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Richard III: An Arab Tragedy

Poster image for Richard III: An Arab Tragedy, which played at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon on February 8th-17th, 2006 I do enjoy a good arts festival. Mind you, regular readers will probably be well aware of that, if they've seen this site's previous coverage of Edinburgh and the London Film Festival. The thing is, it's not just a way to consume art in bulk, or to see things that wouldn't normally come to your town (although both of those are certainly attractions for me): what I like most about festivals is the way that you can sometimes catch an extraordinary piece of work purely by accident.

Case in point: on the old site, I documented the events of August 20th 2002, when The Belated Birthday Girl and I spent an hour or two wandering around Edinburgh desperately trying to find a show that wasn't sold out or cancelled. We ended up at a play called The Al-Hamlet Summit purely because there was nothing else available: and it was fabulous. Zaoum Theatre Company - specifically, their lead writer/director Sulayman Al-Bassam - had taken the basic ideas behind Shakespeare's tragedy, and reworked it as a new drama set in the contemporary Middle East. A dangerous thing to be doing in the first Edinburgh Festival to be held after 9/11, particularly given the explosive finale to Al-Bassam's adaptation: but sheer nerve and theatrical invention carried it through.

And now, five years later, Sulayman Al-Bassam has returned to the UK - and to Shakespeare's birthplace, no less - to see if Richard III can stand up to the same treatment.

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The Wire

It’s only a cliché because it’s true: there really are only two types of people in the world. There are the people who believe that HBO’s The Wire is the best damn show on television right now, possibly even the best so far this century. And there are the people who haven’t seen it yet.

If you live in the UK, it’s more than likely that you fall into the second category: The Wire, inexplicably, has never been picked up by any of the terrestrial TV networks, and currently hides in the backwaters of Space Telly on the FX channel. But right now, as I’m writing this, you have the ideal opportunity to join the first category. Last Monday (05/02/2007) the third season of the show was released on DVD, and can be bought – along with its two predecessors – in your local video store (or you could use the links at the bottom of the page if you fancy passing some commission my way). And next Tuesday (13/02/2007), the fourth season starts airing on FX at 10pm. So you’ve got no excuse. Join us. Join us now.

What? You want reasons?

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You Wouldn't Think That I Was 43: The Video Album

By now, you've hopefully seen the track listing for You Wouldn't Think That I Was 43, my compilation CD of the best songs of 2006. Given that 2006 was also notable for being the year when YouTube exploded into the global consciousness, I started wondering just how many of the songs had videos for them available on the web.

The answer? Fourteen, out of a total of eighteen - a mixture of official music videos, bootlegged live footage and the odd surreal mashup of Youngblood Brass Band and Arthur Askey. So, I could have just put together a YouTube playlist out of those fourteen songs and left it at that. Except I got to wondering, why couldn't I just make videos for those other four songs myself?

Which is why if you look at the eighth clip on that playlist, you'll find a Felix The Cat cartoon with a soundtrack by Killing Joke.

This will probably require some sort of explanation.

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Simian Substitute Site for February 2007: National Gorilla Suit Day

National Gorilla Suit DayAnd so, we finally wave goodbye to the year 2006. Yes, I'm well aware that everyone else waved goodbye to it a month ago, but you should know how deadlines work around here by now. Yesterday, I finally managed to post up the piece on You Wouldn't Think That I Was 43, my compilation CD of the best songs of 2006. A couple of points relating to that:

1. I've had a report that the MP3 player links may not be working as well as I'd hoped. How are you finding them? Let me know in the comments section, and I'll see what I can do.

2. Don't forget about the competition on the page to win a CD - closing date March 14th.

3. Some time soon, probably tomorrow, I'll be posting up a video playlist for all the songs on the CD, like the trailer reel I had for VidBinge 2006. So actually, all that stuff at the start about me being over and done with 2006 is total lies, really.

Continue reading "Simian Substitute Site for February 2007: National Gorilla Suit Day" »