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Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Charlie Kaufman is a filmmaker whose work I have always admired; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my favourite films of all time (so much so that I wrote a whole essay on it in first year!). To this day, I remain astounded by the ambition and complexity of his directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York. Having declared my love for Kaufman films, … Continue reading Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

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Identities not Categories: Is there a Problem with BAME?

Over lockdown, I’ve been subjected to many a rant from my dad concerning how fast society is changing; usually an add-on to his lecture about how ruthless and toxic cancel culture can be. Now, to a certain extent I can sympathise. Our linguistics and what’s considered politically correct are evolving and changing at a rate that we’ve never experienced. A recent example of such controversy is … Continue reading Identities not Categories: Is there a Problem with BAME?

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Reviews in Retrospect: Outlaw Culture by bell hooks

I first heard about intersectional feminist writer bell hooks in a Media Studies classroom during sixth form. We were taught that bell hooks challenges the “ideology of domination” that perpetuates misogyny, racism and classism. Our teacher also told us that hooks deliberately refused to punctuate her name with capital letters, to symbolically shed the tools of power that regulate personal identity. Before I ever read bell hooks, the idea of a writer powerful enough to escape the confines of language fascinated me. The first of hooks’ writing I read, her 1994 collection of essays and interviews Outlaw Culture, asserts that popular culture is never “apolitical”, and representation always matters. Unpretentious, piercingly insightful, and funny, Outlaw Culture is as fascinating as hooks herself. Continue reading Reviews in Retrospect: Outlaw Culture by bell hooks

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Reading Corner: Magazines

Having spent the beginning of lockdown blasting my way through novel after novel to occupy my sudden abundance of free time, I’d recently found my attention span gradually waning as the endless hours of isolation wore on. With lockdown boredom making me increasingly fidgety, the focus required to sit down and immerse myself in the depths of a book became harder to grasp. Continue reading Reading Corner: Magazines

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Defiant, Self-Aware, Accessible Feminism: Why you should read Florence Given’s ‘Women Don’t Owe You Pretty’

Florence Given’s book Women Don’t Owe You Pretty (2020) has been The Sunday Times bestseller for ten weeks in a row now, and it’s no surprise why. Continue reading Defiant, Self-Aware, Accessible Feminism: Why you should read Florence Given’s ‘Women Don’t Owe You Pretty’

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Bodyform’s ‘Womb Stories’ Campaign and De-Stigmatising Menstruation

Since I was about sixteen, I’ve been passionate about de-stigmatizing periods. I used the Clue app religiously and showed it to all my friends at school, including the boys. I talked about periods loudly and graphically. I didn’t care if that made boys feel uncomfortable. I had confidence about my periods. They made me feel powerful and were an important part of my identity as a young woman. Because of my contraception, I don’t have periods anymore. My female friends are usually jealous of me when I tell them this, but I actually miss them; they’re a sign that everything’s ticking over and working properly. They’re completely healthy and natural, so why is there such a big stigma surrounding them? Continue reading Bodyform’s ‘Womb Stories’ Campaign and De-Stigmatising Menstruation

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Reading Corner: Wilt by Tom Sharpe

Wilt (1976) by Tom Sharpe is probably the funniest book I have ever read. And I’m talking laugh out loud funny. As an English student with months and months of lockdown stretching ahead of me, I probably should have made a list of every great Victorian novel and slowly made my way through them with a sense of dignified purpose and achievement. Obviously, this was not the case and, as my Netflix history will prove, I have spent very little of this holiday actually reading. However, once I picked up Wilt, I forgot all about a fourth binge of the entirety of Community (shocking, I know) and was hooked. Continue reading Reading Corner: Wilt by Tom Sharpe

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What makes you BRITish enough: Why Rina Sawayama called out the Music Industry

Imagine releasing a critically acclaimed album only to be told you aren’t eligible to be nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize and BRIT awards, let alone win them; all because apparently you aren’t British enough. For Japanese-born British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama, being told she couldn’t even qualify for consideration for an award so clearly deserved is obviously nothing less than heart breaking. After living in the UK for 25 years and holding indefinite leave to remain in the country, why do the BPI rules deny her this accolade for which she has so evidently been snubbed? Continue reading What makes you BRITish enough: Why Rina Sawayama called out the Music Industry

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Single Review: ‘Labyrinth’ by A Blaze of Feather

I wasn’t familiar with Cornish band A Blaze of Feather until my interview with band member Mickey Smith, but I’m glad I’ve made this discovery. It’s refreshing. The new album LABYRINTH is strong as a whole, but for me the highlight is the titular track ‘Labyrinth’. This single is likely to be popular with a lot of fans of indie music. Smith’s vocals are unique – calming but with a sense of power. The guitar is catchy and works especially well with the chorus. The instrumentation as a whole is extremely effective. Continue reading Single Review: ‘Labyrinth’ by A Blaze of Feather

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Why Princess Di is still at the Forefront of Fashion

When you think of 90s fashion, what first comes to mind? Cycling shorts, baggy sweatshirts and high-waisted jeans? Oversized blazers, scrunchies and tiny shoulder bags? If you’re thinking that sounds like a rundown of what you’d see walking into Urban Outfitters, you’d be correct. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a revival for all things vintage – and no-one exuded 90s cool better than Princess Diana. Continue reading Why Princess Di is still at the Forefront of Fashion

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Lauren Bacall: A Feminist’s Femme Fatale

With her iconic smoky voice and signature sultry “look”, Lauren Bacall is often remembered as Old Hollywood’s ultimate femme fatale. From the moment she first entered the big screen, and delivered the line ‘anybody got a match?’ (To Have and Have Not, 1944) Bacall established herself as the anti-ingenue; strong, intelligent and opposite to the naïve woman typically celebrated in 1940s film. Mysterious, seductive female characters have been repeatedly demonised throughout the history of storytelling. Threatening the traditional perception of the ideal, passive woman, with her awareness of her own sexuality, femme fatales are usually represented as dangerous. Often in Old Hollywood, the femme fatale, and female sexuality itself, existed to be punished. This, however, was not the case for Lauren Bacall. Turning the era’s censorship laws on their head, Bacall presented female audiences with someone they could identify with: a knows-what-she-wants girl who could express her sexuality without being labelled a villain. Continue reading Lauren Bacall: A Feminist’s Femme Fatale

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Navigating Conversations about White Privilege

Like many other white people amid the Black Lives Matter movement, I have been questioning how I can become a better ally. Where to begin? Acknowledging white privilege is the first step. Listen to what people of colour are saying, read up and question where white privilege can be seen in your own life and the world around you. It is as easy as looking … Continue reading Navigating Conversations about White Privilege

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Uncovering the Rainbow, Re-examining History from a Queer Perspective

It is well known that history is written by the victors. The individuals in power are sculptors, who mould events and entire periods to reflect beneficially upon themselves. Despite facts being concrete, sometimes textbooks and the literary canon shatter these, acting like rose tinted glasses, constructed to distort the reality of the past. The triumph of those in power is carved into time, while the stories of minorities are left to decay and swept under the carpet when their accounts are deemed unacceptable for future generations. This is so often the case for the LGBTQ+ community. Continue reading Uncovering the Rainbow, Re-examining History from a Queer Perspective

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Problematic Lockdown Shopping Habits

Finding ways to deal with lockdown boredom can sometimes feel like a pointless endeavour. However, many have taken to online shopping as a remedy to quell such mundanity. As the ‘physical’ fashion industry has taken a slight pause with the cancellation of summer fashion shows and September fashion weeks looking increasingly unlikely, the virtual fast fashion world has kept charging on at its usual unsustainable speed. PFS discovered in a recent survey of 2,000 Brits that “three in five (60%) consumers have purchased more goods since the lockdown began, than they did before, with 53% having shopped more online”. Moreover, the report outlined that “more than three quarters (77%) of these […] expect they will continue to purchase online more once the lockdown is over – indicating a potentially irreversible change in consumer purchasing behaviour”. But what does an “irreversible change” in UK consumer behaviour mean for the employees at the bottom of the supply chain and the environment? Continue reading Problematic Lockdown Shopping Habits

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Performativity and All-White Workplaces: The Racism that Happens Behind-the-scenes of the Fashion Industry

In the wake of the recent global Black Lives Matter protests, discussions surrounding racism within the workplace have been bought to light, with individuals and former employees finally finding the courage to speak out about their experiences of discrimination. As a result, many industries and companies have come under fire for their problematic attitudes towards their non-white employees and their consequential lack of action, with the fashion industry being one of the most revealing. It will come as no surprise to anyone that the fashion industry lacks diversity, with runways and fashion campaigns featuring predominantly white, thin models, and constant instances of cultural appropriation seen on the runway and in collections. However, recent years have shown a development in the diversity seen on the runway, with South Sudanese model Adut Akech winning model of the year at the 2019 Fashion Awards. Whilst this improvement cannot be said for every fashion house (just look at the Dior AW20 campaign), the inclusivity seen amongst models is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. One well-known luxury fashion brand that has been hailed for the diversity of their models is Jacquemus. This French fashion house, founded by designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, is most well-known for its stunning runway show backdrops, the Le Chiquito mini bags and also inclusivity of models of all sizes, races and genders, with Vogue even congratulating the brand for their “gorgeously diverse casting”. Whilst Jacquemus has been praised for this diversity, recent revelations prove that this inclusivity goes no deeper than surface level. Continue reading Performativity and All-White Workplaces: The Racism that Happens Behind-the-scenes of the Fashion Industry

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My Favourite Album Covers: From Pre-teen Pop to Peach Pit

For me, the best album covers will always be the ones that perfectly encapsulate the music they contain, showing you how the album is going to make you feel or what it’s trying to say before you’ve heard the opening notes. In fact, the best albums, in my opinion, are the ones that have a unifying emotion or sentiment that you feel in every single one of its songs. After trawling through my saved Spotify albums, though, I quickly realised that not all these great albums have the best covers, nor do the best covers belong to the best albums. Continue reading My Favourite Album Covers: From Pre-teen Pop to Peach Pit

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Dipsea: Closing the Orgasm Gap

The first time I watched porn I was fourteen. I remember being squished in with friends, staring at a small laptop and feeling pretty unconvinced by what I saw. It was violent and certainly didn’t look enjoyable for the woman. It wasn’t until I came across Dipsea that I felt I had found erotica that catered to what I wanted. Founded in 2018 by Gina Gutierrez and Faye Keegan, the app is designed by women, for women and offers advice, self-pleasure sessions and audio stories. Continue reading Dipsea: Closing the Orgasm Gap

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Reviews in Retrospect: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

When I first began writing this review of Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 masterpiece, Their Eyes Were Watching God, it was an understatement to say that I felt daunted. Many have said that the novel defined the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, and prolific writers such as Alice Walker (author of The Colour Purple) have said that, “There is no book more important […] than this one”. Nevertheless, the reason why I jumped at the opportunity to write about it, is that when I read the book, on a rainy-day during quarantine, the sense of wonder I felt for the novel’s protagonist made me want to share it with everyone. Continue reading Reviews in Retrospect: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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Politics on Screen: Sitting in Limbo

At the start of June BBC One aired Sitting in Limbo, a factual drama about the consequences of the Windrush scandal of 2018. Despite the programme flying largely under the radar, nearly two months after I watched this important piece of television, I still reflect on it and the way it made me feel. Continue reading Politics on Screen: Sitting in Limbo

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Review: The Kissing Booth 2

The Kissing Booth, directed by Vince Marcello and starring Joey King, Jacob Elordi and Molly Ringwald, caused a bit of a stir in the rom-com genre when it was first released on Netflix in May 2018. Not least because it was based off a published Wattpad series by Beth Reekles, written when she was just fifteen years old. As someone who used to frequently read (and occasionally attemptto write) Wattpad stories, I maintain that it is a valuable platform for creating and consuming content in its most preliminary form; though I do wonder if there were other less damaging narrative that Netflix could have picked up and transferred to the big screen. Continue reading Review: The Kissing Booth 2

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Review: Royal Shakespeare Company: Othello

Iqbal Khan’s Othello is a haunting rendition of psychological unravelling. With a stage bathed in blue light, a set reminiscent of a gothic church, and songs performed like elegies, Shakespeare’s controversial tragedy undergoes a thematic dismantling. Khan’s Othello recontextualises the play’s depictions of brutality and injustice. Costumes wander in a realm between modern and timeless, and additional dialogue involves the multi-racial community exchanging racist insults using current language. Most notably, the dynamic between Othello and the manipulative Iago shifts, with the compelling casting choice of a black actor as Iago. Continue reading Review: Royal Shakespeare Company: Othello

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The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.5

‘How much longer?’ Benji asks. He’s playing on his Switch in the back-seat; the tinny sound effects an accompaniment to Daisy’s strained breathing. ‘Not long, the sat-nav says ten minutes.’ I flit my eyes between the screen and the road, gently turning the steering wheel. ‘A whole ten?’ He groans, shifting about on the leather. ‘Why don’t you put your game away, look out the … Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.5

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Beer Gardens: A Place to Fear?

Since lockdown restrictions have been lifted, I’ve been making the most of socialising with my friends, whether it be a walk through the countryside, a takeaway or meal out, or, of course, a drink at one of my local pubs. Although I’ve heard bad things about some pubs in my area and across the country as a whole, I’ve only had fairly positive experiences in regards to social distancing. I’m happy to be able to get out to pubs again, as long as I feel reassured that they are definitely safe and socially distant. Continue reading Beer Gardens: A Place to Fear?

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Holiday at Home?

The holiday culture first took over the UK in the eighteenth century, when the wealthy began to discover spa breaks in places like Bath. By the nineteenth century, holiday resorts across the UK such as Blackpool and Southport first opened. Although foreign holidays were popular in the twentieth century, they appeared only available to the rich. For any fellow fans of A Room With A … Continue reading Holiday at Home?

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Reviews in Retrospect: Chewing Gum

Chewing Gum is a TV series both written and staring Michaela Coel. Originally airing on E4 in 2015, I first heard of it a few weeks ago when it was added to Netflix. The programme’s debut on Netflix comes after Coel’s new drama I Will Destroy You was released on BBC in June. This led to one of my housemates suggesting we watch it because … Continue reading Reviews in Retrospect: Chewing Gum

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Review: I May Destroy You

Michaela Coel’s masterpiece deserves your attention.
Social media has been ablaze with rave reviews of Michaela Coel’s latest work for weeks. From the moment the first episode aired in early June, my Twitter feed was awash with people declaring it a masterpiece, and its creator ‘the new Phoebe Waller-Bridge’. My interest was piqued. Still, I was hesitant as I hit play, not quite sure whether the show would live up to my expectations. Fast-forward a couple of weeks and you’d find me lying on my floor, trying my best to contemplate what I’d just seen in the show’s finale. Subversive is too soft a word for the twisted, confusing, uncomfortable, incredible half hour I’d just experienced. I was fully ready to declare I May Destroy You a work of genius. Continue reading Review: I May Destroy You

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Review: Mrs America

When I first learned about Phyllis Schlafly and her battle against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) during my history lessons at school, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend why somebody would be in opposition to the legal affirmation of their own rights. Mrs America (BBC 2/FX on Hulu) offered me a more in-depth insight into the historical narrative of the motivations behind her activism. This … Continue reading Review: Mrs America

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Review: folklore by Taylor Swift

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Over the last three months of lockdown, everybody seems to have had their own quarantine project, and ten-time Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift, is no different. However, whilst we, the common people, baked bread and ran 5Ks, Swift was writing and producing her eighth Studio Album, folklore, which she announced and dropped within 24 hours, complete with a music video she directed. Continue reading Review: folklore by Taylor Swift

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The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.4

When you are twelve, you lose interest in the difference between a stag beetle and a dung beetle. It’s not cool to like insects or play in fields anymore. I had started ‘big school’ as Mum promised. I hung out with a group of five boys; we would play football in the playing field after lessons, staining the grey trousers that were ironed for me, … Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.4

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Review: Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods (2020) is Spike Lee’s latest release after his critically acclaimed BlacKkKlansman (2018), which won him his first Academy award. Lee’s constant stream of provocative and profound pieces has proven time and time again that he has “his finger on the pulse of modern America” (Mark Kermode). The plot follows four ex-GIs who return to Vietnam to recover the remains of their fallen comrade, the almost mythical, Black Panther-esque Stormin’ Norman. At least that’s their cover. In reality, they return to retrieve bars of gold that the American army stole from the North Vietnamese all those years ago. Continue reading Review: Da 5 Bloods

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Flesh and Femininity: How Body Horror in Raw Externalises Female Sexual Awakening

Julia Ducournau’s directorial debut Raw follows 16-year-old Justine as she attempts to navigate the complexities of becoming a woman alongside her newfound and unconventional desires. Coming from a high-achieving family of entirely vets and vegetarians, Justine is ready to start her first year at vet school, where her older sister, Alexia, also studies. During some time-honoured and intense hazing rituals, the ‘rookies’ are drenched in pigs’ blood (Carrie, anyone?) and forced to eat raw rabbit kidneys as a form of initiation. After eating meat for the first time, unexpected consequences emerge as Justine is overcome with an all-consuming craving for human flesh. Continue reading Flesh and Femininity: How Body Horror in Raw Externalises Female Sexual Awakening

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Review: NT Live: Amadeus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is, to most, synonymous with classical music. The composer is widely adored, and his music is often played by students to help them concentrate when pulling an all-nighter or cramming some revision. The play Amadeus, perhaps contrary to what the title may suggest,does not focus entirely on this complicated individual, but rather on Antonio Salieri, the composer creating at the same time as Mozart. This heavily dramatised account acts as part confession and part swan song of the dying artist in his last few hours on earth. The plot is full of activity, though rather simple to follow, as Salieri invites the audience to listen to his tale, the character imagining us as ghosts of the future judging his supposed actions. What we witness is a hard-working and deeply religious man making a name for himself on the Viennese court and whose outputs are minimised when compared with the works of Mozart. Continue reading Review: NT Live: Amadeus

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Zoos in Lockdown

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought with it uncertainty and hardship for everyone. With families split, businesses closed, and many staff furloughed, life has been turned upside down indefinitely. However, for some businesses COVID-19 has placed excessive strain on the existence of their assets and zoos are at the forefront of these hardships. After being closed due to lockdown in March, zoos have been relying on charity from the public to maintain their animals for almost three months. Zoos require daily management in order to feed, clean, and care for the thousands of animals that they house, and the extended and unexpected closures had the potential to be devastating for many of these wild animals across the country. Despite zoos being allowed to reopen on the Monday 15 June 2020, the lack of income over the last few months has meant that many zoos (including Living Coasts in Torquay) have been force to announce their permanent closures. Continue reading Zoos in Lockdown

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Changing Spaces: Learning to Love the Box Room

Growing up I never understood how being sent to your bedroom was a punishment; the potential of spending an hour in my own space acted not as a deterrent, but if anything prompted me to be cheeky so I could escape helping unload the dishwasher. However, after spending four months in lockdown, cooped up in my childhood bedroom, I’ve begun to understand the intended unpleasantness behind this overused penalty. Continue reading Changing Spaces: Learning to Love the Box Room

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Making Herstory: How TIME is Foregrounding Women’s Excellence

In response to the historic gender exclusivity of their ‘Man of the Year’ issues, published for 72 years, TIME Magazine recently launched a project, recreating 100 covers, each celebrating a ‘Woman of the Year’ from 1920 to 2019. The project aims to turn the spotlight to the achievements of women which were historically overshadowed by those of their male counterparts. From renowned fashion icon Coco Chanel to mathematical revolutionary Emmy Noether, from the champion of Indian independence Amrit Kaur to sporting legend Serena Williams, TIME’s project truly presents an incredible compilation of female champions. Continue reading Making Herstory: How TIME is Foregrounding Women’s Excellence

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The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.3

Summer 2005. I was ten. It was two years ago that I had seen the baby fox and their mother. I would sometimes wonder if they were still out there, flashing through the woods. I stomped through the landscape, looking for fun, growing bored of what the countryside of Devon could offer.I was growing restless in the fields and hedgerows, which manifested in a lethargy. … Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Field Days Pt.3

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Review: Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan

From familiar folk-rock instrumentals spring songs of the self. Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album Rough and Rowdy Ways ​was released on June 19th, to high praise from critics and fans alike. Listeners have found in these songs a window to escape lockdown through —​ ​and yet, like all of Dylan’s greatest albums, this one refuses to turn away from reality. Continue reading Review: Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan

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Theatres in the Dark: Here’s How You Can Support Your Local Playhouse

When theatres fell dark on Monday 16 March 2020, few could have imagined that nearly four months later their doors would remain closed. Their auditoriums decidedly empty and their stages eerily quiet. While lockdown has meant we’ve been able to enjoy award-winning productions streamed directly to our homes, performers, technicians and audiences alike are now eagerly anticipating a return to normality, itching for theatres to raise their curtains once more. Continue reading Theatres in the Dark: Here’s How You Can Support Your Local Playhouse

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Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

When it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest, I would not class myself as the ‘average viewer’. If anything, I am a huge fan of the wonderfully wacky contest. So I, along with tens of thousands of people from all over Europe and around the world, was ready to head to Rotterdam this May to enjoy its week of spectacular weirdness. However, COVID-19 has put these plans on hold. I do not want to in any way diminish the awful effects the current crisis has had on every aspect of life. I just find that it is unfortunate, but understandable, that the contest had to be postponed. Continue reading Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

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Reading Corner: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo’s debut book charts the emotional and sexual lives of three women who, despite being radically different to one another in their circumstances and experiences, are bound together in ways that are difficult to pinpoint. Having heard a great deal throughout the year about how ground-breaking and excellent Three Women was, I decided to make it one of my lockdown reads. I was surprised … Continue reading Reading Corner: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo