The Bard

My name is Kimberley. During my gap year and foray into the real world, I will record my interminable findings regarding London 2012's legacy.

The ‘Turfed’ Experience

Entering the Hackney Downs Studios to see ‘Turfed' on Wednesday 11th June 2014 was a lot more than I’d imagined. ‘Turfed’ was somewhat more than a performance, it was a journey.

Coming to this performance, I knew next to nothing. In a bid to break the cycle and do something other than sleep, work, sleep, eat, repeat, I decided to see the show with only the dual meaning of being turfed out onto the streets and football turfs guiding my thoughts about what the evening would be about.

In a sense, I think entering the studios almost completely unaware worked better for me. I quickly learned that ‘Turfed’ would be more participation/physical theatre rather than the conventional sit down stage theatre. I’d just about managed an ‘uh what?’ before being shown into a darkened room. There was an almost mystical glow from the lighting that felt like entering a different realm where time and real life were temporarily suspended, as we were taken away from the beliefs and thoughts of problems that plague our daily lives and confronted by an issue that has a serious and devastating effect on a vast population of people without a home.

With this in mind, a line said within the first five minutes really resonated with me during the performance and for a long time after, in that it sort of brought a tear to my eye. I’m paraphrasing but throwing someone out of their home only teaches them not to need home anymore. You’re not teaching them the lesson you think they’ll learn. This introduced the most pertinent theme, for me, about something of a sacrifice of; relationships, familiar surroundings and even, self. 

The rest of the performance felt like a blur of music, dance, passion, beginnings and endings. Of being unified by the all-encompassing feeling of spirit, change and difference, in a way that left me stunned and most importantly, excited.

We started, uneasy strangers in a dark and dim room, sharply focusing and unfocusing on the set spread out around and between us and ended with a reverent sense of togetherness, looking at the ‘stars’, after being choreographed into this story and unable and unwilling to disregard the importance of ‘Turfed’.  

How weird is it that only a year ago, we were watching and re-watching the Paralympic Opening Ceremony?

Riding the high that came from Danny Boyle’s witty and successful Olympic Opening Ceremony, Jenny Sealey's vision was widely anticipated and successfully executed. Aptly named, Enlightenment, the performance saw over 3,000 performers tackle circus-like assaults across the stadium exhibiting themes like empowerment and curiosity, which convey the Paralympic spirit.

On Monday (02/09/13) I watched 'All Eyes on Us' the Headstart filmmaker group’s take on the Paralympic Ceremony. Their 30 minute long film unravels the fabric of the Ceremony, allowing us to become attached to the volunteers and familiarize ourselves with their personal journeys. 

The film focused on four performers, honing in on the key motif that was interwoven into the summer games, the personal experience of the games. Their challenges and triumphs almost became mine as they pushed their bodies to the limit and showed that even with “all eyes on” them they were more than able to perform. 

Stephen’s story affected me the most, capturing on a more intimate level, the personal struggle with confidence and being a role model for his son Zak so when we zoomed back out to where his training was leading, the Ceremony performance, I felt more than awe at watching a spectacle, as I was also watching the final act of challenging and rewarding journey.

Lauren quickly became my favourite as she injected humour into the film by dispelling the idea that talking about disability was taboo. Her lightheartedness inspired a change in attitude about disability, which lasted during and around the Paralympics but feels sadly forgotten a year later.

David’s story was also very relatable. He shared how his disability affected family dynamics and how a stable and supportive family unit proved to many that his disability was a faction of his self and not the be-all-and-end-all. Johnnie’s attitude showed the humility felt by all volunteers partaking in such a landmark event.

Fast-forward a year, today.

You’d be forgiven for feeling like the Summer Games were a hazy memory. 

Change, Inspiration, removing barriers for a more cohesive London? Not yet.

How about Channel 4, supporters of the Paralympics?

Apparently, Superhumans last year and Undateables this year?

Something’s definitely changed.

To watch a more remarkable take on disability, watch ‘All Eyes on Us’.

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blame-eve:

Chimamamda Ngozi Adiche, We Should All Be Feminists

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Resurfacing…

It’s been close to a year since I last posted anything and in that time, a lot has happened. 

I’ve finished school. SATs, GCSEs, A-Levels… the whole shebang and now I’m experiencing life on the other side of the educational fence.

The gap year.

This means, gone are the 7.30am wakeup calls, sayonara to the plethora of essays beginning with ‘To what extent…’ and ending with  ”To conclude… kill me now,” (or something to that effect), and hasta la vista to the back breaking backpacks filled with paper, pens, the weight of the world, my future and books, books, books. 

Now, I’m ready to welcome change. So hello lazy WEEKDAYS (a revelation), the working world and free time galore! 

In my free time, between grappling with UCAS, volunteering, catching up on tv that i shoulda, woulda but couldn’t watch, I’ll be delving back into my base interest in young people, culture and opportunities, starting with the pesky, age-old question of London 2012 and legacy.

Whose Nations? Who is counting?

Our 2Nations event hosted at the Free Word Centre by Gemma Cairney went off without a hitch.

Somewhat slow to start with tentative minds not looking to offend, it looked as if it was going to be a fairly agreeable evening. Queue, the panel with a mixture of backgrounds that ticked off countries across the globe and a sense of humour that set the evening’s funny bordering on sharp tone.

After the interval, spirits were high and we began to question the idea having to choose between different nationalities if indeed we had to choose. And finally tackling the panel with who they themselves are supporting at the Olympics.

Gemma Cairney was an accomplished host, adding her own anecdotes to enthrall the audience.

Despite my reservations at sharing my poem to such a large audience, after watching live poetry performances I was both glad I’d shared mine and a bit intimidated. I was thankful that I wasn’t going up against the other poets who had shared their works at the event but I also felt that as there were two accomplished poets there, if i had also performed my poem, the evening would be laden with poetry performances. I felt that my poetry presentation added a new dimension to the evening. I was also very nervous at displaying my poetry to my largest audience to date but I felt that the reaction I got was really positive and I’m glad I did it. 

Photo Credit to the Guardian website.
Wheelchair Rugby is simply thrilling.
I’ve heard the stories, I had been told how rare the tickets were and how lucky I was but it didn’t really register until I was sitting at a distance that was close enough for me to feel the wind from their wheelchairs whilst watching the star of the French team Sallem on his back for the millionth time. 
And I only really got it when even though I barely knew the rules myself, I was aware that the rest of the French team had nothing on Sallem and that the Australian Batt and Bond’s sheer commanding presence angered me as they crushingly defeated my beloved Canada. 
I’m not normally a rugby fan and you can barely call me a sports fan but Wheelchair Rugby is simply amazing.

Photo Credit to the Guardian website.

Wheelchair Rugby is simply thrilling.

I’ve heard the stories, I had been told how rare the tickets were and how lucky I was but it didn’t really register until I was sitting at a distance that was close enough for me to feel the wind from their wheelchairs whilst watching the star of the French team Sallem on his back for the millionth time. 

And I only really got it when even though I barely knew the rules myself, I was aware that the rest of the French team had nothing on Sallem and that the Australian Batt and Bond’s sheer commanding presence angered me as they crushingly defeated my beloved Canada. 

I’m not normally a rugby fan and you can barely call me a sports fan but Wheelchair Rugby is simply amazing.

I can officially be counted as one of the many who have not only been to an Olympic event but been to a London 2012 Olympic event. I’ve already got the ticket stuck on my wall and have packed the leaflet it came with away, ready to bring out for decades to come when nostalgia hits. 

Security was so tight and easy to maneuver through as checks took barely any time. I think I showed presented my ticket 4 times before I was admitted into the venue. The Games Makers were very friendly and approachable making the London Olympics work like a well oiled machine. 

The atmosphere was indescribable and I can honestly say I’ve felt nothing like it before. Even though the semi-final Beach Volleyball teams, men’s Latvia and Brazil, women’s China and USA, were not the teams I’d vowed to support wholeheartedly, as a spectator I felt that we made the athletes feel at ease and supported them completely. 

The Horse Guards Parade dancers provided relief of sorts after nail-biting matches but I personally didn’t feel like they fit with the tone of the event.

As is becoming a common theme this summer, I’ve started to become more interested in sports that I’d otherwise not have been interested in. I knew that I wanted to watch diving, athletics and gymnastics but after watching such poignant moments, I have started to become more interested in events such as cycling and now beach volleyball, which I’d love to attempt if I’m in the vicinity of a beach. 

It did feel like a whirlwind though as I got home within the hour and continued watching the Games on the TV thinking “wow.”

Today, Claudia and I were set a challenge called ‘Scrap the Cultural Festival?’ We were tasked with answering a series of questions about whether the Cultural Festival was necessary during the Olympics.

Are people attending events?

We found that at events such as the Royal Opera House’s The Olympic Journey: the Story of the Games exhibition, there were many people interested in it, which made the experience a little taxing because after queuing for an hour we spent ages shuffling through the different rooms. However, at the National Portrait Gallery’s A Local History part of the Road to 2012 exhibition there was simply no one there. It seemed as though most people were passing through rather than enjoying the exhibition. This was a similar story to the Medal area at the British Museum.

Is it showing the best of our vibrant, youthful city?

The World in London presented by the Photographer’s Gallery showcased the diversity of Londoners. There were 204 portraits of 204 Londoners who come from participating countries’ which we thought was an inspired idea but the execution was poor as it was plastered over the walls of a building.

Has the Cultural Festival worked?

If the Cultural Olympiad’s aim was to unite art and sport in London then we believe that it has failed. If the aim was to inspire a generation to get involved in the arts industry then it has also fallen short but if it aimed to showcase creativity in the capital, it just about hits the mark. The aMAZEme arts and literature installation at the Southbank Centre was a innovative idea that seemed to enrapture everyone that visited the Centre. Perhaps the Cultural Olympiad needed to be more focused and clear in its intentions.

A Welcoming Affair

The National Anthem won’t sing itself.

As I returned from Turkey, I walked through the airport somewhat amused and confused. Gatwick is filled with motivating slogans to get the British public to supporting Team GB. As witty as they are, I feel that they don’t exactly welcome supporters of other countries entering London for the 2012 Games. This sentiment could extend to the Opening Games, where many believed that they weren’t part of an inside joke shared by all in London.

In 2010, when we arrived at the Vancouver airport, I remember being greeted with adverts and displays that was very typical of Vancouver but also welcomed visitors to their Winter Games. 

Silence isn’t golden…

I admit that I’ve been rather absent this week as I’ve been taking up a role as a spy, of sorts, in Turkey looking at how they responded to our games. Perhaps it is easier to describe me as an insider outside. 

As desperate as I was to watch the Olympics and become consumed by the spirit, it was virtually impossible in Bodrum, a city I was sure that were not even aware of the Olympics happening. So I was left to crouch in front of a small flat-screen with around 50 other Britons as we attempted to cheer on Our Greatest Team. The support seemed to work as I left London feeling proud albeit disappointed with our 2 medals and came back to 22 Gold medals, 13 Silver medals and 13 Bronze medals. Wow.

There are of course moments that I’ve heard about that I will need to watch for myself such as Jessica Ennis’ gold medal win but what I had to go on was based on hearsay. For example, I still can’t determine whether one of the members of the Australian team actually smashed up a kebab shop or if that was a product of a far-fetched Turkish man’s imagination. Although having typed ‘australian kebab olympics’ into google, I’m pretty sure the event occurred but was not well publicized. 

I think what I learnt most importantly about London’s take on the Games was that it certainly is a more inclusive and culturally diverse city. I was labelled a number of names, perhaps in jest, such as “Janet Jackson” and “chocolate,” which made me more aware of my surroundings but in London, you get the sense that despite the cluelessness about directions, people feel at ease in London.