Author Archives: Generation Plymouth

‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’: Review

By Megan Potterton

Girls just wanna have fun! ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ arrives at the Theatre Royal Plymouth this week. An explosion of colour, comedy, dance and disco tunes; this production is guaranteed to have audiences dancing and singing along in their seats from the moment the curtain opens.

‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ follows the story of Tick (Joe McFadden), Bernadette (Miles Western) and Adam (Nick Hayes), a trio of performers who embark on an epic road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs (in the Australian outback) to perform in a drag show. Unbeknown to Bernadette and Adam, Tick has ulterior motives for accepting the job at the casino in Alice Springs: to visit the wife he left behind and to meet his son for the first time. In a tale of friendship, self-discovery and self-expression, the three performers make the journey of a life time on board ‘Priscilla’, their battered old bus that transports them to the remote resort town. Featuring disco hits including ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and ‘Boogie Wonderland’, this musical truly has fun at its heart.

The costumes are fabulous, the singing breathtaking and the choreography simply extraordinary. This production is, thanks to the talented cast and production team, a feel-good, laugh-out-loud masterpiece that will have you dancing and singing along in no time.

Nick Hayes stands out for his energetic and flamboyant performance as Adam and delivers his lines with fantastic comedic timing. Joe McFadden also creates some heart warming moments as Tick, particularly alongside the young actor playing his son. Although a medley of ‘Always On My Mind’ and ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ upon their meeting may sound peculiar, in the context of this show it fits absolutely perfectly.

Miles Western also does a fantastic job of portraying the complex character of Bernadette, a transgender woman who has more life experience than the other characters. Although a highly confident performer, Western also successfully hints at the more delicate and sensitive side of Bernadette’s personality throughout the show.

If you’re looking for a fun, cheesy night out full of laughs, glitter and disco hits, tickets are still available for ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ at the Theatre Royal Plymouth this week. The show runs until Saturday 25th January and you can purchase tickets here: https://theatreroyal.com/whats-on/priscilla/

Cinderella is back? Oh yes it is!

By Keiran Potter

It’s that time of the year again – when the magic of panto well and truly kicks off the festive season. When it comes to Cinderella, you’d think you’d seen it all. By now the story is pretty engrained in our brains to say the least. Pumpkins and magic and glass slippers. But the thing with panto is how it so swiftly breathes new life into such old and worn out tales. Making for a hybrid of something familiar yet something fresh and engaging. The original story amended with comedic sketches of magic tricks and talent shows, recognisable songs and an abundance of costume changes. The Ugly Step Sisters were two of my favourite characters – even if their ‘Janner’ accents came off a bit more Bristol than Plymouthian. I’ll let them off though, seeming as they’re so gorgeous and all.

I haven’t been to a panto in quite sometime, so I am probably a bit out of practice with the hissing and boos. But I didn’t realise how much the production value of our Plymouth panto had sky rocketed. Flying carriages and beautifully crafted sets really invite the audience to be immersed in the magic taking place on stage.

Panto wouldn’t be panto without good old audience participation. Brian ‘Buttons’ Connelly goes above and beyond to evoke laughter, then ensuring to milk it for all its worth. I have to say I can’t blame him. It’s clear he is the star of the show when it comes to comedy. He plays with the audience and seems to be playing two parts simultaneously – one for the kids and one for the adults.

One thing I love most about panto is how you can never tell what is scripted and what is just an actor messing around or forgetting their lines on stage. It makes for an even more exciting watch, when even the actors can’t seem to contain their laughter. You can’t help but smile when all of the people on stage seem to be having the best time. Every single cast member and member of the ensemble plays their part in igniting the magic of panto and ensuring to utilise it to full effect. This leaves every person in the audience, no matter their age, with a smile on their face and feeling just that little bit younger.

Cinderella is glowing and bright, a show for all the family, that Plymouth can and should be proud of. You can catch it at the Theatre Royal Plymouth throughout the rest of January, so get your tickets now!

General Election 2019: In Conversation With: Luke Pollard

By Tobias Chalcraft

As part of Generation Plymouth’s ongoing election coverage, we asked Luke Pollard some important questions on various topics from climate change to decommissioned nuclear submarines. There’s even a discussion on Jaffa Cakes.

Luke is Labour’s PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, fighting to retain the seat that he only won from the Conservatives in the 2017 election.

“How do you feel you would best represent Plymouth’s young people as the MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport?”

Luke starts by arguing that “the best way to represent any group is to take time to listen and engage” before highlighting his regular meetings with Plymouth’s MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament), with one MYP even contributing articles to his white papers regarding Plymouth’s future on his website. He also mentions his young people’s Brexit summit, which he hosted soon after his election in 2017, and his frequent Q&As in schools and colleges as good ways for him to share his opinions and to learn from Plymouth’s young people. He finishes his point by advocating a lowered voting age, in order for younger people to have a louder voice.

“Do you feel Labour has done enough to promote the fight against Climate Change?”

Luke lists his credentials as a member of Labour’s Environment Team and Shadow Environmental Minister, which ensures that he frequently speaks about climate change. He adds that the parliamentary declaration of a climate emergency was a Labour motion, which was put forward by its leader Jeremy Corbyn. He then says he is proud to support the de-escalation of the use of diesel & petrol engines and hydro-generated power. He concludes his answer by saying “Climate change is the biggest challenge facing our planet and more of the same won’t cut it, we need transformative change and fast too”.

“Do you believe the vote should be extended to those aged 16 and 17? If so, what do you believe this expanding of the electorate will achieve?”

His answer has a straightforward start: “Yes. I am the only Plymouth MP to have voted for lowering the voting age and I am proud to continue to make the case for young people to be heard”. He then outlines the cuts in public services, including mental health support and education, which have had an impact on young people, before arguing that “If young people had the right to vote I don’t think those in power would be able to ignore them”. He finishes by committing to further support for votes at 16.

“What is the progress of your campaign to have the decommissioned nuclear submarines in Devonport recycled?”

Luke says this is one of his “passions and key campaigns” before divulging into how Plymouth has accepted a “poor deal” through its undisputed acceptance of old nuclear submarines.

“My old man served on many of the submarines that are now retired in Devonport when he was in the Royal Navy. The submarine service is a really important part of the Royal Navy, but we cannot simply tie up and forget about these subs”. Due to previously being an MP outside of government, Luke explains that he used his position in order to spread awareness and propose solutions to the recycling of these submarines. 

He concludes by saying “I’m proud to be the first MP to do this and I am now leading a cross-party campaign to properly fund the recycling of these old submarines. It may take some time, but the first challenge is to let people know they exist – once you know Devonport has 13 old nuclear submarines tied up – then you are forced to think about how to recycle them. I won’t stop until a properly funded recycling programme has begun.”

“As a ‘big fan of cake’ yourself, are ‘Jaffa Cakes’ biscuits or cakes?”

Starting off with the neutral response of “I love Jaffa Cakes”, Luke then moves his response towards taxation:

“Personally, I don’t mind what type of food they’re labelled as long as people can afford them but at the moment Jaffa Cakes are a luxury not every family in Plymouth can afford”. He points out speeches in Westminster and his experience with the soup run as some of his personal efforts to combat food poverty. He completes his response by saying “we need to get real and address the fundamental problem here: people cannot afford food for themselves and their families. That’s shameful in 2019 and something I will not accept”.

GE2019 Opinion: Vote for ‘chaos’ this Christmas

By Mitch Gregory

The year is 2057: the Conservative Party are still convincing the public that Labour caused the 2008 financial crash (they didn’t); Brexit still hasn’t been achieved because of the “Remoaner” Parliament that has been re-elected successively; Boris Johnson still hasn’t faced Andrew Neil, nor has he found an appropriate ditch.

There is a choice, as the infinitely-wise Health Secretary Matt Hancock pointed out to us lately, ‘Between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn’—thanks, Matt. So what does one do in the face of such apocalyptic choices? On the one side you have Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing granddad who just wants to tend his allotment and sympathise with terrorists. On the other you have Boris Johnson, Bullingdon Club bully, compulsive liar, serial womaniser, and strong contender for worst father of the year. This election could not be more dire—or is it?

An alternative way of looking at this election is through policy, which is often overlooked, shocking. On policy we have again quite a contrast: on the Labour side we have nationalised public services, including the railways, the utilities, broadband, Royal Mail and crucially the NHS. Alongside this we have a promise of a second referendum on a Brexit deal, with the option to remain, or to leave with a softer option (potential a Norway style model). On the other side we have the Conservatives who are offering, well, “Get Brexit Done” in order to unleash Britain’s potential. Potential to do what? How has this potential not been achieved before? Looking at this election an observer would think that the Liberal Democrats had been in power for nine years, not the Conservatives. 

The reality is that Boris Johnson wants you to vote for him so that he can pretend to make lives better. 50,000 nurses? 19,000 of them ae already nurses. 20,000 police officers? Still not quite the 21,000 cut since 2010. A football pitch within 15 minutes of every family in England? Why don’t you focus on giving every family in England a home and a local library and a decent school and an efficient hospital before you focus on setting up a five-a-side on every street corner. The Tories want the public to somehow forget that they have been in power for nine years, all of the unharnessed British potential is only unharnessed because of their superficial at best and cataclysmic at worst policies.

I’m not trying to argue that Labour is perfect; their policy on tuition fees could leave Universities with a funding black-hole even bigger than the one they already have. Similarly Labour still don’t wish to overhaul the electoral system even after the instability and chaos First Past The Post has brought us this decade. In fact some of their policies just seem unachievable, as if there are almost too many of them to ever hope to implement in five years. But alas, this is the choice we face: Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson.

I’ve never voted Labour. I’ve voted Liberal Democrat twice and Green once. If I wasn’t in Plymouth Sutton & Devonport I’d probably vote for one of those two again. But this time I’m voting Labour, not even because I’m left-wing or a socialist, but simply because we have no other choice. The Conservatives will continue to take us for granted; they hold the public in contempt; and so they need to be shown that they can’t win an election with soundbites, lies, and an avoidance of scrutiny.

This election lets vote for this supposed socialist chaos – lets ruin Boris’ Christmas.

*This article is the opinion of its writer and in no way does it reflect the overall endorsement of Generation Plymouth.

GENERAL ELECTION 2019: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN AND HOW?

By Tobias Chalcraft

Tomorrow the country, and Plymouth, will vote in its third general election in four years, to elect a new parliament. With Brexit, the environment and the state of our union high on the national agenda, this election will be the most important vote in decades. For those that aren’t as politically active as this writer, Generation Plymouth is here to help provide some clarity on everything you should know before the big day tomorrow.

WHO CAN I VOTE FOR?

Plymouth enjoys three constituencies, with the city centre coming within the Plymouth Sutton & Devonport constituency and other parts of the city being represented by Plymouth Moor View and South West Devon. For a list of candidates standing in your area, head to this BBC website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50459517. Be sure to look up these candidates to get a good idea of their individual manifestos.

With many parties standing aside in favour of those with similar Brexit stances, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport is rare in the fact that the Brexit, Conservative & Unionist, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are all competing here for your vote. 

If you are unsure which party you should support, head to https://voteforpolicies.org.uk for a brilliant unbiased survey which tells you which party you should vote for, based on your individual policy preferences.

However, if you feel unable to vote for any of the options on your ballot paper, it is better to spoil your ballot paper than not vote at all. You can spoil your ballot by leaving it blank or writing ‘none of the above’ at the bottom of the paper. These spoiled ballots appear on national statistics and inform all of the main political parties the levels of dissatisfaction with their policies. Note: If you want to spoil your ballot do not draw inappropriate images within a single box next to a candidate’s name, as this may still be counted

WHERE DO I VOTE?

Multiple schools, church halls and even some pubs across the country will temporarily convert themselves into a polling station for voters to cast their ballot. Please note you must be over 18, and registered, in order to vote. 

Not sure where your polling station is? Check out https://wheredoivote.co.uk to find out where you can vote. You may be in for a surprise – you could be voting in your old primary school or local pub. 

WHEN ARE POLLING STATIONS OPEN?

Polls are open from 7am to 10pm. However, if something arises and you find yourself unable to get to a polling station (and you’ve not registered a proxy or postal vote), you can register for an emergency proxy vote before 5pm on polling day. For more information, head to https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/voting-person-post-or-proxy/voting-proxy.

Don’t let anything stop you from voting – this will have a big impact on your life, and you might not have this chance again for up to five years!

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

At 10pm, an ‘Exit Poll’ will be released – this is an estimate of the result, judging by voter feedback throughout the day. This poll is often accurate, so it will be worth checking out before you go to bed, if you want some idea of the results without staying up all night.  

Following the Exit Poll, results will steadily come in throughout the night. If you are a politics geek like me, and plan to stay up all night, the most intense results will start coming through after 2am. So, the best time to nap will be 11pm-1am, although it will be nearly impossible with all the hype caused by the Exit Poll.

Pending on the results, Friday won’t offer much respite as plenty of political drama could splash the headlines, as party leaders may resign their position following poor results. There is also a moderate risk that some key figures could lose their seat – which will also pour oil onto the flames of political drama.

HOW WILL MY VOTE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

With many seats not changing hands, and following years of political deadlock, some of you may feel that your vote won’t make a difference. However, we in Plymouth are lucky in that our seat is fairly marginal – with the Conservatives and Labour working hard to win this seat. This means that your vote could make the difference between either side winning.

Also, this election seems to be following the 2017 trend of tactical voting, as those on both sides of the Brexit argument are voting for the more likely to win candidate that backs their view on Europe. This election is a deciding moment for the UK’s relationship with Europe, so perhaps it is time to apply your vote to a different party that ensures your preferred Brexit outcome.   

Even if you don’t care about politics – there other incentives, with BrewDog offering a free drink to voters who have taken a selfie outside their local polling station. You can find your local Brewdog bar here: https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk.

Happy voting!

Plymouth High School hear from Plymouth’s Potential MPs

By Lacey Mannell

With a general election coming up in December, the political scene in England this year has been, arguably, hectic. With Brexit extensions and re-elections, it’s hard to tell what’s to come of Britain by 2020.

The students of Plymouth High School for Girls were offered the chance to hear from five representatives from the main political parties: Ann Widdecome for the Brexit Party, Rebecca Smith for the Conservative Party, James Ellwood for the Green Party, Luke Pollard for Labour and Graham Reed for the Liberal Democrats. All of them either grew up in Plymouth or had ties. They gave us an idea about what they stand for, as well as the parties they’re representing, with talks of the NHS, the importance of voting, and issues of mental health and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.

Starting off with an introduction, the representatives gave us an idea about what they stand for, what they could do for politics, and their parties. Ann Widdecombe stressed the importance of a quick and clean Brexit, a clean up of politics and an NHS that’s fit for the future. Rebecca didn’t give any information on the Conservative party’s policy, yet encouraged people to vote for a woman, as the unveiling of the Nancy Astor statue was coming up. James Ellwood put emphasis on climate change (fitting for the Green Party), and Luke Pollard addressed the importance of Plymouth in politics, and the funding of education, health and transport, whilst getting a dig at Ann about his homosexuality (“there is nothing I need to be cured of”). Graham Reed expressed his worries for our future, the burning of gas and bottom-up politics.

Ann Widdecombe made it painfully clear that the NHS is a big priority for the Brexit Party from the start (perhaps to the point of exaggeration) and how most of the parties were remaining quiet and brushing it under the carpet. It was another issue that came up when regarding the news of the 451 page document released by Corbyn, stating the NHS will be on the table following Brexit. Widdecome insisted that that’s not true, and the NHS will very much not be on the table, however she suggested it might’ve been an original deal that has been scrapped since.

This seemed to be a favourable topic, as it raised tensions with Rebecca Smith, accusing Labour of lying about the Conservatives privatising the NHS, “Labour is trying to con the British public”, whilst Pollard shook his head in disagreement. The whole panel agreed that they didn’t want the NHS sold, but some weren’t convinced it wouldn’t happen under the Conservatives, mainly Luke Pollard and James Ellwood; who found their parties agreed with a lot of points brought up. Ellwood also called out the Brexit Party, speaking directly at Ann Widdecombe, stating that a party without a manifesto or with very few points must have something to hide or is not prepared to get into power.

A question of LGBTQ+ youth and mental health arose, with Smith highlighting the importance of talking to youth services, and how she met with Pride Plymouth, Pollard emphasising working with the Transgender communtiy, Ellwood the importance of youth services and trauma informed policing with regards to mental health, and Reed favouring equal treatment for mental and physical health – like the Lib Dem manifesto. Widdecombe’s focus shifted more towards mental health and how social media and results day pressures can affect teens negatively, not mentioning the LGBTQ+ community at all.

Another topic that came up was refugees. All the parties could agree that it’s our country’s responsibility to help refugees, with Pollard even encouraging an increase of young refugee numbers. Widdecombe mentioned the Geneva 1951 Convention, which she said means a refugee fearing prosecution must be offered shelter by the first safe country they reach. Her issue was that “In this country we are getting people, and I don’t exaggerate when I say by the boatload or the lorryload, who have been in other safe countries”. She was questioned by a student who said that a main route for refugees is through Italy, where people are being exploited in the mafia, and how can that be deemed safe? She shut the argument down by stating that Italy signed the Geneva Convention, so therefore is a safe country.

Each of the representatives ended with a closing statement following the questions. James Ellwood focused on climate change, Luke Pollard encouraged people to vote in an “election like no other” where Reed encouraged us to vote for our future. Rebecca Smith warned that we’d be in debt with labour for the rest of our lives, and Ann Widdecombe ended by stating that all the parties offer change, but the Brexit Party offers something completely new, and to “vote for a future in which Britain will have control of Britain”.

Now it’s up to Plymouth to decide their next MP, and England to decide what party they want in control for a new decade.

Review: ‘We Will Rock You’

By Lily Smith

Set in a distant future where the Killer Queen, originally a character from a computer game, has taken over via the world-wide corporation Globalsoft, life is lived online and music and free-thought are banned. ‘We Will Rock You’ follows heroes Galileo and Scaramouche as they attempt to find the Place of Champions and bring back Rock and Roll. They are aided by rebel group ‘the Bohemians’ who crave the Rhapsody that can only be found in live music.

‘We Will Rock You’ is a stunning musical combining Queen’s greatest hits with a sci-fi theme that I wasn’t expecting. The talented cast and live band encourage the audience to get involved making you feel like you are fighting for Rock and Roll with them. All of this contributed to a standing ovation for the cast on opening night.

Comedy is a huge feature of the show with musical puns, innuendo and the classic humour you expect from a trip to the theatre. There was never a dull moment!

The clever use of lighting and set design aid the sci-fi theme and create a visually stunning performance, transporting the audience into the future and absorbing us in the story and music.

The show ends with a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody from the whole cast, showcasing the spirit of rock music as the guitarist joins the cast onstage.

Whether you are a Queen fan or not, I cannot recommend this musical highly enough. ‘We Will Rock You’ is on at the Theatre Royal Plymouth until the 7th of December.

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