Friday, 21 February 2014

Two Towers

Sorry it's all gone a bit slack here. I intended to finish my review of 2013 last week with a stirring post about the value of boredom, typed up on tour in Aberystwyth. That never happened. But I did make a film. So here - in the spirit of boredom - is a twenty-minute long home movie.


A cheap experiment in dread

The Aberystwyth Arts Centre (10 minutes in) was a revelation - not just the eerie, free-standing concrete seats, lone bell-tower, and silvery bellow-shaped pods of uncertain purpose all pressing my 70's scifi buttons (although they were amazing), but because it all worked: a cinema, two galleries, theatres, shops, students, performance art, discos, parents dropping by for a coffee or beer and children dropped off for ballet lessons, all coexisting in a way that seemed unprecedentedly natural and unforced. I urge anyone interested in what "Arts Centre" might actually mean to head over there and eat your heart out.
How have they managed this? There's a view, which I suppose makes the Centre a destination. (It's a mile's steep walk out of the town.) But there's a great view of London from the fifth floor of the Royal Festival Hall as well, and how often do you see families up there? The architecture's important; you can wander through (13 minutes in) and see everything laid out before you. You don't have to awkwardly poke your head round a corner and be invited in by an usher to experience what's on offer, as you might in an older room-and-corridor set-up like the BAC (no matter how many doors you remove), or the Royal Festival Hall's too many floors (and to be fair the RFH must have recognised this, which is why their lifts sing so ingratiatingly) or the windowless Cabinet Warhol Rooms* of the ICA. In fact Aberystwyth's Arts Centre may have finally worked out how to bypass one of modern art's hugest dilemmas: how to go "No, come in." It's all about the view.
Hum. Maybe, if the Barbican let its hair down a bit...
So that's in the film, and some storms, and a search for supper where it all goes a bit Jimmy's End, and two towers, and the happy discovery - accidentally made 17 minutes in - that if the audio from a home video is suddenly replaced by something from Brian Eno, you get Ben Wheatley. I make no apology for my use of Vangelis. I'm knackered and knotted from rehearsing with a new bunch of actors with actual skills, the sods. When I'm recovered, we'll see in 2014.

*I'm firing myself.


  1. As a student of Aberystwyth University, who spends more time in the Arts Centre cafe than she does working on her degree, I just wanted to say I loved your post.

  2. Thanks very much. I loved your Arts Centre.