Archive | December, 2009


20 Dec

Like to act? We find out why Hackney theatre company ATC is a great place to get your kicks.

Rochelle, a drama loving regular tells us what’s up:

I found out about ACT@ATC via an advert they had placed on the creative arts website The project description sounded perfect to me because I love drama and am usually stuck for drama related things to do in the summer which is when the first course I attended took place.

The first project involved us working with an amazing director, Abdul Shayek. The course was an intensive 2 weeks running in August. We devised a piece that we could all be proud of and performed it to family, friends and industry professionals. The course ended with a BBQ on a lovely summer’s eve which was a great way to end the project.


The second ACT@ATC course was a week long intensive one in the October half term with an amazing director, Bijan Sheibani. We explored the concept of dreams and investigated the play Eurydice (the next ATC production) using things like improvisations and directing scenes from the play. The course didn’t culminate in a performance but everyone involved left with a greater understanding of the actor-director relationship and being open and responsive to other actors ideas. I loved being able to investigate a play in a group setting and being able to look at the fine detail. I know that we are all excited about seeing the amazing work that Bijan will produce with Eurydice.

The courses took place at the Tab Centre in Shoreditch, which is a beautiful space that is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main road. The courses absolutely exceeded my expectations. I could never have imagined that the company would be such a great group of people and the entire ATC family are some of the most supportive people I have ever met.

Both experiences were nothing like I have ever done before. I completed an A-level in Drama and Theatre studies in 2005 and I have been a member of the Arcola Theatre Academy and Identity Drama School since the start of 2009 so I am no stranger to drama or theatre. However, I have never been able to work so intensively with such a varied group of industry professionals. Thanks to ACT@ATC, I have not just been able to work with two fantastic directors, I have worked with a very talented dramaturg Jane Fallowfield, a very talented voice coach Michael Brown, a very talented choreographer Aline Davis, and a very talented writer/director Tarell Alvin McCraney.

I enjoyed every last bit of both projects. I loved building up a relationship with the company and the ATC family. I loved the fact that everything was packed with constant fun and energy. We played games, did improvisation but most of all, our input was always valued and the directors always worked with us rather than for us so that we could develop our own skills with their professional input. I enjoyed the fact that we were able to see the play Ghosts or Those who Return at the Arcola theatre during the summer course. We then had the opportunity to meet the actors who were great people then to top that off, come October we were working with the director of the play, Bijan!

Now that I am a member of ACT@ATC, I just feel so privileged because I feel like I have a stronger connection to and appreciation for the theatre. There are so many professionals that work to ensure the final product that the audience see is at its best and I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with some of those talented professionals as mentioned.

I would recommend ANY young person who is interested in theatre, whether it’s wanting to build your confidence or just wanting to act due to a passion for it, to get involved with ACT@ATC. When I joined I could never have imagined that I would end up feeling like I was part of a family of fantastic people. Whatever projects ACT@ATC do, I know I will want to be a part of it because I have so much appreciation for the team. Thanks to ACT@ATC I have also met a great group of actors who were an absolute pleasure to work with and I know I will continue to stay in touch with not only my fellow participants but everyone at ATC for a long time to come.

Want to join in? There’s a course coming up in February as part of Discover Young Hackney. Read more here
Rochelle Watkins.


Gimme FIVE!

17 Dec

Lucid Lem offers respect the smallest of notes

So there I was, having to call for assistance once again. My till had run out of pound coins because of constantly having to hand them out in place of £5 notes.

Then a customer asked me for £5 cashback – I had to explain the lowest available amount was £10.

Then it got me thinking: out of all the money that we circulate throughout the country, the £5 note or more commonly known as “the fiver” gets a rough deal when it comes to our spending habits.

It’s almost treated as though it doesn’t exist! Whenever I ask for change, I ask for them but they’re never handed out. Even in the morning when the initial “change run” is first completed, they’re not issued then. We pay for so many things using the fiver: you can even get 5 pound top ups on most pay-as-you-go networks, as well as it being a popular amount to do top ups on thing like electric keys and gas cards.

Even some deals are “two for a fiver” when it comes to shopping in the supermarkets for dinner solutions and of course – the ever frowned upon – “6 for £5” in the local off-licence near you (yes YOU.) Go to your local chicken shop and you can get what they’ve affectionately called the “budget meal” for £5 too.

Yet, go to any cash point and you can’t get one out. The secret of the £5 has perplexed me for many a 5 minute period per day. Where does it all end? And with the recession still with us, now is the time for the fiver to be shown the respect it deserves.  The 5 pound note is here to stay and serves us so well and bailing us out of many situations (entrance fee to the cinema for example…they just keep popping up!) .

So the next time you have a fiver, think about how far its been around the country, how many hands it has passed through…how many miles it would have travelled to get to your pocket…but not too long mind you.

About 5 minutes should do it…

Inside volunteering

17 Dec

Want to know what volunteerings like? Ask a volunteer!

Faeezah Hussain
Volunteered for: vinvolved East London Youth Action Team (YAT) 2008-2009

I started volunteering as part of the Youth Action Team in October 2008 in my first year of A Level, and quite frankly underestimated the opportunity. If I was to know that in a year’s time, this team who I knew little about (at the time) would be well into planning our third community project, I wouldn’t have believed it.

The masses of new skills I have learnt during my time with the YAT were portrayed in the execution of our first event, ‘Million’. We made known to our community just a fraction of the opportunities that our boroughs and their organisations have to offer. From the representation of CLAPA to the Jujitsu Club, pretty much every department was covered. The feedback we received showed that people were really impressed by the fact that the event was carried out by the young people of the community and gave every other young person the impression that ‘If they can do it, we can too’. Watch the video

My experience has also equipped me with the skills and qualities to deal with people and situations I never thought I could. The confidence I gained, for example, has encouraged me to teach English to children in deprived parts of East London. The creative, organisational and communication skills, along with professionalism and appreciation of different cultural values, have prepared me to survive working life and handling a degree in Law. And to add to all of that, I’ve been given the opportunity to work a professional, as well as a volunteer at the Changemakers office in London!


You're sooo noughties….

10 Dec

You know you’re a 00’s child if…

i got hugs for you

So we’ve all seen these lists before, the ones that make you cringe in rememberance or laugh as you remember the things you have loved and hated about a certain period in time. Whatsup pin points exactly how you know if you are a noughties child:

You’re  on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Bebo, or simply all of the above.

You’re a probably reading this on, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, or simply all of the above.

You started dressing like your grandparents. Lace dress and big cardy’s, and for men high waisted trousers and loafers…very trendy!

You suddenly thought shopping in second hand shops were cool.

You would text your friends a message that would take half the time if you just called them.

You know the profound meanings behind such creative abbreviations like; lol, smh, brb, snm, and omg.

You only eat organic food or at least you should.

You tried at least once to calculate your carbon footprint.

You watched shock docs about the man who was a tree, or the boy who was a dog, or the man whose dog was a tree or the tree who thought it was a dog…

You watched and loved Big Brother.

You watched and hated Big Brother.


Big brother lover

You were told that all the food you eat is going to kill you.

You were given a charity gift like planting a tree in a forest for you as Christmas present.

You attempted to follow up the tree – and never found it.

You remember the first ipod.

You remember then threatening your parents that you would runaway if you didn’t get one.

You remember napster.

You remember discovering that you could pause and record live TV. Genius.

You recall the death of the CD. You know those shiny round disk things that you used pop into a stereo? No?

You voted at least once on Pop Idol, X factor, Popstars, all of the above.

You remember the disappearance of Madeline Mc can.

You remember 9/11.

Your ringtone defined who you was.

You think that Burberry is ‘‘chavy’’.

You thought that being a WAG was actually a career.

You remember when Jordan turned into Katie Price, then back into Jordan.

You remember when Britany Spears shaved her head.

You laughed when Britany Spears shaved her head.

You remember the smoking ban!

You have an oyster card – and remember when they didn’t exist!

You remember the introduction of the Congestion charge – harsh.

You noticed that all the food that you buy tells you that it contains some kind of fingymijigg that makes you bones healthy, or you immune system stronger…even if it is a bag of crisp!

You watched and/or took part in a flashmob.

You remember the rise of the size zero.

You have been under siege by hard hitting public awareness ad’s that get more and more graphic.

You witnessed the takeover of the Gastropub from the ‘‘pub, pub’’.

You have googled yourself.

You have taken information from Wikipedia and thought it was gospel.

You have punished your ex by deleting them as a friend on a social networking site.

You know what dupstep, nu rave, funky house and broken beats are.

You prefer Family Guy to The Simpsons.

You saw the first bendy bus.

You witnessed the return of the mac – apple that is: ipod, iphone, mac computers, and other digital hoo ha’s that look to good to resist.

You remember your first HD TV.

You were afraid if getting: Swine flu, Bird flu, SARS, or foot and mouth disease.

You loved the return of Nintendo: the wii game console, the Nintendo DS, and all the amazing games that come along with them. Don’t call it a comeback!

Take that getting back together and suddenly understanding why your older sister loved them.

Your grandma suddenly had Freeview.

You watched and did impressions of people Little Britain…’’YEAH I KNOW!’’

You once answered all questions with ‘‘am I bothered?’’

You did not think it was strange when you watched Gillian Mc Keith from you are what you eat smelling somebody else’s poo.

You were told to eat ‘five a day’ fruit not sweets!

You remember when ‘Braniston’ turned into ‘Brangelina’.

You watched Obama become the first black President of the US.

You saw Tony Blair stand down.

You got text when Michael Jackson died, and if you was a 80’s baby you cried.

You saw the rise in people being famous just for being famous: what does Paris Hilton actually do again?

You saw the rise of Amy Winehouse – and of course the fall.

You remember when food adverts tuned sexy.

You remember the 7/7 attacks.

You remember the beginning of the war on terror.

You remember when The Terminator came into power in LA as Governer, I mean, Arnold Swartsengger.

…And the recession!

Arcola – Front and Centre

10 Dec

Tucked away off Dalston Kingsland’s high street lies The Arcola Theatre. You wouldn’t notice the sign unless you were looking for it but once inside you feel you’ve been let into a secret. It’s another example of how much working for What’s Up has changed my perception of the area i live in… let me explain

Front and centre

Arcola runs a programme of youth theatre for 12-25 year olds living in the Hackney area. There are also courses and workshops for the more serious young lovies and all sorts of activities from Capoeria to Congolese Youth Theatre. It runs loads of shows, has  lovely cosy coffee shop you could read a book in for hours and offers a ‘pay what you can’ day on Tuesdays. I went down on a cold Tuesday to chat to two members of the youth theatre.

The first thing that struck me when i met Moe and Sarah was how friendly and bright they were. By bright i don’t just mean clever, which i am certain they both are, i mean the kind of shiny, illuminating bright that  comes when people talk about something they care about.

To them theatre meant having something to look forward to, belong to and be part of. They talked about developing different perspectives, having the space to discuss issues without being condemned and empathy. Both had learnt to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Moe had struggled to balance life with his father, school and acting and had returned to drama with a new passion when he moved in with his mum, Sarah had found acting as a way of escaping bullying and the environment offered friends, fun and real excitement.

That’s what struck me as i was walking off. These two 19 year olds had found drama and invested time and energy into it and as a result where really inspiring to talk to. If you’d of asked me to sign up for an acting course there and then i would of – ( and i am fairly certain i have no acting talent! ) so thank goodness they only run courses for young people. I will however make a promise to go to the Arcola in 2010 and i now KNOW that the area i live in is that much richer in culture than i thought it to be before i visited!

The theatre has load of free opportunities: from theatre taster days to accredited courses.  Interested in getting involved? Find out more here :

Web:  Arcola Youth Theatre


Phone:  020 7503 1645

Address:  27 Arcola Street, Hackney E8 2DJ

21st Century Santa Claus

8 Dec

The lesson of Christmas by Lucid Lem

So here comes that time of year again where the man in a red pyjama suit comes to all the children’s houses all over the world to deliver the presents that we’ve all been hoping for, spread good cheer and good will to all men (and women!)…

But in reality, Santa is susceptible to change much like other great icons in media history – it happened to Tony the Tiger, the Milky Bar Kid and Santa’s fellow beardy – Captain Birdseye. So the question is…Coca Cola have projected this image of Santa to us for decades now and he has hardly aged, morphed or even gotten a pimple on his rosy red cheeks.

So what would a 21st century Santa Claus look like?

Would he be a George Clooney look-a-like? Or would he be more like Brad Pitt with the voice of Barry White? Or would he be Barry White himself? Maybe even P Diddy with the quick witted humour of Stephen Fry? Or more like Johnny Vagas with the Chris Rock twist? Or would he have the voice of Alan Carr and body of Taye Digs?

So many possible combinations…

But I think that Santa would look like Will Smith with the mindset of Obama…or maybe the other way around? And by now, Santa would have the latest Bentley for transportation of your gifts and would only make rare appearances to keep the workers (little people) in check.

But with this recession on, he would then have to half the entire global workforce, which then in turn, would mean he’d need a bailout from the American government. Once that was completed he’d have to worry about the huge losses his company would’ve taken and how he was going to regain that money. He’d then have to cut the bonuses of his managerial staff (the reindeer).

The elves would then go on strike forcing him further into the red and resulting in him having to go into administration after failed talks between the two parties. He’d try to open an online store and then get done for tax evasion on the loan he acquired from coca-cola to start his franchise all those decades ago.

Then you’d have to tell all the children Santa is real…in real DEBT and can’t actually buy you any presents because all his assets have been frozen…

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Hackney's hidden hotspot

3 Dec

Without meaning to sound complacent, I think I’ve almost nailed the art of interviewing.  Know what you want from the conversation, ask the questions to help you get it, throw in a ‘If you could be any Spice Girl…’ type question,  and hope you get a quote containing the words  ‘empower’ or ‘endeavour’.

All the interviews I’ve done so far, however, have been conducted with a least one other person from What’s Up present.  So when I was asked to go alone to the Free Form Arts Trust, interviewing suddenly didn’t feel so simple.  The interview was with some young people on a silk screen printing course at Hackney’s Hothouse, where Free Form is located.

Free Form is one of those organisations that’s difficult to explain in plain English – as demonstrated by its website.  Its basic aim appears to be helping creativity survive and thrive.  It’s the home of many creative businesses, has space available to rent, and runs various courses covering many creative areas.  The courses have the added bonus of actually leading somewhere too – completion of the silk screen printing programme qualifies you to teach your new found skills to others.

Things didn’t start so well in my quest to find the building.  One or two wrong turns meant a 45 minute walk to a destination that, according to Google Maps, is just a six minute walk away.  Why doesn’t London have any street signs?

Things picked up when I found the place.  The structure is impressive – extremely innovative and definitely somewhere that has to been seen, not explained, to be appreciated.  It’s also the kind of place you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t already aware of its presence.  That’s one thing I’ve found about living in London – there are so many hidden gems lurking in places you wouldn’t dream of finding them.  Living in this city, and working for What’s Up, has really made me appreciate my surroundings more.

The course I had come to see was in its final session, and the evening’s events had a strict running order.  This meant I had to wait for my interview opportunity, but there was some benefit in this.  Listening to speeches and seeing the certificates presented allowed me to find out what the course involved, and if the participants shared the co-ordinator’s enthusiasm for printing.

The T-shirts the young people had designed and printed themselves using the silk screen process were really good.  Unfortunately, we’re a photographer short of a news crew at the moment (not a euphemism), so I didn’t get any pictures.  There was a lady from a local paper with a camera though, and she has promised we can use her pictures for the website.

Almost two hours flew by (I’m not sure if I’m being sarcastic or not), and it was time for the interview.  The three people I spoke to made the whole thing easy.  They were polite, answered every question fully and brilliantly, and once again showed why the stereotypical, narrow-minded, tabloid view of this country’s youth is largely incorrect.

Full interview:

Chris Warburton