Practice of Zen

May 6th – June 5th, 2022
Brighton Fringe, Streaming

Things came into sharp focus for the Brighton Fringe play ‘Practice of Zen’ the story of the magic of yin yang was set to be an epic play by The Hong Kong theatre group who are called ‘Ronin Limited’. Alex Tam Hung Man’s writing and directing tells this tale of woe and heart ache as though he was guided through by super human hands.

The universality of themes were strewn across the screen as in its narration on all things of creation being quickly listed from top to bottom, sun to earth to sea to water. So in the natural elements we bathed as the story began.

The set was fluttering with riches of such quality yet was without anything grotesque or indulged. Very old theatre grabbed its audience with a sense of everything being new and even unexplored. Character’s came out of the dust some wearing costumes of large proportions making the performer into something other than human entirely.

The story plumed forth with pace, gusto, benevolence and brilliance. But the tragedy seeped its way into our hero’s tale, who seemed to be selected by the gods. Time was set aside for every feeling and thought and there was nothing that was missed or overlooked.

To wake up after centuries of sleep had the Cantonese character perplexed and followed by centuries of journey’s all taken for love. The all inclusive dialogue had so much of fate to deal with and had a hand in every facet taken for serene dispensation, in colours and musical voices.

A war hero, a crow, magical beings all brought about to aid in the journey for finality and bided time through acceptance and lack of fight (if not to protect oneself). Each act was called out in Mercy or other protractions… and the black crow cawed, swooped and nurtured the head of her whose tale it was to enact her long searching and profound realisation.

But after all her encounters, and having been brought to Satan’s mercy, her friend dies and was to come to life no more. The physical presence of characters was greatly perceived as was each intonation from the narrative dialogue. Mountains, rivers all looked real in my mind, I was there listening to the trickling water or simply adhering to the words that dript from these sultry voices.

For everyone’s wisdom became doubt, there was unfamiliarity and escapism. For all I am what will I be it seemed to ask. Incisive passions and patterns that rose as clearly as the changing and wonderful sets, passions that were well rehearsed, well laid down and taken care of. A classical play in a tale that transports well across the globe giving the universal meaning that affects us all; the great journey into the beyond.

Also beholden of such vibes of traditional yet complex play, sore yet untouched and charming; offering up the soul itself for contemplation in a sense as easily partaken as breathing. The world of Zen was a martial world and the play was to overtake that and continually put things into place if they could be.

Full of Grace, forbearance, wit, charm, and ultimately a love for those to whom the hero speaks, in finality to take her walk into the unknown of death, she skipped off the stage and disappeared.

Daniel Donnelly

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Petrol and Neurons by Vince Licata

May 6th – June 5th, 2022
Brighton Fringe, Streaming

For this play ‘Petrol and Neurons’ by Vince Licata, at the Brighton Fringe 2022 my laptop felt very much like a tiny theatre screen with luscious red curtains and all, tuning in to something very entertaining. The play was a mock Zoom chat, all business and nothing personal. Andy (whose name was onscreen) sat waiting to be joined until Danny Gauche turned up just off screen.

The business was about a transaction, monetarily, on a big scale that only someone rich could afford. They talked back and forth about chips, well and oil rigs, Danny was very excited. They kept mentioning a woman by the name of Annie (who would turn out to be Danny wife), agreeing that she would be kept out of it.

The simple transaction once made would have immediate effect. Once signed for they parted their Zoom correspondence with pleasure, but Andy forgot to do something important. Laughing loudly had he just got away with something big? Enter Annie onscreen, the plan had gone well, and the fee had been transferred.

This was a satirical play commenting on the larger world being made by the smallest of inter actions. With a good old fashioned villain versus the naivety of the rest. Petrol is at the heart of the modern world, and then enters Neurons to complete the look.

From the corruption of Annie and Andy, framed in the set of a zoom call, the game was given up when Andy forgot to turn off the meeting and Danny heard everything. Youthful scientists were called for in the shape of two colleagues Alex and Chris.

Alex’s head phones sat on his head as he waited to be joined for an organised Zoom meeting between colleagues who share a scientific life. As he waits Chris shows up but only started to flirt with him, and the meeting took to chit chat rather than science. They didn’t know it but the meeting would be cancelled because of illness.

Chris’s thoughts were only on the idea of her and him having been together the previous night, but Andy doesn’t want it. Chris, with the broadest of smiles, offer’s herself up for another night of love. But Andy found himself perplexed having been weeks in preparation for this zoom event, having been experimenting at his lab.

So they compose a little as he relay’s to her his present brain cell experimentation in which he had found something he called distraction that stopped the cells from certain behaviours. And in a philosophic state of mind he referred to himself as having behaviour that followed in the same ways as these cells, an idea that he liked with the insight offering links to how the brain actually works.

But when they then find out about the cancellation they both simply laughed at its absurdity and warm up to each other again. It was a 2 half glimpse into life behind and beyond science and business filling the programme in the used of parable’s. To offer an insight, that brought a sense of thinking in the sparks of mental activity.

And oh may I mention that the whole thing was done in German (with English subtitles) that added a healthy dose of culture to an absorbing encounter.

Daniel Donnelly

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Disenchanted: A Cabaret of Twisted Fairy Tales

May 6th – June 5th, 2022
Brighton Fringe, Streaming

Being online for the 2022 Brighton Fringe is proving to be an avant garde experience and I’m only into my third show. ‘Disenchanted: a cabaret of Twisted Fairy tales’ is the cabaret written and performed by the outspoken Eliane Morel, it was an hour of Fairy Tales extravagance’s and gave dedication to one Madame d’ Aulnoy who it was said to have coined the term ‘fairy tale’ back in the 17th Century.

The story began in Paris in 1699 with a little black and white footage and a voice introducing us to the time. The play included a high kicking feeling in its Cabaret direction. And its visual accomplishments were tenfold for getting a across its themes with a very plush looking Eliane wearing black feathers and a mask. And for the first sweet rendering of said Fairy Tales it referred to Snow White with a spit screen conversation with the magical mirror.

Her prowess carried through the acts with reverence, completion and beauty. The scene changes offered up some very illuminating character’s whose ideas were in the forms of mural paintings and photographic wonderment; pictures from mansion halls to bedroom’s concise with walls and backdrops. She grabbed us with swift tempo and in the elaborate presentation with which each tale was told we began to wonder what (apart from its enthusiasm) kind of angle it might take. Mostly following the originals there was in it the said completion; a world where we could forget ourselves. In its brevity we found everything that a play can possibly adhere to. Taking us where magical things occurred from Eliane’s artistry.

The characters seemed to be participating in a larger journey that took its (metaphorical) curtain calls and prophetic poetry from the enhancement of placing operatic vocals and titillating narration. And at every turn of character the songs became a fusion of genres from Eastern folk dance music to capable operatic overflowing. Every media was used in the representation that stood out in its finery. And the wonderful visuals that were so many they cut the coupling plots and the old stories were told afresh and reverently, with excitement and veering.

We were hers, as she became one step closer to familiarity; she clawed at us, and became our friend, holding us in suspension with a spreading of details that she made inclusive. Speaking English with a French accent or doing a London cockney, with traceable movement’s made by such fusion in writing, like following bread crumbs.

Eliane’s professional talents include: singer/actor/writer, and with great fluency on screen she used all three bringing all of it to the table. Fun, dark (sexy), garb changes, and a use of Fairy Tales to make a cabaret of things. I found it very enthrallingly entertaining, at a pace where there was no time to switch off, you wouldn’t want to, intelligent and funny, artistry oozing from every corner, and a story worth telling.

From Snow White to Red Riding hood it compelled with written and acted benevolence. She was it all and she climbed through every story she could think of. Mixing with enthusiasm she gave a voice to the interplay of realities to bring theatre out of itself and to fit large expectations out of the very walls and backdrops in its far reaching semblance on the fun of these Tales that is at their heart.

Daniel Donnelly

Lou Ye Gui Gen ‘Getting home’

May 6th, 2022
Brighton Fringe (Digital)

For my first show of this year’s 2022 Brighton Fringe Festival I tuned into a performance by Cheryl Ho called Lou Ye Gui Gen “Getting home”. It was about a woman who finds herself far from her home in Singapore after leaving for Melbourne Australia. It was an online show from her many points of view of looking at travelling and realities of living in 2022.

In her many faceted act, where screen changes were aplenty we were taken to another side of the world and in the highs and lows that were involved when creating a big uprooting in life. She introduced us with feeling of personal potential with compassion using examples of indigenous folk who make up a large percentage of population.

Looking back on the show her varying personalities have come together with the feelings being iterated, from great striding confidence to soft, lonely, whispers. It was very conclusive and very vague in her attitudes of what she ‘had to do’ like leaving home.

She was an actor with potential employment in the field also working in the arts. The vain she hit had such a commonplace, community based yearning for success as she took important phone calls, messages and corresponding letters.

She despaired, she succeeded and was able to compose herself for every turn of event. And as she taught she changed; making a template for other future projections. She took on a few characters who were necessary in one way or another, always looking at the spiritual sacredness of love and life.

Calling on the sacrifice of ancestors as the main theme for the play she directed good and gracious gratitude to life through her family and friends. She particularly enjoyed her relationship with Aunt Ah Ma, it was saying goodbye to her Aunt that pulled her heart chords the most when she left Singapore for the chances of an enriching future.

She was dramatic, personal, calm, serious and to each of these gave her greatest forbearance; showing us that links are made in the mind so as to see everything through until reasons behind it all can be revealed. And as it went by with the scene changes it would return with feelings that also partook in the plot whose unravelling was written with great compunction also by Cheryl.

She knew that the world was for her but from her increased sense of the unknown she dove into crippling doubts that fed her animated philosophy into something for kindness and love. Her professional intentions are rich as she portrays to an exact level what she wants to be heard in her plights for the real world.

There are earthquakes to deal with offering a towering height to things, scene changes that become real and structurally important. Taking closeness and distance to things. She was shown in bed or at a desk or in front of a wall written with notes for life. But finally in her magnanimity she finds out what really matters with ‘when are you coming home’.

Daniel Donnelly

Ralf Wetzel & Lee Delong @ the Brighton Fringe


Who are the people behind the mask of ‘Absolutely Reliable’

The Mumble tracked down one of them to find out

Hello Ralf, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Hi Mumble, I am German, living in Brussels, Belgium.

Can you tell us about your training?
My training? Throughout the last 5 years, I went through a heck of different trainings in Clown & Mask work, improvisation theatre and acting. My main teachers have been Keith Johnstone (CA), Lee Delong (F), Shawn Kinley (CA), John Turner (CA), Inbal Lori (IR) and Kelly Agathos (GR) & Ben Hartwig (D). Aside of that I am a trained electrician and I have a PhD in Organization Theory.

What is it about performing in front of other people that makes you tick?
It’s a moment of intense connection. Especially clown work made me aware of how thrilling being totally in the moment and drawing a strong connection between the emotionality of the audience and my own can be. Your body is ‘on’ with every cell. It’s addictive.

Can you tell us about your day job?
I am a Professor of Applied Arts at Vlerick Business School, Belgium. I teach topics like leadership, communication skills, change management and Design Thinking. All of that I teach on the pillars of Applied Improvisation, Clowning, enriched by the experiences I made with Social Dance like Lindy Hop and Argentine Tango. I discovered the power of Performing Arts for non-artistic environments like business or politics around 5 years ago. And since then, I took mind-sets, methodologies and exercises from Performing Arts and employed it in my classroom and with my clients. With mind-boggling results and impact. In that sense, I have the immense privilege to do Arts every day. And given my originally rather technical engineering background, its sheer fun, exiting, transforming and fulfilling. Today I am someone very different compared to 5 years ago.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Oh. Having a cup of tea on my lap and staring out of the window for hours is all I need.

You’re performing at this year’s Brighton Fringe; can you tell us about the show?
“Absolutely Reliable!” is a solo mask show, in which George, a middle aged, middle class and middle manager, desperately longs for love, attention, confirmation and proximity by his beloved girlfriend Josephine. He is just not prepared to deal with it when it materializes. He realizes that he has to invest, commit and display himself with his own emotions, and that’s not what he is remotely capable of. So, his demons take over and throw him into a roller-coaster of love, desire, lust, fear, loss and death. It’s a mirror to modern day’s masculinity.

George, is a version of a prototypical western man based on … the traumas that alpha males face in a business world now shaped by the need to diversify workforces and for managers to be more empathetic. The character of George, a white, middle-aged, middle-class, middle manager [is] desperate for both promotion in his company and for a relationship in his personal life – a confronting experience Jonathan Moules, Financial Times

Where, when & why was “Absolutely Reliable” created?
It was actually created out of frustration. I was looking for improv and/or clown peers to start a troupe in Brussels and nothing was materializing. So I asked my clown teacher, award winning director and actress Lee Delong (Molieres 2019), whether she could imagine creating a solo clown show with me. And she could 😊 It all started when the mask which I am wearing in the show, hit me in one of her workshops. ‘You don’t choose a mask, the mask chooses you’ (Lee Delong), and that is what happened. As quick as I had it on my face, my full physicality changed, Ralf disappeared and someone else took stage. That was the moment when we said ‘okay’, let’s find out who this is. And so George appeared. Lee and myself worked several days together to get going. She provoked the mask and the character responded and revealed himself through my physicality. The scenes as they are appearing in the show are substantially based on those initial improvisations. The text I narrate is actually the slightly edited note of those improvisations. The show was produced through my body in combination with the mask, driven by the provocations and side-coaching of Lee.


What is the underlying message behind your show?
Ha! That’s difficult to say, since we didn’t sit down and said ‘Let’s do a show about XYZ’. We had the mask, we had the response of the character, my body and the improvised scenes. Lee then connected the different scenes and directed me in playing them. The mask certainly gave me permission to release deeply rooted inner fears and traumas as much as dreams and desires, that George displays and struggles with. But George is not me. The mask evokes things that are not me. And so the visible result is a meltdown of something which is me and something which is not. And mostly, I struggle with what is actually what. Given the topics of toxic masculinity and #metoo, George becomes a prototypical modern westernized man who is incapable to manage his emotions, to substantially open up to others, to make himself vulnerable. But overall, the message of the play is driven by the context in which you watch it. If you put the show into a different perspective, you see something different. We discovered that it’s like a prism. It will break light accordingly to how it is projected onto it. Masculinity is one angle, femininity might be another.

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How are you finding working with director and co-writer Lee Delong?
It’s an experience that changed my life. Lee is extraordinary in how she sees the gold in the dust, she recognizes them in the smallest cues. She looks through your levels of fear and all your shields of protection, in a loving way. With decades of experience as actress, director and teacher, she challenges you to the bones and kicks your ass hard. But she knows exactly where your boundaries are, how far she can push. I feel challenged but safe in her hands at the same time. That allowed me a developmental journey throughout the last years far beyond my imagination. I had no idea how far that would go. And The result is amazing to me, every day.

George is the prototype of a modern man….an example of a man who may have conquered the universe but lost the battle against himself. And we cannot laugh at such a character, even when he is funny. Olga Vujovic (

Its been 3 years since you performed the show at the Edinburgh Fringe. How has it evolved in that time?
After the strikingly positive reviews from the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Lee has mainly refined the existing play. We polished the story arc, brought in more tension and escalation and worked on the characters in the play. Especially Josephine, George’s subject of desire, has turned out to be much stronger than before.

In between, of course, was the Age of Covid. How did the pandemic affect as you as both an individual & a performer?
To me personally, it’s been a time of paralysis, anger and of being lost. Before, I have been overloading myself with work and extensive traveling. When travel and social contact was taken away, I had to realize that both, overwork and travel were just escape mechanisms of not facing myself being frustrated and unable to hold myself. So being trapped inside my 4 walls was dammed confronting. George, the character from the show, appeared several times in front of my inward eye and was waving from afar … Then my mother passed away, being isolated in lockdown herself, which just pushed me over the cliff. It took me months to reground, re-stabilize. With the clear decision of working and traveling less. Let’s see how long that holds ;). Lee and I continued working during the Covid lockdowns on-line to develop our new collaboration, The Heist, which we have now been able to complete in person and will open in the 2022 Zagreb Clown Festival.

Are you looking forward to visiting Brighton – any tourist plans while you are in the city?
Oh, you know, I am a sea ghost. I missed being on an ocean all the way through the pandemic and just being close to the water turns me into another human being. I can’t wait to have sea salt on my tongue and beach pebbles beneath my feet. I have wonderful improv friends in Brighton, who have been close to me during the pandemic and reuniting with them will be nourishing.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the “Absolutely Reliable” to somebody in the streets of Brighton, what would you say?
“Absolutely Reliable!” is a surreal show about how fucked up modern men are. It displays the deep anxieties and despair of male, in a funny, off beat, striking and tender way. Those anxieties have hardly been displayed that openly.”

Absolutely Reliable

Sweet @ The Poets

May 27-30 (16:15 – 17:30)


Django in Pain

Brighton Fringe
16th April, 2022

I would like to thanks this year’s 2022 Brighton Fringe team who had the foresight of sending me this link for the special performance of the already outspoken ‘Django in Pain’. The unfolding story of Django has been, as you will see, a work of many good facets. We are met with its writer and director in the figure of Antonio Vega who came on screen to speak about of the reasons for this work of how it had all come to be. So then he opened it all up to us, all in the name of a period of debilitating depression during the last few years and of its way of having a permanent downward spiral.

This special puppet and shadow performance had to immediately shed the skin from our character Django. His name was inspired and used to act as the protagonist, and as hero, so accompanying his puppet were a dog, a strange looking vulture and other gentle things. The mentioned pace was from another time looking straight at a puppet world of animation.

From what we were told in the playwrights short introduction this time of suffering happened to him through the realities of having to be very tough in a world of big difficulty for this man’s head and even heart to bare. And so the sparkling intimacy of grace was unconditional in the great, grave and the varied compositional and elemental processes served in great detail with a gratitude from all of those who in one way or another took part. And in its promise the whole team included spaces for writing, directing, editing, photography, all founded by the two; Antonio and his fellow creativist Ana Graham.

It was formal, informal, and expressive in so many ways, from dark black and white cut outs to cheer full coloured ones that were in his unravelling standardisation in the understanding that made for a wonderfully well equipped theatrical accomplishment.

We can know what it is to even try to make scene’s that were into a self preferably inner, potent conversation that skilfully and artfully stood its ground of the personal and the impersonal that is in life and death as we know it.

It would take journeys and adventures for our man Django to overcome his dark desire to take his own life (hence was born the prolific noose that was constant companion for Django). In its art of which there was plenty its very nerve had persuasive, inductive, smart and even wisely contrasted models all coming together for this story to be told as he unveiled his laptop into the scene. And in truth I didn’t know what was to happen next.

The smart collaboration had a miniature world in play and it strode to cover every clause and facet, with shapely time changing in its support of life and into everything from truthful form to breaking long silences. We could tell that his heart was truly pouring out of his succinct imagination after the pain, inner and other which was the name of the play anyway. But being down to the point of extremes highs or lows it came together as timely and worldly as puppet on the end of a string? But the show would have worked very differently if these experiences had not been lived to his expense.

This was an hour of magic, and was a filled out with some properly animating of thoughts from the first to the last, mixing certain innocence while being also bent on destruction. The voice of the vulture often whispered its way’s into poor Django’s ear and also seemed to be bent on pushing Django into his desire as he took to the stool to actually do it, several times.

The story makes its bidding as a tale of woe and yore, from the great and sharp insight of puppets and shadow theatre but the light of delightful art and cunning, extreme composition held the account both at bay and self sufficiently in turn the revelry for an end in sight. After all sincerity and tearful truthfulness that had come to pass for Antonio, were the attacks that inspired the show. The suffering Django went through was called and he continuously insisting on acting out an act of arbitration as his final plan.

Shown from out of some shady alley way the call to the jungle led to one final embrace for a full life. A deeply seeded and set yet open doors and windows are suggested for this act that has now come to be, a commanding insight into a sense of everything taken by the throat and offered to the living.

Written and presented by Antonio its surprises are understanding’s that the play’s life had come from the real one.

Daniel Donnelly

Dita Von Teese / Glamonatrix

Edinburgh Playhouse

The anticipation for tonight’s show was huge, after being postponed twice because of lockdowns, Dita Von Teese finally brought her Burlesque review to Auld Reekie, Not surprisingly the Playhouse was packed to the rafters with glamorous freaks that had been waiting a long time for this spectacle, It had a lot to live up to.

All of the acts that performed were excellent and was quite possibly the best looking strip show I have experienced from the opening male pole dancer, lythe athletic body with lovely lace panties working that pole very sexily indeed.The gorgeous blond lady working the hoop And of course Dita’s various strip routines with her totally fit male support dancers assisting with Von Teases sublime uncladding of cumbersome clothes, Dita does have a really nice bum.

There were very strict rules in place mobile phones were barred and anyone attempting to take photos or film any of the performance were jumped on by a very nimble security. So one had to be totally in the moment. I do wish more performance artists had this policy. I didn’t have a programme either so have no idea of the names and at £18 a pop I didn’t think that that was value for money.

The compere of the night I didn’t gell with either and probably hogged the stage for longer than was wise. He wasn’t that entertaining while every supporting performance was top notch with enough eyecandy to please everyone of every sexual persuasion. Gay, Bi, Lesbian and straight. The last supporting act, before Dita in the legendry cocktail glass. Was a large lady working miracles with her nipple tassels before more bearded bloke on the stage attempting a Freddie Mercury audience participation, I dinnae ken why he didn’t work for me.

As the stage curtains opened to reveal the Cocktail Glass and the routine that I had been waiting for. Dita stripped sensually and got in the glass and splashed around a lot. It was fun, the thing that made me think that Dita was wearing a wig, the splashing water didn’t spoil her hair. She was giving it yaldi and the water soaked the stage.

Divine has seen a lot of Burlesque Reviews in his time and tonight had a lot to live up to and it wasn’t as good as La Clique.

5 Stars for each of the supporting Acts.
5 Stars For Dita.
2 Stars for the Compere.

Thankyou to Louise Galloway for gifting me with tonight’s ticket and brilliant seats and for being such splendid Theater Company.

Good Time Divine. ❤

The Conchordia Folio: An Update

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After taking a relatively long break since my last completed Conchord – the Siege of Gozo, composed in Malta in November-December 2020 – the composition of the Folio has resumed. I have just begun the first scenes of the Madchester trilogy, which will be the 14th, 15th & 16th conchords of the 39. It seem’d an apt place to rest after the Gozo concord, the 13th, reaching the natural third-way point in the attempt to emulate Shakespeare’s canonical 39 plays.

So what happens when you give yourself to the muses & ask their help in such a grand project as the Conchordia Folio. In my case, after completing the aforemention’d first third, it was time to leave my Edinburgh base & see where the wings of my pegasus shall fly. This was in early March of 2021, & exactly four months later I found myself living in a lovely property own’d by a lover of poetry, sited on a lovelier Scottish island, & opening a wee bookshop to fill with, well, books. The latter would then be opening many a fresh vista for the lore-learning & allusion-making that shall enrich my procession through the next third of the Folio.

It has taken seven months to settle into a psyche fit for the demanding intellective rigors of Conchordia composition, during which period I completed an epic ballad cycle, so the poetry kept flowing, & to a fairly high standard I feel.

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Chilling in the shop

By February 2021 – now – I intend to compose scene of the Folio most mornings, finishing by ten at the latest, & spending the rest of the day being a poet at semi-leisure, but spending some time on research for my composition notes, aware that in just a few hours after a decent sleep I shall be composing a new scene. There is an element of combining two poetical periods here. One is the Byronic Don Juan period, where he just set off composing stanza after stanza & canto after canto – he got to 16 or 17 before going off to fund an army in the Greek War of Independence against the Turks, before dying of malaria & leech-bleeding at Missolonghi. The other is the Miltonic composition of Paradise Lost, where the blind poet’s daughter would act as his amanuensis every morning after Milton composed his poetry in his head in bed.

I was recently reading Matthew Arnold’s essay on Worsdworth, & found a couple of morsels which reflect the spirit of what I am trying to achieve in match Shakespeare’s folio with one of my own;

A nation, again, is furthered by recognition of its real gifts & successes; it is encouraged to develop them further

But let me have the pleasure of quoting a sentence about Shakespeare, which I met with by accident not so long ago in the Correspondant, a French review… “Shakespeare is the king of poetic rhythm & style, as well as the king of the realm of thought.”

Thus, in essence, I wish to develop & extend the Shakespearean style for the benefit of the nation, & thus the English-speaking world. Picking up the histories from his Henry VIII, in a way.

My 13 Conchords thus far have ranged in length between 14 & 35 scenes, so let’s say an average of about 20. Theoretically, then, I could finish a conchord every three weeks, while adding ten days of rest & normal life days means I could compose one conchord per month. Add a couple of months for vacation, a couple of months just purely researching, & a major edit month, then we’re looking at about 18 months to complete the next third of the Folio – if I remain focus’d of course. It took about the same amount of time to complete the first third, actually, tho a good half of it was already written.

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Researching Madchester

These are the next seven conchords which I shall be composing throughout 2022.

THE MADCHESTER TRILOGY: A three parter telling the story of the rise & fall of the Madchester movement, 1979-1991. You can follow it here

THE KING & THE SPIDER: The story of Robert The Bruce in exile. I will be using Scottish folk songs as the music.

THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE: The third conchord in the Gods of the Ring trilogy telling the story of the Muhammad Ali – George Foreman fight in Zaire, 1974

THE LION & THE EAGLE: This might also be call’d ‘The Day of the Griffin.’ It tells the story of a meeting between Churchill & Von Ribbentrop in the lead up to the Second World War.

That will take the total to 20, which is no mean feat in itself, & also beyond the half-way mark in the quest for 39.

Damian Beeson Bullen

Quarrel in Arles

‘Quarrel in Arles’ is a homage to the turn of the century Dutch Artist Vincent Van Gogh. Written by E. Thomalen, it was a no holds barred account of the fate full year 1888 of the artist’s life told from the horse’s mouth so to speak as it was a reading from letter of correspondence between Vincent, his brother Theo, Johanna Bonger (who was to marry Theo) and Paul Gauguin.

These letters are a point of reference of the past, and act like documents that unveil the history of some very important times for the art world. In good humour Vincent would write to his brother about his excitement always starting with ‘My dear Theo…’ and always ending expressing a hand shake of affection.

They were very close as brothers and friends and remained as pillars of support for each other. When we study Vincent in the modern world his letters are never far from exploration. The reading by Timothy Portnay, playing Vincent, Gauguin and Theo and Yumiko Gardener playing Johanna was coupled by only one picture on the screen that was a Van Gogh painting of a sunflower, perhaps chosen because it is one of the most relatable to date.

Separated into parts the year unfolded with event after event for the Van Gogh team. All of whom supported him as an artist unequivocally through turmoil not the least the fact that his paintings just wouldn’t sell. Listening to these letters show casing his thoughts we could step back and follow with no little joy’s and woe’s that were to reflect the artists moods and discrepancies.

He was in great excitement about his idea for an art colony in Arles; where he had moved after finding his legendarily famous yellow house, so called because its walls were painted yellow. In his faithful heart he wanted and indeed revered the idea that a fellow painter Paul Gauguin would head it.

The story went from France to Holland and vice versa as each told their stories via all these letters. Theo was also an art dealer and Vincent wanted him to paint as well, but the focus was on Vincent’s work. They described his paintings and theories with such an abundant joy that was as essential as breath.

And who now has not heard of this artist and therefore heard about his very fragile condition as a human being. And yes a vein darkness began to immerge. From the letter we realise that for him it was no joke. As we followed each story we could understand that not selling for him was a sadness that gripped him as vividly as cold air and hung around for just as long.

But his letters to his brother were filled with the excitement he felt and sure enough Gauguin decided to move to Arles to live with him at the Yellow house. The two tried to create a collaboration that would bring them together as great friends and towering Artists but things proved difficult and they found that in art and life they disagreed fiercely.

But Vincent’s problems were to worsen his paranoia grew too great to control and though Gauguin had great affection for the man he saw suffering he felt unsafe and even in fear for his life. At this point tears were gathering in my eyes I asked myself how can something so gracious be born of such suffering.

The Vincent we know of cut off part of his own ear, in the interests of sacrifice (putting it in a box to be kept), he recovered after time at an asylum but the storm that engulfed his life ended in terrible tragedy. And as this sadness extended its arm into me with force of nature his work only became more beautiful. Had he sold in his lifetime things may well have been different but I’m afraid it could not have assuaged his deteriorating life spiral. His gentility of work was some of the most harmoniously ever created at least that’s how I like to remember looking back at his life.

Daniel Donnelly

Watch: Quarrel In Arles

The Laurel and Hardy Cabaret

Roll up roll up, were the sentiments of ‘the Laurel and Hardy Cabaret’ as the duo stepped onstage. It was as if we had come across a portal to the past with posters of the two’s shows on the wall they sidled up in full Mimicking costumes. The scene was set for my online viewing of this year’s comedy at the Scenesavers festival.

In all politeness Ollie (Hardy) began by addressing the audience with the famed words of ‘Ladies and gentlemen’. So the comedy that poured out was with the use of props and stories from the duo’s real act from the 20’s to the 50’s of the twentieth century. 

The nostalgic black and white films are something of a cult for comedy and film of the time but the show was thrown into a new disarray of timely responses and reactions. The audience were mostly children who from the sound of their laughter and cheering enjoyed it very much.

From this I could sit back with the job done of relinquishing the show and simply take it in because as a show it had its own merits. It let me appreciate the act and its nuances I also fairly recently saw the film ‘Stan and Ollie’ that portrayed their sensitive act which at times was like a roller coaster for the two. 

Ollie’s pristine and well to do appearance would always want things clean and well presented while Stan always seemed to do his best at disrupting anything Ollie said. They used original jokes blended with fresh takes but were all about doing what the two did back then which was to really entertain on stage.

Their sweetness only grew as they merged into their gentle but slapstick roles. The story included their journeys within their act and without in their friendship off stage. They were two charming clowns in tie and waist coat with the legendary hats and Ollie’s tiny moustache.

In his innocent cajoling Stan’s antics were so many as to compile their own show, his work with a balloon was a turn of events as he let the air out to make that sound Ollie was left wandering where it was coming from.

It had begun with a skit about Stan’s driving licence application and the joke went into hilarity with clever word use so as to baffle Ollie who only wanted to help. It was just the right level of reflection so as to really get to grips with its wonderful homage.  The original duos accomplishments and revelations of friendship had been and are still around today for our enjoyment, making them very famous conservative clowns.

With Ollie’s preparedness and Stan chaotic workings, they travelled in and out of cities and countries where their show would bring the house down, yes with comedy but also in nostalgia in the shows that made them so famous. All of which helping to make this act all the more revelatory for themselves and where they made those moments of the show that always lifted the audience. 

And every time they returned to the comedy template of the two characters singing and joking with a friendly heart. Trying to push the boundaries with fresh antics we were held there in the past for the show and were really reminded by the songs and music just how long ago it was. As touching and charming as they were this act wound up nicely with a touching goodbye. 

Daniel Donnelly

Watch: The Laurel & Hardy Cabaret