Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Things I'm thankful for in 2016

‘Three blog posts in 6 months?!’ I hear you cry. Yes, it’s true and I hope these posts might blossom a little more in 2017 too. I’ve never really done one of the more ‘all about me’ posts, so far they’ve either been about art or politics, which can be a little heavy. However, I feel that this is an important one to write about. So, here you have it, a few things I'm grateful for this year.



My Leeds Family

I’m not ashamed to say that I probably didn’t have the best first year ever. I met some incredible people and had some of the best times, but it was all very new and different. However, my housemates in second year have allowed me to lean on them when I thought I didn’t need them, they’ve opened my eyes to the important things in life and helped me to live in the moment. Noizy May forever. To RPA, I love you all, Planet Earth 2 would not have been the same without you. And lastly Mhairi and Liv. You’re amazing. That is all.

Politics

An odd one… but because it has been monumentally shit and hopefully, it can now only get better. (Please, please, please!) Thanks to Brexit and Trump for I have been reminded how important it is to try and do good for the world. No matter how big or small it is, if you stand up for your values, you are true to yourself. And there is nothing worse than not being true to yourself.
Family

Its obvious and it’s cliché but, they're pretty great.

I hate to admit it but…. NYCGB

And not just for the singing! I’ve loved being challenged by this choir, but the thing I love more are
the people who I met while doing it. In particular, Anya, Maisie, Rachel, Georgia, Pippa and Zoe are without doubt some of the most supportive, talented and modest people I know. We see each other far too little, but they are my go-to’s with all things feminism, a reliable source for some of the most hilarious stories and the reason I do NYC. 2017 will be my last year with the choir, and as much as I moan, I really have had a great time and met some even better people.



Dorset

Moving to Dorset in 2012 changed my life in so many weird and wonderful ways. First of all, I met some of the most amazing friends I could ever have imagined. They have supported me through thick and thin and I could not be more grateful to them for everything they have taught me, whether they realise it or not. (Now they might…) I would never be studying Music had it not been for Dorset, and although my job prospects might not be as high as when I wanted to do Law, I have fallen in love with the arts and challenged myself in ways I didn’t think I could.

I’m sensing a theme but, 2017 will also see an end to my family living in Dorset, but I could not be more happy that we moved there in the first place.

Ella

Time to get soppy!!!!! Before 2015 I hadn’t seen Ella for 9 years, and we re-met at a time when I really needed an Ella-type in my life. This year she came over to England for the first time since she moved to Australia, and we spent most of the summer together gallivanting round the South West and London and finishing up, as you do, on a boat in Greece. We were reunited last week after 3 months and to my JOY, she ended up staying with us for Christmas. She has seen me on my grumpiest days and still made me laugh, provided endless fun and met my entire extended family and turns out, she is just as mad as they all are. I am SO glad to have you in my life, Tina, you fat lard. Can’t wait for the next adventures.




So that’s that!! Thanks everyone who made 2016 so memorable. Happy New Year, hope it’s a good‘un. Here’s to 2017!


KB
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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Trumped.

It's been a turbulent week, let alone year, for global politics and it's taken me a while to gather my thoughts after the presidential election result on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I don't think I felt the shock that many people had felt, as after the Brexit vote won in June, it seemed anything was possible. So on Tuesday evening, to me it didn't seem inconceivable that Trump might win. However, I think for this reason, I didn't fully digest the impact of what many people in America voted for.

I sat on the train on Sunday afternoon on the way to York, and stumbled upon this picture on twitter.
It hit me then that, yes, Donald Trump, this cartoon caricature-esque man will be president of one of the most powerful nations in the world. This picture really sums up politics in 2016 and for me, what is the culmination of an anti-establishment movement and hopefully it won't go much further... I felt angry, but also desperately sad that the president-elect, whose campaign was essentially centred around negativity, would be succeeding our beloved Obama. He and his family represented equality and determination; it's an extraordinarily complex and confusing reality to accept, not least because he didn't even win the popular vote. 

The vote for Trump was a vote to regress and it makes me worry for what lies ahead, but we who believe in liberty, equality and justice must now stand together and defend our basic human rights.* In the past century, mankind have done so much to raise the standard of equality. By no means is it perfect, but let's not forget that not even 100 years ago, did women have the right to vote. 
  • 1920 - Women in the USA obtain the right to vote
  • 1964 - Civil Rights Act
  • 1967 - Sexual Offences Act - decriminalised homosexual acts in private 
  • 1990 - Americans Disabilities Act - prohibits unjustified discrimination based on disability
These are just some of the notable advances made in the past century, and more notably that same-sex marriage in the UK and USA was only made legal in this decade. Trump has openly made comments that contradict the purpose of these acts. But, we are not about to forget all the progress that has been made and this is why we must show solidarity with anyone at risk in America. 

The pledges that Trump has made are worrying, repealing Obamacare, because why make healthcare affordable for more people anyway??? Equality - Trump has no respect for women. 'Locker room talk' is not excusable, As a president, you set the precedent for the people of your country and this does not bode well. Allegations of sexual harassment and rape are unquestionably serious. He is also viewing the world with this archaic belief that homosexuals do not have the same rights as heterosexuals.

We may be far from the USA geographically but, they are our neighbours across the pond. We now have to show strength as humans. We are so much stronger together, than we are divided and it is so important that we don't allow prejudice to overcome compassion and freedom.

After what became a rather enraged Sunday, luckily, it finished off with some light relief whilst watching Planet Earth 2. So, I will leave you with one of my favourite moments from tonight's episode, to welcome in the new week. 

KB
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* http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ - Articles 13-15

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

ART CHANGES, WE CHANGE

These are the words that I found staring at me as I walked across Millennium Bridge towards Tate Modern, en route to The Globe theatre having spontaneously decided to see Caroline Byrne and Emma Rice’s production of The Taming of the Shrew.  As a strong believer in the accessibility of art forms, no matter what your background, these words seemed to resonate with me and this theme continued throughout the afternoon.



Shakespeare’s original script for The Taming of the Shrew, can be seen as dated when it comes to addressing patriarchal conformity. This interpretation of the renowned Shakespeare comedy, distances itself from hierarchical gender roles.  Set in Ireland, Easter 1916, it is a firmly feminist, poignant and refreshing production.  A prime example of how art (and attitudes) change as the world changes.
After the performance there was a Q & A with the actors in which, to my surprise an elderly gentleman queried ‘Was it your intention to drown out the original Shakespeare text with all that physical theatre?’ After a collective gasp from the audience at The Globe and some Cameron-inspired question avoidance, the query got me thinking. On one hand, the man was right. There was a lot of physicality involved in the staging – ‘vulgar’ gestures, the well-known lame cool guy handshake, (Joey and Chandler inspired, I’m sure…) physical comedy, breaking of character, I could go on… But not for one minute did it drown out the Shakespearian text, nor the extremely relevant and important message proclaimed by the directors about how far women’s rights have (or haven’t) come in the past 100 years.  It was accessible for young and old, for the Shakespearian connoisseur or the fresh-faced newbie and that was its beauty.  Honestly, I could talk about this wonderful play for hours on end, but the real reason for my writing this is change.

Art changes, we change. And we do change. I know I certainly have, for one thing I used to find Shakespeare utterly tiresome and yet, on that warm, sunny Saturday afternoon on the Southbank I found myself moved to tears in the final scene. (Thank you Mum for dragging me to so much Shakespeare as a child!) To the surprise of many of my friends, 12-year-old me, when asked if I wanted to go to the opera, replied; ‘Why would I even?!’ and yet here I am, eight years later, studying music at university as a classical soprano. On a more current basis, we in the European Union and the United Kingdom are experiencing many changes as we prepare for a new Prime Minister and a potential life outside of the EU. Ironically, many of the Vote Leave supporters, just like the disdainful theatre man, didn’t like change. They didn’t like that England isn’t ‘English’ anymore, just like he didn’t like that the play wasn’t quite true to the script.

Change and diversity are not something to be feared, it is something that we should embrace, be it socially, culturally or artistically. Unfortunately, we cannot change what has happened, (if you were one of the many 18-25 year olds who did not vote, boo, shame on you) but we can keep an open mind. Art changes, society changes, politics changes, the world changes and we change too. To get stuck in your own outlook is a curse – we should allow the beauty of culture to envelop us because it champions diversity and unity. As T.S Eliot stated, ‘Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living’.


I doubt I will see another production that moved me so much for a while and I want to thank that old man for epitomising so seamlessly my dislike towards the superiority complex surrounding art and politics. The importance that lies in straying from the script is not necessarily an aspiration to improve, but one to develop and understand; something that society should appreciate.

KB 
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