To My Future Daughter (An Open Letter Following Election Results)

To my future daughter.

The date is November 9th 2016 and Donald Trump has just been elected President of the United States. I hope that this means far less to you than it does to me right now. I hope you live in a world that laughs at the backwards mindset of the “old days” and his failed attempt at Presidency and that now a stronger, kinder, more loving President stands in his place. Maybe, and hopefully, a woman.

My child, for my entire life I have wanted you. You are not yet even born but I have wanted you more and more with every breath I take. When people ask my aspirations in life I can only answer with my desire of motherhood, and of raising a girl into a woman. However today is the first day of my life that I have become hesitant.

Of course I still want you, my chest aches to feel the rest of your head every day of my life, but now, on this day, I am filled with fear. Don’t let me appear naive, even before Trump was elected, women had it tough. We were not equal to men. However I always had hope, I had faith in the world I live in and the people I call my neighbours that we were getting there. Step by step. I thought we were progressing, but now I am not so sure. Because electing a racist, sexist, homophobic man as President sure as hell feels like a step back.

How can I fulfil my dreams of raising a girl to believe she can do anything she sets her mind to when I don’t even believe that myself?

Because today we did not only choose a terrible, unqualified man, but we dismissed a passionate and qualified woman. And as sad as it is to admit, many people will have voted against Clinton just because she was born a female.

Baby girl, I don’t know what to tell you. I am hurt and confused and scared, not just for the minorities of today but for you. I hope that you are growing up in a tolerant and progressive world, that you have equal opportunities to your male classmates and that you don’t live in fear simply because of your gender but right now I don’t know if that will be the case.

So let me instead reiterate what I know I will tell you every day of your life.

You are a tough, kickass woman who is absolutely, one hundred percent valid. Whatever your sexuality, religion, physical/mental ability, etc. YOU MATTER. And right now, I don’t know if I can tell you that you can do anything you put your mind to because I don’t know if I believe that. But what you can do is love. Love with everything you have and continue to fight against hate. Be proud of yourself, and of women everywhere. Befriend those who are different to you and allow yourself access to every point of view you can. Learn. Educate yourself on the history of the woman and appreciate every damn female who fought to get you where you are right now. And continue their work. Continue to fight the good fight.

I love you already my little warrior,

Your Mum.

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Theatre Review | Fame – Kinetic Theatre Arts

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Friday 8th July was my second time visiting Willows High School in Cardiff for yet another Kinetic Theatre Arts‘ production. However this time instead of a trip to Wonderland I was transported to 80’s New York, to the High School of Performing Arts.

Fame is a stage musical based on the 1980 film of the same name. It features a group of teenage, aspiring performers working their way through the difficulties that school and the arts bring. The musical does an excellent job of interweaving humour and more serious matters and telling a lot of various character stories in depth through its songs.

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Credit has to go to choreographer Kris Crowley as well as the performers themselves, as this show had excellent dance routines that were carried out with precision and energy by the dancers, creating a very pleasing aesthetic. Fame‘s opening song “Hard Work” is twelve minutes long, but I was captivated for its entirety. It set a high energy that was maintained throughout the rest of the show, and did an excellent job of introducing the characters individually.

There are a large number of characters and each of them did an excellent job but there were some performances that truly stuck out. James Evans did a superb job playing the comical Joe Vegas, providing a hysterical and raunchy performance that the audience responded to very well! Evans played the role incredibly, in a effortless manner, allowing the ‘bad boy’ character to be likeable and charming.

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Nadya Salway, who played Serena Katz, managed to master both sides of her personality, the shy and the quirky, whilst also delivering a glowing vocal performance. Salway and Evan Barker, who played Nick Piazza, had an excellent onstage chemistry, as did the actors playing Schlomo (Kieran Rankin) and Carmen Diaz (Caz Welsh).

Aaron Parreno, who played Tyrone Jackson, provided an intense performance that I thoroughly enjoyed. He portrayed the inner anger of his character perfectly, which rose to peaks throughout the show. Mabel Washington, played by Chloe Donnelly, was a truly ‘larger than life’ character providing many laughs, especially in the song “Mabel’s Prayer”. Donnelly’s performance was incredibly expressive facially, which really exaggerated the comedic side of her character and her huge voice got a very big round of applause after her solo!

But of course, someone needs to keep these teenagers under control which is where the teachers come in. All of the teachers gave wonderful performances, in particular Kerry Dwyer who played the strict but caring Miss Sherman. Dwyer’s solo – “These Are My Children” – left my spine tingling and my arms covered in goosebumps. Not only is her voice astonishingly strong but her acting through the entire show was flawless.

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Another aspect of the show that caught my attention were the incredible harmonies, for which musical directors Emma Pawsey and Liz York are responsible. Particularly in “The Teachers’ Argument” and “Let’s Play A Love Scene” the harmonies were beautiful and deserve applauding.

Overall, Fame was truly entertaining and extremely professionally done. Both the main characters and the ensemble worked well together onstage to create a fun and touching show and I am sure that Kinetic will continue to create performances as great as this one in the future!

Tickets to see Fame can be purchased through TicketSourceFame has it’s final two shows on Friday 9th July, a matinee at 2:30pm and an evening show at 7:30pm. For further information visit Kinetic’s website or check out their Facebook page.

You can also read my review of Kinetic’s Alice In Wonderland.

Disclaimer: I was given a ticket for review purposes.

All photos in this post courtesy of Peter Rankin.

 

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Theatre Review | Alice in Wonderland Jr. – Kinetic Theatre Arts

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On June 29th I had the joy of attending Willows High School in Cardiff to watching Kinetic Theatre Arts‘ production of Alice In Wonderland Jr., a one hour show with a cast of 6-16 year olds, directed by Kris Crowley with musical direction from Emma Pawsey. The show itself is an adaptation of the 1951 Disney film in which a young girl falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in the strange and chaotic world of Wonderland, and encounters the equally bizarre characters who live there. The stage show also features classic Disney songs such as “I’m Late”, “The Unbirthday Song” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”. As a Disney fanatic myself, it’s obvious to say that I was in heaven!

Upon setting foot in the theatre the first thing I noticed was the incredible set that Kinetic had built for this production. I was greeted with playings cards, masses of flowers and, the main focus of my attention, a large slide claiming centre stage, (which would later be used for Alice’s descent into Wonderland). This set was most impressive, a very creative and vibrant choice for such a fun show.

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Once the show began it was clear that, despite their young age, this was a highly capable, talented and professional cast who all brought a youthful spirit to the show. In a show as tight-packed and fast as this it is incredibly hard to keep a high energy performance throughout, even for a professional, adult cast, however these children managed to do just that. A mixture of great acting and a clear delight to be performing made this production shine from beginning to end.

Becky Tonge, aged 10, played the title role of Alice, the core of the narrative and overall an extremely demanding role. Despite all of this, Tonge was a gem to watch throughout — she brought a true innocence to the naturally curious Alice and with her sweet but strong voice captivating the audience, she completely pulled it off. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tonge went on to pursue a career in the arts, she is certainly more than capable!

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Another performer who truly stuck out was Jess Cummings, playing the White Rabbit. An expressive performer with an incredible voice, she made her way through her song “I’m Late” without faltering once, despite a lot of running and jumping around and even a quick game of leapfrog! Cummings continued her incredibly strong performance throughout the rest of the show, providing a lot of laughs and basically nailing her role as the ever-late, fidgety character that so many love.

Other notable performances were Lauren Davenport, Jasmine Browne and Leah Bond who together played the narrating role of the Cheshire Cat, delivering a very fluid, group performance. Kaycee Purbrick brought true tension to the role of the Red Queen (alongside some very skilled make-up!) and the adorable Jake O’Connor as the King of Hearts conducted the Royal Court with the authority of a true leader!

Morgan Thomson and Joshua Adams also did a brilliant job as the Mad Hatter and March Hare in my favourite number — “The Unbirthday Song” — which involved a crazy game of musical chairs and a very lively tea party.

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Throughout all of the musical numbers, the choreography was fun and very well thought out, often with multiple things going on at once which contributed nicely to the madness of Wonderland — the direction of Mr. Crowley should be applauded for this. He and Pawsey have done a top job of bringing together an enthusiastic and talented group of children to create a piece of theatre that was a fun and enjoyable watch, if a little bit mad! But as they say “we’re all a little mad here!”

Tickets to see Alice In Wonderland or Kinetic’s upcoming production of Fame can be purchased through TicketSourceAlice In Wonderland has its final show on 1st July and Fame is running 7th July–9th July. For further information visit Kinetic’s website or check out their Facebook page.

Disclaimer: I was given a ticket for review purposes.

All photos in this post courtesy of Peter Rankin.

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The Diary of a Teenage Girl | A Review

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‘I had a dream where I was a princess, and I had to rule though I didn’t know how.’

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is the story of a 15 year old girl’s sexual awakening after beginning a secret relationship with her mother’s boyfriend. With a narrative as sensitive as this I was nervous as to how this story would be told, yet I didn’t need to worry. TDOATG is, in my opinion, a feminist masterpiece.

A strong female lead character and directed, produced and written by women, the film takes an incredibly naive and vulnerable teenager who is being statutorily raped by a man 20 years her senior without managing to make her a victim. Minnie (played by Bel Powley) maintains a strong voice throughout the film, it is through her recorded diaries that we see her accounts of life, love and sex in a brutally honest portrayal of teenage-hood.

Having been a teenage girl myself, the small moments of self and sexual identity made this film the wonder it is and this is why a female film crew was essential for this movie. Anyone woman who has been Minnie’s age will instantly connect with the pure awkwardness of discovering sex in a world that has the answers to the questions you’re too embarrassed to ask. Of being both too grown up and too young all at once. Of giving somebody what you thought was everything at the time.

The animation throughout this film was beautiful in capturing the world inside Minnie’s mind, and also on paper as she finds an outlet through drawing. Minnie’s admiration for her favourite illustrator shapes who she is, as so do so many role models of young girls. Having a strong female influence throughout adolescence is something that most teenage girls can relate to, somebody to look up to and even somebody you consider a friend, which can be crucial when all the friends you have are as clueless as you about the world.

For me, this was not simply a story of a young girl being taken advantage of. It is empowering. A truthful account of the journey to becoming yourself at the most confusing and diverting stage in life, learning how to stand up for, respect and love the person you are. This film is for any girl who ever questioned what would make her a woman, and any woman who remembers what it’s like to be a girl.

Rating: 4.5/5

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National Coming Out Day: Why it’s not just for LGBTQ+

National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual civil awareness day internationally observed on October 11. Founded in 1988, in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, the emphasis is that the most basic form of activism is coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person.” – Wikipedia

Since 1988 quite a few things have changed. Although it is clear that the initial force behind National Coming Out Day was clearly for the greater good of the gay community, this day in 2015 differs from that of 1988.

Firstly, the Wikipedia article mentions living life as openly gay or lesbian however in the modern day we are now aware that these are not the only non-straight sexualities in the world and in fact, that sexuality itself exists on a very fluid spectrum, with gay and lesbian merely being two out of many sexualities, (bisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc). However because gay and lesbian seem to have been recognised a lot earlier than other sexualities, they seem to have gained a lot more acceptance in society. Some people may even argue that there is more stigma surrounding, for example, bisexuality as opposed to gay or lesbian.

Following on from that, the acceptance of homosexuality has increased drastically in many countries since 1988, however there is still a long way to go, but stigma surrounding homosexuality has for the most part decreased. Another progression we have made in the past 27 years is the research into mental health in the gay community, and studies have shown that non-heterosexual people are more likely to suffer a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety as opposed to straight people. Reasons for this may include the fear of coming out to a non-supportive family or the knowledge that there still is a lot of discrimination in the world towards the LGBTQ+ community, making everyday life a struggle. For these reasons, National Coming Out Day serves the purpose both for activism, and for mental wellbeing in gay people.

Thirdly, popular to common belief, I do not agree that this day should solely be for LGBTQ+ people. I believe that National Coming Out Day, or indeed the act of coming out itself, should be for every single person on this planet regardless of sexuality. It is my firm belief that every single human being should get the opportunity to come out, including straight people. Coming out in itself is a chance to make your sexuality clear to the people around you, however why is it only with gay people that we require this? Gay people have to state that they are gay to change our assumption that they are straight and that is the problem with the world at the moment. People assume that people are straight until proven wrong, however this is an extremely damaging approach.

Let’s not assume the sexuality of our friends/family and let them decide, when the time is right, to tell us that they are coming out as gay/straight/pansexual/etc. I know when I have a child, I will not assume they are straight until they tell me so themselves, and I will give them the opportunity to come out to me regardless of their sexuality.

I hope that everyone who came out today, or indeed before today, is safe and surrounded by support. And to those who have not come out yet, you are not weaker in any way and there is no rush. Also, if you’re straight and have never actually confirmed this to anybody, give it a try, you have as much of a right to come out as anybody else.

Love you all,

Toodles.

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National Poetry Day!

Greetings human beings! I have just learned from Facebook (my main source of knowledge) that today is National Poetry Day where I live. What you may now know about me is that alongside being a blog writer, I am also a poet of sorts. Not a paid poet, not even a good poet, just somebody who needs to vent emotion in some creative, pretentious way. So I thought today I would share with you a poem that I wrote recently. Happy Poetry Day everybody!

A Hypothetical Poem

If I were to write a poem about us I would have to mention the way you look at the floor when you’re kind of unsure of what to say next.

If I were to write a poem about us, I would have to admit that the way you say the letter “t” does something to me that I can’t even explain.

And if this poem did hypothetically exsist then I’d probably throw in how when you tuck my hair behind my ear, to see more of my face, your eyes melt any insecurites I once had. And I feel beautiful.

And this poem would be sloppy and scattered with no real structure beause I probably wrote it at 2:14am, the night after our 6 month date, with water in my eyes and wine in my hand.

This romantic rambling would probably consist of astonishingly awful alliteration and hyperboles so horrific that you want to move country. I hear Wales is wonderful.

Also, if I did write a poem about us, and you ever heard it, my heart would be pounding in my chest the entire time, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Because your opinion matters more than I will ever let on.

And if I ever did write a poem about us, I would most likely casually slip in somewhere near the end how utterly and wrecklessly in love with you I am, how you make the nape of my neck feel like electricity and my heart strain with adoration and this feeling hit me like a goddamn bus, but more painful.

And if I did write a poem about us, maybe I’d tell you that you have quite a lovely nose.

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A Casual Freakout

Do any of you ever experience that horrible feeling of something suddenly dawning on you and then you notice your heart is beating really fast and you’re sweating and the next thing you know you’re Googling “Ways To Fake Your Own Death And Live A Life At Sea”? Nope, just me?

But in all seriousness I have just been overwhelmed by the realisation that in precisely two days time I will be starting my second year at university. For those of you who don’t know, my first year at university wasn’t the greatest, there are only so many mental breakdowns you can have before it starts to affect your learning and so for second year I didn’t want any surprises. Luckily for me, first year at my university doesn’t actually count and my final grade isn’t affected but second year is different, everything I do this year is going to in some way contribute to my future and potentially ruin my life and the lives of my children if I can even afford to HAVE kids after nobody will employ me/marry me because I’m rubbish at life. Okay so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but just the thought of it is terrifying.

I’m not the sharpest tool in the toolbox but I am passionate about my subject and about getting an education so this year I have tried my very best to mentally prepare myself for the hardships that university will bring. However lying here in bed, hungover and tired, with last night’s eyeliner still on my face but weirdly not on my eyes I’ve realised that I have no clue what the hell I am doing and if I’m even capable at all. Which kind of stinks if I’m honest.

How does one prepare themselves for the unknown? Preparation comes from the brain but then so the ability to fail so is my brain basically having this big internal battle, with one side trying it’s best to help me out and the other frantically looking for ways to hold me back and make me surrender to a life of sex work? No wonder I get a headache thinking about it.

If anyone has any tips for how to prepare for and survive this year would be greatly appreciated, if anyone needs to contact me I’ll be lying in bed eating ice cream and praying that chocolate fudge enhances brain power in some magical way.

Toodles.

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