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Archive for the ‘Me and the UK’ Category

In one of my latest papers for the MA program I am on this year I looked at the connections between concepts of the experience economy and of the creative city.

As (surprisingly!!!!) the paper was very, very, very well received, I thought about sharing it as it might help other students (and ok… maybe other researchers too:)). Here is the introduction and following the link you can read the whole thing: essay.

“They will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” 

The economy and the city

The connection between the development of urban areas and the different stages of the local, regional or global economy has been constantly debated throughout they years (Scott, 2006; Jacobs, 1969; Kong and Conor, 2009). There is no doubt that the evolution of cities and that of the dynamics of economic production, labour and consumption can be overlapped during different periods of history, however, stating that one has led to the birth of the other can prove to be a very challenging argument. Jane Jacobs (1969) claimed that historically, cities have been the origin and engine of innovation and economic growth, on the other hand, Scott (2006:2) suggests that “the shifting fortunes of each individual urban area” depends highly on the shift in economic models and behaviours. To answer the question “which was first?” is impossible as “new ideas and new fields of economy are invented in cities” (Kong and Connor, 2009:208) but also, cities have been created and expanded due to the needs and demands of the economy different ages.

Combining the models of Toffler (1980) and Bell (1973), the world economy can be divided into a first, agrarian wave, based on agricultural practices, a second wave of mass produced goods and automised machines, followed by a post-industrial, third wave, focused mainly on the provision of services. Over the past 20 years, as new technologies have shown their power and due to significant changes in the financial capital and the amount of leisure time, concepts like the “knowledge economy” (in which the main currency is information; Bell, 1973), “the experience economy” (based on the value added by experiences to the consumption process; Pine and Gilmore, 1999) and the highly praised “creative economy” (in which creativity is the main factor of differentiation between products, companies or places; Pratt, 2008) have also been circulating. They could either be placed in the last, post-industrial wave or most likely, considered to have created a Forth Wave of their own in which they co-exist and overlap.

During each stage, cities have been the main arenas for the interaction between producers, consumers and all the other entities connected to the transactional processes. In Antiquity and Medieval times, they were the world’s communication knots and therefore its main markets, growing steadily to accommodate a variety of trades that answered the needs of those passing through (Hall, 2000). The nineteenth-century capitalism gave birth to the classical factory town, followed by the rise of the fordist mass production “associated with the growth and spread of the large industrial metropolis” (Scott, 2006:3). As “traditional manufacturing activities declined in the developed world” (Pratt, 2008:5) new styles of urbanisation have developed to create the perfect conditions in which new economies could flourish and to cater for a new work force.

The very popular concept of “creative city” (Landry, 2000) could be the perfect urban model associated with the development of knowledge, experience and creativity all together because it brings “the dimensions of economy, culture, and place back into a practical and humanly reasonable harmony” (Scott, 2006:15). As creativity and information are the base for the creative city (Cooke, 2008), this paper will focus on examining the extent to which “experiences” and other concepts associated with Pine and Gilmore’s (1999) description of the experience economy, are part of, or resources for, this type of urban environment.

It’s storytelling in its most majestic form: fairytales turned into stage productions with original music, amazing choreography, incredible talent and a dazzling capacity of making the audience completely forget they are still sitting in a theatre.  The 30 years old Cornwall based, worldwide travelling company is my idea of perfection!

I came across Kneehigh while performing on one of their scripts last summer (Tristan and Yseult) and from my first lines (a song in Hungarian 🙂 ) it was love at first sight! I was captured by their style, their courage and most of all the mind blowing references to so many symbols across all areas of arts and culture. Then, in September, I had the chance to finally see them live in London with their latests production: Wilde Bride

“In a stunning elemental world of dust, clay and fire here is a red hot story with a brutal edge and a beating heart…  The story of what happens when your father accidentally sells you to the Devil.

Betrayed by her father, our heroine has those ‘cross-road’ blues. She chooses to walk into the wilderness rejecting not only the Devil, but also her home and trusting heart as well. In the wilds she meets a Prince and becomes pregnant, but when he is called to war, her heart breaks as she finds herself at those pesky cross-roads again.

In the cool green of the forest, she brings up her child, and – wonder of wonders – her broken heart grows back. Perhaps this is happily ever after, perhaps there is even more joy to come…

This epic and poetic wondertale is classic Kneehigh stuff. Charting a life from child to adult, you can expect instinctive storytelling, devilish humour and a heady mix of live blues music and devilish humour. The Wild Bride is a grown up, spring bud, dustball of a romance for brave children and adults alike.”

And today, I just found out they are putting together a new show based on my favorite story ever – A Very Old Man with Enormous Wingsby Gabriel Garcia Marquez!!!  It’s on at The Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, London N1 2DN between Sat 19th November – Sun 29th January! 

If you ever have the chance to go to any of their performances DO IT! You will definitely NOT regret it!!!

A few days ago I wrote about Phantom of the Opera and my “musical” going experience, one which was not as thrilling and rewarding as I thought it would be. So yesterday I decided to give the blockbuster shows another chance and went to see Wicked. For those who don’t know anything about the story, here’s a short synopsis:

When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch, we only ever heard one side of the story. Gregory Maguire’s acclaimed 1995 novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, re-imagined the land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum and first published as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two girls who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl, Elphaba.

Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences for her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

From the beginning one expects to enter a fairytale land with spells and charms, witches and fairies and the Apollo Theatre in Victoria was perfectly decorated for it (all green, doh!). I like to be impressed from the first moment I enter an auditorium and the big dragon above the stage as well as the emerald glittering stones on the curtains worked just fine. I must mention that after the Phantom experience we went for a 2pm show instead of the eternally sold out evening performances so the venue was decently filled. Also, compared to the city centre theatres, the Apollo is huuuge so there was plenty of space to breathe and enjoy the show. It obviously didn’t offer the “cosy-ness” the old venues do, but the spectacle is so big and bright that the audience might feel claustrophobic in a smaller place. And since I mentioned audiences, this time there were no noisy, annoying tourists and I actually enjoyed the amazement in the voices of all the school kids around. Also, due to the openness of the venue, it was very easy to forget about the people around and be part of the story on stage.

The show was absolutely brilliant! Honestly, I loved being a kid again and just enjoy the fairytale. Also, it had some nice, intelligent jokes and references included. I really didn’t mind the flashiness and the “in your face” factor this time as I was expecting it from what the show presented itself to be. I guess, from my perspective it really depends on the story for a stage musical to work… Phantom was too much of a “drama” and all the stage tricks and shiny costumes covered the sadness and tragedy of the story which are so much better in the film.

 

After the amazing Life in a Day, Britain is having it’s own 24h coverage:

It would be so amazing if more countries would join and make their own versions leading to some brilliant tourism spots. What can be more “authentic” than life in a place as lived by its people? No branding agencies, no fancy commercials, just daily habits and adventures.

“Film anything, but make it personal!”

I’ll definitely join in on the 12th of November for Britain…

I have been struggling to finish this post for 2 weeks now and I had a billion things to cover in it, but WordPress suddenly decided I forgot about it and it magically vanished from my saved posts. As I can’t possibly rewrite everything, I’ll just go to the point:

A few weeks ago I went to see the famous Phantom of the Opera. I chose it because it’s everybody’s “must-see” musical in London and people come from all over the world for it. It was a nice experience though flashy, shiny, sparkling in your face type of message with a stunning setting which constantly transformed the stage. I hated the number of toursits (more than 90%) who had packed noodles during the interval, the ladies who sang all the songs with the performers and ruined it for me, the very expensive ticket and the simplicity of the plot. So, keeping in mind the “institution” (the musical has been playing in the same theatre for 25years, everyday and it is known as Andrew Lloyd Weber’s masterpiece), to audience (noisy, curious and annoying bunch of people) to the show itself, here are some of the questions I was trying to answer in the long post:

1. How do musicals end up representing a city? What makes them landmarks of London? 

2. Are musicals really good examples of pop culture?

3. Is it the music factor (quite pop songs) that makes them more accesible? (compared to theatre and opera)

I’m not going to try to answer all of these again but as a Creative Industries student, I thought they would be a good start for some debates…

Any comments would be really appreciated!

It’s been a few months since my last post and so many things have changed. First of all, I officially graduated from Birmingham City Uni with a BA in Media and Communication, I got a Certificate in Performance Acting, been through some amazing Summer Schools, had a brilliant holiday across Europe, acted on stage in front of hundreds of people, met some truly inspiring people and last but not least, moved to London to start my MA at King’s College (in Cultural and Creative Industries – I can explain what it stands for in case you’re wondering).

So… it’s back to business as I finally settled down and things are starting to fall into place. I have a huge lists of ideas for posts as well as many drafts with recommendations, a bit of criticism, stories and loads of photos.

Stay tuned 🙂

To my shame, I only found out about The Departure Lounge yesterday, although I’ve been in Birmingham for almost two years now. Basically, it is a film event that runs at the MAC, in Birmingham, every two months, and it presents productions by British filmmakers.

With many UK films not able to secure distribution, let alone a screening in a cinema, the Departure Lounge fills that very real need for both film maker and audience – providing a showing on the big screen, and giving the audience the opportunity to fire questions at the director, writer and/or producer.

So, tonight I went to the lovely MAC cinema for the first time and watched EDGE, Carol Morley’s debut feature film… To be honest, I really didn’t have a lot of time to research either the production or the cast and crew, but in the end I kind of wanted to be surprised… and I was!

Strange encounters at the Cliff Edge Hotel- where death is never far away. (via Edge Facebook Page)

I expected a typical dark, tragic, sad story (due to the title and the still on the MAC website), but the film was actually incredibly optimistic and most of all full of life. You’d probably think I’ve gone a bit mad if you’d see the first scenes and feel the suicidal and macabre atmosphere, but from the first minute you realise there has to be a lot more than this. In terms of story, here is a brief, teasing synopsis from their website:

Washed-up pop star (PAUL HILTON) arrives at the Cliff Edge Hotel looking for inspiration and meets a guilt-ridden woman (MAXINE PEAKE), who is desperate to recover her past. An older woman (MARJORIE YATES) checks into a room with dark intent, but encounters a chambermaid (ANIA WENDZIKOWSKA) who refuses to leave her alone. A blind date set up on the Internet between two teenagers (JOE DEMPSIE, NICHOLA BURLEY) fails to turn out like either of them expected. Over the course of two days and one night the hotel guests, frozen into the snowy landscape, begin to thaw – and to find a purpose that connects them all.

The plot, however, is not the main character here, and to be honest I couldn’t possibly say what was more captivating: story, location, cinematography, performance (AMAZING!) or even the un-welcomed guest – the snow who became part of the cast from the first second (director and producer confessed that it was definitely not in the script or even in their wildest dreams, as it hadn’t snowed there in 40 years!). The entire film is based around and in a hotel on the edge of beautiful and frightening limescale cliffs (still don’t know where exactly they are) and all the outdoor shots are breathtaking! The most intriguing thing is that although the water and the 20m (or more?) high and steep shore can look terrifying in the winter light, I never felt the fear due to the beautifully crafted relationship between the characters.

Anyway, the last thing I’m telling you is that both the colourful Carol Morley who directed the film and the professional Cairo Cannon who was the producer, were absolutely charming tonight and answered our questions with so much enthusiasm! I am really happy I managed to get to the event as not only I enjoyed a wonderful production, but learned so much from the two women who did a wonderful job with such a micro-budget! It’s worth mentioning that it was on the official list of the BFI last year!

Edge will be screening around the UK soon… check the website to get your tickets!


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