One more extra date added at the Little Angel Puppet Theatre due to popular demand! Book your tickets now for Saturday 1st June.
To raise funds for, among other things, a new orchestral rehearsal space, the South Bank Centre want to move the skaters out of the world famous undercroft to a yet-to-be-built-skatepark by Hungerford Bridge. Why can't the orchestra rehearse under Hungerford Bridge? Put a hat on the floor and they might even make some money while they're about it. That would pay for the refurb: no need to demolish the skatepark.
It's not the first time that the South Bank Centre has tried to stop skating in the undercroft. They spitefully put cobbles there in the eighties.
It's always galled the South Bank Centre that the only truly international cultural icon to have emerged from the complex is downstairs and free and nothing to do with them and their programmes whatsoever. In the same way it has always put their nose out of joint that the only successful bit of architecture in the whole pile is accidental, spontaneous and never dreamed of by the architects.
Apart from me, only Ralph Richardson, Tricky and Rickie Lee Jones have ever done "the South Bank double" ie. both performed at the Royal Festival Hall and skated the undercroft. It was said that the broken wrist sustained during the interval of King Lear by Raph Richardson attempting an undercroft rail grind to frontside hand grab, contributed to his legendary Gloucester.
Why does the planned demolition of a city-centre skatepark matter if you are not a skater? If you don't live in London? Because free shared space in British towns and cities is retreating as terrifyingly fast as Greenland permafrost. A society needs free, shared, public spaces - preferably with a roof on. The loss of such spaces is a slow-motion catastrophe. I remember the covered arcade of Old Spitalfields Market, before the egregious new development. Of an evening, when the market was shut, all kinds of informal evening classes/ jam sessions and lonely trumpet players convened in the covered arcade. I used to sit on a wooden stall and watch roller-skating tutorials, bike-fix workshops, circus skill lessons, fire poi practise - all to the sound of the opening bars of Louis Armstrong's Strutting With Barbecue being fluffed again and again.
Where do all those people go now? They don't. If the people running the South Bank have so little wit and imagination that they are unable to conceive of any other way of making money than franchise outlets, if they cannot see that all art operates in a context of a shrinking public space, then should they be the ones holding the publicly-funded arts and culture chequebook at all?
Don't miss Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution at the Little Angel Puppet Theatre, Islington, May 20th - 25th, and 29th - 31st. 8pm. Tickets are £10.
Extra dates have now been added May 29th - 31st due to demand!
More Trade Secret book reading dates for your diary:
4th June Manchester Gorilla, doors 7pm, tickets £3 in advance. Use your ticket to get £3 off The Trade Secret!
5th June Leaf, Liverpool L1 4EZ, 7pm, tickets £5.
Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution is one of Time Out's Top Ten Comedy Shows This Month.
Just back from Mach Comedy Festival.
#1 I saw an osprey not twenty feet from the window of my hilltop farmhouse B&B . The biggest wild bird I have ever seen. She hung there for ages, making lazy swoops at whatever she was hunting and investigating. Stupidly, I opened the window the better to see, and the flash of the light on the glass scared her away. I've never seen anything fly so easily before and to hunt so relaxedly. What do I know, she may have been panicking, but it looked laid back.
Sara Pascoe chats to Rob Newman in a Machynlleth bookshop. BBC Radio 4 Extra, on iPlayer.
#2 Here, packing away his equipment after a stormer at the Tabernacle, is one of the stand-out stars of Mach Comedy Festival, Simon Munnery. His Fylm Makker show is one of the most inspired, groundbreaking, imaginative and witty shows I've ever seen. The audience loved it too. There was more invention in the first 15 minutes than the rest of us manage in a decade. How to describe it? He's created a new form. Here's a link: www.simonmunnery.com
News flash: Leading book wholesalers Bertram's, who supply bookshops nationwide, sold out of all copies of The Trade Secret only a fortnight after its release. Publishers Cargo have immediately had more copies of the book reprinted, on a twelve hour turnaround!
#3. At my book reading at Mach's excellent Penrallt bookshop, I was given a flyer for the El Sueno Existe festival. Chile 40 years on. A Song For Chile. The festival runs from 30th August - September 1st 2013, Machynlleth. Says the flyer:
In 1973, Pinochet's coup against the elected government in Chile killed thousands including Victor Jaram, the singer songwriter who inspires the El Sueno Existe festival. Sang The Clash: "Please remember Victor Jara In the Santiago Stadium."
Here's a link: www.elsuenoexiste
You can read an interview with Robert in the May issue of the New Internationalist magazine.
Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution is headlining the Kings Place Festival in Hall One on Saturday September 14th at 9.30 pm.
Rob has asked the festival organisers to apologise on his behalf to Daniel Barenboim, Simon Rattle and the Berlin Phil. for the fact that his appearance kicks them off that coveted 9.30pm Hall One slot, which they had their eyes on.
Rob discusses his New Theory of Evolution with TG2 Surrey.
New interview with the Irish News for your perusal.
Rob's new novel The Trade Secret is now available in hardback by Cargo, and as an E-book by Cargo Crate. Based on a true story, The Trade Secret is about the first Elizabethans to discover petroleum and coffee in Persia. The heart of the novel is the friendship between servant Nat Bramble and Darius Nouredini, a poet in a wrestler's body. Together they set off in search of a secret oil well believed to lie under an abandoned Temple of Mithra. But their oil venture lights a trail of fire which will follow Nat all the way back to the Pool of London, where he becomes caught in the crossfire as King James and the City of London's richest corporation the Levant Company fight for power.