Monday, 28 February 2011

Update as of 28th February 2011


Knee deep in rehearsals for Our Style is Legendary and having the time of my life. Dream come true, emotional times.

Make sure you come and see it won't you?

And even chronic food poisoning bought on by poorly cooked wild boar cannot spoil the fact that I'm on American TV for like the 5th year running, hopefully off to Australia to do some acting come Summer and wedding plans are dovetailing nicely.

Sweet as.

Until the next time, I'll leave you with some Charles Bradley who is rocking my world at the mo with his deep soul.

Serious.



Friday, 18 February 2011

Anticipated Sore Thumbs


I may need one of these here thumb stabilisers after this weekend.

In a few hours I set off for Nottingham for what promises to be a two day FIFA 2011/Pro Evo marathon with my excellent comrade Kirky and his young daughter Edie, although not sure how much gaming she'll be getting in, her being about 9 months old and all.

I can't wait.

I'm seeing this as a chance to let my hair down before the serious hard graft of Our Style is Legendary begins with the start of rehearsals on the 21st February and of course the ever impending opening night on the 14th March. I'll only be able to take a breath when it all grinds to a halt come the 2nd April.

I'm excited, sick, emotional, worried but ultimately absolutely enthused that it will be a huge success.

I can't fucking wait.

On the train to day Radiohead's new album will be travelling with me, early listens marks it as a cracker.

I'll leave you with a dance-off, me versus Thom Yorke of Radiohead.






Have an outstanding weekend. I know I will.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Cultural Weapon: Guest Post by Mike Van Graan


Recently, on a trip back from Europe, I was struck by the front page of a British newspaper, featuring a picture of their Prime Minister and the headline “Cameron: my war on multiculturalism”.

The article began with the paragraph: “David Cameron launches a devastating attack today on 30 years of multiculturalism in Britain, warning it is fostering extremist ideology and directly contributing to home-grown Islamic terrorism”. In his speech, Cameron “warns Muslim groups that if they fail to endorse women’s rights or promote integration, they will lose all government funding”. In terms of Britain’s new policy, “all immigrants…must speak English and schools will be expected to teach the country’s common culture.” The article states that Cameron blames a doctrine of “state multiculturalism” which encourages different cultures to live separate lives, and which he believes, is “the root cause of radicalisation which can lead to terrorism”.

This “new” British policy is consistent with the rising nationalism in Europe with anti-immigrant parties having been voted into parliament in the Netherlands and in Sweden in recent times, countries that have prided themselves as “liberal” and “tolerant” societies. Two years ago, the Danish government offered foreigners one hundred thousand krone to leave Denmark. Last year, the French government dangled 300 Euros for every Roma adult and 100 Euros for every Roma child to leave France. France has also banned some forms of Muslim apparel.

Cameron’s “common values” that he would like immigrant communities to commit to echoes Laura Bush at the time of the USA’s re-entry to UNESCO after years of absence, when she said that UNESCO “can now help to achieve peace by spreading the values that will defeat terror and lead to a better and safer world”. She, of course, was referring to the values and worldviews of “the other” who in her view, sowed terror, whereas for many in the global south, it is the values, worldviews and ideology of wealthy countries in the north and the manner in which these are expressed economically, politically and militarily, that are the chief source of terror in the world.

Within European societies – in a post-9/11 world – there is a greater move towards homogeneity, towards integration around a set of “common values”, and an increasing intolerance of cultural difference, of otherness.

In so doing, the hypocrisy and self-serving “values” of wealthy European nations are again exposed.

A few years ago, when the World Trade Organisation was promoting the liberalisation of access to global markets, some of these countries were very concerned that their creative industry markets would be swamped by American creative products. They argued vehemently against “free trade” in the cultural sphere, as creative goods have worldviews, values and ideological assumptions embedded in them. Should American products flood global markets, consumers would imbibe these values, ideas, ideologies and perspectives on the world. This would lead to a homogenous world that would affirm the hegemony of one country, and would undermine global democracy.

This was the essence of the argument that led to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which affirms “that cultural diversity is a defining characteristic of humanity” that “should be cherished and preserved for the benefit of all” as it “creates a rich and varied world which increases the range of choices and nurtures human capacities and values”. The Convention states that cultural diversity flourishes “within a framework of democracy, tolerance, social justice and mutual respect between peoples and cultures” and “is indispensable for peace and security at the local, national and international levels”.

With this Convention, France, Germany, Britain, Canada and a host of other nations with strong creative industries are able to withstand American creep in their local markets, and maintain and celebrate their own identities and cultural heritage. The language of “cultural diversity” has thus been appropriated largely to preserve the audio-visual and other creative industries of countries of the north in their trade battle with America.

Yet, what these countries have piously demanded at a global level – heterogeneity, diversity and tolerance of other – they are increasingly moving away from, and in fact are actively clamping down on, at a national level.

All this is being done in the name of national security and a safer world. The irony is that such actions will achieve exactly the opposite.

The views expressed in this column are entirely the views of the author and are not necessarily those of any of the institutions – or their partners – with which he is associated.


Mike van Graan is the Secretary General of Arterial Network, a continent-wide network of artists, activists and creative enterprises active in the African creative sector and its contribution to development, human rights and democracy on the continent. He is also the Executive Director of the African Arts Institute (AFAI), a South African NGO based in Cape Town that harnesses local expertise, resources and markets in the service of Africa’s creative sector. He is considered to be one of his country’s leading contemporary playwrights.


For further information, see www.arterialnetwork.org, www.africanartsinstitute.org and www.mikevangraan.co.za

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

David Kato: In Memoriam


You may not know who David Kato Kisule is, I think you should.

He was a very brave man doing the right thing, an openly gay, gay rights campaigner in a backwater for human rights: Uganda; itself the ugliest jewel in the twisted crown of African homophobia.

And I say was because on the 26th January 2011 he was murdered.

The police, themselves a government tool for the repression, murder and torture of gay men, have stated that his death has nothing to do with his sexuality.

We shall see. In reality, I doubt we will, such is the weight of state approved homophobia in Uganda.

I blogged on this disgraceful phenomena back in June of last year but David Kato's strength and bravery stand out for recognition in the face of such wide spread and deep-set bigotry. Uganda is competing enthusiastically for the worst place in the world to be gay (indeed the upsetting BBC documentary on Uganda has that very title), with it's threats of making homosexuality punishable by death, it's creation of legislation so people snitch on suspected homosexuals (parents are encouraged to hand in their own children, to be humanely killed I imagine, like sickly animals) and this atmosphere of terror leads to gay people being forced to live in slums, rejected by their families and at constant risk of state approved violence.

There is a real appetite in Uganda for the execution of homosexuals, not only because the government endorses such backwards views but because lies are spread about homosexuality. Lies that have a classic ring to them, as they were once used (and still are by hardcore bigots, idiots and certain Daily Mail journalists) here in the UK: homosexuality goes hand in hand with pedophilia, it's effects your lifespan, sexuality as a choice that thus can be cured etc.

David Kato lobbied for gay people's human rights in the face of all of this, out and proud in a country where this put his life in immediate and terrifying danger.

An amazing man, I salute him, his death is a terrible loss but this cause will not go unheeded.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Our Style is Legendary is 1 Month Away


One month to go.

30 days.

Yep, in one month Our Style is Legendary will open in the West End at the Tristan Bates Theatre and run for three weeks.

It will destroy everything in it's path. No doubt.

Oh Christ.

Excited but also feel a bit sick.

Proof is in the pudding.

I think it's beautiful, in a funny way. It may also make you cry.

Who knows?

Your support would be much appreciated, hope to see all of my readers there.

Not north, not south, all notts.

Peace.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For?


Checking my blog stats today, as I am sometimes want to do, I noted a rich line of web traffic being emitted from Digital Spy.

"That's odd" I said to myself.

"Perhaps some publicity for my play Our Style is Legendary has attracted celebrity-watching attention, with it having two notable TV stars in."

So I clicked on the link and it turns out someone called Thumbs83 (he or she must have a lot of thumbs) has taken a shine to my comedy creation Kirky, that is gracing the BBC at the mo and wanted to know who I was. Some kind soul then web stalked me and brought the facts home. Hence the stream of clicks to Blurred Clarity from this forum page.

So welcome Thumbs83, other new visitors and curious souls, I am Daniel Hoffmann-Gill, welcome to my blog, thanks for visiting and showing an interest.

Here is my gift to you...

Monday, 7 February 2011

Cloud Nothings: Feeling Nothing

Fuck this malaise, feeling a bit blue for like no fucking reason whatsoever, life is good.

I reckon it's because I'm in limbo but also lacking direction, frustrating stuff when you set the bar so high.

I also got let down today.

I'm a douche-bag.

Maybe.

Anyways...

Friday, 4 February 2011

When Big Joan Sets Up by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band


It all starts with a killer riff, then some lunatic (read_ Captain Beefheart) doing Al Pacino impressions before Al Pacino had even created the format for the impression itself to exist.

High-pitched skat.

Riff just keeps going.

Lyrics paint a picture of a monstrously large woman whose hands are too small. This worries her, a relationship is trying to be developed. Rules are set.

Riff keeps going.

Then a squeak of a clarinet, which then goes all jazzy.

Hi-hat snatches.

The song has stopped.

Improvisation occurs around a single note.

Hi-hat restarts the song, riff returns, the narrative plays on about Big Joan and her massive fatness and her paranoia about her small hands.

"You know something's happening or you wouldn't have come out like you did"

True.

"She ain't built for going naked"

Also true.

That riff is now burrowing deep and then the song starts to break down, particle by particle.

Instruments fall apart.

Beefheart emits verbiage that gulps and gobbles.

Guitars vomit.

Hi-hat riffs.

Bass plays the aforementioned killer riff and is soon joined again by a purged guitar.

Honking on sax and clarinet reaching some kind of peak, whilst the story goes on about Big Joan being  too fat to go out in the day time and talking about her small hands.

Al Pacino briefly returns.

Is she a boy?

Screaming mixes with sax honking.

Cold sweats are starting.

The song is imploding.

Rhythm section emphasises the riffs punchline like a killing joke.

Lyrics have long stopped.

Song is driving itself now.

Driving itself around the bend.

Where is Big Joan?

Patterns are exchanged.

When will it end?

Now.

No.

Notes are hit in tandem.

Now it's over.

I think.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Interview with Me by Steve Anderson

Reproduction of an interview originally published here.

Interview: Daniel Hoffmann-Gill

The Nottingham-born actor talks about slumming it as a teen and the tragedy that made him turn his life around.

Across the foyer of London’s Royal Festival Hall Daniel Hoffmann-Gill cuts an imposing figure. At 6ft 6in and thick cut, the actor, playwright and director is almost a giant. However, as he says goodbye to Rich, the designer for his upcoming play Our Style is Legendary, and scans the open-plan hall for his next appointment, I can’t help but think he looks like a lost little boy.

I approach Hoffmann-Gill, who is dressed in a scruffy wax jacket and ripped baggy jeans, and am greeted with a gentle handshake and a warm smile from behind a heavy moustache. It seems the lost boy analogy isn’t too far off as he tells me about his struggle growing up in Nottingham in the 1980s.

The only child of middle-class, entrepreneurial parents, Hoffmann-Gill was significantly better off than those living around him in the notorious St Ann’s area of the city, where racial tension and violence were prevalent. “It was interesting for me because it meant that I could experience a different way of life by making friends and hanging out in that community,” he says. “It was an important education for me.”
Hoffmann-Gill, now 34, describes his teenage years as a sad time, full of anger and violence, spawning from his relationship with an authoritarian father shaped by military discipline. “My dad had a lot of anger towards me and I had a lot of anger towards him. I think it’s a classic Oedipul thing, you want to kill your dad and have sex with your mum,” he tells me, not quite making clear whether he is joking or not.

His rough East Midlands accent comes alive when he spits expletives, passionately breaking his relaxed and soft-spoken demeanor: “I think it’s important when a son’s growing up and he knows he could smack the fuck out of his dad.”

His adolescent violence soon turned inwards as he started using drugs as a coping mechanism to deal with severe self-loathing, and was perfectly comfortable destroying a person he did not care about.
His life was to change very suddenly when he was 16, however, when his best friend Michael died of a heroin overdose.

Hoffmann-Gill reels off the date like it is eternally etched into his brain – “1992, 8th of December” – and for the first time, his easy, sprawling conversation becomes slower and more contemplative. It is less emotional than it is reflective; he has obviously come to terms with his friend’s death. Indeed, their relationship forms the backdrop to the autobiographical Our Style Is Legendary.

When Michael died, Hoffmann-Gill knew it was time to make a fresh start. “That part of my life literally died. That’s the way I believe things should be, if something goes wrong you have to chop the whole arm off otherwise it will kill you.”

A keen performer since an early age and nursed by “inspirational” school drama teachers, he decided to pursue a career in acting, as well as working with problem children in St Ann’s that were wandering down the same dark path he had.

Now working regularly as an actor, making a living from commercials and theatre, the self-loathing of Hoffmann-Gill’s teens has completely disappeared, as he boldly claims he now loves himself a great deal. “It’s not arrogance, but if you make your life reliant on other people giving you love to make yourself feel good, that means they can take it away and reduce you to fucking nothing.”

He says he still believes in a shared existence, however, and proudly tells me he is due to marry his fiancée Eva-Jane in December. The couple met four years ago when Hoffmann-Gill took over directorial duties on a play she was starring in. On a prompt sheet to remember the actors’ names he wrote ‘I love you’ next to hers. “It didn’t mean I loved her, she just looked great. I was like ‘fuck, she’s amazing’.”
Don’t count on the wedding being a big church ceremony though; as an avid science and philosophy reader, Hoffmann-Gill claims him and religion don’t mix. Counting Sartre and Nietzsche among his favourite writers, he calls the Bible and Koran “wonderful bits of writing, but nowhere how you want to live your life”.

“It doesn’t make any sense. Faith is just an excuse for bad ideas.”

Our Style is Legendary runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden from March 14th until April 2nd. Tickets can be bought here.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Our Style is Legendary: Trip to Notts (See You on the Ice)


Yesterday, the cast, myself and the director of "Our Style is Legendary" went to Nottingham on a wee trip to explore the locations of the play, re-imagine the memories, get a feel for the place and bond over a few jars.

It was a wonderful day, really wonderful.

Not only did it bring the cast together for the first time (and don't they just look amazing) and began the process of the formation of a gang mentality, much needed for the us and them of live theatre (I am happy to see we've already developed a few in-jokes and phrases that link us a group) but is also acted as a catalyst to provocative thoughts on character, environment and the push and pull of space upon humans.

(Speaking of space and architecture, here is a sneak preview of the set design by Rich White.)

Perhaps, more importantly, it wetted the appetite for what was to come in the rehearsal process this February and ramped up the excitement to what awaited us all on this fantastic adventure.

Of course, visiting some of the locations was difficult, it as far too easy to transpose myself some 18 years back and see my young self, resting, nonchalant, against grimy, graffiti tattooed walls and thus, to see apparitions of friends, much loved but long dead; co-exisitng with my past self. The only place these friendships can ever exist again.

I didn't have a little cry until I was safely ensconced on the Piccadilly Line train back home...home, which is London now, not Nottingham.

So now, we wait, wait until the 21st February when rehearsals start in posh and ever so far removed Battersea, where we will take our Notts field-trip learning and make that little corner of SW11 forever NG3.

"See you on the ice..."

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Russian Rap


When I was in the Ukraine I had a wee bit of free time to watch Ukrainian tele, in between nearly being set on fire and eating borsch with pampushka and I observed a strange phenomenon...

Russian rap.

Yes, Russia makes rap music, which struck me as odd because Russia doesn't contain many black people. I sat and watched the Russian rap music videos, which to all intents and purposes, resembled modern rap music videos but with one crucial element missing: black people.

To be clear, I have no problem with white people rapping, nor do I see rap as a preserve of black people but there is no doubt that rap and hip-hop has it's roots firmly in black American culture and is the key contemporary musical form of black America and indeed, blackness.

That's why Russian rap surprised me, an inherently black form presented with no black people.

The other stark paradox is that Russia is wracked with racism and bigotry, not just the long tradition Russia has of anti-Semitism and anti-Polonism but of hatred towards anyone deemed non-Russian.

Russia is suffering an epidemic of racially motivated killing and violence, with some 85,000 neo-Nazi's and a casual but pernicious racism being entrenched in Russian culture, which finds an easy target in the easily differentiated matter of skin colour.

People of African or Afro-Carribean decent in Russia are so often abused, either violently or verbally, that they have ceased to report it and assaults are merely part of their existence.

Which is why I have a problem with Russian rap, it must be popular, otherwise the music videos wouldn't be in rotation but it exists in a country where blackness, the very root of the musical formula they are exploiting, is despised.

What an awful dis-connect, typical of small-minded racists. Bigotry makes the lives of black people awful in Russia, whilst a fundamentally black music form is paraded on television by white rappers and is clearly popular.

I know white people have been stealing black culture for some time but this really stretches the very limits of belief.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Monday, 24 January 2011

A Letter in the Economist About Pubs...

SIR-Around 40 years ago some friends and I wandered into a small pub in Birstall, West Yorkshire. After enjoying the local bitter, we made the mistake of asking the elderly landlady whether we could have some crisps. She looked at us askance and tersely replied,

"This is a pub, not a bloody restaurant."

Those were the days.

BILL CATLEY
Hong Kong

Friday, 21 January 2011

Acting Adventures in the Ukraine


I spent the start of this week in the Ukraine acting.

It was a shoot for a commercial in which I play a cuckoo trapped inside a clock that will air in, of all places, Kazakhstan.


It was a weird experience.

I knew that Ukraine was going to be different from the moment we landed, as soon as the plane thudded onto the runway, the Ukrainians around me were unbuckling seat belts and trying to extract their excessive volume of hand luggage from the overhead racks. British Airways staff resorted to shouting at them to stop it and forcing people to re-do up their seat belts and I noted on the return journey, special voiceovers in Ukrainian came over the Tannoy, their content most certainly related to STAYING IN YOUR FUCKING SEAT YOU MENTAL UKRAINIAN.

In a fit of very British pique I did not remove my seatbelt until the light was switched off, by which time most the Ukrainians were all stood, ready to leave and staring at me as if I were mad.

In my time there I noted a people brusque, rude, slap-dash and corruption-ridden (I witnessed it first hand by traffic police and in the regular efforts to short change me in shops); and a world away from my experience with people in Poland and the Czech Republic. I felt very far away from home in a place a long way East and oddly, very, very Russian. The Cyrillic didn't help I'm sure, neither did the collapsing Khrushchyovka, awful roads, incessant gloom and quite possibly the worst food I've had anywhere in the world.

The shoot itself was a gruelling effort, 19 hours stuck in a Brezhnev era Soviet film studio/nuclear bunker (I kid you not, underneath us was a huge dis-used bunker and warning signs about what to do if you were hit by a nuclear bomb, ie: die) that was patrolled by feral dogs and flat-faced Ukrainian crones.


It was made bearable by the incredible Swedish director, who I've had the real honour of working with before and the excellent Norwegian DOP. And I've no doubt the end product will look awesome and be hilariously funny, in spite of all the breathtaking incompetence, Health and Safety in flagrante (such as chainsawing the set with wild abandon to rapturous applause) and leaking roofs.

If I'm honest, my rather negative tone about my Ukrainian experience may be related to the fact the crew NEARY SET ME ON FUCKING FIRE AND THEN LAUGHED ABOUT IT. I won't go into detail but it involves flame, a massive un-flame-proofed bird suit and the two meeting in unholy unison.

I'm glad I've been, glad to have my first job of the year but also glad to be back home in one piece. I'll leave you with some pictures I took of the dilapidated Communist film studio.









Thursday, 20 January 2011

Martin Collins' Thoughts on Nottingham

After asking a whole bunch of people about Nottingham and witnessing utter intellectual capitulation, I had to get an expert on board, so here is Martin Collins, star of BBC's "Big Babies" in full effect.



Hopefully that's put you all straight for the record...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Foreign Trash


Foreign Trash.

This way.

Welcome to America.

Get out.

Heh.

I've kept quiet on the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords, an act of terrorism that claimed innocents lives. I don't quite have the heart to unpick it all and to mourn yet another downward step in America's spiralling malaise, to imagine the predictable but no less vile response if the murderer had been a Muslim, or black (or God forbid, both...I can smell the salivating from here); where mental health issues, drug addiction and dysfunctional background would not have mattered one jot in the FAUX NEWS driven witch-hunt.

Instead, we have to watch as he is painted as yet another mentally deranged maniac, when in reality Jared Loughner is just one of millions mentally deranged maniacs that are being manipulated, agitated to the point of extreme action. Their derangement a product of the poisonous political atmosphere in America.

Still, we are left with a pretty ugly picture as the Republicans, especially the Tea Party febrile, fevered, fervent Republicans, led by that cunt Sarah Palin, deny any responsibility for their nasty, bitter language that has become the language of politics in the US. They shrug and genuinely think they have nothing coming to them, that the hateful lies, fiction and running political interference has no impact at all on people's perceptions.

The bile must be touching the back of their tongues.

Either that or the dis-connect is so great they've ripped a hole in time and space.

They draw the Democrats into pointing fingers because the left knows that if this could be pinned on them, it would be and with full force. And so the atmosphere darkens even further.

I made the mistake of engaging with a few mini-Jared Loughners on Twitter, fearful, angry types with plenty of bile to spill whilst calling you on the bile you were spilling, seeing theirs as holy bile, righteous bile and yours as plain old bile, Communist bile, Leftist bile, Socialist bile; all the while missing the point that they were so full of hate, so full of ignorance and confusion that they too could be that man with a gun in their hand, shooting children, women, judges and politicians, trained as they are like Pavlov's dogs to take back what is theirs through their Second Amendment rights.

I think I give up on this foreign trash.

I think.

Who will survive in America?


Kanye West- Who Will Survive in America from Miko Yung on Vimeo.

Monday, 10 January 2011

What do you Know About Nottingham?

I thought I'd make a few videos to help promote Our Style is Legendary and one of the ideas I came up with was asking a whole bunch of non-Nottingham folk what they knew about Nottingham.

I never, in my wildest dreams, expected the answers to be as bad as this.

Nottingham is clearly struggling on the cultural map of the UK.

If your answers, my dear reader, are as bad as theirs, can ya' sen to Our Style is Legendary for a Notts education.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

To Sergei Esenin by Mayakovsky (an excerpt for Michael)


You have gone

(as they say)

to a Better World.

Bullshit.

Built yourself

a stairway to the stars, didn't you?

No more publishers

advances, no more bars.

Sobered up at last.

No, Esenin, this isn't a joke.

There's a lump of grief in my throat.

I can see you with your slit wrists

slinging up your bundle of bones.

STOP IT!

Come off it!

Are you crazy or what?

Smearing your cheeks with dead-white chalk?
You, who could do things with words

no one in the world

could do!

WHY? WHAT FOR?

None of us understands.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Welcome to 2011 (and the Ukrainian Question)


Well, here we are and quite frankly, I've not much more to add.

Consider this a marker post for the new year, a post to ease the guilt over lack of bloggage because life is wonderfully busy at the moment. A holding page with pretty things to look at...


Actually, I've been dying for this day to come round, the day when the UK comes back to life after the winter turkey malaise and I can re-commence with full speed, fury and power on Our Style is Legendary; because as nice as it was buying costume on eBay (and what beautiful late 80s/early 90s costume we have ladies and gentlemen), there is much harder work to be done here.

Thankfully, the year has barely started and I already have my first casting as well as my first job on the horizon, hopefully making a trip to the Ukraine to do some filming (I find it impossible to say or type Ukraine without putting 'the' in front of it, any ideas why?) which would be grand and a nice welcome to the year. And of course, a new term teaching at the Actor's Centre commences this weekend, with old faces and new making for an exciting body of work for the next three months.

But in reality, until the 2nd April 2011, there is only one focus, one Everest, one star in my sky: Our Style is Legendary and that play being seen and loved by as many people as possible.

So here's to that.