On My Radar: Phelim McDermott’s Cultural Highlights | Culture
JActor and director Phelim McDermott was born in Manchester in 1963 and made his screen debut as a jester in the 1991 film Robin Hood. He co-founded the theater company Improbable in 1996. The company’s first production, 70 Hill Alley, was based on McDermott’s childhood experience of a poltergeist. He conducts both opera and theatre, notably Satyagraha by Philip Glass, created in 2007 for ENO. McDermott’s next show, in collaboration with the RSC, is an adaptation of the 1988 Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoroin preview at the Barbican from October 8th.
Molasses Walker by Alan Garner
Growing up, I loved Alan Garner’s novels. He came to a show I did a few years ago and then explained that he thought he was done with the books, but then realized, “Damn, I have an idea for another.” Molasses walker is short and very powerful, like much of his work. It is about a young man who lives alone and who is visited by a strange shamanic ragpicker with whom he exchanges totemic objects. It’s a wonderful bookend for his work and I’m so glad he’s on Booker’s shortlist.
Only an Octave Apart at Wilton’s Music Hall, London
It’s a show by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and cabaret artist Justin Vivian Bond, a mix of high-profile opera and experimental downtown New York drag. I haven’t seen it yet, but I would love to, because they’re both amazing artists. Justin’s number is so sophisticated and weird and wonderful, and Anthony has an amazingly beautiful voice. These are two people who really shouldn’t be in the same room – it’s like two different chemicals coming together to create something quite extraordinary and dangerous.
The Modern Fairy Sightings Podcast
I’m posing as a fairy follower here. The presenter, Jo Hickey-Hall, interviews ordinary people who write stories about seeing fairies and other strange creatures. Some of the stories are really scary, and sometimes they’re absolutely like, “I saw a very short man walking through my room with a pointy hat.” I love listening to it. When I can’t sleep at night, I put it on. In the morning, I no longer remember which pieces I dreamed of. To paraphrase Ken Campbell: “I’m not crazy, I just listen to different podcasts.”
It is one of the oldest existing blogs. Seth Godin started out in the worlds of marketing and technology and moved into social activism. His messages are often very short and concise; he calls it thinking out loud in public. He says business people should be more like artists, and his definition of art is being able to say, “it might fail,” and if you can’t say that, it won’t. is not really art. He also writes books and has a podcast called Akimbo, which is great too. He’s kind of like a marketing version of Malcolm Gladwell.
Floating Works, Vauxhall
Floatworks is a flotation tank center in Vauxhall. You step into a pod containing saline, shallow, high-density water, then close the lid. It’s a bit like low-effort meditation, because you have no choice but to go within. Sometimes I walk in and it’s just my mind chattering and thinking about shows and having great ideas. Sometimes, without trying, you are taken to a deep theta state. You are still going out and the world seems different, brighter, and you are inside your body in a different way.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Amazon)
My son Riddley, who is 10, is obsessed with The Lord of the Rings, and is a walking encyclopedia of Tolkien. He said, “Dad, I want you to watch power rings with me, so I can tell you everything they did wrong. He enjoyed the first episode, and watching it with him makes me kinder, because I [otherwise] take a very critical look at it. JRR Tolkien is like a showrunner who’s gone, so they have to create the series from the skeletons of a synopsis. I will continue to watch it. I do not have a choice. Riddley will make me watch.