Much Laughter Comedy Nights – Medway

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Much Laughter specialises in Charity Comedy Nights, running monthly gigs to raise money for local charities and non-profit organisations.

With new talent cropping up all the time, they also run preview and work-in-progress shows. Much Laughter are on hand to arrange Charity Comedy Nights in Medway and surrounding areas to suit all budgets. 

In the future, they are planning to open a stand-up workshop to help vulnerable children and young adults grow in confidence. 

To find a list of the dates for the regular comedy nights visit: www.muchlaughter.co.uk/gigs

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Whitstable Biennale 2018 – Art Festival – 2nd to 10th June 2018

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Photo from: Kris Lock & Josephine Sweeney
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Saturday 2nd June – Sunday 3rd June

The 2018 Whitstable Biennale brings the most exciting experimental and emerging art to Whitstable, with live performances, film screenings, sound works, and the written word woven into the fabric of the town, with major new commissions, exhibitions and film premieres.

Art will be dotted around the town making new routes to explore for those who don’t know Whitstable, whilst creating radical and uncanny shifts within familiar spaces for those who do. From a Victorian Sea Scouts Hall to Whitstable’s only DVD/Comic shop, the biennale will take over curious buildings and unusual spaces. Artworks will be located on the streets, on the beach, and in the harbour – inside boat sheds and even on a mysterious spit of land only visible at low tide.

Taking its title from Booker-shortlisted novel Swimming Home by acclaimed writer Deborah Levy, many of the works in the Biennale are a response to the rhythms of the tide and a reflection on the ocean, exploring ideas of where home might be and thoughts of being at sea or in exile. Many of the works also touch on issues of identity and the movement and instability of languages, food, cargo and people. Deborah Levy, own inspiration was drawn from John Cheever’s book The Swimmer which was later made into a film starring Burt Lancaster, and Levy herself will create a new, limited-edition text for the biennale, which she shall read from and distribute to Biennale attendees.

 

For a full programme and to find out more visit www.whitstablebiennale.com

Paint The Town Festival – 14th to 18th March 2018 – Medway

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Ugly Chief – 16th March 7:30pm,  Brook Theatre, Chatham

Paint The Town Festival is back for Season 4, running from 14 -18 March 2018. The theatre and arts festival produced by Lyrici Arts in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre’s Collaborative Touring Network, will once again focus on touring brilliant new works, championing local creatives and offering a bit of kindness to the people of Medway. See the full listing of events at www.lyriciarts.com

Highlights this season include the 5* sell-out, dark comedy, Ugly Chief by award winning performer Victoria Melody and her real-life dad, celebrity antiques expert Mike Melody (of ‘Dickenson’s Real Deal’ fame). The show explores when Mike was wrongly diagnosed with a terminal illness and how Victoria went about planning for the funeral he would have wanted. With video diaries and open declarations, the show is a snapshot into the relationship between a father and daughter who don’t always see eye-to-eye. 

Paint The Town Festival is always looking for performances that challenge issues and support worthwhile campaigns, and programming Byron Vincent and Dave McGill’s Live Before You Die is no exception. Looking candidly at two friends who are more used to calling each other names than talking about depression, this brilliant touring show highlights men’s mental health and the necessity of breaking down the stigma around the subject.

The festival has loads for the little ones too! Sponge is the squishiest, squashiest show for babies and toddlers taking place during the week at Medway Adult Education. After working with the organisation and using it as the venue for their sell-out babies show Neverland, the festival producers were excited to bring another mesmerising children’s show to Rochester. 

We cannot wait for Season 4! Being able to not only programme brilliant touring shows and place them in local venues like Medway Adult Education and The Brook Theatre, but also to work with talented local creatives and create a platform for their work to be showcased is what makes every festival so very exciting. We have gone another step and made all the festival tickets £5.00 or less, so there really is nothing stopping everyone from engaging with the arts and joining in.”

Other events taking place during Paint The Town include; Festival of Festivals, a glamorous showcase by Chatham based dance school Dance Alley, Beached a uniquely exclusive puppet show for only eight people at a time by StrangeFace Theatre Company, a children’s theatre workshop based on retaining the royal crown by Bindlestick Theatre Company and Shakespeare inspired crafts with Creative Champion of the Year winner Natasha Steer of Creatabot. 

During the festival keep a look out in hidden spaces for eight beautifully hand-crafted flower bouquets by Clara A. Free to whoever finds them first, the bouquets are a gift from the festival team to the residents of Medway as a thank you for their support so far. 

Paint the Town Festival: Season 4 runs from 14 – 18 March and tickets are on sale now. Event information, show trailers and ticket links can be found at www.lyriciarts.com

Show Schedule (please check website for full event listings):

Title: Ugly Chief by Victoria Melody

Venue: The Brook Theatre, Chatham, ME4 4SE

Dates: Friday 16th March 2018 – 7.30pm

Title: Sponge by Big Imaginations and Turned on its Head

Venue: Medway Adult Education, Rochester Community Hub, ME1 1EW

Dates: Thursday 15th March – Saturday 17th March 2018 (multiple times)

Title: Festival of Festivals – A Dance Celebration by Dance Alley

Venue: The Brook Theatre, Chatham, ME4 4SE

Dates: Wednesday 14th March 2018 – 7pm

Title: Live Before You Die – by Byron Vincent and Dave McGinn

Venue: Huguenot Museum, 95 High Street, Rochester, ME1 1LX

Dates: Saturday 17th March – 5.30pm

Trailers, Information and Ticket Links on www.lyriciarts.com

All theatre tickets only £5.00 each this season!

 

 

Paint The Town Festival Returns For 2017 With Something For Everyone! – Medway

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Paint The Town returns to Medway this year with a selection of performances, experiences and workshops by both local and national creatives.

The festival, organised by Medway based organisation Lyrici Arts, are particularly bringing events centred around mental health and diversity to the Medway towns, including the show “My Beautiful Black Dog” on Wednesday 19th April at The Brook Theatre, Chatham. The show challenges the stigma around mental health and encourages the audience to take ownership over their own black dogs whilst channeling infectious dance moves, swagger-boss costumes and banging tunes!

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Also look out for fun craft workshops, mental health and brain injury support, an inspiring spoken word collaboration with Wordsmithery, interesting panel talks with the stars of the shows and industry professionals, children’s fun time activities and much more.

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Creatabot will be running creative workshops at the event “Hip Hip Hooray” on the 22nd of April, at Woodside Community Centre, Rochester.

Hip Hip Hooray will be a children’s party with a difference! Take part in singing workshops with Tom Penn (creator of Neverland), a recycled arts and crafts workshop with Creatabot to celebrate world Earth Day, show us your moves on the dancefloor and then settle in for a surprise show that is out of this world.

Suitable for ages 3-8 years

TICKET INFORMATION:

Date: Saturday 22nd April 2017

Party: 3.30- 5pm

Price: Standard £5 per child. This ticket admits one child – Adults tag along for free!
Purchase tickets here

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Carry On Crafting will be happening on 24th April at St Paul’s Church, Parkwood, Gillingham at 10:30-12:30pm places are limited so please book in advance.

There will be events for all ages and interests, so to see the programme visit: www.paintthetownfestival.co.uk

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Additional info:

In April 2016, Medway based organisation, Lyrici Arts were awarded a regional place within the Collaborative Touring Network, enabling them to be a National festival partner until 2019, and help to address diversity and arts inclusion aims within the Medway Towns.

The Collaborative Touring Network is supported by Arts Council England , Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and Unlimited Impact.

The UK’s First Road Safety Experience Uses Immersive Teaching To Save Lives

Last year I was invited to a Medway Dementia Action Alliance meeting at the new Kent Fire and Rescue Service building in Rochester, Kent. When I arrived I imagined we would be going into a boardroom as normal and that Kent Fire and Rescue Service were just kindly hosting us. We had been warned that if we wanted to attend the Road Safety Experience as well, then to arrive early. We were also warned not to attend this if we were of a sensitive disposition.

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As I entered the large foyer there was a crashed car in the middle of the floor. With my associates around me waiting, I presumed this was where the Road Safety Experience began. However this was not the case, and we were lead into a new room which was beautifully laid out as a small cinema.

I instantly realised I had completed misinterpreted the lovely new building – having opened in April 2016, this was no mere fire station as I had for some reason presumed (or fire station in the typical sense at all it turned out) or Kent Fire and Rescue Service HQ – this was an immersive teaching centre.

As I sat down and the lights dimmed, a film began to play. A young man who has been drinking gets into his car, turns his music up loud and drives off rapidly without fastening his seatbelt (literal schoolboy error). The music pumps out loudly from the cinemas speakers and you are taken into the young teenagers world. The excitement of driving through the night from one destination to the next, music blasting and making the car vibrate.

Of course, just as in harsh reality, this does not end well. The young man crashes and he and all his belongings go flying through and around the car. As the chaos ends he is left in the darkness – his phone vibrates and bleep’s with a text from his mum saying “Are u okay?”. The screen goes black and I hear sirens. Then, something completely unexpected happens, the screen the film was projected onto bounces up and disappears – revealing the car crash reenacted. Car debris are scattered across the stage area and the car is in carnage. We didn’t get the full experience on this occasion, but usually there would be firemen who come out to reenact the difficult task of trying to cut someone out of a car crash.

I could not actually believe what I was seeing, this was theatre being used to educate young minds, in a setting that was completely unexpected. I was so excited that someone, a group of people even, had been smart enough to realise the value of creativity and immersion for education.

I planned to visit again and take a deeper insight into the centre and what it was about, so I re-visited in December 2016.

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I sat down with road safety manager Lawrence Pater over a coffee and we discussed the way the Road Safety Experience came about. Lawrence explained that there were some vital lessons they wanted people to learn through the experience – from risk assessing an accident scene through to knowing that it is definitely 999 that you call in an emergency.

Lawrence asked me “When you were 16 did you worry about much else apart from yourself?” “No!” I replied laughing. “This is the issue, many young people do not think about situations outside of themselves, therefore we have to try and reach their heart to adopt a change in behaviour”. The point about behavioral change was a clear one, Kent Fire and Rescue are a trusted ‘brand’ to begin with – which helps people to listen and believe. Additionally,  the ‘experience’ rather than simple classroom teaching has more of an impact – you as an audience member, or even participant (I will explain in a minute) become involved.

Lawrence explained that the increase in drink driving and drug driving was becoming of such a serious concern, that something had to change to educate young people to be aware of the dangers. The centre is the first and only purpose built road safety experience in the UK – and we are lucky enough to have it here in Medway. I had to ask “How was this place and concept designed? It is so unique!”. “Students were involved in the design, they gave feedback about what would have the most impact and what they would engage with the most” Lawrence replied.

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I watched students from a local academy as they toured the other various experiences in the building.  There was a ‘bar’ scene where students had to guess how much alcohol they were “allowed” to drink before being over the limit. They then moved on to a large roulette wheel, where students had to guess the answers to certain questions and battle against their friends to score points. Then came the obligatory goggle glasses test, where students were asked to walk and balance on a raised platform.

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I asked some of the students about the experience and what had the most impact in the centre. They all agreed that it was the film, which is the the introduction to the experience day. Charlotte, 17, commented “When the young man crashed and his mum text him asking if he was okay, that really got to me. It made me think about how you should think about your parents when driving. Also I have learnt today that even if you were drinking the night before, you might still be over the limit the following morning and not be equipped to drive”.

I had a brief chat with a teacher who had brought her students to the centre, she said “This is a really good way of engaging students – it is realistic and has clear messages. The space is clearly designed for delivery and is very interactive – however it is also serious and had a clear impact on the student’s mood because this is a real danger”.

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Immersive teaching, often created by theatre groups like “Punchdrunk” or creative organisations “Ministry of Stories”, moves hearts and minds. “Visitor feedback tells us that immersive environments create the most memorable experiences” says Sarah Lockwood (Head of Learning and Interpretation at the National Maritime Museum) in a video about “Against Captain’s Orders” which was created at the museum by Punchdrunk.

The difference with Punchdrunk is they create theatrical immersive teaching experiences within spaces that would usually not usually have such. Kent Fire and Rescue Service have however created a permanent immersive teaching space that will likely be shaped by the needs of the time. Take a look at KidZania if you want to see a really full on version of what immersive teaching can look like!

 I can only hope that the future of education includes even more immersive teaching. Let me know if you have seen other great examples of what immersive teaching can look like!

To find out more visit www.kent.fire-uk.org or/and watch the video below.

By Natasha Steer

The Pentagon Community Fund – Up To £2000 – Open To Projects In Chatham – Closes 12th March 2017

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The Pentagon Community Fund is now open to projects in Chatham!

Through the Pentagon Community Fund, Project Dirt are offering up to £2,000 to community projects and social enterprises that have a positive social and/or environmental impact and which are located in the local Chatham area. There is a total of £15,000 up for grabs, all to kick start your local community projects that will improve your neighbourhood.

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Types of Projects – who can enter?

Community Projects: Any non-profit making organisations can apply including charities, not-for-profit organisations, Community-Interest-Companies and also informal community groups with their own bank accounts. Individuals cannot apply for their own personal projects.

Social Enterprises: Entrepreneurial business ideas with a social or environmental mission, are also encouraged to apply.

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All applications (which don’t take long) need to be submitted by midnight on Sunday 12th March. You can find the application guidelines here. 

Start the application at: www.projectdirt.com

Please note this grant is available for non-formal community groups, charities and not-for-profit organisations. It’s not open for profit making entities nor personal/individual projects at home. Any Social Enterprises, with a social or environmental mission, are also encouraged to apply.

If you have any problems or questions, please get in touch with Project Dirt at pentagoncentre@projectdirt.com

To get the latest updates from the fund search the hashtag: #WeLoveChatham

Embrace – Empowering Documentary Film Screening – 18th January 2017 – Chatham – Back The Screening Now!

You may or may not have heard of the ‘Body Image Movement’ (www.bodyimagemovement.com), an initiative launched by Australian Taryn Brumfitt, who is on a quest to end the global body-hating epidemic.  Her work is helping women to accept and feel better about themselves, and challenges the idea perpetuated by the media that external beauty = everything.

A Global Ambassador for the Body Image Movement has been enabled to host a special one-off local screening of ‘Embrace’, the powerful documentary that Brumfitt made whilst traversing the globe to talk to women about this issue.  The film launched successfully in Australia and the US in the summer and is now finally coming to the UK in early 2017.  The trailer of the film can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8vnaRiF_-U

The local screening is scheduled for 18 January 2017 at 6.30pm at Odeon Chatham and is the only one scheduled in Kent at this time.  As an independent film, tt won’t go on general release and is therefore being crowdfunded, meaning that as long as a certain number of tickets are reserved then the screening can take place.

If you wish to reserve a ticket please do so asap via this link https://tickets.demand.film/event/1316, as the number needs to be reached by 7 January 2017 in order for the screening to go ahead.

This is a very relevant and important film for everyone to see, so please do spread the word far and wide!

If you are on Facebook there is a new Body Image Movement Kent page here: https://www.facebook.com/bodyimagemovementkent/ and a Facebook event that you can share/invite friends to here: https://www.facebook.com/events/373738859643031/