BE FESTIVAL 2017: Opening Night

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This year’s BE FESTIVAL opened to the sound of unraveling red tape. Not the kind brought about by current Brexit negotiations, but a physical red tape that stretched all the way from Ladywood, Birmingham to the Rep Theatre as MAMAZMA completed the journey of ASINGELINE; an art installation re-imagining red tape and using it to connect together art spaces and the local community.

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A solo performance packed with multiple personalities the evening’s first show, INDOMADOR, examined human vanities and the identities we choose to portray. Through the hour long performance Animal Religion led us from rubber chicken comedy to a darker, more sinister, look at the way we view animals and ourselves via precision acrobatics and perfectly choreographed body mimicry.

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The performance asked more questions than it answered and was the main topic of conversation as we took our seats for the interval meal on the main stage. Provided by Birmingham’s renowned Marmalade bistro there were options of Pesto Crumbed Pollock or Citrus Marinated Tofu, both served on generous helpings of vegetable couscous and accompanied by Mediterranean bread and Spanish salad. Gazing around I wondered how many famous faces had looked out to an audience packed theatre from the very spot where I was sat enjoying dinner.

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The second performance of the night, PALMYRA, saw Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas exploring revenge and the politics of destruction through the Greek tradition of breaking plates. Although initially playful and comedic we soon discovered their relationship was harbouring hurt and resentment. Loud and provocative the show harnessed the sound of broken crockery to startle and shock but it ultimately provided a musical soundtrack to Bert and Nasi’s sad and dysfunctional friendship dance.

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Choreographer Paula Rosolen’s goal, to make visible the inherent dance present in everyday life, is certainly evident in the evening’s final performance Aerobics! A Ballet in 3 Acts. Alternating grapevines with pliés Heptic Hide transformed our 1980’s keep fit obsession into a work of art. Precisely timed and synchronized, every move perfectly controlled, Paula’s choreography gave aerobics a fluidity and grace that, by the end of the show, even had an exercise-phobic like me wondering where I’d hidden my legwarmers.

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The atmosphere at BE FESTIVAL is hard to put into words but it’s theme of Crossing Borders may go some way to explaining it. Borders are not only crossed at BE FESTIVAL, they’re broken down and discarded. Performers, staff, and audience mingle between performances in a way I’ve never seen at any other festival. The evening’s dinner started at a table with strangers and ended with a group of new friends. It is, truly, a festival like no other and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us at BE FESTIVAL 2018.

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Lamenting my lost love

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Photo credit: Kaboompics

I miss reading. I miss setting aside an hour, or two or three, to fall in love with a good book and explore another world for a while. Nowadays my reading quota seems to be taken up with internet browsing, reading random crap that pops up on my Facebook feed and blindly staring at lecture notes I can’t quite seem to decipher. I mean, technically, it’s still reading, but it’s not quite the same.

So when I recently stumbled across Flash Fiction I realised I could finally have my cake and have time to eat it too! For anyone, like me, who hasn’t heard of Flash Fiction before they’re basically super short stories that pack a serious punch.

From the 100 word drabble to the lengthier 500 – 1000 word short, every micro tale gives you a chance to escape into another world for a brief part of the day. Taking just a few minutes to read, they can be devoured on the bus journey to work placements, squeezed in between lectures or read just before your head hits the pillow.

Amazon are currently offering two collections of flash fiction for FREE on the kindle, so if, like me, you miss reading because life no longer seems to allow you the free time, give them a go. I’ve committed to try and fit in just one story a day. I started last night before bed and surprised myself by reading, not one, but three! If you’d like to try them out for yourself the two collections are available right here:

Media Production students launch crowdfunding project to finance new film

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A group of ten Media Production students at Coventry University have banded together to try and raise $500 to fund a new project, showcasing a mix of still images and cinemagraphs to create an exciting new form of animation.

The project started when the second year students were introduced to Maddy Ryder, a third year Creative Writing student, who had just finished writing a script called ‘The Story of Toys’. Set in the future the script tells the story of one mouse’s struggle through everyday life in an oversized world. Influenced by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, as well as recent current events; the story depicts a world that has become uninhabitable by humans. Following their evacuation to other planets, the abandoned, now redundant toys find themselves new jobs, not so dissimilar to our own.

“We hope ‘The Story of Toys’ will be a film to make people think as well as to entertain them.”

The students need to raise funds for their ‘cast’; essentially a large selection of toys and a one of a kind handmade mouse toy who will take the leading role in the film, so they have set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding page to try and raise the money required.

“The people and students of Coventry have been amazing helping us with donations. One lady even donated some dolls for us to use as ‘extras’ on set. But we still need to raise more funds and if anyone can donate, or even just share our campaign on social media, we would be most grateful.”

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/the-story-of-toys-animation/embedded/15936160

University students take to the subways of Coventry to hold Urban Photography Exhibition

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Last week seven Coventry University students held an impromptu pop up photography exhibition in the subways below Coventry’s infamous ring road.

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The second year Media Production students designed the exhibition to show how urban life and nature have evolved to live side by side in the 21st century, and debuted urban scenes from around the local area and Europe.

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The images were contrasted against projections of nature video footage that played on the subway’s ceiling and all visitors to the exhibition were provided with headphones and a downloadable soundscape so they could enjoy the sounds of nature as they walked around the exhibition.

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The students were greatly inspired by the work of Cork Analogue Photographers who collaborated with Guerrilla Exhibition back in 2011 to showcase their art on derelict shop faces along the streets of Dublin.

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Cork Analogue Photographers/Guerrilla Exhibition, Dublin, 2011

A small group of friends and family turned out for the early evening event, on one of the coldest weeks this January, but the students told us the highlight of the exhibition was seeing the reaction of surprised passers by as they walked home through the subways and happened upon the group’s art work.

“Seeing people, at first confused, but then heartened by our work really made the whole project so worthwhile”

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MCM Comic Con

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Get your geek on this weekend as Birmigham’s NEC opens it’s doors to the weird and the wonderful with MCM’s Comic Convention from Saturday 18th – Sunday 19th March 2017.

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Peruse the stalls, where you’ll find everything from TV show memorabilia to kitsch anime accessories, superhero homeware to international drinks and candies, Pokemon mini figures to life size soft toy costumes for plushy fans.

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Some of the celebrities making an appearance at the Birmingham convention this year are: Victoria Atkin and Paul Amos from the video game spin off Assassin’s Creed Syndicate; Tom Mison who plays Icabod Crane in the hugely popular Sleepy Hollow; Hannah Spearrit and Andrew Lee Potts from the ITV series Primeval; Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn aka The Cat and Kryton from the long running cult comedy series Red Dwarf: Helene Joy and Thomas Craig from the Sherlock rivaling Murdoch Mysteries; and Doctor Who and Penny Dreadful star, Billie Piper.

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Visitors also have the option to pay a little extra and have a mini photo shoot with their favourite star, approx. £15-£30 depending on the celebrity.

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Costumes are not mandatory, but they are loads of fun, and can often prove as a great disguise. In 2014 Tom Felton spent the whole day at Birmingham MCM Comic Con dressed as The Joker. He posed with many fans in his costume, none of them realising they were snapping a selfie with Draco Malfoy, until he tweeted about it later that evening.

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Really pull out the stops with your outfit and you could enter the Cosplay Masquerades, just look out for the Cosplay Desk on entry and sign up for the competition at the beginning of either day.

General tickets cost £15 on the day or £11 in advance. With options for Priority Entry £20 on the day or £16 online. You can book your tickets here through The MCM Expo Store

http://www.mcmexpostore.com/collections/birmingham-comic-con-memorabilia

Pepakura

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As part of International Women’s Week Coventry’s FabLab hosted a Pepakura Papercraft session at the WOW Cafe in the City Arcade today.

Pepakura is a Japanese form of papercraft, similar to origami. But whereas origami involves making an object from a single sheet of paper, using just folding techniques, pepakura incorporates cutting and gluing to make a more complex 3D construction.

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The paper model being made and decorated at the session today was a 3D sculpture of a rabbit by the German artist Jan Krummrey. Jan has been making and designing pepakuras for many years and is famous for his DIY tutorials on instuctables.com. If you missed today’s session, but would like to have a go at making your own bunny in time for Easter, there is another Pepakura Papercraft workshop at 2pm on Saturday 12th March at Sapphire Papercuts, also located in the City Arcade, Coventry.

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For further information please contact Heather Parker. tel: 0780 800 2005 email: heather.parker@coventry.ac.uk

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There are many more events going on around the city over the next few days to celebrate Interntional Women’s Week. From a play at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, to Open Mic nights and Pampering sessions. To find out what’s happening in your area check out the official website below.

http://covwomensweek.org

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Japanese papercraft Pepakura comes to Coventry as part of International Women’s Week

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My work exhibited in the Photomediations Exhibition in Belgium (2016)

 

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