Funbox Underwater Adventure

It doesn’t matter how many times I take my girls to see Funbox, it’s always an absolute pleasure. So when I found out that they were returning to Dundee, I knew we had to go.

This summer’s production, Underwater Adventure, sees the gang taking a voyage beneath the waves to the bottom of the ocean in a show that promised to be full of frolics and plenty of capers!! So how could we resist?

When we arrived at the theatre, it was already packed full of little mermaids and tiddlers who were hyped up and ready for the laughter and fun to begin. And they weren’t disappointed! As usual, the show included some new and very catchy tunes and some old classics such as My Father Went To Sea, Sea, Sea and The World Must Be Coming To An End – all of which were accompanied by some very funky dance moves which the children (and ahem… a few of the adults) copied with glee.

The show went down a treat with the whole audience adored Cha Cha Cha-ing along to the Funbox rhyme. As always the gang came offstage after the gig, ready to greet their fans. They are always so generous with their time posing for photographs and chatting with the kids, adding to the excitement of the day.

I can’t tell you how much I love taking my kids along to these shows. After seeing the Singing Kettle myself when I was a girl, I know how exciting a trip to the theatre can be for kids. When I take my girls along to see Funbox, I know that we’re not just having a good day out, we’re making memories that will last lifetime. So thank you Funbox. Keep up the good work!

Funbox are currently touring Scotland with their fabulously fun productions. For more information and to book tickets to see them live, visit: www.funbox.co.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with tickets to see Funbox in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Interview with scientist, children’s author and illustrator Dr Ana Isabel Ordonez

This month we chat to scientist, children’s author, illustrator Dr Ana Isabel Ordonez to find out about the inspiration behind her work…

Your children’s books feature a whole host of animals including Aye Aye and Roibeard the Giraffe. Can you tell me what the inspiration for the characters was? 

Most of my characters emanate from a poignancy, animals are poignant; usually this emotion becomes so compelling that I feel obligate to write, the same way some people feel compelled to talk to someone when going through weird places. When I read back over my work I can see how it’s me who’s writing but that each bit of writing personifies a different angle of my character and a different time too.

What has the response been like to the books? 
The response has been very good! People seem to really enjoy them. Hopefully animals like them too! After all we’re all just evolved monkeys really, aren’t we? I’m kidding…almost…

Your books have a strong message about animal rights and the importance of their natural habitat. Is this something that you have always felt passionate about?

Animals are losing rights and sadly future generations won’t have the opportunity to see the animals that we do today.  We have a lot to learn from animals, they are often much wiser than us. While humans like to believe that it’s love that makes the world go round, it’s the connection between human beings and animals that’s important. It’s that relationship that makes our time on earth joyful.

Do you have a writing routine that you follow?

I’ve always felt that I’m somewhat of an instinctive writer and illustrator. I’ve had no formal training, all of my knowledge about technique, form and meter I’ve conquered through studying the great writers, poets, and by reading their work time and again.  As writer and children illustrator it’s important to remain unrestrained, staying formless and inhabited in both style and utterance. I write from 4am to 9am without stopping – I need calm and reflection from what I experienced during the hours I’m awake. I also sleep a lot – up to 9h a day, but always in small fragments. Gosh I sound a bit like a lazy cat!

How do you spend your time when you’re not busy writing?

Being! That’s a big job! I spend my time having the courage to be myself! But aside from that, I travel and go biking, swimming and walking. I also enjoy reading a lot. Sometimes I simply do nothing – that’s something I’m becoming an expert in! It’s not easy to stay in the “emptiness of nothing” but nowadays I can spend hours just watching my pet turtle running about!

What are your favourite children’s books?

Wow that’s a tough question to answer! But I do like the work of Horatio Alger, Bernard Ashley, Aesop, Charles Dickens, Nicholas Stuart Gray, Roald Dahl, La Fontaine, Pavel Bazhov, Andrei Platonov, Jules Verne, Antoine de St Exupery, Aleksei Tolstoi…. the list is endless.

What inspired you become a writer?

I’m not sure if one becomes a writer. Life has drawn me in lots of different directions. On one hand, I’ve always been attracted to science, with its truth based on facts; but on the other hand, I am fascinated by ethics and the surreal.  Writing for me has always been about exploring most harrowing themes of human, animal, insects, minerals, music, poetry experience, irrespective of topic but keeping the wonder alive.

                       Aye Aye in space!

I self-publish my work, which I love because nobody tells me what to do! I have a great distribution worldwide but I’m always looking at new ways of doing things too. I like to explore new universes, I don’t like the sense of permanence. Every day is a teared up page of an infinite book.

Do have any further books in the series planned?

Yes, I’m working on a new story about Aye Aye and her pet Euricoty. The book is filled with lots of fun, laughter and a bit of naughtiness! It’s good to be naughty sometimes!

We look forward to reading more about Aye Aye and her adventures very soon! 

Review: Sinbad at the Webster Memorial Theatre, Arbroath

Every year my family and I make a point of going to see the pantomime at the Webster Memorial Theatre in Arbroath. Filled with fun and frolics, it’s the perfect way to get our Christmas on for another year. After all Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without shouting “He’s behind you” to the pantomime dame and “Oh no she didn’t” to the dastardly villain.

This year’s production is Sinbad written, as always, by the wonderfully talented playwright John Binnie. The swashbuckling adventure stars panto favourites Nathan Byrne as Sinbad, Graham Crammond as Baghdad Betty, Isabelle Joss as Velma, Sita Iona Pieraccini as Princess Persephone and Simon Donaldson in multiple baddy roles including the Evil Vizier and the terrifying Cannibal Chief.

When our panto hero Sinbad sets off to sail the seven seas to find his long lost father who is missing presumed dead – an adventure filled with high jinx follows. Because Sinbad can’t go on this journey alone! Oh no!  His mother and two suspicious men, who look surprisingly like disguised women, come along for the ride, leading to a tropical adventure filled with danger, romance and songs a plenty.

sinbad

We absolutely loved the show and my two girls aged 4 and 7, were absolutely riveted throughout. As always the Webster Memorial Theatre’s panto production was pitched absolutely perfectly for the family audience. We laughed and we yelled and we sang along and every single person in that theatre left with an extra festive spring in their steps.

Sinbad at the Webster Memorial Theatre is a pantomime not to be missed! I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.

Sinbad is on at the Webster Memorial Theatre until the 24th of December. For further information about the production and to buy tickets, please visit: http://www.webstertheatre.co.uk/


*Disclaimer: I was very kindly provided with tickets to this performance in exchange for this fair and honest review.

 

George’s Marvellous Medicine at the Dundee Rep – Review

I was brought up on a diet of Roald Dahl. Matilda, The Witches and George’s Marvellous Medicine were my all time favourite books and kept me captivated through most of the 80s. Of course, I’ve also watched Matilda and The Witches on the big screen too – and although I enjoyed them both, for me the movie versions never had quite the same appeal as the books.

So when I heard that George’s Marvellous Medicine was coming to the Dundee Rep, I was curious about how the deliciously simple but dark little tale would work on the stage.

Dundee, UK. 23.11.2016. Dundee Rep Ensemble presents GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE, adapted from Roald Dahl's book by Stuart Paterson, and directed by Associate Artistic Director, Joe Douglas. With design by Ana Ines Jabares-Pita and lighting design by Mark Doubleday. The cast is: Rebekah Lumsden (George Killy-Kranky), Ann Louise Ross (Grandma), Emily Winter (Mary Killy-Kranky), Irene Macdougall (Giant Chicken) and Ewan Donald (Johnny Killy-Kranky). Photograph © Jane Hobson.

I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. While some of the elements of the play such as the incredible set of George’s House, had an almost futuristic feel, the plot never strayed far from Dahl’s story, capturing all of its tremendously wicked humour.

As always the Dundee Ensemble cast gave wonderful performances. Rebekah Lumsden shone as George as did Emily Winter and Ewan Donald as the mischief maker’s parents. But it was Ann Louise Ross (Granny Island from Katie Morag) as Grandma who absolutely stole the show as the foul, repugnant and terrifying Grandma. She managed to be both menacing and funny all at the same time – making my little one jump and chuckle in equal turns.

The special effects and stunning set, added a magical feel to the production, ensuring that George’s Marvellous Medicine the play, was every bit as glorious as the book. I’ll never forget my seven year old’s face when Grandma started to grow – it was an absolute picture!

If you’re looking to take your children some where enchanting this Christmas, I’d highly recommend a trip to see George’s Marvellous Medicine. After all there is no place more magical than the theatre.

George’s Marvellous Medicine is at the Dundee Rep until the 31st of December. To book tickets visit: http://www.dundeerep.co.uk

Image by Jane Hobson

Disclaimer: I was given two tickets to see the Dundee Rep’s production of George’s Marvellous Medicine in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Dundee Literary Festival 2016 – Review

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When I was a little girl, it’s fair to say that I didn’t exactly fit in. I was rubbish at sports, useless at computer games and I wasn’t really the outdoorsy, go out and ride on your bicycle kind of girl. The only thing that I ever really wanted to do was just sit down and read. In front of the fire with a cat on my lap was always the best case scenario, but you know what, it didn’t really matter where I read, as long as I had a book in my hand I was happy.

It took me until adulthood to realise that being bookish was my kind of my “thing”. Perhaps I even rebelled a little against the label, because let’s face it, reading isn’t the most sociable of hobbies…

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Outer Edges with Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack, hosted by Stuart Kelly

Except sometimes it is! Once a year, when the autumn leaves start to fall, being a book geek like me is actually an extremely sociable thing to be – thanks to Dundee Literary Festival.

Now in its 10th year, the festival is THE place to be in October if you love reading. With a schedule packed full of book events for every taste right in the centre of Dundee, the event is every literature lover’s dream.

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First Writes with Shelley Day and Sandra Ireland hosted by Zoe Venditozzi

A few weeks back I attended the five day festival, fitting in as many events as I possibly could. You could say that the range of events I attended was pretty eclectic!- From A Rock & Roll Roald Dahl Party with Scots writer Matthew Fitt and Outer Edges with non fiction writers Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack to Haunting Afterlives – an event examining the work of Shirley Jackson and Josephine Tey – the subject matters were pretty diverse but I got something out of them all.

Attending debut author events with the wonderful Sandra Ireland, Shelley Day and Martin Cathcart Froden was a real highlight, especially to an aspiring novelist like me. As was seeing more established authors such as James Kelman, the only Scottish author to ever win The Booker Prize, read with such passion.

But for me, the best thing about Dundee Literary Festival is the sense of community that it has. It’s a fabulously warm and engaging event, full of friendly faces who all share the same love and passion for reading.

So thank you Dundee Literary Festival! Thank you for making me feel part of the best bookish gang in Scotland! I’m already counting down the days until next year!

Dundee Literary Festival is run by Literary Dundee as part of Dundee University. For more information, visit their website: http://www.literarydundee.co.uk/

Photographs by Bob McDevitt