Author Archives: Natalie Burnsy

About Natalie Burnsy

I live in Bristol, and I love to write. I work for a creative design company, where I write website copy. However, there are lots of things about modern living that bug me, amuse me, make me ponder, and inspire me. And that's what I want to share with you. Music, art film and theatre reviews, musings and things I wish we can share, think about, and change. They're all here.

Small Stories has something new to say…

Small not back

Welcome to Small Stories!

For anyone who has been to Small Stories before, we used to be a monthly event for local writers – but we’re aiming to say something different this time.

Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone has the opportunity to tell it. The most interesting stories tell the truth. But in a world of noise and distraction, where charity funding is cut and self-promotion and marketing are key, many important stories get drowned out.

That’s where Small Stories comes in.

We aim to give charities and the people they serve a voice. Our audiences can enjoy and evening of honest, interesting and important stories that may otherwise go unheard. The people who need to tell those stories get to have their say, and hard working charities who can help them get to spread their word – for free.

The new Small Stories events will raise funds and awareness for local charity and community organisations by giving them a bigger voice. The best stories are rooted in truth as well as imagination.

We’ve got a great line up for you, for a great cause.

For our first event, we’ll be working with The Harbour, a Bristol based free counselling service. We’d like to tell you a few tales about why talking, writing, and having a space where you can honestly share your thoughts, without judgement, makes all the difference.

Expect an evening of Spoken Word, Comedy, Short Stories, and Poetry – followed by an open Q&A about mental health.

That’s not all. There’ll be live music and immersive visuals to wind you down – and a Bristol-based street artist will be illustrating live on stage throughout our performances. The original art will be auctioned off to you, the audience, to raise funds for The Harbour.

We’re still in the planning stages, but if you’d like to be a part of something great, leave your email and we’ll send you all the details…

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Zero @ Alma Tavern – Review

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Sometimes you meet someone, out in the pub, surrounded by noise and chatting at ten miles an hour. They’re a bit gobby, they’re making too many jokes, and you know it’s not real. You wonder what they’re like when they’re on their own, and whether they are sad.

You can see that most of the people around them haven’t noticed, because they are having fun. Or they have noticed, but it’s harder to ask if that person is alright than it is to keep up the banter. If they ask, they don’t know what answer they’ll get. It might ruin the party.

Read my review in Bristol 24/7

Reginald D Hunter @ Bristol Comedy Garden – Review

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Not being funny, but Bristol needed a laugh this week.

After the sporting and political fails on the European front, it was bound to get a mention. And of course, it did. The one good thing about Brexit is that it meant freshly written material at Bristol Comedy Garden last night.

Read my review in Bristol 24/7

Help! Review of Viki Browne’s play at Wardrobe Theatre

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It takes a brave woman to stand in front of a room full of strangers in a skin-coloured leotard. It takes an even braver woman (and one with a bloody good sense of humour) to wear a leotard and confess that she needs help. Because, well, that makes you look like you do. 

And that’s the whole point to Bristol performer Viki Browne’s bizarre, touching and engaging one-woman show.

Read my full review in Bristol 24/7 mag…

Review: It’s Shaun the Sheep! Aardman Animations in conversation with Marcus Brigstoke: Bristol Slapstick Festival 2016

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On Saturday afternoon Shaun the Sheep fans young and old gathered at St George’s to hear from Aardman writers and directors Richard Starzak and Mark Burton about just what makes Shaun such an internationally adored critter.

Read my full review in Bristol24/7…

Film Review: Chicago – Cecil B. DeMille (1927)

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Murder, adultery and all that jazz: Chicago has been a hit Broadway musical, a critically acclaimed film, and has sparked the imagination of anyone who secretly loves a little glitz, a moonshine cocktail and a bit of bad behaviour. And there’s something uniquely compelling, fun and totally unique about Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 silent Chicago that the other film versions just don’t have.

Read the full review in Bristol24/7

Review – Living Spit’s A Christmas Carol

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We all know the tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge and his wicked ways as well as we know there will be a family fallout over Christmas dinner. We’ve heard it a hundred times, from actors ranging from Alastair Sim to Michael Caine and Gonzo from The Muppets. However, Stu McLoughlin and Howard Coggins add a whole new twist to the festive tale in Living Spit’s version.

Read the full review in Bristol 24/7…

Review: Red Rope Theatre’s Dracula at Arnos Vale

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Walking up the dark and misty moonlit path to Arnos Vale’s Anglican Chapel, past silhouetted graves and toward the light, you can’t help but be in the mood for horror.

There could hardly be a better place to immerse yourself in a familiar Gothic tale of the undead than this beautiful and foreboding cemetery on a dark and blustery November night.

Read the full review in Bristol 24/7…

Don’t let growing up ruin your dreams – Bristol Lit Fest Launch Logic

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STOP DAYDREAMING AND CONCENTRATE

After Primary School, lets face it, the fun is over. High school means you have to work out how to act like a grown up, or at least learn the ability to pretend convincingly you’re a grown up.

You don’t play games, not imaginative games. You learn to play social games. You’re made to stand up and read in front of the class. You’re terrified, and you have no idea what the words mean, not really.

You don’t understand the story yet, because you haven’t experienced anything yet. You’re learning to fit in and fake the emotions though, so you blend in with the crowd.

But you know the words mean something, so you start to wonder about them, usually secretly. You wonder what you can learn from them. The stories you hear seem to have the answer to something you can’t quite grasp.

BUT THAT’S NOT IMPORTANT

You have your set texts. GCSE’s are important. You need to hit the targets or the school looks bad, your parents will be disappointed, and you will feel bad.

If you don’t get your grades, how will you learn to tick all the other boxes ahead of you satisfactorily.

You’ll never get into college. You’ll never get a job. You won’t be a success.

Won’t I, you wonder? Really?

DON’T ASK STUPID QUESTIONS

They are not on the designated sheet. They are out of the scope of the reading list. Those texts that catch your imagination are too modern, those artists that intrigue you are too vulgar. Your opinions are not shared by the class, and your answers don’t fit the marking criteria. You don’t make the grade.

So, now there are two obvious paths to tread; because your imagination is broad and varied, but what the majority of people count as ‘growing up’ and ‘being successful’ is not.

That’s when you meet and court those most limiting of characters;

Fuck ‘em, and compliance.

Fuck ‘em says: The hell with ‘literature’ and ‘aesthetics’ and, all that other bollocks.

They’re for rich wankers anyway. For people with too much time on their hands.

They’re for armchair philosophers and self indulgent bastards who like to sound clever in front of their smug peers down the pub. Literature is for people with too much money who don’t have to get a ‘real’ job. If you wrote anything honest down, they wouldn’t understand it anyway, because they don’t go out and experience things.They just read about them. They read Shakespeare and Tolstoy and they haven’t a clue about real life.

Fuck ‘em says; If I don’t know the right words, they’ll never take me seriously. If I don’t read the right books, and have the right grades, they’ll make me feel small.

So you stop daydreaming, stop asking questions, stop getting lost in stories or writing anything honest, you just get on with it.

Then you feel sad and you don’t know why. Because you can’t express yourself, and you feel like you shouldn’t. You just want to fit in.

Don’t worry, a disheartened, tired voice inside you says.

Just get home, put on Netflix and it will tell you what you’ll like, based on previous selections. No need to discover or explore. No need to think anymore.

Work in the morning.

Or you can listen to compliance.

Suddenly saying Stephen King or Nick Hornby are your favourite authors is embarrassing. You could safely upscale to Bukowski or Hunter S. Thomson because they’re pretty cool. But you have to know they’re cool because of the drugs and the drinking, not really think about the message behind what they’re saying.

You need bite size quotes. Bite size quotes impress.

Who cares if you didn’t read the whole story. You can only tweet 140 characters anyway. Or you can just put a selfie on Facebook of you in black rimmed glasses, drinking a latte with the book next to you, you don’t even need a quote for that.

Later, of course, you will have to know the more ‘literary’ writers. You’ll need to be familiar with canonical texts and learn to  pronounce authors like Dostoyevsky* correctly.

You’ll need to know at least a summary of Shakespeare’s plays. Was Hamlet the one where he holds out the skull, and Macbeth the one where he goes murderously mad, or the other way round?

Just learn to remember the facts, and when it comes up at the pub quiz, over a craft ale, you’ll sound very intelligent indeed.

You learn it all, and you know all the best lines. You can say all the right words in the right places. You fit right in. You’re successful. A real grown up.

But you feel sad and you don’t know why.

You can’t express yourself, and you feel like you shouldn’t. You’ve learned so many second hand opinions, you’re not even sure what you think anymore.

Don’t worry, put on Netflix and it will tell you what you’ll like, based on previous selections.

No need to think anymore. Work in the morning.

So, readers, Small Stories is here to tell you you needn’t choose either.

Literature, in whichever way you choose to write it, read it, perform it, or listen to it, is cathartic.

It’s good for you.

It makes you question life, consider other points of view, and tell your own truth, however you wish to tell it.

Ask stupid questions, because that’s how you learn.

Tell your truths despite being a ‘proper grown up’, and never stop daydreaming and doodling at the back of class.

Thanks to everyone who came to the event, and thanks for getting involved and writing down your confessions. There’s a selection below and I’m sure there’ll be more from Small Stories soon… so keep in touch @smallstorybris

Confessions from the evening can be found below…

*My truth: Dos-toy-ev-sky. I had to do that in my mind when writing this. I also wiki searched the spelling. Just in case.

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A selection of your confessions from the Literature Festival launch:

“Sometimes at poetry readings I switch off and just think about myself” – Er, thanks for coming Graham

“I am as soft as down & as frightened as a chicken” – Carol

“I love Jonny” – Well Sophie, if he’s reading this, can I count matchmaking as one of the services provided by Small Stories? Keep me posted eh.

“I should have known I was a lesbian when I fancied Mary Poppins as a child”. Cassie

“I’m going to be an English teacher and I still don’t fully understand how apostrophes work”. Hannah

“I own hundreds of DVDs, but don’t have a DVD player”. Josh

“I am over 30 & I still can’t tell my left from my right. Now I have developed a system where I have to clap in order to know which way is left. It’s weird”. Yer tis Christie, but whatever works!

Thanks so much to everyone who came along, and to our amazing readers, Dean McCaffrey, Ellen Waddell & Bella Fortune, and to DJ BarrTheTruth

Also a massive thanks to out designer Sam Green, and our illustrator Ben Philips. You guys make us look so pretty.

Hopefully see you all at the other amazing Bristol Festival of Literature events on around Bristol this week…

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Small Stories presents Bristol Festival of Literature Launch Party!

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Small Stories presents: The Bristol Festival of Literature Launch Party

Oct 17th, 8.00pm – late at Watershed Café Bar

@smallstorybris 

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Can you hear the truth?

The modern world is full of words. It’s hard to cut through the noise. From click bait articles to 140 character self-promotion to advertising masquerading as news to social media self-propaganda, it’s hard to tell what’s real and to get your voice heard.

Everyone has a story to tell, no matter who they are or how they choose to tell it. Often, the most memorable stories are honest – they share experiences, they teach you different points of view.

That’s what Small Stories is all about. We find the people with the most interesting truths, and we give them a stage.

You’ll hear from some of Bristol’s best Theatre Performers (Ellen Waddell), Performance Artists (Bella Fortune), Spoken Word Performers (Dean McCaffery) and from your slightly cynical, but ever honest, host (Natalie Burns).

There’ll also be a live DJ set and the chance to get involved and make your story heard – all for free. Donations welcome of course!

Most importantly, whether you like it or not, we only speak the truth.

Learn a little more about our truth tellers…

Ellen Waddell

Ellen Waddell is a writer, director, performance artist and musician.

She’s been featured on BBC Radio Bristol, and her one-woman show ‘Jean Luc Picard and Me,’ has just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe.

Ellen will be performing a piece of prose about the difficulty of being honest in a world where self-promotion is valued above all else.

@EllenStarbuck

Natalie Burns

Natalie Burns is a writer, reviewer and ex-copywriter. She is co-creator of Bristol writers group, Small Stories, and currently working on the board of organisers for Bristol festival of Literature.

Natalie will be hosting the event, and reading a short tale about why writing is the best way to make sure that being a ‘proper grown-up’ doesn’t ruin your dreams.

@NBurnsy

Bella Fortune

Bella Fortune is a writer, performer and performance maker. Her first two solo shows were performed as part of Mayfest at the Wardrobe and Solo Showcase, Solo Lab and her third is currently in development with support from Ferment, Bristol Old Vic.

Bella will be critiquing the critic by performing a poem about her own experience of the pro and cons of reviewing.

@BRFortune

Dean McCaffrey 

Dean McCaffrey is a Bristol based writer & musician who has performed with the ‘Apples & Snakes’, a UK based spoken word organization, ‘Listen Softly’ in London and ‘Stemschot’ in Belgium. He performs spoken word & hip-hop around the city.

Dean will be telling some very real spoken word truths in his unique, creative and inimitable style.

@dwithdrawn

Luke Sleven

From an early age, Mr. Sleven has been scribbling on every canvas or wall he can get his grubby, paint stained paws on. Each piece is produced with the thought and intention of giving the viewer an insight into his world and a piece of his soul. He can mainly be found dwelling around the colourful underbelly of Stokes Croft.

Luke will be illustrating one of the Small Stories live on stage, and we’ll be auctioning of his unique, original painting at the end of the event.

@Mr_SLE7EN

DJ BarrTheTruth

Usually found lurking in the more dark and dangerous corners of the city, DJ BarrTheTruth has decided to step into the light to play us some funky tunes when the performances are over.

He’ll be making sure you all feel relaxed and groovy, and that you stick around to meet some fun people, have a drink or two, and enjoy the party.

@HalfBarr

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Bristol Literature Festival is hosting 16 events, right across the city.

View the events map