Call me Russ L

Frogs (tree), Ocelots (absent), Capybaras (lovely)

Posted in Linklog, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 10 September, 2012

Now I’m normally an ardent defender of Birmingham Artsfest*, but it ain’t what it once was. Never mind the fact that the main stage is smaller**, a more serious problem is that the programme really does seem significantly less varied than it used to be***. This year there seemed to be more organisational difficulties, too – I’ve never really known “having the turns start and finish on time” to be a problem at Artsfest before.

Still, it can still make for a very nice day out, and I had just such a thing with me mom on Saturday the 8th. Highlights included one-and-a-half comic plays from the Treefrog Theatre Company (we missed most of “For Poorer, For Worse” due to the thing over the way over-running, as per above. It really is a shame that Treefrog only appear to exist for one day a year, I’d happily pay to see them more often), a really fun selection of hits from the students of the Aston Performing Arts Academy, the usual few disconnected arias from the Birmingham Opera Company, and of course the firework display (alas with taped backing music rather than the CBSO this year, but it was a fantastic display). We went to Edgbaston nature centre too, which was nice although quite a lot of the animals were hiding/not there (where do they put the ocelots when their enclosure is being renovated? I’d be more than happy to look after an ocelot for a while. I want a capybara too. They’re so lovely).

Elsewhere: astonishingly, there are two things on the telly that I want to watch at the moment****. There’s new “The Thick Of It”! The predictable backlash appears to at last have started*****, but I thought it was hilarious. I also enjoyed the endearingly loopy episode of “Doctor Who” this week. It was certainly more fun than the Steven Moffat drinking game from the week before******.

Tip o’the week: Cheek Mountain Thief at the H&H on Thursday the 13th. It seems that Mick Lindsay from Tunng fell in love whilst on holiday in Iceland, moved there, and made an album that was influenced by his new environs. Such as I’ve heard so far sounds like a 50/50 split between Tunng and Efterklang*******. This is clearly A Good Thing.

Links for fun and enlightenment:

~ A map of gender-diverse cultures (forgotten the ‘via’, sorry, but there was one).

~ The Americanisation of Mental Illness (via Bookslut, years ago).

~ An elegy for the pub carpet.

* If they didn’t call it ‘art’sfest then fewer people would complain etc etc etc.
** Some people seem to have fixated upon the stage size. I don’t think it was really all that important apart from when it came to the ballet, and since their spokesbloke did more than enough tedious carping on about it during his introductions there’s no real need to go into that here.
*** Yes, I know it’s a budgetary thing.
**** Rather than the more usual “no things on the telly that I want to watch”.
***** Irritatingly, said backlash uses/feeds into that most tedious of tropes: “The fact that many people are sick and tired of our body politic is a sign of their own venality and cynicism, and not in fact a response to the venality and cynicism of our body politic”.
****** Or Moffat Bingo, if you prefer.
******* Since I mentioned them, check this. It’ll be amazing.


5 Responses

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  1. Pete Ashton said, on 10 September, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    My issue, if issue isn’t too strong a term, is less with the “Art” and more with the “Fest”. It’s not a festival – it’s a showcase. A living brochure for what the city offers for the rest of the year. I approached it like this this year (admittedly as a showcasing stall holder) and found it made a lot more sense.

  2. Russ L said, on 11 September, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Everything that ever happens in Birmingham must be described as a ‘festival’, you know this. It’s presumably in the town charter.

    Your approach doesn’t work for me, anyway, particularly in light of Artsfest’s steady move towards consisting entirely of bands and dance “workshops” (give it two or three more years). If it’s a brochure then it’s a decidedly incomplete one.

    That would also make the “whither Treefrog for the rest of the year” question more acute.

  3. Pete Ashton said, on 11 September, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Oh, I never said it worked! This is Artsfest after all.

  4. Russ L said, on 11 September, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Heh. Alright, I take it back – seeing it as an endearingly crap/useless brochure fits perfectly.

    I still think it can make for a nice day out, though, and that’s the most important thing.

  5. Pete Ashton said, on 11 September, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Whenever someone moaned or expressed exasperation at some cancellation or half-arsed lameness over the weekend I responded with the singsong “It’s the Artsfest Way!”

    But yes, when you strip all the high expectations away from it it’s a lovely day out (and I don’t mean that in a faint praise kinda way.)


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