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Franca Rame/Dario Fo Monologues: Review

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Franca Rame/Dario Fo Monologues: Review

Two actresses, two monologues, two stories, two outcomes, one struggle.

Last night Maggi Green and Mikyla Jane Durkan of Burjesta Theatre, Liverpool performed two very different monologues on the theme of the struggle of women in society.  Grotesque comedies from Italian dramatists Dario Fo and Franca Rame Rise and Shine and A Woman Alone invite you into the personal lives of two women: both obedient to their husbands, both comforting babies and both so tired and sick of everything.

Rise and Shine was skillfully performed by Maggie Green.  A stressed out mother wakes up from one nightmare straight into another one.  Relieved to find her fingers still on her hands, those hands become full as soon as her feet touch the floor.  The baby in one hand, her handbag in another and the key, where is the key?  Squeezing her way around imaginary furniture, with very few props and an invisible baby, keeping up the mime of struggling to search the small cramped house for keys while narrating her life, her husband’s life and talking to baby was done beautifully.  We never see the husband but the change in stance and expression when his dialogue was recited brought to life the domestic struggles this woman is going through.  The clock is ticking, the panic is growing, no-one is coming to help, baby’s filled his nappy, again, and the key is nowhere to be found.  The panic in this claustrophobic house with nothing in the right place was tangible.

The atmosphere grew thicker again during Mikyla Jane Durkan’s accomplished portrayal of A Woman Alone.  The stage now filled with props (this lady’s husband buys her everything) a wife has been locked up in her flat after indulging in an affair with her young Italian teacher.  She is caring for her brother-in-law, who is in a (almost) full body cast in another room with just one hand and that free for groping around and her baby who is crying of often.  Music plays in every room to stop her feeling alone, the phone constantly rings – nuisance calls, checks up from her husband and begging from her young lover – and then the banging on the door starts.  There’s so much noise!  What can you do when all you want is a quiet conversation with the new neighbour?  You need to stay calm.  Very very calm.  Bright welcoming smiles and laughter gave way to wide eyed desperation dissolving into an eerie sense of calm as a woman alone welcomed everyone back into the house and tried to regain control.

Where are the keys?  The men have them.

Burjesta Theatre are a fringe theatre company based at The Casa, Hope Street, Liverpool.  Further information can be found on their Facebook page.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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GloPoWriMo: Day 25

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GloPoWriMo: Day 25

The Day 25 prompt was to write a poem inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 book, The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces – the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. The poem should explore a small, defined space – it could be your my childhood bedroom, or the box where I keep old photos, the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand.  Any space would do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to me.  I have written a poem dedicated to my Nanna and her love of collecting trinkets and knick-knacks which has left many tiny, but not very many large, spaces all around her house.

No Space Left

A young couple
In all their finery
Gaze at each other
Ready to dance

A kangaroo
Lays relaxing
While a bemused Friar Tuck
Looks on

Clowns grin
The cavalier laughs
Family members smile
In wedding dresses and
School uniforms

While my Nanna desperately
Empties her overflowing handbag
Onto a tiny empty space on the floor

It has to be somewhere
She put it somewhere safe
Everything has to be somewhere
Somewhere in its own tiny little space

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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GloPoWriMo: Day 10

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GloPoWriMo: Day 10

The Day 10 prompt was to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you inspired by I Knew a Woman by Theodore Roethke.  It didn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, but what they are or were. This poem is about my Grandad.  Things he has said, things others have said about him and memories I have heard over the years.

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For Grandad, With Love

Outspoken
Typical Yorkshire
They said

Never apologised
Never regretted?

Everything you’ve done
Puts you where you are today
Nothing of what you have now
Would exist without yesterday

Swimming during summer
In rivers
Digging up buttercups
With a teaspoon
Putting apple pie
In a stew

Everything
No matter how small
Puts you where you are now

Outspoken?
Maybe
But true

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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Refugee – Review

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Refugee – Review

Last night I saw Potentially Brilliant Productions’ second show Refugee at The Casa, Liverpool.  It was a collaborative play devised over 12 weeks of drama workshops.  The show was based on the group’s own experiences and viewpoints and made use of elements found in Greek theatre such as the Chorus and the Messenger as Storyteller.  The material developed in the workshops was amended, fleshed out and put together by talented director and facilitator, Mikyla Jane Durkan.

The cast who formed this play were all dressed in black clothing will slight variations in style, subtly alluding to the viewpoint that everyone involved the refugee crisis, whether they be refugees themselves, aid workers, politicians or whoever, slot into groups of people who are seen to be all the same, whilst also nodding to the reality of their actual differences.  As well as the usual sound effects use was made of the actors’ own voices to provide eerie surround sound leaving the audience surrounded by wind, rain and tears.

There were a number of monologues and performance poetry incorporated into the disjointed and often disorientating story of loss and hope against hope, with many of the actors remaining on stage forming various tableaus, with and without props, cleverly alluding to the fact that people are often asking, begging, shouting for help, but the people around them don’t hear, don’t move, don’t see – just stand there are carry on with their own lives.

The play explored happiness and what it is to be happy.  For some people being happy is having the latest iPhone in their hand and the most popular status on Facebook.  Other people only hope to have a life without pain and fear.  Fear for themselves, fear for their loved ones, fear for their children.  What it is to have, want, desire and not have, need, and crave was shown intelligently and sensitively.

As one of the actors was violently bullied on stage, after speaking happily with his British friends, I was reminded of the story of David Oluwale.  Almost half a century has passed since this man was hounded on the streets of Leeds and it seems that sadly very little has changed in that time.  Whether or not the level of hatred of people coming into this country has lessened or increased over time was something touched upon in the lively Q&A with the cast and director following the show.

Dehumanisation and desperation.  Hate and fate.  Brutality and compassion.  These were all explored with the intensity and understanding needed to show people with everything what it is to have nothing.  While each cast member contributed fully to the quality and emotion of the production, I do feel that special mention should be given to Helen Jackson, George Melling and Martin Zopa for being particularly memorable in a particularly memorable performance.

This was a story of individuals who are among millions of people.  By seeing the person in a problem which is seen by many as too big and too widely spread to do anything about, it becomes clear that we can all do just that one small thing today, and maybe things won’t be as bad tomorrow.  Because “everyone at least should have somewhere to go”.

Refugee was a one night only showing, however you can see a revised version at the inaugural Liverpool Fringe Festival on 22 June.  Potentially Brilliant’s next project will begin with a 12 week programme of workshops exploring mental illness through some of Shakespeare’s characters.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

GloPoWriMo: Day 5

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GloPoWriMo: Day 5

The Day 5 prompt was to write a poem in honour of Mary Oliver’s work.  The poem should be based in the natural world, about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. It should be about a slice of the natural world that I have personally experienced and I have experienced often. The poem should incorporate specific details and also state why I find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.  My poem may have wandered slightly away from what was intended by the prompt, but I think the term “slice of the natural world” has dragged me down a different path.  Nevertheless, I have mentioned the moors of Yorkshire (where I was born) and the river of Liverpool (where I now live), which are two natural (mostly) landscapes for the price of one!

 

Nature Sliced

Green hills
As far as the eyes can see
Sprinkled with purple heather
Sweet food for the buzzing bee

Cold waters
Flowing into the sea
A ferry floats on yonder
Where would you rather be?

The hills call to me
Where I was born
The river sings to me
A sound forlorn

As you can see
My life is to be
Torn
Torn, torn, torn

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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GloPoWriMo: Day 2

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GloPoWriMo: Day 2

The Day 2 prompt was to write a poem inspired by, or in the form of, a recipe.  It could be a recipe for something real, like Grandma’s lemon chiffon cake, or for something imaginary, like a love potion or a spell.  I struggled for a while to think of something for this one, toying with the idea of doing something for Yorkshire pudding, but then not wanting to give away my family’s recipe for it!  In the end, I decided to do a humourous cake recipe, dedicated to everyone who will never quite make it on to the Great British Bake Off.  And just so you know, I made the cake in the picture, but the story in the poem is completely made up.

 

The Perfect Cake for the One You Love

Step 1: Preparation
Log on computer
Open Pinterest
To search for recipe
Look at and pin
Pictures of cute outfits and cats
Remember the cake
Search for recipes

Step 2: Mix it up
Narrow down search
So that pictures of
Roasted lamb and sparkly nails
Disappear and only cakes are left
Find something you like
Wow that looks complicated
Type easy before cake in search

Step 3: Stir well
Easy cake recipe found
Pin to board and screenshot
For ease of reference
Go through kitchen cupboards
To see what you already have
Nothing, to the shops then
For ingredients, and a cake tin

Step 4: Almost done
Arrive home from shops
Unpack everything and get organised
Curse yourself for buying plain flour
Remember you can fix it with baking powder
Or is it bicarbonate of soda
Argh, better put both in
Just to be on the safe side

Step 5: Bake
Put cake into oven
Realise it’s cold
Turn oven on
Set the timer for an extra ten minutes
To make up for not pre-heating
Go into living room
To relax while it’s baking

Step 6: Cool
Wake up to sounds of
Smoke alarm and crappy film
On Netflix that sent you to sleep
Run into kitchen opening all windows
En route frantically
And hoping that the grumpy
Neighbours upstairs haven’t noticed

Step 7: Decorate
Burn hand removing burnt
Mess from smoking oven
Sigh, bite right thumbnail
Think it can’t be so bad
Taste a tiny little bit
Realise even your burnt tongue
Knows that this tastes bad

Step 8: Cut
Ring Mum and ask her
How quickly she can bake
And bring you a cake

Serve with your favourite alcohol
With or without ice
As desired

                                                              

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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The Empty Cradle

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On Mother’s Day, dedicated to the mothers whose babies couldn’t come home and to the mothers whose babies couldn’t stay.

Tiny baby fast asleep, too precious for this world to keep.

The Empty Cradle

The empty cradle rocks
Silence echoes
Deafening
Around the empty room
Around the empty house
My empty arms
Ache from holding
The heavy weight
My tears fall
From my full eyes
Into the empty cradle

Copyright, D M Day, 2017