The Blackshaw Arts Hour – Episode 57

 On this show Matt is reviewing Fifty Shades Darker, the most anticipated review of 2017!
We’re playing a piece of new writing written by Chris Buxey called The Final Adventure of Frankie Fightwell and talking about upcoming WAF shows and PunchDrunk.
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4 things to do on Valentine’s Day

Joe Haupt –

I am reliably informed that love is, once again, all around us. The signs are all there. Personal, handwritten love letters…crudely printed onto cards with a picture of a teddy bear or a heart (which doesn’t even look like an actual heart; anatomically not even close). Love is stupid, apparently.


We are presented with modern tokens of love: chocolate to release endorphins in your partner that you can’t summon up yourself; flowers, an ominous metaphor for your fleeting happiness; a puppy…well that one is quite good actually. Now that those other 364 days are over and you need to prove to your other half that you have a modicum of care and respect for them, here are some cracking suggestions for things to do today, or sometime this week (it’s on a Tuesday this year. The. Worst. Day.):


1. Cirque du Soleil’s, Amaluna

If in doubt, throw some money at it. Cirque’s latest offering is based on The Tempest, that perfect Valentine’s tale. After all, what says love better than living alone on an island with your creepy dad for years, before ending up with Shakespeare’s second most boring lover (the first is Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice. Obvs.)? So remortgage your home and fork out for a spectacular reminder of all the bodies you will never look like and all the positions your other half will never contort themselves into. And they’re French. That’s romantic.

Royal Albert Hall, until 26th February, £20-£92,

2. Blood and Bone

No this isn’t the title of Donald Trump’s guide to seducing your own daughter. Cicada Studios’ latest offering is a satirical puppetry show, as rude and irreverent as they come. Life isn’t Pixar and this ain’t a kids’ show. At fifty minutes long, that is all the foreplay you will need. Puppet sex is reportedly the latest aphrodisiac. I was going to make a puppet fisting joke here but decided against it; I figured I would be elbow deep in complaints.

The Vault Festival, 15th-19th February, £12,

3. A Clockwork Orange

Joseph Senior –

Don’t think this needs a blurb really. A dystopian romance, sans the romance. To be fair, the word ‘romance’ is derived from ‘romant’ meaning ‘in the Roman manner.’ So in many ways this show does have romantic themes in it: violence, forward-thinking, sexual aggression, hard to understand language, and back-stabbing individuals. Action to the Word’s version is an all-male sweatfest of energy and pulsating choreography; a visceral and explosive production. Thankfully none of the guys in it are muscly and handsome. Well apart from Jonno Davies. Oh and Seb Charles. Tom Whitelock has a filthy glint in his eye. On second thoughts, for the sake of your relationship, maybe this show isn’t for you…


The Park Theatre, 14th February-18th March, £10-£29.50,





4. The Magical Lantern Festival

Now this is a risk for sure. It will require actual social interaction with your partner. I know. Scary. Hopefully you can distract them with the pretty lights and pictures, in this visual spectacular at Chiswick House and Gardens. The ice bar and ice rink will lower the temperature perfectly to the level of your ice-cold heart and frigid relations. Apparently there is also a burning rooster. Something to do with the Zodiac, but more fittingly a metaphor for the burning desolation of your love. But if they can’t appreciate you paying out £18.11 (bizarre pricing system…) to avoid doing any work towards the date yourself, then are they really worth bothering with anyway?

Chiswick House & Gardens, until 26th February, £5-£18.11,


So there you have it, you lazy blighters. A selection of generic events that everyone else will be doing. The spark is alive! So go out there, book into one, and convince yourself you aren’t a terrible human being. Hurrah! My girlfriend is going to kill me for writing this.


Liam, External Communications Coordinator

Lisa L Wiedmeier –

Vacancy: External Communications Coordinator

Can you make Twitter sing? Are you organised, enthusiastic, and looking to take ownership of a company Facebook account? We’re looking for someone to look after our social media here at Blackshaw, and make their mark online. Take a look at our work on our website and see if we might be the company for you. There’s also this handy blog post that tells you why you should join us.

Please note: This role is voluntary, part-time and UNPAID. We’re very flexible and work around company members’ availability.

Let us know if you’re interested by sending a copy of your CV and a covering note to say why you think you’d like to work with us, and we’ll set up an informal meeting with you (email

Responsibilities include:

– Helping to develop content for social media posting (alongside our existing team)
– Writing copy for, and programming, tweets and facebook posts
– Writing occasional blog posts for the Blackshaw blog
– Responding as Blackshaw, to tweets and comments/posts on Facebook
– Supporting the rest of the team with the development of Blackshaw’s voice and presence online

What you can get from working with us:

– Attend super fun events and theatrical productions
– Receive mentoring from professionals in the team to expand your expertise in your field of interest
– Shadow other Blackshaw team members to gain new skills, experience, and expertise in other areas of work
– Optional: Contribute as a co-host or content producer for the company’s fortnightly podcast, the Blackshaw Arts Hour

– Optional: Contribute to the wider press and marketing campaigns for Blackshaw’s productions

–  Get to meet lots of lovely theatre people

Emma, who’s leaving this post for a full time job in Cardiff, reflects on her time in the role:

Blackshaw Theatre are an inspiring theatre company and I had a great time working with them over the last year and a half. They are a very welcoming and talented group of people who really made me feel part of the company from day one.

I was employed as the Press and External Communications Officer. This was my first ever job in the Arts, it really gave me an insight into the Theatre Industry. The role involves programming the social media – being ‘the voice’ of Blackshaw and contacting Press during show times.

What I loved most about this job was how involved I was. Although I ran this role from home (often in my PJs with a cuppa), the communication within Blackshaw is amazing and I was able to keep up-to-date with everything going on, and program the social media accordingly.

I wish Blackshaw all the best and I can’t wait to see what great things they do next!


Please note: This role is voluntary, part-time and UNPAID. We’re very flexible and work around company members’ availability.

Let us know if you’re interested by sending a copy of your CV and a covering note to say why you think you’d like to work with us, and we’ll set up an informal meeting with you (email


The Blackshaw Arts Hour – Episode 37

This week on the show Iasha was joined in the studio by Matt who reviewed new Disney animation Zootropolis.
We heard Ellie Pitkin Interview Tom Weston-Jones who told us about his career to date and his aspirations as an actor.
Matt saw The Caretaker at the Old Vic last week and we discussed the most noticeable mistake we’ve seen in a theatre production to date.
Helen Johnson will be on The Blackshaw Arts Hour next week interviewing Duncan Hands, who wrote Blackshaw’s upcoming production of Black Shuck. We heard a snippet of that in conversation interview so make sure you tune in next show to hear it in full!

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Working for Blackshaw – Funding & Partnerships Manager, Nick

As Funding & Partnership Manager it is my job to search, apply and cross my fingers in hope for funding. As you can imagine, it’s not easy getting funding for arts based projects. The pots of money are getting smaller and the number of people applying to them is increasing! I also keep on the lookout for potential partnerships for our projects. Not only can this ease the burden in terms of financing a project but also it is good for us to work with new people. This role also means advising on some of our more dreary legal documents but nevertheless important to get right.

My day job is very similar. I work at the University of East London as a Research Funding Officer helping academics search and apply for funding for their research projects. This comes with a healthy dollop of project management once the grants are awarded. These skills are handy when it comes to working for Blackshaw.

Searching for funds mostly comes down to endless Googling until you find the right one, and requires a lot of reading eligibility requirements (not worth reading much else before that).

I work closely with our Strategy and Planning Manager, Vikki, AKA taskmaster general, when we collaborate on a funding application. Each application and project is ultimately overseen by Ellie, our Managing & Artistic Director (AKA arty boss). They are great to work with and even though it can get tough at times, it is ultimately satisfying getting the applications submitted and even more so when they are successful.

Blackshaw Arts Hour – Episode 1

Oh yes, that’s right, Blackshaw has a radio show!

Join our producer, Iasha, and our Director, Ellie, as they introduce you to what our new show is all about. Find out what Blackshaw are up to, listen to short radio plays and hear reviews of all thing arts.

We’re just getting started and finding our way, so expect even more in future episodes as we develop the show further.

Here’s our first episode for you to wrap your ears around. Enjoy!

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Admin in the Arts

By day I am just an ordinary administrator in the arts and by night…I am an administrator in the arts. OK it may not be the next blockbuster but it certainly keeps me on my toes. My day job (the one that pays for the other) is for a university as a research centre administrator which involves assisting art and design academics with their paperwork and research budgets etc. After clocking off from work I turn my talents to helping Blackshaw. These jobs involve pretty much the same things; event management, helping out with projects, looking for funding. Blackshaw has provided me with a great chance to hone in my skills on my interests and in turn got me a job I am very happy with. Like with any organisation admin is a part of life and the arts are not exempt just because they are fun. Now, some people I have met resent the need for administrators they see us more as bureaucrats than administrative support. Yes, sometimes the rules and procedures can be disheartening and bewildering but a good administrator will help keep the bureaucracy at bay so academics and artists can get on with their work.

In the arts you have the ‘talent’ on the stage, you have the ‘crew’ backstage and you have the ‘admin’ completely out of sight making sure nothing gets in the way. It ain’t glamorous but nothing would ever get done without us.

If you are interested in getting some experience for your CV or are just interested in helping then we have some volunteering opportunities for you.

  • Administrator
  • Publicity, PR & Marketing (PPM) Assistant
  • Social Events Manager

Click here to find out more about these jobs .

– Nick

Children of the Sun – Art vs. Science vs. Reality

While children starve in the streets and disease sweeps through the town, Protasov (the scientist) focuses on trying to unpick the fabric of life and existence in order to make the world a better place. But how long will it take? Andrew Upton’s version of Maxim Gorky’s Children of the Sun has raised some interesting questions about progression and patience in an unstable society.

We have now become so accustomed to turning on the news in the morning to hear about the latest cuts to education, welfare and NHS that we are facing a strange austerity fatigue. Do we revolt? No. Do we protest? Yes, occasionally…when it directly affects us…if we can be bothered. This play forced me to reflect on some of the tired arguments that are on loop within the arts, science and the media. Children of the Sun is set against a society which is crumbling leaving the disenfranchised masses with no food, no fuel and no future. How long can they wait for scientists and and artists to improve their lives before they lose their patience?

Our protagonist is a scientist who has married well and lives in an impressive house where he can lock himself away from reality. Surrounded by middle class companions his emotionally starved wife, Yelena , who plays second fiddle to his scientific exploits chooses to have an affair with an artist, Vageen. It is an unusual trio but is made stranger by the fact that this house also houses his childhood nanny and his mentally unstable sister, Liza. This weird household is paid visits by rivaling siblings Boris who is hopelessly in love with Liza and Melaniya who desperately besotted with Protasov. The lust and rivalry that ensues is probably the only light hearted thing about this play, and even that is riddled with heartbreak and despair.

Protasov and Vageen have long debates about the virtues of art versus the ideals of science. Liza struggles with their bourgeois discussions and constantly tries to remind everyone that the world outside is changing and that the days of plenty are nearly over. Her screams of reality fall on deaf ears. As it turns out their complicated love-lives, artistic endeavours and scientific advances are not putting food on the plate of the starving masses. Superstition is rife amongst the villagers and when a chemical leak from one of Protosov’s tanks is thought to have poisoned a woman our characters are dramatically dragged into real life and their problems are painfully put into perspective.

Granted the play cannot be directly linked to our present situation, but it should serve as a stark warning to a government that seems to want to play chicken with our quality of life. Children of the Sun brutally demonstrates how unpredictable society can be if there is nothing left to lose.

When it comes to funding new research my preference is for science to get first dibs. I think even my most arty friends would agree that science and medicine is vital for our survival. Since we have been witness to the plentiful nineties and austere noughties I think it is clear that the art thrives when well funded and creates huge revenue for our economy (which seems to have been completely ignored by our philistine of a chancellor) but if funding is cut it can still get by and produce incredible results. With unrelenting support from audiences and an intrigue to learn, art is innate to humanity. Blackshaw is a prime example of this.

– Nick

Children of the Sun by Maxim Gorky in a new version by Andrew Upton. Directed by Howard Davies at The National Theatre, London.