Spectacular Space-Bots at the Shoebox; Family Performance & Drama Workshop

Swindon’s Shoebox Theatre are getting excited to welcome Edalia Day to the Theatre, as part of their Artist Residency Programme, and invite children aged 7-12 to join in the fun!

Edalia will be developing a new piece of theatre called ‘Spectacular Spacebots.’ It’s a new family show about autism and space adventures. The children will be sharing a relaxed, work-in-progress performance with an after-show Q&A on Saturday the 21st of September.

Join Zee, robot adventurer, as they battle space wizards, gunslingers and a quizzical hippopotamus, asking what does it mean to be human. And how far do you have to go to be accepted as one…

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But the fun doesn’t stop there! There will also be an opportunity for to take part in a FREE pre-show workshop with Edalia.

In this physical workshop, you’ll play improvisation games and learn how Edalia makes theatre. Exploring the voice and movement of digital characters and acting alongside them, using a mixture of wordplay, puppetry, chorus and physical comedy.

Workshop: Saturday, 21st September, 11am-12.00 Midday
How much? FREE!
Suitable for ages 7-12

Work in Progress Performance and Q&A: Saturday, 21st September, 13.00pm
How much: £3

Suitable for all the family aged 5+
Approx. runtime: 45min

Book at www.shoeboxtheatre.org.uk/whatson


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A Touching Conclusion to Clifton’s First Marlborough Open Studio

If you need a feelgood story this week, as the Marlborough Open Studios closes for another year, newcomer to the event and our friend here at Devizine, artist Clifton Powell made a big impact with a heart-warming conclusion.

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Founder member of the Marlborough Open Studios, Elizabeth Scott exhibited every year from 1985 at her studio at Minal, until she moved to Savernake Forest in 2006. There she continued to show in Newbury Open Studios.

Elizabeth starting as a photographer in Rome in the 1960s, where she chronicled Italy through the many people she met there. She settled into family life in Wiltshire in the 1980s and the inheritance of dark room equipment from her brother-in-law led her to study photography at Swindon College.

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Commissioned to produce a series of local portraits, she gained an interest in painting. This second half of her artistic career took her from Marlborough College Summer School to study at the Slade Summer School at St Ives, the Verocchio Arts Centre in Italy and more recently for the Rabley Drawing Centre. Her painting, drawing and etching from these travels, along with inspiration from the Wiltshire downs were all shown in her open studios and exhibited further afield.

All this came to an abrupt halt in 2017 when Elizabeth had a pulmonary embolism, following a number of mini strokes. Determined to keep up her art she joined a local watercolour class and then was offered a place in an Arts Together group in Pewsey. This is where she met Clifton Powell, one of a number of volunteer artists who lead the groups.

Marlborough Open Studios chose an annual charity to support, and this year it was Arts Together. If you recall, I spent a special day visiting Clifton at a group in Melksham, here is how it went, it also goes some way to explain the importance of the work Arts Together does.

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This final weekend of the Open Studios came to an emotional pinnacle for Clifton, who was displaying some of Elizabeth’s work within his own open studio exhibit in Potterne. Elizabeth made a surprise visit at the studio. She took great pleasure in seeing her work on show again. Good friend, Bev said, “The whole family came, eight of them, all the way from London, and they had a family picnic in our lounge! It was very touching.”

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Her family commented, “Arts Together has been without doubt the most human and empathetic support offered to her during difficult times.” Showing some of Elizabeth’s work at this year’s Open Studios was an opportunity to both honour her work as an artist, her founding contribution to Open Studios and the ongoing work of Arts Together.

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Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


 

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Marlborough Opens Studios in July

Imagine, if you will, don’t feel you have to on my account, but imagine an art gallery the size of a county, with forty artists exhibiting over a whole month. For some that may be overload, it’s understandable; there’s only so much trudging through an art gallery one can do without the need to scream “where’s the door, my head can only take in so much?!”

If there’s also apprehension from the artist, it’s understandable, if you even get to meet them. It’s a gallery, you’re a potential customer, they’ve got to be sober, wear plastic smile and clothes not splattered in gouache. Art galleries can often be perceived as chic, swanky places, the chinking of wine glasses and ho-ray Henries chortling, “oh, how awfully common.”

How better to visit a more relaxed artist, at their home or studio? That’s the beauty of an Open Studios event, and we have a whopper on our doorstep. Often lonesome by occupational hazard, those creative minds open up their studios in faith you’ll pay them a visit. They call it Marlborough Open Studios, but it pans across the downs from Calne and Devizes to Hungerford, and from Pewsey to Wroughton.

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Arty Pumpkin

We previewed it last year, don’t think we got much of a thanks or response from the committee, truth be told; probably favouring pressing the local rag and those ritzy websites and publications with covers of models in Harris Tweed suits and shooting rifles over their shoulders, prancing about woodland. There’s the whole systematic issue with art today, it’s considered too hoity-toity for the average, chips-from-the-chippy type person. I despise this stereotype; art appreciation should be for the masses. I like art, I don’t wear a beret, never have.

Anyway, I’m waffling. Thing is, with forty artists on show this year, I couldn’t possibly cover them all. So, I encourage you to browse their comprehensive website or pick up the guidebook distributed locally. I’m going to flick through, highlight some I like the look of, the rest is up to you.

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Normandy Barcelo-Soto

It is free to visit any artist, and they open for the first for Saturdays and Sundays of the month of July, but you need to check ahead for the particular artist as not all open every weekend. Some have special events and workshops which may incur a cost.

Again, the Open Studios committee select some exhibiting artists for a bursary award, these this year go to Japanese inspired furniture maker Josh Milton and bespoke hatmaker, Sophia Spicer.

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Mark Somerville 

I’m delighted to say The Marlborough Open Studios has chosen Arts Together to be supported charity this year. I’ve covered the charity some months ago, when I attended a workshop by artist Clifton Powell, one of a number of volunteer artists who lead the groups.

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Clifton @ Arts Together

It should be noted that Clifton Powell will also be exhibiting his fine realism paintings from his Potterne home, a variety of wildlife, locally and throughout his travelling, and the most poignant theme of unrest in the world.

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Roy Evans

Here’s my alphabetical rundown of other favourites to attend:

Anne Swan at Rowde: Botanical coloured pencil drawing.
Arty Pumpkin at Wroughton: urban mixed media printmaker with word and image combinations.
Diccon Dadey in Hungerford: amazing modern metal life sculptures.
Jenny Pape at Chirton: Oil Landscape artist.
Mark Somerville at Ogbourne St George: Lens based urban artist.
Mary Wilkinson at Mildenhall: oil and pastel landscape artist.
Normandy Barcelo-Soto in Froxfield: Mexican modern surrealist.
Roy Evans at Potterne: Coppersmith sculptures of nature.
Sarah Burton at Chirton: Expressive landscape artist.
Susan Kirkman in Ramsbury: multi-media landscape collages.
Susie Bigglestone at Calne: abstract photography.
Tania Coleridge at Wroughton: Textiles, pastel and paint imagery.

Yet, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, there is so many others to explore. Do check the website.

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Chatting Carnival with Loz

With a nail in the offside rear tyre, I’ve got a three-quarter of an hour window to nip to Mike Woods and stop for a drink at Times Square before the school run. Prioritise Worrow, prioritise; erm, just a cup of tea thanks, you get a little biscuit on the side anyway.

Loz Samuels beats me hands down when it comes to time management, it’s her second visit to coffee shop today, chatting and encouraging the progress of DOCA. Whenever I catch her, Loz laments how crazy it’s all been, yet I suspect she wouldn’t have it any other way. Appears to me she personifies the satisfaction of commitment so much it’s scary; procrastination not in her agenda, unlike me who lives by its golden rule.

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Skipping the announcement of Vinyl Realm’s second stage at the Street Festival, as despite being the reasoning for arranging the meeting, I measured both Pete and I too enthusiastic about the prospect to wait till now. Seems Loz wanted to concentrate on the subject of carnival and the nearby sub-events, opening with a partnership project with Amesbury Carnival. “We’ve created a six-feet high puppet of a mammoth,” she explained, confirming after some deliberation of the crane’s availably, it will stomp its way through our procession.

I note it’s the kind of thing you see at carnivals in South America or the Caribbean. “Yes,” she agrees, describing a second mahoosive moveable puppet of a Neolithic woman, “it’s quite colourful, because the theme is Through the Ages, so it works, it works well for them (the sponsors) because they wanted something to do with heritage.”

There was me thinking about an old British Pathe film showing a Devizes carnival of yore, but Loz explained the theme is more general, not as I thought, a historical look at Devizes Carnival. “No, just through the ages, you know, could be the future, could be aliens, but maybe someone will interpret it like that.”

So, carnival is on the 13th July this year, a change that’ll bring the walls down and make life no longer worth living, according to “traditionalists” on social media. In our last chat with Loz, we enlightened the reasoning for the change, aside the fatigue of DOCA’s volunteers with a full fortnight of events, the hesitancy of schools to contribute during summer holidays has opened up. Schools are able to work on their projects earlier in the year, and workshops have been running in seven participating schools, with others coming. The theme, Loz explains, is suitable for their curriculum too, be it Victorians, or pirates for example; one positive reason to change. Loz stressed how pleased she was with this change; carnival wouldn’t be carnival without the children.

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We move onto the notion that the subevents, the Colour Rush and the strictly Devizes “thing,” The Confetti Battle can now be on a Saturday too, rather than weekdays as previous. “So hopefully,” she nods, “there will be masses there. We had four thousand there last year, and on a Wednesday night when you’ve got to get up next day, it’s quite late….”

“It’s going to be different every year, I mean,” she continued, “how many times are you going to go to Confetti Battle when it’s the same old thing?”

I agreed, despite my kids loving it when younger, they consider they’re getting too old to bother. “But they might do this year,” Loz interrupted ardently, “because there’s gonna be massive inflatable crazy things that’ll appear in the crowd!”

Loz’s hopes for additions to this year’s Confetti Battle are from Willy Wonka’s rulebook, golden tickets to win £50 in the bags of confetti, and more side attractions will add to its appeal. “The Confetti Battle could be nationally known,” she continued, comparing its potential to the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll, “but not on a Wednesday night. People aren’t going to be travelling from, say, London on a Wednesday night.”

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Confident to grow this unique element of our carnival, Loz continued to express advantages of the battle commencing over the weekend, taking down the rigs in order for market the following morning will be a thing of the past, meaning a more elaborate setup. She had a meeting with the astatically pleasing festival, BoomTown, aiming to create a visually stunning spectacle with wider appeal.

If cynical of her ambitious outlook, Loz claimed, “the sky’s the limit, if we can raise money to put into it, then we can do it, we can do anything, so, it’s a start, I’m aware people are sceptical about changes but if we stay as we are, we’re not going to grow, we’ve no potential to make money, our arts funding will decrease.” Seems logical to me. We talked of possibilities, of Caribbean carnivals where the procession concludes into an arena for a concert afterwards. “I think it’s really exciting,” she stated, “doors are opening now.”

The crucial thing to note in this chat, is that this is only Loz’s third year at the helm, finding her feet has been uphill, with a system only documented only in her predecessor’s head. She now feels in a position to build on past experiences and deliver us the large-scale outdoor events we will be talking about through the forthcoming ages.

So, let’s get things straight right now, DOCA’s program of events is ever as lively, but with a few changes:


Saturday 6th July: Carnival Costume Making Workshop @ Wiltshire Museum:

Help prepare a large-scale costume to walk in this year’s parade. Families and children aged 8+ are invited to make some spectacular back pack style costumes. This will be a group making session working on revamping backpacks which will match with costumes made by our school groups, in either Medieval, Tudor, 18th Century, or Victorian style.

Artist and costume designer Abi Kennedy will guide you through making a colourful back pack, a fun and creative afternoon is promised. No experience is necessary.


Wednesday 10th July: Skittles Night @ The Wyvern Club

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Saturday 13th July: Devizes Carnival Through the Ages.

Entrant registration from 4pm, Procession starts at 6:15pm.

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Sunday 18th August: Picnic in the Park @ Hillworth Park


Sunday 25th August: International Street Festival @ The Green


Monday 26th August: International Street Festival @ The Market Place

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Friday 30th August: Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s Music by the Canal

6.30pm until 10pm @ Devizes Wharf.


Saturday 31st August: The Colour Rush

Starts at Green Lane Playing Fields and finishing in Market Place.


Saturday 31st August: Confetti Battle @ The Market Place

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UduL by Los Galindos @ The Green
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An award-winning Catalan circus company who inhabit a traditional Mongolian yurt which will be located on the Green for three days. Saturday 24th August: Doors 7pm Show 7.30pm, Sunday 25th August: Matinee Doors 1.45pm, show 2pm. Evening Doors 7pm Show 7.30pm, and Monday 26th of August: Doors 7pm Show 7.30pm. Minimum age recommended from 7 years. TICKETS: £5 Early bird price until 31st July, thereafter: £7 each, £5 for under 16’s.


Shop Window Competition

Shops around town have placed one item in their window, during Street Festival fortnight, that they don’t normally sell. Spot them all and be in with a chance of winning £25! Entry forms will be available online throughout the Street Festival Fortnight or from Devizes Books and the Town Hall. Completed forms can be left at the Town Hall.


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REVIEW –Devizes Arts Festival Fringe – Josephine Corcoran – 16th June @ The Vaults, Devizes

Penultimate Parade of Poetry

 

 Written by Andy Fawthrop

Images by Gail Foster (except the one of Gail Foster)

 

Another gig on the final day of Devizes Arts Festival, and something a bit different for the penultimate performance of the Free Fringe – a nice portion of poetry.

Down into the dungeons of The Vaults for this one – a perfect venue for a spoken-word event (The Vaults doesn’t have a music licence). After availing myself of an appropriate libation from the wide range of craft keg and cask beers/ lagers/ ciders in the upstairs bar (where the staff were still recovering from the shock of actually getting to see and serve our esteemed leader Darren the day before [They were delighted Andy, didn’t even take my cash- Ed],) I descended into the cellar to meet the very charming Josephine Corcoran. Josephine is not only a poet, but also a playwright (having had two plays performed on BBC Radio). She also runs a regular poetry group in nearby Trowbridge.

A goodly-sized audience (including a few poetry virgins) had assembled and enjoyed two sets of poetry. In each set Josephine read both from her latest publication (“What Are You After?”) as well as some newer unpublished poems, followed by half a dozen or so local contributors in an “open mic” slot. Josephine’s contributions were thoughtful, personal and close to home, as we learned from her careful introductions to each piece. The efforts from the floor varied in style and tone (including Gail Foster’s fine villanelle regarding the passage of time and of people), comic reflections on luxury toilets and on sex, together with more personal and reflective pieces on topics such as loss of loved ones, memory, separation and even anger. Standard stuff for a Sunday afternoon down the Vaults really. But, seriously, a hugely enjoyable and well-attended event. Hopefully we can do something similar next year too.

Josephine’s latest book is called “What Are You After?” (published 2018 by Nine Arches Press) and you can find out more about her, and her poetry, at www.josephinecorcoran.org

The Vaults’ Poetry Group meets monthly at 7pm on various dates TBA. Next meeting is on Wednesday 26th June. Each month a theme is set as a prompt to inspire new work. You can come with your own work, bring poetry by someone you admire, or just come for a listen. This month, a topic suggested by the latest guest at our table is “Addiction”. Who knows where that one will go? It’s sure to be deep, with a smattering of the light-hearted and supportive conversation that is the hallmark of this poetry group. Work, screens, exercise, love – the scope for addiction is as diverse as the waves on the sea, but is there a thread that links them all? Bring along your work and let’s explore together.

And well done (yet again) to Devizes Arts Festival for putting this on as a Free Fringe event.

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Legally Blonde Jnr Comes to Devizes

You got into Harvard Law?

What? Like, it’s hard?

Hey, get your flaxen Barnett around this; Legally Blonde, rom-com, chick-flick adaptation of Amanda Brown’s novel of the same name is eighteen years old. Yeah, like, I know right. Two years later they made the sequel; although a smash at the box office, it never raised a reviewer’s eyebrow, banally crashing the blonde versus brunette joke which Archie Comics carried for over seventy years.

Yet the initial movie stands the test of time, I like it and chick-flick generally isn’t my thing; lack of spaceships blowing things up, see?! The foreseeable gags enhanced by Reese Witherspoon’s amusing characteristics, at a time when The Spice Girls’ run of “girl power” was fading. Challenging the blonde stereotype with comical narrative was a peg in female equality and certainly the break for Reese; ummm, Reese Witherspoon…… where was I? Oh yes, female equality.

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Like many trailblazing films, it received a theatrical reworking by 2007. Premiered on Broadway, Legally Blonde had an efficacious three-year-run at London’s Savoy and picked up many awards. Now, directed by Oliver Phipps and Hayley Baxter with musical direction from Naomi Ibbetson, it has found its way, least a “Jnr” version, to our own Wharf Theatre.

Legally Blonde Jr. The Musical opens at the Wharf Wednesday 24th July, runs until Saturday 27th (7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee) and promises to be pink: “The Musical is a fun and sassy journey of self-empowerment and expanding horizons, with instantly recognizable songs, this show will leave cast members and audiences alike seeing pink!”

Plot being, if the film passed you by: The Delta Nu sorority president, Elle Woods, seems to have it all; good looks, a relationship with the campus catch and a great taste in clothes. However, her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her to attend Harvard Law School. Determined not to lose him Elle uses hard work and a fair degree of charm to get a place there herself so that she can prove she is serious and win him back. Whilst there she tackles stereotypes, snobbery and scandal but she also makes some great new friends along the way and gradually discovers how her new found knowledge of the law can really help others.

With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, again it’s a rousing and prevalent choice for the delightfully quaint Wharf Theatre. Tickets, £12 with under 16s £10, can be purchased from Ticketsource, at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a Spring/Summer brochure which is available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.

 

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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera sing Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado” – Saturday 15th June @ St Mary’s Church, Devizes

A Bit of Nanki-Poo in The Vize

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Do you like opera? What about “light” opera? With rather a lot of comedy thrown in? Good – because you’re really going to love this!

Last night I was privileged to attend the full dress rehearsal for “The Mikado” by the splendid White Horse Opera company. I was expecting something perhaps still a little rough round the edges, maybe the odd fluffed line, the occasional note or cue to be missed, but there was really none of that. The company had been rehearsing for months, had chosen their principals carefully, and were absolutely up for it.

Yet again – another gem in the entertainment crown of Devizes – we are so lucky to have these people doing this stuff!

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This particular bit of nonsense, a “comic opera” in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and words by W.S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaboration, opened in March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second-longest run for any work of musical theatre, and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Since then it’s been translated into numerous languages, and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. The setting is Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, which allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. And the company has done an excellent job of the now-traditional exercise in updating the lyrics of some songs to reflect politics Britain in 2019. Particularly pointed was Ko-Ko’s (The Lord High Executioner’s) song about who he’d like to execute (“I’ve got a little list, and they’ll none of them be missed”).

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It’s always difficult, and sometimes a little invidious, to pick out individual performances but I think it’s worth mentioning particularly Graham Billing, who delivered a hilariously nervous and dithering Ko-Ko, Charles Leeming as a wonderfully pompous and self-important Pooh-Bar (Lord High Everything Else), Lisa House as Yum-Yum, and the resilient Ian Diddams, playing The Mikado splendidly as a power-crazed modern dictator. But there were strong performances all round, from every member of the cast. It was so obvious that they were thoroughly enjoying what they do, delivering a top-notch production.

I’m not going to give the plot away, nor would I even attempt to summarise the complicated ins and outs leading to the hilarious denouement – suffice to say that the story is stuffed with disguises, mistaken identities, the fickleness of emotions, and the usual human drivers of fear and greed. The main characters ham it up splendidly, and deliver the songs with confidence and panache, squeezing every last drop of comedy out of the script.

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Given that it’s performed in modern dress, sung in English, and is a laugh-a-minute, it’s completely accessible and enjoyable. So, even if you thought that you didn’t like “opera”, I can assure you that you are going to love this. Thoroughly entertaining stuff!

It’s going to be performed on Saturday 15th June at St Mary’s church at 7.30pm. Tickets are an absolute bargain at only a tenner, and are available via Ticketsource or the company’s website at
https://whitehorseopera.co.uk/

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Future productions by WHO include:

• Wednesday 30th Oct to Saturday 2nd November @ Lavington School – Bizet’s “Carmen”
• Tuesday 17th December – venue TBA – Christmas Concert
• Friday 20th March 2020 – venue TBA – Spring Concert

And if you’re interested in getting involved yourself, whether singing, playing or behind the scenes, just head over to their website. You can also support them by becoming a “Friend” of the company for £20 p.a. Remember – they are an amateur company, supported by volunteer efforts and by voluntary contributions from their supporters.

 

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