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On 19th July it will have been 125 days since Harry Baker set foot on a stage. While performing poems to your laptop at midnight for a 9am assembly in Australia via zoom has its charms, he is so excited to be standing up and speaking words in a theatre again. In this exclusive show for the Tom Thumb the World Poetry Slam Champion will be sharing new material he’s written during lockdown, as well as a couple of old faves for good measure.
John Kearns: Double Take and Fade Away
Two Time Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner
Four Time Chortle Award Nominee
John Kearns returns!
Still a slave to dairy, the Gregorian calendar and Greenwich Mean Time, he is flesh and blood after all. A funny man, not for everyone of course, but remember this mustn’t be mistaken as an invite rather a heads up. Based on the theory that the most interesting places on maps are the empty spaces, John has booked a tour, stopping by at some places that look like people share hot water bottles with their landlords. The show implores you to learn lessons from your ceiling and realise Fred Astaire actually knew very well what he was doing. Directed by Olivier winner, Jon Brittain.
“He has forged comedy gold” ★★★★★ Chortle
“A supreme stand up – richly idiosynchratic comedy” ★★★★ The Guardian
“A true comedy original” ★★★★★ Time Out
“A distant, absurdist cousin of Tony Hancock… one of the oddest and most original comic performers on the Fringe.” ★★★★ The Daily Telegraph
“Kearns could be your new King of Comedy” ★★★★★ The Evening Standard
‘Kearns’ feat of making the surreal seem so accessible is terrifyingly brilliant, in an hour of magnificent bafflement.’
‘A rip roaring raucous affair that’ll leave you with a smile and a feeling of the world that we might be alright.’
**** The List
‘Poetic hour of image-laden stand-up and unique observations’
**** The Scotsman https://www.scotsman.com/arts-and-culture/edinburgh-festivals/comedy-review-john-kearns-double-take-and-fade-away-monkey-barrel-edinburgh-1-4987608
‘Kearns’ poised, poetic stream of consciousness is the whirring logic of a very funny man with a profound understanding of the human condition.’
English songsmith Douglas Dare returns with his third and most stripped back studio album to date, Milkteeth, released on 21 February 2020 with Erased Tapes. Produced by Mike Lindsay — founding member of Tunng and one half of LUMP with Laura Marling — in his studio in Margate in just twelve days, Milkteeth sees Douglas become confident and comfortable enough with his own identity to reflect on both the joys and pains of youth. In doing so, he has established himself as a serious 21st century singer-songwriter with an enduring lyrical poise and elegant minimalist sound.
Douglas Dare grew up on a farm as the youngest member of a large extended family, where he was often found in his own private world, dancing in his mother’s pink ballet dress. “Only now do I feel free to express my inner child again, and am giving myself permission to play dress up,” says Dare of Milkteeth’s cover shot, in which he wears soft makeup and is draped with layers of white linen, acting the part of a Greek muse. “I never felt like I fit in. I was different, odd. I wanted to dance and sing and dress up and on a small farm in rural Dorset that really stuck out.”
Where previously he has been known as a piano player, for Milkteeth Dare picked up a new instrument, the autoharp, and as soon as he sat down with it, songs poured out – he wrote the album’s first single Silly Games, in under an hour. “Instinctual feelings about childhood and innocence were the catalyst,” he explains. “Then with the autoharp, it all just clicked – I could see the album laid out ahead of me.”
Milkteeth opens with I Am Free, which loops piano and lyrics in an intimate dance, comparing the seemingly inexorable freedom of childhood to flying. The Playground is a song Dare says he’s wanted to write for years, about a yearning for childhood innocence and simplicity. WhileRed Arrows tells a story of vulnerability, of craving parental comfort, The Joy In Sarah’s Eyes is a Jeff Buckley-esque ballad for a new generation. In Heavenly Bodies there is an unhurried darkness that nods to Leonard Cohen’s songwriting, and is also the first time Dare has played the guitar on record. The melodies on Milkteeth are deliberately simple; Dare wanted it to feel familiar right from the first listen. In between these songs sit instrumental pieces – The Piano Room, The Stairwell, The Window – named for the spots they were recorded in, moments for stillness and reflection.
Marking his arrival in 2014 with the release of his acclaimed debut Whelm and establishing his musical dexterity on the much darker follow up Aforger in 2016, Dare’s star keeps growing. In 2017 he was asked to contribute a re-interpretation of Dance Me to the End of Love to the Leonard Cohen exhibition A Crack in Everything at the Contemporary Art Museum of Montréal, currently showing at The Jewish Museum in New York before opening at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco in September 2020. He was invited by Robert Smith to perform at his Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre in 2018, followed by the David Lynch-curated Manchester International Festival alongside Anna Calvi in 2019.
Dare’s music speaks of his own experiences of universal themes like love, loss, and childhood. Perhaps most importantly, his music gives a voice and a sanctuary to anyone who’s ever felt unusual or out of place. Whether he’s singing of the pain of those in the Magdalene Laundries as on Whelm, describing coming out to his parents on Aforger, or processing his own childhood isolation on Milkteeth, Dare has a graceful honesty and an abiding clarity of vision in his simple and distinctive sound.
Ralph Dartford and Marianne Dissard met at the Louder Than Words Festival in Manchester in the spring. They now bring their acts to Margate’s littlest lit’ theatre.RALPH DARTFORD – Recovery Songs
MARIANNE DISSARD – Not Me by Marianne Dissard. A memoir.
http://www.mariannedissard.comRECOVERY SONGS by Ralph Dartford is a cycle of narrative poems that focuses on the fall and rise of the human condition. These are stories of love, abandonment, abuse, addiction, loss, and by the end, a redemption earned. Unflinching and funny at times, this collection takes its reader through a life lived in the margins, and asks: how do we recover when everything appears lost?
Ralph Dartford hails from Basildon in Essex, and now lives in West Yorkshire, having got there via Australia, Barcelona and Los Angeles. He was the founding member of influential spoken word collective ‘A Firm of Poets’, and his first collection of poetry, Cigarettes, Beer and Love was published by Ossett Observer Presents in 2013. A new collection, Recovery Songs – also touring as a spoken word show – is now available from Valley Press.
“Searingly honest, Dartford takes you with him into some of the darkest corners of humanity and inhumanity … he leaves everything on the page.” Nick Ahad
“Dartford’s power comes from his unflinching, forensic attention to the big things that can destroy a life, and to the small details that can save one. There is wit here, but also a serious meditation on the courage it takes to survive childhood and become an (almost) fully-functioning adult.” Stephen May
“A beautiful and heart-breaking collection. Dartford pulls no punches on his painful personal journey of a life forsaken, reconstructed and renewed. It reveals as much about the fractures in our society as it does his own life. Read it and read it again (when you’re feeling strong enough).” Christopher Ian Smith
“Brilliant. Brutal, honest, beautiful and warm. This is poetry that takes hold of your heart and refuses to let go.” Pete Mckee
“Leads you through the vagaries and despair of addiction – but gently and delicately; allowing us to stop at every ladderstep of the descent to take full stock of the depths below. This is as full of love as it is full of warning.” Sadie Davidson
“A brilliant, brave, humorous and bold collection that asks not what if, but what now?” Toria Garbutt
NOT ME by Marianne Dissard is not your typical recovery memoir. By far.
A stunning and searing tale from eccentric musician and artistic powerhouse Marianne Dissard, this debut book is a beautiful and deeply affecting piece of literature.
The book tackles eating disorders and the mental health of a touring musician but, “disguised as a contemporary take on one woman’s attempt to regain life balance through yoga and self-awareness, the text is actually an existential howl on the order of Duras, Daumal, Bataille.” (Kurt Voss).
The confetti-loaded stage adaptation of Not Me premiered at Tom Thumb Theatre in 2018 and was performed in the fall 2019 throughout East Kent during an eleven-day walking tour. The performance will tour theatres across the UK from April to October 2020, including a stint at Brighton Fringe.
£13 including shipping for your paperback copy : http://www.paypal.me/
“Good grief, this is amazing! I am offered a lot of stories of ‘survival’ and ‘recovery’, which tend to be messianic and, frankly, tedious, so I was at best open-minded, perhaps a little dubious, but your book is a knock-out. So frank and fluent and funny. Who else evokes a meditation retreat as pure purgatory? I was mentally climbing the walls.” Rose Shepherd / Saga Magazine, Simon And Schuster author.
“Often improbably funny, too, Not Me is without doubt one of the best books I’ve read this year.” Andrew Smith / author, Moondust and Totally Wired
“Wow. What a book. I had no idea who Marianne was before Not Me but I’m sure I will never forget her. Not just because of the hardship she went through but the beautifully poetic prose.” Joy Corkery / Joyful Antidotes UK
“Marianne Dissard is that rare sort of talent: a literary chanteuse who renders the whole world with keen observations, wit, and pathos.” Mitch Cullin / author, A Slight Trick of the Mind and Tideland
“Not just painfully honest, but viscerally, brutally honest – a struggle for survival, and ultimately self-acceptance.” John Parish / producer, Let England Shake and How Animals Move
“Survival has always been billed as heroic, but you show us that survival – the difficult and secret task – is in how one faces the mundane: eating alone, living alone, talking to one’s self. That’s the power here.” Chris Rush / author, The Light Years