previously a Community section writer
Hannah has an MA in Creative Writing from UEA and a background in teaching and education. She has written on a wide range of subjects including dementia, exile, the Burston teacher’s strike and the 9/11 memorial park, for journals, magazines and progressive news sites.
Director Tim Lane’s adaptation of Richard III is bone-chilling—and that’s not only down to the lack of heating in the Shoe Factory Social Club in Norwich. Shakespeare’s story of the wicked and rapacious King Richard is superbly located by Crude Apache in the disused factory space, which has been turned into a frightening vision of the future, an urban hinterland where people live in makeshift communities of cardboard boxes and behind wire fences. Exposed lights, metal girders and old sofas furbish the old factory; I could have been inside a modish bar in Hackney, or a punk squat in Berlin. The thumping techno beats made it all the more ethereal, and for a moment I was back at an illegal rave I once went to when I was twenty, except this one sold gin and tonics and cups of tea.
(23.11.16) – Now is The Winter of Our Discontent – Preview
The Crude Apache Theatre Company will be performing a striking adaptation of Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty Richard III at the Shoe Factory Social Club in Norwich. A post-industrial dystopian world awaits audiences, as the Company prepares to throw them into this sinister tale of the power-mad and murderous.
(11.10.16) – A Woman on Her Knees – Review of A Girl and A Gun
He is driving, she is hanging on his arm. Behind them a vista depicting a wide road disappears into desert upon a large screen. The cherry red of her lipstick matches her low-slung red dress, punctuated by a pair of cowgirl boots. Her dreamy expression says she’s completely at ease, hanging off her man; pleased as punch, because he is in control. But he has never seen the script before; he will be reading off an autocue. She is the one driving the show.
Performer-playwright, Louise Orwin, is touring the UK with her new theatre piece, A Girl and A Gun which was performed at Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Jean-Luc Godard’s adage “All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl,” is the springboard from which Orwin’s performance dives headfirst into a chilling reality which is anything but surface deep.
(28.09.16) – Trigger Warning: Louise Orwin’s A Girl and A Gun
“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl,” quipped Jean-Luc Godard. Images of scantily clad women waving weapons around are commonplace in the media. It’s troubling to think how often we consume this image: Charlie’s Angels with their high-heeled kicks and sniper rifles; Bond women emerging from the sea with a pistol stowed away in a pair of knickers, and even pop music’s favourite feminists — Beyoncé and Lady Gaga — wear matching white bodysuits and brandish plastic-looking revolvers whilst singing something about a telephone. Watch out, those gals are gyrating and dangerous.
(02.08.16) – We are Not Numbers: Norwich Speaks Out on Brexit
Norwich residents came together last month to show support for migrants after a Romanian shop was set fire to. On the same evening Norwich held a rally in favour of staying in the EU. The division was palpable that night. But the reality is that there are no two clear sides to the debate—there never was, even if the mainstream press had us believe it.
(21.07.16) – The Personal is Political: A Review of Tribute Acts
Tribute Acts is a bittersweet piece of autobio-theatre written and performed by Tess Seddon and Cheryl Gallacher from Theatrestate. Set against a space-age backdrop, Tess and Cheryl introduce their fathers via a pre-recorded video link. The dads look uncomfortable in their suits and ties. Their daughters are wearing spacesuits. The gulf between parent and child is obvious, and the unease is palpable.
(20.07.16) – Norwich Gathers in the Name of Unity
Norwich is reeling after The Village Shop, an Eastern European food store on Magdalen Street, was targeted in an arson attack in the early hours of July 8th. A brick was thrown through the window, waking owner Maria Purgen, and a fire then broke out inside. People in the nearby kebab shop came to the scene and shouted out to the family upstairs, who escaped via the backdoor. The emergency services were called and by 3:50am firefighters had extinguished the blaze.
Tiny cheerleaders, an umbrella on the moon, portraits of dead rock stars – all of these and more can be found in the uncanny paintings of Will Teather. Time’s inconsistency runs throughout this unnerving exhibition. Teather plays with time in a way that would be funny if it wasn’t so unsettling. But then again, isn’t that the mark of a significant piece of art? To catch the viewer unawares?
Last week I met with two mental health campaigners following an RSA-hosted event at St Michael’s Church called: ‘Combating Norfolk’s Growing Mental Health Problem.’ The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA), Manufactures and Commerce is a fellowship-led organisation, whose aim is to encourage “the sharing of powerful ideas to deliver a 21st century enlightenment.” I’d gone in the hope of being enlightened.
Sadly, I was not.
‘Can you define an audience the same way they define you?’ This was one of the questions asked by a young performer in Wild Life at the Norwich Playhouse, showcasing as part of the Norfolk and Norwich festival 2016. A question left hanging throughout the duration of the play, if that’s what it should be called. Wild Life is an extraordinary piece of metatheatre exploring the teenage psyche through a montage of music, performance, sound recordings, and monologues. Its cast is composed of ten 15-22 year olds from Norfolk, all with exceptional singing and songwriting skills.
Norwich strengthened its status as a Labour hold council at the local elections on May 5th, winning four seats from the Greens in Mancroft, Nelson, Town Close and Wensum. With this the case, it might seem surprising that the role of Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner went to Conservative Lorne Green, who quite comfortably beat Labour’s Chris Jones. Looking at the city result you quickly see that Jones was the preferred choice – by a 10,000-vote strong margin. So Norwich wanted Labour – but Norfolk didn’t. This result is a stark reminder of the difference in political opinion between the city and the rest of the county – a county where UKIP and Conservative have half the seats.
I cycled through a hailstorm last Saturday so that I could attend a Labour Party rally at the Silver Road community centre. The things we do for politics, I said to myself, hailstones pinging off my helmet. Clive Lewis, Norwich South MP, hosted the event with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who was making a visit on his campaign rounds in light of the upcoming local elections on May 5th.
The Norwich City Council election will be a significant juncture since Corbyn-mania. The Council is currently a Labour and Green hold, with 39 councillors and 13 elected wards: 22 Labour, 14 Green, 3 Lib Dem. Not a blue badge or Union Jack bowtie in sight.
(12.04.16) – Dangerous Women are Coming to Norwich
Can women’s voices be heard above the din of war? Silly question, really. It’s not how loud we shout, but what we do with our words that count. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) takes this tenet seriously – they’re feminist wordsmiths with a long history of using international legal and political frameworks to bring female voices into the peace process. And WILPF is coming to Norwich. The new WILPF branch will be the eighth such establishment in the UK, and will be formalised at their AGM on the 16th April 2016.
Who is your political role model? Mandela? Aung San Suu Kyi? I choose Harriet Martineau— one of Norwich’s very own, and the first female sociologist. But in a Year 11 assembly at The Hewett Academy on the 8th March (International Women’s Day), none other than Donald Trump was advocated as a role model for self-belief – and one that students should be taking notes from if they want to pass their exams. Forget Martin Luther King and forget Emmeline Pankhurst, please welcome to the stage the man who called for the complete shutdown of Muslim immigration, and whose political speeches are a gutter-stream of bigotry. Hewett Vice-Principal Antony Little (former Conservative local councillor) might equate Trump’s success to inimitable self-confidence, but others might put it down to simply having more money than sense. The truth – or at least a key part of it – is that Donald Trump does not have magical reserves of self-belief. He has simply been seduced by the skewed fantasy of himself.