Sunday, 10 March 2019

Cabaret Thirty Reviews

Sophie Joelle

Sally Bavage writes:

We were joined by two volunteers from the inaugural Leeds LitFest, Judith and Gracie, who helped us with the door and with photographs.  An opportunity for them to experience some excellent young talent that may one day feature in the citywide LitFest itself. And what talent there was, from story to film, from anecdotal extract to original songs accompanied, of course, by original music.

Netherside featured Connie on the guitar, Marc on a cajón drumbox and Kirsten on bouzouki and vocals.  We heard of the prowler in the woods, a dark take on Red Riding Hood reworked to feed your adult nightmares. 

Sophie Joelle is a local writer of Young Adult Fiction who organises the annual 12 hour Charity Open Mic, as well as blogging for The State of the Arts on local theatre and dance performances. 
Working currently on her novel-in-progress The Matriarchy, she read us a poem 'In Loving Memory' about an unfortunate death. 

Mabh Savage
Mabh Savage was back by popular acclaim, playing her own devotional music dedicated to three Celtic goddesses.  She describes herself as a paganist, and it was entirely appropriate that her songs of strong women came on International Women's Day.  The whole line-up for the evening featured a number of strong women!

Karen Bridgett and Marthë Taylor collaborated on a joint presentation to tell us more about their new film Run Kara, premiered just the previous weekend at the Harrogate Film Festival. 


Showing us storyboards based on an original short story, short rehearsal clips, a few glimpses of the final cut, the number of young people involved (ten), it was a whistlestop tour of a genre that was both new to us and yet very familiar now that we have phones that get us all shooting our own videos.  How do ideas get from wishful thinking to a financially viable film? Artistic differences?  Of course. And are smart assistants like Siri and Alexa the future? Definitely thought-provoking.

Andy Taylor

Andrew Carter then read us an extract from his second book, published at the end of 2018. His account of his days at the Bennett Road school as was, the Heart Centre venue for our event as is, was funny, insightful, wry … and painful.  As are many other aspects of his coruscatingly honest account of growing up in Headingley, going to local schools and colleges and away to university and working abroad after what can only be described as a 'challenging' gap year.  Don't let any parents read this!  Andy has a laid-back style of reading his work, both self-effacing and gripping.  Buy this book!

Netherside played us out and we left to join the throngs of young people enjoying Headingley (no, Andy, you've done that) whilst feeling privileged to see the burgeoning talent of our local young people.  Roll on Cabaret 30 2020, the post-Brexit one.  Perhaps.

Kirsten adds: 

What a great evening! We saw so many other wonderful acts while we were there and it really came together thanks to Richard Wilcocks' organisational skills, the wonderful venue that is HEART - Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre and a great audience.

#LeedsLit Some of the highlights of the evening included:
Mabh Savage (who you can find at 

Mabh showed us her skill on guitar as well as her excellent song writing and hauntingly beautiful singing with some devotional music she had written. It was the kind of heartfelt and passionate performance typical of Mabh and it will stick with us.

Andy Carter (whose book you can buy on amazon -

Marthë Taylor
Andy read a short excerpt from his brilliantly funny book, The Thing Is. The Thing Is is an autobiography with seemingly nothing left out, going from the hilarious tales Andy read to us about his childhood last night at Cabaret Thirty. Though he claimed to be a novice at doing book readings, he clearly has a natural talent for it - or the work is just so good it speaks for itself - as the reading was thoroughly involving and he had the audience giggling along to it at many points.

Sophie Joelle (who organises the 12 Hour Open Mic events, which you can find here: )

Sophie is a veteran of Cabaret Thirty who always seems to have something exciting to bring to the table each year. This year, she read a couple of pieces of writing but one that stood out especially was a very moving piece that explored the intricate topic of suicide and its irreversible nature. The way she examined the motives of the person she wrote about with almost forensic intensity made for a thought provoking experience.

Growler Films (whose project, Run Kara, can be found on Instagram under the handle @run_kara ) 

Karen Bridgett
Karen Bridgett on screen
Karen Bridgett and Marthë Taylor talked to us about Growler Films' first production, Run Kara. From the clips that were shown last night, it's safe to say that Run Kara is a very exciting find for anybody who enjoys short films, especially those with themes exploring AI and near-future technology. We'll certainly be looking out for it on the festival circuit this year! It's also worth noting how enjoyable it was to hear such an in depth description of Growler Films' process and the development of the project. It's rare to get such an intimate insight into the making of a short film and it was a great experience.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Be curious, amazed and pensive!

Headingley LitFest and WEA Creative Writers

Tuesday 19 March 11:00 - 13:00

Headingley HEART Centre, Bennett Road


Come and enjoy the creative writing of two local groups, from Headingley and Osmondthorpe. Be curious, amazed, stimulated, pensive as you hear tales, anecdotes, poems and memoirs for a lovely and heartwarming experience. And there’s homemade cake too. Event sponsored by Workers’ Education Association.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Latest performers for Cabaret Thirty #Leedslit

REMINDER - Cabaret Thirty is at the HEART Centre in Bennett Road, Headingley at 7.30pm on Friday 8 March 2019. It's free. Just walk in to join us. If you want to perform, get there early to add your name so that you can be included.

Marthë Taylor
Karen Bridgett and Marthë Taylor have now joined the list of performers. They are interested in the themes of undercover policing and surveillance. They will show clips from Run Kara by Growler Films, which was shot in Harrogate locations. It will be at the Everyman in Harrogate on Sunday 3 March at 9.30am as part of Harrogate Film Festival too, if you can make it. The story is set in London's Canary Wharf.

Andrew Carter has just published his second book - The Thing Is. This is a laugh-out-loud series of memoirs and stories from his formative years. He was a pupil at Bennett Road School, which has now transformed into the HEART Centre. He'll read extracts.

Cabaret Thirty is our contribution to the new Leeds Lit Fest.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Visiting Narnia at Quarry Mount Primary School

Sheila Chapman writes:
Imagine being abe to visit another world.  “Go to an optician's and put on special glasses.”  “Step into a painting.”  Just two of the ideas from members of year 5 at Quarry Mount primary school when replying to the challenge set them by James Nash, the local writer and poet commissioned by Headingley LitFest to run a series of workshops on writing and performing original poetry.

James Nash with headteacher Rebecca Pettman
The celebration assembly was a delightful end to the half term and included recognition for Attendances Winners, Rainbow Points winners and Homework Champions as well as the finale to the poetry work based on this half term's work on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis.  Each year group bases homework on a theme from literature, and in this half term classes  considered The Gruffalo, Jungle Book, Harry Potter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Lightning Thief as well as the visit to Narnia. Wow.  And even better that this visit was in warm sunshine rather than the more appropriate wintry snow that has greeted our visits to Quarry Mount in previous years!

So the entire school heard 26 budding poets from Ms Blackstone's year 5 class read out either their whole poem or a favourite line.  No fluffs, no hesitation, seemingly no nerves.  Fantastic, considering an audience of 200 included all pupils, all staff, parents and other visitors. “When you're rising ten years old this is a tremendous opportunity to develop performance skills at the end of the workshops that help with self-confidence, co-operation with peers and cross-curricular writing that brings the curriculum to life.”  Helen Smith also added with pride that some of the pupils with special needs had memorised their lines and performed their work flawlessly.

Rebecca Pettman, the (relatively) new headteacher, was most enthusiastic about the value of the work to individual students: “This was a fantastic opportunity for the children - to work with a poet, with someone from a creative background who  they might not often have the opportunity to meet. This is especially important for our children who are from a range of cultures and who live in an area of high deprivation and may not often have access to such a person.

More than half of this class speak English as a second language and it is vital for them to develop confidence in their abilities to write and read their own words.  Performance is an essential life skill too; we are so grateful to James for the calm and gentle way he encourages original writing and instils the self-belief that they all have an inner poet. Thank you.”

Thanks to Rachel Harkess, LitFest volunteer, who supports the classroom work.  And once again, thanks to the Inner North West area management committee who funded the work.

The children should have the last words:

I walked the highest mountain
Red as a ruby
Beautiful singing like harmonising from birds
I can see sun and seagulls
The waterfall is coming
The dragon is my friend
A secret place where no one will go
A giant castle filled with sweets

The best bit? 
“Spending time with a real poet.”
“Getting feedback from others in my class.”
“Showing me how to make more of my ideas.”

Contact details for James Nash:

A Bit of an Ice Breaker out now on Amazon kindle.
My new collection from Valley Press.
Some Things Matter:63 sonnets