One Was Lost was a book I picked up because I had decided I wanted to branch out a little further from my normal cheesy YA book, or my normal poetry book. I have a tendency to stick close to my comforts in a lot of areas, including reading, and this book was able to help me breach this constraint.
I had decided to stretch out further and try my hands at a story more centred on thrill, horror, mystery, suspense. For a while now, I’ve wanted to experience a book that made my chest constrict in a funny way, in a way that made me scared. I know we’ve all had our hand at murder mysteries and crime novels and even television crime dramas or horror movies, but none of those ever seemed to settle right with me, and none of them ever seemed to really be what I was searching for. One Was Lost managed to do something that a book had yet to do for me.
Most things that I read I can usually guarantee a happy ending, or at least ones where all the characters live, save for Shakespeare’s works. Most of the time, I’m pretty much certain that’s how things will go, and I usually hope for that, too (I am guilty of really, really loving a happy and pure ending). With One Was Lost, I was less sure of this, and in turn, I hoped for it much more fiercely. I wanted it to end well so desperately and was so torn that it was the a book that just might not do that, that I felt that little constraint in my chest that I had wanted to feel. As the characters got put in more and more danger, and the likelihood of a happy ending seemed to dwindle, I got more and more entrenched in the story and more and more hungry for answers and a good ending. When there was one, I felt relief and happiness so big and all-encompassing that I was sure I was a balloon that had been blown up to bursting. It was such a wonderful feeling, another I admit I am guilty of enjoying, to watch characters trudge through the unimaginable, and come out the other side. I hope my praise can reach out to the author, Natalie D. Richards, because I am brimming with it. The feelings I had throughout my read were incredible, and something I’m glad to have experienced.
All the characters are interesting, with their own little stories that fade impact and shape the bigger, overall plot. Each of them (like our main character, Sera, and the others, Emily, Jude, Lucas) were all lovable and easy to attach oneself to in different ways. All of them had characteristics I loved, and attributes I admired, and in the midst of their heavy story, it was still wonderful to see them in my mind’s eye interacting and even laughing. A brief summary can be found on Natalie D. Richards’ website: http://nataliedrichards.com/books/onewaslost/ as this can supply an explanation and introduction to the book better than I can, as I do not wish to spoil anything.
To add to this even more, the writing made this feel even more real. It was clear and concise, and unbelievably detailed. There was a period in the text where Natalie D. Richards describe the feeling of thirst so well and so closely, that I found myself feeling thirsty and scrambling for bottles of water to get me through.
I give this 4 stars. It was a good introduction to the other aspects of my usual YA genre with a far more intriguing and mysterious core, and I did enjoy the story of it incredibly so. I very much loved it.
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke has been a long time favourite book of mine. I read it first about five years ago, and I remember reading it, loving it with my whole heart, finishing it, and instantly reading it again.
Once upon a time, I was recommended it. Someone that I knew once knew how much I loved the Professor Layton game, “Professor Layton and the Last Spectre”, as within this game there was a small gang of poor and homeless children who banded together to keep each other safe and warm who I took an overwhelming attachment to. The Thief Lord reminded them of these characters, and in turn, of me. And I could not be more grateful to have discovered a book that reminded me so much of characters I already loved, and created whole other characters who I loved just as much – perhaps more. Not only did these characters hold such a special place in my heart, they’ve stayed there undeterred for years. Even as I continue to consume new media and content and entertainment, there has yet to be something that knocks Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord from its #1 spot in my heart.
The plot is sweet, and something I loved all those years ago an equal amount as I still love it now. It is mysterious and alluring and downright fun – and to top it all off, the way it’s presented is unimaginably atmospheric, which is a factor I love an immeasurable amount. Being set in Venice, somewhere I have always wanted to go but have yet to find the opportunity to get there, it was like I got to go there for myself. And even better, it was like I got to go and I got to relive this story again and again in a place as beautiful in real life as it is in my mind’s eye.
The writing made this atmosphere even more incredible. The way Funke would describe the water and stone, the pathways and alleys, the boats and the famous buildings was mesmerising. The way it was written had a hand in shaping my own writing goals, as I also love at atmospheric touch in my own work. This has shaped me for so long and is so intrinsically a part of me that honestly I am so, so happy.
The characters are all lovely, each with their own unique personality and lovable traits. My favourites were always Prosper (our main character), Victor Getz, and Ida Spavento. I always thought, and continued to think of them, as lovable forces who would keep anyone safe – which they did. Prosper takes care of his younger brother, Bo. Victor Getz helps care for them (and the other runaway kids), as does Ida Spavento. They all just seemed like the sweetest characters, who I feel unimaginably lucky to have discovered and cherished as much as I do.
I give the book 5 stars, as it holds such an important place on my bookshelf and in my heart. It remains my absolute favourite book, and I’m sure that will continue to be the truth in the foreseeable future, and probably also beyond that. I cannot recommend it enough, especially to those who love heart-warming tale.
Hi Campbell Great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
My name is Campbell Lawrie and I am the Paul Hamlyn Club Coordinator and Drama Class Supervisor at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. This is my ninth year with the company but have been working as the Paul Hamlyn Club Coordinator for the last three years.
So what got you interested in the arts ?
In first year of secondary school my English teacher thought drama and storytelling would help boost my confidence because at the time I was quite shy. Drama wasn’t a course that was offered at my school so my teacher helped me find courses across Ayrshire – where I’m originally from. As soon as I started performing I fell in love with bringing a story to life and witnessing the effect this can have on others. I was hooked after that and knew that I wanted to use theatre as a tool to change people’s lives.
You coordinate the Paul Hamlyn Club at The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Can you please tell us more about this initiative and your role?
The Citizens Theatre was very lucky to be one of five venues across Britain to be gifted a sum of money to identify and tackle the barriers that local, disadvantaged people may encounter when trying to access the arts.
My role is to coordinate the different strands of work we deliver in order to do this and also to create relationships with those affected. The role is very hands on. I regularly visit groups and their members in the local community and also welcome the individuals we engage with into the theatre and gain their feedback.
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is funding the Paul Hamlyn Clubs to “Attract and build relationships with audiences from disadvantaged groups within their local communities.” How has your organisation approached this objective?
The Citizens Theatre was originally approached because of the amount of work we were already carrying out in the local community and across Glasgow. Using the gift we were able to refocus our efforts in attracting the local community to the theatre and there are currently four different strands of work under the Paul Hamlyn Club banner helping to achieve this objective. For those who live in Gorbals area of Glasgow, where the Citizens Theatre company has been based for the past 72 years, we offer heavily subsidised tickets to those who sign up to the Gorbals Card scheme.
The area is still one of the most heavily deprived areas of Scotland and ensuring our neighbours can attend our shows is our way of thanking those who have supported us over the years. We also run a Deaf Theatre Club working alongside Inkblot Collective to deliver an accessible programme for our Deaf audience and we work with two local schools to help engage a new generation of theatre goers.
The Paul Hamlyn Citizens is the fourth strand of work. This involves visiting local organisations and charities to discuss the barriers faced in accessing theatre and inviting them to join the PHCitizens to access tickets to shows throughout the year at 50p per ticket. Our PHCitizens ambassadors are always on hand during shows and events to answer any questions or queries those attending through the Paul Hamlyn Club may have.
Have your new audiences chosen to see any specific type of work at your venue?
We have learned that our new audiences are willing to engage with most types of work because they know they have nothing to lose through attending. Our new audiences see coming to the theatre as a social event more than anything and the shows, the free interval ice-creams, the post-show chats etc are all just added extras. There is an amazing atmosphere at Paul Hamlyn events as many stay behind to discuss the shows and this in turn helps create a larger community network. In saying this, comedies and musicals, especially if they are Scottish shows, prove to be more popular than most but Shakespeare, classics and new writing still appeal and have drawn in equally large numbers.
What impact has had this project in your venue had on the larger organisation?
The impact of the project can be seen across the organisation. Every department has been involved in its delivery in one way or another: backstage have provided talks and presentations, FOH ambassadors greet and welcome the wide range of new patrons who come through our doors and one of our box office assistants is even completing Level 3 BSL. Our community work which has been aided through Paul Hamlyn has also been recognised in helping secure some money for our Capital Project. Accessibility is always at the forefront of people’s minds and this has helped emphasise our stance that we are the Citizens Theatre – we exist for and because of Glasgow’s Citizens.
In the current funding climate many venues and organisation have very limited budgets. Is it possible to share some of your learning that organisations could implement to support new audiences that doesn’t require large amounts of funding?
Funding obviously plays a huge part in making theatre accessible to all but small things like listening to your local community and sharing your resources/spaces with local organisations or individuals can help strengthen relationships. Finding out what your patrons want you to be and how else they would like to use the building is important in making the patrons feel comfortable in coming through the doors. An extension of this is having dedicated, friendly staff to welcome your new audience. We held an open day event, for example, to promote the theatre and our learning work to local, disadvantaged people.
We held workshops, talks and demonstrations throughout the building while outside a local band played and local organisations and businesses promoted their produce and work. The event cost very little because the local community were very generous in donating nearly everything we required and this in turn strengthened our network and individual relationships. I feel that a lot of the time people prefer putting names and faces to the organisation. Offering unsold tickets to your local contacts is also a good way to engage your new audience.
Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision In relation to your own project are you aware of any barriers for audiences to access cultural provision.
I think the barriers faced will vary greatly depending on where you are based. The Citizens Theatre is in a highly deprived area with an extremely diverse cultural background meaning we have encountered barriers such as language, affordability and childcare. Some people also feel intimidated entering a building they have only ever walked past or think it isn’t physically accessible. We have heard that a lot of people think theatre is elitist and “not for them”. Transport and programming also come up as common answers to what stops people coming along. Thanks Campbell, finally some more personal questions. What excites you about the arts? What was the last really great cultural activity event that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
The cast of My Country with director Rufus Norris, gatherer Campbell Lawrie and some of the interviewees from Glasgow.
I genuinely get excited when a theatre show tackles social issues and politics head-on. Any piece of art that encourages debate or triggers a passionate response from its audience while also being entertaining has, in my eyes, achieved its goal. I was very lucky to have worked on the recent production of My Country by National Theatre. My role was to gather information from the Scottish people on their views on Brexit and the political climate following the Brexit vote. Listening to each person’s unique story on how they decided they were going to vote and knowing that snippets of these stories were going to heard by people all over Britain really excited me because the project, like the issue, encouraged debate but this time it was a debate between everyday people – not the media and not the politicians.
There is, on the other hand, one show that has stuck with me for ten years and remains my favourite piece of theatre – Headlong and Citizens Theatres production of Angels in America in 2007. I have no words to describe how that show made me feel but it did make me want to work at the Citizens Theatre. I guess in that way, that show changed my life.
History is definitely intriguing to me. I already love stories, and there’s no loss when they’re true stories. However, I am far less interested in history discovered through school. Since, in all honesty, exams suck the life and the fun out of almost anything. This podcast was a way for me to experience history in a newer, and definitely more exciting way. This podcast would be great for people who are casually interested in history, or a good spooky/spiritual story.
Initially, I discovered it through a separate podcast I listen to, Welcome to Nightvale. In this podcast, one of the creators discusses some information about merchandise and tours before the episode begins. He mentioned a new movement called “Trypod” – a play on “tripod” to try, well, podcasts. And I decided to take this offer up! Here’s how I’m here now. I Googled podcasts. I found Lore. I listened to it, and I loved it.
Lore was undoubtedly a refreshing listen. I was overwhelmed by the amount of stories, folklore, tales, and mystery that were open to me. I was able to learn and enjoy countless dots of history scattered through the globe with a multitude of spooky, almost scary stories, that were true.
I’ve wanted to experience scary stories for a while now. I’ve really wanted a book to unsettle my stomach and plague my imagination with fear-enduring figures. I wanted, in all honesty, to experience and good and honest horror. I never found it in books. Which, I admit, I’m quite astounded that I have yet to find this in books, because I do consider myself a person extremely susceptible to an over-active imagination after a scary story. I’m astounded that horror, any kind from any book I’ve read, didn’t would do what I thought it is all set out to: scare me.
I thought books would work, but in their place, this podcast did. There were episodes that affected me particularly. The one about the Jersey Devil stuck with me. As did one that described in unsettling and inescapable detail the ins-and-outs of lobotomy. The detail was striking, and because there was nothing else my imagination could cling on to in a way of distracting me and minimising my fears, I was stuck in the scare that I’d wanted to feel all along. Which was amazing, which was exactly what I wanted – but it was as well, of course, scary as anything.
Lore was incredibly quick and easy! As an A-Level student most of my time is focused on school work, and I have less and less time for leisure as my exams creep up on me. So, a podcast with reasonable-length episodes was like some kind of blessing. They weren’t too long, or too short. And they were great to listen to after I got home, in that short and sweet period of time with no stress; between changing into my pyjamas , having a snack, and before actually sitting down to study. Lore is great for busy people.
I’ve learned through this podcast that all the great tales have the most infuriating and unsatisfactory endings – like all good unsolved things, I suppose, but in a way that is still loads of fun.
The narration is great. It isn’t rushed, and neither is it too slow. Similarly, the music flows perfectly in time with the words and the story.
I give it 5 stars – definitely don’t miss out on this gem of entertainment.
Get the Chance have been announced as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award at the 2017 Epic Awards organised by Voluntary Arts. The ceremony took place on Sunday the 19th March at the Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival.
The Epic Awards were set up in 2010 by Voluntary Arts, an organisation that works across the UK and Republic of Ireland to promote participation in creative cultural activities. They celebrate the amazing contribution voluntary-led creative groups make to their communities.
The Celebrating Diversity Award is selected from across the full shortlist of 32 groups by a panel of judges representing teams in each nation. This award celebrates groups that have taken an innovative approach to highlighting the positive effects that come from living in a diverse society and is something that is central to the work that Voluntary Arts does all year round. Get the Chance were unanimously praised by the Epic Awards judges for
“The project’s unique approach to encouraging a diversity of voices”
Guy O’Donnell, Director of Get the Chance said;
“Get the Chance is honoured to be selected as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award. We strive to reflect the diverse nature of society in our voluntary membership. We learn from our team about barriers to sport and cultural provision and seek to work together to provide responses which are representative of all citizens in the UK.”
Anyone who is anyone at least knows the main premises of the classic, Frankenstein. Depicted over the years from the original novel in films, television, even costume at Halloween by the kids that knock on your door asking for mounds of sugar.
This is what makes this production such a challenge – how do you take something so well known and turn it into something that feels fresh, new and still a surprise?
Black Eyed Theatre have gone back to basics – they have taken the story and been true, reverted back to original theatre with keeping to the era, to the proscenium arch, no audience interaction and while this sounds unoriginal, it’s actually refreshing that they haven’t decided to take some modern take or make it some metaphorical twist on the story. Sometimes, keeping to the original is extraordinary in itself.
But while they do this, they still make it original to their company – with only four members of the cast, everyone pitches in – music and sounds are made on stage with instruments, objects and their own body and voices; times when the characters are changing, this leads to a change in instrumentalists and this is done with no pause of hesitance making the doubling up of characters and the atmosphere made by sound seamless.
Each performer (except for Frankenstein) at least has a minimum of two characters to play – there’s a sense of melodrama to this as at times the gestures and characterisation are a little hammed up – this does provide a little comic relief which is helpful in keeping us upbeat and ready for shocks and surprises when we are also being drawn into the deteriorating mental state of Frankenstein but they also play each character very well, letting us forget that they are only a cast of 4.
The highlight for me, as a huge collector of and interest in, is the puppetry. How do you make a huge muscly monster of 6-7ft tall? The National Theatre Saw Benedict Cumberpatch and Johnny Lee Miller in costume and mask created especially for them each, changing the character they played each night and this was a triumph itself. Here, Frankenstein is a full sized puppet, movement and speech only being possible with a minimum of 3 of the performers. Made of rope, it has been made in such a way as to represent his strong muscular form, and with the head with moveable mouth and eyes, he is eerie, frightening and also pulls at your heart strings. One performer providing the simplistic voice, and the others providing soundscapes to represent echo and give a horror atmosphere, we are sucked in and see only a 5th member of the cast, not a puppet.
Frankenstein is clever, truthful to the novel and an inspiring approach to theatre and classic text.
As I have previously stated, Caryl Churchill is easily one of my favourite playwrights. After seeing ‘Pigs and Dogs’ a few months earlier, to hear that this production of ‘Escaped Alone’ is only 50 minutes long is not surprising. While not all her plays are so short in time in comparison to a lot of productions on the theatre circuit at the moment, there is something really clever and interesting that she is able to condense so much emotion, thought provocation and comedy in a small amount of time, with the ability to make a serious point about current times.
Escaped Alone sees 4 older women sat in a garden, talking about whatever comes to mind. In 50 minutes we hear their darkest fears and confessions, with each character being established easy, quickly and well, not only with the writing but by the performer’s abilities. We have times of conversation which borderlines Harold Pinter’s coined writing of short sentences, interruption and pause, soliloquies of the characters and what they are really thinking and feeling away from the conversation, and our newest member of the gang who had happened to stumble on this group, breaking away from the scene entirely to give us a description or perhaps prediction of how man and his obsessions and excess have impacted our World; apocalyptic in ideals, it is strangely darkly comical but also slightly frightening.
Some will recognise and feel star struck by the cast – Linda Bassett, our newbie to the group, is well known for her role in the current show Call The Midwife; Deborah Findley, the lady with an irrational fear of cats, from many roles, notably the recent The Lady in the Van and a return to The Royal Court stage from The Children back in December 2016; Kika Markham, our lady with a fear of going outside, also well versed in UK television such as Mr Selfridge and Call the Midwife; And finally our funny lady of manslaughter, June Watson, another regular to The Royal Court and of whom joined Findley in The Lady in the Van. These regulars to our TV, Film and Theatre scenes of course know their theatre, know their skills and simply comparing them from this production to former roles can see that with age, certainly comes experience. They are able to complement one another, bring a sense of naturalism and realism to the piece, so that when we have cut aways and taken from the scene to monologues, it breaks the ease and breaks this natural barrier – we are then not just listening to 4 women chatting over a cup of tea.
Again, The Royal Court never ceases to amaze. With each production, they are able to take such natural and seemly relatable texts and turn it on its head. A simple garden scene, is then punctured by bright lighting and dark and deep dialogue. It really becomes an experience, and in the context of Escaped Alone, creates uncertainty (that we welcome) as to whether parts are comical, serious, or a farce.
Churchill and The Royal Court gel together better than tea and biscuits.
I recently read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and I don’t know if I have the words to describe my reaction to it.
Five stars, first of all, let’s start there. I don’t think I want anyone I’m close to missing out on such an outstanding and completely mesmerising book like this one. I’ve read so many books lately, and all of them have been good, but I think they have been good in their own right. However, none of them (at least, none of the recent ones I’ve read) have been quite as enthralling as this.
I don’t want to go too far into the plot (I don’t think, for one, I could do it justice as it was incredibly intertwined and intricate), however I do want to say that it’s probably the saddest and most bittersweet plots I’ve ever had the utmost pleasure to experience. Two boys in Afghanistan, their lives and endeavours and trials and tribulations to come – everything life throws at them. It was truly tragic, with sprinkling happiness and and overall wonderful redemption.
Sad stories are the best ones, I think. But I never expected this tale to be so true of that statement and also, somehow, change it. Sad stories are the best stories. I’ve learnt about the concept of catharsis at school and I think I really, truly, felt it. So maybe sad stories are the best ones, but maybe the sadness should be in moderation for me (it was really, honest and truly, the most heart wrenching and devastating yet amazing books I’ve ever read).
One of the things I’ve noticed after reading this was how sure I usually am that, as a reader, I am going to receive my happy ending. This book changed that. Situation after situation that tugged my heartstrings and made me tearful made me less and less sure of myself. I’ve felt the normal, almost-rush of fear when you notice a book has a lot to complete yet so little pages to do it in. And I had that with this book. Yet, with every other book I’ve read I haven’t truly felt afraid that things wouldn’t work out. I always knew they would, because they always do. I didn’t have this with this book.
I was unsure. A good kind of unsure. An exciting and all-encompassing unsure that left me not knowing if there could possibly be a happy ending coming my way after the turmoil the main character (Amir) had gone through, as well as the turmoil all the other characters had gone through, as well. There was one, single chapter left, and I did not know whether, within about the forty minutes it would take me to read it, I would be grinning or crying. Eventually, it was both, and I’m quite happy with that.
As I said, it was an extremely bittersweet book, with the excellent kind of plot execution that always draws you in for the entire time (and then some – I’ve only just finished it and it’s still the only thing on my mind). It had the kind of writing that was honestly beautiful, full of lovely description and meaningful dialogue and fantastic general, actual, real storytelling which struck a cord somewhere within me and really made my heart feel for it(/the characters).
I bought it to expand my horizons, to diversify my bookshelf. And I’m so glad I did. I went in borderline completely blind, and I came out the other side a little different to how I went in. I’ve been given a history lesson, a gratitude lesson, and probably also a lesson on writing (which I hope to carry into the future).
I feel as if, through reading this book, the kind of problems I have faced or am expecting to face have been minimised and put a little into place. Which doesn’t erase them, but does make me feel a lot more at ease with my life tonight than it did when I woke up in the morning. And I like that. I’m happy I got that. It was unexpected and nice, almost like an extra gift from the author as well as a phenomenal experience.
Get the Chance recently had the opportunity to run some free critical workshops as part of takepART 8 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. takepART is aimed at the 0 to 18-years-old age group, but its open to parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents who all get involved in workshops and craft sessions that take place throughout Venue Cymru.
Get the Chance was just one of the organisations running a series of free workshops during the weekend.
The Get the Chance staff had the opportunity to chat to some of the members of Young Critics North Wales who are supported by the venue. Young Critics North Wales is based at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. It is supported by the Arts Council of Wales and is the first scheme of its kind in North Wales.
The pop-up newspaper returned to Venue Cymru’s take pART arts festival where young people were given the chance to learn some of the skills of a journalist and news photographer. Under the guidance of Editor Joann Rae, Chief Photographer Paul Sampson and Chief Reporter Tim Moxley, young people were assigned a story to cover and photographs to capture from all of the exciting events at take pART! All the work below has been created by the young journalists and photographers of the Daily PlanART
It was a very welcome opportunity for Get the Chance to develop its critical network in North Wales. We thank the Arts Council of Wales for funding this opportunity.
Interested in theatre, dance, visual art, gigs, poetry, film and more?
Want to access a free workshop which will give you an insight into the role of a critic?
Then, this is for you!
You will take part in a 1 hour workshop with Guy O’Donnell Director of online magazine website Get the Chance http://getthechance.wales
During the workshop you will be given an insight into the role of the arts critic. You will be given instruction on how to create a review and upload your response online. Participants will look at blogging, video, social media and much more! All workshop participants will get the opportunity for their reviews to feature on the Get the Chance website.
If you have one please bring a laptop, tablet and/or smartphone.
Workshops are on Saturday the 14th at 11.30 and 1.45 pm at Venue Cymru as part of Take Part 2017