Posted on May 31, 2011 by CHRISSYPL
John Hegley photograph copyright by Jackie di Stefano
Half term at the Southbank Centre is proving fairly hectic, but master-poet and performer John Hegley takes a room full of excitable children in his stride, even when they’re accompanied by a group of equally excitable adults. He opened his show this afternoon, “The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet”, with an invitation to the audience to make the sound of one hand clapping, followed with an immediate reassurance for anyone unfamiliar with his unique performance style: “There’s nothing wrong with confusion – welcome it.”
The Purcell Rooms were packed out with an audience of all ages for this afternoon’s poetry, prose, song, joke and participation show and it’s hard to tell who enjoyed it more, the kids or the adults: the kids chanted the punchlines and accompaniments to poems, and got up on stage to declare the difference between a dog and a deckchair; the adults laughed hard at poems like the “Me poem”, which runs, loosely: “me me me me me me me me ….. me me me me me me me, that’s enough about me.” Hegley’s highly skilled wordplay builds and destroys people’s expectations of what’s coming next in any given line of poetry or song, for example ending dog poems with an elephant, in way that is always creative and entertaining.
The audience was treated to an A to Z of comic delights, and the Purcell Rooms were home to a sock-eating dog in a Luton Bungalow, an electrocuted octopus, a Monsieur Robinet simultaneous English-French translation and a crowd full of people tickling each other. It’s this sort of thing that makes us actually wish half term came around more often. You can find out more about the Adventures of Monsieur Robinet by clicking here.
We’re looking forward to continuing our half term adventures with Jackie Kay tomorrow afternoon (see the Southbank Centre site for more details).
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Posted on May 23, 2011 by CHRISSYPL
Sculpture of Dylan Thomas by Oloff de Wet on display at the Poetry Library in Royal Festival Hall.
As the Southbank Centre’s 60th anniversary celebration of the Festival of Britain is now properly underway, we’re delighted to share with you the essay that Dylan Thomas wrote when he was invited to the original Festival of Britain.
“The Festival Exhibition, 1951″ was originally broadcast by BBC Wales, but unfortunately all recordings of it have since been lost. The piece itself has been anthologised many times with Dylan Thomas’s other writings, and is an extraordinary bit of prose that takes the listener (or now, the reader) on a mad journey around the chaotic landscape of the original site, visiting:
“the country it trombones and floats in with its lions and unicorns made of ears of wheat, its birds that sing to the push of a button, its flaming water, and its raspberry fountains.”
But perhaps it is the Festival visitors who are of even more interest. His descriptions of the 1951 austerity Britain crowds are a linguistic delight:
“They are the people without whom the exhibition could not exist… old scaly sneezing men, born of lizards in a snuff-bin, who read, wherever they go, from books in tiny print, and who never look up, even at the tureen-lid of the just-tethered dome or the shining skylon, the skygoing nylon, the cylindrical leg-of-the-future jetting, almost, to the exhibition of stars.”
Through all the chaos and the colours, we get the impression that Dylan Thomas was quite overwhelmed by his visit, to the point where his habitual cynicism regarding London is transformed by the imaginative force of the Festival:
“This Festival is London. The arches of the bridges leap into light; the moon clocks glow; the river sings; the harmonious pavilions are happy. And this is what London should always be like, till St Paul’s falls down and the sea slides over the Strand.”
The essay will be available to read on the Poetry Library’s magazine archive for the duration of the Festival of Britain, where we will also be building up a special “1951″ section of work by other poets and authors. More details coming very soon.
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Posted on May 2, 2011 by Sumitra Upham
The British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur programme
As the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation, the British Council has partnered with Southbank Centre to bring a series of high profile speakers from India and Pakistan to produce a series of discussions, debates and live performances which link the arts sector in the UK, India and South Asia to tell the story of cultural relations work between nations.
The Katran Collection
In the foyer of The Royal Festival Hall, two small exhibitions have been built that provide a contextual platform to The Alchemy Festival as a whole. One of these exhibitions showcases the work of The British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur programme (YCE). The Fashion and Design YCE programme champions Sri Lankan and Indian talent within their local industries, identifying innovative business models. The programme recognises the significant impact that these designers are making on the development of a sustainable and competitive creative economy.
The exhibition consists of many dimensions. Taking centre stage is The Katran Collection, designed by Sarthak Sahil Design Company. The installation features The Katran Chair which is bound by coloured pieces of cloth that are the by-products of export houses from a town in Rajasthan, woven into ropes by local farmers.
Whilst sitting on The Katran Chair, visitors have the opportunity to watch a documentary on the work of KUR – a contemporary womenswear brand that reflects designer Kasuni’s Rathnsuriya’s passion to promote sustainability as a core value within the fashion industry. KUR’s designs are modern, fresh and environmentally friendly with innovative approaches to recycling and redesigning.
Installed behind this lies The Choori Lamps designed by Srahthak Sahil Design Company. The colourful glass bangles function as lampshades and the gentle movement of the lamps creates a soft jangling sound. The lamp design was inspired by Indian women using clothes hangers to store their glass bangles in their wardrobes at home.
The exhibition successfully supports emerging designers in Indian and Sri Lanka and promotes the fashion and design industry in their country in a commercial, social, educational and public context. Reminiscent in each work is a commitment to the revitalisation of crafts that are unique to India and Sri Lanka. It is rewarding to gain an insight into the new work being designed in India. And what’s more, with style, function and sustainability, these very designs are challenging the notion of contemporary design worldwide.
By Sumitra Upham
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