is but one part of the whole package; the tragic story brimming with the throes of a doomed young love is one that certainly sells. Story, the musical adaptation of which in 1961 was committed to celluloid, was the second highest grossing film in its year of release, walking away with ten Academy Awards. Again, I would argue that the success of as an adaptation comes from the fact that it took Shakespeare’s original piece and allowed further art to grow from it: the songs and the choreography. After all, Shakespeare’s is itself an adaptation, borrowing from Arthur Brooke’s 1562 poem . Shakespeare took the poem and used his skills as an artist to bring something else to what already existed.

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However, it is fascinating that while may have completely neglected Shakespeare’s language it still managed to be engaging and certainly gave me another perspective on the story. Fellowes, on the other hand, kept some of Shakespeare’s language, cut a whole lot of it and entirely made up some of his own. The result? A thoroughly disengaging, wooden affair constantly soundtracked by what one reviewer hilariously described as ‘elevator music’. Perhaps it is due to the fact that Fellowes’s adaptation did not seem to bring anything else to the table – brought something quite scarily realistic and made the characters very relatable to a modern and young audience.


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hus Billington certainly has a point when he draws attention to the importance of The Bard’s poetry. It became startlingly apparent after watching Fellowes’s just how much depth and insight Shakespeare’s language brings to the characters. Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 , on the other hand, seems to promote much more of a connection between language and character. For example, in Romeo’s ‘I fear too early, for my mind misgives’ monologue before attending the masked ball, the viewer gets a real sense of his confusion and fear. Whilst Samuel Crowl asserts, ‘Language, so minimal, so barren in the contemporary commercial film, is one of the joys of…the Shakespeare film genre’, Fellowes completely neglects this and tries to cram Shakespeare’s language into the format of the contemporary commercial film without putting anything in its place. In an article for The Guardian, John Sutherland discusses Nicholas Hytner’s assertion that Shakespeare’s language is indeed confusing. Sutherland concludes that this is because ‘the fact was the Elizabethans and Jacobeans were much better listeners than we are’ due to the fact that ‘they were different from us, who take in most of our data visually, from page or screen. Their sense organs were differently trained’. This is a very interesting deduction and perhaps suggests why Luhrmann’s was such a critical and commercial success. While keeping the beauty of Shakespeare’s poetry, which was spoken in a driving passion by the two young leads, Luhrmann also delivered an astonishing visceral assault on the eyes complimented by a soundtrack that is very much of its time. Any film will tell the tale of when it was made – take for example which, despite having the most 80s aesthetic of all time, is set in the 60s. Something I admire greatly about Luhrmann is that he wholeheartedly embraces both the world of the film and the real time world that the film is made in, be it with its 90s grunge soundtrack or his more recent complete with a hip-hop soundtrack for its 21st Century audience.

Perhaps a successful adaptation is all about getting that balance between the language and the aesthetic, blending the beauty of what we can take from Shakespeare’s language but also bringing something new to the table: something that sheds light on issues for a twenty first century audience, challenging the outdated notions of Shakespeare’s text and perhaps, more importantly, the outdated notions that still exist in today’s society.

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Photography - Phil Miller


ON

STAGE WITH

Andy Pilbeam-Brown T

- By Sam Luffman -

heatre design as a discipline is expanding and there is a rise in theatre performed in non-traditional theatre spaces. Designers need to adapt to this and make sure their visual language complements and utilizes the space a theatrical performance will take place in. Today theatre takes place in a vast range of unique spaces and takes many forms; the idea of immersing the audience, taking them on a journey, not only emotionally but physically has never been more present. Promenade style theatre is on the up and the creative behind the performance may face challenging issues whilst working in this format. This type of performance brings a whole new area of scenographic consideration and with a lack of documentation on the issue, how does one go about transforming a space or spaces for audiences to explore? I found out about this from Andrew Pilbeam-Brown, a designer whose primary focus is on promenade and immersive performance. Andy graduated with a BA in Theatre Design from Nottingham Trent University last year and since then has faced many of the difficulties young graduates face in the creative industries. After undertaking unpaid placements to build up his portfolio, completing community performance based projects and becoming a prop maker, he applied to and achieved his first real break in the industry as a Set Designer for St Pauls’ Church Iris Theatre, designing for their open-air promenade summer production of Alice in Wonderland, directed by Andrew Lynford.


Photography - Phil Miller

“After that I found it hard to find decent work. I feel a lot of people in our industry exploit new graduates by offering only expenses paid or volunteer positions, which is fine for a while. Everyone who is newly graduated should use that to their advantage and gain as much experience as they can in those first few months as a lot of the positions are specifically targeted at them. However, it starts to take advantage when companies don't assist in getting you future work and helping you up the ladder of connections that you really need when you're starting out. So it's definitely a fine balance between knowing you're going to get something out of it, either new skills or work for your portfolio. I've done a lot of free work. And I still do if paid work dries up and you think a project is really interesting.�

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“My first job after leaving was for an Alice in Wonderland-inspired mini festival at the Key Theatre in Peterborough. A few of us from the course were asked after our final exhibition. And we just had to dress various areas of the theatre in a very Victorian version of the play, so there was a lot of sourcing props and visuals to match the original illustrations, and then the festival comprised various street performers all linked by a Victorian edge.” Photography - Phil Miller

“They had a surrounding theme of the 'Victorian Funfair' and then the rest of the ideas came from a combination of the director and myself. You only have to look around the grounds of St Pauls’ to realize that Alice in Wonderland is perfect for the surroundings. It’s a separate world from the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden, and that’s the escapism that really appealed to me. It has a lot of drawbacks too though: using so many different locations meant that the budget had to be stretched as far as possible in order to create so many different scenes, and still fill the grand spaces of the gardens.”

Taking all of those things into consideration I worked quite closely with the director on the design aspect. There were a lot of changes that took place during the build as the rehearsals developed. We didn't even know if some aspects would work until they rehearsed within the space.”

“In terms of myself as a designer, it's promenade and often immersive theatre that I primarily focus on. Alice was my first real break in the industry as a designer. Before that I had worked on community and festival performances for people like maison foo as well as being a prop maker for others such as Blunderbus and I'm currently working for a visual merchandising company called Millington Associates.”

“With promenade the audience help a lot to make the spaces feel more intimate as they move around and gather, but again as they kind of surround the scenes you have a lot more issues with things like sight-lines and audience perspective, which become a lot more varied than in a standard box theatre. Their placement becomes very important, for both the action to flow from one scene to the next but also for them to interact in the best way possible. @MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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Photographing - Andrea Peipe On -

a Levit tion


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ndrea Peipe is a 33-year-old self-taught fine art photographer based in Munich, Germany. Her passion for photography started in her early teens, when she received her first camera for her birthday, although she did not really pursue her interest in photography until the beginning of 2010. From taking photos of landscapes and plants, she went on to emotional and expressive self-portraits and from there to fine art photography. For Andrea, photography is a way to freeze time and capture a short fragile moment or of creating a dreamlike vision. She is currently working as a freelance creative portrait and fine art photographer.

People looking at my photos at exhibitions or online often ask me how I get the ideas for my photos. It is difficult to explain because my head seems to always be full of ideas and concepts! Dreams or songs often trigger the ideas for my photos, but it can also be a new location, a conversation or a memory, a scene in a book, a movie or a story somebody tells me. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and find myself thinking about a certain idea. Sometimes I just start sketching something that was not in my head a minute before. I enjoy working with sketches very much because when you already see the final image in your head, it makes it easier to compose the image and direct the model. And of course it ensures that in the end you get the image you wanted.

Andrea Peipe

Andrea Peipe

In my area of photography - which is mostly fine art - anything is possible. You can realize so many ideas, sketches and dreams that you have and turn them into photos! I have a very vivid imagination and often think of surreal ideas, which I love to then turn into photos. I find darker images very fascinating and I like to provoke people's imaginations, but I also like to create lighter, somewhat happier images that might be set in sunshine and convey a positive feeling. Both parts, the light and the dark, are a part of me and that is how I like to express myself through photography.

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Andrea Peipe


Andrea Peipe

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generally prefer working in natural light to working in a studio or using speedlights. I like the way you can incorporate different seasons or moods of the day into photography and by doing that, create a unique image. Unlike studio light, the light outside and the weather changes everyday and you have to be able to work with it. On a darker cloudier autumn day, your images will be darker and moodier, while on a sunny and bright summer day, your images will end up lighter and happier. While I do appreciate well-done portraits, my passion lies in creating surreal images that often show something that is not possible in real life. Levitation photography is particularly fascinating for me so from the next issue on,

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I will be writing a monthly feature piece exclusively for Miro Magazine focusing specifically on levitation. Over the course of the next months, I want to introduce you to my favorite levitation artists, explain the techniques and editing behind levitation photos, and show you my best levitation photos. In time, there will be an online collection of my levitation photos available along with explanations of my creative decisions. For me, one of the reasons why creating those images is so interesting, lies in the fact that this is something that is not and will never be possible in real life. It is something that we dream about at night or imagine during the day but it will still never be possible. So creating those images is almost like making my dreams come to life for me.


Photographing - Andrea Peipe On -

F

a Levit tion

or those of you less familiar with this type of photography, a levitation photo depicts an object or a person suspended above the ground. That can be in mid-air, or perhaps closer to the ground. Signs indicating clearly that the person is levitating could be, for example, hair cascading or parts of a dress hanging down. As is explained in The Skeptic’s Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions by Robert Todd Carroll (2003), "Levitation is the act of ascending into the air and floating in apparent defiance of gravity‌No one really levitates; they just appear to do so." So let me explain how to take levitation photos. There are many different approaches, but the two most common ones are the following: if it is a person that you want to levitate, you can either ask your subject to jump in a certain way, which will enable you to capture a great deal of movement, or you can provide something for the model to lie or balance on, for example a chair, stool, table or whatever you have at hand that will support the subject off the ground. If your subject is jumping, make sure you set your camera to a fast shutter speed in order to capture the movement, and decrease the amount of blur.

If you are balancing your model on a chair or stool, here is what you need to do. The most important thing is to take photos of the location with the model in it in the position and state you want, but also – and this is very important - of the location in exactly the same state and light, but without the subject and the chair in it. You will need this master image later on when editing the two images together. Be careful not to forget this because if you do not have this master image, the creation of the levitation photo will not be possible or at least very, very difficult. In post-production, you will need to layer the images over each other, with the master image of the background underneath, and the image of the model on top. You will then need to alter your transparency and layer settings on your editing program and erase the object that the model is balancing on. Try to imagine a pose that will work convincingly as a levitation picture. There are various different poses that work really well. (See examples) >>

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Brooke

Shaden


Moritz

Aust


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any photographers also like to have objects levitate in their photos. Those objects can be anything from an apple to a building. I find tea cups or pots work really well. One of my images is of a floating tea pot in front of a waterfall. Let me explain how I achieved this levitation effect: First, I asked a friend to hold the tea pot in position at the location, focused on the tea pot and locked the focus. Then, I took one image of the tea pot held by the handle and one image of it held by the snout. I also made sure to take a master image of the location itself without the tea pot and my friend in it and also without changing the locked focus. After that, I overlaid the two images over the master image in Photoshop and by using layer masks, erased the parts of the photo where the hand holding the pot was visible, so that in the end the tea pot appeared to be floating.

Photography - Andrea Peipe

Of course, further editing will be necessary to create your final image by changing light and tones or adding textures. In my case, I wanted to create a magical yet natural atmosphere and kept the original colors for the most part. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pucki/8112169 903/) If you feel inspired to create your own levitation photo after reading this article, it would be great if you could share it with us!

Follow Andrea


ADialogue of One

- with Jennifer Edwards -

www.miromagazine.co.uk


A Dialogue of One

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m desperately deciphering this month’s feature from a series of scribbles I made on my way back from London in the hope of somehow solidify in writing (if that is ever possible) my evening at the LRB Bookshop. Tonight my friend and I enjoyed (free) glass(es) of wine as Simon Critchley discussed his new book , co-written with his wife Jamieson Webster and published earlier this month. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect following an email from my tutor that ended ‘hope it is provocative and odd’, but really I suppose it was just that. ‘Everything dissolves in , revealing a world which is one of surveillance, where everything is essentially dead. Maybe that’s our world. The baroque world revealed in is a foretaste of our loveless hell’; Critchley and Webster’s stance is unsurprisingly strong, provoked by the ‘outsider interpretations’ of figures such as Walter Benjamin, Freud and Lacan. ‘There are still passages which I don’t understand’, says Critchley.

An Evening At the

Lrb

In the absence of Jamieson the talk became a literary ‘Mr & Mrs’ with Dr Shahidha Bari of Queen Mary, University of London, who chaired the discussion, setting the couples answers against each other. The book, Critchley contends, has ‘a kind of f*** you attitude’; there is no sound-bite message but rather a resistance to easy-digestion which Jonathan Millar’s review for the touches upon. One thing the pair both agreed on was the difficulty that arose in fusing not only the voices of a married couple, but of the philosophical and psychoanalytic practices for which Critchley and Webster are known respectively, a blend which seems to have been an overall success. @MiroMagazine | facebook.com/miromagazine

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A Dialogue of One

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et what really struck me while listening to Critchley was his assertion that ‘you read the literature on and nothing seems interesting; it all feels incredibly dull’. It was largely this that made me want to write this piece, in the hope that in this space allotted by my editor I could in these closing stages summon some short defence. In Critchley’s view, we want Shakespeare pre-digested and pre-assimilated, and as such he finds that books often have to explain or find some historical or biographical explanation that sanitises , that makes it comprehensible. ‘Shakespeare’s work has to be more dangerous again’, argued Critchley. It is this ‘again’ that bothers me, for hasn’t Shakespeare’s work always been? If I thought otherwise I’d have quit my studies some time ago. is certainly not an old school traditional monograph to any extent, but neither is a lot of modern criticism of Shakespeare’s works (the rather avant-garde ‘Shakespeare Now!’ series strikes me as a particularly good example). So, whilst serves as an interesting addition to ‘the biscuit box of Shakespeare’, it is not the first broken/oddly misshapen custard cream I’ve found in there (this analogy is making me hungry). In short, it is an interesting contribution but a trend-setter to the landscape of Shakespeare studies. ‘Provocative and odd’: indeed.

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And…

Relax! - By Katie Overstall -

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or those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down’s Syndrome and other sensory and communication disorders, a trip to the theatre can be a fraught experience, for a variety of reasons. Difficulty in understanding social situations, anxiety in unfamiliar situations and hypersensitivity to light and sound can make going to a performance very difficult for those with such conditions and for their friends and family. This is where relaxed performances come in. The aim of these performances, such as those organised by the Relaxed Performance Project in the UK and Autism Theatre Initiative in the USA, is to increase accessibility to theatre for those with conditions such as ASD. In the UK, theatres such as Shakespeare’s Globe, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare have all hosted performances, but what exactly is a relaxed performance? At the most basic level, a relaxed performance does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a performance in which the conventional rules of attending a play are relaxed - 'the opposite of the quiet carriage on the train', as the National Theatre describes it. Audience members are allowed to move around and make noise during the play, which would otherwise be frowned upon. If you need to step out into the foyer to relax for five minutes, that’s okay. If narrating the play under your breath helps you to process what’s going on, that’s okay too.


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spects of the performance itself are also altered, such as slight adjustments to the sound and lighting, in order to accommodate those with hypersensitivity issues. Some performances offer patrons the opportunity to meet the cast and explore the set and props before or after the performance, to further help understanding and alleviate anxiety. Outside the auditorium further provisions are made. Quiet areas in the foyer can help those who need to chill out for a bit, whilst specialist training for staff means that the overall theatregoing experience is that bit more welcoming and understanding. All of these changes are comparatively minor, but they can make a world of difference for families of those with ASD and similar conditions, who otherwise might not be able to attend the theatre. The value of an opportunity to spend time together in an environment where everyone is welcome cannot be overstated. I was lucky enough to attend a relaxed performance of the excellent a couple of weeks ago, at the National Theatre. Watching the performance and talking to staff members, it struck me again how simple changes can make a world of difference. For example, I got to look through the ‘visual story’ that was sent to patrons weeks before the show, in order to prepare those who dislike surprises for their visit. Not only does the booklet explain the plot and characters of the play, it also provides a visual journey into the theatre, with pictures showing the route patrons will take through the foyer, explaining about the ushers and showing the inside of the theatre and the set. All aspects that many of us would not think twice about, but a crucial resource for those who get anxious when faced with something new.

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During the performance itself the thing that really struck me was the atmosphere of complete tolerance that pervaded. Mutterings, shufflings and vocal tics that would otherwise have sent audience members grumbling to the ushers were accepted without a problem, as we all enjoyed the play, a funny, charming and heart-rending tale of a young man with Down’s Syndrome preparing to go to college. It was a fantastic afternoon, and certainly raised my awareness of relaxed performances and the measures that can make a trip to the theatre more enjoyable – simple once you think about it, but important all the same.


Mary The house at the very end of Black Lake Road was, by far, the most dilapidated of that sad row of squat little red-bricks, all of which looked as if they would soon crumble into pinky dust. The small, muddy patch of front-garden was terribly overgrown, tangled with nettles and brambles, whilst weeds had begun to creep through the cracks in the cobblestone path that led from a gate that hung on its hinges and whined whenever the wind blew. The green paint on the front door was faded and chipped, whilst the knocker that once shone gold had rusted black. Inside was scarcely any better; a dark hallway with bare floorboards- stairs to the left- the peeling floral wallpaper patched with damp and old photographs in gilt frames. The rooms were all dusty, all deserted, except for the small, dingy kitchen. A woman, frail and young and pale, sat at the table, dressed in a plain cotton gown and a grey cardigan peppered with holes, her wispy brown hair pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck. In front of her lay an array of empty bottles- clear glass, brown, emerald green- an antique rosary, a glass of water, a lace doily and a sheet of smudged paper with two words- ‘Dearest George’- scratched through with a jagged line. Her hands clasped a small, chipped china cup, the thin and delicate cracks in the glaze tea-stained like veins in a wrist. Yet she was drinking coffee, not tea. Hot, sharp, sugarless coffee, topped up with whiskey from the half-empty bottle beside her. Warms the bones, her mother would say. A hissing kettle steamed on the stove, yet she seemed to pay no attention to it as she stared out of the smeared window, the only source of light. It was raining, of course. It always seemed to be raining. Better than snow at least. She shivered, drawing the cardigan a little tighter around her shoulders. Not that it mattered. But she was not alone in that kitchen. Leaning against one of the counters with his arms folded, a man as young and pale and plain as she. So alike, in fact, that they could have been siblings, but she had no living brothers or sisters. All dead, little victims of fevers that spread through the filthy districts of London like the plagues of Egypt, plucking babies from their mother’s arms. Six children her poor mother bore, and only she, Mary, spared. She shivered again, feeling irritable, her skin itching beneath the rough wool of her cardigan. “Well,” he said slowly, furrowing his brow, “That was not very clever, was it?” She said nothing, blinking slowly, her eyes still fixed on the window pane. She felt far too tired to talk. She was always tired, these days. Not enough sleep. She had been to the doctor, yes, she had been to the doctor many times, and he had dropped those little brown bottles into her hands as if she were a sinner receiving the sacrament, but they had been no use. She raised the teacup to her lips and took a big sip, feeling the whiskey warming her gullet, making her gag a little as she set the cup down with a clatter. “Can I ask why?” He drifted away from the counter, setting back his shoulders as he took a step towards her. She didn’t answer, but reached once more for the whiskey bottle. “Mary?”

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“Do I need to explain?” she whispered as the whiskey glugged into her coffee. She ran a fingertip over the rim of her teacup, swaying a little in her chair. Good; she wanted to be drunk. She finished the cup in one gulp, grimacing, covering her mouth with the back of hand. “Not at all,” he said softly, resting a hand upon her shoulder. She stiffened a little at his touch. “How long have you been here?” “A while.” “I thought Mother would come,” she said quietly, running a hand over the rosary lying on the lace table cloth in front of her. Coral beads, a gold crucifix. Her mother’s prize possession, the only piece of ornamentation she had ever owned. In her black wool gowns mourning, always in mourning for her dead little ones - with red and gold blazing at her throat, Jesus winking in the firelight as she sat by the hearth with Mary at her knee, knitting or praying or crying. Tears pricked her eyes. She blinked slowly, once, twice. “How silly of me.” Drops of grey rain dribbled down the window pane. It was getting dark. Candles were being lit in the windows of the houses opposite, blurred masses of families gathering in kitchens, curtains drawn to shut out the December drizzle. The clock, glass face cracked, tick tick ticked, hung beside a small, crude crucifix that had been nailed to the wall, nails upon nails. Mary slumped back in her chair with a sigh. “I know why she hasn’t come,” she said, blinking back more tears. Suddenly, there was no stopping them. Tears splotched the scratched ink on the unfinished letter, the words began to bulge and swim. Burying her face in her folded arms on the table, sobbing and shaking, she choked; “I was wrong, wasn’t I?” “That is not for me to judge.” “But was I wrong?” “That is not for me to judge.” “I have always been good. Always.” She rubbed a snotty nose against the sleeve of her cardigan. “But I’m just so tired,” she whispered, her speech muffled. “So tired.” He let her be for a little while, taking the empty seat opposite her without a word. The rickety chair legs scraped across the floorboards, disturbing the dust, but she did not stir. Her fingers, with their chewed, cracked nails, reached out, searching aimlessly for the smooth glass of the whiskey bottle, but he gently moved it from her grasp. Eventually, the small sobs ceased and they sit together in silence.

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“Mary?” he says at last. Lifting her head, her watery grey eyes struggling to focus, she looks so sad, she looks exhausted. She looks at him as if seeing him clearly for the first time, blinking away the few tears that still cling to her bottom lashes. Resting his elbows on the table, he steeples his fingers, fixing her with an impassive stare. “Are you ready to go now?” It has begun to snow outside. The room is deathly cold, but she does not shiver. She rubs away the wet on her cheeks and nods. They both rise slowly from their chairs, mirror images of each other in their movement. She smoothes down the creases in her cotton dress. “Ready.” He holds out his hand, a broad, white, flat palm. She edges forward, hesitates, shrinks back, glances over her shoulder. She has left herself there, in the chair. In front of her, a chipped china teacup, an empty bottle of whiskey and the empty brown bottle of sleeping pills with the peeling label, a half-full glass of water, the abandoned letter, her mother’s rosary. Herself, slumped back, eyes wide, the left side of her mouth crusted with blood and vomit and a froth of saliva. She turns away from this sad tableaux, back to him. She puts her cold little hand in his; his fingers curl around her small palm, and she feels peace.

Want More New Writing? Check out our full archive of wonderful new writing available in at www.miromagazine.co.uk featuring some of the best emerging talent, including;

James Walpole, Sophie Walker, Christian Robshaw, Katie Overstall, Josh King , Rhonwen Parsons Sophia Fratianne & Jonathan Payne


Cover Image By Kindra Nikole

Miro Journalist Photography Tom Shore Lucy Edwards Amelia Oakley & Tanya Reynolds Back Cover Image By Kindra Nikole

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Miro Magazine, November 2013