The Autistic Guide to ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’

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Howdy fellow members of the human race!

Hope you all had good Christmases and that you haven’t broken your New Year’s Resolutions already.

Those of you that have read other blog posts will know that I run the Twitter fan page for Matt Nalton (@NaltonFans), a West End actor who left ‘Jersey Boys’ in March. It was announced in September that he would be joining the cast of ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’ in November and I was able to see him in it a couple of weeks ago on New Year’s Eve. It is one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. The entire ensemble was amazing and Cassidy Janson (Carole King) was so powerful and just absolutely incredible; I found myself crying at points where I really didn’t think I was going to (I had researched the show before I went so knew the entire story before I went in and didn’t think I was going to enjoy it very much but then I actually saw it).

Those of you that follow me on Twitter will know that I am also currently attempting to run a petition/campaign thing to make theatre more friendly for people on the Autism Spectrum or people with sensory disorders etc etc. If you haven’t already signed the petition, here it is but if you need more persuasion or want to hear what my voice sounds like, here is a link to a podcast in which I talk about the petition and my own experiences with Autism.

Therefore, I thought that I would combine these two things and create this ‘guide’ to ‘Beautiful’ for people with Autism or those planning a theatre trip with or for someone with it so they can decide whether seeing the show is a good idea for them when considering their sensory difficulties as they differ from person to person.

I would just like to point out that this is a work in progress. I have only seen the show once so have certainly missed A LOT. Consequently, I would like anyone who has seen the show and can add to this guide to email me at autisticwestend@yahoo.co.uk with their additions as it would be a massive help.

Here we go! I’ve decided to split it into sections for ease of use.  There will probably be spoilers in this.

THE THEATRE ITSELF

‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’ is performed at the Aldwych Theatre which is on, as the name suggests, the Aldwych which is just off the Strand. It is near the Duchess Theatre which is where ‘The Play Goes Wrong is’ and is right next to the Novello Theatre where ‘Mamma Mia’ is showing. It’s fairly central but it’s no where near as busy around it as the theatres on Shaftesbury Theatre.

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Map Showing the Location of the Aldwych Theatre from Google Maps

The closest tube stations are Covent Garden, Holborn and Charing Cross but you can walk to it. From London Liverpool Street, it takes about an hour, depending on your pace. You could also get a taxi from London Liverpool Street which, at 10:30pm, cost us about £7. There are also various bus routes and car parks that you could use.

There are security checks at this theatre which are much better than other theatres that I’ve been to. There were full body scans using hand scanners and they check bags and things. This is different to other theatres in that in the past, the people on the door have checked one compartment of my 4 compartment bag and then let me straight in.

This theatre has three levels; stalls, royal circle and upper circle and there are bars and toilets on each level although, as per usual, queues for toilets can be pretty long prior to the show but they are at their longest during the interval.

This theatre does offer access tickets. I would recommend this if you are disabled, no matter what your disability is because it alerts the ushers to where you are sitting. Therefore, if you do start struggling during the performance, they are aware of why you are doing what you are doing and will also have had a sort of pre-warning. Also, this is the first theatre that I have been to where an usher has come up to me before the show to check that everything was OK and to tell us about the access services available (e.g. toilets etc). This was deeply reassuring to me because I knew that if I did have a meltdown mid-performance then there would be someone that could help me. You can book these tickets over the phone and it must be said that the box office staff are also deeply helpful. For example, when my Dad booked, he asked if Matt Nalton was going to be performing on the day that I was going and the person at the box office did find out for us. Basically, the Aldwych Theatre staff are awesome.

PRE-SHOW

As I previously mentioned, there are bars on each level where you could go and get a drink before the show. There are also various merch stands where you can buy CDs, programmes, T-shirts etc. The doors open half an hour before the performance starts. When I was there, we got there a little over half an hour before the show started and the foyer was mental. We went into the theatre itself as soon as possible because standing in the foyer was not pleasant.

WHERE TO SIT

The best place to look for opinions of seats is SeatPlan. However, I would say that if one of your sensory difficulties is that you can’t filter out small movements in the corner of your eye, do not sit towards the front of the stalls. As you would expect, there is a fair amount of movement in the wings and if you sit on the side of the rows at the front of the stalls then you can see quite a lot which may be a bit distracting. Plus, there are bits of costume such as watches which can reflect light in your general direction which, obviously, nothing can be done about apart from sitting further back.

THE SHOW ITSELF

Firstly, the show is awesome, the cast is awesome, the music is awesome. Everything about this show is amazing so if you are worried about quality then I would not worry about it with this show.

The show starts relatively suddenly. There is an announcement to turn your phone off (Which applies to everyone and it’s really not good if you don’t) and then it’s straight into the overture which starts quite loudly although not ear-splittingly so. I was front row so right in front of the pit and even then, it was far from making me deaf.

Sound levels in songs and in dialogue are pretty constant. If you are overwhelmed by too much happening at once visually or sound-wise then the ‘1650 Broadway Medley’ may be an issue. I would recommend that you listen to it first and bear in mind that each song is sung by different people (The stage looks like the picture below).

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1650 Broadway Medley (Photo by Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

There is some shouting every so often in arguments as Gerry Goffin, one of the characters, was diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder in real life so his mood suddenly flips sometimes. There is a particular moment in act 2 when Gerry (One of the characters) has a complete breakdown so there is shouting etc as well as quite loud music although this is only short.

Lighting is also not much of an issue. A natural wash is used pretty much throughout with very few sudden changes, apart from it getting darker sometimes One of very few changes is a grid of lights used in ‘On Broadway’, the colours and positions of lights on the grid vary at points in the song but don’t really flash and they are very small changes that I don’t think you’d notice unless you were looking at it. You can see the grid in the picture below.

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‘On Broadway’ (Photo by Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

The only properly bright lights are used in the penultimate song, ‘Beautiful’, also THE BEST SONG in the entire show. Behind Carole King and the piano is a 5 x 8 grid of lights which, combined with a spotlight, slowly increase in brightness towards the end of the song and then it quickly changes to black before the final song.

Those are all the notes that I took from memory after the show. Therefore, it is very obviously incomplete. I would suggest looking at other production shots to have a look at other scenes or maybe try listening to the soundtrack (It’s REALLY good, by the way). And as I said earlier, if you can add to this, email me using autisticwestend@yahoo.co.uk with the information. This will be updated.

Hope this is useful and that it hasn’t bored you to sleep! Also, if you could sign my  petition as well then that would be great.

Thanks everyone!

Ella xxx

Specialist Subjects and Why It Hurts When They Crash and Burn

Sup. This is going to be a weird blog post so apologies about that.

As you will know from previous blogs, I have Asperger’s Syndrome (I’ve done a whole blog about it somewhere on here) and those that know stuff about AS will know that a common trait is to have what I prefer to call ‘Specialist Subjects’ but what everyone else appears to call ‘obsessions’ which isn’t a great term to use when you run a fan page for a person. Will start by saying that I refuse outright to have a person as a specialist subject as that’s creepy and weird and I don’t. I have favourite actors but there’s a difference between having a favourite and having a specialist subject.

Also, I am yet to meet someone with AS whom I can talk about their obsessions with and their experiences of the joy of them so this is all going to be based on my experiences. Sorry about that.

My first ever specialist subject was the first 15 minutes of the film ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’. I say the first 15 minutes as my Mum always had to switch it off when the doorknob yelled at Scrooge. However, to this day, I can still recite a lot of the opening credits and still watch it, even if it’s not Christmas (For example, I watched it on Monday).

After this obsession came Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Even though I’d never watched the film), fairies, Disneyland Paris (This one’s still going actually), High School Musical, common fish diseases and Glee, ending with the West End.

My current specialist subjects are science (Mainly climate science), Disneyland and, mildly ironically, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (To quote one of my science teachers ‘Hold on, you’re reading a book about an Asperger’s like an Asperger’s?).

The way in which these obsessions develop is a weird one as I don’t notice when it’s happening and can’t choose whether to have something as an obsession or not. They kind of just spring out of nowhere, bite you on the bum and somehow, manage to reach your brain, taking up a considerable amount of thought and most of what you want to talk about. This is probably particularly annoying for everyone else as I haven’t yet mastered the art of telling when someone has ‘switched off’ so I will go on for ages.

Something you may have noticed in my list is that some of them are pretty normal obsessions for someone of the age I was then, such as fairies or High School Musical. However, the extent to which I took these obsessions is what makes them obsessions and the way that I liked them was what made them different to how everyone else liked them.

The stereotypical obsession portrayed by the media of people with AS is maths or science, the latter of which is one of mine but from what I’ve read, this isn’t common with every person with AS. We’re not all geniuses, basically. However, a good thing about some obsessions is that people can genuinely make careers out of them.

Nevertheless, the purpose that I mainly use mine for is comfort; a kind of non-stop supply of happiness. I get stressed a lot and recently have been very confused as to social interactions with one particular person and my immediate reaction to these events is to turn to my obsessions. After my first meltdown, my science teacher got me to recite The Periodic Table and asked me science questions. After my second meltdown, the first thing I did was to get my copy of Curious out of my bag which I now always have with me at school (If anyone from school was wondering about that, here’s the reason) and read a page of it. Admittedly, did very little to help as I was in a real bad state but it was a form of comfort in a very hostile environment. After I got home after this particular meltdown, I watched the performance that The Commitments did on Children In Need over and over and over again. The list continues and I won’t bore you with the rest.

A trait that lots of Aspies have is that we don’t like change; me included, and obsessions are supposed to be a form of stability that doesn’t change. Remember the use of ‘supposed to’ as I’ll be coming to that later.

I sometimes think that whatever it is that causes AS has evolved wonderfully. We have a kind of built-in stress removal system that comes with the package that causes the stress in the first place. Thanks nature!

Now to the crashing and burning bit. If you were just looking for information on Aspies and specialist subjects, now is probably a good place to stop as the stuff coming up is pretty much purely anecdotal.

I think that’s a word.

Anywho, recently, one of my obsessions appears to be taking a break, in a sense and this has not been particularly great for me as it was a very quick turn around; within 24 hours in fact!

The issue with this particular obsession was that it was constantly changing and, considering they’re supposed to be a kind of stability, this wasn’t great and within the 24 hours I was talking about, it changed too much for my liking and sort of chucked me out in the process (It wasn’t me choosing to not obsess about it anymore because that would be ridiculous).

The best analogy I could think of for this (And bear in mind my analogies are pretty bad anyway) is a street full of empty houses.

Basically, each house represents an obsession and as you slowly obsess about it however you do, you fill it up. However, after a while, it may be that the next house along the street seems more attractive so you move along to it and so on and so fourth in an ever repeating pattern. Consequently, the transition from obsession to obsession is pretty clean and painless.

This does of course mean that when you want to take a walk down memory lane, almost literally, you can re-visit the stuff you filled the houses with and look over it in fond memories.

Or you can demolish them and presume it’s probably best for everyone involved if you forget that it ever happened (*Coughs* High School Musical *Coughs*)

However, as with any house, there is the slight chance that something disastrous could happen to it while you’re still filling it. This means that the house is ruined and you can still see all the stuff you filled the house with but now it’s not as great and tinged with what ever happened to the house, apart from the super awesome bits which are kept in disaster proof boxes.

The worst thing about this though is that you haven’t had the chance to look at the next house and just have the houses you were kind of partially filling every so often which isn’t as great, or as effective for the overall purposes of the house (Discussed earlier).

That is kind of where I’m at right now. I’m waiting to see whether the damage caused by the event is reparable and, at the moment, I can think of two events that would completely fix it, one in particular that would not only fix the house but would also force me to build an extension. However, until that happens, because I know it will, I’m going to wait for the next obsession and keep working on the ones I have at the moment.

God knows how it’s going to work out.
Have a good week 😀
Ella

Some Projects I Am Doing Involving Theatre, Reading and Les Mis

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What’s sideways people? I decided I’d mix things up from just using ‘Sup’ all the time.

Today is the 15th April and I haven’t blogged in a very long time so apologies, in a sense, about that. I can imagine me not blogging isn’t necessarily a massive issue to you but nevertheless, I continue.

I am a big fan of projects that I set for myself and have about three going at this current moment in time so I thought I’d talk about them because you might have something similar going or might be able to help me with it or it might just explain why I’m doing something.

1) My Theatre Project
This is something that I have briefly talked about before but not in a lot of detail.

Those that follow my personal account on Twitter (@EllaZinc) may have noticed that I am tweeting a lot about access performances e.g. audio described, captioned and signed. This is for this project.

The reason behind this is that I am looking at the frequency at which shows do these access performances in an attempt to make it a more common thing and, presuming everything goes to plan, I am going to attempt to contact the theatres to try and make theatre more accessible for everyone.

One of my friends has a visual impairment which means that if I was to go and see anything with her, which I really want to, we will have to go and see an audio-described performance. However, it is rare that shows do many of these, if any at all and sometimes, if they are done, the performances are on really awkward days. For example, in the first 3 weeks of May, Jersey Boys, one of my favourite shows, are doing one of each of the access performances I previously mentioned but all on Tuesdays.

To do this project, I am focussing on 3 things. Firstly, I am collecting data on shows running in West End theatres and when their access performances are so I have data to back up my points. This data collection will be lasting for a year and I started it in February. Secondly, I am going to be attempting to contact people who would be using the access performances to see the shows to see if they would actually use them. However, the reason I’m tweeting a lot is that I am looking for the viewpoints of the people who see these performances but do not require the audio description or captioning or signing to find out whether having these performances would dissuade people from seeing shows.

Of course this entire project is resting on the hope that people who need the facilities would actually use them and that the facilities aren’t going to affect the experience for the people who don’t need it.

If you have seen any of the kinds of access performances I have mentioned, please contact me via Twitter or the comments, even if it is a negative viewpoint as those are important too.

2) 1500 Books
This has been a long time coming. When I was about 9 (I think), I watched The Gadget Show and someone said that most people don’t read 1500 books within their lifetime so I decided to attempt to prove them wrong. The issue with this of course was that most of the initial books I put on there were things like ‘JONAS: The Official Guide’ which doesn’t really count and eventually I stopped updating the list . However, I have decided to now take this back up again.

So far I have read (For this project):
1) ‘Wicked’ by Gregory Maguire
2) ‘Periodic Tales- The Curious Lives of the Elements’ by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
3) ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck
4) ‘Little Men’ by Louisa May Alcott
5) ‘Jo’s Boys’ by Louisa May Alcott
6) ‘Behind a Mask, or a Woman’s Power’ by Louisa May Alcott

To add to this list, I am currently reading ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking and ‘The Periodic Table- A Very Short Introduction’ by Eric R. Scerri. Because I’m rock and roll.

My aim is to review lots of the books I read for this project and I hope to put them up here. I’ve got one on the Alcott books which I’m updating as I finish them so they’re all going to be in one post and I’ll publish it once I’ve finished all the Alcott books I have.

I am looking for book recommendations of stuff to read as I need 1500 different books and I want to read good ones.

3) The Combeferre Research Project
I have a teensy obsession with Les Mis which I’m going to talk about in another post but, as a consequence of that, I have read the book and undoubtedly, my favourite character is Combeferre so I have decided to attempt to learn and do some of the things that he has learned or done that are listed in the book

1) Research Condorcet.
2) Learn about the polarization of light.
3) Find out who Arago, Geoffrey Sainte-Hilaire, Saint-Simon, Fourier, Puységur and Deleuze are.
4) Be able to explain the double function of the external cartoid artery and the internal.
5) Be able to draw a silk moth from memory.

There’s heaps more which I’m going to try but not detail in this post because it might get a bit dull, if it wasn’t already.

I do have other projects going but they’re science ones that are going God knows where right now so I’m not going to talk about those.

In conclusion, I’m spending too long on a data spreadsheet, if you’ve seen an access performance of anything please contact me on Twitter (@EllaZinc), I will read for no reason what so ever and I have way too much time on my hands.

Hope you have a good week!
Ella 😀

6 Reasons Why Everyone Wants Matt Nalton Back On Stage

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Bonjour people. It is currently Sunday 29th March so has only been 3 weeks since the cast change from Jersey Boys, when Matt Nalton left. I am eagerly awaiting announcement as to what he will be going into next so, on this topic, here are 6 reasons why everyone wants Matt Nalton back on stage.

1) He’s a bloody amazing actor.
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? He may not have had much to say in Jersey Boys for most of the first act and the second half of the second act but every line he had was delivered so amazingly. The towels rant was fantastic. The bit about the soaps was great. The last time I saw him in it, he got a round of applause before he’d even finished his last bit about being the Ringo of the group. Even when he wasn’t saying anything he had this amazing presence which I think everyone wants back on stage.

2) The low notes.
My reaction to first hearing Matt Nalton sing ‘Why don’t you come on?’ in ‘Sherry’ at West End Live was something of shock that people can sing that low that confidently. He’s an  amazing singer but the low notes are spectacular. Want proof from somewhere other than Jersey Boys? Here is a video I found on Youtube on my preliminary ‘Matt Nalton’ YouTube search that I made in late August last year from a few years back:
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=a49cU774X_M
If you’re just scrolling past it, you’re really missing out.

3) The production shots.
This point requires little other than this example of a production shot below: 

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We need him back on stage for more golden shots like that.

4) The piano
You have no idea how much I want to hear Matt Nalton play piano live. After watching this video, ( http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=3BD7-WVHPcQ) I immediately thought ‘Shit. I should probably be practising as I want to be able to play like him so bad’.  Me and one of my friends are going to be using ideas from a piano duet I also found with him in for our ensemble performance for GCSE Music. He is so good at playing the piano it is absolutely insane! Therefore, I kind of hope he goes into something where he is playing the piano live because it would make me so happy. I could tick it off the bucket list.

5) That amazing feeling you get when you can pick him out of cast group photos really easily because he’s so tall.
No matter how many times this happened, it always felt great. Not sure if I’m the only person that got that but hey.

6) Stage door
Anyone that has stage doored Jersey Boys and met Matt Nalton knows how absolutely lovely he is and so nice to talk to and he’s so generous with his time (They all are!) and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are so thankful for it. It means a lot when people stop to talk when they probably want to get home. Last time I was there, I talked for ages and he probably did want to leave but he stayed and that means so much. In a business where I can imagine there are probably a few divas (I don’t know because I’ve never met any), it’s great when people are that nice to their fans.
One of the really nice things that Matt Nalton does is that he leans down in stage door pictures  a lot because he is taller than other people. It’s little things like that which just make stage-dooring really fun and great. His legs must really hurt on days when it’s really busy! It’s also great when people see your stage door pictures and are saying about how he doesn’t look that tall and then you compare this to production shots and the people suddenly stop. It’s wonderful.

So yes, hope you have enjoyed this. If you are a casting director, feel free to use this list as a guide as to who you should cast in your show.

And if this little list of awesome things about Matt Nalton, of which there are many more but I don’t have the time to write as I kind of need to go to bed, has persuaded you that he is amazing, go and follow @NaltonFans on Twitter (Run by me!!).

And if you’re not already, for more awesome Matt Nalton-ness follow his photography Twitter account @mattnaltonphoto.

Have a good Easter!
Ella (@EllaZinc)

A Rant About Asperger’s Awareness

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Sup. If you’ve read a lot of my blogs or go to my school, you will know that I generally start every conversation with either ‘Sup’ or ‘Bonjour’ so this is just going to be a common thing.

This blog was inspired first by a late-night internet search on a little website called Wikipedia. One of my favourite things to do in my spare time is to look up shows or movies or TV shows etc on Wikipedia and ruining them for myself. It’s partly because I saw an amazing show called Urinetown because I looked it up on Wikipedia and was amazed by the genius of the ending.

Anywho, on the evening that the best bits of the Oscars were shown on TV I saw the amazing speech of Graham Moore who won the award for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game which may be my favourite speech of all time. I was very happy he’d won anyway because The Imitation Game is my favourite film of all time. I cried more than I did at Les Miserables when I saw that film. If you haven’t seen it, you have to. DVD’s out on Monday. However, after seeing his speech, I decided to look The Imitation Game up on Wikipedia, not to ruin myself for it or anything as I’d already seen it and knew what was going to happen before I saw it because I did research into it.

From this Wikipedia article, I found out that there was apparently a massive controversy about whether Benedict Cumberbatch played Alan Turing ‘Too Aspergers’ as Alan Turing was never diagnosed but some people think he did have it. This is not a blog to discuss that question although I will say that I guessed that was the effect that they were going for about 5 minutes into the film. This blog is to talk about how this was conveyed in the Wikipedia article.

This is a screen shot from the Wikipedia page:

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Now, I’m not sure if I’m being overly sensitive or whether I’m reading this wrong. However, I implied from this that this was suggesting that people with Asperger’s don’t have any friends and are snobs and have no sense of humour and can’t work with people. As someone with Asperger’s, I find this VERY offensive, as you can probably guess, particularly because I know that it can’t be true of every person with Asperger’s.

I have a sense of humour. I have friends (One of them wrote a blog which I published last week). I can work with people as long as they’re willing to actually work. These traits suggested by the article are generally, the stereotype suggested by the media. Every Asperger’s has different traits and generalising them can be just offensive, such as in this case. In some cases, these traits may be traits that people do have but also, is there not a nicer way of putting it? Or mentioning more positive traits?

For example, my friends will tell you at the drop of a hat that I am very opinionated and if I get into an argument with them, I go full out and don’t even attempt to see their side of the argument in some cases, something I have been told is a trait of Aspergers. However, I have also been told that I have a really good memory which means that if someone tells me that they are doing something soon or personal details, I will remember them. Therefore, I think that if people are going to bring up the worse traits of Asperger’s, they should also bring up the positives in a more emphasised way than they do in the Wikipedia article.

First section of this rant over. Now onto the second part.

Those who know me well will also know that I am also a massive fan of the book ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ by Mark Haddon. I have read it 20 times, have 3 copies, have seen the play twice and am seeing it for a third time in September (The tour). I love it.

However, because it’s so good and is opening in places left, right and centre, lots of things in the media are doing features on it. This is great for me because I love reading about it and sharing them with my friends on Facebook in the hope they’ll love it too. Sadly, these articles suddenly lose their appeal when they say;

‘The phrase autism is never mentioned in the show’

There are two points for this. Firstly, I am fully aware that it is never mentioned which was a thing Mark Haddon wanted to do so that the book wouldn’t be about disability but about difference which I have no issue.

However, autism wouldn’t be mentioned in the first place because the character has Asperger’s.

I am fully aware that Asperger’s and autism are similar and in America, both conditions are diagnosed as autism spectrum disorder. However, that is not the case over here in Britain so why are the media insisting that it’s the same thing? It makes no sense. Referring to them as the same thing is just confusing for those who are reading it as, if they then find out about Asperger’s and autism it is just going to be confusing for them because it is so weirdly put in all the publicity. I would refer to myself as someone with Asperger’s not autism as they are separate things, no matter how much people may insist they are the same thing. These articles suggest that Asperger’s doesn’t exist which also does nothing for awareness of it, something I feel very passionate about, as you can probably tell. I feel like more people should know about it because, chances are, people are going to come into contact with someone with Asperger’s in the future and being aware of them means they are more likely to accept them, something I think is more important than finding a cure for it.

Anywho, rant over.

Sorry I haven’t posted much recently. I will post more in the future.

Have a good week!

Ella 😀

Two Monday Musings

Bonjour mes copains. This is of course when I hope my French is OK.

I am writing this today as I had a blog planned for yesterday but due to various technical issues (e.g Twitter’s existence causing me to procrastinate), I didn’t have the time to write one. I had an idea for one but then something changed my mind, my first musing of Monday.

I was listening to the radio with my Mum in the kitchen earlier and they were talking about some sex crimes that had been committed by some Asian men. This is where my first thing comes from.

Why is it that we have to be told the nationality of these people? They have done a bad thing. Individuals. So why attach a whole race to it? With the attitudes towards people from other countries coming into Britain as they are at the moment, it seems that news reports are trying their hardest to bias us towards disliking people from other countries as they are, apparently, the races responsible for these crimes reported today.

What the people in question did is indisputably wrong. You can’t defend it. However, these were individuals. They were not acting on the beliefs of a whole race or group. They were acting as a small group of individuals who took it upon themselves to be absolute dicks. So why attach a whole race to the action?

In my opinion, this is just going to rile up more hatred against these innocent people. As we are told frequently, you shouldn’t, effectively, tar everyone with the same brush which is what this could lead to. There are some people of a particular race that have done an awful thing. What about the other people of that race that haven’t done it? I think that some people may forget about this when listening to the radio.

Also, the crimes that these people committed have been done by people of all races, including British. It is not specific to one race or races other than British.

In a nutshell, I don’t see why we need to be told the race of criminals in the media as it has no effect on how awful their crime was. We all know how awful these criminals are so saying that they are of a particular race could lead to a stereotype that is only going to lead to more hatred and prejudice in a World that is full to the brim of it already. We don’t need anymore.

Now on to the second musing of Monday.

I had my grade 5 piano exam today and this prompted me to start thinking about whether music exams should be trusted or not.

I dislike a lot of pop music which I know that lots of other people like. Therefore, how is it that the one examiner can decide whether they liked what you were doing or not, particularly considering that, as far as I’m aware, your exam isn’t recorded so you can’t get a second opinion?

Music is subjective to personal opinion. Someone can think something was great while someone else will think it was awful and so I don’t know whether music exams, as they are structured at the moment, are an accurate method of representing someone’s musical talent.

I think that your exam should be recorded because then, not only can the examiner listen to it again and make a more informed opinion but can also seek other opinions so the mark you get at the end is fairer, rather than just based on one person’s opinion as it is happening right in front of them.

That’s how they do speaking assessments for GCSE languages and I think that’s more reliable.

So yeah, tweet me whether your opinions contrast to my Monday musings, I’d love to hear your opinions.

Have a good rest of the week!
Ella xxx

One of My Friends Attempts Blogging For the First Time

Sup peeps. Hope you have had a good week! It has been eventful with lots of pointless stuff about dresses and dresses and dresses. Is this literally all people are worried about right now? Is that right?

Anywho, I was in French on Thursday and was sat with my two friends, Tilly and Meghan in the computer room. Between many laughs over the work we were doing (Translate ‘There are not many cinemas but there are many grandmas’), we got talking about this wonderful blog you have taken the time to read (Thank you!). Somehow, they managed to talk me into letting them write some blogs about our various experiences at high school. So this is the result of Tilly’s attempt. She apologises for her grammar and spelling.

Firstly, I am not Ella. My name is Tilly, and I am her friend. Though the label: ‘teenage weirdo’ still stands. My dear friend Catherall (yes we refer to each other like this) asked me to write a blog post of one of our ‘funny moments.’(No I didn’t. You said in French that you wanted to and I said ‘Hey, that’s not an entirely awful idea!’)

What I have chosen to write about is not very funny, but is the first time I met Ella:
We were in our year 7, twice weekly PE lesson, (straight away you can guess that this was never much good as our sporting ability was/is limited.)
(However, Ella and I often say that if Physical Education was marked on enthusiasm rather than sporting ability, we’d get top marks every lesson.)
We were told to run around the track a few times (Twice, can’t you remember?), but first to line up in order of how confident we were at running (Nope! We were asked to find someone to run with who was aiming for a similar time to us). Ella, myself and another friend of ours; headed directly to the end of the line, (the lowest end.) So for the first time I met Ella. She was shy and didn’t talk much until we asked her simple questions, like ‘what’s your name?’ (Oh, how that has changed). We ran together until the end of the lesson, where in theory we would then go our separate ways forever more. As we all said our goodbyes, Ella blurted out ‘can I sit with you at lunch.’ Obviously we said yes.

For the next few days the group of friends I was in, would sit, and a nervous Catherall tended to come over, and ask to sit with us. After about a week, I finally told her not to ask anymore. Just to sit.

Since then we’ve stuck with her, and apart from the seemly often Matt Nolton (IT’S SPELLED NALTON CROWHURST!!!)/West End rant; I have enjoyed our friendship. (The way I put that makes it sound as if one of us is dying, (or are just going to stop being friends) but we’re not.) (Just so you know.)

Actually, I am surprised that we’ve stayed friends this long, seeing that our friendship literally consists of insulting each other, for example: when I came back from a Spanish exchange, people were glad to see me. But Ella just said, ‘oh your back, I didn’t realise you had left.’ And I, smiling, gave all our friends a gift from Spain (there are literally 4 all together,) but I turned to Ella and said ‘oh, sorry forgot to get you anything.’ (good times) (And don’t forget the classic on my part (To Tilly’s younger sister) ‘Hello small Tilly’ (To Crowhurst) ‘Hello even smaller Tilly’)

I’ve enjoyed writing this, and if Ella will ever let me near her blog again, I’ll write an actual funny story for you to read.

That was Tilly’s blog. She does have Twitter but never uses it so any nice comments send to me and I will send them to her. Any constructive criticism is also welcomed. She hasn’t actually said that but I’m sure it it!

Anywho, hope you have a great week! Don’t kill anyone over dresses!

Also, I promised a guy sitting across from me in French that I’d mention him in one of my blogs. Hi Josh.

Ella xxx

(And to a minor extent, Crowhurst)

My Third Trip to Jersey Boys and My Three Trips to the Theatre Cafe

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I was going to try and think of an inventive title for this blog but I seriously can’t think of anything clever so I just decided to call it what it’s about. Does what it says on the tin.

Anywho, I saw Jersey Boys for the third time on Wednesday and was fully aware that this was going to be my last time seeing it while Matt Nalton is in it, although I do intend to go and see it at some point after he has left, making Jersey Boys the first show I am going to see with two casts. Achievement!

During the morning before getting on the train I realised how superstitious I am. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s the right word but essentially, whenever I see anything at the theatre I have to be wearing certain things or have certain things with me, and not necessarily for practicality. For example, I wear the same pair of socks (But they are washed between seeing shows!) and the same trousers (Also washed) and I have to have my badges from Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time with me. I haven’t been able to wear them as I’ve been wearing my jacket so I’ve had them in my pocket. I have a specific pen for stage door which I can’t use myself, I bring a seperate pen for me. I also have to have my London copy of Curious with me (I have three copies). To be honest, I’m not really sure why I’ve only just realised this.

Also, quick thing about my hat. I like to wear my piano hat to the theatre and I know that this may disrupt people’s view. If you are sitting behind me and it is doing that, tell me to take it off! I will! I like wearing it but if it could ruin your view, I have no issue with taking it off. Fortunately, I’m not really short but pretty much every show I see isn’t really aimed at people of my age group so whenever I go and see stuff most people are taller than me anyway.

Back onto actual relevant stuff. Me and my Mum got a fairly early train and got into London nice and early. I was very excited and we realised fairly early on that eating tea was going to be practically impossible. So we went to the theatre cafe. Afterwards, we walked around a bit, I bought Nespresso for Matt Nalton and then went back to the theatre cafe. By this point, the excitement was threatening to make me throw up or pass out so after walking a continuous circuit around the Piccadilly theatre area (We probably walked the distance to Stratford and back), we went back to the Theatre Cafe.

Seriously, over the course of those hours, the Theatre Cafe proved it is worth its weight in osmium (Supposedly more valuable than gold, according to the RI Christmas Lectures a couple of years ago). If you like theatre or cake or tea or all of the above, you have to go there. It is absolutely amazing.

Eventually, it was time for the show to start. I freaked out about my seats again while my Mum realised she actually had legroom this time. The show started and, again, I forgot every stressful thing that has been making me upset (Exams, mainly. I’ve got so many starting on Tuesday). The first amazing thing I hadn’t picked up on before was that the words for left and right in French are in the first song which is great for me because we’re doing that in French at the moment! And I now have a nifty little song to go with it that’s going to drive everyone insane.

The second thing that I got to do this time that I hadn’t before was play along to the piano part to Cry For Me on my legs. Some of you may remember that ages ago, I said in a blog that I wanted to learn the piano parts for every song in the show. So far, I’ve only mastered Cry For Me but I’m getting there.

Just another theatre etiquette thing; There was no one sitting next to me, apart from my Mum, so this wouldn’t have bothered anyone as they were relatively small movements and made no sound.

I managed to not feel sad about cast change all the way up until Walk Like a Man which is a massive improvement on last time I was in that situation where I was crying from the first drum beat. I didn’t cry or anything but I felt sad because I’ve watched videos from West End Live so much from the beginning of Year 10 onwards (By a lot, I mean the time equivalent of seeing the show itself 5 times) and it felt weird knowing I was seeing Matt Nalton do it live for the last time. After that little slip, I managed to get it back together for the rest of the first act and Jesus Christ was it amazing. That show and the cast never fail to amaze me.

And then Act 2 began. I was expecting to cry at a certain series of songs but particularly at one of them as it has been my song for cast changes. However, I knew I was going to enjoy it anyway because of towels and hotel soaps and prison songs and incredible dance routines at the beginnings of songs. Seriously, this may be the first show where I actually prefer the second act to the first. Then came the series of songs starting with ‘Stay’. I didn’t cry much when it first started but after Nick leaves and it kicks in I thought, ‘Yes, I can cry now’, completely forgetting he still has a bit after that. However, after that ‘Let’s Hang On’ started and then came the one that I knew was going to be hard.

In a nutshell, I really started getting into the music of Jersey Boys particularly towards the end of the first year of The Commitments, before the cast change so I bought a massive compilation album of Four Seasons stuff and it had Opus 17 on it. This song, for some reason that I’m still not really sure of, became my song for the cast change of The Commitments as I like to attach songs to events (Does anyone else do this? Just me?). Therefore, I knew hearing this song at my final performance before cast change was going to be interesting. It was.

Fortunately, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is a bit after that which may be the greatest song ever written. Sandy Moffat was playing Frankie Valli this time and he was insane. In all honesty, I’d forgotten how good he was. This was reinforced by Fallen Angel where I was crying before it even began for God sake. He is unbelievably talented.

However, the best bit of the entire show for me was the reception to Matt Nalton’s final speech thing at the end. People were clapping after the ‘If there’s four guys’ bit. It made me feel really happy.

Seriously, this was the best I have ever seen the show. Every single actor was on absolute top form and I left smiling and humming Oh What a Night.

Then came stage door. I had every intention of meeting Jon Boydon this time but I spent the entire time speaking to Matt Nalton. I can imagine he probably really wanted me to leave and I am so grateful he spent so long talking to me. Essentially, I just didn’t want it to end.

And then Georgina Castle was there! She is so lovely, it is absolutely unbelievable. I can imagine she also probably wanted me to shut up after a while but neither of them said anything and I would like to take this oppurtunity while I have more than 140 characters to thank them for not just walking off and leaving or telling me to shut up even though we talked for a very long time. It really meant a lot.

Of course, it was awkward afterwards when me and my Mum left stage door and purposely went the opposite way to them but still saw them in Piccadilly Circus tube station….

So yeah, that was my last time seeing Matt Nalton in Jersey Boys. I am genuinely hoping we see him in another show soon.

Hope you all have a good week!
Ella xxx

Have You Seen an Audio-Described, Captioned or Signed Performance In a Theatre?

This is going to be a short post as it doesn’t require lots of time but more than the 140 characters available to me on Twitter and the posts people see on Facebook don’t necessarily get seen.

Essentially, I am doing research into audio described, signed and captioned perfomances of shows and I am looking to find out about people’s experiences of seeing these kinds of performances.

It doesn’t have to be in the West End. Even if you weren’t actually requiring the signing or the captions or the audio- describe, I would like to know if seeing this kind of performance affected your experience of seeing the show. If you can remember, I’d also be interested in knowing which show you saw and in which theatre.

If you are a performer who has performed in a show that has done these things, did it affect how you had to perform?

Positive and negative viewpoints welcome.

If you can help me with these queries, tweet me (@EllaZinc) or comment on this blog.

Also, if you can, please share this on Twitter or Facebook or other social media sites. The more viewpoints and anecdotes I can get on this, the better.

My reasons for doing this research is for a project I’m doing which will hopefully, partially depending on the responses I get from this survey thing  help me to collect evidence for or against these types of performances. Hopefully, all this research should collect into a thing I’m going to be publishing on here and on Twitter and Facebook next year. Sorry for being vague.

Thanks!
Ella 🙂

Questions I Get Asked A Lot

I don’t really talk to many people outside of my immediate friend group because I’m not great at talking with them anyway. However, occasionally, they decide to try and talk to me by asking me questions. Normally, these are the same questions repeated so I’m going to put this blog out there to answer those questions once and for all.

1) Do you pluck your eyebrows?
Answer: Nope. Can’t think of anything more painful. Why?

2) Do you wear makeup?
Answer: Nope. Takes up too much time which I could spend reading or on Twitter or watching Jersey Boys videos.

3) What do you want to be when you’re older?
Answer: A scientist that deals with climate change using chemistry. No idea how at the moment. That’s what research and experiments and stuff is for. At the moment, I’m enjoying reading about other people’s discoveries to inspire ones I hopefully make in the future.

4) You have Aspergers Syndrome. Does that mean you don’t like being hugged?
Answer: Nope. I really like being hugged by my friends and family. As long as the person doesn’t hug like a boa constrictor.

5) Have you watched an 18 rated film?
Answer: No. For me, a film has an 18 rating because it is very violent and I’m not a fan of seeing blood in films or because it’s scary and I am VERY easily scared (By this I mean that I was scared by the ADVERT for The Woman in Black: Angel of Death) or because it is funny in a way I probably wouldn’t understand. When I am 18 and do understand the humour, of course I’ll watch an 18 rated comedy.

6) Have you seen every show in the West End?
Answer: I am 15 with very few job opportunities as I have proven it is very possible to forget how to ride a bike so I can’t do a paper round and waitressing is not worth thinking about as I am hopelessly clumsy. Therefore, I don’t have the money to see all the shows in the West End. Throughout my entire life, I’ve seen 14 shows (Oliver!, Les Mis, Curious, Wicked, The Commitments, The Commitments, Urinetown, The Commitments, Once, The Commitments, The Commitments, Jersey Boys, Memphis and Jersey Boys). That isn’t the whole West End.

7) Do you have a photographic memory?
Answer: Firstly, it’s called an eidetic memory and no. I have a very good memory which I use for VERY useful things such as learning ‘The Elements Song’ by Tom Lehrer. However, I am hopeless at remembering my keys or to top up my phone or to bring my viola to school.

8) What’s a viola?
Answer: A larger deeper version of a violin that, instead of sounding like a screeching cat, sounds like a foghorn.

9) Who’s this Mark Dalton guy you talk about a lot?
Answer: There are 3 possible interpretations of this. You are either talking about Matt Nalton; the amazingly talented, really nice actor/ musician/ composer/ photographer who is in Jersey Boys at the moment who I run a fan page for, John Dalton; A scientist from the 18th and 19th centuries who is one of the most important people in the history of chemistry or the Dalton Academy Warblers from Glee; an all boys a Capella choir which was introduced in season 2 when Kurt went there to spy on them and met Blaine.

10) Do you want to get married?
Answer: I don’t know. I’m 15.

11) You’re 15 and you like Disneyland. Why?
Answer: You obviously haven’t been.

I hope this has been informative? I don’t know. Anywho, enjoy the rest of the week 🙂