The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

May the power of the brolly live on!

@MycroftBrolly
British. Londoner. Campaigner. Gandhian. Tatchellite. Works at the Terrence Higgins Trust. EQView Arts Editor and Writer. Theatre (esp @NationalTheatre), film and TV geek. Sherlockian. All views my own.



s1

SherlockNight

The blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
- Dinah Craik, in A Life for a Life (1859)


London Pride Parade: Saturday 27 June 2015 - My best photos
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


Yesterday was the London Pride Parade and I marched with Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM).

We were lucky enough to be joined by some of the key cast members from the film Pride (including Andrew Scott!) and Owen Jones.

The photo above is of me, at the end of the march, meeting one of my Pride Heroes, Peter Tatchell. A couple of my best photos are below.

The stunningly beautiful LGSM banner:



Me at the start of the march with other members of the LGSM contingent:



If you want a fuller selection of images of the London Pride Parade yesterday follow the Gay Star News link to the 18 best pictures from the London Pride Parade:
http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/here-are-18-best-pictures-pride-london270615

Follow the link to the London Pride Website with full details:
http://prideinlondon.org/

London Pride Parade: Saturday 27 June 2015
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


Its the London Pride Parade tomorrow and I can't wait!

After much agonising, I have decided to march with Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM).

My heart won over my head in the end! I feel very strongly in my heart that LGSM should be leading the Parade to acknowledge the 30 year anniversary since they did so with the Miners Contingent and to celebrate the film Pride. I can't change London Pride politics but I can show my support and solidarity by marching with LGSM and the trade union blocks. It is also very important to me that I do Pride as Protest to recognise and acknowledge the history of Pride.

The over-arching theme is Pride Heroes. I made my own placard (pictured above!) with my own personal 4 Pride Heroes - Alan Turing, Harvey Milk, Terry Higgins, and Peter Tatchell (of course!).

Pride List
- "I HEART Pride" green t shirt courtesy of Brighton Pride
- Rainbow Hat
- Rainbow flag
- Whistle
- Slogan "Victory to the Miners!"
- Song "Power in the Union" by Billy Bragg

All systems are GO!

Follow the link to the London Pride Website with full details:
http://prideinlondon.org/


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Episode 6 – Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


In EQView this week I reviewed Episode 6 of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, where Jonathan Strange goes mad in Venice and the Magic of the Raven King returns to England.

My EQView review of Episode 6 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/06/24/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-episode-6-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL - EPISODE 6 - REVIEW

BBC One’s lavish Sunday night period drama about English Magic and Magicians, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, continued this week and could easily have been titled “Jonathan Strange goes mad in Venice”. Strange flees to Venice, in pursuit of madness and his beloved wife, Arabella, whom he is determined to bring back from the dead.

The penultimate episode begins with Jonathan Strange being declared a Fugitive in England, and his Book of Magic, with a dedication to his beloved wife, finally goes on sale to the public. Norrell, having failed to stop the publication of Strange’s book, resorts to magic and the books disappear as soon as they are purchased. By making the books vanish in this way, Norrell ensures Strange’s ideas about English magic do not see the light of day.

Meanwhile, Strange has fled to Venice, but he is a changed man. The death of his wife, Arabella, has left him a broken man. Strange, when Arabella was alive, was a confident young man, happy and content, looking every inch the true gentleman, finding his true vocation and path in life. Now in Venice, Strange has immersed himself in his experiments, driving himself on and on, not eating or sleeping properly, and appearing dishevelled, unkempt and mad.

Strange personally witnessed how King George’s madness enabled him to see into other worlds, and now, in a bid to find Arabella, Strange is chasing after madness himself. Strange’s aim is to conjure up a Fairy Servant and ask him to bring Arabella back from the dead. Strange realizes Fairies are wicked and dangerous but he knows he needs their help to bring Arabella back.

Strange edges closer and closer to madness and, as he does so, he is able to see, hear and talk to the mysterious Gentleman. Strange has conjured up the Gentleman and can ask him for anything he desires. Strange wants to bring Arabella back from the dead, but the Gentleman is clear that is outside his remit. Strange begs, but the Gentleman stands firm. Strange talks to the Gentleman and it suddenly dawns on him that Norrell was the last English Magician to have dealings with the Gentleman. He realizes the Gentleman helped Norrell bring Lady Pole back from the dead.

Through sheer determination and dogged persistence, Strange discovers a path through to the Lost Hope Ball, where he finds Stephen, Lady Pole and Arabella. Horrified, Strange realizes Arabella has been enchanted by the Gentleman and is doomed to dance forever at the Lost Hope Ball. Strange has journeyed to other lands, he has seen where Arabella and Lady Pole are held captive, and he has witnessed their enchantment. He is rewarded for his efforts by being cursed himself, encased within a spell of the Gentleman’s making, and unable to break free.

Back in England, Norrell continues to agitate against Strange to anyone willing to listen. Norrell claims Strange is playing with forces he does not understand, and dabbling in Black Magic which will bring catastrophe and disaster down upon England.

The episode ends with a truly stunning sequence. Strange says “Tell Norrell I am coming”, and hundreds of Black Ravens, last seen in Venice, break through Norrell’s mirror at home and into England. These Black Ravens may symbolize Strange’s return to England, but they are also a clear sign that Ancient Magic, the Magic of the Raven King, is returning to England after a long absence. Strange has succeeded in restoring the Magic of the Raven King to England but what has he unleashed, and are these forces for good or evil? Will Strange, Norrell and the other English Magicians be able to control this Magic, and will they use it for good or ill?

All will be revealed in the final episode next week and I, for one, cannot wait!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell concludes next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
Tags: , , ,

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Episode 5 – Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


In EQView this week I reviewed Episode 5 of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which focused on the battle between Strange and the Gentleman for Arabella’s heart and soul. And Strange and Norrell’s feud goes from bad to worse, landing Strange in prison.

My EQView review of Episode 5 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/06/16/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-episode-5-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL - EPISODE 5 - REVIEW

BBC One’s lavish Sunday night period drama about magic, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, continued this week with an episode focusing on the battle between Strange and the Gentleman for Arabella’s heart and soul. And Strange and Norrell’s feud went from bad to worse, landing Strange in prison.

Episode 5 has a very powerful opening as we are plunged right into the heart of the Battle of Waterloo. We experience first hand the cut and thrust, the agony and ecstasy, of War. Jonathan Strange (Merlin) is in the thick of it and responds quickly and effectively to the cries for help coming from the soldiers, using practical magic on the battlefields to fight the enemy. The breadth and depth of his magic is simply awe-inspiring. We are on the edge of our seats, as Strange and the British officers narrowly escape death. The scene closes with the end of the War, both Strange and Wellington amazed to have survived.

Back at home, with his War exploits at an end, Strange attempts to pick up where he left off, focusing on his beautiful and intelligent wife Arabella and their marriage. The husband and wife are working in partnership, writing a Book of Magic, with Strange supplying the words and Arabella the illustrations. Little do they know disaster is about to strike and they are soon to be parted!

Lady Pole is happier in her new home, Segundus’s asylum. Segundus and Honeyfoot have made a breakthrough and realized Lady Pole is not mad. She is not talking gibberish but telling Fairy Tales, narrated from the Fairy’s point of view. Lady Pole attempts to get a message through to Strange – that his wife is in mortal danger and he must not, under any circumstances, make the fatal bargain with the Gentleman. But help arrives too late for Arabella because, before Strange receives Lady Pole’s warning, Stephen has spirited Arabella away in the dead of night and taken her to the Gentleman and the Lost Hope Ball.

When Strange realizes Arabella is missing, he and his household search the countryside looking for her, and they find Arabella’s doppelganger, conjured up by Stephen and the Gentleman. They bring this fake Arabella back home, not realizing their mistake. Having been out walking in the bitter cold for some time, this fake Arabella is dangerously ill, and dies very soon afterwards. The real Arabella is alive but, having fallen into the clutches of the Gentleman, is doomed like Lady Pole to dance forever at his Lost Hope Ball.

Arabella is the centre of Strange’s life, she is his reason for living, and everything he does is for her – Strange even took up magic as an occupation merely to please and pacify her. Arabella’s death leaves him a broken man. Strange will not accept she is dead, he is desperate to restore Arabella to life, and uses all the magic in his armoury to bring this about. But nothing seems to work and Strange writes to Norrell frantically, pleading for him to come and help him in his time of need for the sake of their past friendship. Strange is remembering Norrell’s success in bringing Lady Pole back from the dead (he is oblivious to the heavy price that was extracted in return).

When Norrell heard Strange was writing a Book about Magic, he immediately tried to dissuade prospective publishers from having anything to do with it, describing the book as “seditious” and “dangerous”. Childermass informs Strange that Norrell is doing all in his power to stop the book and this drives Strange into an aggressive fit of rage – for Strange the book is a tribute to his dearly departed and beloved wife. Strange’s fury knows no bounds and he materialises in Norrell’s house, threatening and attacking Norrell and his friends. Strange is promptly arrested and put in prison. Strange and Norrell’s feud has gone from bad to worse.

Another exceptional episode, opening with a mind-blowing set piece sequence at the Battle of Waterloo, and focusing on the battle between Strange and the Gentleman for Arabella’s heart and soul. In this episode we discover how much Arabella means to Strange and how deep his love and devotion for her are. Having failed to bring her back from the dead, he very reluctantly buries her, but we know he will fight long and hard for her when he realizes she is not dead but has merely been spirited away and ensnared in the Gentleman’s evil enchantment. Who will win the battle for Arabella’s heart and soul and can true love triumph in the end? All will be revealed next week!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
Tags: , , ,

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Episode 4 – Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


In EQView this week I reviewed Episode 4 of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which continued this week with an episode where the two Magicians, Strange and Norrell, start out as close colleagues but end as sworn enemies.

My EQView review of Episode 4 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/06/12/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-episode-4-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL - EPISODE 4 - REVIEW

BBC One’s lavish Sunday night period drama about magic, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, continued this week with an episode where the two Magicians, Strange and Norrell, start out as close colleagues but end as sworn enemies.

At the end of Episode 3, Lady Pole attempted to assassinate Mr Norrell because of what he had done to her. Episode 4 opens with this fact being covered up and a story being put about that a French spy shot at Mr Norrell in revenge for his successful magical interventions in the War. Plans are quickly made to send Lady Pole to an asylum, where she will be out of harm’s way and unable to commit any further atrocities.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell are summoned to attend on King George III to see if their magic can help him overcome his malady. Mr Norrell is firmly of the opinion that “Magic cannot cure madness”, but Jonathan Strange has a more open mind and wishes to see if there is any way he can help.

Their commission to cure the King brings into sharp focus Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’s differing approaches to the practice of English magic. Mr Norrell wants “Modern magic for the modern age”, whilst Jonathan Strange is keen to explore the Black Magic of the past and to follow the paths of the Raven King.

When Jonathan Strange returns to see King George III alone, the King helps Strange find a way back to the old World through mirrors, and Strange rediscovers the “King’s Roads”, the dark paths and highways of the Raven King. This is a strange, mysterious and magical world, and once Strange has found his way into this world, he is keen to return and explore it further despite the obvious dangers.

Jonathan Strange is drawn towards the ancient ways of the Raven King and the practice of Black Magic, at the same time as Mr Norrell and Lascelles are working away on a book setting out “Norrellite Magic for the Modern Age”, the only form of magic they deem acceptable and respectable.

Jonathan Strange profoundly disagrees with the ideas expressed in the Lascelles book and he reviews the book, denouncing its contents and the magic it advocates. Strange realizes he will have to break free from Mr Norrell, branch out on his own, and follow his own path. Only then can he explore the Black Magic he wants to practice, the medieval magic of the Raven King. For Strange, this ancient magic is truly wonderful and belongs to a Golden Age of English Magic. Compared to this, Mr Norrell’s modern magic appears dull, mundane and commonplace.

With Jonathan Strange denouncing Mr Norell’s book in print and in public, their collaboration and partnership is at an end. Mr Norrell will pursue the practice of modern magic and Jonathan Strange will attempt to follow the paths of the Raven King and rediscover medieval magic.

Throughout this episode, we get a firm sense of the deep love between Jonathan and Arabella Strange. They are a very modern couple and their marriage is a meeting of hearts and minds. Towards the end of the Episode, Jonathan Strange is willing to give up being a Practical Magician, and return to being a Theoretical Magician, so he can spend more quality time with his wife.

But we all know what happens to the best laid plans! Just as Jonathan and Arabella resolve to focus on their marriage, Strange receives a summons. Napoleon has returned to France and captured Paris. Strange is the Army’s Magician and his services are urgently required. So much for Strange enjoying a quiet life of domesticity!

In this Episode, it becomes clear the two Magicians have diametrically opposed views on the direction English Magic should take. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell split and go their separate ways – Mr Norrell to practice “Modern Magic for the Modern Age”, and Jonathan Strange to try and rediscover Medieval Magic, the Black Magic of the Raven King. As the Episode closes, we focus in on Mr Norrell, who now sees Jonathan Strange as his sworn enemy. The battle lines are drawn and there can only be one winner. Let battle commence!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
Tags: , , ,

Fanny & Stella, Above The Stag Theatre - Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week is a review of Fanny & Stella, currently playing at the Above The Stag Theatre in Vauxhall. Fanny & Stella tells the true story of Victorian cross dressers Frederick (Fanny) Park and Ernest (Stella) Boulton, two young men who dared to be different, whatever the cost. A very enjoyable and fun night out. Go and see Fanny & Stella – you will be entertained and educated, and I guarantee you will have the time of your life!

My EQView review of Fanny & Stella is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/06/08/fanny-stella-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

FANNY & STELLA - REVIEW

Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story is a new play with songs, currently playing at Above The Stag Theatre, which tells the true story of Victorian cross dressers Frederick Park (Fanny) and Ernest Boulton (Stella), two young men who dared to be different, whatever the cost.

The way the story is presented is very effective, as it empowers Fanny (Frederick) and Stella (Ernest) to tell their own stories. When you sit down in your seat, you are transported to a Victorian Working Men’s Club where, for one night only, Fanny and Stella are going to inform and entertain you by bringing their real life stories onto the stage. They tell their stories warts and all – their rise to fame and their fall from grace. You know right from the off that you are embarking on a fabulous adventure and that you are in for one hell of a ride!

Frederick Park (Fanny) and Ernest Boulton (Stella) were two young Victorian men who dared to be different. Known to their friends as Fanny and Stella, and to the tabloids as the “He-She Ladies”, they loved to dress as women. They performed on stage as female impersonators, and went out on the town, to theatre and social engagements, still dressed as women, hoping to pick men up for sex. They were much admired and Stella in particular had many suitors, including Lord Arthur Clinton.

Fanny and Stella were arrested at The Strand Theatre in 1870 and put on trial for homosexual offences. They made their first court appearance dressed in their evening gowns. But the prosecution could not prove that they had had anal sex, which was then a crime, and wearing women’s clothing was not a crime, so they were acquitted. Justice was done!

Fanny and Stella were real people and I appreciated, valued and respected the way in which the play covered all aspects of their lives – their parents, their families, their friends, their suitors, their love lives, money, jobs, and their ambitions and aspirations. This was an in-depth and rich exploration of Fanny and Stella’s multi-faceted lives.

The songs are a real riot – incredibly clever and very funny. They move the story along at a rapid pace, enable the audience to join in and participate, ensure the show is a lot of fun, and give the production that elusive X factor. Songs include “Sodomy on the Strand”, “Those Funny He/She Ladies”, “Has anyone seen my Fanny?” and “My Mother”, and they are all so catchy I guarantee you will be singing them in the interval and as you leave the show!

All the actors in the production are excellent but special mention has to go to Marc Gee Finch (Fanny) and Robert Jeffery (Stella) who make convincing women and work very well together as a double act. They convey how colourful and charismatic Fanny and Stella were as characters and as women, and they also tug at your heartstrings when you think about how sad it is that Fanny and Stella had to suffer so much just for wanting to be themselves.

For a fringe production, the costumes and the set are a real treat and an absolute delight. Fanny and Stella’s dresses are to die for and Marc Gee Finch (playing Fanny) and Robert Jeffery (playing Stella) wear them with real style and aplomb. The staging and set is excellent too, and I especially loved the use of the closets to reveal surprise characters and interiors. Walking out of the closet, and leaving it behind, at the end of the piece was a stroke of pure genius!

All in all, a very enjoyable and fun night out, where you will also learn a lot about hidden LGBT history, and appreciate just how much progress has been made on LGBT rights in a relatively short space of time. Go and see Fanny & Stella – you will be entertained and educated, and I guarantee you will have the time of your life!

Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story plays at Above The Stag Theatre until Sunday 14 June.

Above The Stag Theatre is the UK’s only full time professional LGBT theatre.


My interview on Fanny & Stella with the playwright Glenn Chandler can be found here:
http://eqview.com/2015/05/29/fanny-stella-glenn-chandler/

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Episode 3 – Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


In EQView this week I reviewed Episode 3 of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which continued this week with an excellent episode, much darker in tone, with viewers led to believe the Dark Arts and Black magic are in the ascendant.

My EQView review of Episode 3 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/06/03/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-episode-3-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL - EPISODE 3 - REVIEW

BBC One’s Sunday night period drama about magic, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, continued this week with an episode focusing on the Dark Arts and Black magic.

At the start of Episode 3, London society has noted Lady Pole’s “strangeness” and gossip is rife about why she remains aloof from society, shuts herself away and about the state of her mind. Arabella, Jonathan Strange’s wife, is one of the few people permitted to visit Lady Pole and she becomes a close friend and confidante.

Lady Pole is unable to tell Arabella what has happened to her (she ends up talking gibberish), and so she tries to explain through embroidery, stitching a tapestry depicting herself, the Gentleman, Stephen and the ghostly Last Hope Ball. Lady Pole is distraught when her elaborate embroidery work is destroyed overnight.

Whilst Arabella is trying to unravel Lady Pole’s dark secrets in London, her husband, Jonathan, has journeyed out to the War in search of Wellington. At first, Wellington does not have much time for the magician sent out to help him, but when Jonathan starts working his magic, Wellington sees his potential, nicknames him “Merlin”, and starts asking for very specific pieces of magic.

Jonathan enjoys the War to begin with, especially practical tasks like making a road. But misfortune strikes, Jonathan loses his closest servant and all the books Mr Norrell lent him in one horrific explosion, and all he has left to guide him is one book, “The History of the Raven King”. This is the only magic book he owned, given to him by Arabella.

Using the Raven King book, Jonathan practices Black magic in the later stages of the War, bringing dead soldiers back to life. These near zombies, his own creation, disturb Jonathan greatly. He knows this magic is dark and dangerous, not the “respectable” magic Mr Norrell tried to teach him, and he is unable to control it.

Arabella is the constant in this episode, unifying the diverse characters and the multiple storylines. She is Lady Pole’s closest friend and confidante. She is Jonathan’s wife, and Mr Norrell intercepts the letters between Jonathan and Arabella, so he knows what is happening to Lady Pole and what is going on in the War. Finally, the mysterious Gentleman is strongly drawn to Arabella and desires her for his own.

This episode ends on a cliffhanger when a deranged Lady Pole, driven almost out of her mind, fatally shoots one of the main characters (I won’t say who!). Is this character really dead or can magic, whether black or white, come to the rescue and bring him back from the dead? If he is restored to life, what penalty will have to be paid this time around?

An excellent episode, much darker in tone, with viewers led to believe the Dark Arts and Black magic are in the ascendant. Jonathan resorts to the Black magic of the Raven King to help win the War, Lady Pole and Stephen are under the evil Gentleman’s power, and Arabella is in real danger of being drawn into the Gentleman’s dark web against her will.

All I can say is … Roll on Episode 4!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
Tags: , , ,

Fanny & Stella - Meet the Writer - Glenn Chandler
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week is an interview with Glenn Chandler, the playwright of Fanny & Stella, currently playing at the Above the Stag theatre in Vauxhall. Fanny & Stella tells the true story of Victorian cross dressers Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton, two young men who dared to be different, whatever the cost.

My EQView interview with Glenn Chandler is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/05/29/fanny-stella-glenn-chandler/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

FANNY & STELLA - MEET THE WRITER - GLENN CHANDLER

Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story is a new play, currently playing at the Above the Stag theatre in Vauxhall, telling the true story of Victorian cross dressers Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton (Fanny and Stella), two young men who dared to be different, whatever the cost.

I saw the play with songs recently and I thought the writing, the songs, and the acting were exceptional (review to follow). It made me want to find out more about the play and so I interviewed Glenn Chandler, the playwright, to find out how and why he came to write the play.

EQView: What is special about the theatre and why do you love writing for the stage?

Because it’s different every night. A television film or a movie remains the same every time you look at it. A theatre piece is something which is constantly evolving. And besides, I like being hands-on, writing for and working with actors.

Your productions often play at Above The Stag. What do you think is special and unique about Above The Stag?

It is London’s only LGBT theatre and hats off to Peter Bull who started it. Gay themed plays will always have a home.

When did you first come across the case of Fanny and Stella?

While I was producing Cleveland Street The Musical, which I also wrote, at the old Above The Stag. One of the rent boys at the Cleveland Street brothel had mixed with Boulton and Park and put his name to a pornographic memoir in which he described their relationship. I began researching them for a book initially – but then thought theatre was the place for them!

What research did you do into Fanny and Stella’s story and into the Victorian period during which the play is set?

I read the whole trial at the National Archives in Kew, and spent many hours at the British Library in Colindale (now closed) reading accounts of the magistrates’ procedings. The papers reported their lives and activities in enormous detail. I was stunned to discover that Park had a brother who had been arrested for fondling a policeman! It obviously ran in the family.

What drew you to Fanny and Stella’s story? Why did you want to put it on the stage now?

I think now is absolutely right. LGBT issues are prominent – and by luck we coincided with the referendum on gay marriage in Ireland. I wonder what Boulton and Park would have thought of that!

The subtitle for the play is “The Shocking True Story”. What do you think is “shocking” about Fanny and Stella’s story?

It was shocking at the time, to the Victorians. Not to us. Sodomy was something they didn’t like to discuss, and the details of such cases the newspapers deemed unfit to print.

Why did you decide to tell Fanny and Stella’s story as a “play with songs” rather than as straight drama?

Straight drama demands that you have to get serious and make “dramatic points” and it all has to mean something. With songs, you can get serious, make dramatic points and mean something, but at the same time tell the story in a much more light-hearted and fun way. Besides, Fanny and Stella were theatrical and sang in public – they would not have dreamt of a show about them without songs. I’m pretty sure anyway.

How did you find the right person to compose the music and write the songs? Did you input into that process?

Steven Dexter the director introduced me to Charles Miller the composer. I hadn’t worked with either before. It worked amazingly well. One song ‘Sodomy on the Strand’ I wrote the lyrics before breakfast, emailed them to Charles, and by lunch he had set it and sent it to me as an MP3 file. I’m sure it doesn’t always happen that way! I think his music is superb and very, very memorable, judging by the audience members I hear humming it in the bar afterwards.

Fanny & Stella was one of the rehearsed readings that Above The Stag staged last year. Did you make any major changes following the reading?

I made a few changes, as one does, but the shape of it remained the same. Some people at the reading asked why I didn’t just tell the story of them straight through, ending in their demise. I wanted to tackle how they must have felt after their acquittal, and show them telling their own story.

How did you find the right actors to play Fanny and Stella? Were there any qualities in particular you were looking for?

They had to be good actors, be able to sing well, and look good dressed as women! It wasn’t easy. But Robert Jeffrey and Marc Gee-Finch, who had never met before, are now a double act who could perform on any stage!

Why do you think Fanny and Stella’s story is relevant to a modern-day audience?

Because we need to be reminded of where we came from, and what it was like in the past. I was never taught gay history at school. We should all be taught it now. Fanny and Stella teaches it in a light-hearted, fun way. What better way to learn history?

What audience responses have you got so far to Fanny & Stella?

Audience reactions have been brilliant. Not heard a bad word yet. And believe me, that’s rare!

What next for Glenn Chandler?

Not saying! A couple of projects I’m working on, one which stems indirectly from Fanny and Stella, but I’m keeping mum about them at the moment. Sorry!

Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story plays at the Above the Stag theatre in Vauxhall until Sunday 14 June.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Episode 2 – Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


In EQView this week I reviewed Episode 2 of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and found it drew me further into its tangled web of magic and mystery.

My EQView review of Episode 2 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/05/28/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-episode-2-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL – EPISODE 2 – REVIEW

BBC One’s lavish new Sunday night period drama, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, continued this week and drew me further into its tangled web of magic and mystery!

Episode 2 opens with Mr Norrell at the height of his powers, fully involved in England’s War effort. The French are completely fooled by his latest pièce de résistance – a seemingly endless fleet of ships made from rain. Back in England, Mr Norrell is showered with praise and enjoys basking in his new found fame.

But evil forces are at play, and the bargain Mr Norrell made with the Gentleman at the end of the opening episode, to restore Lady Pole to life, returns to haunt him. Lady Pole is alive but she is not at peace, and her illness gets progressively worse throughout the episode. When she tries to explain what has happened to her, she ends up speaking gibberish, and neither doctors nor magicians can help her. Sir Walter summons Mr Norrell, but all he can say is there is nothing he can do as Lady Pole has gone mad.

The Gentleman claimed half of Lady’s Pole life for helping Mr Norrell bring her back from the dead. Every night, as Lady Pole sleeps, she is doomed to dance the night away with the Gentleman at his ghostly Last Hope Ball. Lady Pole sees this as a fate worse than death, saying she was “better dead than as I am”.

The most important event in this episode is that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell finally meet. Strange’s instinctive magical powers make him Mr Norrell’s equal, because although Strange has never formally studied magic, he is able to practice effective magic. Mr Norrell, having witnessed the magic Strange can perform, agrees to take him on as an apprentice and promptly develops a 10 year study plan for him! To Strange’s profound disappointment, The Raven King and Fairy Magic are not on the curriculum.

Although the Magicians start out as friends, it is inevitable they will become rivals. Sir Walter consults Strange when Mr Norrell is away, and when Mr Norrell is too indisposed to help with a ship that has run aground, Strange springs into action, conjuring up sand horses in one of the most breathtaking special effects sequences I have seen on British TV in a long time. Strange’s magic and his can do approach impresses everyone.

The English politicians are keen to send Strange abroad to the battlefields where he can be of most help. Although initially very reluctant, Mr Norrell changes his mind when he sees this as a means to get Strange out of the way. Strange, like an eager puppy, bounds off to War, anticipating excitement and adventure. Strange would much rather be out on the battlefields with the Army, actively putting his magic to the test, than poring over magic books in Mr Norrell’s library, restricted to only studying those aspects of magic Mr Norrell deems appropriate.

The Gentleman returns towards the end of the episode and makes his presence felt. He is particularly drawn towards the youth and beauty of Arabella Strange. The audience are left pondering the questions – who is the Gentleman, what does he represent, what is he after, and how many more people will he drag down into the depths?

A thrilling episode, which developed key characters, moved the story on, was packed with action and adventure (and mind-blowing special effects), and introduced us to the Gentleman’s dark world. I can’t wait for next week’s installment when I’m hoping we will find out more about the mysterious Gentleman. Let the magic continue!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
Tags: , , ,

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week was a review of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the BBC’s new lavish period drama. It was a wonderful box of delights - pure magic!

My EQView review of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/05/18/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL – REVIEW

On Sunday night BBC One unveiled their new period drama, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a lavish 7 part adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s 2004 award winning first novel. And what a box of delights it was!

The intertwining stories of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell take place in 19th century England and, right from the opening sequences, this adaptation draws you into that familiar yet strange and mysterious world. This is a period drama with a difference – it revolves not around money, marriage and manners, but around magic. This focus on magic makes it both unique and very special.

The story opens with Mr Segundus visiting the prestigious Society of Magicians in York to enquire “Why is magic no longer done in England?”. Segundus wants to know why magic is now only found in the pages of books, rather than being practiced out in the streets and on the battlefields. The answer he receives is that the role of these gentleman magicians is to study magic not to perform it – they are theoretical magicians not practical ones!

Not content with this answer, Segundus sets out in search of the two English magicians he has heard about and tracks down Norrell, who has been busy buying up and hoarding all the books on magic and is proud to call himself a practical magician. When Segundus returns to tell the Society of Magicians in York about Norrell, they challenge Norrell to prove his magic, which he is able to do by making the statues in York Cathedral come to life. After proving his magical abilities and credentials in York, Norrell decides to go to London to offer his services to help England’s War effort.

There are a few delightful scenes which follow, where we see the quiet, reclusive and introverted Norrell, a Yorkshireman, arriving in London and having to break into London society. London society is shown to be very superficial and shallow, and its worst attributes are represented by the duo of Drawlight and Lascelles, who decide they will take it upon themselves to introduce Norrell to London society’s movers and shakers. The London scene is one long social swirl and all poor Norrell wants to do is to retire home and immerse himself in his magic books!

We are also introduced to Jonathan Strange in the opening episode, who is to be the second practical magician in England. Strange, when we first meet him, is a man who is in search of an occupation and a purpose. His intended bride, Arabella, is adamant he must make himself useful before he proposes. Luckily for Strange, his father dies at this very opportune moment, making him an estate owner and a landowner overnight, a firm foundation on which to build. Also, fortuitously for him, Vinculus, a street magician from London finds him, and foretells that he is going to be a magician. Maybe Strange’s vocation has found him rather than the other way round!

Initially Norrell’s offers to help with England’s War effort are met with cynicism by Sir Walter Pole, who fails to see how a magician can be of any help. However, Sir Walter experiences a deep personal tragedy when his fiancée dies a few days before they are due to be married. Norrell comes to the rescue but to bring the bride-to-be back to life he has to accept the help of the Gentleman, and promises him half of her life to come. Chillingly, to seal the deal, the Gentleman takes half of the lady’s little finger as surety. Sir Walter is overjoyed at the return of his bride-to-be, but what terrible price will she have to pay, and will the cost be too much to bear? Norrell runs off, depressed and unhappy with the deal he made.

In summary, this TV adaptation lived up to, and far exceeded, my expectations. It conjured up a mysterious England, a place where magic thrives. All the actors were excellent, bringing their characters to life, and perfectly translating them from page to screen. Special effects were used sparingly but, when employed, had maximum impact and were magical. And the opening episode ended on a real cliffhanger because you were left wondering what terrible price Lady Pole would have to pay in the future for the deal Norrell made with the Gentleman. The audience does not know who the Gentleman is, or what he represents, but he bore a strong resemblance to the Devil and was certainly from the dark side!

An excellent opening episode. I cannot wait to see how the story unfolds next week and what further mystery and magic lies in store. If you missed it on Sunday, catch up with it now before the second episode screens. If you don’t, you will be missing out on a treat!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
Tags: , , ,

SHERLOCKED – Andrew Scott Q&A
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week was a report on Sherlocked, the Official Sherlock Convention, and my own personal highlight - a Q&A with Andrew Scott who plays Jim Moriarty,

My EQView feature on Sherlocked is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/05/11/sherlocked-convention-andrew-scott-qa/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

SHERLOCKED – ANDREW SCOTT Q&A



Last month I attended Sherlocked – the Official Sherlock Convention. Sherlocked featured cast and creators from Sherlock and gave fans the chance to gather together and immerse themselves fully in the world of the show for a whole weekend.

Sherlocked featured talks, Q&As, photoshoots, autograph opportunities, screenings, set displays, costume displays, prop displays, exhibitions, parties and exclusive merchandise. All a fan could ever wish for.

Key cast members and creatives, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, were in attendance, signing autographs, giving photo opportunities and leading talks.

I bought a bargain basement Weekend Pass allowing me access to Sherlocked all weekend, and treated myself to a photo shoot and a talk with my favourite Sherlock actor, Andrew Scott, who plays Jim Moriarty, Sherlock’s nemesis.

The Andrew Scott photo opportunity and the talk were the two highlights of my Sherlocked weekend. Andrew Scott’s talk was just fabulous and so this is my write-up of his talk and Q&A.

We learnt that Andrew had always wanted to play a villain but, when he was younger, he looked far too innocent and so was never considered for any villain roles.

He was asked if he was surprised to be cast as Moriarty, given Professor Moriarty is depicted as an elderly Professor in the Paget illustrations. Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, by contrast, is young. Andrew explained that he never watches other interpretations of Moriarty. He prefers to come to the material fresh, make the character his own, and deliver something new.

Andrew’s new interpretation of the character provoked extreme reactions in Sherlockians and Holmesians worldwide. People either loved or hated the new Moriarty. Andrew saw this as a good thing – he wanted his character to elicit strong reactions in people, whether positive or negative.

Andrew spoke about his interpretation stating that he saw Moriarty as a solitary character, someone who is highly intelligent but lonely and has no friends. Moriarty has no one to love, and no one loves him. Moriarty sees Sherlock as someone who is similar to himself, and he is envious of the strong friendship Sherlock has with John. This leads to Moriarty becoming obsessed with Sherlock because Sherlock has something that Moriarty will never have. Throughout the series, Moriarty’s isolation is contrasted with the strong bromance between Sherlock and John.

Andrew was asked whether he had a particular backstory in mind for Moriarty. He responded that the character was scarier without a definitive backstory. The less the audience knew of Moriarty’s past, the more terrifying he became.

Andrew explained that, whilst Moriarty is a villain, everyone has light and dark within them. He spoke about accentuating the darkness within himself, but how he was also keen to have fun with the role and fully embrace the playfulness of the character.

Andrew spoke about how Moriarty is used so sparingly throughout all three series. For example, in Series 1, Moriarty only appears in the final 10 minutes of the last episode. Andrew felt the minimal use of Moriarty maximized the impact of the character when he did appear.

Andrew talked about how some of the most famous moments were created, for example his line “I will burn the heart out of you” in the swimming pool scene. There were multiple takes for each scene and Andrew would play the line a different way each time, going wherever his inspiration took him. Sometimes his attempts would be cringeworthy but, at other times, there would be a flash of genius and the scene would work perfectly.

Andrew’s favourite scene so far in Sherlock has been the sequence where he breaks into the Tower of London to steal the Crown jewels for fun. He enjoyed filming the whole scene but especially the dancing!

He was asked which character in Sherlock he would most like to play. He surprised me with his answer … Mrs Hudson! Andrew spoke about how amazing Una Stubbs was in the role and how, although she had very few lines and minimal screen time, Una could work her magic in a scene and, with a very light touch, make it truly memorable.

A member of the audience asked whether he preferred working on stage or on screen. He explained he was very passionate about theatre because it enabled actors to connect directly with the audience there and then, something film and TV does not allow.

The work Andrew was most passionate about was that early on in his career, where he was playing in small-scale fringe venues to relatively small audiences. The ensemble companies were small but they all wanted to tell a story and, because they knew each other very well, they were able to express themselves and find a voice within that close knit and supportive environment. Acting was about believing in the work and finding a way to express yourself, not about chasing fame and fortune.

Andrew was asked which of his many films he was most passionate about and he chose Pride. Pride was his favourite script, he was committed to telling that story, and very proud to be involved with the film. Filming Pride taught him the valuable life lesson that all human beings are essentially the same and share a common humanity. Things turn out better when you focus on what binds people together, rather than highlighting their difference.

Andrew’s Q&A was an absolute joy. I learnt about the character of Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, how he was created and developed and how he is played, and about Andrew’s passion for the theatre and what motivates him in his work. My only regret was that the Q&A was not longer!

Sherlocked, the Official Sherlock Convention, took place from Friday 24 April to Sunday 26 April at the ExCel Convention Centre in London, and was organized by Massive Events, in association with Hartswood Films and Showmasters Ltd.

The Vote, Donmar Warehouse and More4 - Preview
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week is a preview of The Vote, a play which will be broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse to British TV screens on More4 tonight, the night of the General Election.

My EQView preview of The Vote is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/05/06/vote-preview/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

THE VOTE – PREVIEW

General election fever has not only taken over the EQView homepage, but has also gripped the Arts Section. Here I am previewing The Vote, a play the whole of Britain can experience for themselves on General Election night (Thursday 7 May) when the production will be beamed live from the Donmar Warehouse to TV screens across the nation on More4.

Set in a fictional London polling station, The Vote dramatises the final 90 minutes before the polls close in the 2015 General Election. The play looks at what happens in Britain on election night through the eyes of the many diverse characters we find at the polling station.

The play has a very large ensemble cast (39 actors in total), including star names such as Judi Dench, Mark Gatiss, Catherine Tate and Timothy West.

The huge ensemble cast represents the diversity of modern day Britain and the play will look at all of these characters, exploring the election through a range of perspectives.

The Vote is a new play by one of my favourite contemporary “political” playwrights, James Graham. Examples of his earlier work that I have enjoyed immensely include Tory Boyz (Soho Theatre), This House (National Theatre) and Privacy (Donmar Warehouse).

I think the play will be best experienced when you know nothing more than what I have written, so on General Election night just tune in to More4, sit back, relax and enjoy!

The Vote will be broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse in London’s West End to More4 from 8.25pm to 10pm on Thursday 7 May, the night of the General Election.

The Glass Protégé - Meet the Writer - Dylan Costello
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week is an interview with Dylan Costello, the playwright of The Glass Protégé, which I reviewed last week. The Glass Protégé takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage.

My EQView interview with Dylan Costello is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/04/29/glass-protege-meet-writer-dylan-costello/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

THE GLASS PROTÉGÉ – MEET THE WRITER – DYLAN COSTELLO

The Glass Protégé is a new play, currently running at the Park Theatre in London. It takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, the operation of the Hollywood studio system, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage.

I saw the play recently and wrote a review. I thought the writing and the acting was exceptional and it made me want to find out more about how the play came about. So I interviewed Dylan Costello, the playwright, to find out how and why he came to write the play.

EQView: What do you value about writing for the stage?

Dylan Costello: I love the raw energy and risk-taking of theatre and the fact that you can really push the envelope with a play. You can be controversial, you can make political comment, you can basically say whatever you want to say without having to pander to any ‘censorship’.

When you write a screenplay, you know straightaway that the studios will immediately disapprove of certain language, characters and plot points to make it as palatable as possible to a mass audience, but with theatre you don’t have to water things down, you can just put out your true voice and let the audiences decide whether they will love or hate you. That’s the meaning of true creativity and theatre allows it to happen.

Tell us about how The Glass Protégé came about.

Ideas for scripts come to me in the most random of moments and the initial idea for The Glass Protégé came about from fancying Cary Grant!

I was living in Los Angeles in 2005 and spent an unusually rainy afternoon watching several old classic movies that I had never seen. Watching Cary Grant in The Bishop’s Wife, a gem of an idea formed about a young woman in the present day falling in love with a handsome movie star just from his image on a 1940s movie poster. And so the story of The Glass Protégé was that of an unrequited love between a young immigrant woman and an ageing, reclusive former Hollywood movie star.

This was the initial story until I decided that the movie star needed to have a secret that had caused him to retreat so painfully from the world. What had Hollywood done to him that was so bad?

As an idea started to form, I suddenly had a light bulb moment and decided to make the former movie star gay and see his own unconventional love story unfold decades earlier. The Hollywood gay love affair element then took over as I became enthralled with the lives of gay actors in that era and so The Glass Protégé was born.

What drew you towards the issue of closeted gay actors in Hollywood? Why did you want to bring this particular story to the stage?

It became fascinating for me to have a character who was gay – and had spent his youth during an era when it was illegal to love another man.

It resonated with me and my own youth growing up the 1980s and realizing I was gay in an era when Section 28 was being pushed through and tabloid newspapers were creating a furore over two men kissing each other on the cheek in EastEnders.

And so, I researched the issue of homosexuality in Hollywood actors in the supposed ‘Golden Era’ of Hollywood and was astonished at what I discovered. It was then that I knew that the gay affair in 1940s Hollywood would become the true focus of the story. It was a story I was excited to bring to the stage, especially as Hollywood attitudes towards homosexuality still exist today, especially within the big-budget studio system.

We are living in an era where at the same time as we are finally making much progress with gay rights, those same rights are also being eroded across the globe in various countries.

With The Glass Protégé, we show the sadness of the fact that the homophobic attitudes of 1940s Hollywood are relevant to the same prejudices that are still festering today.

Why did you decide to set the play in two different time periods?

I wanted to keep elements of the original story of the present day relationship between the immigrant woman and the ageing movie star as well as the gay storyline in the 1940s, so thought it would be interesting to jump back and forth in time, so that the audience could gradually put pieces of a puzzle together.

I wanted them to see the older Patrick and know that he got married to a woman and then when they go back to 1949 and see his burgeoning affair with his male co-star, hopefully they would be wondering how this would all go so terribly wrong for our star-crossed lovers.

I’m a fan of movies that don’t stick to traditional linear timelines and wanted to recreate a similar effect for this play.

Are the characters Patrick Glass and Jackson Harper based on real people and are their experiences based on true stories?

The obvious inspirations are the likes of Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, the matinee idols being pedaled as the heart throbs to get all the girls spending their precious dollars to see them at the movies, whilst at the same time, being kept firmly in the closet by their bosses and forced into fake relationships and marriages with women.

But whilst Rock and Monty are the two most famous examples, the ‘Hollywood Closet’ was in fact bursting at the seams with many, many of their peers. Even Marlon Brando was rumoured to have dallied with men (I would have quite happily been one of those men if I was alive back then!).

The truth was that sexuality was a lot more fluid back then with stars hopping in and out of bed with both sexes, but of course the fiction presented to the masses, never matched the reality of what was really going on.

Why and how do you think this play speaks to a modern day audience?

The dilemmas faced by our main characters are issues still affecting many LGBT people today.

I really felt for the gay people decades ago whose sexuality was not only illegal but were also forced to live entirely fake lives, just to appease others. And in the case of the Hollywood actors, their repression was solely for the purpose of making as much money as possible for their bosses and the movie industry.

And the sad fact is that these same homophobic attitudes are still prevalent today. We might get complacent that we now have gay marriage in this country, that gay characters are more widespread in movies and on our TV screens but the fight for our rights is never over, not when we have brutal regimes in other countries torturing and murdering people for the ‘crime’ of loving someone of their own sex.

Is any of the homophobia we witness today really that different to Hollywood studio bosses condemning their gay stars to lives of repression and misery?

Do you think much has changed in Hollywood between then and now? Do you think it is possible for a film actor to be openly gay in 2015 and still have a successful film career? Or do gay movie stars still have to remain in the closet?

I do believe that attitudes are very slowly changing and there are a band of openly gay actors who are helping to turn the tide. We have the likes of Russell Tovey, Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Page being out and proud and not harming their careers in the process.

But of course, the further up the stardom ladder the star resides, the more pressure there is to suppress one’s true sexuality. We have a raft of superhero movies currently flooding out of Hollywood and I’m sure the studios are still scrambling to keep their caped crusaders as palatable to the public as possible. It’s such a condescending notion that the homosexuality of an actor will undermine their believability as a hero with superpowers.

Are the public really that stupid to put the sexuality of an actor over their ability to act and inhabit a character? The Hollywood studios obviously still think that, so yes, there are ‘action heroes’ still being kept locked away in that increasingly dusty closet whilst their braver counterparts are not afraid to let the public know who they really are.

And it’s the courage of those out and proud actors which should be applauded. As Jackson Harper says in the play “Maybe one day, Hollywood will wake up and let us all be who we truly want to be”. We can only hope that it will.

You have an incredibly talented young ensemble cast in the London production. Tell us about the casting process and how you found your actors.

The auditions are the favourite part of the whole process for me. I love seeing the actors come in and see how they interpret the characters and script.

The Glass Protégé’s director Matthew Gould and I held the auditions and saw well over 100 actors for the roles. And it’s so thrilling when an actor comes in and completely blows you away by nailing the role on the spot. We were lucky to have that happen with all of our cast.

Mary Stewart got the ferocity of gossip columnist Nella Newman spot on and when Emily Loomes came in to audition for the role of starlet Candice, Matthew and I just looked at each other excited and knew we had our gal. Emily literally lit up the room with her audition.

We thought we were lucky with Mary and Emily and then along came Paul Lavers, Sheena May and Stephen Connery-Brown who all also nailed their auditions straightaway.

We then found Roger Parkins as Lloyd quite last minute after the original actor withdrew because of illness. Roger came in a few days into rehearsals and inhabited the character straightaway.

And then of course we have our two male leads David R Butler and Alexander Hulme. Interestingly, we never had to audition either of them. I had originally found Alex and David when they sent in video auditions for a filmed promo to help with sourcing some funding for a possible full production, which hadn’t been confirmed at the time. They were both so great on camera that when Park Theatre came back and offered the show a 4 week run, I immediately offered them both the roles and just hoped they would accept and also have amazing chemistry on stage together. And lucky for us that they do. It’s off the charts!

When it finishes its run at the Park Theatre what is next for The Glass Protégé?

After three incarnations in the past five years, I think for now the production will take a rest unless we get interest to take it elsewhere. There has been some talk of possibly staging it in Berlin next in the future so watch this space…

What is next for Dylan Costello? Any new projects in the pipeline?

I have various other stage projects in different stages of gestation so I’d like to get these finished and ‘out there’.

I also have my first Hollywood movie being made within the next year, which is very exciting. I’ve also just been hired as the screenwriter for another movie which has attracted the interest of Sony Pictures.

And as Artistic Director of LGBT-focused production company Giant Cherry Productions, I am planning to move into making some LGBT short movies in the very near future.

It’s going to be a very busy time but I just want to keep pushing my creativity as that what makes me thrive!


The Glass Protégé on the Park Theatre website:
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-glass-protg

The Glass Protégé - Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week is a review of The Glass Protégé at the Park Theatre. The Glass Protégé takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage.

An excellent new play, with strong and sharp writing, exploring important and pertinent themes, performed by a very strong ensemble cast. The play has an incredibly beautiful and powerful love story at its core which engages you from the off. Absorbing, gripping and highly recommended.

My EQView Review of The Glass Protégé is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/04/17/glass-protege-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

THE GLASS PROTÉGÉ – REVIEW



The Glass Protégé takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, the operation of the Hollywood studio system, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage. It explores the impact of these factors on one particular love story – that of the fictionalised Hollywood film stars Patrick Glass and Jackson Harper.

The play begins with two arrivals – Ava, an East German immigrant, arriving in Hollywood in the 1980s, as a mail order bride for a middle-aged American, and Patrick Glassman, an English actor, arriving in Hollywood in the 1940s, to shoot his first movie.

The play switches between the 1940s and the 1980s effortlessly, and it is only as the action unfolds that we realise the connection between the two time periods – we are seeing Patrick Glassman at two points in his life, as a young English actor, newly arrived in Hollywood, and as an older film star, living out his retirement. David R. Butler (young Patrick) and Paul Lavers (older Patrick) helpfully bear a very strong physical resemblance to one another.

Patrick Glassman arrives in Hollywood as a young English actor in the 1940s; this is his big break, he is making his first Hollywood movie, and he arrives with his head full of dreams and brimming with enthusiasm.

One of the first things to happen is that his screen name is changed to Glass because Glassman sounds too Jewish. This practical change highlights themes running throughout the play about hiding a person’s true identity and the importance of a star’s name, image and reputation. It speaks to the levels of personal production and manufactured nature of Hollywood at the time.

In the 1940s section, the play follows Glass’s experiences shooting and promoting his first film, ‘The Secret Heart’, paying particular attention to his developing friendships and relationships with his two co-stars Jackson Harper and Candice Carlyle.

Jackson Harper is a Hollywood movie star and a homosexual. To keep his fans and the media happy, he tells people he has a fiancée back home who wishes to stay out of the limelight. We see Patrick and Jackson meet, we see a spark ignite between them, and we watch as they get to know one another and start to fall in love. We know in our hearts that, because of society’s prevailing attitudes towards homosexuality at this time, there can never be a happy ending to their story, but we care enough about the characters to want to follow them and their journey, wherever it takes them.

Whilst the focus of the play is the love story between Patrick and Jackson, the play contains three strong women characters in the shape of Ava, the East German mail order bride; Candice, the leading lady in ‘The Secret Heart’, and Nella, the Hollywood reporter and Queen of the gossip column. Their stories are central to the action of the play, they all have strong voices in the drama, and they are all fully rounded characters.

By following the individual stories of Philip Glass, Jackson Harper and Candice Carlyle, we see how Hollywood stars were often merely pawns in a game, how little control they had over their own lives, and how they were often forced to live out a lie, marrying purely for the sake of appearances. These Hollywood stars were puppets on a string, dancing to the tune of their bosses, the media and their fans. Gay actors could not be ‘out’, they had to remain in the closet. The play explores very eloquently the misery and heartache this causes in the personal lives of its movie stars.

In the 1980s section, many of the play’s themes are explored in a different context and its messages are reinforced. We look at love, and marriages of convenience, and whether it is ever right to compromise on love. Are marriages born out of love or vice versa? Should you sacrifice your chance of love for your career/a better life? What is more important – fame and fortune or a chance for true love?

There is a very strong ensemble cast and it is a joy to see so many talented young actors sharing a stage. Special mention has to go to David R. Butler playing the young Patrick who puts in a real star turn in the leading man role.

In summary, an excellent new play, with strong and sharp writing, exploring important and pertinent themes, performed by a very strong ensemble cast. The play has an incredibly beautiful and powerful love story at its core which engages you from the off. Absorbing, gripping and highly recommended. Go see!

This is the first time I have been to the Park Theatre and it is a wonderful theatre space. It is brand-new, purpose built, has some great café and bar spaces, and all the staff are friendly, welcoming and helpful. I had a very positive experience and I will definitely be returning in the near future.

The Glass Protégé plays at the Park Theatre until 9 May 2015. It is written by Dylan Costello and directed by Matthew Gould.

The Glass Protégé on the Park Theatre website:
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-glass-protg

I Am Michael, BFI Flare - Review
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel


My EQView feature this week is a review of I Am Michael, the Opening Night Gala film at BFI Flare, starring James Franco and Zachary Quinto.

I Am Michael is a provocative film by debut filmmaker Justin Kelly, telling the true story of Michael Glatze, a pioneering gay rights activist who shocked the community by denouncing his homosexuality and embarking on a new life as a Christian pastor.

My EQView Review of I Am Michael is here:
http://eqview.com/2015/04/10/michael-review/

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:

I AM MICHAEL – REVIEW



I Am Michael is a provocative film by debut filmmaker Justin Kelly telling the true story of Michael Glatze, a pioneering gay rights activist who shocked the community by denouncing his homosexuality and embarking on a new life as a Christian pastor.

The film looks at faith and sexuality and, specifically, Christianity and homosexuality. I Am Michael is one of those rare gems – a film that looks at a hugely contested topic through a new lens.

James Franco plays Michael Glatze and puts in a stellar performance. He pulls off the very challenging feat of portraying a very complex and difficult character in an empathetic way, so the audience wants to follow the character and his journey.

And Glatze’s journey is an intriguing one because he starts out as a gay rights activist and then renounces his gay identity, his partner and his lifestyle. Glatze discards his old self and attempts to build a new one.

We first meet Glatze in his youth, when he is editing and writing for an LGBT magazine for young people, encouraging them to embrace their gay identity, to be proud of who they are, and to form support networks so they are not alone.

At this time Glatze is in a settled long-term relationship with Bennett, played by Zachary Quinto, living in San Francisco, and part of a gay scene with a wide circle of gay friends.

But a real health scare and an ongoing health problem cause Glatze to reflect on his own mortality, and to start thinking about faith and God. As he reads the Bible, and finds religion, he begins to question his work, his identity, his relationship and his lifestyle.

Glatze’s period of self-reflection and Bible Study result in him believing that heterosexuality is a requirement for being with God. He begins to think of the gay identity he previously championed as a false identity, leading towards something he now regards as a sinful lifestyle.

Glatze embarks on a process of taking himself apart and rebuilding himself in a new image with a new identity – a devout heterosexual Christian pastor. This involves leaving Bennett and his old life behind, studying the Bible intensely, attending a Christian College, and acquiring a new girlfriend.

As Glatze progresses along this path of transformation, he writes an article discarding his old identity and openly declaring “I, Michael Glatze, no longer identify as gay”. His old friends and colleagues can only look on in disbelief.

I really felt for Bennett, the long-term partner whom Glatze discards in pursuit of God and Christianity. Bennett genuinely cares for Glatze, and he remains there for him, leaving the channels of communication open. But to be a bystander, watching Glatze pursue a path of self-denial and self-loathing, must cut to the core. Bennett possesses a generous spirit I can only admire and respect but never emulate.

It is heartbreaking and painful to follow Glatze’s journey because his discovery of faith and Christianity do not lead to fulfillment and an enriched life but to Glatze renouncing his gay identity, his true self, his long-term partner, his colleagues and friends, and his lifestyle, in order to follow a path which he believes will lead him to God and Jesus.

Time will tell and, whatever happens, Glatze will have to live with the consequences and the repercussions of his U-turn and his actions, which were so brutal, damaging and hurtful to LGBT communities.

Tori Amos’s powerful song ‘Crucify’ accompanies the closing credits and I watched right through to the end reflecting on how Glatze must feel about himself now, having renounced his gay identity and walked away from his past life, to reinvent himself as a heterosexual Christian pastor. An intriguing, engaging, and completely absorbing film. Highly recommended.

I Am Michael was the Opening Night Gala for BFI Flare. BFI Flare is Britain’s longest running and most popular LGBT film festival, presenting the best in queer cinema from around the world.

BFI Flare Website:
http://www.bfi.org.uk/flare

You are viewing mycroft_brolly