Twelfth night at the National Theatre – a student review

MA Arts and Cultural Management student Alex Talbott took in Simon Godwin’s production of Twelfth Night at the National Theatre. Here she offers her perspective on the latest production of this much loved play:

The dynamism of Godwin’s production was unfaltering. From the moment the show opened Soutra Gilrmour’s pyramidal set slipped seamlessly from shipwreck to backstreet to palace via a nippy sports car. Music accompanied, adding to a somewhat carnivalesque atmosphere, with musicians switching on and offstage. While this provided a captivating setting for the show, the real innovation lay in Godwin’s ability to shift the focus of Twelfth Night towards the usually secondary character of Malvolio – here Malvolia – played by Tamsin Greig. As Olivia’s rigidly humourless steward, in the first half of the show Malvolia – complete with angular fringe and black culottes – trails ‘her lady’ eradicating fun. Yet as the play goes on, Greig portrays the complexity of Malvolia through a tragically comedic performance. What begins as light hearted slapstick morphs into a moving portrayal of vulnerability, as Malvolia’s love for and desire to please Olivia leave her an object of ridicule rendered insane. The treatment of Malvolia in light of her sexuality too highlights a more serious and sobering point.

Doon Mackichan’s Feste stood out, with another gender twist, Mackichan brought an occasional gravitas to the comic role, moving the audience with melancholic song before switching back to sharp sarcasm and knowing comments. Intermittent moments of hilarity also came from Olivia’s drunken uncle Sir Toby played by Tim Mcmullan and his partner in crime the dimwitted Sir Andrew (Daniel Rigby) whose flourescent pink socks remain etched in my mind.

While I sometimes feel on seeing another advert on the tube for Macbeth, Hamlet or a Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare’s hold over the capital is monotonous and staid, productions like Godwin’s continue to prove me wrong. In a sense this production seemed to be out of kilter for the Leading Culture participants, having travelled across the globe to discuss and debate the promise of culture in the 21st century, they were faced with the work of a celebrated 16th century male playwright – but really this is indicative of great culture’s promise. Under new direction works like this are open for reinvention, at the National Theatre just a few minutes stroll from the original location of Shakespeare’s Globe, this performance might just have sparked some ideas that could be hanging around a few more centuries down the line.

King’s College London are screening a National Theatre Live production of Twelfth Night at the Strand Campus on Wednesday 26 April

Wednesday 26 April 2017 at 19.00

Arthur & Paula Lucas Lecture Theatre (S-2.18), Strand campus

Tickets: £5 King’s students | £10 standard students | £12.50 King’s staff and alumni, Northbank Card holders | £15 standard  To book tickets click here

An evening of anything but standard progress

Young Progress Makers is an afternoon of talks, workshops and performances at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm for Londoners aged between 18 and 25. It is organised by the Evening Standard and brings together inspirational speakers from across the capital to stimulate and inform people from all backgrounds who want to find solutions to the challenges facing young people in the city. King’s sent Masters student, Ottilie Thornhill, along to see what it was all about.

There is a general rule that I am bound by when I write for this blog, that I must not mention the thing that happened in June last year, or the thing that happened in January this year — I suppose because everybody else does and it makes the King’s blog site something of a safe haven for the politically burnt-out. That said, I am now in a difficult position because I really don’t know how write about the Evening Standard Young Progress Makers (ESYPM) event and not talk about them.

Hosted at the Roundhouse in January, the inaugural conference drew together the great and the good from politics, business and the arts to explore how to give the young people of London a better future.

Evening Standard Editor, Sarah Sands, opens the evening

Evening Standard Editor, Sarah Sands, opens the evening

Unfortunately for this piece, in hearing some incredibly inspiring stories and finding out what can be improved, at least half the speakers in the six hour event mentioned the things that must not be mentioned, in conjunction with youth unemployment, unaffordable housing, the never ending cycle of internships, low wages, the NHS crisis, the growing vocalism of intolerance and all the other ills that come with being documented as the ‘best educated, worst off generation ever’.

As an over-educated, underemployed young woman who now doesn’t want to cross the Atlantic without the contraceptive implant, what I had hoped for out of the ESYPM – indeed what I hope for in general – is for someone to find the solutions. In the moments when I’m not panicking about really identifying with the characters of the TV series Girls, I do see that there probably isn’t one magic cure and that nobody is going to lay everything out whilst making it seem like it was my idea. With this in mind the focus on creating opportunities was intriguing even if it came from an unexpected angle.

The overwhelming message of the day was that the young should look to entrepreneurship, and that London should look to the young. Brent Hoberman shared his story of founding lastminute.com with Baroness Lane Fox. Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman and Fabien Riggall of Secret Cinema both launched new initiatives to help the young. The Office Group announced a plan to provide office  space to businesses started by young entrepreneurs and Secret Cinema are mobilizing to do more community outreach with younger people.

Sometimes, when facing the crippling fear that post-2016 life can induce in the young, it is important to listen to something better. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, reaffirmed his vision for London as a place where hard work and a boost can help you get where you want to be, again taking his journey from council estate to City Hall as an example. Actress and activist Lily Cole stressed the importance of sustainability and discussed her online community Impossible People and technologist Alex Klein spoke of the power available in understanding how the technology around us is built and functions.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan speaks to the Evening Standard Young Progress Makers

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan speaks to the Evening Standard Young Progress Makers

Intercut with more than twenty other talks were blindingly good and all-too-brief offerings from poets including Young Laureate, Caleb Femi.

ESYMP1 Anita Barton-Williams

Anita Barton-Williams, poet and resident artist at the Roundhouse, wows the audience

Undeniably, the game has changed and for many, either we didn’t see it coming or weren’t in a position to act. However, bearing in mind the wider ills listed above, the stories of two women who have overcome mental illness and disadvantage with support from The Prince’s Trust to go on and found a digital business and a bakery were the first in what I hope will be a long line of small victories for the new generation. Celebrating them definitely deserves more space in print than Brexit or Trump.

Words: Ottilie Thornhill
Pictures: Ottilie Thornhill

Patching up

Patching up is a project at King’s that is running throughout a six month maker-in-residence programme. The programme is a collaboration between Angela Maddock and the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery at King’s and is supported by the Crafts Council and the Cultural Institute at King’s. It aims to explore and develop material empathy in nursing and midwifery students through engagement in craft practice.

In Patching up students are asked to bring along a valued object in need of repair and, through a process of discussion, reflection and negotiation, we develop a care plan for the object and they continue the repair in their own time. An exhibition of all the ‘Patch Ups’ is planned for the end of my residency. This blog features contributions from students across the faculty, their photos and their reflections on what the process means for them.

If you would like to be included in the project, please contact Angela at angela.maddock@kcl.ac.uk.

patching up 3 Angela Maddock

Words: Angela Maddock
Picture: Angela Maddock

Patching up – Jess, second year Midwifery Student

I arrive at Angela’s office to fix ‘the duck’ as it has come to be known, after several emails and rescheduled meetings. I have been thinking about the duck and talking about the duck more than I ever did when it was just sitting on the windowsill of the bathroom. I have created a whole narrative around the duck, or rather around mending the duck in which I am, in fact, the central protagonist. We observe the duck, the broken off shards, the blot of blood still on the inside. I turn the pieces over in my hand while Angela and I talk about births and catches and, of course, my mother. Angela hands me the golden glue, has me apply it along the crack while holding the two pieces together firmly, and I am ever so slightly aware of the sensation of creating something new.

jess - patching up 1

Words: Jess
Picture: Angela Maddock

Patching up – Amy, second year Adult Nursing Student

Pooh Bear (‘Pooh’) was given to me aged six weeks by my Godfather. When I was little, Pooh was so much more than a teddy; he was my friend, my all-time companion and the reason I got into trouble (a lot) I would sleep with him at night and play with him during the day.

He accompanied me everywhere and I have fond memories of being phoned by local supermarkets requesting I pick him up. Pooh has been close to the end twice – when I was staying with my brother, a housemate thought Pooh was for charity, but in seeing the state of him, Pooh ended up in the bin. When I returned the next night I was perturbed! Needless to say that I searched not one, but two bin bags for him… He has since been washed!

amy - patching up 1

More dismayingly, Pooh was attacked by my puppy ten years ago, and lost his nose. Even though this made him look terrifying, I found the texture of the rips satisfying to play with and similarly I can explain almost every rip with anecdotal evidence; almost all of my life is reflected in this bear.

Pooh has been lovingly stitched by my family, and later by me. An old school shirt currently forms his nose, and Mum’s old scarf forms his left knee. He has had several ‘jackets’ and there has been a multitude of other ‘Poohs’ purchased just for their attire – I used to cut their jacket off and give it to my bear. Then I would give the former away..

As I have grown Pooh is still my most prized possession, although it’s fair to say I can no longer blame him for my misdemeanours! I still sleep with Pooh every night and he still accompanies me to other people’s houses, despite my embarrassment of needing a comfort blanket aged 20. There’s been a number of boyfriends with a number of reactions to such a threadbare bear!

For me, Pooh smells of ‘home.’ He has a safe, warm smell and this comforts me far beyond any words could. I also find myself playing with his various threads, and ‘notches’ on him, almost like a fiddle toy. I find this very therapeutic.

Of late I have experienced severe panic attacks, particularly at night. I find that I struggle to sleep without him being under my head. In an inane way I find myself sometimes taking to Pooh. If I tell Pooh my intentions for the day, I must do them, otherwise I have let myself down. This is another coping strategy I have found to work with my anxiety, but in retrospect I have been doing this since I was a little girl with Pooh.

I would love Pooh to be more durable, and less scary. It’s fair to say he won’t be a bear with a rumbly tummy for much longer if he doesn’t get some serious repairs soon. I desperately want Pooh to last for as long as possible, and I know that I will come to love his new patches!  Furthermore, I find myself thinking in great depth about Pooh’s foibles, where they have originated and how this has made me a more resilient person. I have learnt to love his rips, and the stories they tell and although he is really only material, he has been strikingly salient in my own character development.

Healing Pooh has become healing for me in this respect, and despite Pooh being less scary and more durable in the long term, what this project is really bringing me is insight into areas of my life I have never before considered, which are actually proving to be more meaningful than I have previously imagined.

Words: Amy
Picture: Angela Maddock

Patching up – Alison, Adult Nursing Student

This mug belonged to my mum. She used to keep it in her office whilst she was writing her PhD. This was around the same time as I was born, meaning the mug is over 20 years old. I got up in the dark to get ready for my nursing placement last autumn and slipped down the last few stairs. I was holding the mug at the time and ended up hitting it against the wall in my attempt to break my fall. I was left holding the handle in two pieces as the, fortunately empty, mug rolled across the carpet. A tiny cut in the palm of my hand served as a reminder for the duration of my 12 hour shift as it prickled every time I used the alcohol gel.

alison patching up 1The process of handing over the mug to the project was rather like admitting a patient into hospital. Aside from swabbing it for MRSA and asking it if it smoked, we carried out all the same measurements and history taking as we would in practise It was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the healing process our patients go through. How it must feel for their families as they hand their loved ones into our care. We spoke about the fact that after the fixing, the mug wouldn’t quite be the same. I wouldn’t be able to use it for drinking out of anymore, because the fracture point would still be weak. But for me, it was giving my mug a new lease of life. I wouldn’t be able to drink out of a handless mug either. So returning it to its former glory, with a bit of extra copper detail, was really satisfying. My mug may be physically weaker for the trauma, but it has come out the other side more beautiful and unique.

alison patching up 2

The breaking of the mug was also an opportunity for me to reflect on what it meant to me, I wasn’t aware of my attachment to it until I’d broken it. The mug can now be retired from the kitchen, after 20 years of good service, and be put out to pasture on my desk, holding my pens.


alison patching up 31

Words: Alison
Top pictures: Angela Maddock
Two lower pictures: Alison

Patching up – Mavis, PhD researcher, Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery

I keep small art pieces that remind me of home. I sometimes pay little attention to them, but subconsciously knowing they are there keeps me grounded. The day my ‘family’ sculpture fell and the head broke off felt instantly unsettling. It felt as if there had been a detachment from home, I mean, I am always knocking these sculptures over, at least once a week…but they have never broken up before. To add to this, my teabag holder also broke within a few months – what was going on? Getting confirmation that I could fix these was surprisingly emotive, happiness and relief flooding into me. These pieces are very characteristic of my culture, the colours and the shapes reminding me of where I come from and who I am, of home – far away and yet near.

Fixing them was symbolic of my connection with my homeland and my family.  My world and the world had been feeling a lot crazier over the last few months, and seeing my ‘family’ sculpture and my teabag holder complete made me feel that everything is going to be okay. I am, however, moving them to a safer place where I stop knocking them over but can still see them everyday. Just in case.

Mavis patching up 1

 

Mavis patching up 2

Words: Mavis
Pictures: Mavis

Discover, collaborate and revisit your academic practice through culture

Dr Barbara Bravi is a post-doctoral researcher in statistical mechanics and mathematical biology at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne. She completed her PhD at King’s College London last year and, while studying, applied to the Innovation for Early Career Researchers Scheme. As part of the scheme she collaborated with one of the university’s cultural partners to produce a mobile app. Barbara then went onto become a Cultural Knowledge Exchange Associate at King’s. In this blog Barbara reflects on how and why she engaged with culture at the university.

Getting involved with King’s College London’s Cultural Institute was simply a great experience: the Cultural Institute is space for innovation and the mutual exchange of ideas across the university and the cultural sector. While focused on culture, it gave me the chance to grow, both as a scientist and as a person.

My first contact with cultural activity at the university came when I was awarded support to develop a cultural collaboration through the King’s Early Career Researchers scheme. Working with Design Science, NETADIS and other researchers, we created Random walks with pirate and parrot, an educational mobile app to help a young audience understand how mathematicians and physicists build models of the real world. Such experience was not only intellectually rewarding but, as I soon appreciated, the project had the potential to inform my academic practice.

Creating an artwork out of my research, through a collaboration with a cultural partner, made me simplify the language I use to communicate as well as changing my whole way of thinking. The need to express complex notions via graphics, rather than equations, and to appeal to the players’ intuition, rather than using technical jargon, shed new light on my ideas and made me find new ways to communicate my research.

Later, I had the honour to be recruited to the Cultural Knowledge Exchange Associate Network at King’s. Within this role, I followed the organisation of outreach projects, exhibitions, performances and alike. It turned out to be an opportunity of intense learning.

I learned how the synergy between computer algorithms and piano players can shape unprecedented Soundscapes, I reflected upon the recent ‘big data’ explosion and how it can be explored through an interactive art installation. I discovered more about the properties of colour and light with glass artworks explained by a physicist. During an exhibition I found out about the ‘utopian’ features of non-equilibrium phenomena and tissue engineering.

Furthermore, supporting the promotion of these events helped me establish a stronger connection with the protagonists of ‘culture’ – from art to science and technology – at King’s and more generally in London. Through this, I acquired an expertise important for my future. Representing the Cultural Institute and its interdisciplinary, collaborative spirit led me to build a new awareness of my academic profile and to revisit it under a new perspective.

Being a Knowledge Exchange Associate was also personally challenging because we constantly tried to answer the questions: what is ‘culture’ for King’s students and staff? How can we improve their experience of culture? Working with people who are extremely committed to this effort of building bridges between academia and the ‘cultural’ world was personally motivating as well.

Last but not least, working with the Cultural Institute team was fun: the discovery and contamination of practices were such an amusing yet constructive way of complementing my duties as a researcher at King’s. I am enormously grateful for this enriching, beneficial experience.

Artist Dave Farnham: 3D printing, medical data and art

Lungs front‘One thing I would like to come out of this show is for someone to contact me and say, “I’ve got a set of dodgy lungs, would you like to 3D print them?!” That would be quite cool.’ Morbid curiosity is too strong an expression to describe Dave Farnham, but there is a subtle humour to this artist.

Previously known for his dazzling photography, where he used pyrotechnic fuse wire and toy soldiers to recreate battle scenes in his series ‘Dulce Decorum Est’, his 2015 work, combining medical data and 3D printing, made it to the finals of the Wellcome Trust Image Awards and brought him to the attention of Space to Breathe producers, Shrinking Space.

Lungs is a series inspired from very personal experience, as Dave explained:

‘A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and I wanted to make a piece of artwork that represented her journey and she was good enough to allow me access to her medical data. From that I was able to print pretty much any part of her body, but I chose her lungs. Fortunately, she likes the artwork!’

The sculptures will next be shown at Somerset House as part of the weekend festival exploring air pollution in the capital, which over the past week has seen a ‘very high’ warning issued for the first time.

Although other artists who will exhibit at Space to Breathe work more closely on environmental matters, there is a beautiful utopian element about Lungs, ‘I quite like the fact that I put a set of lungs that are healthy into the exhibition.’

For Dave, air pollution is a new but pressing concern: ‘I hadn’t really thought about it much myself until I had kids and then you think, “Actually we live in quite a dirty city, with diesel cars constantly chugging up the road.” His immediate solution? ‘I guess move to the country?!’

If the longer commute does not appeal, the philosophy of beauty in Dave’s work might. When creating Lungs he was adamant that the cancer should not eclipse his friend, Caroline.

lungs side 2

‘I never wanted to print anything related to the cancer; I wanted to move away from it and make it a bit more beautiful for her. But now, since doing the 3D prints and discovering the medical advantages it offers, I would love to start printing things that are about lungs with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or lung cancer; maybe try and put some of that medical stuff into the art work.’

‘But then you get the risk that it’s either too medical or it’s too arty because there’s a fine line between what is simply medically advanced and what is simply too arty.’ Although pleased to have mastered the use of the medical software to built the prints of body parts, he does not believe he would be ready to operate on people…yet!

With this boundary in mind, what does he think of the marriage between arts and science? ‘I think it’s great, but since doing these 3D prints I’ve realised I am going to have to accept being asked medical questions. I do research but mainly I come from an aesthetic point of view, and it just happens that every time I get new medical data the person I am dealing with is quite ill because you don’t usually get a CT scan of your head or your lungs if you’re healthy!’

Beyond Space to Breathe the view is busy, if not entirely bright: ‘A friend of mine had a brain tumour, so I have been doing some 3D prints of his head with the tumour in it, and I am also going to talk about my practise of using medical data in 3D printing on the weekend that the show opens. At the moment I am not trying to move away from the medical stuff but it is quite hard to get hold of medical data because you can’t get hold of people’s personal records.’

lungs side 1

Keen for more volunteers to provide data, in exchange he hopes people take a simple message about ‘the fragility of life’ from Space to Breathe, ‘Because I suppose I didn’t really question it until my close family and friends start getting affected by these things.’

Space to Breathe is a free-to-visit weekend of installations, talks, workshops and creative action in response to London’s air pollution crisis. Hosted at Somerset House, Space to Breathe is curated by Cape Farewell and Shrinking Space, in partnership with King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group.

Space to Breathe

Dates:  28 -29 January 27
Open: 12.00 – 18.00
Tickets: Free, drop-in
Address:  River Rooms, New Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

To find out more about Dave Farnham or to volunteer your medical data for use in his work, visit his website here

Supported by: Arts Council England, The Physiological Society, King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group and Somerset House Trust. 

Interview by Ottilie Thornhill, Masters Student, King’s College London.

Patching up – Fiona, Mental Health Nursing student

This was a fifty minute break within a ‘wheel of care’, whether at home with my gorgeous kids, at placement, or at college learning about how to care within mental health, the wheel keeps turning. The time spent with Angela was a change from the usual and in itself brought refreshment, with stimulating chat and a focus on repairing some socks. Poignant and necessary just by fact that the activity was not as essential as my children, the residence where I find myself on placement or the next e-learning/ lecture that is scheduled.  I love repairing the old and finding second hand options, rather than buying new. This 50 minutes was all about that interest. I particularly loved Angela’s words about repairing:  ‘that always the item being repaired turns out different / changed, never is it returned quite to its original state’.

Patching up 4 Fiona - Mental Health nursing studentWords: Fiona
Picture: Fiona