Refugees Welcome at The Story Sessions Asylum -videos

A video of me reading at The Story Sessions, I am also reading TONIGHT at Story Fridays at Burdalls Yard 7a Anglo Terrace in Walcott, Bath 7.30 for 8.

Arachne Press

It’s taken a while to get these up, sorry – here are videos of the three stories from The Refugees Welcome Anthology read at our Asylum themed The Story Sessions for Brockley Max.

Cherry Potts, Queues

More of Cherry’s writing can be heard live TONIGHT at Liars’ League London and on Friday at Story Fridays in Bath.

Snipets from the other two stories, as we have no claim on the copyright:

Jane Roberts, The Etymology of Happiness read by Katy Darby

and Oscar Windsor-SmithThis England read by Alix Adams

more videos to come from our two Brockley Max events…

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How Idomeneo looks from here

The audience are never going to experience an opera the way the chorus does. Even though performance in the round gives them some idea, as they peer through the crowds to catch a glimpse of th action, but actually, the action is what they are peering round.

Our chorus experience is  sweaty, loud and partial – we never get to see the whole show, but the bits we do experience are visceral.

Idomeneo - Mozart - Blackheath Halls Community Opera - 14th July 2015 Musical Director - Nicholas Jenkins Director - James Hurley Designer - Rachel Szmukler Lighting Designer - Ben Pickersgill Idomeneo - Mark Wilde Idamante - Sam Furness Ilia - Rebecca Bottone Electra - Kirstin Sharpin Arbace - William Johnston Davies Pupils from Charlton Park Academy, Greenvale School, Year 5 from Beecroft Garden Primary School and Year 5 from Mulgrave Primary School Blackheath Halls Chorus and Blackheath Halls Orchestra

escaping the monster IdomeneoBH copyright Robert Workman

This is quite a physical show, and we are very glad that the carrying corpses off stage was cut, and we weren’t convinced we’d manage it without injury, to us or the ‘corpse’. The costumes are very hot (winter weight flying jackets with 2 inches of wadding in them, gas masks…) but at least there are no quick changes – last year’s nun-to soldier-in-3-mins is mercifully not challenged for award for fastest change. The emotions change faster, one minute a concerned civil servant,

concerned civil servants copyright Robert Wiseman

concerned civil servants IdomeneoBH
copyright Robert Workman

the next an anxious guard,

Anxious Guards - IdomeneoBH copyright Robert Workman

Anxious Guards – IdomeneoBH copyright Robert Workman

then a cheery well-wisher (although an imagined one!)

Imagined well- copyright Robert Workman

Imagined well-wishers IdomeneoBH
copyright Robert Workman

and finally a zealous follower of Poseidon turned vigilante – (no photos of this, will have to see what we can do in the dressing room!)  but there is a lot of anger throughout, I just have to remember what I’m being angry about and ‘on whom rest the blame’.

If you would like to discover who is to blame, we are performing again tonight at 7pm and on Sunday at 2pm. tickets and info here

Orchestral Manoeuvres

One of the delights of being involved in the community opera at Blackheath Halls is working with the Blackheath Halls Community Orchestra. We don’t get to hear what they are up to until the sitz probe, when we run through the entire opera and work out the corners. This is one of my favourite sessions, because we rarely hear the whole work. Then we get two stage & orchestra rehearsals and a couple of dress rehearsals (two of everything because of the split between the schools we are working with) to get used to what the music sounds like full on, before the first night.

Sitz Probe

Sitz Probe

And very necessary it is too, when we’ve been working with a piano accompaniment up until then. Jeremy, our assistant musical director plays a cut down version of the orchestral score magnificently, and it doesn’t always seem possible that he has enough fingers.

I wonder how much attention the audience pay to the orchestra, there is so much going on in an opera, although they are at least visible in our production.

I know I listen differently as a performer to how I would as an audience member – ear tuned to the instrument that will play the note I need a bar and a half before I have to sing it, that sort of thing; making it hard to take in the whole, but two things really struck me last night during the first performance of Idomeneo.

One was how very full and brassy the sound is considering how little brass there is playing – Mozart makes fantastic use of horns, but that’s about it.

The other was during a brief interlude when the tenors & basses are up with the orchestra for our ‘off stage’ chorus of drowning mariners during the storm. We all creep on and lurk at the side and wait for our cue. This gives us an unusual ‘conductor’s eye view’ of the orchestra. I can’t imagine the concentration and eye for detail it takes to conduct an opera, with orchestra soloists and chorus to pay attention to – I couldn’t even begin to make sense of the full score. Nick Jenkins, I salute you! Anyway while waiting for the music to cue us in,  I noticed these waves of movement going through; not the documentary film cliché of the bows all moving at the same time (although of course they do), but for example, a point at which all the violins put down their bows as one, and plucked the strings instead. It was an incredibly elegant little movement, which delighted me – and then I had to get on with singing and had no thought for anything but coming in correctly on the tricky bit…


Review of Root: New Stories from North East Writers

My review from The Short Review of short story anthology ‘Root’

The Short Review

ROOT: New Stories from North East Writers
Edited by Kitty Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s third anthology for Iron Press.

Iron Press, 2013

Reviewed by Cherry Potts

“‘… Shame you can’t find a good solid man,’ Nan said.
‘You make blokes sound like tower-blocks,’ Mam said.”

iron_-_rootIt is no accident that the cover of this book has a tall building on it. The built environment plays a strong role in several of the stories, as does “The Neighbour”, but despite that there is a heavy dose of the fantastic in this anthology, with child mediums, houses which reject their owners, would-be suicides turning into birds, and casual sidestepping of issues such as a probable murder.

The most fun had is in Angela Readman’s There’s a Woman Works Down the Chip Shop, in which a child interprets her mother’s burgeoning lesbian identity as her being possessed by the spirit of Elvis. It is a…

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Review of The Woman Who Loved the Moon and other stories

My review from The Short Review, of Elizabeth A Lynn’s ‘The Woman Who Loved the Moon’.

The Short Review

The Woman Who Loved the Moon and other stories

by Elizabeth A. Lynn

Berkley Fantasy (Now part of Penguin US), 1981

Reviewed by Cherry Potts

“I need your skills, and your strength. I need your knowledge of men. I need your guile, my traitor, and your deceit” (Wizard’s Domain)

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I first read this collection when it was originally published back in 1981, an important year for me, coming out and on the lookout for (to be honest, any) books that were positive about lesbians. As a convinced fantasy enthusiast I fell on the work of Elizabeth A Lynn with delight. Thirty plus years later (long enough to have forgotten all but the general shape of the stories with the exception of the title story which haunted me for years), these stories have worn well, although I can see their faults more. Lynn does herself no favours…

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Review of Bones of an Inland Sea by Mary Akers

My Review of Mary Akers magnificent collection ‘Bones of an Inland Sea.’ One of those ‘I wish I could do that’ books.

The Short Review

Bones of an Inland Sea

by Mary Akers

Press 532013

Reviewed by Cherry Potts             

Looking back, he sees it now. Twirling was Dani’s escape, and Rosie a twirler, too, with him. Twins, they twirled together. Two as one, coltish, early…Holding hands to spin together, faster, faster. Tandem spinning. Spinning till your hands broke apart and you staggered around, drunk with the swirl in your ears.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 08.46.14

This is a cracking collection, by turns lyrical, gritty, warm, funny, frightening and eccentric. Mary Akers‘ imagination is given full flight, from a historical story with just the suggestion of a ghost (The House of Refuge), through to a devastated future world of plagues and cults (Waste Island), by way of marital infidelity (Bones of an Inland Sea), murder (Viewing Medusa)  and sex change (What Lies Beneath). Through it all flows the…

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Aimee Bender, The Color Master – review by Cherry Potts

My Review on The Short Review of Aimee Bender’s The Colour Master.

The title story of this collection is a clever prequel to a well-known fairy tale which gives you no inkling of where it is going until close to the end, dressed up as it is with fantastical touches such as invoices sent by pigeon, and so on. It has a bitter core for all its surface frivolity, entirely appropriate to its partner tale.

At some point I will review (though not on Short Review obviously) her novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake which I ADORED.

buy The Colour Master

The Short Review

The Color Master
by Aimee Bender

Windmill Books, 2013

Reviewed by Cherry Potts

“Do you know the king wants to marry his daughter? Her eyes flashed, for a second, with anger.
What? Put that in the dress too, she said. She dropped her voice to a whisper, every word sharp and clear. Anger, she said. Put anger in the dress.”

The title story of this collection is a clever prequel to a well-known fairy tale which gives you no inkling of where it is going until close to the end, dressed up as it is with fantastical touches such as invoices sent by pigeon, and so on. It has a bitter core for all its surface frivolity, entirely appropriate to its partner tale.

Another story steeped in the language and rhythms of traditional fairy tales is The Devourings, which take several tropes and stitches them together into an exhausting and…

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The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 29th

louisa lumsdenNo particular birthday today so let’s celebrate

Louisa Lumsden CBE (1840-1935), the first prominent female figure at the University of St Andrews.
Louisa was one of the original students of Girton College Cambridge.  She taught classics there and later at Cheltenham. In 1877 she became Head of St Leonard’s school in St Andrews. In 1895 she was warden of a new university hall of residence,  but resigned in 1900.
Although her initial energies were put into women’s education, she was a strong proponent of women’s suffrage  In 1908 she was president of the Aberdeen Suffrage Association. She had a horse-drawn caravan, which was used for campaign tours. although never a militant herself, she admitted to fellow-feeling.

One has a mean feeling when one is quietly enjoying the good things of life and others are in prison for their convictions.

The Historical Birthday-Tea Party 26th March

Louise Honorine Crozat du ChâtelNo Birthday today so looking forward a couple of days, let’s celebrate

Louise-Honorine Crozat Du Châtel, Duchesse de Choiseul, 28th March 1737-1801 ‘A charming little fairy born out of a magical egg’ Her husband was a chief minister to Louis XIV, eventually discredited. Louise-Honorine was arrested during the Terror but seems to have survived it as she died seven years later. She was great friends with Marie du Deffand, writing to her

You think I love you from Complaisance and ask you to visit me from politeness. I don’t. I love you because I love you… You know you love me, but you do not feel it.