17 May 2015

Re/Place – stories that are right up your street

This happens on Wednesday - do join us!

As part of Chorlton Arts Festival 2015, currently underway, six critically acclaimed and award-winning writers each sharing an interest in psychogeography and urban exploration have penned pieces about ghost places and the re-appropriation of spaces. Sarah Butler, Sarah-Clare Conlon, Claire Dean, Kate Feld, David Gaffney and Nicholas Royle will perform their site-specific short stories and present postcards from the past at this special event, Re/Place - stories that are right up your street. Supported by Arts Council England. The event will also include a screening of private home movies shot in Chorlton in the fifties and sixties, provided by the North West Film Archive.

Proof, Manchester Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, M21 9PH. Wednesday 20 May 2015. Doors 7.30pm. Free entry.

07 April 2015

Private Lives review

Last week, I went to see Private Lives at the Bolton Octagon. Good it was, if a little over the top. Read more from me on The Manchester Review here.

Fiona Hampton as Amanda, and Harry Long as Elyot. Photograph: Ian Tilton

31 March 2015

OMFG, a swan song for my favourite place

I can't believe this is actually happening. I feel as if someone is on life support and we've been told that we have to pull the plug, except we don't want the person in the bed to die and it's the doctors telling us that it's inevitable. I was hoping so so much that it wouldn't be irreversable, that it was just a bad dream, but this week it's become a reality. Cornerhouse will die. Our last night together is Thursday, and I’m sad to the bottom of my heart.

I know I’m not alone, and that is heartening, but not heartening enough to know that she will soon be gone out of our lives.

I know the maintenance was expensive. I know the roof leaked in Cinema 1. I know Screen 3 was the daftest space to watch a film ever. I’ve seen enough arty French films to keep arty French films in business. I’ve come out with a crick in my neck so many times I’ve written a story about it: Everyone Has A Favourite Spot.

Last night, I got my favourite spot: the front row in Cinema 2. I love the symmetry. You do crane upwards to see the movie on the front row, but you also get loads of leg space, and, thankfully last night, no men took off their shoes and socks after a downpour. Although someone did leave an empty coffee carton (what is it with you people? There’s a handy bin just outside the door. This isn’t the chuffin AMC, and let’s not make HOME like that).

HOME, we’re told, is going to be better. I don’t disbelieve this, but nothing says arthouse and behaveyourfuckingselves as a lovely wee cinema with three screens; one in an Art Deco building and the other two in a red brick flat iron. C’mon.

Anyway, back to the main feature. Cornerhouse holds so many memories to so many people. I just posted on the Scribbler project site about one of mine. But it’s only one of many. I’ve met so many people in Cornerhouse: people I’m supposed to be meeting; people I’m not supposed to be meeting; people I know and just happen to bump into; random, lovely people, from here or travelling through.

Then there’s the art: I’ve made friends with artists through this blog, who have been showing work in the bar, in the galleries. Talented, amazing folk. The bookshop has always been a place to buy unique cards, magazines and pamphlets by local writers. And Cornerhouse has supported my own work; for which I am much indebted. I loved doing my Flyer Fiction Micro Commission project at Cornerhouse – logging bike passages past the building and engaging with fellow cyclists.

Cornerhouse has always been an artistic hub. For years now.

I came to live in this great city of rain in 1990, and Cornerhouse has always been my rock.

I will miss that rock. I know others will too.

10 March 2015

Happen you might like this play

Now I'm working oop north, it means I can go to the Octagon for some of my theatre fixes, which is rather jolly good as I like a bit of "in the round" action, so to speak. I unfortunately managed to miss the critically acclaimed David Thacker-directed A View From The Bridge, but to kick off my new Bolton season, I have reviewed Hindle Wakes by Stanley Houghton, a member of the Manchester School of Drama famed for their realism in the early 20th century (I studied the play at uni, first time round, when I did a course on realism). By 'eck, they talk reet Northern. You can read my words of wisdom on The Manchester Review here. It's on until 21 March, so you still have time to catch it, if you happen to be in Bolton, happen.

12 February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, the Whitworth Art Gallery is inviting you to "fall in love again" as it reopens its doors to the public after a year and a half's worth of £15million renovations. And I promise there'll be something for you to fall in love with - if not the newly uncovered Victorian ceilings in the back galleries, if not the cafe in the trees run by The Modern Caterer with ingredients sourced from places like Frosts of Chorlton, if not the Promenade overlooking the Art Garden and Whitworth Park, if not the exhibitions (including Cornelia Parker's exploding shed in Cold Dark Matter, pictured), if not the pool of water, if not the never-before-seen be-beamed Grand Hall… if not any of these, it'll be because everyone's favourite spaces - the South Gallery and the Sculpture Hall - haven't suffered from re-modelling. Phew. Director of the gallery, Dr Maria Balshaw, could almost be described as giddily excited on the two-hour tour she led the press round yesterday - and rightly so. It might have run behind schedule (don't think we didn't notice the change of date), but it has been worth the wait. And tomorrow at 7.50pm things blast off with a special William Blake-inspired "meteor shower" firework display, featuring Parker tinkering with Manchester-discovered Graphene, the world's thinnest, strongest material. As the Whitworth is just down the road, I think it might become my new destination of choice. And as the cafe is open until 9.30pm Monday to Saturday (7pm on Sundays), it might become a suitable replacement for the soon-to-be-defunct Cornerhouse. Yay, a cultural cafe relay! Out with the old, in with the new…