Ending Old Journeys and Starting New Ones

Well, this year has definitely been a journey. My 2014 resolution was to publish something, and thanks to the encouragement of my friends and family, I did just that. Granted, it wasn’t the book that I’ve envisioned in my future, but we’ve got to save something for this year, right? Nevertheless, seeing my theatre reviews in print in an actual magazine that people buy, gave me a feeling of pride that I’ll never forget. It was a huge moment for me. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me achieve this, especially Artsbeat’s editor, Amanda Penman, for giving me the opportunity to get my foot in the door.

I got through my first year of college this year. You may or may not know that I’ve found college to be a rather difficult challenge and have come close to giving up more than once. But I got through it, passed all my subjects, and so far my final year has been much better.

What else have I achieved this year? Well, this blog for one thing. Over the years, I’ve started and restarted so many blogs that I’ve lost count, but this is the first one that I’ve held close to my heart. And I think that shows because you have been so supportive of it. Thank you, everyone, for reading all of my mundane ramblings, putting up with my rants, and being interested in what I have to say. I wouldn’t be here writing this if it wasn’t for every single one of you.

I am so proud of all of my friends and family for what they have achieved this year. My dad’s football reviews are being published in the club’s magazine, my mum’s beautiful paintings are selling better than ever, my older sister has started a new (extremely busy) journey to midwifery, my brother has been promoted, and my little sister performed stunningly in her Class 8 Play before going off to Iceland with her friends at the beginning of summer. I can’t begin to describe how proud I am to have a family as kind and talented as them.

And what do I have to look forward to in 2015? In January, I’m attending a film course with BFI that could lead to all sorts of exciting things. I’ll be taking my exams and finishing college in summer, which will lead to me taking a new path into the unknown world of Adulthood, wherever that may be. Whether I start university or take a year out to focus on writing, I know that next year will be full of opportunities. And then, to celebrate my parents’ 25th anniversary, we’re going to Disneyland! Remember, this post from way back in May? Well, it’s finally happening! I guess publishing reviews was good enough. (Not that I’m giving up on the book front.)

I don’t truly believe in ‘resolutions’, as the word seems to discourage people to stick to them. But I do believe in making plans and goals for the coming year. So here are mine.

1. Write a book.
I’m not giving up on this. It will happen this year, I swear. I’ve made my first steps towards it, and nothing’s going to stop me now.

2. Write more, in general.
I’m going to write everything. Articles, blog posts, book reviews, theatre reviews, poetry, scripts, music, everything. If there’s something that I haven’t tried writing before, I’ll do it this year.

3. Learn guitar.
I’ve always wanted to be Ed Sheeran, but my chances of that were greatly diminished when I stopped my guitar lessons at five years old. Now, with a renewed sense of music, I will finally begin to achieve my dream of becoming a musical sensation (ha!).

4. Face my future.
I’m terrified of adulthood. Now, at eighteen years old, I’m not going to be scared anymore. Honest.

5. Eat healthier and exercise more.
This one is not a promise.

What are your New Year’s resolutions/plans? Let me know in the comments.

Merry Slightly Late Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Lots of love, from Beth.


Listening to: Wrecking Ball by Jasmine Thompson
Watching: Thor: The Dark World
Drinking: Schleur
Eating: Christmas chocolate

A Country Led By Idiots

As a person who has recently gained a level of social acceptance enough to be able to vote in the upcoming election, I don’t understand why we as a nation are putting our future in the hands of imbeciles.

Whenever I listen to, watch or read the news, there’s always a new headline saying something like “David Cameron called this person a…” or “Miliband names Farage a…”. I turned on Question Time last week and from the first chance he got, Nigel Farage spent his time dragging Ed Miliband’s name into the dirt whilst doing nothing to improve his (much needed) image.

All politicians seem to do is yell at each other and call each other names instead of fixing our country. Russell Brand would make a better politician than any of them. He knows what’s happening in the working classes and actually seems to care, which is more than we can say for the party leaders.

The only thing we can do is vote for the Least Worst of them. Or maybe we should just leave the country. All of us. Let’s just go and leave this abandoned ship to the people who wrecked it. (Although we all know they’d sooner jump ship than sink with us.)

The Outsider (a poem)

A bed and a bookcase, and a small writing desk.
A doll and a sock, and a bit of a mess.
Through the window, the sunlight is just coming up,
But the nightlight’s still on, illuminating a cup.

The cup is half full, or half empty, or neither.
And the milk in it is old, a disgusting creature.
The clock on the wall watches. It ticks and it tocks.
And at the small, narrow door, there are three quiet knocks.

No one replies. Not a voice shouts, “Come in!”
And the outsider waits, listens closer. No noise from within.
There is not a sound besides the ticking wall clock.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Not a bated breath, not a whisper of life.
Not a sigh of contentment, not the chink of a knife.
So they push at the door, but it seems to be jammed.
They’ve their heart in their mouth and their nerves in their hands.

They push even harder, panic rising in their soul.
For locked out of the room, they are out of control.
And they shout and they scream the name of the child
But there’s no sound from within, and their heart’s going wild.

Finally, the door moves and they fall against it hard,
And open it’s thrown with the weight of their guard.
Adrenaline filled, they look to the bed
And stare in horror as they see their own head.

The outsider looks into their own glazed eyes,
And they see their own face that has already died.
And after such a wretched, sorrowful sight,
The outsider leaves. And the outsider smiles.

– By Bethany Morledge.

Worlds on Blank Pages

(Disclaimer: This is just a bit of nonsense I wrote during a free period today.)image

Faced with a blank page you have two options. The first, and by far the easiest (if also the dullest), is to sit and stare at it. You can think all you want, but if the voice in your head isn’t transferring to words on paper, what good is it going to do? You can watch the white and wait for something to happen, but if your fingers don’t start forming words, then nothing is ever going to happen. You will simply watch and wait forever.

The thing is, things will only start happening when you make the first move. Ripples in water will only occur when something touches it. Reactions only happen when there is an action already made.

So, unless you want to spend the rest of your existence waiting for something to happen that never will, the second option is what you should go for. You can start writing. It doesn’t matter what. It doesn’t matter if every single word that appears on the paper is complete nonsense.

Words should bubble from your imagination and seep into your mind, where they proceed to leak into your brain and drip through the veins in your arm right to your fingertips. From there, they should flow through the pen and into the ink, transforming into beautiful patterns and pictures that become: your writing.

And before you know it, the page is not blank. It is not vicious white, taunting you with its snowy complexion. Instead, it is positively brimming with fragments of your mind. The page is bursting with your creativity, and you can sit back, breathe it in, and think this is my world.

***

This is Earth. You and I are from the same Earth, but we are not of the same world. We share the same planet, but we live it different ways. We might not have the same culture or customs. We might not eat the same foods or tell the same stories, yet maybe we live in the same village. Maybe we have lived in the same village our entire lives and mixed with the same people as each other, but we’re still from different worlds. We still see our own worlds differently.

There are no two worlds exactly the same. Every person – every single human life, even those who are remembered by no one, has their own world. So does every animal and tree and flower. Some people have more than one world within them, so they need to find some way of getting it out of there system. Thus, the arts are born.

Every single book is its own world. Even if the setting is the exact same place that you grew up, right down to the flowery wallpaper, the pages still know things that you do not. You will see it from a new perspective – through a character’s eyes or a bird’s eye view.

And really, when it comes down to it, that’s what worlds are all about: perspectives. If everyone saw everything from exactly the same perspective, we would all be the same person. So, it’s not that the people make the worlds; it’s that the worlds make us.

That is why stories are so important. Every story we hear, read or watch, sinks into our membranes and becomes part of us. We breathe stories. Stories seep through our beings and, sometimes, they take over. Every aspect of life is a story. And every aspect of a story is life.

Why the ‘Strong Female Character’ is Bad

There is a real problem in the film industry at the moment regarding the idea of the Strong Female Character. Particularly in the sci-fi genre. The reason I am discussing this at the moment is because I am currently studying the A2 Media course at college, and this is the problem that I am exploring for my coursework.

The three films that I have chosen to analyse for that case study are The Hunger Games, Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy. In this post, I will be talking primarily about Guardians of the Galaxy.

I won’t spend too much time explaining the Strong Female Character, as I think this article does it perfectly. Basically, the problem is that the Strong Female Character is being interpreted in the wrong way. Female characters are too often being created simply because the creators believe that they need them. If a film is made with no female characters at all, it will be rightly criticised for it. What the ‘Strong Female Character’ should mean, is to have a ‘Well-Written Female Character’ or a ‘Three-Dimensional Female Character’.

It’s not enough to simply stick a character in there for the sake of it. They need to do something. They need to be wound into the plot. And while being a love interest is fine, if they have no character outside of that romance, then she loses all credibility. Where’s the gender equality in having a female character who simply follows the men around? Where’s the equality when her character is defined by the kiss scene, when she gives herself to the male protagonist as a trophy?

Guardians of the Galaxy is an extremely male-dominated film with only two memorable female characters: adopted sisters, Gamora and Nebula. Gamora, who is quoted as saying “I’m a warrior and a weapon”, is a trained assassin. She is actually a fairly well-written character, with her own motives, wants, needs and fears that become apparent throughout the film. But what is she doing there? She could very easily be replaced with a male character, and the other members of the cast would probably manage just fine without her. After all, it’s really the talking raccoon and animate tree that hold the group together. Of course.

Clearly, the retailers didn’t think she was particularly important as they left her off of their merchandise.

gog merch1 gog merch2

When confronted by a twitter user, the clothing manufacturer ‘The Children’s Place’ responded with this:

gog merch3I am sure that you can see the problem with this. Mothers of young girls who wondered why their favourite character wasn’t on their new pyjamas, had to be told that they’re not good enough to be on their clothing. Attitudes like this are adding to the cultural idea that women cannot equal men in a male-dominated genre.

There are still no female main characters in superhero films. Black Widow is the closest that we have got at the moment. There is currently a film out where a talking raccoon is considered to be more inspirational and have more purpose than the female character. What does this say about our society? What is this teaching children?

 

THEATRE REVIEW: Les Miserables at Queen’s Theatre, London

les mis master of the houseThe West End’s Les Miserables, is a humorous and heart-breaking adaptation of Victor Hugo’s (who also wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame) novel of the same title, brought to life through the marvellous medium of song. I will admit that I went to see this way back in March and there has been a cast change since then but I assure you that it remains just as spectacular as it was all those months ago.

The story takes place in pre-revolutionary Paris, where the impoverished are kept in poverty and the rich become wealthier. After Jean Valjean (Daniel Koek [covered by Chris Holland on the date I saw]), a man who broke his parole, witnesses the death of Fantine (Na-Young Jeon), a woman who formerly worked in his factory, he takes her daughter, Cosette (Samantha Dorsey), into his care. She was previously being taken in by the Thenardiers (Cameron Blakely & Wendy Ferguson), who abused her.

Years later, revolutionary groups are being created. One of them is run by Enjolras (Anton Zetterholm), and is participated in by Marius Pontmercy (Rob Houchen). The Thenardiers’ daughter, Eponine (Carrie Hope Fletcher) is hopelessly in love with him, which he is oblivious to. Instead, Marius falls in love at first sight with the now-older Cosette. Because the police inspector, Jarvert (Tam Mutu), almost finds them after searching for years, Valjean and Cosette are forced to run for England, leaving Marius behind.

Meanwhile, Enjolras is planning a movement against the monarchy. As the battle rages on, many characters die, but Marius and Cosette end up together, marrying with Valjean’s blessing.

les misThe set of the West End production is spectacular. Based on a revolving stage, the main piece of scenery is a gigantic structure that the actors are able to move around and transform while transitioning between scenes. It changes beautifully from a building to a barricade.

The music is absolutely unforgettable. Even as I sit here six months later, I can still hear it in my head. Not only the songs with lyrics that will make you weep, but also the twinkly transition music, full of hope and stars. The music of Les Miserables is simply magical. There is nothing like it in the world.

Adam Linstead’s solo verse as Grantaire in the song Drink With Me is such a heartfelt, poignant moment. It was a travesty to cut them from the film version, as I truly believe that those words have so much meaning for all of the characters, and show the theme of the entire musical.

“Drink with me to days gone by,

Could it be you’re scared to die?

Will the world remember you when you fall?

Could it be your lives mean nothing at all?

Are our lives just one more lie?”

carrie as eponine1Of course, the acting is astounding. Carrie Hope Fletcher, in particular, shines. She brings the character of poor Eponine to life, depicting her as a girl who never really knew love but had a lot of it to give. With a stunning singing voice, Carrie is an extremely talented lady with a bright future ahead of her. She will be taking some time out as Eponine this year while she is touring the country as Beth from The War of the Worlds – The Final Arena Tour. Look here to see if tickets are selling in your area. You can also visit her YouTube channel here.

After the show, I briefly met Carrie as well as Jonny Purchase and Dale Hodge, who are members of the ensemble. Everyone was lovely, taking the time to talk to their fans despite not having long for their between-shows break.

Other stand-out talent included Anton Zetterholm, Tam Mutu, Rob Houchen, Wendy Ferguson and Adam Linstead.

If you get the chance, Les Miserables is a monumentally impressive show and I recommend that you go see it when you can. The current cast are:-

Jean Valjean………Peter Lockyer

Javert………David Thaxton

Fantine………Celinde Shoenmaker

Thenardier………Tom Edden

Madame Thenardier………Wendy Ferguson

Eponine………Carrie Hope Fletcher

Cosette………Emilie Flemming

Enjolras………Michael Colbourne

Marius………Rob Houchen

I would recommend this to:-

  • Anyone who isn’t afraid to cry.
  • Revolutionaries.

Star Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

(Pictures of the 2014 cast belong to Johan Persson.)

TV REVIEW: OUAT, A Tale of Two Sisters

Warning: This review will contain spoilers of episode 4.01 of ABC’s Once Upon A Time.

When I saw the finale of the third season, I think I might have squealed. Ever since then, I have been avidly waiting for the debut episode of the fourth season and I was not disappointed. At all. This episode was everything that I had looked forward to, and more.

First off, there’s the brilliant opening scene – the brilliant, tragic opening scene – but I’ll let you see that for yourself.

Let’s start with the characters we know and love. Regina’s story is a tricky one. Always the villain, will she ever get her chance at the Happily Ever After she’s always dreamed of? The problem lies with Marian, whom Emma Swan brought back from the dead when she travelled in time.

In this episode, we see Regina’s heart get broken all over again when Robin tells her that he has to choose his wife. There was a lot of nervousness around whether Regina would revert back to her evil ways, but to many breaths of relief, she has come too far for that. At least we think. There seems to be a rather interesting storyline developing involving the author of the book.

Has everyone forgotten about August? Anyone else find it uncanny that he claimed to be a writer, and knew exactly how to format and make the pages of his story for Henry’s book?

And then we have Rumbelle, and their intriguing story that is being unravelled. As they go on honeymoon, we witness the most beautiful scene in Disney history. As the gorgeous music begins to play (‘’tale as old as time…”), Belle’s dress and Rumplestiltskin’s suit are transformed into the iconic costumes that have taken breaths away since 1991. This heartwarming scene is possibly the best thing I have ever witnessed, but it can only be a calm before the storm which makes me nervous.

Another interesting development in Rumple’s tale is the discovery of a little box. When Rumple waves his dagger over it, it transforms into an object just as iconic as the Beauty and the Beast ballroom scene; a hat owned by a certain Magician’s Apprentice.

And, of course, there’s Captain Swan. Although they are rather busy running around after a giant, angry snowman, they still manage to share a few precious moments. The characters are clearly infatuated with each other, and I believe possibly even in love. Hook is certainly ready to love Emma, but Emma is clearly struggling to find space for it.

But have no fear, Captain Swan shippers! There is light on the horizon yet. The sweet little kiss they share is enough evidence for that. And my favourite sharing of lines:-

Emma: You wanna go home and see what’s on Netflix?

Hook: I don’t know what that is, but sure! (He smiles adorably.)

Finally, we get to our new characters, and boy did they fulfil my expectations! Georgina Haig (Fringe) and Elizabeth Lail (Model Airplane) are absolutely perfect for their roles as Frozen’s Elsa and Anna, and Scott Michael Foster (Greek)’s Kristoff more than fits the bill, too. I cannot express just how much I love these characters, and how well these actors play them. I am truly full of nothing but praise.

And, of course, we can’t forget dear old Grand Pabbie, voiced by John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings). The animators created the rock troll absolutely flawlessly.

I feel like every single scene of this episode is a highlight. I am sure that you will all agree with me when I say that the show creators, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, have outdone themselves with this one. Well done, and thank you!

Who would I recommend this to?

  • Disney fans
  • Frozen fans
  • Anyone who enjoys becoming emotionally attached to fictional characters, because trust me, you will be.

Star Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

BOOK REVIEW: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I think it’s something extraordinary that, while I’d usually have about five books on the go and switch between them, as soon as I started reading The Maze Runner, all other books were forgotten. Honestly, this book is something special. From the moment I opened it, I fell in love. The moment I closed the last page, I felt like I had been told the meaning of humanity.

The book opens with the protagonist, Thomas, waking in an enclosed space with absolutely no memory of his identity, pulling us in with the first and possibly most important mystery – Who is Thomas? Soon after, we are introduced to the other characters: tough Alby, sweetheart Newt, scary Gally, lil’ Chuck, and later, superhero Minho. And let’s not forget the plot’s trigger, our gorgeous, independent lady whose name I shall not mention.

It is impossible not to become attached to these characters, even the most despicable of them. They all have their own set of unique traits and flaws, and Dashner builds the different relationships between them beautifully.

Quickly, we learn that nothing is quite right in the Maze, a horrible place with seemingly no escape, where the boys have been living for years. And not only are they trapped; they’re trapped with the Grievers! The Grievers are awful, half-machine half-animal creatures that stalk the maze, coming out mainly at night. You don’t want to get stung by them (although they also offer worse ways to go), or you’ll have the Changing to look forward to. Not much is known about the Changing because the only ones who have been through it refuse to talk about what they saw, but their pain is obvious. No one is the same after the Changing.

The entire book is a thrill to read, with twists and turns right up until the last page. Nothing is as it seems, and no one can be trusted.

Who would I recommend this to?

  • Sci-fi fans
  • Hunger Games fans
  • Anyone who is interested in seeing the film (read the book first!)

Star Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

(The Maze Runner will be in cinemas from 10th October, 2014)