Monday, 30 March 2015


After sitting next to Mark Fisher (the one with the nice smile and a book coming out soon) in Stornoway, and finding out that he'd been reading an earlier post, I decided to do something I'd regret. 

I'm writing this from the Stones at Callanish, the nearest place to my hostel that offered appropriate psychic energy, to summon the one person who can always be relied upon to break things down.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Aristotle, the King of the Category.

"Why have I been awakened from my slumber? Why dire imprecations summon me forth from my dreamless aeons? 

Oh, hell, it's you, Vile. What is it this time?"

"I want to know how to define the roles of the critic, the reviewer and the journalist."

"Why don't you ask Plato? You know that whatever I say, you'll ignore it and make up your own definition. One which makes you the only critic in the world, and everyone else reviewers or journalists or hacks."

"Because I know in the end, all of my opinions are either justifying what I do already, or just a load of nonsense that won't change anything, anyway."

"Like your idea about how actors ought not to write reviews?"

"Yes - even if I actually get around to saying what a review is, the world will go on. Critics will still write well or badly, actors'll do the odd review, which will be no better or worse than those done by 'proper' critics."

"If you start with 'proper', I'm going back to death."

"Tell me about it. I'm not even sure that statements that involve 'ought' or 'should' have any place... anywhere."

"How about, you should not ask questions of the dead? And aren't you keen on some of the Ten Commandments - the ones that you can keep without too much effort?"

"Let's start with a delineation of The Journalist."

"There are five kinds of journalist."

"That's six types."

"Do you think anyone has read this far down? But I can do this all day - what's the purpose of dividing it all up so neatly?"

"Not sure yet. But I'm tired... let's come back tomorrow with the five types of reviewer. Then we'll see what happens."

Ten @ Zoo Roxy, 2011

26 AUGUST 2011

Although its relationship to dance is not obviously apparent, Ten is a sincere and thoughtful meditation on the relationship between one man's Indian and British identities. Patel grew up feeling western, but a late fascination with Indian rhythm encouraged him to reconsider his heritage.

Enlisting two drummers - one from Scotland, and another from Africa via Barbados and Birmingham - Patel enjoys highlighting the complexities and humour within ideas about racial identity. The charisma of the three men, who banter and challenge each other, explain the difference between India's ten beat cycle and western pop's four to the floor pump, and cover themselves in red kanku, the cosmetic used for the Hindu "red dot" on the forehead. Somewhere between the tossing of powder, and the drummer's intrusions on Patel's speculations, Patel drags out his own conflicts and questions.

When Patel draws a contrast between a British "lineal" conception of the beat and the more cyclical nature of the Indian rhythm, he provides a structure to his musings that makes sense of his repetitions and casual style. He does not draw any conclusions about his identity, merely peruses possibilities: yet this open style allows Patel to be comfortable wearing both the Hindu dot and the George's Cross on his chest.

Charming, confident and consciously avoiding any bland statements about national identity, Ten may not be dance but it is a fascinating insight into one man's interior landscapes.

Sequential Cohen, Russia Today


“Depression” seems to signify social ills for which we have no solution, from violent, homicidal behavior, to health illiteracy, to our culture’s neglect of the elderly. Constructing societal deficits as a medical problem does everyone a disservice—because treatment specific for depression won’t work for people who don’t really have depression. People who need social support can be expected to benefit most from programs that provide social support—not from psychiatrists.

'We apologise for the inconvenience, but there is no wi-fi on the ship this evening. We wish you a comfortable journey...' The captain's voice, even allowing for the distortion of the speakers, was smooth and reassuring. Only the slightest burr of his highland accent remained, and he handed over to the 'important safety announcement.'

Another voice crackled to life, with the enthusiasm of a game-show
host, and explained the location of various floatable devices, in the unlikely case of an emergency. Criticulous opened up his brown suitcase - by god, the things is heavy - and removed the machine from its depths. He checked for a recording device, then closed the suitcase. 

He was facing three, large, round portholes. The sea, and sky and hills - they were only moments clear of the harbour - were shades of grey and green. A thin rain - a smir - was descending, imitating the filter of a thin fog. Behind him, a bank of televisions competed with different channels, each one's volume reduced to a whisper, but bleeding into each other.

A politician from a popular nationalist party takes to the stage to the sound of canned laughter from a chat show. A celebrity questions an amateur artist, who is racing against the clock and competing with a polite interview on a religious programme.

Criticulous remembers that he enjoys travelling on ships: he's of an age that can remember a time when this was the only way to 
make journeys across water. The cheapness and convenience of air-planes notwithstanding, his sentimentality is leavened by a sense that the speed of trains and boats, and even buses, are more congenial to the human consciousness. 

The view through his porthole, however, is unlikely to be adapted for a tourist's postcard: it isn't quite grim enough to be austere, and the limited palette of colours inhibits the spectacular majesty expected of the Highlands.

He'd felt sick on the bus - he's taken a seat in direct sunlight, and had been forced to put aside his book. They were following the bed of a river - meandering as it came closer to the shore, and clear evidence of the region's glacial past. At times, the road was at the precipice of a narrow, deep channel, the water gurgling and bouncing along far belong, great slates exposed beneath the eddies and falls. Then, suddenly, the valley would open out, a vast flood plain with steep mountains going further into the distance.

Despite this not being the country of his birth, he feels one of his sporadic surges of sentiment. These are inevitably followed by resentment.

He tries to catch up with the machine's commands. It has been locked away for the journey, but he is drawn back to gather his instructions. The recording device is ready to be emptied. He syphons off the excess and filters out the grains, pressing them 
flat onto the screen and using his finger to test their colour and content. 

It is the sense of being suspended above... either potential or the void, he thinks. Only on the road is he ever alone.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The camera in the mind's eye never gets a hair in the lens.

Over on Facebook, the charming Gemma Hirst asked an innocent question.

Is it possible for a theatre reviewer to be involved in the theatre as an actor as well?

The charmless answer I left in the comments - absolutely not - needs some clarification, not least because I appear to have been very rude. But it is a question that has formed a great deal of my policy as an editor, from my days at The Skinny through to my exciting career as an all-round media node.

Before I launch into the Big Rant, a few qualifiers. First of all, the word actor can be replaced by dramaturg, director, producer, stage-hand  or any other active role in a professional theatre company.

Then there's the question of objectivity. I don't believe it exists (and, a bit like my mum when I swore in an argument, immediately discount any argument that uses it). It is not the case that a performer is any less subjective than a critic. 

Finally, I am not discounting the validity or importance of the voice of the actor: it is a fascinating and valuable addition to the discussion of theatre. It is the specific area of the review that is under consideration - an activity performed by journalists, reviewers and critics. At another time, I might discuss the difference between them.

There is a period of time when an individual can be both theatre-maker and critic - the early years of their career. At some point - a mysterious one, but hopefully one that a conscientious editor can support - the individual slips into one of the two camps, and any crossover needs to be carefully monitored.

And so, rant-fans, here we go.

If objectivity is rejected, a multiplicity of subjectivities replace it. While there is no hierarchy of subjectivities in my argument - I am not saying one way of seeing is better than another - different subjectivities filter experience in diverse ways.

A critic (we'll be dealing with the critic rather than other people who write reviews) has a specific way of interpreting theatre. It's not entirely possible to make a generalisation about what that specific way is, as it will differ between critics (or in my case, whether I am pretending to be Gareth K Vile or Mad Cyril).

A theatre-maker will have a different approach to interpretation (see above for a qualifying ramble). These perceptions of theatre are both crucial.

The nub is that the theatre-maker, the actor, if they are engaged to any serious degree in their own process, will primarily observe a production in the light of their profession. If they are any good, they'll be asking something like the following question:

If I had the same budget, and the same intention, how would I have presented this work?

Potentially, the actor is not just watching the action on stage: they are also following their own version, going on in their head, without the friction of the physical world. It will be perfect, and the act of watching will not be based on generosity...

The camera in the mind's eye never gets a hair in the lens.

A critic, hopefully, will have a different question:

What is this work trying to do, and how well does it do it?

Again, this does not mean that the critic has a better opinion, just one that works better for reviewing purposes. In fact, the theatre-makers' interpretation is a crucial part of their creative process. And that opinion is well worth reading - but is not a good foundation for a review.

Add in the possibility of conflicted interest - is it likely that the actor might have some advantage in undermining a production or performer? - or just the general problem of not upsetting your colleagues (seriously, I am lovely most of the time, but I get hate-mail), and the actor is a bad bet as a critic.

Counter-arguments abound (like needing to know about the experience of performing, but there are ways around that), but, frankly, there's not enough work for critics without letting actors in on the rich pickings.

(Of course, my own artistic presentations make me a hypocrite. Over to the internet...)

Part 5

From what I know from my clinician friends about depression is that the description of depression often partially overlaps with the description of melancholia. It’s often said that we live in a post–political society of melancholia and so on — I think we should never forget that in psychoanalysis the definition of melancholia is a very precise one. It is not simply that the melancholic has lost the object. If you read Freud really closely it is almost the opposite, it is that you get the object but you lose the desire for the object. Freud hit it when he claimed precisely that the melancholic complains of losing an object but he is not aware of what feature it is that he lost, he is confused between the object of desire and that which makes me desire the object. 


The first thing that he sees as he leave the bus station is a sleek
black and silver 
fa├žade for a lap-dancing club. It shines as if covered in a thin layer of water, the black stone seeming to reflect light and the silver lettering promising a luxurious experience. Next door, a church dating back to the nineteenth century. 

Two men are standing in front of the church - one is whistling, in a
tone just shrill enough to be piercing, a tune from the 1950s. Criticulous can't quite place it. The other one, hands in pockets and hunched shoulders, is reading a plaque and giggling.

'It's called Old High St Stephen's,' he chuckles. 'Like that song by The Grateful Dead.'

Criticulous can place that - a performance six months earlier, and a solo male dancer shambles on stage, all arrogant hippy diffidence, and explains how The Dead means so much to him, man. The sparkling little jangle of St Stephen sparked up and he began to dance, apeing the medieval music phrasing with a few jester-like movements.

'St Stephen,' he droned, still dancing and the band still ramblin' away. 'St Stephen always makes me think of a group of lazy theology students.'

Yeah, instead of doing their presentation on the first Christian saint, they dropped acid and did a tumbling act for the professor. It's that fuzzy, vague hippy shit again. 

Can you answer?
Yes I can...
But what would be the question to 
To the answer, maan?

Like wow, dude. Still, anything that will keep them high enough not to actually notice oppression man. Criticulous had never forgiven The Dead for their behaviour at Altamont. Recommending the Hell's Angels as security for a free gig. Garcia must have wanted revenge on Keith Richards. Maybe he was sore at coming second in the 'who ate all the drugs?' awards.

Somehow, Old High St Stephen's Church maintained integrity, despite the peeling paint of the blue vestry door and the visible cracks in the brickwork. Next door, the lap-dancing club was gleaming, but the veneer was plastic. The whistler said something under his breath about his mother.

TLRS @ Arika

Friday, 27 March 2015

Hierarchy in Theatre: Eric Asks About Film

Peter Pal Pelbart @ Arika Episode 7

At The Beat Goes On @ Tron (Part 2)

At The Beat Goes On @ Tron

3 acts outside normal parameters, sloppy design

Part 3

"McLuhan brings up the concept of Tribes early on. He talks of us “banging the tribal drum” and how these new media (which at that time consisted of radio and TV) enabled us to have a voice and share our messages to wide audiences. TV and radio were the birth of one-to-many communication. When electronic media came along, the tribal drums started banging and we never looked back.Seth Godin talks of building Tribes around things that we are passionate about, and that those tribes will spin off other tribes, and that’s how people change the world. McLuhan heard the drums 50 years ago. Today, they are banging louder than ever."
Susan Murphy, 2010

He settles back in the red office chair, about a foot away from the microphone, as he had been instructed by the voice in the headphones. He stares directly at the yellow windscreen, concentrating on lowering his tone and swallowing his nervousness.

'There's a spectre hanging over Europe,' said a second voice in the headphones. 'And I am joined by Criticulous to find out whether we can shed some light on the matter. Be the host to the ghost, if you like.'

There was a pause, an uncertain cough, and the voice, now reassuringly masculine and serious, repeated the statement, before racing into the first question. Criticulous realised that he was expected to answer, and coughed softly, away from the microphone.

The host swiftly moved to involve a third voice - the second guest - and Criticulous cast a bored glance around the studio. In the corner, despite several notices warning against littering, a selection of old, rusting, laptop computers had been dumped. Their cables were cut and disconnected, and the screens were cracked or, in one case, shattered. Realising that the voices had returned their attention to him, he mumbled a quick answer.

'It's something to do with the frequency of mobile phones.' Then a long pause, during which he understood that the conversation had moved on.

'If we could just take that again?' The first voice announced itself in his ear. 'You've been great, thank you. Do keep in touch.'

We waited for three minutes, listening to the silence, before removing his headphones. He made his way to the exit, casting his eyes around the corridor, hoping to find the runner who had deposited him in the studio.

Eventually, he handed back his security pass and wandered out into the foyer. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Part 2

“I felt very unhappy with the identity of being German, with the past and the unanswered questions – how the Holocaust could have happened – organised crime to such a dimension and unbelievable horror. I was very tortured by it and felt enormous grief about it. It was great for me to have found this music; to sing it to the world.”
 Ute Lemper, interview 2013

From his office, every night around this time, he could hear the busker sing the chorus to Don't Look Back In Anger. The guitar accompaniment was muted by the flow of the traffic, and the whining, out-of-tune voice seemed to rise above the noise from night-clubs, the cleaner banging bins in the studio next door and the music he would play in an attempt to drown it all out.

Not sure that he ought to be out so late, he pulls on his coat and checks the pockets for keys and a bus ticket. He ponders clearing his desk, but does not even bother to switch of his computer.

It was this careless that lost him last time... there was a bigger job... he had not always watched out for the main chance... maybe there was something in his mind, a guilt for some action that he did not recognise. 

'You can be terribly self-destructive,' she had said. 'Until you can work that out, don't ask for redemption.'

He turns. The ghost hasn't even bothered to disappear. It hands them, suspended in mid-air, a tedious stereotype of bed-sheet and holes for eyes. The blood, of course, drips to the floor into an invisible puddle. 

Christeene Machinix

Alienation: it's not just boredom, Brecht

In the Lyceum's production of Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle, it
takes around two and a half hours to get to the nub of the story: in an almost throwaway line, the story-teller musician explains that the land, like everything else, belongs to those who care. This simple platitude - which hardly explains the political dilemma that begins the epic adventure - seems redundant and disappointing. In the previous scenes, maternal heroism had battled with legal corruption, revolutionary promiscuity and masculine dishonesty. Brecht's pat moral seems too small, too obvious to do justify to the scope of the story.

Now, young lady. What can you bring to my part?
The two most well known facts about Brechtian theatre, after his rejection of all American values except the casting couch, are that it is supposed to be politically engaged (he said that Marx would have been his perfect audience member), and that it breaks the fourth wall (apparently, this involves shouting at the audience rather than pretending that they are not there). A more developed interpretation of these fantastic facts are that Brecht strove to show alienation in his productions, encouraging the audience to see how the apparent inevitability of situations was, actually a function of capitalist tyranny.

Disregarding the frequent assertion that Brecht failed to integrate his theories into his scripts (most contemporary productions home in on his vivid characterisation or energy, making them a romp rather than the cerebral vision he desired), the 'alienation effect' is in action at the end of the CCC. Having involved the audience in all sorts of shenanigans - mountain crossings, unhappy marriages - he abruptly halts the action with a moral that does not actually add anything - it just grinds the action to a halt. It looks like a simple finale, but leaves behind more questions than answers.

Most of all, it refuses to return to the play that begun the evening,
that play that then has the play-within-a-play. That play is an earnest discussion about the use of land following a war - exactly the kind of rhetorical bore that subsumes the theatrical for political worthiness. Whether there was a flood of relief the first time that this play gave way to the more mythical narrative is a matter of conjecture - although I have nightmares about going to see CCC only to find that the bit about the baby and the mother has been replaced by three hours of chat about the relative value of industrial and agrarian economies.

By leaving that open-ended, Brecht has given the audience something to chat about: what decision would be reached, and how does all that running about the Caucasus reflect the issue of land distribution. Admirably, Brecht develops his characters to a point of complexity (his proletarian judge, for example, is both champion of the poor and a rape apologist). There are no easy answers.

And by having a folk tale, Bertie gives his audience some fun before they get all serious. Doubtless, the bores in the bar have a fine time trying to figure it all out, but better bores with beer battling bombastically than stupid signifiers of social systems struggling on stage.

Mobb Deeep @ ABC

Sound & Vision @ GFT

‘Film festivals have struck upon a rich seam with live music, so expect to see many more such events creep into upcoming programmes. But they won’t get much better than this’

– Nick Mitchell, WOW 247, on GFF event A Night at the Regal

Following on from its success at Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow Film Theatre has incorporated the Sound & Vision strand into its year-round programming with major events and screenings taking place throughout April and May, including live performances from Mercury Prize nominees Field Music and legendary 90s synth-pop pioneers 
Saint Etienne. Glasgow Film Theatre will also become a venue as part of Stag and Dagger presents Live at Glasgow 2015, with film screenings during the all-day multi-venue music festival, including a special preview screening of the new Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You.

I didn't realise Saint Etienne were still going: last time I looked, their main man was writing articles for The Guardian. Still, I'm at that age when their cover version of Only Love Can Break Your Heart  is a magical memory of a beautiful youth.

GFT will team up with Monorail Music to host a special late night Record Store Day screening of the ultimate 90s independent music store cult classic Empire Records, and a one-off screening of My Secret World, a documentary about the famed Bristol-based record label Sarah Records, with founder Clare Wadd in attendance. GFT will also be screening the all-new Curt Kobain documentary Cobain: Montage of Heck, a devastatingly insightful documentary about the troubled icon that features a previously unheard 12-minute acoustic track by Cobain.

Assuming there is not a very good reason why that track has remained unheard, this is like a trawl through my back pages, when music meant something to me, in the way that celibacy and theatre do now...


Saint Etienne are one of the most important British bands of the past two decades and Glasgow Film Theatre is delighted to welcome them for this extra special limited-capacity event. The core band consists of the trio Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, who have been making innovative left-field pop together since 1990. 

For this event they will be joined by 5 other
musicians, making an 8-piece band that brings to life the evocative images on screen. The band will play their live score to Paul Kelly’s film How We Used to Live; a woozy, poignant and telling document of London’s past from 1950s to 1980s. 

Using only colour footage from the BFI archives, the film charts the early days of the welfare state up to the opening days of Margaret Thatcher’s reign. This event is in partnership with Monorail Music and will take place on Tuesday 19 May (19.30).

Stephen McRobbie (perhaps better known as Stephen Pastel) of Monorail Music said:

‘We have a long and happy association with both Heavenly Films and the GFT. We are extremely proud to be involved in the screening of Paul Kelly’s newest film, How We Used to Live; a mesmerising, occasionally brutal but always poignant elegy to a disappearing London. With a live music score by our friends Saint Etienne, this is truly unmissable.’

In 2013, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival commissioned one of the most critically acclaimed bands to emerge from the North East of England, the Mercury Prize nominated Field Music, to compose a new cinematic score to accompany seminal silent documentary Drifters, by John Grierson. The band will now restage that hugely acclaimed event at Glasgow Film Theatre, with the band’s original line-up of brothers Peter and David Brewis playing with Andrew Moore. This event will take place on Sunday 31 May (20.00).

David Brewis of Field Music said:

‘It's incredibly exciting to be given the opportunity to tour Drifters as writing and performing the original commission for Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival in 2013 was a true pleasure, culminating in a wonderful evening. We are delighted that we can do it all again at some truly lovely cinemas and art spaces around the country.’

On Bank Holiday Sunday 6 May, Glasgow’s most popular city-centre music venues will be taken over for a one-day festival of live music presented by Stag and Dagger called Live at Glasgow. As part of the festival, Glasgow Film Theatre will be hosting a series of screenings, including a special preview of the new Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You

Paul Cardow of PCL says:

‘Given our history of working with the incredible talent that was Elliott Smith – having hosted memorable shows for him in Scotland – we are extremely proud to have this opportunity to be involved with the GFT in screening this special tribute to his career, as part of our multi-venue festival Live at Glasgow. It's especially fitting to have this film involved, as Elliott's music was hugely influential to many of the artists that have performed at the event over the years, with this year being no exception.’

In much the same way as independent cinemas like GFT offer a haven for film-lovers, independent record stores are a highly treasured cultural touchstone for lovers of music

Nostalgia is the Enemy

Despite Liam Howlett's talk of The Prodigy's 'angry album', and the aggressive titles ('Nasty', 'Get Your Fight On'), The Day Is My Enemy is a musically conservative album. Aside from sprinkling occasional samples of Arabic music, and a melody line on 'Wild Frontier' that evokes eight-bit computer music, The Prodigy work the same template, of shouted vocals, industrial strength beats and ferocious electronic sounds, that bought them to national attention in the 1990s.
Gareth K Vile, The List 2015

The cheap price of land along the river pushed the larger media institutions further west from the city centre: the state television station and the commercial rival built huge glass warehouses, filled with studios and technicians and research experts and runners and interns and bored producers.

'The landscaping of this area, on both banks, has been a lesson in the clinical application of concrete,' says the tour guide, as they rush past the twin arena towards the more picturesque environs of the University. Criticulous stubs on his cigarette on his shoe and enters the red tube that takes him across the motorway to the Conference Centre.

He can feel the buzzing of the transmissions from around a mile away. In more sentimental times, he believed that he could hear individual words, that the satellites were calling him. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hierarchy in Theatre: It always ends in a fight

Reverse Sexism in the blog

I find this article hypocritical and incoherent. You make the argument that banning Davidson is not an effective strategy for eradicating sexists. However, nowhere in the article do you cite an example of anyone actually wanting to ban him, or proposing that banning Davidson would be a way to combat sexism. You seem to be arguing against a non-existent issue. You say yourself the show was stopped as a result of poor ticket sales or drunken indiscretion.

Thanks for taking the time to respond, Oskar. Yep, you are right: no-one wanted to ban Jim. However, there have been a few campaigns lately that did  try to no-platform artists because of their jokes... I'm following on from previous posts that rejected this strategy.

You say that you had intended to see the show as a means of challenging your leftist politics. Then you indicate that you didn't actually plan to see the show as its blatant racism was too distasteful.

Perhaps luckily for me, the run was cancelled before I had to make the choice of going to see it or not. 

You say that "those who resist Jim Davidson are as sexist as he is". 

Yep, that was a clumsy way of putting it. A better way would be 'those who call Jim Davidson a cunt are using language that reveals their own, perhaps unconscious sexism, by using a word for female genitalia as an insult.'

Yet you have shown your own resistance to Davidson throughout this entire article, stating you find his comedy crude, racist and old-fashioned. Going as far to say you would not attend his show. Are you saying you are a sexist for being resistant to Davidson? There are obviously many legitimate reasons to find him awful.

You don't actually offer any reasonable explanation for why resisting Davidson makes someone sexist. 

You are quite right. I apologise for being vague.

You seem to imply that those who seek to ban words or ideas are automatically sexist. 
Again, bad expression on my part: I would say that 'those who seek to ban words or ideas are automatically totalitarian in their approach.' Not that this means I don't respect their opinion, or even reject their efforts - I just oppose them.

Aggressive censorship may be a tool used by sexists, but it does not seem to be sexist in and of itself.


You say that "simply banishing certain ideas or words, or even people, does not get rid of the ideas themselves". In the very next paragraph you tell people not to use the word "cunt". You acknowledge that banning certain unpleasant words is a futile exercise in censorship that doesn't address the societal issues at the root of these negative ideas, then you immediately try to ban the use of an unpleasant word. 

Not necessarily ban.. again, I ought to be clearer. I would rather people didn't write the word 'cunt' on posters, because children might read it. I'd also suggest that another insult is more appropriate.

After telling people not to use the word cunt because it is sexist, you then offer a list of insults based on male genitalia as an alternative. How is this not simply displaying another form of sexism? 

We would have to get into a debate about the nature of sexism here, so I have to nod my head and say yes - it is equally obnoxious.

Are you saying that offensive words for female genitals are unspeakable, but male-focused insults are absolutely fine? 

No: I think our genital insults ought to be gender specific.

Obviously I accept that men have not been subject to nearly the same level of denigration or disadvantage as women. and I recognise that "cunt" is a more hateful and emotionally-charged word than prick or bell-end. But if your point is that we shouldn't use such explicitly gendered insults against women, simply offering another list of gendered insults seems like a lazy and hypocritical alternative.

Quite true: and there are plenty of non-sweary words that could be used to describe Jim Davidson, which would actually be more to the point. 

Thanks for your time again, Oskar: I appreciate your thoughts.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mark Thomas wonders who is watching

Cuckooed review
Mark Thomas wonders who is watching

Gareth K Vile

//Star rating

//Body text
Polemical and intense, Mark Thomas merges the political and personal in this taut and true tale of friendship, activism and betrayal. Based on Thomas' experiences campaigning against the arms trade – and explaining why he would become the trade's scourge – it examines the question of whether one of his closest allies had been spying on him for the people that they both protested.

Thomas' charisma carries the story, even in those episodes which require concise political detail. While he still manages the occasional joke, he is clearly moving away from being a stand-up comedian towards an effective, dramatic monologist. Using video projection to bring in a range of verbatim speeches from other members of the campaign, and trying to draw a rounded picture of how it felt to be betrayed, Thomas reveals a sensitivity to theatrical spectacle, even as he insists on the piece's integrity and honesty.

Emma Callendar's direction keeps the pace sharp, but it is Thomas who – as the writer and performer, and the heart of the story – maintains a ferocity that is equally personal and political. His passion for freedom from surveillance, and belief in the possibility of change makes this more than a drab, rhetorical exercise. It is an appeal to action.

Yous are All Sexists

About a month ago, massive images of 1990s' comedian Jim Davidson's face began appearing on posters dotted around Glasgow, bearing the news that his latest theatrical tour de force, "adult pantomime" Sinderella 2: Another Scottish Romp, would soon be rolling into town. It didn't take long for the city's sharpie wielding pranksters to start making their own additions to Jim's smirking face.
Liam Turbett, Vice Magazine, 2015

I am sorry to have missed Nick Nick's unseasonal pantomime. Apparently, Davidson got pulled, either because of poor ticket sales or a drunken indiscretion. Whatever, as a champion of freedom of speech, with a passing interest in being offended by art, Sinderella 2 was on my to-do list.

Turbett's review, predictably, coruscates Davidson for the laziness of his humour - he recognises that the problem with 'funny' racism, sexism and crudeness is that it relies entirely on the audience finding the subject intrinsically funny. He conjures an image of Sinderella as the cave where the 1970s  crawls off to die, with aged jokes and poor performance competing to bore the audience. 

yeah, they really did this
Obviously, I would never call for a ban on work like Sinderella (it seems as if the show can implode without any outside pressure), but I am not entirely enthusiastic about the revival of abusive comedy. As a pretentious theatre critic, I'm used to difficult art, but it rarely challenges my vague leftist politics. I was hoping Davidson could provide that challenge. But if, as Turbett suggests, that challenge involves imitating the dumb racist impressions that ruined The Two Ronnies, I'm out.

Since I missed the show, I don't really have the right to comment - but I am going to make a point about the resistance to Jimbo, Dapper and their ilk. Apart from their continued existence being partially the fault of liberals who laughed when 'irony' came into play as the big excuse for saying the unthinkable, banning these guys is not an effect strategy for eradicating brain-dead sexists. 

Dapper's new persona
Language does allow the human mind to form offensive ideas, but simply banishing certain ideas or words, or even people, does not get rid of the ideas themselves. Indeed, those who resist Jim Davidson are as sexist as he is... 

Look at the word used to make Jim look stupid on the poster. To demonstrate how low Jim is, the writer has used a swear word that is... oh, come on. This is 101 stuff. Call him a prick, a knob, even a bell-end. 

Churn with the VileArts! Rupert's off to London...

Summerhall is proud to announce that it's first Artistic Director Rupert Thomson, who has been with the organisation since 2011, is to take up a new role as Senior Programmer for Performance and Dance at the Southbank Centre in London.

On his appointment Rupert Thomson says:

"Naturally I am very much looking forward to
getting started at Southbank. But it is also very much the case that I will miss Summerhall and the buoyant Scottish arts and culture scene. I am hugely grateful for the support and investment Summerhall has had from artists, individuals and organisations over the past few years, and I am sure many of us will be working together again one way or another in the future. This is not least as Anu and I already have plans for our company, Eleven, to continue working in Scotland supporting Scottish artists and international collaboration."

Rupert used to be my boss at The Skinny. I hate it when people I know are successful. 

Rupert will be full time at Southbank Centre from May onward but has already put in place an incredible performance schedule for Summerhall's Festival in August details of which will be announced in due course alongside the visual arts programme for the Festival.

Sam Gough, General Manager of Summerhall
“We are absolutely delighted that Rupert has accepted this great position at the Southbank Centre, it's a fantastic opportunity for him. Whilst here, Rupert’s artistic direction has firmly cemented Summerhall’s place in the arts and for that we are very grateful. He will be missed. The programme that Rupert has curated for this years Festival is stronger than ever with some truly brilliant shows and collaborations planned. It goes without saying that we wish him all the best of luck in his new role and we look forward to hearing about all of his triumphs in London.”

Summerhall is the leading multi-arts venue in Edinburgh​ which offers an all year round programme of performance, visual arts, music, film and dance.

Founder and Director of Summerhall Robert McDowel​l says: 
"At Summerhall we are very proud of all of our programming in our first four years, the quality of which is greatly to Rupert's credit. He has a vision which we all share and will continue. We celebrate Rupert's well deserved reputation and are sure he will be a great asset to the Southbank. We hope Rupert will continue to offer his good advice and be an informative mentor to all that we strive to accomplish here at Summerhall in the future"