Monday 2nd July 2012 - Ross Sutherland: The Three Stigmata of Pacman at Fruit - Humber Mouth Literature Festival
By Michelle Dee.
Photographs by Cilla Wykes
Truths, Life and Videogames
The annual Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull moved into its second week; a week filled with innovative and acclaimed spoken word artists curated by Write to Speak and Fresh Ink in the Hard Rhymes & Great Exclamations strand of the festival. The performers are arriving in Hull from as far afield as York, Devon, Los Angeles and not forgetting Coggeshall in Essex.
Ross Sutherland is charismatic and engaging, a storyteller and poet, and he's an Essex boy. Never thought I'd write those three things in the same sentence any time soon.
But is it any wonder he attracts such accolades?
A brief glance at Ross' press coverage reveals it to be littered as it is with 4 and five star reviews. In a comparatively brief career he has produced three poetry collections and penned, performed and directed numerous theatre based works.
The Three Stigmata of Pacman is the revelatory title for Ross's one man show. Described as 'a true story about time travel' it deals essentially with the nature of future or rather of futures.
It's a multimedia show, a format popular with boy band poets that involves him interacting with projected words, images and animation, as he delivers contemporary verse and satirical observation, underscored by synthesized beats in seamless segues.
It's a bit like a multiplatform academic presentation, but one where the lecturer is really cool and you genuinely want to be there.
Walking on stage, dark hair tousled, dressed in crumpled shirt hastily tucked into dark jeans, sporting a thin dark tie and a stripy cardigan, he outlines the story of a music journalist in 2007 writing for a popular Northern newspaper.
This character, let's call him Ross, because that's his name after all, is getting busy selling futures to Manchester's scenester bands. However, he is soon to be faced with a terrible upheaval; an upheaval that will have far reaching consequences leading to revelation, self-discovery and finally of epiphany. It sounds like the blurb you see on the back of a cheap dick lit. novel.
What is going to happen is this: he's going to lose his job when the credit crunch bites, have to move back in with the 'rents, and on the nights when he's not drunk, he will be high on caffeine pills wandering the streets of his small childhood home: or, he's talking to a bin.
Using a montage of screaming headlines and video clips showing popular culture and celebrity, in all it's glorious vapidity.
Ross draws our attention to the mass media machine's practice, nay policy, of rewriting history to suit some clandestine agenda. But what can this have to do with his own increasingly desperate attempts, to do something meaningful, an act so profound that will have an affect on his future?
The aforementioned bin is actually a time capsule, the words 'Time' and 'Capsule' are written on the side, so we know it is true. Inspired by Keats' lofty ideals of beauty and possibility; of existence and eternityÉI warned you earlier. Lecturer? Presentation? Recall those words?
Later, the time capsule will be lost, when it is subjected to a controlled explosion by Scotland Yard, after being left unattended at Kings Cross.
Tonight's hastily acquired time capsule will too, be left the worse for wear, after Ross inadvertently sits on it during the penultimate poem and slightly alters its molecular structure.
With a showman's ease a poem will emerge seamlessly from the narrative so much so that you don't realise it has begun. The verse appears unrehearsed and spontaneous, or on the screen being written as it is spoken in a symbiotic joining of performance poetry and technology, where timing is critical to achieve delivery filled with tension and drama.
It is clever stuff, make no mistake, Ross' approach to his material is unpretentious genuinely insightful and shot through with dry humour.
The Three Stigmata of Pacman , was warmly received by an appreciative Fruit audience, many of whom stopped behind to talk with Ross and pass on their congratulations at the end of night.
Reviews, Art Revelations On The Edge by Sarah Pennington at Red Gallery - June 2012 By Michelle Dee. Photographs courtesy Sarah Pennington
A whale bone washed up on a distant shoreline; a battered old tin found loch side returning to its place of origin; strange crab claw tools; methodical
arrangements of chalky bone fragments from fish and fowl. These are just some of the curios that await you when you visit Revelations on the Edge.
Artist and sculptor Sarah Pennington left her home in Hull and spent 3 months on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
Reviews, Theatre Reclamation at Hull Truck Theatre, Saturday 23rd June 2012 By Michelle Dee
Getting to Edinburgh Fringe is a milestone in every artists career, and performing at the
Arts and Culture Festival presents many challenges; least of all financing the escapade paying for travel and
lodgings while you attempt to put on a marathon of shows in a month.
Reclamation by Joe Hakim, Mike Watts and Ruth E. Dixon is about self discovery not in the namby-pamby
Reviews, Theatre Poems and Pints at The King's Arms, Salford, Friday 3rd February 2012 By Melanie Fullard
Poems and Pints; the brainchild of Paul Heaton ( The Housemartins, Beautiful South ) and his partner, Zena Barrie is a new monthly poetry event held in The King's Arms,
Salford, Manchester. Paul, who has recently become the new landlord was also in the line-up to perform.
Myself and thisisull's Cilla Wykes accompanied two of Hull's leading poets, Mike Watts and Joe Hakim who had both been invited to the opening night.
The King's ArmsRead more...
Reviews, Arts - The Liberation of Barton - A Poetry Evening at The Ropewalk, Barton on Humber - Saturday 8th October 2011 By Melanie Fullard
The Ropewalk in Barton is a listed building which was once used in the manufacturing of rope. It now doubles as an art space and performance venue. It's really awkward to find, sandwiched between Tesco and a housing estate (especially in the dark!) but it's well worth the trouble.
Tonight sees performances from the pick of Hull's finest poets and the debut of Barton's very own Lady Blah Blah (aka Ruth Dixon).
Reviews, Theatre Stags and Hens at Fruit - Tuesday 26th July 2011 By Melanie Fullard Photos by Neil Holmes
Have you been to the 3D cinema recently?
The characters are larger than life, there's surround sound and you become so engrossed that you feel like you're in the film. Well, that's what it's like watching Stags and Hens.
The audience is gathered - standing room only. A bloke walks down the middle aisle; he's swaying a bit and looks a bit pissed.
Reviews, Books - Stories From Potters Field by Andy Wilson and Joe Solo Reviewed by Tim Roux
Joe Solo is a prolifically and prodigiously talented Northern England singer-songwriter who since the turn of the millennium has produced a steady flow of stand-out albums.
The trouble with ol' Joe is that he is a dyed-in-the-wool uncompromising old-fashioned Socialist who refuses to 'tart' up his songs with ear-candy arrangements, so some day someone will make an absolute fortune
Reviews, Theatre Sunday 13th February Scratch Theatre @ Fruit By Michelle Dee
I was just one of the many people on Humber Street Sunday 13th February to witness the first Scratch Theatre night at Fruit. Eight separate ten minute shorts were showcased tonight, each one a new piece of theatre written by a local writer.
Feedback sheets were handed out to answer the questions; what in your opinion worked / didn't work; what did/didn't you enjoy; how could it have been played better etc?
Reviews, Books - Coming to a Street Near You by Mike Watts (Night Press)
Reviewed by Peter Knaggs
At 116 pages, 62 poems, here we have it, the hot debut from one half of the Write to Speak
duo, Coming to a Street Near You.
There are a clutch of writers at the moment; Martin Hayes, Dan Fante
and Tony O'Neill and they write poems, good poems, you don't see them rubbing shoulders with
Don Patterson and Jo Shapcott and it's unlikely that you would happen upon their work in Poetry Review. Read more...
Reviews, Books - Coming to a Street Near You by Mike Watts Reviewed by Melanie Fullard
Mike Watts is a guy who's glass is always half empty. Not only that, it was his last fucking one and it's nine days till pay day.
The poems in his debut poetry collection, Coming to a Street Near You reflect the kitchen sink dramas of the '60's like Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and Billy Liar, Watts himself being a modern day Arthur Seaton.
Reviews, Theatre Write to Speak Presents Kate Fox News - Wednesday 12th January 2011 By Michelle Dee
The final Write to Speak of the current run saw writer/poet Kate Fox performing her Edinburgh Fringe Show Kate Fox News at the Hull Truck Studio Theatre. Tonight was ladies night so before Kate took to the stage the healthy Wednesday night crowd were given another chance to hear from the female members of the workshop poets.
Reviews, Arts - Write to Speak presents Kate Fox News at Hull Truck - Wednesday 12th January 2011 By Mark Walmsley
The last Write to Speakevent of the third season was crowned by a brilliant night's entertainment featuring BBC Radio 4's Kate Fox and 4 of Hulls very own up and coming poets, Catherine Scott, Kerry-Joe Pulford, Michaela Bamber and Pam Scobie .
Normally, it could be said that the likes of the very talented Kate Fox who has graced the Hull Truck
Reviews, Books - Coming to a Street Near You by Mike Watts Reviewed by Michelle Dee
Getting published in a real book with numbered pages and your name on the cover is a milestone in every writer's career. Mike Watts of Write to Speak fame has had his first anthology published by Night Publishing called Coming to a Street Near You.
The collection of poems has proved popular with demands from local bookstores, online and at shows.
Reviews, Theatre Write to Speak at Hull Truck - Ten by Ten - Wednesday 24th November 2010 By Michelle Dee. Photographs courtesy Cilla Wykes
The second Write to Speak Larkin25 on 22nd November was another success. The small team that organize these nights prove yet again that you don't need committees, event management and marketing teams to get things done.
This evening, 24th November, Write to Speak invited a poetry collective from the North East to Hull to perform alongside their own workshop poets. The visitors perform under the name 10 x 10Read more...
Reviews, Theatre Larkin25 - Write to Speak presents: They f*** you up... at Hull Truck - Monday 22nd November 2010 By Michelle Dee. Photographs courtesy Cilla Wykes
In this current climate of Arts funding cuts and uncertain futures the only thing to do is go out there and make things happen. Tonight's Write To Speak performances were the result of such an approach.
All the writers tonight have taken advantage of the poetry writing and performance workshops hosted by Joe Hakim and Mike Watts from Write To Speak in conjunction with thisisUll.comRead more...