London International Mime Festival 2019 at The Barbican

Nicole T Raleigh

Mime is so much more than the filmic stereotypical Frenchman in black leggings, a striped top and a beret, walking his hands across an invisible wall down a backstreet of Paris for fleeting touristic passers-by. Indeed, now in its 42nd year, the London International Mime Festival, running from the 15th January to 3rd February at The Barbican (and Sadler’s Wells also), proves through a veritable “spectrum of contemporary visual performance” just how much there is encapsulate within the word and under the term “mime”.

Bringing to audiences a quartet of theatre shows and a duo of cinematic screenings, this year’s London International Mime Festival promises to awe spectators with the full range of mimic craft. Indeed, the festival is renownedly successful that the first three performances of the run have unfortunately sold out (Les Antliaclastes: Waltz of the Hommelettes; the silent film The General (U) + live accompaniment by Guildhall Jazz Musicians; and Le Théâtre de L’Entrouvert: Anywhere). That said, the following still have tickets remaining:

1. Gecko: The Wedding

Running from 24th through 26th January at the Barbican Theatre, this a highly symbolic and intricately choreographed piece of mime is set to stun into applause those who manage to see it. Questioning the “union between state and individual”, between “community and the individual”, and led by Artistic Director Amit Lahav, Gecko’s nine-part ensemble goes from hopeful birth to spiritual and self-dislocation come from the maturation of experience in a business-like world, that climaxes to a revolutionary finale oh so tribal in its rhythms. Tickets between £16 and £28.

2. Peeping Tom: Father (Vader)

On from 30th January to 2nd February in the Barbican Theatre, Peeping Tom is essentially a portrait of ageing. Expertly balanced betwixt reality and fantasy, the choreography is said to be amazing. Possibly the most complex of elderly men to be discovered in a care home, scenes shift – or rather melt – from isolation to divinity, from ridicule to melancholia. This is an hallucinatory theatrical experience where lucidity becomes less and less as the performance progresses. Father is the first piece in a trilogy, Mother preceding its appearance at The Barbican last January, and 32 rue Vandenbranden picking up an Olivier back in 2015. Who said mime was a dying art? Tickets from £16 to £28.

3. He Who Gets Slapped (12A*) + live music by composer-pianist Taz Modi

Showing at 4pm on 3rd February in Barbican Cinema 1, this second of the two silent films is for those who like the strange and twisted. Ever had the most humiliating of days? Would you relive it again and again, day after day, in front of people paying for the pleasure? Well, that’s just what the protagonist does within this little silent filmic treat of emotional masochism! Scientist Paul Beaumont (played by Lon Chaney) has both his research and his wife stolen by his boss – and duly cracks. Transformed in to the clown HE, the title encapsulates the crux of his act. Think David Lynch, and enjoy. Tickets £12.50 (concessions available).

Keep Fit in 15 Minutes

Mandy Kaylin

Keith McNiven, founder of London based personal training company Right Path Fitness tells us how you can keep fit in just 15 minutes.

When you have a hectic lifestyle and a fast paced job, fitting in time to exercise can seem like an impossible dream. But just 15 minutes of exercises a day can be hugely beneficial to your health. The recommended amount of exercise per day is 30 minutes but studies have shown that 15 minutes of daily moderate exercise upped life expectancy by three years vs. inactivity. So if you can’t fit in 30 minutes, aim for 15 minutes of exercise. And you don’t even have to leave your office to do it!

1. The chair lift

This is an exercise you can do right in your office chair– just make sure it’s safe before you start! Hold onto the sides of the chair, elbows bent outwards, and put your legs out straight in front of you. When you are ready, straighten your arms and let your arms take your weight to lift your bottom out of the seat. Your body should now be in a nice downward sloping line with your feet lifted slightly off the floor. Keep your core engaged as you hold the movement for 60 seconds, then rest for 60 seconds and repeat.

2. The chair trio

For this exercise you need a chair without wheels that is strong enough to take your weight. You’re going to use the chair to do three exercises within 15 minutes. Start with tricep dips, holding on to the edge of the chair with arms straight and legs out straight in front of you, use your triceps to gently lower yourself down (don’t let your tummy sink) and back up. Do 15 reps. Next climb on and off the chair, alternating the starting leg each time. Do this 15 times. Then grab onto the edge of the chair for some mountain climbers. Start with tummy facing downwards and legs out straight behind you. Bring one leg in towards the chair and back, then the other leg as though you are climbing. Count 15 climbers. Then rest for 60 seconds and do the 3 exercises again, 60 more seconds rest and complete the trio of exercises for a final time.

3. Bosu ball squats

A Bosu ball is a handy piece of kit to keep under your desk, it looks a lot like a fit ball cut in half and can be used for improving your balance and stability. Squats are a brilliant exercise for strengthening and toning your lower body, and to add challenge, you’re going to do the squats whilst standing on the Bosu ball. Find your balance standing on the ball, and put your arms out in front of you. Slowly lower yourself down into a squat, keep your chin up and don’t hunch your back. Then slowly back up to standing. Challenge yourself to see how many squats you can do in 15 minutes. If you don’t have a Bosu ball, then just do the squats on the floor.

4. Floor trio

Even in a busy office, there is usually a bit of floor space to get your 15 minutes of exercise in. Your trio of floor exercises to do in a circuit are standard press ups, lying side hip raises and planks. Start with 15 standard press ups, then roll onto your side resting on one elbow with legs straight and stacked one on top of the other. Use your core to lift your hip off the floor and down again, never quite resting on the ground. Do this 15 times and switch to the other side. Then flip over to your tummy and hold the plank for 60 seconds. That’s one circuit. Rest for 60 seconds and do the whole trio again twice.

5. Resistance band stretches

This is another good one to do right at your desk whilst sitting down on a chair. Grab a resistance band and place in at mid-thigh level with thighs closed. Slowly open thighs and close again, continue for 60 seconds. Then move onto biceps. Put the band either under the leg of one chair so you can work one arm at a time, or if the band is long enough then put it under the chair so you can hold the band in each hand. Start with an extended arm (or arms) and curl in and out. Do 60 seconds of these. Finally, tie one band around an ankle and press the other end of the band under your foot. Extend the leg with the band outwards until it is fully stretched, and back to starting position.

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Winter Forest at Broadgate – Holiday in the City

Nicole T Raleigh

When the winter holidays come round, some people eagerly search online for a sun-seeker’s paradise package, daydreaming of sand and hot climate frolics; others revel in snow-covered possibilities in Scandinavia and like icy lands, almost tasting the pine on the air as they scroll through images worthy of National Geographic; and then some clever folk think, hold on a minute: few places surpass London and travel during the holidays is a bit of a hassle; why not makeover the City in quintessentially wintry ways? Why leave the capital at all this Christmas? And so it is that Broadgate’s Winter Forest was born.

If you think you know Broadgate Circle, then think again, as until 24th December a fine layer of festive cheer has been overlaid in the form of “300 snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights and wood cabins”. If you’ve secretly been eyeing travel magazines for years, drooling over eye-wateringly expensive Lapland luxury stays, then why not reconfigure your thoughts more locally – you’ll still be able to enjoy hot butter rum cocktails under the warmth of a cosy blanket (particularly if you head to Mrs Fogg’s Winter Terrace).

Usually known for its “craft beer, botanical cocktails, cutting-edge workout spaces, sharing plates and street food”, Broadgate Circle is an ideal place to visit during December for that special blend of shopping (Links of London anyone?) and self-care (in all respects). And if you really feel you missed out on that winter sun escape you’d already been enjoying in your head at your work desk, and indeed find yourself a bit peckish to boot, then there’s always the Aussie-inspired Beany Green to try out for some tucker in the arvo this month.

Open seven days a week from 12 noon to 11pm (barring Sundays, when festivally minded action ends at 7pm), another winning feature of the Winter Forest is the wide breadth of live music it has on offer during December (up until 22nd). Further, each Wednesday will have carolling at – you guessed it – Mrs Fogg’s Winter Terrace, and Sundays will be offering seasonally apt craft classes (think wreaths; think even candles!). You might even be able to blend the two if you can carry a humming tune…

Speaking of Mrs Fogg’s Winter Terrace, until 10th December there is a chance to win a £200 bar tab thereat, together with a blow-dry or trim at Barber & Blow, with the further added goodie of a 45-minute treatment at The Body Balance Clinic. If you miss out on the grand prize, there are always festive quiz nights each Monday instead (and for all the glitz and glamour of wintry decorations, who doesn’t like a nice pub quiz?).

Do note also that there will, of course, be special visits from Father Christmas himself until 12th December, as well. Better be good, girls and boys…

Donations to Winter Forest go towards Centrepoint for the second year running, the charity which provides housing and support to young people, essential at this time of year.


What’s On at LSO St. Luke’s this Christmas

Nicole T Raleigh

Ah, December – month of the perpetual serenade of Christmas carols (or, if you’re really unlucky, non-stop rotation of the seasonal pop classics). Nonetheless, speaking of ‘classics’, if you find yourself wondering how to fill these long, dark and chilly nights in the City with something that provides just that touch more culture and memorability, then why not turn to LSO St. Luke’s to see what’s on their calendar of events this final month of 2018? Even better, why not consider the highlights One City has noted below: London really does have a little bit of everything, musically speaking, after all.

1. Romanian Rhapsody with Sir Simon Rattle (Sunday 16th December @ 7pm & Tuesday 18th December @ 7.30pm, Barbican Hall)

Sure to be a night to remember this winter, with Sir Simon conducting Leonidas Kavakos through Brahms’ wonderful Violin Concerto, through Debussy’s travelogue of France and Spain, his Images, and – la pièce de résistance, here supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute – through Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1. All are performed with the help (of course) of the London Symphony Orchestra. These pieces are seldom programmed side by side, and yet – duly adhering to the ethos of Sir Simon’s Roots and Origins series – all were inspired by folk tradition. Indeed, Brahms’ Violin Concerto is an homage not only to the virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim (for whom it was written), but to Budapest and the gypsy musical tradition of Hungary at large. Tickets start at £16, though £5 concessions and £10 wildcard tickets are also available.

2. Bernstein 100: Candide (Saturday 8th December @ 3pm & Sunday 9th December @ 7pm, Barbican Hall)

In this semi-staged performance of Bernstein’s “riotous satirical operetta”, directed by Garnett Bruce and conducted by the renowned Marin Alsop, Leonardo Capalbo takes the titular role in the genius work of the composer. A truncated overview of the plot? War comes to Westphalia; previously blissful ignoramus Candide embarks on a global voyage replete with melodrama; throw in also “man-eating sharks, duelling sultans and swindling con-artists” for a true Sinbad element on the stage. The performance brings to a close the centennial celebrations of Leonard Bernstein, by whom Alsop himself was mentored. Tickets from £16 to £56.

3. Half Six Fix: Jazz Roots (Wednesday 12th December @ 6.30pm, Barbican Hall)

And finally, if you can’t quite decide between your genres, seriously consider opting for this one-off performance of musical greats. Another evening conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, the LSO supports piano duo artists Katia and Marielle Labèque in the UK premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Nazareno, here arranged by Gonzalo Grau (on percussions on the night). The Argentinian tango and jazz sounds meld to perfection with especial support from brass, percussion, and cello. Also on the programme is Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto and Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs. Both blending jazz with classical for a true Twentieth Century sound. Half Six Fix is a new concept from the LSO where you may enjoy a drink in your seat and digitally explore programme notes. Tickets from £12 to £36.

What’s On at The Bridewell Theatre this Christmas

Nicole T Raleigh

The Bridewell Theatre, part of the St. Bride Foundation located off Fleet Street, can always be counted upon to offer a taste of that something a little bit unusual. So, this year, as the panic starts to set in surrounding bookings made, or rather not, and you start to realise that so very many things have sold out – why opt for the same old, same old when it comes to choosing holiday entertainment for you and yours? Instead, pick from The Bridewell’s curious seasonal selection. You won’t be disappointed.

1. Aladdin (2nd December to 8th December @ 7.30pm; Saturday matinees @ 1.30pm & 4pm)

Yes, yes, we might have said ‘different’, but this is not just any pantomime; this is City of London-based pantomime. Twisting away from Disney-centric lyrics to include favourites from The Greatest Showman, Hamilton, and Annie to boot, this musical tale of love found on the journey from rags to riches (with a generous helping of genie, of course), might very well keep you laughing (and singing) well into the New Year. Presented by City Academy, the cast is split between a Monday Company and Tuesday Company, each performing on alternate days of the week. Tickets cost £18 and are available here. A whole new world…

2. Last Days: The London Showing (10th December @ 7.30pm ONLY)

Both devised and directed by Tim Albery, the Young Artists of the National Opera Studio are here conducted by David Cowan for Last Days, a performance which marks the close of the centenary of the end of the WWI. The musical programme on offer follows the path from “the gaiety of pre-war Europe’s nightclubs into an apocalyptic vision of the War’s outbreak”, portrayed via the works of artists such as “Berg, Satie, E E Cummings, Elgar, Butterworth and Gurney” and more. Part of the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Centenary, the evening is supported by members of the orchestra of Opera North. Tickets cost £22 (£16 concessions) and are available here.

3. Edith in the Dark (21st and 22nd December @ 7.30pm)

Phillip Meeks’ play is here directed by Adam Morley and performed by the Baroque Theatre Company. We promised you a little something different – and here indeed it is. Focussing on the darker side of Christmas, if you will, this is a “supernatural journey into the disturbing, dark and supernatural imaginings of celebrated children’s author Edith Nesbit”. You might have heard of her… The Railway Children? Five Children and It? Thought so.
Set in Nesbit’s attic writing room with only an unknown guest and her own housekeeper for company, as Edith reads aloud one of her early horror stories, it becomes clear that someone within that room is most definitely hiding something sinister; something deadly. The Public Reviews declared it “A delicate balance of tongue-in-cheek and heart-in-mouth”. Certainly, a Christmas drama of ‘haunting’ proportions, tickets cost £14 (concessions £12) and are available here.

Have yourselves a cultural little Christmas, everyone: make it a Bridewell Christmas.