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.