Cultural Round Up 2017-18!

2017 has come to an end so in this blog post I’m going to sum up everything that I have done this past year!

At the start of the year I began to teach myself to play some instruments: piano, ukulele and guitar. Starting in February until May I entered a competition for young songwriters with two of my friends and we came in the top ten so we had the opportunity to perform in london and had our single released on iTunes, Spotify etc. In April I took part in a Maths challenge and was awarded a Bronze award! Then in May I also got to go on a trip to France where we braided wheat, learnt to make goats cheese and experienced a French market. In July I was in a dance show, a summer concert, with many music pieces from movies, and a drama show based on Alice in Wonderland.

During my school summer holidays I took part in a Disney summer school with Glee and dance pieces from Aladdin, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast. During the five day course I had the opportunity to see Aladdin on the west end where I really enjoyed all the music and bright coloured costumes and set design.

A week later I went to Huddersfield in the north of England to visit my Aunt and Uncle, there I was able to visit the Yorkshire moors and experience the unique wildlife of northern England. I also got to experience city life in Leeds. I even got to visit the little shops in The Shambles in York and the largest railway museum in Britain, The National Railway Museum! I also delved into British history at The Castle Museum in York.

Later in the summer holidays I went to London. I went to the Science Museum. It was brilliant to discover the history of science and how it is developing at an increasing rate everyday! I also enjoyed visiting the natural history museum and seeing how we and other creatures have evolved over the years!

When I returned back at school it was full of rehearsals as I had a Shakespeare showcase in late October and seven performances of Cinderella coming up in late November! And I also had a carol concert in December!

I have recently started learning German in school and I cannot wait to go to Germany for a music tour in July 2018! My friends and I are also making plans for the Young Songwriters competition again this year! I have a day trip to go to Pineapple Studios in London to do singing, dancing and acting! I am also carrying on with my singing lessons I began in September. I am going to enter a poetry competition in January. I am also going to do The Junior Maths Challenge 2018. So I cannot wait to see what happens in 2018!

Ed – It seems that you have a really fun filled 2018 coming up Grace!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Recently, I have taken part in a “Shakespeare Appreciation Performance.” My school and two others performed different plays from or based on Shakepeare’s work. My school did a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream I played the role of one of Titania’s loyal fairies, Mustardseed, I enjoyed playing this character because I could sing, dance and play the ukulele. This Play was fun to take part in because it was funny and we got to get a richer understanding of Shakespearian literature!

If you are not aware of the story of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ here is a short summary. The play is one of Shakespeare’s comedies and is about four lovers and a fairy kingdom. Theseus and Hippolyta are to be married so six men, “The Mechanicals,” rehearse a play to be shown at their wedding. Meanwhile, in the wood, Titania and Oberon are arguing about the changeling boy and who will raise him. Oberon commands his sly helper, Puck, to get the juice of a flower and make Titania fall in love with one of the mechanicals called Bottom (who they have also cursed with the head of a donkey) and on the way, they encounter the lovers who are facing a conflict of their own. Helena is in love with Demetrius however, Demetrius and Lysander both love Hermia but Hermia loves Lysander. Hermia’s cruel father has said she must marry Demetrius and if not, he will have her executed! In the end Puck also makes Demetrius fall in love with Helena and Titania’s “lover,” was freed from his curse and finally everybody was happy.

I was pleased that I had the opportunity to take part in this interesting production and look forward to acting in different productions in the future.

[Ed – Note – I was very impressed with Grace and her friends in the production as Shakespeare is a difficult body of work to act out especially when so young but they all did brilliantly! It is a good idea to introduce Shakespeare at this young age as this means that they will be more familiar with the language and stories of Shakespeare for their GCSEs].

 

Cultural Violets for Kids

My post for this month is shorter as I have been very busy moving house! Violet is a lovely colour, which is a mix of purple and pink, it’s also a plant and a name for girls, I like the colour because it’s vibrant and looks good in cooking or for artwork!

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of violet is ‘Violet Beauregarde’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This original story by Roald Dahl has been made into two different films Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory / Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2007] and a successful West End Musical. Violet is rude and obnoxious and obsessed with chewing gum. She doesn’t listen when Willy Wonka tells her to not eat the chewing gum in the ‘working progress’ room. When she eats the chewing gum she turn bright violet and swells up like a blueberry! She really should have listened to him!

This is my nomination for this month’s theme, if you like any of the above adaptations or original story then let us know.

Wrathful Pages: Anger in Literature

This month’s theme is ‘Wrath’ or ‘Anger.’ A useful dramatic emotion used by writers for centuries, there were quite a few examples to choose from here! However, this month we have an eclectic mix of literature, something for everyone, not matter your reading tastes. The first one is actually a Greek play called ‘Medea.’

Medea by Euripides

Is there a more wrathful figure in literature than Medea? Medea and Other Plays : Medea; Hecabe; Electra; Heracles (Penguin Classics) is a play but we can learn a lot about the sin of wrath or anger from her behaviour. I recently re-read this short play again and was once more taken aback at how modern some of the Greek plays actually are, certainly in language and in the strong female roles:

Jason: “You thought that it reason enough to murder them,
That I
No longer slept with you?”
Medea: “And is that injury
A Slight one, do you imagine, to a woman?” pg 59

In Medea we see the literal re-enactment of ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ As Medea ex-wife of Jason (of the Argonauts fame) feels she has to punish her husband because he has run off with a younger royal woman. She does this by killing those that he holds dear to him, his new wife and (her father) but also their two sons. This is where the play becomes controversial in that the Chorus pleads with her not to do this as it is so wrong. At the start of the play though, she does not seem to have much affection for her sons as they remind her too much of her husband. We are warned repeatedly by the Chorus and other characters such as the Nurse about the dreadful rage that Medea has for she is described as being:

Nurse: “A frightening woman; no one who makes an enemy
Of her will carry off an easy victory…Her mood is cruel, her nature dangerous,
Her will fierce and intractable
…It is no trifling matter
That can end a rage like hers.” pg 18-22

One other thing that struck me re-reading the play is that Medea says she worships the Goddess Hecate who is associated with magic and witchcraft. Thus painting the picture of Medea as an evil witch.

At the start of the play we do have some sympathy with Medea in that Jason has treated her badly by abandoning her for another woman and not stopping her exile from her home. He comes across as being arrogant, and not particularly sharp in that he underestimates Medea’s rage. However, we see that at first Medea is destroyed with grief but turns this in to incessant rage which causes her to go so far as to murder her own two innocent boys which is of course an unforgivable act (not that killing the new wife was ok of course!).

In a nutshell this play shows the all-consuming power of rage caused by anger and the dangerous actions that can be caused by being obsessed by it.

Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

Another title that I’ve recently read that utilises the theme of anger is called Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly. The story concerns the friendship of Natasha Wainwright and Eve Dalladay who have been closest friends since childhood. Natasha has become a successful hotelier (with OCD) and has two daughters with her husband Sean who has been with her since she was a teenager. Though they have a good relationship things have been quiet on the sensual front recently. Eve has had a successful career in America as a Psychotherapist. When an incident happens with one of her children which pulls Natasha away from the family home then Eve moves in to mind her children, her home and her husband. Of course you can guess what happens next.

What becomes really interesting though is Natasha’s reassessment of her life so far in that she realises that her friendship with Eve was based on a lie and that she is dealing with all intents and purposes; a narcissistic psychopath. Eve is consumed with rage and anger towards Natasha and has been for years, she sees her having a successful life and wants to takeover this like a cuckoo in a nest. This book is clever in that it contrasts the different expressions of anger, Natasha’s more instant rage versus Eve’s more controlled but possibly more dangerous form of anger. How to defeat an angry psychopath who does not have empathy or compassion? Read this book and find out!

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Purple Hibiscus (P.S.)is a novel set in Nigeria. The story is narrated from the point of view of Kambili Achike a fifteen year old girl living in a wealthy but very oppressive household. Her father Eugene is a devout Catholic and makes much of his public good acts such as donating to charity but runs his house with an iron fist subjecting family members to regular physical and mental abuse. His beatings are so severe that they cause his wife to have two miscarriages. Eugene is a man obsessed and overrun with anger which clouds his judgement, he is also a hypocrite in that his public actions do not mirror those at home. Through this story we see the consequences of his behaviour caused by living a life consumed by anger.

Kamibili experiences this unhealthy family dynamic and contrasts it with that of her more liberal Auntie Ifeoma’s household, which though unconventional and poorer is much more relaxed. This is an excellent book and one that shows that a life lived in anger especially if it affects people you love is no way to live.

This month has been quite a mixed bag of titles. One from ancient times, another from another country and one contemporary novel. What they all have in common though is the universal theme of anger expressed largely through one or more characters and the consequences of their actions. If you can think of any other examples then feel free to get in touch at the usual places.

Mad March Mayhem!

Hello!

March has been a crazily busy month for us here at Cultural Life Connection!

Lots of good things have been happening and we have been participating in many cultural activities. Here are some highlights:

The month started off with Huddersfield Literature Festival which was really good. The launch got off to a good start with an interesting reading and Q&A from M.R Carey the author of The Girl With All The Gifts. This book is soon to be made into a film so should be worth looking out for.

Then it was the turn of local and internationally renowned author Joanne Harris to explore the possibilities of song and storytelling (yes, we actually heard her sing!) at the Lawrence Batley Theatre (LBT). These were new stories that she has experimented with by creating them piece by piece on Twitter. It made for a fascinating night, enjoyed by all. She also has some very interesting novels coming out over the next year or so so keep your eyes because peeled my lips are sealed!

The other highlight for me was the creative writing workshop that I participated in led by poet and Arvon tutor Kei Miller. I was nervous to go to this as am a bit rusty with my creative writing but I am really glad that I went because this led to…me signing up for a creative writing course!! I has wanted to do one for a long time but participating in this festival really got me thinking about it and fortuitously I got a call from one I had enquired in a while back and decided to sign up as it seemed like the right time to do this.

Also, we participated in the NTLive event to watch the critically acclaimed Young Vic ‘s performance of The View from the Bridge with lead Mark Strong. It actually exceeded my expectations, was probably one of the best plays I have ever seen! The acting and directing was remarkable. Mark Strong seemed to be ‘Method like’ in his portrayal of Eddie Carbone. The stage set and special effects were amazing too, I will not say anymore on this as otherwise I will spoil it for you but it was fantastic! This was the first time that I had participated in an NTLive event and will certainly go to more. At first I thought would it be off putting seeing it in a cinema, but actually you almost forgot that the screen was there at times it was really good and economical. If you are far from London like me then it makes sense to go to these events. I also found it exciting to think that you were part of a really large audience all around the world watching the same play!!

Along with I’m sure many, many others, I’ve also currently been glued to Poldark on BBC One! I hadn’t actually seen the original adaptation but this one is great, am excited to see where it leads and how they end it. Will they commission another series? Let’s hope so!

As March was so crazy with events it has left me a little behind in writing up my April posts but I will post them as soon as poss! Anyhoot, it gives me great pleasure to say that our next Deadly Sin for the month of April will of course coincide with Easter and be ‘Gluttony!’ It’s actually fairly difficult to find examples of this in films and books but I am persevering and have got a few ideas up my sleeve, so watch out for this over the next few weeks.
Ciao for now!