Tag Archives: national theatre

Super Sunday

27 Feb

1. I bought a shiny new backpack this week – look how pretty it is! My old one was so old, not only did it have tons of holes in it, it had a designated pocket to hold a DISCMAN and straps for a SKATEBOARD. Needless to say, those days are ovah. I wanted something that would withstand my upcoming trip and that would hold my laptop – success! And if you’ve ever wondered what a rucksack looks like doing a striptease, these photos are it.

2. Robin came to Brighton and totally got a tattoo! I think it’s so lovely. The tattooist was Adam Sage at Into You, who does them all by hand (no tattoo gun) and incidentally, I completely fell in love with him. (Adam if you’re reading this, I’m really great. I can provide excellent character references.)


3. While Robin was down we cooked up a scrumptious storm with my friend Nick. Heart-shaped brownies and dinner courtesy of Ottolenghi (his cookbook Plenty is a.may.zing).

4. I saw the much-hyped Frankenstein at the National yesterday – incredible set, incredible acting by Jonathan Lee Miller (sadly, Benedict Cumberbatch was understudied) and I was pretty riveted. But weaknesses in the supporting cast and some strange directorial decisions (a weird flamenco between the creature and his imaginary bride sticks in the mind) stopped it from being as thrilling as I’d hoped.

5. Breakfast meetings are pretty super. Had one this morning over a veggie fry-up, orange juice, croissant and hot chocolate. Exciting plans and breakfast just seem to go together. These mouth-watering pictures are from the excellent blog entitled Breakfast. Not that I spend time looking at other people’s breakfasts… no, definitely not.

6. How lovely is this photo from a UK Uncut action last week? And how exciting that there is now US Uncut and Canada Uncut! This is how change happens…

7. Excellent article about how to be a woman in a boy’s club – Can’t Be Tamed: A Manifesto.

hanna ♥


Super Sunday

20 Feb

1. I went for a scrumptious afternoon tea with my friend Nick on Friday at Metro Deco. It’s like a cafe and an antique shop met and had a baby. My kind of place.

2. Nick and I also went to see Sleigh Bells play this week! I’ve seen them before and they were just as good the second time. However, I think it’s grossly unfair that Alexis Krauss gets to be Alexis Krauss and I don’t get to be Alexis Krauss. I think I am obsessed with her.

3. I have bought a ukelele! And for my first challenge, I am going to learn Umbrella by Rihanna. After I learn how to tune it, that is.

4. It was my Grandma’s birthday this week and I bought her a tub of this Lucas’ Papaw Ointment. I’ve been using it on my lips overnight and it has transformed them from a chapped mess into actual, normal, human lips.

5. I think these are getting close to my perfect beds. I like the idea of having a bed island. Both designed by Jimmy Schonning. I also very much like the idea of living in Sleepless in Seattle. Adorable.

6. I saw two plays this week – Greenland at the National and Phantom of the Opera! Both quite traumatic, yet uplifting in their own way. Highly recommended!

7. Read a great article from New York Magazine – Why Fashion Keeps Tripping Over Race.

What is it like being the only black editor, designer, publicist in the room? I recall walking into a luncheon at the Joseph Abboud showroom some years ago. I was the first to arrive, and a white valet waited in anticipation of the guests. I said hello. He nodded but said nothing, and did not offer to take my coat. Within moments, however, a group of white male colleagues arrived, and I watched as the valet immediately jumped into action, checking their coats and bags. I waited, and when it seemed he had no plans to come to my aid, I finally said, “You can take my coat now.” Without comment, he did. Did he think I was a delivery person? The help? Or was he just hopelessly distracted and unprofessional?”

Worth a read.

hanna ♥


Guest post – Tamsin Omond – It’s much harder than it used to be

5 Oct

On 14th December 2008 it felt like we were winning. Sunday Times Style magazine had given me my very own article – blonde-locked and energetically leaping over a bollard. The headline? Eco-starlet.

And it wasn’t just fashuned-up Tamsin banging the drum of environmental activism that made that edition of the Sunday Times. The expansion of Heathrow Airport was major news (2 articles) and Plane Stupid had just shut down Stansted Airport. For one Sunday, in mid-December, familiar faces (even my flat-mate’s) filled the news section, the News Review and Style.

Two years ago and grabbing media for climate change was easy. It was on the news agenda and journalists strove to be our friends and confidants.

Things are different now. It’s much harder than it used to be and if you believe ex-BBC journalist Mark Brayne, then climate change will never be ‘news’ again. They covered it in 2009.

I’ve experienced what this means in practice: stunts that would have reached front page are now covered by online activist forums and no-one else. Commentators who can still clasp onto column inches with their fingernails bemoan the end of the environmental enlightenment.

Last week I stood outside the National Theatre with my red Climate Rush sash and a handful of fliers for the audience of Earthquakes in London.  By the time the theatre had emptied every flier had been taken.  People do care about climate change even though the media has moved on. But it’s a minority of people and the majority will not be convinced until the facts of climate change are the frame through which every news outlet reports all natural disasters and all public policy.

The Climate Rush campaign is inspired by the example of the Suffragettes.  They built a national movement which included people at every level and allowed them to know that hope against hope, there was something they could do. If climate change is to be news without millions having to first die or be displaced then we must remember Emmeline Pankhurst’s words:

“You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under, if you are really going to get your reform realised.”

On 13th October at 7pm Climate Rush will meet in Toynbee Hall. There will be big names whose speeches you will not want to miss.  There will be stories of the successes of women-led campaigns.

Political activity, with a passion that is difficult to imagine today, has been inspired when a fight for future justice has seemed worth joining. Actions and ideas have captivated newspaper editors and persuaded entire populations that there is a better way to live life.

Come along on 13th October. Please come along. Because without you stickers will not appear across London. Without you stunts and events and protests and rushes and subvertising and street theatre will not happen. Without you there is no movement worth joining, no public to persuade and no Rush to experience in action.

Cross-posted from Tamsin’s blog

Super Sunday

15 Aug

This is the first installment of the weekly Super Sunday feature! Doesn’t it sound… super? I’m aiming to introduce a couple of features over the coming weeks. If there is anything you are just dying for me to write about on a regular basis, just let me know in the comments below! So back to the matter at hand, Super Sunday is all about looking back over the week and picking out those things (one for every day) that make me happy and that I think are super. Simple. Simple Super Sundays.

1. I love Nan Lawson’s illustrations. This one bears an uncanny resemblance to me here dontcha think? I want it!

2. I went to see Earthquakes in London at the National with my friend Robin on Friday night. It covered climate change, the coalition government, burlesque and time travel. I thought it was brilliant (apart from some sketchy futuristic cheesiness at the end), incredibly well-staged and so well acted. Especially Bryony Hannah in the role of Peter.

3. My new espadrilles. It’s like wearing slippers outside.

4. The monthly Market Days craft fair that happens here in Stoke Newington is seriously super. I just realised I will have moved by the next one! Oh.

5. I found this picture here yesterday, apparently it’s from a 70’s sanitary towel advert. The expression on her face makes me laugh hysterically. The slogan on her tshirt makes me laugh in that bitter way that old people do when they ruefully shake their heads and tell you you’re going to hell in a handcart. LOL.

6. In honour of number 2 on my 4 simple goals list I’ve been collecting inspiration for my new flat. I love this photo, apparently the sign cost less than £20 to make and is made of cardboard, paint and stickers. Amaze.

7. The man at the front of the picture is Clayton. He is an amazing activist from the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation in Canada, who works as the Tar Sands Campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, amongst a gazillion other things. I made a short film featuring him last year in Copenhagen, and was lucky enough to meet him earlier this year. He is truly inspirational. This weekend, he and others from indigenous communities around Canada who are being affected by the tar sands, took part in a Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, home to the Athabasca oil sands. They are suffering from highly elevated cancer rates, disruption of traditional ways of living, the threat of relocation and yet they still have the strength to stand up in the face of massive corporations and of all things, heal. Superheroes.

p.s photo copyright of Stop the Tar Sands

Can you do good with bad money?

6 Jun

This is cross-posted from The Multicultural Politic

A few years ago I was at drama school, waiting to launch myself into the world of showbiz and being prepped for life out in the “industry”. This consisted mainly of being told to lose half my body weight, wear chicken fillets and look either more or less asian (pretty hard for a dual heritage, Anglo-Japanese girl!) but also, more practical tips, like how to audition for advertisements.

Sitting in that particular session, hearing about how advertising corporate brands can end up being the bread and butter of an actor’s life, I asked about principles – how could you appear in an advert for a company like McDonalds, and reconcile that with your principles? I was told that my tutor’s friend had managed to buy a house outright with the money earned from just such an advert – “Principles, schminciples!” I cried, much to the hilarity of my course-mates, and left it at that.

But it’s a question that has stayed with me. For struggling artists, more lucrative jobs such as advertising can end up funding work we might deem more “worthwhile”. Some might argue that this is an unfortunate, but necessary trade-off. That, to do good, sometimes you need “bad” money.

In the wider world, there is a lot of evidence to back this opinion up. With ever-deepening cuts to the arts and consistent under-funding of research, we could assume that there is a lot of work that would go undone without corporate sponsorship. The National TheatreNational GalleryTate and countless other cultural institutions are all funded by banks and oil companies. Similarly, at an Earthwatch lecture I went to recently on Forests and Climate Change, I realised that the presented research projects had been funded by Shell (a dab hand at creating environmental catastrophes), HSBC (who have been connected to illegal logging) and Mitsubishi. Not exactly a roll call of climate change heroes.

Still, has all this corporate sponsorship managed to do “good”? Some would say undoubtedly so. The National Theatre £10 Travelex scheme has gone a long way towards the democratization of our theatre scene, making it more accessible to those who traditionally wouldn’t have spent a night at the theatre. And sure, without the sponsorship of conservation and research projects such as those run byEarthwatch, perhaps our planet would be in a worse state than it is now, without the few precious enclaves it has left.

But is this “good” good enough? Whilst BP celebrates their 20th anniversary of sponsoring the Tate in a couple of weeks, they are busy creating the biggest oil painting known to man out there in the Gulf of Mexico. In the face of this, can we be surprised that new collectives, such as Liberate Tate are springing to up to protest against oil and the arts being bedfellows?

In the end, we have to examine what our definition is of “good”. It seems that sometimes our definition can slip, to encompass “the best that can be expected in the circumstances”. If we stopped to examine what is really going on, perhaps we’d find that the good doesn’t outweigh the bad, that they just cancel each other out, or worse – are we calling it evens when it is tipping the other way?

Check out the Shell sponsored Climate Science gallery opening in November at the London Science Museum, which “will step back from pushing evidence of man-made climate change to adopt a more neutral position.” Or, consider the entertainment industry once again – does George Clooney producing films about media corruption (Goodnight and Good Luck) and the oil industry (Syriana) balance out the fact that as “global ambassador” for Nespresso, he has helped sell millions of luxury coffee machines for a company with a pretty dodgy track record? When questioned at the 2007 Venice Film Festival about the apparent hypocrisy inherent of this and his appearing in Michael Clayton, a film about corruption in multinationals, Clooney said “I’m not going to apologise to you for trying to make a living every once in a while, I find that an irritating question.”

Considering he made $20,000,000 for Ocean’s Eleven, I find that an irritating response!

But many of us are complicit in these trade-offs – it’s not just celebrities, big companies or art galleries. Many of us know the city banker who is planning on making his nest-egg and then retiring to “give something back”. But what if that lifestyle choice isn’t good enough? What if that city banker did more harm working for a company that invests in arms, corrupt governments and oil than he (or she) can ever put right? Can we happily assume that our individual choices all balance out in the end?

I was recently invited to a Facebook group called Making Money + Changing the World. The description reads “This is for people that want to do both – that don’t feel like they need to compromise and are searching for a way that they can do good in the world and live the life they want.” It sounds great, but I’m not sure it’s possible. The same Facebook page calls for applications for Pepsi and Nike-funded social enterprise awards. It seems that, for the moment at least, making money and changing the world does require compromise and you can’t bank in which direction you’re going to change it.

Having said all this, I do hope that this is a temporary double bind that we find ourselves in, that another world is possible. Last year, the Co-op turned down £100m in un-ethical business and yet total lending by the Co-op soared to £8.3bn, setting a better example for our other high-street banks. On a smaller scale, we at The Otesha Project UK have developed a donor screening policy which outlines who we will and won’t take money from, based on their social and environmental credentials. This led to a super-satisfying encounter with Shell, where I could tell them where to go! I am incredibly proud of this policy because as time has gone on, I have realised how rare it is.

And now I shall leave you with a quote from Terrence Howard’s character in Hustle & FlowThere are two types of people: those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. People who walk the walk sometimes talk the talk but most times they don’t talk at all, ’cause they walkin’. Now, people who talk the talk, when it comes time for them to walk the walk, you know what they do? They talk people like me into walkin’ for them.

Now, go lace up those hiking boots.