Rachel Russell

Latest articles from Rachel Russell

Theatre: Coming-of-age musical set to make European debut at Park Theatre

"We want the audience to use their imaginations when they come to the theatre," says Matthew Illife, who is directing the European premiere of The Burnt Part Boys, at Park Theatre, in Finsbury Park this summer. The musical is opening in London after an Off Broadway run in 2010 and is a coming of age tale that follows a group of teenagers in West Virginia who go to extreme lengths to preserve the burnt part of the site of a mining accident which killed their fathers ten years prior. Matthew is approaching the show from a less literal perspective to encourage the audience to interpret the play in their own way, particularly as props are scarcely used. He explains: "A lot of the time the characters are climbing up a mountain and we haven't got huge mountainous terrain for the cast to trek through on the stage at Park Theatre, so we have had to really pool our resources together and use ropes, chairs and human bodies to tell the story.  "The theatre in Finsbury Park is a great place for the play to be set as the scenes are relevant to the area, which has one of the highest rates of single parent families in London. The story shows what it is like to grow up in a single parent household and although these boys have lost their fathers for different reasons than people in the local community may have done, they are still dealing with loss and the hardship of growing up without their loved one. "Another amazing thing about Park Theatre is that it is a cultural beacon in a community that really needs it, as there are accessible theatre prices that are almost the same price as a cinema ticket and they also do a lot of outreach work that engages with the neighbourhood, as well as being a great night out." Matthew has previously directed Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Landor Theatre, in Clapham and did a training programme for young directors at The Albany, in Deptford, before completing another training programme for young directors at the Old Vic, in Waterloo.  Later this month, he will be assistant director for National Youth Music Theatre in their new show Brass at the Hackney Empire but also wanted to get involved in The Burnt Part Boys after listening to a cast recording of the music. He says: "I thought it just had the most beautiful harmonies in the score with a folk, blues vibe running through it and also felt the play itself was incredibly moving.  "It is a coming of age story but also a tale of this community dealing with loss and these young boys who are finding themselves while also learning the value of not growing up too fast."  The Kent-born director studied drama at the University of Bristol and used to be a actor but turned to directing after realising he was too bossy.  Matthew says: "I was never very good at performing but always had the goal of being a director, which has luckily proven successful so far. "It has been a total joy to be given a piece that I love directing so much and having the responsibility of bringing it to such a great venue. Park is an amazing theatre to work in and is surrounded by such a vibrant community, with the best fruit and vegetable stalls that you'll find in London!" The Burnt Part Boys, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP, Wednesday August 10 until Saturday September 3, 7.45pm. Details: 020 7870 6876, parktheatre.co.uk

'The age people get diagnosed with Parkinson’s is getting younger’ - video producer's awareness song shortlisted

Eros Bresolin is keen for people to know that Parkinson’s disease doesn’t just affect older people. The freelance graphic artist and web designer was diagnosed with the progressive disease when he was only 34-years-old, after noticing a slight tremor in his left index finger and over the years, it has taken a toll on his body.  Ten years on, the Tottenham videographer and musician has entered the World Parkinson Congress Video Competition in Portland, USA, as he wanted to inspire people and show them that life still goes on, despite the condition causing a slowing of movement and difficulty with walking.  He has made it to the final 12 of the competition, after being chosen from 75 entries and he is hoping that his submission will be the video that is shown at the World Parkinson Congress, in Oregon in September. He explains why he wanted to share his journey with the disease through writing and performing his song, When You Walk, I Can See… How does it feel to be shortlisted?  I am extremely pleased and honoured to be shortlisted. I entered the same competition WPC2013 in Montreal and didn’t make it into the top 12 so am over the moon to make it into the top 12 this time around. Can you tell me about the song? Did you write and create the music yourself? Every single bit of the song came from me. I started writing it after the Montreal WPC in 2013. It has seen quite a few re-writes and I was only happy enough to use the song in the video (in it’s current version) a few months ago. What is the message in the song? It is about the journey I went through from diagnosis to acceptance, sound in the knowledge that a cure will be found within my lifetime. I hope it can inspire people with Parkinson’s to move forward with their lives. They will continue to enjoy life because being diagnosed with this condition is not a death sentence. Life can and will go on. You simply have to learn how to let it. What is the meaning behind the title? When you have lived with Parkinson’s for a few years, you are able to see Parkinson’s in other people before they even know they have it by the way they walk or move, or don’t move as is often the case. Hence the first line of the song which is also the title ‘When you walk, I can see’. How long did it take to create the video? The video took about two months. I had an idea of what I wanted to show and this idea slowly evolved as I added each section and shuffled it all around till I was happy. Why is it important people understand Parkinson’s more? Because most people assume that Parkinson’s only happens when you get old. I was diagnosed at 34 and the age at which people get diagnosed with Parkinson’s seems to be getting younger and younger all the time. Can you tell me more about the World Parkinson Congress video competition?  Although the congress in Portland, Oregon is the fourth WPC, this is only the third video competition. It started in Glasgow at the second WPC in 2010, which was the first one I attended. It is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of both Parkinson’s and the WPC through the use of media, such as video, to demonstrate to the non-Parky world the wretchedness of this condition and why it is so important help find a cure. However, you need to know what actually causes Parkinson’s before you can fix it. They now know that Parkinson’s actually starts in the gut and works it way up the spine to the brain. Have you entered any other competitions like this in the past or raised awareness about Parkinson’s in any other ways? No. Although I do work closely with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and Parkinson’s Movement in creating short films to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s. How has Parkinson's affected your life?  At the start it was barely noticeable but as the years have passed, the neurodegenerative nature takes it’s toll on the body making it more and more difficult to do things you have taken for granted for so long, such as walking, or talking. Strangely enough, part of the song explains how running and singing are still in full working order. Do you still work?  I do freelance graphic and web design as well as music and video production. I am much more forgiving as my own boss. What’s next for you, will you keep raising awareness about Parkinson’s?  I will never stop raising awareness. Until I no longer have to.  To vote, visit: wpc2016.org/page/top12

Tottenham Riots documentary follows lives of friends of Mark Duggan

When 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot and killed by the Metropolitan Police in Tottenham at 6.41pm on August 4, 2011, one of the worst riots of recent British history ensued. People all over the world watched the news in horror as London became engulfed by flames, high street shops were looted, people were beaten up and buildings set alight.

Arts: DJ Martin Garrix gets set to play Wireless Festival

Martin Garrix has had an incredible few years. The 20-year-old Dutch DJ has become one of electronic dance music’s youngest superstars after his song, Animals, topped the global charts three years ago. He now headlines festival main stages internationally and has certainly come a long way since DJing his parents’ parties in his teens.  Now 2016 is turning out to be busier than ever for Martin as he is set to release new songs and will also be travelling extensively with his new set, including to Finsbury Park for Wireless Festival this Sunday.  He has taken a quick break from his whirlwind lifestyle to reminisce about his musical childhood in Amstelveen, in the Netherlands, and how he can’t believe he is making a living out of his hobby…

Festival to celebrate Tottenham’s oldest tree

“The tree is forming a bond in the community, as it is neutral and non-judgemental.” says Rosemary Lee, the co-creator of the Calling Tree festival being held in Bruce Castle Park this week. The choreographer, who lives in Muswell Hill, has been working with her colleague and friend, Simon Whitehead, to develop a show that reminds audiences of their connection to the environment.

Lutes take over the libraries

If you’re planning to visit your nearest library to catch up on work or escape the noise of the outside world this week, you may be in for a surprise.