Mind the Gap play to packed venue

St.Helens Central Library provided an atmospheric backdrop for the latest in a series of cultural performances aimed at widening the audience for arts in the borough.

Mind the Gap – the award-winning touring theatre company based in Bradford – performed ‘Irresistible’, an energetic and euphoric live event.ImageImage

The theatre company’s mission is to dismantle the barriers to artistic excellence so that learning disabled and non-disabled artistes can perform alongside each other as equals.

A packed audience – a mix of general public, special interest groups and service users – enjoyed the hour-long performance, created by Mind the Gap performer, Jez Colborne. The production tells the story of one man’s journey through life. Jez is a multi-talented composer, musician and performer with a learning disability

A Review by Pat ‘S’ :

Deliberately dropping books in Central Library, along with loud music, singing and dancing, seems inconceivable, but combined with the ‘sound of sirens’ and ‘the hush of silence’ it all made for a most dramatic, and entertaining early evening event on Friday February 15th. Irresistible’ call of the sirens was created by Jez Colborne in collaboration with the award winning touring theatre company Mind the Gap. Jez, who has learning difficulties, is also a multi-talented composer, musician and performer. Mind The Gap is a company of disabled and non-disabled performers with a mission to; ‘dismantle the barriers to artistic excellence, so that learning disabled, and non-disabled artists can perform alongside each other as equals’. If ‘Irresistible’ is an example of their productions, then ‘Mind The Gap’ has surpassed their mission. The story tells of one man’s journey and his fear of sirens. A dark, and threatening atmosphere was created, which was lightened by love later in the performance.

Using minimal props, lighting and sound effects, plus a little magic with the aid of technology, the cast gave of their all, with superb singing, energetic dancing, bold acting and a professional delivery. The audience couldn’t resist when invited to participate in ‘a little dancing in the library’, and they’ll possibly find it irresistible not to attend ‘Mind The Gap’s’ next production. Normality resumed in Central Library as the cast left the floor with a hush, and a “Shush”!

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‘Chilling Tale’ has audience in awe

A tremendous performance of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde was enjoyed by a mixed audience of different interest groups at the Citadel Theatre, St. Helens.

Adapted and produced by Nick Lane and performed by The Hull Truck Theatre company, Robert Louis Stevenson’s chilling tale of good and evil was enjoyed by a packed house.

As an added bonus Citidisarts – the disability drama group – and members of the St. Helens Youth Theatre were treated to a Jekyll & Hyde workshop prior to curtain up.

Led by Laura Rae of Hull Truck Theatre, the workshop looked at the challenges of portraying split personalities, looking at facial expression and dramatic acting techniques.

The production was signed throughout and enjoyed by a number of  audience members who were deaf or hard of hearing. Other groups included St Helens Mind and members of the Up Ponky group which meets regularly at Chester Lane Library in Sutton Manor.

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Helena Ladies Love lowry

The Lowry cares for the largest public collection of the artist’s work, and it is shown alongside important loans from private and public lenders around the country in a permanent exhibition called  ‘Lowry Favorites’. Initially the ladies saw a induction film ‘Meet Mr Lowry’, a fascinating subtitled 20 minute film about the artist and his work which all sat through mesmerized and was a brilliant introduction to the great artists works. The ladies loved his unique style and the personal vision that set him apart from the major art movements of his time.  

As with Lowry the picture below for me speaks a thousand words:

 

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Helena Ladies Experience The War Museum

The ladies from the Helena sheltered accommodation were treated to a trip to the Imperial War museum in Salford. Weather wise it was a horrible day but spirits were high as the ladies  experienced the IWM with its unique coverage of conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day. The ladies got an understanding of the history of modern war and ‘wartime experience’. Jane told me ‘I never thought in a million years that this museum was like this. I’m so glad i came along and saw first hand the differing conflicts all over the world’.

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From Wood Street to the Waterfront

The Mask group’s latest outing provided a first class opportunity for artistic observation, reflection and – more importantly – discussion.

The recently formed group meets to socialise and the trip to Fact in Wood Street and  the Museum of Liverpool, one of the city’s newest attractions, resulted in some interesting discussion during the morning and afternoon visits.

First off was the Winter Sparks exhibition at Fact in Wood Street, a collaboration by a group of international artists namely Edwin van der Heide from the Netherlands, Alexandra Burton of Quebec, Canada and Peter Bosch of the Netherlands working with Simone Simons of Spain.  The exhibition – on show for the first time in the UK – turned away from the traditional understanding of the museum as a contemplative and interpretive space and sought to engage visitors in a journey through impressive large scale installations, exploring the connection between art and science. The exhibits were displayed in darkened rooms and were a mix of flashing lights, electrical charges, x-rays and wireless communications.

Many of the group found the exhibition different to anything they’d witnessed in a museum before and one or two group members found the installations ‘challenging’.

‘I certainly haven’t seen anything like that before. You’d wonder how they come up with such ideas and thoughts. Not sure if I could put up with those flashing lights for too long,’ said one Mask group member.

After lunch it was off to the Albert Dock and a visit to the Museum of Liverpool.

The museum reflects the city’s global significance through its geography, history and culture. The group got the chance to wonder through the impressive, award-winning museum situated on Liverpool’s famous water-front and explored how the port, its people and their creative and sporting history have shaped the city.

The museum provides a fascinating insight into the city, as one group member commented: ‘There’s so much to see and it’s all so interesting. We just don’t realise what we have on our doorstep. I could spend all day here.’

All good things come to an end and, as the group made its way back to Lime Street for the train back to St Helens, the talk revolved around the next meeting and get together.

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Magic beans and music entertain St. Helens Men’s Mind group

Outside the stage door pre show with the st helens mind men

Outside the stage door pre show with the St.Helens Mind men’s Group

It was billed as the biggest, brightest and most magical rock’n’roll panto in the universe and Jack and the Beanstalk really lived up to its billing.

St. Helens Men’s Mind group were amongst a packed house for the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse production and, as group member Nigel explained, the panto was fantastic . . .

“That was a great start to 2013! I’ve never seen a musical done so well and with the performers themselves playing the instruments it was very, very entertaining!”

“Pantos weren’t this good when I was a kid,” enthused Nigel, one of an eight strong group who made the trip to Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre.

The musical production was punctuated by pop and rock hits spanning a number of years played live on stage by members of the cast.

The day out marked St.Helens Men’s Mind’s fourth trip to the theatre as a group and, as Nigel explained, the trips are always popular: “We all really enjoy coming. Going to the theatre is much better in a group; we often discus the performance together and get the most from our day out,” said Nigel who is also a keen poet and photographer in his spare time.