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 

#BristolLitFest15

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

Review: The Paper Cinema (Puppet Fest)

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Think back to when you were a small child, to a time when you could create exciting worlds of adventure and menace simply with your imagination. The earth was too big to contemplate, and so the tiny intricacies of your small corner of it were intriguing enough to command your undivided attention.

It’s usually impossible to feel that level of excitement and wonder as an adult. The big things get in the way.

That’s one of the many reasons that The Paper Cinema is so unique and wonderful. Last night’s Bristol Festival of Puppetry opener at Watershed (three short ‘films’ animated by paper puppeteers, and projected onto the big screen with incredible technical skill) made me feel like a child again, full of unbridled imagination.

Read more at Bristol 24/7…

Review – Jean-Luc Picard & Me

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Review of the rather fab and very talented Ellen Waddell’s show at the Alma Tavern… Ever thought the Captain of the Enterprise was watching over you, giving you guidance?

No. Thought not.

Review for Guide2Bristol here, and interview with Ellen about why on earth she came up with such a unique topic!

The Ted Bundy Project – Review

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“Don’t expect to settle in comfortably for Greg Wohead’s thought provoking and deeply disturbing one man show, The Ted Bundy Project. Expect to be a little scared – not of serial killers as you would probably expect, but of something much more threatening and personal”.

Genuinely unsettling and highly recommended, read my review in Guide2Bristol here

The Dance of The Magnetic Ballerina – Review

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“Mesmerising and in parts unsettling, unique one woman performance ‘The Dance of the Magnetic Ballerina’ immediately plunges you into darkness with only the tinkling of a music box for company”.

Read my review of Andrea Miltnerova’s ballet performance with a twist in Guide2Bristol

Under the Dark Moon – The Invisible Circus Review

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Macabre, melancholy and magically entertaining… Roll up, roll up as The Invisible Circus takes you on a journey through your fears

In their typically unique style, Under the Dark Moon is an equally sinister and optimistic performance that tells the fears of five tortured souls and playfully mocks the awful hold self-doubt can have over your life if you let it.

Read the full review in Guide2Bristol here.

Get Ready…Gromit Unleashed starts next week!

Not long to go now until Gromit is unleashed all over the city of Bristol!

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Photo courtesy of Destination Bristol

Bristol has always been a city with a great sense of fun, and following the success of the WOW! Gorillas trail last year, and other inventive installations like Watershed’s Playable City Award comes the next cracking adventure in the form of Gromit Unleashed!

From July 1st – September 8th, eighty 5ft fibreglass sculptures of Britain’s most recognisable and loveable mutt will pop up all around Bristol. Painted by an eclectic mix of local, national and international artists and celebrities, the Gromit Unleashed trail is set to bring thousands of tourists to the city over the summer, as well as keeping us locals entertained!

Led by internationally renowned Aardman Animations in order to raise money for Bristol children’s charity The Grand Appeal, Gromit will be placed in various locations all over the city, and auctioned off after the event to raise money for the charity.

Nicola Masters, director of The Grand Appeal said:
“Wallace & Gromit are famous around the world so Gromit Unleashed will help shine an international spotlight on Bristol and encourage people to visit the city, as well as raising much-needed funds to help sick children at Bristol Children’s Hospital.”

Bristol Web Design Agency Element78 has been working with The Grand Appeal for years. Having put together the Grand Appeal and Gromit Unleashed websites, they have just completed the ‘Detect-O-Gromit’ phone app which lets you unlock achievements as you discover and log in the Gromits you have found around the city. It also gives you exclusive information on each Gromit and the artist who painted him as well as audio and video clips.

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The team at Element78 say they fully enjoyed the whole process “We have supported The Grand Appeal for a number of years, from participation in fundraising events through to the design and development of their websites. It’s been fun, creative and for a very worthy cause – all the things we love. Continuing our involvement with the Gromit Unleashed event was an easy decision!”

Element78 will also be sponsoring Isambard Kingdog Brunel (painted by Tim Miness) which will be located outside Temple Meads train station. Confirmed artists include some really high profile names including Kath Kidson, Quentin Blake, Harry Hill, One Direction’s Zayn Malik, and of course, Aardman’s own Gromit creator, Nick Park!

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Element78′s Gromit, Isambark Kingdog Brunel by Tim Miness

There will also be a ‘Gromit of the Day’ every day during the instillation, which you can view on the app and unlock extra achievements if you visit the dog on the day, as well as having the chance to win fun freebies at the location.

In addition to raising funds for The Grand Appeal, Gromit Unleashed is set to be a real boost for Bristol’s tourism and it’s fast growing reputation as a hub of artistic creativity.

Bristol based Icon-Films have also produced a series of short slapstick films (commissioned by Destination Bristol) to support the trail. The main film ‘A Grand Tail’ tells the tale of two hapless delivery men – Bristolians John and Geoff – following them on a much hindered mission to deliver the giant Gromits around the city.

Chris Warren, writer and director of the series of short films explained; “Our brief was to promote Bristol as a destination and Gromit Unleashed showcases how Bristol is a rewarding place to get hopelessly lost in.”

The whole thing should be a really fun event, and I for one am looking forward to seeing the cheerful sculptures when the get unleashed next week!

You can learn more about the event and how to get the app on the Gromit Unleashed site and keep up to date with the Gromit Unleashed facebook page.

Gromit Unleashed will take place from July 1st – September 8th… all over Bristol, so keep your eyes peeled!

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The Gromits arriving in Bristol – on a train driven by Nick Park himself!

Natalie

Bristol Theatre Review: Trash Cuisine

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Review of Trash Cuisine by the critically acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre which is playing now as Part of Mayfest Bristol: A unique look at torture, mortality and the bleak truth about capital punishment. Read my review in Strawberry Line Times here.

Natalie

Launch of Eat Drink Bristol Fashion – Queens Sqaure

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Last night I attended the launch of Eat Drink Bristol Fashion’s sustainable culinary pop up in Queen’s Square – and will no doubt be heading back for more!

Open to the public from today until May 27th, organisers Josh Eggleton, (Chef and Owner of The Pony & Trap, Chew Magna) and Luke Hasell, (Organic farmer and owner of Tipi Events) will be serving up a tantalising selection of tasty treats and very fine wines from the attractive tipi village in the square.

Kitted out with twinkling fairy lights and winding vines, the venue is cosy and welcoming – perfect for a casual meal with friends. They will be serving ‘British Tapas’, i.e., small dishes of organic, sustainably sourced and beautifully cooked food perfect for sharing in the sociable atmosphere of the pop up dining village. Having tasted a small selection of the menu at the launch, I can highly recommend the creative culinary skills on offer. Last night’s sample menu included sticky ribs so tender they fall right off the bone, perfectly cooked asparagus served with a beautiful saffron infused garlic & lemon mayonnaise, organic cold meats and freshly cut chunky chips with a curry sauce that would make even the best chippies blush accompanied, of course, by a really rather nice rioja.

If you are a fan of really great food, pop down and check it out. Not only will you get a belly full of good stuff in a wonderfully unique venue, but you’ll be supporting local farmers and producers, and can also spend your Bristol pounds. A full belly and a clear conscience – what could be better than that?

For more information on the event – and to view the menu, visit the website.

Eat Drink Bristol Fashion will be in Queens Square from the 13th – 27th May

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Natalie