Monthly Archives: November 2014

Father Christmas at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

LeedsBookClub

Bloomin’ Christmas! Father Christmas awakes from a dream of summer sun only to realise that it’s bloomin’ Christmas Eve and the start of his longest night of the year. As he gathers the reindeer and prepares his sleigh, Father Christmas begins the long journey into the snowy night to deliver presents to sleeping children all over the world. But things don’t run smoothly and he soon encounters soot covered chimneys and treacherous weather conditions, meanwhile plenty of mischief is being had by his cheeky pets, Cat and Dog.

West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Raymond Briggs' FATHER CHRISTMAS Photo West Yorkshire Playhouse

It’s hard to believe that Raymond Briggs created his irreverent version of Father Christmas over 40 years ago, especially as it feels at once fresh and fun, as well as established and traditional in this gloriously visual show.

Seamus O’Neill once again ably embodies the hero of the season. Bluff and gruff, yet calm and collected; Father Christmas allows us a peek into…

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Helen & Kirsty – The Travelled Reader book group – Our next read for book club with @jdwleedsstation

LeedsBookClub

On Sunday 30th Novemember Helen and Kirsty will be discussing:

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1)

index

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there – or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything – even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrol its corridors, to try and find out. – Amazon.co.uk

And if you get chance go see the film and tell us what you think!

The_Maze_Runner_poster

So join us at 6pm on November 30th at Weatherspoons in Leeds Train Staion.

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But reading…….

 “I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity toward the outside world that people who don’t read can sometimes lack. I know it seems like a contradiction in terms; after all reading is such a solitary, internalizing act that it appears to represent a disengagement from day-to-day life. But reading, and particularly the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways… It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another which is a precursor to empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being.”

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― John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

What is Literature for?

Found on Brainpickings here

IT SAVES YOU TIME

It looks like it’s wasting time, but literature is actually the ultimate time-saver — because it gives us access to a range of emotions and events that it would take you years, decades, millennia to try to experience directly. Literature is the greatest reality simulator — a machine that puts you through infinitely more situations than you can ever directly witness.

IT MAKES YOU NICER

Literature performs the basic magic of what things look like though someone else’s point of view; it allows us to consider the consequences of our actions on others in a way we otherwise wouldn’t; and it shows us examples of kindly, generous, sympathetic people.

Literature deeply stands opposed to the dominant value system — the one that rewards money and power. Writers are on the other side — they make us sympathetic to ideas and feelings that are of deep importance but can’t afford airtime in a commercialized, status-conscious, and cynical world.

IT’S A CURE FOR LONELINESS

We’re weirder than we like to admit. We often can’t say what’s really on our minds. But in books we find descriptions of who we genuinely are and what events, described with an honesty quite different from what ordinary conversation allows for. In the best books, it’s as if the writer knows us better than we know ourselves — they find the words to describe the fragile, weird, special experiences of our inner lives… Writers open our hearts and minds, and give us maps to our own selves, so that we can travel in them more reliably and with less of a feeling of paranoia or persecution…

IT PREPARES YOU FOR FAILURE

All of our lives, one of our greatest fears is of failure, of messing up, of becoming, as the tabloids put it, “a loser.” Every day, the media takes us into stories of failure. Interestingly, a lot of literature is also about failure — in one way or another, a great many novels, plays, poems are about people who messed up… Great books don’t judge as harshly or as one-dimensionally as the media…

Literature deserves its prestige for one reason above all others — because it’s a tool to help us live and die with a little bit more wisdom, goodness, and sanity.

Review: Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

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Bloomin’ Christmas!

After its huge success last year Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas returns, don’t miss this warm and funny show packed full of fun and giggles.

Father Christmas awakes from a dream of summer sun only to realise that it’s bloomin’ Christmas Eve and the start of his longest night of the year. He gathers the reindeer and prepares his sleigh, beginning the long journey into the snowy night to deliver presents to sleeping children all over the world. But things don’t run smoothly and he soon encounters soot covered chimneys to squeeze through and treacherous weather conditions, all while plenty of mischief is had by his cheeky pets, Cat and Dog.

Beloved by generations, Briggs’ magical story is brought vividly to life over 40 years after it was first published, using song, live music and playful puppetry. Look out for surprises at every turn in this stunningly visual show with hidden hatches, secret doors and a truly magical set. -West Yorkshire Playhouse.

A West Yorkshire Playhouse, Lyric Hammersmith and Pins and Needles Production

Based on the Book by Raymond Briggs    wyph

Adapted by Pins and Needles Productions

More here and to book tickets… Website

 

My review

It was that time again where all fell silent and the story began down in the depths of the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Not a sound could be heard from adults or children alike. Suddenly an alarm clock rings and disturbs a large figure laying asleep in front of a fire. Twice it rings until the figure moves and who should it be…….Yes its Father Christmas. “Bloomin’ Christmas” you here him say. It’s 24th December and he has to get ready for the busiest night in the year.

Adapted from the story written by Raymond Briggs, it’s a beautiful tale of how Father Christmas delivers all our presents on time. We meet he’s beloved pets Cat and Dog, beautifully  crafted puppets that come to life and cause Father Christmas to shout “Bloomin’ Cat” or “Bloomin’ dog” as they get under his feet as he tries to get ready.

The one thing I have learned this year, is that television and cinema takes so much away from us that we can’t let our imaginations flow, it tells and shows us how things should be. With theatre, it’s almost like a book it allows you to get absorbed in the moment. The scenery is beautiful and like a child playing in a tent, one minute we’re in Father Christmas’s house, the next he’s outside getting the presents ready for the sleigh or tip toeing across the rooftops to deliver presents. Then there is the magical moment when he brings out the sleigh, He slides open a door and its all ready to take off, goggles on, he climbs in and the lights in the room went down and the walls turned into a starry night and silence fell in the room, with a small ‘oooooooh’ & awwwwww’ which could have been me, not sure. 😀 It was so magical, you just felt like you flying with them.

What made it even more magical, not just the superb acting or pupperteering but up in the corner was the musician  Tomas Gisby providing all the music as Father Christmas moved about and the sound effects. The best one being when Father Christmas sat on the toilet and all of a sudden you here ‘PLOP’ it had everyone in giggles. I really didn’t know if I should be keeping an eye on him or the play or try to do both, he was fantastic, from Father Christmas brushing his teeth to getting stuck in the chimney he provided everything.

I loved the fact that we saw how Father Christmas travels and delivers presents, to the sleigh, the climbing of roofs and slipping down cinemas to having a break and eating sandwiches while listening to the radio. And then of course there is Christmas day and what else does Santa have but roast Turkey. And as he’s preparing it a voice popping up from the audience as Father Christmas puts his dinner in the oven ‘That’s not cooked yet’ sending a ripple of giggles from the audience once again.

For me Christmas has been ruined by working in retail, no longer is it about spending time with family and loved ones and eating until you’re stuffed, it’s about getting something for someone just for the sake of giving or because that’s what we’re led to believe, shop workers work longer hours, Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year until everyone is exhausted and hating hearing songs for the umpteenth time so when the big day does arrive we’re to exhausted to care. For me this revived the Christmas spirit in me, it reminded me of Christmas Eve’s spent at my Grandma’s while my Dad went off visiting and we sat and watched Christmas TV especially Santa Claus the movie. So if you’ve lost the Christmas spirit, whether you are young or old, take time this Christmas and go see this play. It will warm the cockles of your hearts right down to your toes.

  Oh and here’s the orignal animated film for the big kids out there 😀

oh and a final thought from Father Christmas

blooming-christmas

Thankyou for reading

xxxx

Book review: The Maze Runner – James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1)

by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

About The Author

James was born and raised in Georgia but now lives in the Rocky Mountains with his family. He has four kids, which some might think is too many but he thinks is just right. Once upon a time, James studied accounting and worked in the field of finance, but has been writing full time for several years. (He doesn’t miss numbers. At all.)

In his free time, James loves to read, watch movies and (good) TV shows, snow ski, and read. (Reading was mentioned twice on purpose.) Most of all, he’s thankful that he gets to make a living writing stories and considers himself pretty much the luckiest guy on the planet.

More on his website here

maz

*Warning possible spoilers*

OMG! where do I begin. This is the second choice for The Travelled Reader book club and boy what a pick. I hadn’t heard anything about this book, didn’t even link the gigantic poster I saw recently with it either.

The book opens with the following line:

‘He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.’

and to sound cheesy from the first chapter it had me gripped. I had been at Mum’s visiting and unfortunately ended up ill, so spent most the time reading. I had just finished another great book, the Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman and then got started on this. After misplacing my kindle I asked my sister to try get it while she went shopping and of course she did. I’ve loved the way the story developed, some bits I was shouting at the characters ‘don’t be so stupid’ ‘and leave him alone’ and then there was the ‘gasps of shock’ and the ‘oh no’s’ as the story unfolded.

From the moment Thomas was found in the box in didn’t have an easy time of living in the glade, from jealous boys who thought he was a show off to the ones who thought everything changed and he had brought that upon them and then of course throw a female in the mix and the world is surely doomed!!!

Best Insult: “You are the shuckiest shuck faced shuck in the world!”

Yes, the girl, after Thomas learns about the routine in the glade and rescues someone from giant insect thingys and then sees a boy called Ben grow through the ‘changeling’ the ‘box’ sends up another person. This time an unconscious girl and this freaks out the boys. It completely throws things out, why is she here and what’s her connection with Thomas. For the past two years they all have had their roles to play and all know their positions or standings. Then this happens and everything appears to start falling apart.

This book simply has everything from survival of the fittest/ brainiest, mystery, deceit, suspicion, madness, mad scientists perhaps, and in some cases I would say some things seemed impossible to be real, but its a book and a book is all about getting lost in an imaginary world and just be thankful you’re not the one eating tomato soup and biscuits and getting swallowed by hedges (oh wait that might be a Harry Potter reference) and gigantic insects because I know I wouldn’t.

‘I mean it should be impossible – sometimes you don’t look very hard for things you don’t belive will or can happen’

So pick it up read it and enjoy. Oh and make sure you put an alarm on to remember to get off the bus as I nearly forgot one day 😀

Before I finish I must quote the best line of the book, this book just kept chucking refernces at me that I have to dig out a load of books and films now to watch and read……..

Best line, had Robin from Batman and Robin TV series pop in my head…….

Batman

“Holy crap, I’m scared’…”Holy crap, you’re human, you should be scared.”

And in the end there is always hope, like in the batman series, whether from a person or a symbol. or a person being a symbol like poor old Chuck…….

‘Chuck had become a symbol for him- a beacon that somehow they could make everything right again in the world.’

Back to referincing other books and film. This book has made me want to read Lord of the Flies again and Logan’s Run, a choice for Leeds Book Club last year that I never got to read, but i have seen the film. Just the idea of experiments and people running for their lives and being controlled by people, and if I get chance I might re-read George Orwell’s 1984. But first lets rewatch the Batman Movie.

logoThank you for reading

xxx