Lincoln Drill Hall

Lincoln Drill Hall
Lincoln Drill Hall

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Let's talk

The late Jo Cox gave this country a great deal, but not least when she said, "we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divided us."

The Queen perhaps continued the theme when she said to the Sandringham WI, '“As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture.”

In The Guardian of Saturday 16 February, Ian Jack quoted both in his piece about a visit to Brexit voting Boston in Lincolnshire with a couple of people from Remain voting Lambeth in London.

In the same paper Jonathan Freeland lauded the action of school children in demonstrating against those of their elders who ignore global warming. He offered his argument with some delicious humour:

"Such is the upside-down, topsy-turvy state of our world, that the children are now the adults and the adults are the children. In Westminster, our supposed leaders – men and women of mature vintage – keep stamping their feet and demanding what no one can give them.

They insist they should be allowed to gobble up all the birthday cake and still have cake left to eat, threatening to storm out of the European Union and slam the door behind them. As Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, rightly puts it: “Threatening to leave is the behaviour of a three-year-old who says that they are going to hold their breath if they do not get the toy that they want.”

In Washington, meanwhile, Donald Trump, aged 72 and three-quarters, has screamed and screamed and screamed until he is sick, pounding his little fist on the table as he demands money for the big wall of bricks he wants to build, and today declaring a national emergency to get his way. The House speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, assessed the situation accurately last month, when Trump was shutting down the government: “It’s a temper tantrum by the president. I’m the mother of five, grandmother of nine. I know a temper tantrum when I see one.”

Marina Hyde then despaired at how our adult leaders are spending the days as the clock ticks down to Brexit:

" If we crash out of the EU without a deal, I hope someone publishes a coffee-table book detailing each of the irrelevant arguments we had on each day as the Brexit doomsday clock ticked down. T-minus 42 days: was Churchill a shit or not? T-minus 41 days: where do you stand on the Boer war?

There is something truly grotesque about all this playing out as children around the country and the world strike from school to protest against climate emergency. In Westminster, a generation who will never be forgiven don’t even have the thing they won’t be forgiven for on their radar. It is left, shamefully, to actual kids to point it out. With absolute ironical inevitability, then, May made the time to criticise the nation’s young for their actions. Apparently, the climate strike “wastes lesson time”. Just to be clear, Prime Minister, on Thursday a party colleague requested an emergency parliamentary debate on Winston Churchill, who literally DIED IN 1965. Can you grown-ups give the kids another lecture on time-wasting, please?"

I strikes me that we, 'ordinary' people, need to talk to each other. Our politicians are failing us in a big way. They must not be allowed to succeed. So, whether you favoured Brexit or wanted to Remain, let's start talking before it's too late.

What's more, I will offer a venue for that conversation. Who's up for it?








Sunday, 10 February 2019

Lincoln Book Festival 2019

Our friends at the Bailgate Independent suggested that I might come up with a Book of the Month recommendation. Bliss or what?

Here is my first from the February edition:


They then asked about plans for this year's festival:


Thank you Bailgate!

I hope you agree there is much to look forward to.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Be a Brick and Buy a Brick

It is true, I am not sleeping for worry about the future of the Drill Hall.

We have such an amazing team who are working tirelessly to keep this vital venue open at the heart of our city. So I was delighted to read in my Lincolnshire Echo (see below) an article written from an interview I gave on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. My delight was at the accuracy of the reporting and that fact that I had obviously said what I really wanted to say! (not always the case on a live interview).

So, what were these things I really wanted to say?

"Lincoln Drill Hall being a place for the people of Lincoln has continued for the last 130 years."

Peter Hennessy writes: Putting up prices is not an option according to Mr Hamlyn Williams. "Our purpose is to bring art and culture to the people of Lincoln, that's why we're here. We have to have tickets that are affordable - we want more and more people to come."

My predecessor as chair of trustees, Phil Cosker, puts it brilliantly in the animated video on the website. I have also written on Why it matters, on The Proms, on CompassionateLincoln Big Soup (next one 23 February), on Lincoln in WW1 and on some wonderful memories from years gone by.

That's why we are asking people to Be a Brick and Buy a Brick.


Saturday, 2 February 2019

My Christmas present from my lovely children - at the Barbican

Not for the first time am I in the Barbican awaiting a production by the RSC. Last year it was all about revenge with Titus Andronicus; this year it is darker still with The Scottish Play.

My lovely children get together to buy me theatre tokens and I choose something that will get me thinking.

The programme made a good deal about the play being about time; indeed there was a digital clock on stage. For me the casting of three young girls as the witches was far more powerful. Shakespeare was writing amid the Jacobean witch hunts. Men were portraying witches as evil hags in league with the devil; in truth they tended to be intelligent women (always hated by men) with skills of healing. Tracy Borman's wonderful debut novel, The King's Witch, shows this vividly. So the casting of children made it clear that evil was not external to Macbeth and his wife, but within them, as indeed it is within all of us. No excuses.





Saturday, 15 December 2018

Lincoln Drill Hall - why it matters


On the anniversary of some women first exercising their right to vote, I was privileged to see two pieces of drama Made in Lincoln

The first, The World at their Feet, I had seen before at Lincoln Drill Hall in November. This evening we saw the final scene without props or theatre lighting. Maggie and I were moved to tears, as we had been first time round. It was the combination of a story that mattered, great writing, great direction and great acting. This was a performance by a community theatre company, The Lincoln Mystery Players of a piece written and directed in Lincoln. It was so powerful. I have no doubt at all that the writer Stephen Gillard, director Sam Miles and a number of the players are heading for fulfilling careers.

The second, The Forgotten Suffragette, I am ashamed to say I didn't hear first time round when it was broadcast on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. It was acted by Phoebe Wall-Palmer and Rachel Baynton, ably supported by theatre students and the incomparable Simon Hollingsworth. This fine piece of writing was also Made in Lincoln by Proto-type Theater working with the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. If World at her Feet moved my emotions, the Forgotten Suffragette set my mind racing.

It matters that those setting out on a career have a place to perform and hone their art. It made me think more deeply about my role as chair of the Lincoln Arts Trust, whose activity is the promotion of arts and culture principally through the care and running of Lincoln Drill Hall. It made me ask, 'what really matters?' Is it popular professional performance that plays to full houses, or do I need to dig a little deeper?

This last year I have witnessed full houses, not least the wonderful talk given to an audience ranging in age from eight to eighty by Michael Morpurgo as part of the Lincoln Book Festival and, of course, the BBCProms and the Soldier's Tale. I have also been swept away by Les Miserables performed by Jamie Marcus Productions with no cast member over the age of nineteen. I have seen new work, where we paid what we thought. I can't wait to see the Panto, also by Jamie and Julie Marcus and produced with such high performance values with actors who know their craft.
  
Yet, when I do dig deeper, I find that the Panto reaches far more people than anything else and, through it, young people have their first taste of theatre which can result in a lifelong love. Our CEO Chris Kirkwood has written further on this.

Many young people find their own skills in our Fishtank Theatre Group, now also being run at the YMCA on Tritton Road. Some take part on the New Youth Theatre who take over the Hall for a week of performances each year. We have our monthly disco run by and enjoyed by people with disabilities. Saturday lunchtime is where people come to meet and eat whilst listening to talented musicians. Three times a year, Saturday is also when Compassionate Lincoln hold their Big Soup in support of community initiatives. There is the community performances, as well as World at her Feet, pieces by Common Ground Theatre , performances by the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and the acclaimed Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival with their monthly concerts at the Hall.

In truth there is so much that matters.
Michael Morpurgo with Charlie Partridge - photography by Phil Crow

Monday, 6 August 2018

The BBC Proms at Lincoln Drill Hall

"Welcome to this evening's Prom at Lincoln Drill Hall"

Never in a million years did I imagine ever saying those words, yet on the evening of 4 August 2018, I did to a full house. But why Lincoln Drill Hall?

Introducing the broadcast afternoon performance, BBC Proms Director, David Pickard, explained that it came about through serendipity. The whole Proms season was commemorating the centenary of the end of WW1, David had always wanted to perform the Stravinsky's The Soldiers Tale and, following Hull last year, wanted to find a venue outside London. Lincoln Drill Hall fitted the bill perfectly as a well regarded arts centre with a flexible performance space and with a strong military history.

Petroc Trelawny, introducing the piece, explained that Stravinsky had collaborated with CF Ramuz to produce The Soldier's Tale inspired by Russian folk tales telling of a runaway soldier who sells his violin to the devil in exchange for a book that can predict his future.

Scored for a trio of actors and seven musicians, the Hebrides Ensemble with Daisy Marwood, Laurence Guntert and Tom Dawze, enchanted the audience with stage direction by James Bonas and choreography by Cydney Uffindell-Phillips.

It was the 4th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment for whom the Drill Hall was home. They were territorials, young men from a whole variety of walks of life, who came here to be available to serve King and Country. This Hall saw them drill, it saw them muster, it saw some return wounded.

In late July 1914 they were at their annual camp in Bridlington. It was there that the order came for them to return to the Drill Hall. They arrived on the morning of 4 August 1914 but were then sent home to await orders.

I am sure there was euphoria here that morning 104 years ago. Then in the afternoon there would have been silence…




Thursday, 21 June 2018

Equality?


We would love it if you could join us at Lincoln Drill Hall on Sunday 8 July at 7pm at the launch of an exhibition of work by Lincolnshire makers interpreting what one hundred years of some women getting the vote means to them. We will be joined by performance poet Gemma Baker. 
I do hope you will be able to come.
Best wishes
Phil