Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – Everything You Need to Know

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 is almost upon us! The annual event, back for its third year, looks bigger and better than ever before, and you’ll want to know more if you’re thinking about attending.

That’s where we come in. We’re here to provide you with a rundown of the biggest names set to appear, when and where the event is taking place, and more. Let’s get our geek on and dive in.

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – when is it?

The 2020 edition of Liverpool Comic Con takes place between Friday 6th and Sunday 8th March. That gives you three full days for guest meet and greets, photographs with your favourite props, and as much memorabilia as you can buy!

Doors open at 11:00 each day – unless you purchase an Early Entry Pass – and close at 18:00.

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – where is it being held?

The event is being held at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool. Located on the King’s Dock, it sits next to its sister venues ACC Liverpool and the M&S Bank Arena.

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – how much does it cost?

There are various ticket options for you to choose from. You can buy a Weekend Diamond Entry Pass, which gets you entry to the venue, and lets you queue jump for photo opportunities and meet and greets. There are also daily Diamond Entry Passes for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday if you’re thinking about attending one day instead of all three.

Weekend Q&A Panel Front Row tickets are available to buy as well, but you can only purchase these with a Weekend Entry Pass. You can also buy Early Entry Weekend Passes, which let you into the event at 9am instead of the normal opening time of 11am. Like the Diamond Passes, you can also buy Early Entry Passes for each day too.

Finally, there’s the option of Standard Entry Daily Passes if you’re only planning to attend for a few hours, or After Party tickets if you want to potentially mingle with special guests at Camp & Furnace Liverpool.

For a full rundown of the prices of each ticket, check out this link. Tickets for photo opportunities, and meet and greets, meanwhile, can be found here and After Party Tickets here.

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – which special guests will be attending?

If you’ve been unsure about attending Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – and why would you be? – allow us to tempt you with some of the biggest guest names who will be there.

If you want to get your Hobbit-on – see what we did there? – at Liverpool Comic Con, you can with Elijah Wood. That’s right, Frodo himself will be there on Saturday and Sunday for meet and greets and photo opportunities. The star of Sin City, Happy Feet, and The Faculty is someone you won’t want to miss.

Stranger Things have happened – literally! David Harbour, who plays Detective Jim Hopper is the smash Netflix show, is visiting on Saturday and Sunday. The Hellboy star is sure to be a popular hit, especially with his appearance as Red Guardian in Marvel’s upcoming Black Widow movie too.

Is one Sin City star not enough? How about two? Mickey Rourke will also be there Saturday and Sunday. The Iron Man 2 villain will surely have some good stories to tell, so don’t forgo the chance to meet him.

Other notable names including Melissa Joan Hart, Brian Blessed, Jason David Frank, Tatyana Ali, and Peter Cullen. For a full list of famous faces attending the event, click here.

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – is there anywhere to eat and drink?

There is! There are a number of restaurants within the Exhibition Centre that will cater for every hungry mouth, as well as other places nearby on the Albert Dock and in the Liverpool One shopping district.

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – how can I travel to the event?

There are lots of ways to visit Liverpool Comic Con 2020. If you’re travelling by car, there is plenty of car parking spaces around King’s Dock and the Exhibition Centre. You can also park in Liverpool One or other Pay and Display areas around the city.

If you’re coming from further afield, there are other options available to you. Grab a train ticket to Liverpool Lime Street or Liverpool Central, hop on a bus into the city centre, or fly from overseas into Liverpool John Lennon Airport and pick up a taxi straight into the city. You can find out more at this link for all of your transport needs.

Liverpool Comic Con 2020 – is there accessibility support?

Yes. There are accessible toilets in every area of the Exhibition Centre. Guide dogs, motorised scooters, and wheelchairs are allowed in public areas of the venue too. Ramps are available for ease of access, and a drop-off point is located on the riverside of the venue if you require further assistance.

Tom Power

Interview: Woyzeck

On 22 Jan, Liverpool-based theatre company Old Fruit Jar Productions bring Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Woyzeck to the Hope Street Theatre. We spoke to director Alex Carr about the project.


Tell me a bit more about Old Fruit Jar Productions.

Old Fruit Jar Productions is a Liverpool based production company, founded in early 2019 by like-minded creatives, we aim to produce high-quality productions within the theatre and film industry in the North West.

As a company, we thrive on telling stories, and showcasing our collective talent for all things arts, and look to tell these stories in the most creative, engaging, and thought-provoking ways possible.

Woyzeck was first written in the 1830s and first performed in 1913. Why do you think the play endures, even now?

Above all else, Woyzeck is the story of one man, beaten down by the system he serves and left to struggle with his own insecurity and mental instability. It’s sad to say but there are still dozens of cases like this now, be they let down by the government, or their parents, or the health system – it’s something we see on the news, or online, or even in our own lives on a daily basis. It’s hard to ignore. So when a story taps into that, I think there’s something remarkable about it.

Woyzeck endures because it’s real: it’s happening right now, and it was happening long before the play was written, and it will be happening long after.

Woyzeck, despite being famously unfinished, has been adapted several times and in several formats. Do you think its unfinished-ness helps the adaptation process?

Woyzeck is a fascinating story, based on a real-life soldier. It was written in the 1830s by Georg Büchner, but after his untimely death it remained unfinished – and has since been given endings by several writers and directors. It’s been an opera, a Werner Herzog film…the play’s fragmented state leaves a lot for the mind to fill in the blanks, and I think that’s what draws a lot of people into the story. It allows for a level of creative freedom and allows directors to add their own stamp onto the story.

Even working from the Jack Thorne adaptation, which is his complete version of the play, there is a lot left up to me as director, and the audience, to decipher.

What drew you specifically to Jack Thorne’s adaptation?

Jack Thorne’s adaptation is set in 1980s Berlin and is about a British soldier struggling to make a life for his girlfriend and child. I think the contemporary setting is fascinating in itself. There are a lot of parallels to be drawn between the divide in Germany during the Cold War and the huge divide between the working class and the Government in 1980s Liverpool. This version even has a character called Maggie (three guesses who she might represent).

But more than that, upon reading the script I found it to be much more heart-breaking and painfully relevant than other adaptations, and Thorne has a magnificent way with words that really makes this script quite powerful. Its intensity, its power, and the fiery, beating heart at its core really drew me into this production.

How did it come about that you were able to bring the show to Liverpool?

It’s something that Jordan (who plays Woyzeck) and I have been discussing for a while. He performed an abridged version of the show at university a few years back and we’ve been desperate to have a go ourselves! It basically meant hounding the licensing people at Nick Hern Books to try and acquire the rights to perform this particular version: thankfully they agreed and despite the license being restricted, we’ve secured a four-night run at The Hope Street Theatre between 22-25 Jan.

It’s important to us as a company to bring this show to Liverpool. We think it draws a lot of parallels to what happened here in the city in the 1980s, and to the country as a whole in the present social and political climate. We’re incredibly excited to be bringing it to a Liverpool audience.

What are the unique challenges of staging a West End show outside London, and being the first company to do so? Do you feel a specific pressure?

There is pressure, yes. It’s a very intense and intelligent show, so we have the pressure of bringing that to the stage in a competent and professional way. This is also our first show as a production company so it’s really ‘go big or go home!’

As this particular adaptation has only been previously performed on the West End, there is very little in the way of information about the production in terms of visual style or character interpretations. It’s been very interesting to not have those things to research to help us along the way: instead, we’ve had to build our own world, with only the script in hand – but as I said earlier, I think that allows us a certain artistic license! We all agreed it was a blessing to not know how certain things were done, and it’s been a rewarding and thought-provoking process to develop Woyzeck from the ground up.

We’ve even spoken to (writer) Jack Thorne and there’s a possibility he might come along, so there’s that pressure too!

Your press materials mention that your production demands audience engagement and is ‘brutally honest’ in its portrayals. Can you tell us more about this?

Woyzeck is a victim of society; driven to madness by his involuntary inability to provide for his family, and his struggle to stay sane forces him to make some difficult decisions. The script doesn’t mess around when it comes to things like violence, or sex, or bad language. It shines a light on the ugly things in life and forces the audience to acknowledge their existence. We’re taking it a step further. It’s not a show for the faint-hearted.

Woyzeck has a message, and we’re drumming that into our audience. In the current political climate, people up and down the country are being forgotten, or falling through the system completely unsupported. Liverpool is a tinderbox of energy and political activism – we want to spark that box and incite people to make a change, to make sure that this tragic, horrible story does not continue to happen.

We cannot allow people to fall victim to consumerism and feel they need to have tons of money to buy happiness, or safety, or security. It’s love, companionship, being a decent human being that allows us to live peacefully – people help people, not money or a hierarchy.

I want my audience to go home thinking about that. I want them to feel like they can make their voice heard and people are listening. With Woyzeck, we want to make a change.

Our first performance on January 22 will be in aid of the charity YoungMinds UK, who strive to improve the living conditions of young people who are mentally ill or suffer from mental health issues.

How are rehearsals going?

We’ve been rehearsing for a couple of months now; really developing the show and working on characters, costumes, and set design. It’s all very exciting. There’s a big, choreographed fight sequence towards the end and it’s been amazing to see the cast really throw themselves at it!

It’s a heavy show: it demands a lot from the cast, and there are times when all we want to do is just cuddle up and have a big group cry, but we just channel that energy into the piece. I’ve been moved to tears watching some of the rehearsals – I can only imagine what it’ll be like on stage.

Woyzeck opens on 22 Jan at Hope Street Theatre. Tickets are available here.

John Maguire on his new play WEAVE

New one-woman play WEAVE is a dark comedy about a young woman with possessed hair extensions. It is produced by local theatre company ArtGroupie and explores modern social issues around women’s body image, social media pressure, mental health, and societal superficiality. We spoke to playwright John Maguire about the project.

Tell us a bit about ArtGroupie, the production company behind this new show.

ArtsGroupie is a Liverpool-based theatre production company that promotes the arts in the North West. Our aim is to not only showcase our work in big cities, but to take theatre to overlooked places where access to the arts is limited, bringing workshopping and educational opportunities to those areas. We have a particular interest in producing and promoting work that champions women and the LGBTQIA+ community.

ArtsGroupie was established after our ACE funded project KITTY: Queen of the Washhouse, which sold out performances at St.George’s Hall. The production was also taken around primary schools, where we facilitated history workshops and taught the kids Mill songs. We even performed in St Vincent de Paul’s school, the site of Kitty’s original washhouse and finally the play went on a rural tour of Shropshire.

Kitty will be returning back to St Georges Hall on March 7 2020, then on to London and New York City. I feel we are ambassadors of Liverpool through telling Kitty’s story, and showing something that is in the DNA of most Scousers – pure resilience.

WEAVE is a bit of a departure from your previous show KITTY: Queen of the Washhouse. Where did the idea for this show come from?

I wrote a short story called WEAVE about a girl called Arabella who buys a possessed hair extension after spending time with my teenage cousin in Scotland who everyday would come out of her room with a completely different look, her prized possession was ‘Real Russian hair’. It fascinated me where the actual “real” hair came from and I called the character Arabella because in the book Jude the Obscure, Jude’s wife is called Arabella. On the night of their wedding day she takes off her hair extension and says it is no longer needed as she had captured her man. It was originally a 30 minute piece staged as part of a festival in the Lantern theatre. After the success of Kitty, we wanted a new challenge and something comic. Enough of cholera and Victorian life, Margaret and Sam went straight into developing this piece and creating a contemporary narrative arc that was relevant and wrote new material. We workshopped and researched social media, the internet listening to everything and regurgitating adverts at you 24:7, the beauty industry and the pressures on people. This has all found its way into the piece.

The show is about a Scouse girl’s relationship with her appearance; something Scouse girls are often pilloried for in the media (press coverage of Aintree etc). How important is it to take back that narrative and push back against negative stereotypes?

Completely! And to refuse to be driven by how we ‘should’ look: to be happy with who you are as an individual and not afraid to not follow the crowd. The Daily Fail gets a good slating in the piece. Their treatment of people in general is disgraceful, particularly the bullying around Aintree. They also do it to all working-class women in race meetings around the country, not just the North. It’s disgusting really.

Hopefully, by us highlighting their cruelty, people will be more switched on to the media manipulation that goes on all the time.

As a society, what kind of impact is social media having on our mental health and self-esteem? How has it changed our relationship to not only our appearance, but how we view our entire lives?

There is no escape from comparison; online, everybody appears to be having an amazing time. People can be bullied around the clock and trolling can be horrendous. The keyboard gives people licence to be cruel.

We are conducting a survey around mental health and self esteem as part of the workshopping around the play and our after-show Q+A sessions will be exploring this further.

You know something is up when people are constantly trying to adhere to images that don’t exist. My eight year old nephew was talking about how he needed a six pack! It’s wrong. Sadly I feel it will get worse, but hopefully people are becoming more aware.

The show features puppetry and shadow play as well as live action. What was the reasoning behind including these extra formats?

These techniques were used during our work on Kitty and it seemed natural to continue to explore ideas and play with the form. It is great to see the fusion of traditional theatre techniques and modern technology. We seem to have a particular, unique style that is evolving – it’s very exciting!

WEAVE is at the Royal Court Theatre tonight and tomorrow, 29+30 Nov at 19:30. Get tickets here.

This is Halloween

‘Tis the season to be spooky! These are our picks for the creepiest, kookiest things to do in Liverpool this Halloween.

Film Night at the Museum: Beetlejuice – British Music Experience, 30 Oct

Join British Music Experience for a screening of this true cult classic!

Beetlejuice is a 1988 American comedy-horror film directed by Tim Burton. The plot revolves around a recently deceased young couple who become ghosts haunting their former home an obnoxious, devious poltergeist named Beetlejuice (played by Michael Keaton) comes up from the Netherworld and tries to scare away the new inhabitants permanently.

Get Tickets

Monster Ball: The Addams Family – Palm House, 30 Oct

Come Witches and Ghouls, come one and all to the perfectly frightful Monster’s Ball.

This half-term the Palm House will host a spectacular party with a film showing each afternoon. Arrive early to be in time for dancing, games and creepy crafts with a prize each night for the best fancy dress costume. (All children must be accompanied by an adult).

Get Tickets

Blood Runs Deep, Epstein Theatre – 29 Oct-2 Nov

Prepare to be chilled to the bone with gripping new psychological thriller Blood Runs Deep, starring ex Blue member Antony Costa.

Set in the 1990s, single mother Karen Richards is on the run with her unsuspecting son, praying she can hide their chilling family secret and live a normal life. When an unwelcome visitor arrives at her home, the truth catches up with her, resulting in terrifying consequences.

When the truth surfaces there is no escape!

Get Tickets

Abandon Silence Halloween Party – Constellations, 31 Oct

The legendary Abandon Silence Halloween Party is back for 2019, this time at Constellations.

After another stellar summer securing his place as one of Europe’s deepest diggers, including his takeover of Gottwood, Move D returns to the Baltic Triangle.

Support across two rooms comes from Cherry Mango, Jovial and Andrew Hill.

Get Tickets

Halloween with Leon Vynehall and Breakwave – 24 Kitchen Street, 31 Oct

The Wonder Pot at 24 Kitchen Street strikes again with one of the UK’s most established electronic musicians, Leon Vynehall joining them for an extended set this Halloween.

Leon will perform a three hour Halloween set with support coming from Breakwave at this special Wonder Pot event.

Get Tickets

Halloween Fright Night Film Showings – Sefton Park Palm House, 29 + 30 Oct

Watch a Halloween film (or two) on the big screen, in a glass house under the stars! The Palm House is Sefton Park is getting into the spooky season with a series of film screenings. Bring a friend to hold on to and share some tricky treats with. Get some ghoulish make up on and make a night of it!

Proceed with caution, lest you forget how to escape the palms and are forced to party at the monster ball forever more. Refreshments available.

Film showings:

29 Oct – The Blair Witch Project

30 Oct – Nosferatu

Get Tickets

Look Before you LEAP

This week LEAP dance festival returns to the city for ten days of incredible performances. We chose five favourites.

 

Motionhouse: WILD

The opening performance of this year’s festival, WILD explores our disconnect with the natural environment and asks if, in our increasingly urban lives, the wild is still shaping our behaviour?

Integrating dynamic choreography, acrobatic movement and hand-to-hand partnering, WILD will be staged atop an urban forest of industrial scaffolding in Constellations’ outdoor space, in a breathtaking show for audiences of all ages.

Hinterlands, 12 Oct, 19:30 – 22:00. £12 / £10 concs

 

Frances Disley: Tripleflex

Merging visual art and dance, artist Frances Disley presents a new immersive installation activated by three contemporary dance artists and accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack from M. T. Hall.

Tripleflex explores painting via live performance, as brushstrokes guide the movements of the performers. The work will be presented in two parts; matinee for families, and the evening performance for the general public.

Bluecoat, 1o Oct 11:00 – 12:30 and 19:oo – 20:30. £6 / £5 concs

 

Community Dance Platform

Dancers from MDI’s 50 Moves, Men!Dancing! and Merseyside Youth Dance Company will be joined by invited groups and dance artists from across the North West to present new work.

Performers from previous years have gone on to be part of the CAT programme, joined the National Youth Dance Company or been commissioned to create original dance works.

Capstone Theatre, 6 Oct 17:00 – 19:00. £8 / 6 concs

 

Fringe Festival

A platform for young performers based in Liverpool, and a chance for new audiences to experience dance. LEAP Fringe is a mini ‘festival-within-a-festival’ with a DIY ethos, using movement as the catalyst.

Expect the unexpected; a programme of pop-up performances on the street and in non-traditional theatre spaces along Hope Street.

Hope Street, 11 Oct 17:00 – 22:00 and 12 Oct 13:00 – 22:00. Free

 

Black Holes

Weaving poetic text and movement, Alexandrina Hemsley and Seke Chimutengwende retell the universe’s history from big bang to death.

Speculating on how to be, with bodies carrying histories of marginalisation and anti blackness, they propel lived experiences onto a cosmic scale.

Alexandrina and Seke began working together in 2016. Exploring the potentials and problematics of Afrofuturism shapes their collaboration.

They situate their bodies inside shifting and imagined landscapes, searching for hopeful possibilities amidst the harshness of past and present dystopias.

Unity Theatre, 5 Oct 19:30 – 21:30. £10 / £8 concs

You can find more about all these shows, plus all the other LEAP 2019 shows, and buy tickets at the LEAP festival page.

Fun Family Events for Summer 2019

There’s a whole range of family activities happening on Merseyside this summer and crucially many aren’t weather dependent – a definite lifesaver in the school holidays.

From summer art schools and historical workshops to hidden fairy villages, you’re sure to find something of interest for both children and parents.

Most of the activities are also free, so it won’t break the bank keeping everyone entertained.

Big Art for Little Artists

Bring your babies and toddlers to join in for an hour of creative play, exploration, songs and stories. Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street, L3, open daily, 10am – 5pm, free.

Little Liverpool

The ‘Little Liverpool’ gallery at the Museum of Liverpool is a hands-on fantasy world for children under six to play and learn. Inside the gallery the youngest visitors can create their own Liverpool. Pier Head, L3, open daily, 10.15am – 3.45pm, free.

Yellow Sub

One of Liverpool’s leading city-based family entertainment centres is Yellow Sub. The centre houses a host of unique attractions, including a large and small play frame, an arcade, football pitch and a sensory room. Brunswick Business Park, L3, 10pm – 6pm. Admission; £1 – £6.45.

Vale Park

Wirral’s Vale Park is home to a hidden fairy village, an enchanting spot perfect for families to spend a relaxing summer’s day. The park also has fantastic views of the River Mersey and Liverpool skyline. Magazine Promenade, New Brighton, open daily 24 hours, free.

Lady Lever Art Gallery

Join the education team at the Lady Lever Art Gallery and make your own piece of artwork, inspired by their collections. Each session has different themes from badge making to Rembrandt portraits See Make Do, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, 30/31 July, 1pm – 4pm, free.

Bluecoat Creative Workshops

Explore the wonder and the fragility of nature on Earth, with this free arts workshop for children and young people. The workshop is led by Survey artist Chris Alton. Bluecoat climate change workshop, School Lane, L1, 2 August, 1 – 4pm.

Children aged 7 to 11 are invited to join in for four days of creative fun during the summer holidays. The Bluecoat Summer School is inspired by their exhibition, Rise Up! Bring packed lunches and dress to get messy! School Lane, L1, 12 – 15 August, 10pm – 4pm. Tickets: £80.

Liverpool Indoor Funfair

The Liverpool Indoor Funfair is returning this summer! Get ready for all the thrills, spills, laughter and fun of the fair. Great for rainy days during the school holidays. Kings Dock Exhibition Centre, L3, 23 August – 1 September. Admission; £10 (rider), £2 (spectator).

Pirate Party

Find out how pirates lived and navigated the oceans, the weapons they used, plus learn some rousing sea shanties. Fancy dress is strongly encouraged! Children’s Pirate Party, Palm House, Sefton Park, 6 August, 2pm – 4pm. Admission; £2 children, £5 adults.

Drama Weeks

The fun-filled ‘Drama Weeks’ at the Everyman Theatre culminate in a performance  completely of your own creation. It’s a great way for children to explore their creativity and make new friends. Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyman Theatre, Hope Street, L1, 7 August – 11 August, 12 – 16 August, 21 August – 25 August. Tickets: £100 per week.

Why we’re excited about WoWFest19

Writing on the Wall (WoW) is a Liverpool-based organisation which celebrates writing in all its forms through year-round writing development projects and their annual month-long literature festival.

Throughout May, the annual WoWFEST presents an eclectic mix of local, national and international writers, spoken word performers, commentators and artists. The festival embraces a broad range of writing including journalism, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, song-writing, and storytelling. This is all set in the beautiful venues and spaces of Liverpool.

Their twentieth festival programme has the theme ‘Where Are We Now?’ In today’s world the rich are getting richer, but otherwise uncertainty is the order of the day; Brexit, climate change, class, race, populism, fake news and digital surveillance, are changing and challenging all our old conceptions. The stage is set for WoWFEST19 to seek answers.

This year’s festival features Will Self, Jo Brand, Ben Okri, Kit De Waal, and Jennifer Makumbi, plus a host of other events and workshops.

Here are just some of the festival highlights:

Will Self, launches WoWFEST19 with a keynote speech responding to the festival theme ‘Where Are We Now?’ Join writer and journalist Will and WoW to try and work out some answers to where we are now and where we might be going. (The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1, 1 May, 7pm. Tickets: £15/£8 (Students, Over 60s, Unemployed)

‘Junk Mail: The Power of Fake News’ discusses the influence and impact of fake information. News is information and information is power. But where does that power end up when the news is fake?  The discussion features former Columnist of the Year, Brian Reade; Guardian columnist, Dawn Foster; Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, Des Freedman; and author Brian Cathcart.

The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1, 9 May, 7pm.
Tickets: £6/£3 concs / unwaged

Mike Leigh’s gripping account of the 1819 St Peter’s Field massacre ‘Peterloo’, is a devastating portrait of class and political corruption. The film develops our understanding of how the poor in Britain have coped with oppression. A necessary film for our times and one delivered in an authentic voice. The evening also includes a Mike Leigh Q & A. (Plaza Community Cinema, 13 Crosby Road North, Waterloo, Liverpool, L22, 13 May, 6pm. Tickets: £10/£5 – Students/Over 60s/Unemployed)

Broadcaster and writer Roger Hill leads a walking tour ‘Where Are We?’ through the Liverpool streets to discover The City That Never Was, But Always Is. Expect to see Liverpool in a new, maybe fantastical light. In this period of uncertainty and competing realities, what should we believe?

Assembly Point: Ropewalks Square, outside FACT, L1, 5 May, 1pm & 3pm.
Tickets: £5/£3 concs / unwaged 

The British Music Experience host ‘Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story’. Poly Styrene was a singer-songwriter, an artist and a true punk icon. For the first time, the vibrant jigsaw of Poly’s inspiring story has been lovingly pieced together by her daughter, singer-songwriter Celeste Bell, and writer/artist Zoë Howe. (British Music Experience, Cunard Building, Canada Boulevard, L3, 30 May, 8pm.

Tickets: £34.50/£28.50 concs / unwaged (with book) and £12/£6 concs / unwaged (without book)

WoWFest19 will also be hosting Guardian parliamentary sketch writer John Grace, as he tells the hysterical tale of Theresa May’s first turbulent year at No 10. ‘John Grace and the tale of the Maybot’ observes Theresa May’s efforts to remain strong and stable – and, indeed, Prime Minister.

Waterstones Liverpool ONE, 12 College Lane, Liverpool, L1, 10 May, 6pm.
Tickets: £3/£2 Waterstones Card Holders

Comedy’s finest Jo Brand brings her darkly funny life-guide to WoWFest this year. ‘Born Lippy’ is a gathering of all the things Jo wishes she’d known, all the things she’s learnt, and all the things she hopes for the future. Join her in conversation with one of Liverpool’s finest actors, Eithne Browne (Sometimes, Always, Never, Emmerdale) as she discusses how to do female.

Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, Liverpool, L1, 14 May, 8pm.
Tickets: £23.50/£17.50 concs / unwaged (with book) and £16/£10 concs / unwaged (without book)

BBC Poetry Slam Champion Jess Green returns with a rousing, lyrical and humorous look at modern politics, ‘A Self-Help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn’. A show which not only received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe but also led to Jess having a cup of tea with the man himself!

Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place, Liverpool, L1, 24/25 May, 7.30pm

Tickets: £15/£10 concs

Kerry Hudson, award-winning novelist delivers an insightful workshop on writing non-fiction. In her most recent book Lowborn, Kerry journeys through her own childhood poverty, exploring what it means to be poor in Britain today. Free to attend, registration required.

Allerton Library, Allerton Road, Liverpool, L18, 18 May, 1pm.
Tickets: Free, booking is advised

Windsor Street’s creative organisations are throwing a street party filled with performance, spoken word, dance, music, food, film, arts and crafts. This all takes place in the street’s beautiful venues this LightNight. ‘Windsor Street Party for Light Night’ celebrates the Liverpool 8 community and their creativity. The evening opens with the energetic Katumba drummers and a WoW writing workshop.

Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, L8, 17 May, 6pm. Just turn up, free

Claire Heuchan’s book ‘What is Race? Who are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions’, encourages children to think for themselves, to bring everyone into the conversation and explore the history of race and society. Claire will be discussing the issues and reading extracts. (Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, L8, 13 May, 11am. Tickets: Free)

For tickets and more information on WoWFest19 see the website.

Ade Blackburn

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake comes to the Empire

Sir Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is soon to grace our city, and it’s not one to be missed!

This classic tale was originally composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875 and is known to be a timeless love story across the globe. Combining passion and tragedy with what is arguably the most powerful style of dance, this production captivates its audience long after leaving their seats.

The enchanting story traditionally features a swan princess, Odette, and a prince, Prince Siegfried, conveying the tale of their forbidden love as Odette changes form from day to night under the curse of a sorcerer.

Holding eight Olivier awards and a Knighthood for his services to dance, Bourne is renowned for his unusual and breathtaking interpretations of traditional ballet. His dance-theatre company, New Adventures, are “committed to finding and developing diverse young talent”, delivering initiatives such as Swan School, a two-week long intensive designed to prepare their graduate-level dancers for the audition process.

New Adventures’ annual open auditions were attended by over four hundred hopefuls; a gruelling process throughout which Bourne and his associate artists, Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable, have selected only the most talented and ambitious dancers. Working behind the scenes to create an unforgettable production, Brotherston ditches the tutus for feathered slacks and paints each performer with a sleek, black beak, putting a simple, yet tasteful spin on this reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Starring Will Bozier and Max Westall, both dancers make their debut as The Swan, challenging all conventions of the typical female ensemble. Returning to the role of The Prince, Liam Mower and Dominic North are accompanied by New Adventures’ newcomer, James Lovell, who will also make his professional debut with the company.

The show will take place at Liverpool Empire Theatre from Tuesday 9 April to Saturday 13 April and will then go on to tour internationally, spreading its magic worldwide.

209 Women Series: A History of Parliamentary Portraiture

The tradition of honouring political figures with public portraiture stretches back hundreds of years — through oil paintings, marble statues or bronze busts. The UK Parliamentary Art Collection is full of portraits of notable British figures, although the weighting of the parliamentary collection is, undeniably, chiefly towards white middle-class men. It tells a story not just of the history of our politics, but also how that history is managed, and who gets to have a place in it.

When the new Palace of Westminster was under construction in the 19th century, the Fine Arts Commission intended on covering the newly built walls with paintings — ideally by British artists. The intention was to rouse national interest and illustrate Britain’s refusal to fall behind its European neighbours in artistic endeavours. This included many portraits of significant figures, chiefly members of the royal family, as well as scenes of British military success, such as the Spanish Armada. However, the Commision never managed to fill the newly built Houses of Parliament, chiefly due to financial issues, and over time the blank spaces on the walls of the palace were plastered instead in wallpaper.

In the 1950s there was a revival of the Fine Arts Commision as it was agreed that there was a need to capture and celebrate the history of British politics. By the 1950s, there were huge gaps in political history that had no artistic documentation, it was felt that many significant political figures had been forgotten. This resulted in the compilation of a list of notable figures that, it was felt, had earned a space on the walls of the Palace of Westminster. Many political figures that merited a portrait were finally recognised, such as William Wilberforce and Neville Chamberlain.

In more recent years, the focus on political portraiture has at long last become more inclusive. Of course, the huge oil paintings of Queen Victoria in the Houses of Parliament remain, but now every MP, despite gender, race and sexulality has been offered to have their portrait captured — not through painting, but through the more accessible and democratising medium of photography. In 2017 the MPs Portrait Project worked alongside photographer Chris McAndrew and succeeded in capturing universal and up to date portraits of British MPs to be viewed on the Parliament website. The aim was to ‘humanise the public figures responsible for running our country’¹. This project went down a storm with the general public ‘the pictures went down well on social media – and showed MPs weren’t “alien species” but a “reflection of us as real people”’. ²

Today, other projects also attempt to capture and celebrate the achievements of MPs in UK Parliament, such as 209 Women. This exhibition focuses specifically on the 209 women MPs in UK Parliament, individually photographed by 209 female photographers. The exhibition launched at Portcullis House, allowing for all the female MPs to have their portrait hang in parliamentary residence. Like the MP Portrait Project, it also humanises the women that manage our country. 209 Women arguably goes one step further, as it captures each MP for the woman she is, depicting these female MPs and their personalities, also the relationship between each MP and her photographer is clear. The photographers endeavoured to capture the essence of each MP: 209 Women, then, acts as a good middle ground between the universal archival nature of the recent MP portrait project and the traditional, more personal element of portraiture paintings.

The tradition of parliamentary portraiture is continuing into the 21st century, and although the mediums may evolve from traditional paintings and statues to photography, this allows for more inclusivity, allowing more MPs to be recognised and praised for their work.

References:

1. Carrie Kleiner, ‘Making History: Official Portraits and Open Images’, Parliamentary Digital Service, (2017), <https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2017/07/21/mp-official-portraits-open-source-images/> [accessed 6th March 2019].

Georgina Pattinson, ‘MP’s portraits: Photos show ‘human’ side of Parliament’, BBC News, (28 July 2017), <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-parliaments-40755201>[accessed 11th March 2019].

From 1918 to 209 Women: 100 Years of Women in Politics

209 Women is an upcoming exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery, launching at the end of February. This exhibition marks one hundred years since the first British women gained the right to vote in 1918.

 

This piece was written by Alisha Snozwell, currently on placement at Open Eye Gallery. Thanks to Alisha and Open Eye for sharing it with us

Throughout the last century the role and rights of women have advanced significantly; the twentieth century saw more achievements for women’s rights in the UK than, perhaps, previous centuries combined. These advancements were not just political but social too, such as women’s workplace and reproductive rights. These achievements were milestones in the ongoing move towards gender equality in the UK.

2018 marked a hundred years since the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918, the first of a number of political achievements for women. This act allowed British women to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections for the first time, although only certain women were granted the right to vote. Yet, despite the initial inequalities, the years of suffrage campaigning finally led to the right to vote for millions of women. In 1918 the Parliament Qualification of Women Act was also passed, allowing women to be elected into UK Parliament, making 2018 the centenary of one of the most significant milestones in UK political history, for women anyway. Yet, over a hundred years later British politics remains overwhelmingly patriarchal, with women making up only 32% of MPs. 209 Women aims to acknowledge how far we’ve come but also to illustrate just how much further we need to go.

With continued suffrage campaigning after 1918, women finally achieved universal voting rights with men in the UK by the 1928 Equal Franchise Act. The Life Peerages Act was passed in 1958 allowing women to sit in the House of Lords for the first time. This inclusion of women kickstarted the the breakdown of this traditional patriarchal system. By 1979 the first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was elected. This illustrates the progression of women’s rights: at the beginning of 1918 women couldn’t even vote, yet in just over sixty years a woman is elected to represent the country.

As well as political achievements, women have also achieved social rights. In 1961 the contraceptive pill was made available to all on the NHS, sparking the sexual revolution of the 1960s. The pill has been called the ‘greatest scientific invention of the twentieth century’ by some due to the freedom it awarded millions of women. Similarly, the 1967 Abortion Act granted women the right to an abortion under certain conditions. This enabled women more autonomy over their own lives, not to mention their own bodies. Both allowed for choice and increased sexual equality with men. Women could now be freed from inescapable motherhood. This parliamentary act gained serious opposition, ‘the bill came under attack almost immediately, and this has continued to the present day with fifty attempts to restrict it’. Both the contraceptive pill and the Abortion Act received opposition, mainly from faith groups.

As well as reproductive rights, women also fought to secure gender equality in the workplace. In 1968 the Ford Dagenham sewing machinists’ strike over the lack of ‘sex equality’ led to the 1970 Equal Pay Act. The fight for equal pay often divided opinions as ‘not every trade union representative was initially supportive of what now seems obvious, that women and men should be paid the same rate for doing the same job.’ Yet in 2018 the gender pay gap in the UK was 17.9%, this again proves how far the UK has to go to achieve gender parity.

By the 21st century the inclusion of women in UK politics reached a record breaking level: there are currently 209 elected female MPs out of a total 650. Although this is a cause for celebration I can’t help noting that this is still only a fraction. UK politics is still dominated by men, we need more women in the political picture.

By Alisha Snozwell, University of Liverpool

Image: Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, by Hannah Starkey