Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

An audience with David Baddiel

As the Cultural Exchanges Festival celebrates its 15th birthday this year, Friday 4th March is a date not to be missed. The entertainment for this years party is certainly a man of many talents.

Legendary comedian, writer and television presenter David Baddiel, will be spilling the beans on his successful career on screen. He has also written a number of acclaimed novels and is the proud author of best selling children's book The Parent Agency, a great Easter present for the kids! 

Its not often you'll meet a man who topped the UK Singles chart twice - with the football anthem 'Three Lions', written with co-presenter and flatmate Frank Skinner.

With the added bonus of being free of charge, 'In Conversation' at Clephan 2.13 (De Montfort University) is not something you'll want to read about in the Leicester Mercury after it's happened, so try to beg, borrow or steal a ticket for next Friday ... SOLD OUT but look for returns and tickets for other festival events here

David Baddiel

Luke Clarke

Welcome to Willy

Our Day Out, Blood brothers, Educating Rita, a few titles you may have come across in your life, whether that be during your high school years or in your spare time. These works are masterpieces of the renowned English playwright and composer, Willy Russell.

Willy Russell
Willy Russell is one of the special guests making his way centre stage to discuss his successful career, and we will also get the opportunity to hear Willy read some of his fantastic work later on in the session.

So if I still haven't managed to entice you into the event, then let me add that you will get the chance to hear about Our Day Out, the musical play happening at the Curve in April! Our very own De Montfort University students (including me) will be putting on the show! It entails a bunch of disadvantaged kids who take a lengthy journey to Lincoln Castle, stopping at various places along the way, causing chaos! It's been described as 'a poignant celebration of the joys and agonies of growing up, and of being footloose, fourteen and free from school!' This brilliant collaboration of our very own students and the Curve Leicester is definitely not to be missed!

If you are a writer or dramatist, you may regret not going to this one. Willy knows his stuff; if any of you have read any of his work, you'll understand how great his writing is. His writing gets a reaction out of you, makes you think, makes you feel something; something most aspiring writers aim to do.

An Audience with Willy Russell
7-8pm, Wednesday 2nd March @ Hugh Aston 0.10

Get your Our Day Out tickets now at:

Shannon Webb

Due North and Beneath

An opportunity to visit DMU's Cultural Exchanges festival would be hard to turn down, especially when it's providing such valuable experience for current students.

One event I am particularly looking forward to is Peter Riley's poetry reading, which will see the welcoming of Riley himself and our very own Simon Perril with the launch of his fourth book of poems, Beneath

This special event will be held from 6:00-7:00pm in the Clephan Building Room 3.01 on Wednesday 2nd March, and to tempt you even more, it is completely free!

As an undergraduate myself, I feel that this event is an excellent chance to see talented poets perform their own work. Something I don't think you will want to miss!                                                          
If you are interested in finding more about the poets before booking your ticket then you can visit Peter Riley's website here or download a sample from Simon Perril's new collection here.

Book tickets here or download the Cultural Exchanges festival 2016 brochure to check out other exciting events on offer. 

Fern Steele

Steampunk bash

 In less than a week, DMU's very own lecturer Rod Duncan returns to debut his latest, third steampunk novel, The Custodian of Marvels. The dyslexic Welsh-born author's first novel in this series was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award for 2014. And now, in less than a week (on Tuesday, in fact), he is set to give a lecture during the Cultural Exchanges Festival here on campus, right here in Leicester where the Elizabeth Barnabus series begins. I booked my seat early, as it's expected to be a full house.

The rapidly growing steampunk genre has taken many people in its grasp. I'm curious to see why there's all this excitement about old-fashioned machinery, Victorian costumes, and why there's an obsession with round welding goggles. What better opportunity than when it arrives on my front door step? I will be able to discover the inspirations and challenges involved in the creation of such a novel, and to celebrate its release. Of all the many happenings and activities taking place this week, Rod Duncan's book launch is one I'm determined not to miss.
'The Custodian of Marvels'

Sarah Anne

People are people

photo by: Mstyslav Chernov: women and children among Syrian refugees
at Budapest Keleti railway station, 4 September 2015 (wikimedia commons)

At a time when the refugee crisis is at an all time high, it is important to be aware of just how often fellow human beings have been forced to choose between leaving their dangerous homes or facing the treacherous seas on the journey to a new homeland. 

After reading last night that new refugees arriving in the country are being forced to wear red wrist bands at all times (bearing a striking resemblance to something that happened during the 1940s, perhaps?), I knew that I needed to improve my understanding of what is truly going on. These are human beings above all else, and should not be treated any differently to the rest of us. 

With so much tension in the country, I couldn't forego the chance to listen to four De Montfort historians sharing their research with the public.

Having already primed myself with facts on the Labour party, the cost of a warhead and the teachings of Islam to argue with my Conservative father, I can't wait to pick up more fuel for thought to fire off when I return home the next day for my birthday. 

There are still a few seats available, and you are welcome to come along to De Montfort University's Clephan Building (Room 0.01) at 5pm on Tuesday 1st March to allow yourself to be further educated on this issue.

Georgia Chenery

Drama, Fire, Bikes ...?

Drama is a strange thing.

By drama I am of course talking about the study of theatre and not the tension between two conflicting parties. If anyone know this, it's James Yarker.

Artistic Director at Stan's CafĂ© theatre since he co-founded it in 1991, Yarker has continuously challenged and played with the idea of what theatre is, whether it's foregoing the traditional theatre building in favour of a 7.5 tonne truck (The Black Maze) or performing for an audience of one (It's Your Film).

And now he's co-authored a book with De Montfort University's Mark Crossley, and on Tuesday 1st March, Yarker and Crossley will spend an hour in conversation as part of DMU's Cultural eXchanges Festival. This discussion format, in front of an audience of students and drama enthusiasts, is a touch more traditional than Yarker's normal endeavours.

If this sounds like the kind of thing you would be interested in, then book your tickets now. if you are on the fence about it, book anyway... It's free, and it promises to be a very interesting and very entertaining event.

James Yarker
'In Conversation...'
Tuesday, 1st March
2-3pm, Clephen 0.01

Book tickets HERE.

Rory Gillan

and ... Sold! To the lady in the van Gogh leggings

So the Fine Art auction is coming (on Monday evening) and it's going to be swell.

I'm very excited because my sister is part of it. She's a 3rd-year Fine Art student and I know for a fact that she and her arty comrades do FABULOUS arty stuff.

The  auction will be in the presence of ... wait for it ... Christian Furr. Christian is the youngest ever official portraitist of the Queen and he's also a DMU alumnus.

So book your place for Monday, 29th February, before you're too late.

Jenni Brooks

A preview of Paris

Brighten up your Monday afternoon by seeing Paris Lees, editor of Attitude magazine, who is coming for talk at Clephan Building (De Montfort University). Talking about her experiences growing up will open the eyes of many cis-gendered people by giving them an insight into everyday life for the trans community.

With a weekly column in under her belt, Paris is the woman to talk to about editing, publishing and broadcasting. I hope this talk will take us behind the scenes of magazine work and excite members of the audience to put pen to paper.

 Paris is currently embarking on a campaign for better representation of transgender people in the media, and I've no doubt this topic will inspire and captivate the lucky people who get to hear her.
Don’t miss out on being inspired

Jack Wilkin

Britain's very own window-smashing intellectual (metaphorically speaking, I hope)

Monday 29th February signals the start of Cultural eXchanges week, with plenty of events for everyone to attend. It's not just for De Montfort University students so, Leicester folk and others from the East Midlands, if you check the programme you won't be stuck for things to do.

One event which is quickly selling out is Monday evening's talk by philosopher by John Gray. A former professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science and before that, a professor of Politics and Fellow of Jesus College Oxford, John Gray has regularly written articles for popular publications such as The Guardian and The New Statesman as well as authoring a number of influential books. Even Andrew Marr, British broadcaster and journalist, was quoted as saying that Gray is "the closest thing we have to a window smashing French intellectual".
Given John Gray's vast knowledge and enthusiasm for philosophy, this event promises to be one of the most enriching and thought-provoking events at Cultural eXchanges. It would be a shame to miss such an enlightening experience.

Lorna Ball

Saturday, 27 February 2016

It's back ... but have YOU booked?

That's right, here at DMU we are holding the Cultural Exchanges Festival! Featuring famous guest speakers and unmissable events- quite literally since we get reminded in every lecture.

There will be a Fine Art Auction for you artsy types, a concrete poetry workshop, 'So You Want to Write A Novel' (did anyone else sing that?) led by DMU lecturers (and novelists) Rod Duncan and Niki Valentine, Educating Yorkshire star Musharaf Asghar with Mr Burton, and talents including Willy Russell, Paris Lees and many, many more. This is only a small snippet of what's to come, so get your butts to booking before it's too late!

If you haven't booked, then prepare for the Hunger Games between the public and students as more and more tickets vanish into thin air. This popular event is going to be one crazy week for those not going home- I mean studying in their accommodations like the hard-working students they are.

Music Festivals? Pfftt, nah. This is where YOU need to be!
The iconic image of Lord Kitchener was not widely used to recruit troops during World War One
Copyright image by Express Mail, article published by Ben Jefferson
Kayla Dutton