Alice in Canning Town: an urban adaptation of Alice in Wonderland

Our Middlesex colleagues, playwright James Kenworth and director James Martin Charlton, have been awarded the prestigious Royal Docks Trust Grant to write and stage an innovative, site-specific play, Alice in Canning Town.

Alice in Canning Town is a brand new contemporary, urban adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, reconfigured for the East End, and performed site-specific in Arc in the Park, an inclusive adventure playground in Canning Town.

The play will reflect the ever-changing face of the East End over the years, from Cockney to Bangra, Krays to Stormzy, and will be a celebration of not only one of the best loved fantasies of all time, but a kaleidoscopic and action-packed journey through an East End that survived Hitler’s blitz and reinvented itself as a leading light in multicultural Britain.

The performance will feature a combination of professional actors, young performers from the local area, and a live youth orchestra. James’s previous plays have all given opportunities and experience to local young performers, and explored the Borough’s rich political history. The show will be performed at Arc in the Park in the Summer of 2019.

Middlesex English & Creative Writing students may be involved in the creative process which will chiefly benefit young people from Newham.

James Kenworth and James Martin Charlton

The show will build on the pioneering work the playwright (James Kenworth, Lecturer in Media Narrative) and director (James Martin Charlton, Head of Media) have done in the field of education, community and site-specific theatre. James Kenworth’s most recent play, A Splotch of Red, was the third in a loose trilogy of East End-based plays, all dealing with revolution and social change, and all performed in appropriate locations in the London Borough of Newham. It follows When Chaplin met Gandhi, staged in 2012 at Kingsley Hall, where the Indian leader stayed during his 1931 visit to Britain, and Revolution Farm, a ‘hoodie version’ of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, performed in 2014 at Newham City Farm, in the shadows of Canary Wharf.

Arc in the Park

Arc-pic1Arc in the Park is a vibrant and dynamic Adventure Playground, featuring tree houses, swings, trampolines, rope bridges, giant slides, teepees, and as such, is a perfect fit for the playful and surreal world of Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Its unusual and imaginative play resources make it an exciting and unique performance space for an Alice in Wonderland reimagined for the East End.

The Arc provides a Newham-wide delivery and resource base for young people with disabilities and/or additional needs and their families. We will work closely with Arc in the Park’s management body, Newham charity, Ambition, Aspire, Achieve, to provide opportunities for local young people to be involved in the making of a professional theatre show. Kevin Jenkins OBE founded AAA because of a longstanding desire to provide opportunities for the youth of Newham and East London. AAA have an exemplary track record in providing activities and experiences for young people in the Newham and East London area that build confidence and expand minds.

The park’s unique array of adventure play resources and building structures make it a perfect fit for Alice’s adventures in Canning Town. We envisage a promenade-style performance for Alice, with the audience following the play’s story around the environs of the Park. This kind of staging was achieved very successfully with the production of Revolution Farm at Newham City Farm, with critics singling out the promenade staging for praise. The Independent’s Theatre Critic Paul Taylor wrote: “The unique selling points of this version are not just the in-yer-face modernity of the language and attitudes, but the fact that it unfolds as a promenade performance in the precincts of a genuine inner-city farm.”

Launch show of Haringey Unchained magazine

We are very excited to announce the launch show of ‘Haringey Unchained‘ the creative magazine that was co-produced this year through the intense collaboration of students (and staff) at Haringey Sixth Form College and Middlesex University.
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The launch show for this year’s issue of the magazine will be on Thursday 5th July, in the evening, at Haringey Sixth Form College in Tottenham in London. This will be a celebration of London’s creative talent; writers will read out their work and dancers from the WeMove Dance Leadership project will provide interpretative dances of the magazine’s prose and poetry pieces.

There will also be an Art Exhibition at the iconic North London venue, Alexandra Palace, on the 6th July, also in the evening – and there will be additional opportunities to attend readings of the Haringey Unchained collection.

A good life: citizenship, skills and employability in English studies

‘How can English Studies overcome instrumentalism when it comes to the employability agenda? Is it possible to move beyond having to prove that our degrees are good value because they lead to good careers? Can we work together with students to consider how to live ‘good lives’ through education?’

On the 13th and 14th of April, I attended my first ever University English  Annual General Meeting & Heads of English networking event at the University of Lancaster. The two-day meeting had everything: innovative practices in learning, teaching and assessment of English at University level, discussion of hiring and promotion practices in the sector, surviving your first year as Head of Department, recent A Level reforms, and of course TEF and REF 2021.

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I found the panel on Employability really interesting, as it showcased some exciting and innovative ways of connecting students with the wider world.

Dr Fiona Douglas (Leeds) talked about the great (but also tricky to organise) module on Heritage & Dialect that takes students outside the classroom and into local museums and blends teaching, research and public engagement.

Dr Clare Egan (Lancaster) emphasised the importance of treating degrees not as tools to get a job but as central to developing skills for everything we are doing. She showed the importance of problem-solving learning, moving from ‘careers talks’ to ‘career-focused problem solving’, helping students develop critical reflection and self awareness, and discussed modules that fully integrate work in the field: local schools, arts organisations etc.

Yvonne  Battle-Felton, co-founder of  Stories at The Storey (true story open mic night) and North West Lit Salon and Creative Writing PhD spoke about the PhD creative writing student as entrepreneur.  

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Middlesex and Haringey Sixth Form College students shortlisting submissions for ‘Haringey Unchained’ magazine

We are already incorporating many of these ideas in the BA English at Middlesex. To name just a few examples:

  • First-year modules, such as Global Englishes, include problem-solving based learning. Students have to work in groups to design and carry out an experiment testing a hypothesis. Through their empirical projects, they develop high level research skills but, perhaps more crucially, really valuable interpersonal, negotiation, leadership and teamworking skills.
  • Our students develop employability skills by mentoring local 6th form college students in producing a literary magazine, Haringey Unchained.
  • Also, from 2018-19 we will extend students’ opportunities to volunteer at local schools, act as ambassadors for English and make a positive impact to their communities through the two third-year modules ‘Work Placement’ and ‘Teaching Englishes’.
  • Students get to work with acclaimed writers and practitioners of a range of genres. These include their own tutors but also guest speakers. For example this year, second year BA English students invited and interviewed Ian McGuire, author of the celebrated novel and soon-to-be BBC series The North Water.
  • From 2018, BA English students will be involved in the organisation of the 2019 North London Story Festival.

Sneak peak on this year’s ‘Haringey Unchained’ magazine

We are very happy to report that all content (poems, short fiction, illustrations, photographs etc.) that we have submitted this year has  been added to the Haringey Unchained blog.

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Please visit here: https://haringeyunchained.wordpress.com.

 

At the top of the page, there is the following link, which reflects the partnership between students and staff of English from Middlesex University and Haringey Sixth Form Centre:

https://haringeyunchained.wordpress.com/university-partnerships/

Submission on the blog are anonymised. Anything submitted by Middlesex is demarcated by a * in the title.

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be updating the blog so that it is a premium account so the URL will eventually change to: www.haringeyunchained.com.

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Our next and final editorial session together will be Thursday 3rd May at 4:30 pm. We are going to have to be merciless about the items we cut in order to get it to fit 52 pages.  We will spent the time placing pieces along the flat plan together.

Really looking forward to seeing the finalised version of the print magazine!

Studying Instagram Beyond Selfies: Instagram Conference 2018, 01 June 2018, Middlesex University

With as many “users as Twitter (310 million), Snapchat (100-million-plus) and Pinterest (100 million) combined” (Forbes 2016), Instagram has become one of the most important social networking sites globally and in the process has transformed the role of photographs and photography in visual culture. Designed to exploit the affordances of mobile media (Carah 2015) and the immediate and intuitive logic of visual communication, Instagram is notably popular among young people (18-29 years old) (WordStream 2017).

instaThe phenomenal success of Instagram has not gone unnoticed by brands and micro-celebrities that increased their investments and activities on the platform – (according to Forbes the current financial value of Instagram stays somewhere between $25 billion and $50 billion (Forbers 2016)).

Despite all these, there is a scarcity of empirical research conducted through Instagram, especially beyond the use of selfies.

Call for papers:

You are invited to submit proposals for a single paper or a pre-constituted panel around a particular theme. Individual abstracts should be 350 words or 500 for a full panel proposal. Please also include a short bio of no more than 100 words per participant. Please submit to Alessandro Caliandro, email A.Caliandro@mdx.ac.uk  by 30 April 2018.

Registration will open soon after the 30th of April. Registration fee: £30 (for undergraduate students), £50 (for academics/practitioners).

For more information, including possible questions to address, and keynote speakers, see: http://instagramconf.mdx.me.uk/

Keynote Speakers:

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Richard Rogers, Professor of New Media & Digital Culture, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam.

Keynote Address: Otherwise engaged: Social Media from vanity metrics to critical analytics

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Dr Crystal Abidin, socio-cultural anthropologist of vernacular internet cultures

Keynote Address: Tap that, Hack that, Map that: Economies, Cultures, and Materialites of Instagram

Footage of conversation with Ian McGuire

Last month, Ian McGuire, author of the celebrated novel, The North Water, visited Middlesex to answer questions from BA English students. The event was sold out and a great success. If you missed it, or would like to watch it again, here’s the footage of the discussion.

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All English events at Middlesex this week

This is the busiest and most exciting week of the year in our English events calendar. We are hosting the final Language & Communication research seminar of this series, we are welcoming two Erasmus teaching visits in English, and Creative Writing & Journalism students are running this year’s Story Festival. Here’s a reminder of all events on campus this week. We hope you’ll join us in as many as you can:

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Tuesday, 13th March

  • 12.00-14.00 Metafiction in Postmodern American Literature and Popular Culture by Dr Aleksandra Vukotić (University of Belgrade), BG09B (Building 9)
  • 14.00-16.00: Trauma, Cultural Memory, and Identity in Sebastian Barry’s ‘A Long Long Way’ by Professor Ksenija Kondali (University of Sarajevo), C136 (College Building) – Open lecture

11.00-20.00 North London Story Festival (various rooms)

 

 

Wednesday, 14th March

12.00-14.00 Intertextuality in Jeanette Winterson’s ‘The Gap of Time’. By Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, CG48 (College Building)

16.00-17.30 The Embodied Nature of Narrative: Moving with purpose with others, and its disruption in autism. By Dr Jonathan Delafield-Butt (University of Strathclyde),  New room: BG02 (Building 9) Final Language & Communication Research Seminar for this year!

 

Thursday, 15th March

15.00 -17.00 Negotiating the Technological Sublime: DeLillo’s and Antonioni’s

Murder Mysteries. By Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, CG43 (College building) – Open lecture

 

ksenFriday, 16th  March

10.00-12.00 Whoever controls your eyeballs runs the world : A “Paranoid” Reading of Media. By Dr Aleksandra Vukotić, CG09 (College building)

15.00-17.00 Fictionalizing Transatlantic Slavery: A Comparative Study. By Professor Ksenija Kondali (University of Sarajevo), PAG02 (Portacabin)

 

All welcome!

For directions to Middlesex University Hendon campus, click here.