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writer...performer...sometime pop-up cinema host.

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Imagine How to Use your Imagination

Imagine walking onto an empty film set, your actors standing waiting for their direction; you have no script and no setting, you have no idea how to start the story.

So you take yourself away for a time and you ponder, you muse, you imagine.

Suddenly an idea fixes into your brain and then you drive forward; you explain to your actors what you need and a small set is constructed while you rehearse. Everything is done at high speed, and you shoot take after take until you get it right.


This may seem like a chaotic way to make a movie but this is how Charlie Chaplin worked on his first film after signing for Mutual in 1918. At the time he was the biggest movie star in the world as well as the highest paid; he devised, directed and starred in his pictures.
 
 
His was a life driven by perfection and imagination, and for that he was considered to be a living comedy genius.


Movies are no longer made this way, you could argue that many of the large releases we see lack that drive for perfection and imagination; but life is very much walked through in the same vein.


You do not have a script for life, and you don’t have a cast to do your willing. You, however, are the director and star of your life, and each day you are faced with an empty set and no idea how the story will start.


The genius of Chaplin was to capture real life and its absurdities, and to view it through eyes of comedy and pathos. It struck a chord with the world because that is real life; we gaze out of the window and see other people with a mix of the same emotions.


In Maidstone at The Archbishops Palace there is a group of drunks who gather daily, and as the morning reaches into the afternoon their drunken behaviour becomes more volatile so that by 2pm they are swearing and shouting at each other.
 
 
The fact that this happens daily is quite comic and viewing these characters can hint to the absurd; yet, the fact that this happens daily is also extremely sad, and sends a signal as to how fragile life can be. We do not know who these people are, where they have come from, but they are a part of our lives in the idea that they daily make themselves known.


Life is both comical and melancholic.


The Little Tramp of Chaplin depicted life as it was then, which is hardly any different to how it is now.
 
Set about your day with an open mind and an empty script, as you sail through the trials and stories of the day your pages will fill; when you are faced with a decision, when you don’t know where to start, take a moment.

Slip into a private space and use your imagination; ponder and muse on yourself. Decide what you want and then how you are going to get it.


Life is absurd, or at least the world around us is. Just remember, that you are the star and the creator of yours.  If you want change then you have to change it, only you.


Logic has its place from time to time, but it can also be a prison - use your imagination to reach out and you may be more in control than you would have thought.


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Can Beer Save the World?

Beer is the third most popular drink in the world, fact; closely following in the shadows of water and tea. Like the warm refreshment, there are many different types, brews and flavours, but the best thing about beer is that it amounts to a total of 43 calories. Now that is one good reason to quaff a pint at the end of a working day.

Some of you may remember that it used to be the done thing to do such a thing during a lunchtime, and many a fine person would head to the pub for a liquid lunch, broadening the mind with a crossword or two and chatting away to business proprietors forming bonds and exchanging pleasantries. In those days, which is not all that long ago, business thrived and networking was key; it was spontaneous and bustling, pubs were the place to go if you needed something, like legal advice or someone to fix your watch. At the centre of it all a landlord and lady who oversaw the whole event for two hours at a lunchtime before the pub shut for the afternoon until the work day was over. Therefore, the pub and the workplace combined for the aid of the community; and there a conversation could be found between a solicitor and a car mechanic over the state of politics today. Those days perhaps have gone.

It is not seen as the done thing now, for having a pint at lunch would be deemed to be a sackable offence in most offices, breaking down this link and the relationships which formed; and how the community has suffered and how communication has broken down. Perhaps this is in part because pubs are open all day, whereas you had to get back to work from 2.30 onwards.

Computers and tablets have not single-handedly stifled our communication skills, it is our own namby-pamby-can’t-do-anything-fun way of life which is breaking the country.

The pub culture and working culture no longer fall hand in hand, they have been separated. That skillful negotiation standing at the bar, a practice which has been going on for centuries, has been removed and replaced with...nothing.

So I say...

Bring back the beer. In an effort to appeal to a wider audience, craft ales have strung up all over the place. Here, in Maidstone, once the home of the mighty Fremlins which was the arch-rival to the monolithic Shepherd Neame, a small brewer has risen from the underground and can be found at a number of pubs dotted through the Mid-Kent countryside. The name is Goachers, and it is a fine IPA. The most popular of which is the light ale with the original recipe being for the dark ale. Both are of equally high quality.


A good ale is all well and, erm, good, but you need the ambience to match. Pubs are important places; you need to the little dark corners as much as the wide welcoming bars. You need the intimate booths as well as the large tables. You cannot get the same level of atmosphere in a so-called ‘gastro-pub’, or in those refashioned pubs which have now become a sort of restaurant; you cannot get this in a carvery either. You need a pub; a decent proper pub that is now not only home to men, but to all - workers. Men and women, old and young, intelligent and average, rich or poor - people who can come together with little judgement and an open mind.

To me, pubs are not a place for getting hammered, although it has happened on occasion; they are place for opening conversations and discovering new ways of looking at the world.



A pub I frequented on many a lunch was The Rose & Crown in Tunbridge Wells, which used to be the go-to place for the crew of The Assembly Hall Theatre in the early 1990's. It offered wonderful pub food, a warm ambience and very fine beer. I led me to meet some beautiful characters from all walks of life.

There are not many places like this left. Now that little pub on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Rock Villa Road remains, and with it some wonderful memories; I hope that it still offers the same atmosphere and my mind is open to returning, albeit with a hint of melancholy.

Beer can save lives. It is not just about good beer, but about a decent place to drink it. Go forth my friends and raise a glass!

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

What is the GREATEST OPENING SCENE IN ANY MOVIE?


What is the GREATEST OPENING SCENE IN ANY MOVIE?

That is my current quest and this little session will unearth my discovery, as well as the painful journey upon getting there.

It is not the destination that matters, but the journey; so someone said who probably had a very exciting journey to somewhere that disappointed.

The opening scene is arguably the most important in any piece as it establishes the tone and setting, it may introduce central characters. It is the way in to the world for the audience, and on many occasions, what occurs at the beginning is reflected towards the end. In any story it is integral, to grab the audience and to welcome them in; it is the artistic equivalent to opening a door to your guest.

To begin with, it is probably worth noting what are the best films, and this is entirely subjective. I have a list of best films which is chameleon and reptilian, in that it constantly changes.

Those pesky awards winners have killer scenes and dialogue to boot, but do they have memorable opening scenes?

How about the number one movie of each year, the one that broke records and made even the most tiresome of people attend a theatre so that they could observe and critique.

 

One-take scenes usually get critics purring as main characters come in and out of the frame; take Casino, or even The Bonfire of the Vanities; yet you could argue that Russia’s Ark, which is 90 minute movie shot entirely in one take, would swat those two great directors, Scorsese and De Palma, to one side.

Classic movies are a go-to; the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark is pretty memorable, but then so is West Side Story.

Delving into Google, here are some results from Screen Rant:

The bank heist from The Dark Knight. I agree, this is excellent and perfectly introduces us to The Joker.

The beautifully told life of Carl in UP.

The diner robbery in Pulp Fiction brilliantly sums up the tone of the movie with its sharp dialogue and intense violence.

The first swim in Jaws is also perfect, and immediately puts the viewer on the edge of their seat to which they will remain for over a hundred minutes.

The mind-blowingly tense scene with Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, brilliantly crafted and acted.

 

Woah, there are so many and Screen Rant lists forty which I assume were voted for by readers and the like. You can check the list here

While browsing the internet and Google searches is certainly interesting it is not helping, as all it seems to be doing is opening up the landscape to the breadth and depth of great opening scenes.
The current blockbusters also offer little help; Black Panther is the number one movie so far of 2018 yet I remember the opening to Infinity War more. The opening scene to the recent First Man is also excellent and immediately thrusts you into the cockpit of a jet and into the outer reaches of our atmosphere. The beginning of A Star Is Born takes you immediately into the drug and alcohol-fuelled mind of Bradley Cooper’s character, performing to thousands of fans.
Memorable, all of them.

To conclude, it would appear and be justified to agree that the best of anything is entirely down to you and your tastes. Lists of such things can be used as a reminder, and lists for most things these days tend to be long and exhaustive. Yet these lists from various publications and websites are compiled to the tastes of the writer, they are written down to the standards which that particular author has come to expect. Therefore, the greatest opening scene in movies is…
Your choice.



Thursday, 4 October 2018

Poem: Rumour - Reality = Conditioning


4th October is National Poetry Day; this poem was first presented to Mid Kent Stanza on the 2nd October 2018. Our task was to use folklore, and the poem is inspired by the book The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins, and by the cruel Witchfinder General, who caused havoc and betrayed society.
 
Rumour minus Reality equals Conditioning

 

So it starts…

 

gentle knock on door - oak soaks tough skin

Rat-a-tat-tat –

Machine gun sound - echoes Centuries to come

 

Typical small man - wearing same eyes

human ears, hands

Feet, tongue which slips - fizzes the air

 

Keeps belief in mother - Earth binds the whole

Not in unproven

Unseen – omnipotent

 

Lies spill from bewitched - enemy or saviour?

Unholy man; a wizard

Tried for heresy

  

Ancient fizzing air falls - like rain for his tears

an end of magic

Buried underground

 

The blasphemer who floats - washes away no sin

dunked and hanged

By the bona fide devil

 

Senseless thunderous rage - diminishes mortal power

Believe in a book

Then burn all libraries

 

Still we remain - Centuries later

the door Still rattling

as another life expires
 
 
Zac Thraves is a writer and performer living in Kent. www.nadiemaan.weebly.com - @28thraves
 

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Your Dreams Can Come True


Dreams Come True…

You do not need to believe in Disney stories; they have just swallowed up the magic already there and used it for their own commercial benefit.

Actually, dreams are what make you the person that you are, dreams are real, they shape you, they define you, and they charge you forwards to a life that you feel able to express the real YOU.

It is a fact passed down to us through the ages in literature and tales but one that increasingly we are being pushed away from.

Why?

Well, I’m not going to go into that for too long, because it is enormously depressing; the sum part of it is that we have a bunch of people in various guises who have built their dreams and now wish to control it by stopping anyone else usurping them.
Our Current UK Government at Work


So the population are told to “be logical; dreams are not currency; being fanciful doesn’t pay the rent; using your imagination is all well and good but use tried and trusted methods which worked down t’mill two centuries ago.

Mwaaah!! That’ll fool ‘em and keep them off the scent, now back to my own empire building…”

The trouble is it works, and we are suckered into believing that the only way to live is to live for someone else’s benefit.

Go to work…

You need insurance for that…

You must have a bank account…

Why?

Perhaps there are better ways to live your life.

So, reality states that you need to earn money, which is the only form of real communication we have that everyone understands when it comes to trade.

Earn money…but you can earn it by doing what you want rather than through some third party who take a lot of it away for ‘your own good’.

You don’t need to be rich to be happy, you can earn a living, and be rich in other ways. You can start a new idea flowing and allow others to carry on the trend.

There is no competition, there is mutual respect and understanding and evolution. What does the company who destroys the competition do? It remains stuck in its tiny little ways doing the same thing over and over again…Disney.

There are a multitude of others too, both big and small, who cull the competition for no one’s benefit.

Dreams Come True.

You need these three things to get you started:

Trust

Belief

An Idea

Once you have those in place what can stop you. There is always a way, if you open your mind to all sorts of possibilities.

Sherlock Holmes says, “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

It works for investigations; it can work for you, your life, your growth, your career, your idea, your dreams.

So, that thing that you had always thought about doing?...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A Short Story: The Tale of Sir Comspeckshon


He lived alone; and in the eyes of others he was nothing more than a simpleton recluse. His straggly beard hung heavy from his face, forcing his eyes to droop and his head to sway low as he moved, like a pendulum swinging from a Grandfather Clock.

Children who passed him wondered what lived within his hive of hair; knots seemed to move as he spoke and a host of illegal immigrants enjoyed their luxurious free ride within his matted beard.

He was the type of person who most would refuse to acknowledge; busy suited passers-by would hasten their steps as they neared him, eager to snap away at their frozen shop-bought sandwiches and unwilling to pay attention to the crumbling reality around them.

The high street at lunchtime is not the place of dreams; it is a curious mixture of anger and hollowness which even the warmth of the sun cannot penetrate. Everyone looks down, their thoughts slumped to the grey pavement; yet, when his figure pinches at the consciousness, heads creak upwards, in some sort of choreographed dance.

He knew all of this.

The silent seller of the homeless magazine watched these prisoners traipse passed every day; in and out of his life like insects darting through the air. If only they could understand which one was truly in the straight-jacket.

For the man sitting in the sun in the doorway of an abandoned British Home Stores was in fact a hero; a knight in shining armour. You would be mistaken for taking him in as someone who has failed, yet, the truth is, that every day he succeeds.

Because in his world a long and weary battle is being waged between his two opposing forces. Good and evil would simplify it; a fierce and unwanted theatre of war engages daily as two sides try to gain control of the realm. Every day this man wakes to a threat, he gathers himself together and launches himself into battle; riding on his brave steed and fixing his glare onto the immediate threat ahead of him. The unruly enemy tries every trick, uses every device for its own gain.

This man has been tortured, beaten; sent screaming mad…shrouded in loneliness.

Yet he survives.

A million people have passed him in the street without a glance, yet, sometimes there is one who takes a look at him.

Sometimes a small set of eyes will gaze into his brilliant blue and see the true colour of life swirling in his pupils. Pain dances inside him; duelling with missed chances and negative responses. As his failings formed railings around his life, so the man shut up the shop and paused before taking a leap.

Until, the man leapt no more.

And what would he say to the masses of imprisoned drones who masquerade as free? He would remind them that the real prison is the one you create around yourself, and that the only way to escape is by removing your armour and striding forward.

In his eyes, risk dances with fate; in his eyes love dances with fear; in his eyes patience dances with hate…

…and if you stop to look at the bedraggled man risking his all for one more day, if you gaze into his eyes for one moment…
 

 

that is what you will see.
 
Zac Thraves is a writer and performer from Kent, UK.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The Epitaph of Voyager One

Lizard fingers grapple with gold; 
sparkling in the pale blue sun;
thin vinyl messages, indistinct, unclear...

the epitaph of Voyager One.

Our history imprinted forever, 
in the vain hope they would have any idea for
instructions, easy for a baby, alien notwithstanding; 
let’s hope they have an ear
for Mozart, and his symphony 
does not spark Independence Day. 

Gold disc of human beings - top of the pops. 
A dummies guide to Earth circa 1979. 
How we have changed.  
How little; still we war with ourselves  
and call it civil. Still we threaten 
with men who care nothing for the stars. 
If aliens form a mouth, how they would laugh and 
eulogise the emptiness of humans.  

One gold disc; some assembly required. 
Can you understand our offering to the universe? 
Let’s hope they are intelligent enough 
to unpack Ikea.