POLITICS AND POWERSLAMS – REACTIONARY NARRATIVES IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING

by Chris Jarvis

CW: sexual assault, racism, ableism, violence, sexism, suicide, murder, mental health

Professional wrestling is big business, and there’s none bigger than the monolithic World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). In 2015, its revenue totalled over $650 million dollars, whereas the second largest promotion in the world – New Japan Pro Wrestling – saw a comparatively paltry $30 million. WWE is a cultural and economic behemoth, with profound power and influence wrapped into its carefully crafted and tightly managed brand. Its most successful exports go on to become major cultural icons – film stars, stand up comedians, talk show favourites. WWE alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the world’s second highest paid actor with a barrage of accolades to boot. Dave Bautista has followed in the footsteps of the ‘People’s Champion’, with a major role in the third highest grossing film in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy. In 1999, Mick Foley published the first instalment of his autobiography – Have a Nice Day – which shot to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation. John Cena has granted more ‘wishes’ for the Make a Wish Foundation than anyone else. In 2015, WWE heirs apparent Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque and Stephanie McMahon founded Connor’s Cure, a charity dedicated to researching pediatric cancer, after 8 year old WWE fan Connor ‘The Crusher’ Michalek tragically passed away in 2014. Most recently, programming of Raw and Smackdown were interspersed with fundraising vignettes for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Given the sheer scale of WWE’s operation and the wide reaching influence of its product and performers, it comes as little surprise that the company has built an extensive corporate social responsibility marketing operation.

Beneath the shimmering veneer WWE have created, though, lies a murky and unpleasant history. Continue Reading

FEMINIST TOP PICKS – EDINBURGH FRINGE 2017: PART 3

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by Carmina Masoliver

Read part one of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

Read part two of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

 CW: rape, sexual assault, islamophobia, homophobia

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REVIEW: TWO LITTLE DUCKS EDINBURGH FRINGE PREVIEW

by Laura Potts

CW: Mentions violence against children

More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.

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REVIEW: A VERY QUEER NAZI FAUST AT NORWICH PRIDE 2017

by Eli Lambe

CW; ableism, suicide, sanctions

Vince Laws’ protest-play, ‘A Very Queer Nazi Faust’ is the stunning result of ongoing development, lack of funding and an “angry depression diary”. It has been performed in a host of untraditional venues including: the streets of Birmingham during the Conservative Party Conference; outside the Houses of Parliament (whilst Ian Duncan-Smith was being interviewed); and, most recently, the Community Tent at Norwich’s ninth Pride celebration. Cast through social media, the performance was anarchically unpolished and filled with righteous, infectious anger. The roles of the  “thirteen local legends” brought together in art and solidarity against “state sanctioned torture” were all filled by local queer and disabled activists. Although the title of the show was excluded from the official Norwich Pride 2017 programme, The Community Tent was still filled with an enthusiastic and engaged audience.

The roles of the  “thirteen local legends” brought together in art and solidarity against “state sanctioned torture” were all filled by local queer and disabled activists

‘A Very Queer Nazi Faust’ began life as a “depression diary”, which would have been too expensive to publish (another example of barriers faced by disabled or otherwise marginalised authors and this kind of protest art) and developed into a play protesting against the press and government’s ongoing violence towards disabled people in the UK. After receiving some funding and support from Disability Arts Online and The Literary Consultancy, Laws gained “the confidence to build it into something” – and that something is truly incredible.

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REVIEW: THE POETRY COLLECTIVE

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by Eli Lambe

The Poetry Collective’s bi-monthly poetry open-mic has been running for three years, hosted in a variety of venues across Norwich. Yet it’s the trendy hub, The Birdcage that has become a favourite platform for both new and established performers.  Described by one of the performers (Johnny Raspin) as “The best poetry night in Norwich”, it’s easy to see how this endorsement was earned. The hosts, Freddie and Jodie, are enthusiastic and lovely, the venue filled up very quickly, despite the weirdly autumnal weather, and the casual back and forth between host, performers and audience created an atmosphere of community and support.


The night began with an endearingly honest set by one of the hosts, Jodie Santer, who moved through topics including politics, coming-of age and love. She shared a poem written for her younger sister, bringing together fears about growing up with social expectations and misogyny; a powerful and relatable piece. Eoghan Lavery followed with a vividly Shakespearean monologue about ageing, technology and remorse entitled “Winter”, which was masterfully and dynamically delivered. He performed the poem as its narrator, bringing the audience through the reflections of an old man viewing his childhood on a projector.  

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BRAINSTUCK ARGUMENTS

by Eli Lambe

How can you have anxiety and whatever
and read aloud to rooms.
How do you flinch at loud noises and not stares?
Speaker, the mind is unintelligible
and this unwell mind doubly so.
I do not hyperventilate this performance,
or rarely,
is this performing the cause.Continue Reading

CÓRDOBA FERIA: A CELEBRATION OF EXTRAVAGANCE

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by Carmina Masoliver

In Córdoba, for two weeks at the end of May and spanning across two weekends, there is a massive fair that is so big you really have to experience it for yourself. We were even given two days off work to enjoy the festivities. I went for a total of five days.

The festival is rooted in honour of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health), and started as an old livestock market. In 2017, it included over a hundred casetas, where everyone comes to eat, drink, and dance. It attracts all ages, and also has a fairground with an impressive selection of rides and roller-coasters, plus sticks of candy floss nearly as big as me.Continue Reading