As someone who has an interest in many different things I thought a little monthly share of culture might be a nice idea. As my intentions for this blog are central to both theatre and travel, I'd like to share a monthly insight with you as to what I've found myself passing the time with.
So, though this may develop as the months go on, I'd like to firstly share with you a book I've enjoyed this month, a film I have seen and TV show I've binged on, an album I have played on repeat, a coffee shop I have frequently visited and I would usually like to share with you a play I have seen too but I'm afraid as I have been very busy with projects I have been involved in myself this month, like 'Hear the People Sing' and the 'More in Common' Project, on top of being quite dreadfully poor (I am currently spending all my outgoings on setting up my own business, but more on that later maybe), I haven't made it to the theatre this month as an audience member but I'm sure in the coming editions I'll have plenty to go on there.
I'd also like to use this as a way of getting recommendations myself so please comment with any suggestions you've enjoyed yourself and I'll have a browse for upcoming editions.
Right so here we go, here's what I've enjoyed and recommend this month.
Book:The Power, Naomi Alderman
So to begin with, a novel.
I love reading but I am very guilty of being the kind of person that thinks I don't have time. I'm also often guilty of starting a book and losing track of where I am as things get in the way but when I bought 'The Power' by Naomi Alderman, recommended in Waterstones, I was determined to change that. What swung my choice at first look was the recommendation by Margaret Atwood lining the front cover; a clearly effective selling technique for fans of the prestigious writer.
And thankfully, I did. From the night I started this book, to the night I finished it, I had it in my hand every spare second I had.
The blurb reads:
'All over the world women are discovering they have the power. With a flick of their fingers they can inflict terrible pain - even death. Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they've lost control. The Day of the Girls has arrived - but where will it end?'
The fragmented narrative is hard to grasp to begin with as the several background tales at first seem entirely unrelated apart from one common factor: The Power, but fast pulls together into a fiery plot.
Throughout history in our society women have been subjugated and discriminated against as the weaker sex, Alderman's clever dystopia questions what our world would be like if our very biology led us to be more powerful than the opposite sex.
Thought provoking and fantastically gripping, Alderman's dystopian thriller left me questioning the stem of inequality in our world and the meaning of power. But it's a definite recommendation and I'd like to explore the other novels she has written.
I have to admit my first reaction when this film was announced was excitement over something else to see Cilllian Murphy in, his portrayal of Tommy Shelby in the gang series Peaky Blinders has left me with a slight obsession.
But unrelated to this, the long anticipated film adaptation of the military disaster of May 1940 expertly executed by Director and Writer Christopher Nolan, recieved great success and a rating of 8.4 on IMDB. The WW2 German invasion of France that left hundreds of thousands allied troops stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk led to one of the greatest rescue missions in history with every serviceable naval or civilian vessel that could be found aiding in the heroic rescue mission that successfully evacuated 330,000 British, French, Belgian and Dutch soldiers from the shores under attack.
I think for me that was the stand out theme of the piece. One of the three central narratives, slightly hard to make sense of to start with but I'm guessing that was the intention, focused on a civilian sailor determined to captain his own boat rather than donating it to the forces and set off to join the rescue effort himself. The civilians that donated their boats and set off fearlessly to help, they were a large part of the success of the rescue, each willing man and woman showed their solidarity and helped to save those lives that faced such a bleak fate on those beaches. The film displayed this excellently with the beautiful image of the civilian ships approaching to the shores. One of the highlights of the film.
I have heard some people talk of the film and say it was 'boring', though I understand where this maybe comes from- the film isn't your classic war film with gore and blood, the quintessential factor of Dunkirk was the waiting. Those men were stranded and desperate to survive. Christopher Nolan's piece perfectly indicates the suspense of this bleak situation and I think that's the ultimate success of the film; the reality.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, the performances were very impressive with key mention to an all time favourite of mine Tom Hardy, who I was recently blown away by in Legend (what a film), but also acting newcomer Harry Styles, a very truthful performance, I like where he is heading with his style in acting and music.
If you haven't already definitely catch it in cinemas for the best experience.
Television Show: Game of Thrones (I know, sorry)
So me and my boyfriend Jacob finally gave in and started watching Game of Thrones.
I have to say I was never reluctant to watch the critically acclaimed HBO series, I always knew it would absolutely be my kind of thing- in fact i've had series 1-4 on my shelf for over a year now, it was just about finding the right time.
So not much to say that isn't already understood by anyone and everyone who is already up to date, besides those annoying hipster people who decide against that one show that everyone is talking about as a matter of principle- just watch it, you might like it. But it is pretty mint and though we are only currently on series three, we have to literally avoid all social media around air time for new episodes, we're both already hooked and trying to catch up wherever we can.
It's got to be said though, Daenerys is a godess. I have no idea how the plot pans out through to series seven, so this may sound naive I don't know, but from my perspective having watched the first three series, she's a force to be reckoned with and I have a lot of respect for her.
It's also encouraging, as someone who is hoping to audition for drama school in the near future to see so many alumni from the nation's leading drama schools in the lead cast, admits an industry where often lead actors have not come from school training.
It's brilliant and I'm glad we've still got it all to come. I love it almost as much as I hate Joffrey so we'll have to wait and see what happens to him.
Funnily enough, I sort of found this album by accident. I recently had to learn the song 'Green Light' for a show I am involved in currently and though I'd heard the song before, I'd never listened to the album and woah. For me, this was one of those where you find something and literally play it non-stop for the next month except that play-it-so-much-you-hate-it kinda thing hasn't happened for me yet.
Just sixteen when she released her successful debut Pure Heroine, the New Zealand singer describes her four year long awaited and anticipated return with Melodrama as her 'emotional renaissance'. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful and the writing is flawlessly suited to what Rolling Stone describes as her 'electro-pop craftiness, using empty space to spectacular effect'; and say 'the arrangements veer from stark clarity to delirium.'
Highlights are hard to distinguish as I don't feel there are any weak points to the album, but the poignant piano ballad 'Liability' probably tops the list for me personally. Described perfectly again by Rolling Stone as 'a meditation on the loneliness of an ambitious pop drama queen', each lyric sits perfectly with the listener from first hearing so that you automatically resonate and understand the painful isolation of the singer's words.
Highly recommended as the soundtrack to late night driving.
Coffee Shop: Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
Finally, I spend a lot of my time in coffee shops.
So when I found myself in an area of Leeds I'd not spent much time in before, I was delighted to discover the Hyde Park Book Club. I spent many a lunchtime enjoying the great food and coffee, I'd especially recommend my favourite combo of a flat white with the breakfast bagel- divine.
But also what made the funky little shop the best for me, besides its groovy interior and super chilled music, was the fact it's open until eleven- making it perfect for a catch up at any time of the day, a nice selection of beer as well completes the top menu.
It's so lovely and I'll definitely be returning whenever I'm that way, I also took a flyer of events- they do everything from a Jazz Club to Board Games so I'll try maybe get to some of them to blog about too, I've attached the website link below!
So there you have it, the Welcome Edition to my Culture Club! It would be great to hear that some people have taken the recommendations or that anyone has some for me for next month. Seeing as though I'm finishing up this post whilst sat looking over the sea from Barcelona, next month may have something to do with that but you'll just have to wait to find out!