How Rotterdam has led the way for transgender stories on stage

Published in The Independent on June 20, 2017

It was 2008 when Jon Brittain first started working on his play Rotterdam, about a lesbian couple where one half transitions to being a man. He had several friends who were transitioning gender, and was suddenly struck by how few trans stories ever got told. Continue reading “How Rotterdam has led the way for transgender stories on stage”

The woman who could ‘draw’ music

Published in BBC Culture on May 30, 2017

Few people know Daphne Oram, but she helped shape the sounds, and songs, we listen to today. A pioneer of electronic music, she wrote Still Point – thought to be the world’s first composition which manipulates electronic sounds in real time – in 1949. In 1957, she set up the famous BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The same year, she began working on her Oramics machine, which turned graphical gestures into music: the user could ‘draw’ the sounds they wished to hear.

Continue reading “The woman who could ‘draw’ music”

Review: Richard III, The Arcola

Published in What's on Stage on May 18, 2017

Snarling, gurning, clad in black leather and dragging his deformed leg around by a chain… this Richard III could only telegraph ‘villain’ stronger if he came accompanied by a boo-hiss chorus. Yet Greg Hicks’ supple, detailed performance never tips into caricature. He’s by far the best thing in an otherwise rather pedestrian production by Mehmet Ergen. Continue reading “Review: Richard III, The Arcola”

‘It’s about exploring the male and female that everyone has inside them’: on playing Salomé as a man

Published in The i on May 12, 2017

Salomé: one of the most dangerously seductive female figures ever, often considered the original femme fatale. Yet in a new production of Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play at the RSC, Salomé is to be played by a man. Continue reading “‘It’s about exploring the male and female that everyone has inside them’: on playing Salomé as a man”

‘My body shall be all yours’: the startling sex letters of Joyce, Kahlo and O’Keeffe

Published in The Guardian on May 2, 2017

“I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter.” He might be celebrated for his epic and allusive novels, but James Joyce came straight to the point when writing to his partner, Nora Barnacle. This was the opening salvo of a letter from 1908 and is just one of scores of explicit missives he sent her. Continue reading “‘My body shall be all yours’: the startling sex letters of Joyce, Kahlo and O’Keeffe”

Review: The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre

Published in Time Out on April 25, 2017

The story of Louis Braille – the blind French boy who invented the braille alphabet in 1824 when he was only 15 – is an inspiring one, and musicals have certainly been based on stranger source material. And director Thom Southerland has a track record of slightly unlikely hits such as Titanic and Grey Gardens, so you’d hope for a vibrant telling. But this dire musical entirely fails to do the man justice. Continue reading “Review: The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre”

Sophie Okonedo: ‘My body is my barometer – my instincts are physical’

Published in The Observer on April 23, 2017

Sophie Okonedo was born in 1968 in London and studied at Rada. She has worked extensively across theatre, film and TV and was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. Continue reading “Sophie Okonedo: ‘My body is my barometer – my instincts are physical’”

Review: The Philanthropist, Trafalgar Studios

Published in What's on Stage on April 21, 2017

First staged in 1970, Christopher Hampton’s comedy (an inverted reflection of Moliere’s The Misanthrope) about a mild-mannered, people-pleasing Oxford academic gets a revival stuffed with comic actors off the telly. You can see why: this groaning period piece, directed by Simon Callow, needs all the comedic help it can get. It’s not enough. Continue reading “Review: The Philanthropist, Trafalgar Studios”

Why the decline of school theatre trips is extremely worrying

Published in What's on Stage on April 14, 2017

Do you remember the first time you were taken to the theatre? If you’re reading this, the chances are, you do – and that first taste might well have been part of a school trip. But recent reports suggest such outings are increasingly endangered. Continue reading “Why the decline of school theatre trips is extremely worrying”