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Film Review: The Riot Club at mac birmingham

I went into this film having read the play on which it is based, Posh, only a few days ago. It was therefore an interesting experience to see how the film made the leap from stage to screen. It’s certainly been Hollywoodified in order to appeal to a broader audience and a new love interest has been woven in who accentuates the class divisions explored in the film. This new take means the portrayal of class division is more blunt and subtlety is certainly not one of its strengths, but the very strong cast featuring some of the leading lights of the new generation of British acting talent charm, dazzle and repulse. As a young fresh faced actor it feels like I’m receiving a constant Chinese burn when watching a 28 year old play an 18 year old but personal gripes aside, Max Irons and Sam Claflin in particular offer superb performances.

Written by Laura Wade and directed by Lone Scherfig, the film offers a hypothetical example of what the high-class youngsters of the Riot Club (based on Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club) could be capable of and what their ideology might be and it is an entertaining ride. It is easy to be seduced by the allure and mystique of the club and its members in the first half before it all turns sour as their behaviour descends into repugnance.

The film also suggests that the club holds enormous influence in who holds high political and financial positions. It is hard to know what to believe about the real elite dining clubs of Oxford but there is something about the concept of out of control over-privileged toffs running amok that is richly intriguing.

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How to fail…

The first in the new series of the ‘Creative How To’ sessions starts on Tuesday 14th October and is entitled ‘How to Fail’. These free sessions for 16-24yr olds offer professional development for emerging artists and offer ideas that may support you to navigate your creative career. They are produced by mac birmingham in partnership with Amy Martin & Bearheart.

How to fail 

Steve Jobs was a loser, well he lost a company and countless opportunities before gaining big time as the boss of Apple. In this session we’ll look at the positives behind failure and how to pick yourself up after a bump in the road.

Starting Tue 14 Oct 2014 | Hexagon Theatre | Free | 6pm-8pm

Each session will feature a keynote by creative producer Amy Martin and a guest lecturer from the creative sector. Our guest for the first session is Matt Nation from PROVIDE.


Image taken from PROVIDE blog.

Matt Nation has been fighting a fear of failure for as long as he can remember, but in recent years has been trying to embrace failure as an integral part of life, and something that’s essential to success. Opening himself up to the possibility of failing has led him to create PROVIDE, an independent clothing brand and lifestyle store based in Birmingham.

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‘You were remembering buildings demolished in your mind’ – Misplaced Memoirs at Hotel du Vin

I blame Warwick Castle for the fact that every time I see a site specific piece of theatre, I expect the ghost of Henry VII to jump out from behind a corner, but Qasim Riza Shaheen’s Misplaced Memoirs was a strictly no thrill, no scares, no gimmicks piece of theatre. It was, instead, a beautiful piece of well thought through theatre that told one man’s story as the story of many.

If you went to see his exhibition at the mac and were in the majority of enjoying it, but not quite understanding it, then this won’t make the exhibition make any more sense, but it’s still enjoyable. It is a personal story told through a series of strangers, jumping continents from Chicago ‘where you waited from 8:33 to 8:42, but I never came’ to Pakistan where ‘you dreamed of your ex’s ex’.

A tale is told to each of audience members through various parts of the hotel, for me winter in Chicago was depicted on the balcony and the wedding night perched on the side of the bath tub in a hotel room, and included slow dancing around the bathroom floor. The whole piece ends with a photo shoot for audience and characters, which I wish they told you before hand, otherwise I would have washed my hair and made an effort.

All in all, did it make me reassess my emotions like someone told me it would? No, but it was interesting how the hand of a stranger became more intimate and familiar as the performance went on. Was it an interesting experience in story telling that made me question what is theatre and what isn’t? Yes, I’m still not sure if the waiter who asked what floor I wanted in the lift was in the performance or not.

(One final note Qasim, if you ever read this – I’m really sorry that I trod on your beads on the bathroom floor when we danced)

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Cannon Hill Collective ’14/15 Week One Blog

Tuesday 7th October

This years incarnation of the Cannon Hill Collective began in terrific style at 6pm today. At least I hope it did, having missed the first 7 minutes due to painstaking traffic on the Bristol Road I have had to fill in the blank (So sorry – I vow to do my utmost to never miss a moment more).

However, upon arrival I was immediately in the grasp of our first challenge, which was centred on ACTIVE LISTENING. Hearing that I was developing this skill left my mum VERY pleased.

After being split into groups, one person was asked to sit in a chair with everybody else sat on the floor around them. Whoever was in the chair then spoke for a minute about anything; themselves, what they do, what they like or maybe how their day had been. Each floor dweller was given a different category, so that when the speaker mentioned something that fit within their category, they would note it down. In my group the categories were:

a) facts

b) passions

c) emotions

d) intuition (meaning what could be inferred either verbally, maybe through the subtext of what they were saying or non-verbally by reading their body language)

Once everybody had a go at being speaker and master of each category, the unlucky Louisa was left as the odd one out having not had a chance to speak. She then did so with every hawk-like member of the collective studying her every word and move.

Active Listening Exercise

(Please excuse my embarrassing scribble)

Some things that came out of the exercise was that we can all be very intent listeners, that whilst some of us feel at ease performing to crowds, to talk openly and honestly about ourselves is out of our comfort zone, and that many of us aren’t aware of our physical ticks and idiosyncrasies.


Another fascinating exercise untaken was silent speed networking/dating. We were handed paper and pens and had one minute to communicate solely by drawing or writing. Amy Martin, our phenomenal facilitator, noted that this exercise is a great leveller that numbs the potency of the loudest voice in the room to dominate networking. My proudest discovery during this task was to find out that Jordanne was best friends at school with my best friend’s sister, who I have known for her entire life. Cool.

The two-hour introductory blast of interdisciplinary and collaborative development ended with parish notices and admin, making sure everybody was on the same page and knew about how the programme will run and what our first bit of homework is going to be!

And that was week one. Hasta Luego.

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Creative How To’s

Creative Career Navigation for young people aged 16-24

For those of you craving some more nuggets of creative advice after the Cannon Hill Lectures, or for fresh faces seeking career navigation within the arts, look no further than a fresh series of brand spanking new Creative How To sessions, presented by mac birmingham in partnership with Amy Martin & Bearheart.

Starting Tue 14 Oct 2014 | 6-8pm fortnightly | Hexagon Theatre | Free

The Creative How To sessions aim to demystify the creative and cultural sector helping to find a route in, whether as an employee, freelancer or as an entrepreneur.

Tue 14 Oct – How to fail
Steve Jobs was a loser, well he lost a company and countless opportunities before gaining big time as the boss of Apple. In this session we’ll look at the positives behind failure and how to pick yourself up after a bump in the road.

Tue 28 
Oct – How to make a decision
Toast or cereal toast or cereal… Do you ever find it hard to make a decision? Maybe you’re not sure if you should go to Uni or perhaps you’re flummoxed by another of life’s options. This session will help you develop the where-with-alls to make a decision and the conviction to stick to it.

Tue 11 Nov – How to lead a workshop
Being able to lead a workshop is a brilliant skill to add to your metaphorical tool box. In this session we’ll look at the art of creative facilitation and how you can develop workshops from your creative passion.

Tue 25 Nov – How to budget & manage a project
In this session we’ll look at the deadly important skills of project management and how to wrestle a budget into submission. Knowing these skills will raise you head & shoulders above the competition.

Tue 9 Dec – How to change the world
Without creativity – creative problem solving, creative thinking – we don’t have a hope of making a positive difference in the world. We need to think outside of the box to come up with real, innovative, workable solutions to the problems that face us. In this session you’ll meet artists who are making positive changes in society and explore how you can too.

Tue 20 Jan – How to find the time
Your time is being zapped up by The Internet and the zillions of other distractions in life so how do you make the time to do the important stuff? This session looks at the practical skills of time management and reveals that there IS enough hours in the day!

Tue 3 Feb – How to tell your story
We want to know the story behind why you do what you do. Whether you have artwork to sell or an audience to entertain, people are far more likely to engage and connect if you deliver a well-crafted story with an emotional core. This session will help you to craft that story so people will listen.

Tue 17 Feb – How to get set up as a freelancer/start a business
Creatives don’t have a right to make money just an opportunity. In this session we’ll explore the business of creativity and the practical knowledge of tax, insurance, self employment and getting legally set up as a new business.

Tue 3 Mar – How to get a job
Are CVs old hat? In this session Top employers from arts & cultural organisations share their experience of hiring and firing creative talent and what they’re really looking for in an employee.

Tue 17 Mar – How to get big on the internet
What’s to gain from having bags of subscribers to your YouTube channel or thousands of followers on Instagram? In this session we’ll hear from arty types who are big on The Internet, discuss the benefits of having an online following and figure out how you build an online fan base.

For more information visit: macbirmingham.co.uk/event/ng-cht/

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What’s The Agenda in pictures

What’s The Agenda went off with a big festival BOOM, bringing in creative people from all over the city to create, instigate, and talk about art for social change.

“Occupying mac’s Foyle Studio for the duration of the festival, an array of installations and performances awaited those who entered. Haiku poetry, immersive theatre, sculpture, film and visual arts exhibition Side View were just some of the vessels employed here to investigate when art becomes a political act and how creativity can incite positive social change; a mixing pot which lay testament to both the collectives’ broad range of skills and the breadth of mac’s support for the regions diverse creative future.

Drawing in a variety of changemakers throughout the weekend, the final flourish was spoken word event Bare Bones and post-show discussion debate.4.social.change (DB84SC) with Birmingham gems Vanley Burke, Zia Ahmed, Jodi Ann Bickley and Immy Kaur making up the panel. An achievement in itself, the evening not only gave brand spanking new performers a stage and an audience, but created a meaningful discussion with the public about themes raised throughout What’s The Agenda? – loneliness, heritage and gender issues – acting as the exclamation and question mark at the end of a collective statement.”

- Taken from online review by Illustrated Brum.

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What’s The Agenda?

What's The Agenda?
Cannon Hill Collective present: What’s The Agenda?

Sat 29 – Sun 30 Mar, 2pm-9pm | Foyle Studio| Free Entry

Launch Party Fri 28 Mar, 6pm-9pm | Please RSVP nextgen@macarts.co.uk

A festival of visual art, performance and debate curated by mac birmingham’s next generation of artists, Cannon Hill Collective (CHC). Working with producer Amy Martin and social provocateurs Stan’s Cafe, CHC have created a unique programme of events at mac fuelled by a united desire to incite positive social change and explore when art becomes a political act.

Archival Activism evokes responses, prompts anecdotes and defies assumptions surrounding heritage and identity, subverting society’s box-ticking mindset.The more we learn about ourselves, the better we can relate to one another. Share the story of your heritage on twitter @ArchivalAct

Bare Bones
A dynamic and thought-provoking evening of spoken word and performance poetry, hitchhiking through the themes discussed in What’s The Agenda?

A hive of activity housing and encouraging creative happenings, the structure will be redeveloped and transformed over the course of the event, inviting audience interaction and investigation by mirroring the possibility for change found within it.

DB84SC is an ongoing discussion platform running both on and offline during What’s The Agenda? culminating in a live debate for you to have your say. @DB84Movement

Estranged Voices is an immersive 15 minute spoken word performance exploring the unnatural existence of isolation within a loving relationship.

The Hikikomori
New media provides us with an eternal eye on the world that surrounds us, so why should we leave the comfort of our own walls? Step into The Hikikomori to visualise a life alone.

Side View looks past media influence to how sexual objectification affects everyday interactions and perspectives of the opposite sex. Through film and visual art the project explores responses to sexual objectification and the role gender continues to play in today’s world.

So It Goes
A film that explores whether society’s ‘big’ issues are actually the issues we need to be focusing on and whether history is simply repeating itself. See the film in full online here.


Illustration by Louise Byng.


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