Cosmic Trigger – Pull It If You Can

Cosmic Trigger - Cast members dressed in black, while one plays the accordian.

In life there are things that pull on your creative heart strings and shape you life from then on. Watching Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds on TV, reading I Robot by Issac Asimov and the first issue of 2000AD, hearing Replicas by Tubeway Army and Black Celebration by Depeche Mode, witnessing Salvador Dali’s work close up and visiting the ballet for the first time are just a few artistic moments that touched me so deeply I can still remember them like they were yesterday, despite some of them being a very long time ago.  Sadly as I get older the instances when I experience new art that reaches into my soul and alters it become fewer with each passing year. I was starting to worry I was getting jaded in my old age, but recently I saw a play that proved I can still be enthralled.

Cosmic Trigger - The cast dressed as prison inmates, all on orange jumpsuits, singing.

I wasn’t overly keen on seeing Cosmic Trigger, as it sounded a bit too “hippy” for my punk sensibilities. The punk mantra was never trust a hippy, a play about expanding your mind based on the work of the famous hippy writer Robert Anon Wilson didn’t exactly float my boat. As I sat, ready to experience a 3 hour play with trepidation, I was not prepared for just how amazing it would be. I won’t do a blow by blow exploration of the story as I would hate to spoil it and to be honest, I’m still not sure I understood all of it. What I will say is that if you get a chance, and like your theatre up close and personal, Cosmic Trigger is a must see.

Cosmic Trigger - The stage is filled with actors dressed as a black mass

It’s a cliché I know, but Cosmic Trigger is very much a rollercoaster, as you flip from laughter to tears, from understanding to bewilderment, and from yesterday to today as the piece grabs you and flings you all over time and space. You really feel as if Dr Who had a hand in writing the piece. What makes the piece mesmerizing is the cast, who go above and beyond in their duty to transport you from era to era, from reality to fantasy and back. As an actor myself, I marveled at  the courage and skill of a cast whose performances made an ageing punk like me come over all hippified.

Cosmic Trigger - Actress dressed as a goddess with a sword and shield

I left the Cockpit Theatre in Camden, with a very different take on a pile of subjects. I was a little troubled by this new desire to tune in and turn on, but what really touched a nerve was the play’s mantra to question everything. We live in an era where faith in those who lead us and the words of experts has been shaken to the core, but this play questions the foundation of why we might have lost faith. It asks us to go deeper than mistrust and examine everything for ourselves from the position of knowledge. Don’t let the press or media tell you what to think, and the play spends a good hour on subtly explaining how the press will say anything if it fits an agenda or brings in readers. Instead expand your knowledge through personal research and exploration. OK Robert Anton Wilson did the exploring with the aid of LSD, which we see didn’t exactly lead to rational conclusions, but the concept is good.

Cosmic Trigger - the cast salute the audience at the end of the show

I think Cosmic Trigger is a play for today, despite it being so firmly based in yesterday. Never before have we needed a reason to question, and Cosmic Trigger shows the way. OK, it might be a bumpy ride, and you might get lost down the road, but in the end it will be a fun journey. You may also find yourself going all peace and love man…..

Cosmic Trigger is on at the Cockpit Theatre until May 27th

Photos © Johnathan Greet, by permission.

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Access All Areas review

Access All Areas CoverMy review of the art book Access All Areas, Live Arts and Disability have just gone live on the A-N website.

Here the full version of it.

Access All Areas – Live Art and Disability

For several decades a growing group of highly talented artists have been honing their skills and developing their methods and techniques in their goal to create engaging, challenging, though provoking work that is also beautiful and stunning while leaving an indelible valuable mark on whoever interacts with it. This group are members of what is euphemistically called the Disability Arts scene, and they use their mediums to explore the issues that disability raises in our modern society. One major element of this groups methodology is the use of Live Art. Creating engaging interactive Live Art works enables practitioners to explore the questions around the barriers thrown up into the lives of disabled people by the wider society, as described by the Social Model of Disability, examine their personal journey through their experience of impairment and challenge the wider stereotypes of what it is like to live in a society that disables some of it’s members. The Disability Arts scene has been mostly hidden away from the judging gaze of the wider arts community but all that is changing. This stunning book Access All Areas, Live Art and Disability, published through the Live Arts Development Agency, captures the creative explosion that took place at a two day event, called Access All Areas, held in London in 2011 that highlighted the very best in Live Art practise within the Disability Arts scene and exposed them to the public and the wider art world.

However to describe this book only as a document of this event sells it short. It is in fact a combination of a stunning collection of works by the cream of Disability Arts scene’s Live Art creatives and a challenging piece of artistic work in itself that I feel will become an essential snapshot of a moment in the evolution of an new artistic force as it breaks through in to the mainstream. The book has captured the two day programme of the Access All Areas event in a manner that enables its reader to feel as if they had been there, and then guides them through the issues raised, all in an exciting and creative style. Made with the input of the artists it really is an amazing publication.

But it doesn’t stop with the written word, as the publication is accompanied by two DVD’s. DVD 2 captures essential video highlights from past works of the stars of the Disability Arts scene, all of which were screened at the Access All Areas event, and DVD 1 allows the viewer to virtually attend the event as it contains video taken through out the programme. It also has an audio version of the entire book and audio recordings of the dialogues and discussions held over the two days.

On an accessibility front this book/DVD package is one of the first accessible publications I have had the pleasure of interacting with. Printed in a cleverly laid out large font with the DVD’s fully subtitled, fully audio described and very well thought out, Access All Area, Live Art and Disability demonstrates that the barriers that disable people can be removed in such a way to enhance the experience of all users. How many books have you read that allow you to actually interact with the research material? This accessibility also means that the publication will be an amazing resource for the academic study of Disability Arts, as it contains in a one stop shop such a rich collection of creative output, discussion of practise and the thought processes behind that creativity and the wider social issues that the artists wish to explore.

I am proud to have Access All Areas, Live Arts and Disability on my bookshelf. It’s a publication that encapsulates the wealth of creative talent beavering away within the Disability Arts scene, contains the very best of their work, intelligent comment and discussion of process and practise, and looks great too. I believe it will become a seminal publication, not only for the Disability Arts world which it exposes beautifully but for the wider arts community as it demonstrates how make art books accessible. A must have for anyone interested in the arts and creative practise.

Access All Areas, Live Arts and Disability can be ordered by clicking here

Review by Mik Scarlet © 2013

“This writing was first published on Interface 30/10/13 www.a-n.co.uk/interface as the result of a book giveaway by Live Art Development Agency/Unbound”.

It can also be found on the Huffington Post Lifestyle section.

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Latest Huffington Post Article

My latest article for the Huffington Post has just gone live. It’s a review of the Graeae Theatre’s production of The Limbless Knight, which premiered at the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival this Friday.

It’s a great show, that entertains and challenges in equal measure. I described it on Twitter as “Like being hit by a brick wrapped in a beautiful velvet cushion”. For a longer exploration of what I saw in the show see the Huffington Post Entertainment section.

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La Patagonia – A Taste of the Argentine

As my wife Diane and I left our Camden flat on a wet Wednesday night for our visit La Patagonia I did feel a little trepidations. Argentinian cuisine is best known for being carnivorous in nature, and as we are both vegetarians I wasn’t sure if our meal would be to our taste. I was also worried as nothing spoils a veggie’s meal than eating through the fog of the smell of cooking meat. I didn’t know yet but all of my worries would soon be proved very unfounded.
We had booked our table for seven pm, but even this early on the aforementioned wet Wednesday the place was packed. The staff met us with a friendly smile and were totally fine with my placing my wheelchair next to my seat at our table. Even in the 21st century I still find that some restaurants are unhappy when I turn up on wheels, so this set the tone for the rest of the evening in a good way. We placed our order, after being impressed at the choice for us non-meat eaters. As we waited for our order to arrive, we were brought a plate of bread and some pickled Aubergine that was lovely. We were joined by one of the owners Noah, and we chatted about how well things were going with his plans to bring a rustic Argentinian menu to the streets of Camden. The restaurant is a warm and friendly place furnished in a designer rustic style. It’s filled with all manner of memorabilia from the country, collected by the owners over the years, and the whole experience is most enjoyable. But let’s get down to the food shall we?
As soon as a flash our meal arrived, and Noah left us to watch the football on TV (another Argentinian passion). We had both ordered the same thing, Calabaza con Humita which is a Butternut Squash filled with a corn and béchamel sauce filling served with a nice side salad. Even though I have been a veggie for over 20 years, I have never tried butternut squash and neither had my wife. On our first mouthful we stopped and stared at each other…. yummy! It was gorgeous. The squash itself was done to perfection, soft, sweet and tender and in combination with the corn filling it was a treat. I may have wolfed mine down a little too quickly, but that is usual when I am enjoying my food.
Next up was desert. Normally I would have stopped at my main meal, but I had heard that the desert menu at La Patagonia had to be tried to be believed. Boy had I heard right! Yet again my wife and I had matching orders, the La Patagonia Tiramisu. I freely admit to having a rather developed sweet tooth, and as the huge half pint (0.35L actually – I’m showing my age using Imperial) Kilner style glass jars filled with chocolately yumminess were presented my heart skipped a beat. 

 

Even though there was easily enough in each serving for us to have shared, I was so glad we had ordered one each… I would hated sharing this desert lovers paradise. The latte we ordered to accompany this gooey, chocolately, caramelly heaven was equally as tasty and as I put down my spoon and slurped my last mouthful of coffee I felt wonderful. Full, happy and a little drunk on sugar. The bill arrived and we were both very impressed that such a great meal could be so reasonably priced.
Both of my wife and I laughed as we wondered home through the streets of Camden at what a great night we’d had. It had also occurred to me that if you do eat meat I would imagine that your meal would be as amazing as ours, if not more so. I can’t recommend La Patagonia highly enough, and I do know that it has been added to our list of favourite restaurants. I know we’re going to become regulars and I think you should too. Whether it’s for a romantic night out, a night out with friends or for a party La Patagonia won’t let you down.

 

Una gran noche fuera!
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