SAVAGE Journal: Territories Print Edition

The below article – Our Bodies – was published in the seventh print edition of SAVAGE Journal, TerritoriesAs President, I contributed to the creative direction, editing and curating of this issue. You can read the full issue here.

TW: sexual assault, sexual misconduct

Our Bodies Territories 1our bodies territories 2our bodies territories 3The article introduces the social initiative I am co-founder of; you can learn more about Our Bodies here. Look out for more information coming soon!

Our Bodies: Sexual assault & harassment at UCL

TW: sexual assault

Every day, more stories of sexual assault and harassment surface and more people suffer at the hands of this epidemic. This goes beyond Hollywood, it happens everywhere, and our university campuses are no exception. In my first year at university, I was sexually assaulted by someone I had previously considered a friend. This wasn’t the first time I had experienced sexual violence, nor the last, but it is the moment that has stayed with me. I could write a million words about the effect this has had on me – and hopefully at some point I will – but for now the words escape me. As survivors, we are silenced during the event and in the aftermath; our agency is taken away. This week, we are launching a new photo series on SAVAGE Journal called Our Bodies, which aims to give agency back to survivors by offering them the chance to tell their story in their own words and be believed. If you would like to share your story, know that it is on your terms. If you want to remain anonymous, you can. If you want to be photographed, you can. These are our bodies, our survival, our stories and our voices. We will not be silenced anymore.

In the next few weeks, we will also be hosting a panel discussion in collaboration with The Cheese Grater (another of UCL’s student magazines), looking at the policies currently in place and asking what more the university could be doing to support survivors and to prevent this behaviour from manifesting in the first place. Further details will be announced on the Facebook event soon.

If you are a current or former student of UCL and would like to share your story on Our Bodies, you can email ourvoices@savageonline.co.uk or direct message the Instagram account (@_ourbodies_).

Review: King Lear at the Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange have a long and overall successful relationship with Shakespeare, and their latest production of King Lear poses no threat to that hard-earned reputation. Crafted in association with Birmingham Repertory Company and Talawa Theatre Company (as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations), this is a master-class in the work of a master.

An apt choice for the year of Shakespeare 400, King Lear serves as a reminder of the lasting relevance of the Bard. The play tackles the repercussions of dividing a kingdom; in light of the upcoming EU referendum and the very recently (and precariously) settled question of Scottish independence, this has never seemed so relevant.

Shakespeare is a tricky undertaking for any company; Don Warrington – who plays King Lear himself – compares it to “Mount Everest.” The text has an intrinsic melody which must be played out, but the physical acting is just as important as the vocal in realising the power of its symphony. Here, the actors punctuated the rhythm of the text with their movements; a sword being drawn and a prince falling to his knees adding texture to a dynamic performance.

My old drama teacher used to say that an actor should be able to explain his motivations at any given moment. If you were to hit pause on a performance, this should be evident to the audience. King Lear follows this advice. There are moments where you want to pause if only to take a photo – to capture what is often an example of beautiful direction offset by a rich and earthy colour palette. Talawa’s Artistic Director Michael Buffong has achieved an exceptional feat here. The visual quality of the performance captures the essence of each character in a new way. This applies particularly to the relationship between Lear and his fool, played by Miltos Yerolemou. The tenderness between the pair and the desperation with which Lear holds on to laughter as he descends into madness is riveting.

This tenderness finds its reflection in the relationship between the Earl of Gloucester and his estranged son Edgar – realised with exceptional skill by Alfred Enoch, who you may recognise from his role as Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films. But Enoch is just one person in a strong cast of sixteen, many of whom had their chance to shine despite the dark subject matter of the play.

The sharp servant Oswald is portrayed wonderfully by Thomas Coombes, providing much-needed comic relief and with just the right amount of flamboyance. Centre stage, however, is commanded by Don Warrington, who cuts a raw and majestic Lear. Impulsive in both deed and manner, Warrington upholds the energy of the stage with admirable ease. In a play of three hours, a few lapses in energy are understandable: you do inevitably begin to count down the disastrous acts leading to the bitter end (made sweet by finally getting rid of your dead leg), but this is through little fault of the cast. The woman next to me left in the interval – an odd decision given that the last scene of Act One was by far the highlight of the whole production and a gross overreaction to what was – at worst – a slightly dragged out first half otherwise.

By no means was this production a perfect one, but it’s merits are many.

How to style Steranko for Summer

Following on from my guest blog on Steranko’s website last week (which you can also read here), I decided to go and raid their stock for some great examples of making layers work for summer. Styling and photography by me. 

The Anouk dress works perfectly over this spotted shirt, and the Lagoon clutch bag adds just the right amount of chic to contrast the Adidas trainers.

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This second outfit may not exactly constitute ‘layering’ but I couldn’t resist the print clashing in this outfit. The ‘Sam’ blouse can be worn open for a more relaxed sort of layer. It’s over a plain vest top here, but might also work well with a pop of colour underneath or a simple cardigan on top. These pants are a divine fit, and whilst these shoes are my own, Hasbeens would do the job very nicely indeed!

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The lighter colour palette of this Maison Scotch top and scarf combination (available in store) is perfect for the summer months.

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Young Enterprise: New Charity Beanies!

On a slightly random note (and one of shameless self-promotion), I thought I’d take a moment to share this video with you all. I made it last week as a promotional video for my Young Enterprise company, The Beanie Shop. The beanies modelled in the advert are part of our latest range, ‘SURVIVOR.’ The most recent in a growing collection of slogan beanies, ‘SURVIVOR’ was created to raise awareness for the inspirational people that survive mental and physical illnesses. £1 from every beanie we sell goes to Beat and The Teenage Cancer Trust, meaning these beanies not only look good, but do good. What’s more, they allow our customers to speak their mind without saying a word.

To read the full ‘SURVIVOR’ story, or buy a beanie, head over to www.thebeanieshop.co.uk

And just because they’re so pretty and I’m so proud, here are a couple of our promotional photos. Styling, creative direction and photography by me.

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Travel Under the Sardinian Sun

It’s no secret that I’m proud of my Italian heritage, but what I’m not so proud of is the fact that despite this, I’ve only been to Italy twice in my life. To be fair, I get a taste of grand old Italia every time I eat at my Nonna’s house (there’s nothing quite like Italian hospitality), and I’m not technically counting day trips to Rome and Florence (ah, the joys of cruise!). That said, I would love to see more of my maternal ‘homeland.’

Having been back in the drizzling cold weather I so lovingly associate with home for almost a week now, I’m really feeling the distance between me and the Sardinian sun. Not even the slight tan I acquired (no mean feat, considering I inherited my Dad’s Liverpudlian skin) can comfort me. I’ve actually taken to scrolling through photos of sunsets and beaches from our holiday; whoever said post-holiday blues were easy to cope with obviously never lived in Manchester.

But, anyway, here are a few tips from my family and I, should you ever find your lucky self in Sardinia…

Visit Stintino Beach: If ever there were a beach that looked exactly as it did in the brochure for Paradise, it was this one. With clear (and warm) blue waters and the softest sand I’ve ever seen, even the market traders carrying knock-off Louis Vuittons and blankets by the bar couldn’t stop me from recommending it. Oh, and be sure to order an “Isla Piana” sandwich for lunch (mozzarella, tomato, olive oil and oregano – you can thank me later).

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Take a trip to Castelsardo: Another beach in the Province of Sassari, Castelsardo offers a secluded bay experience, perfect for a quiet day catching rays. What’s more, the water is brilliant for snorkelling, and it’s only a short walk from the town, which boasts a colourful array of restaurants and bars.

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Dine at Il Merlo Indiano: The villa we were staying in was just a 10 minute walk outside of Valledoria, so we stumbled upon this gem of a Pizzaria on our way into the town. The staff were friendly and attentive, and the owner Rafaelle was particularly welcoming. Whilst our stay was only a week long, we ended up eating here three times. The pizza (which is produced in one of Sardina’s oldest wood-burning ovens) was exceptional and the variety of over 100 pizzas meant you were never short of choice. My personal recommendation would be to always go for Buffalo mozzarella and keep it simple (Il Gentile is lovely).

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Try a Latte Macchiato: I’ve never really been a big coffee fan, and would usually question the sanity of someone who suggested drinking it in the heat, let alone on a beach, however this frothy and revitalising drink became my firm favourite in Sardinia. The best one I tried was in the snack bar on San Pietro beach, Valledoria, but Café Pavone in Alghero also made a good one.

Scream for Ice Cream: If there’s one thing Italians are famous for (ok, maybe one of a multitude of things) it’s gelato. The most refreshing and delicious temptation Italy has to offer, there is no cafe worth its salt that doesn’t sell it. The best one I had was in Alghero, in a little ice-cream ‘cave’ called Gelateria i Bastioni. A little hint: you can’t go far wrong with Pistachio or Lemon.

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Learn how to play Italian cards: One of my fondest childhood memories is of my Nonno teaching me and my siblings how to play with Italian cards. Growing up in a big family with a love of long mealtimes, card games have often formed the post-dinner entertainment that kept us children from climbing up the walls. The particular type we use are Napoletane, with the two main games being Scopa and Briscola. Easy to pick up and beautiful to look at, these cards will provide hours of fun and may even spark up a competitive streak! If you can read Italian and fancy learning, try here.

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Manchester Histories Festival at the Town Hall

When the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures invited me to blog about the Manchester Histories Festival, my hopes weren’t exactly high. I certainly didn’t expect that when I rocked up to the Town Hall yesterday afternoon I would be joining a bustling crowd, all eager to get inside and have a nosey.

The thing about living in a city as large and diverse as Manchester is that you carve out your own little version of it; a bubble tainted only by the experiences you open yourself up to. And so, it’s easier than you think to forget just how varied and vibrant that city is. Manchester is comprised of millions of these personal bubbles, each adding to the overall picture of the city’s heritage. What the Festival showed me was the enthusiasm felt by so many living in Manchester about so many different things. The old Belle Vue Zoo – now long since closed – commissioned acting group The Larks to bring forgotten stories to life, whilst in the room next door, a man collected visitors’ views on where the new Peterloo memorial should go. Rambling clubs welcomed new members, and civic societies opened the doors of the suburbs’ hidden gems. From people who grew up here to students who have moved here, all were enthused by the rich history they witnessed. The most striking aspect of all of this was the combination of past and future; the way that some aimed to educate on days gone by, whilst others sought to establish new links with our past, encouraging visitors to study the history that is evidently still so relevant today.

When the festival started in 2009, it set out to “celebrate and provide learning and education about the City region’s histories and heritage.” Five years down the line, I’d say that has been achieved. The Manchester Histories Festival ensures that Manchester’s colourful past will not be forgotten, and if just one other person felt as I did yesterday – that their eyes had been open to something so unjustly overlooked – then the festival has proven a success. Making history accessible to scholars and families alike, this is one part of our heritage which should not be allowed to fall by the wayside.

The Manchester Histories festival runs annually, this year from 21st-30th March. For more information, please visit http://www.manchesterhistoriesfestival.org.uk

Palaver Festival: The Diary of Anne Frank

Yesterday was a day of festivities, as I immersed myself in not one, but two Manchester-based celebrations. The Manchester Histories Festival  was great, and led me to attend a play in the evening at the Contact Theatre (you know, the one that looks like an industrial plant but is actually really cool inside). That play was The Diary Of Anne Frank, and it was put on by the German Society at the University of Manchester. Here’s how I got on…

Faced with the challenge of performing a piece so historically significant and somewhat emotionally taboo as Anne Frank – and in a language nowhere near as familiar as my mother tongue- I’d probably run with fear. That said, as an audience member at the Contact Theatre tonight, my experience was hardly life changing. And when asked if I wouldn’t mind putting a sticker on a chart to show my level of enjoyment, I had no choice but to stray into the “satisfactory” zone. In light of that, I may be being slightly critical, as my “satisfactory” was one of just two; it seems the rest of the audience branded it “excellent.” I suppose my experience was somewhat tainted by Anne’s seemingly naive and overly-cheerful interpretation. However, given how difficult a play it is to handle, and that it was acted entirely in German, it was an interesting adaption to watch. And whilst I whole-heartedly encourage the promotion of foreign plays and festivals such as Palaver, this play was not one that gripped at my heart strings and left me in tears as the original diary did. With words so moving, any attempt to adapt them seems ever so slightly feeble. I suppose the problem stemmed from the fact that- despite brilliant costumes and a well-designed set – the actors were not actors. They were German university students passionate about their subject – and it showed. The focus dragged not to the words that have endeared millions to the story of Anne Frank, but to the pronunciation of the German- and how oddly it mismatched the subtitles. All in all, the effort was a bold one; it just didn’t necessarily live up to my expectations.