Alvin – A True Star on All Kinds of Levels

Commemorating the life of Alvin Stardust, I think I heard somewhere that tributes were being sought for an event which is to be held in the town of his youth, Mansfield. The suggestion may have come from Dave Harness who functioned as Alvin’s road manager during the latter part of his career and who I count as a friend but, anyway, I read it somewhere. It got me to thinking on what I’d want to say.

I can’t be at the opening day of the event because of a writing commission which is going to take me to New York for a month, but I hope to visit it thereafter, but I thought to gather my thoughts here and now.

I’d written an obituary of sorts about Alvin at the time of his passing which can be found elsewhere on the internet including here:

https://twilightdawning.com/2014/10/29/good-rockers-can-never-die/

which covers his career in broad-strokes, so maybe something about my inter-action with the man.

Back in the mid-90s my agent rang me and asked me if I would be at all interested in interviewing “an old glam rocker called Alvin Stardust”(!) while he was on tour and specifically at his show in Croydon at the Fairfield Halls. What my caller didn’t realise was that when I was 9 I’d seen Mr Stardust on Top of the Pops and become convinced that he was the coolest man in the world. It was a moment that has affected me right to this very day and I guess I knew from that moment that I’d be forever “dressed in black” myself.

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A (Nut) Cracker for Christmas

What: The Nutcracker

Who: Saltmine Trust

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: 14th December 2017

This Christmas was Ravenscourt Arts’ 4th annual Christmas production and its most difficult to organise – simply because it was put into the theatre’s calendar very late and, because of that late organisation, then trying fill up the house for a free show for children when schools had so much already organised proved rather difficult, meaning a half full house. This for a show that deserved so much more but fortunately a heart-full of humour made this production a huge success.

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Going Forth With The Shakespearience…

What: Go Forth With The Shakespearience

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith

Who: The Shakespearience

When: May 2017

One day whilst I was in Stratford-Upon-Avon with the Royal Shakespeare Company, I woke up in my hotel room with a fairly fully formed idea for bringing Shakespeare to schools, using professional actors and musicians, and giving young people a first exposure to live theatre.

It’s now 8 years since we started working with local schools as part of their literature programme. We’ve always worked with the schools in the areas of faith and religious education but we thought as well as enhancing the teaching in those areas, we ought to give back to the community in the areas that God has gifted us in. This has meant that over those years we’ve worked on poetry workshops (with Paul Cookson), performances of Shakespeare and more recently, since Chris Jarvis has joined us in a range of other hands-on activities.

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The pleasure of poetry with Paul Cookson

I first met Paul Cookson in the early 1980s at an Arts Festival called Greenbelt. Back then he was writing poems for adults and selling them in self-published booklets on the “fringe” area of the festival.

A couple of years later he had found his true vocation and graduated to writing poems for children. We started doing schools presentations of his work about 15 years ago and when I opened the theatre “Ravenscourt Arts@ Ravenscourt Baptist Church”, his performances became a regular if occasional part of our repertoire at the theatre as we have invited Paul to work with local schools groups.

This tradition continued in March 2016 as over 800 young people joined Paul over 6 events and laughed, worked with words, invented rhymes, and wrote their own poetry.

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A Cracker for Christmas

What: A Christmas Cracker

Who: Riding Lights Theatre Company

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: December 9 & 10th 2015

This was the second annual Christmas play / pantomime at the Ravenscourt Arts theatre in Hammersmith and saw the theatre once again join forces with the Riding Lights Theatre Company from York to bring joy to the lives of an audience who were mostly between the ages of 4 and 11 with a smattering of teachers and parents.

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Cracker the Dog

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An Embarrassment of Riches

Who: Daughters of Davis

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Ravenscourt Road, Hammersmith, London

When: October 3rd, 2015.

The season at Ravenscourt Arts ended at the beginning of the summer with an outstanding concert of acoustic music from Judie Tzuke which played to a sold-out venue. The show tonight had one of those things in common. This was truly a night of great acoustic music even if there were a number of vacant seats around. No accounting for that – last time Daughters of Davis played here, they played to a very healthy audience indeed so let’s concentrate on the music.

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More Songs and Stories

Who: Judie Tzuke

What: Songs and Stories Tour

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: 11th April 2015

On the opening night of Judie Tzuke’s first UK wide all-acoustic tour, questions were invited from the audience as they will be on every night of this long jaunt around the country.

One sample question: What do you do to keep your voice so strong for so long?

Answer: Nothing. I was once given some vocal exercises but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten them.

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