Tag Archives: art

Commedia dell’Arte

27460058_10155326336094352_466983872366468262_nI recently had the pleasure of joining a masterclass in this amazing, historic performance type. Thank you to class leader Graham Shackell and organisers Top Banana for allowing me make my legs ache so intensely.

The masks shown in this blog are part of Graham’s amazing collection.

Commedia dell’Arte is a form of Italian theatre dating to the 16th century. Distinctive, with it’s masked characters who represent various archetypes and stereotypes, it spread across Europe over the next two centuries.

Graham learned his craft in Venice, on a course involving ten hour days and a live performance on day one!. Impossible to distil into three hours, those of us in the class were introduced to some of the characters of Commedia and some of it’s history.



First came the ‘Zanni’, a servant character. The ‘Zanni’ stem from the peasant workers from outside of the big cities who came to find work. They are oppressed both physically and mentally and, to be honest, not very bright. To represent this the performer places his or her weight on one leg, bent at the knee. The other leg is stretched out to one side, barely touching the floor. The arms hang down, lightly curved outwards with the back of the hand and arms facing forward. Just keeping this shape is, after a while, a bit tiring. When you add in a walk which raises one leg up, knee pointing out, while the opposite arm swings forward to mirror the leg. There was also a crying run, a laughing run and a thinking run.

We also ran through the ‘Pantalone’, the ‘Brighella’ and ‘Il Capitano’, each with their unique stance and walk to distinguish their status and character.

Each one caused it’s own level of hilarity within the group, and possibly a little hysteria too.


As a writer the characters and their history are wonderful to delve into. As a people watcher you will recognise them all in everyday life today.

The history Commedia dell’Arte is incredibly interesting and far too involved for this blog, but it did  lead us on to such things as pantomime, Punch and Judy and the Harlequin. Even Fawlty Towers shows a strong influence of Commedia.

Check out the obligatory Wikipedia page and delve into this fascinating world.


Maybe tomorrow…

Recently I’ve been struggling to find any motivation to do anything even remotely creative.

My one advantage at times like this is that I continue to read and continue to look at others work. This means I’m still absorbing influences and, in turn, the ideas keep coming. But, when it comes to actually doing something about it?

Well, MEH!

Maybe tomorrow….

Or the next day, or the next….

And so it goes.

Part of me, sitting inside my head, looking out from behind my eyes, finds this infuriating.

“Just pick up a pen and get on with it!” “Write something!” “Draw something!” “Doodle for fucks sake!”

Maybe tomorrow….

I’ve been here before. Tiredness plays a part, but that can stem from depression anyway. Not having the time is another factor. But if I didn’t vegetate in front of QI repeats on Dave I’d have the time.

Maybe tomorrow….

I’ve read about how other people deal with this, whether they call it a creative block, writers block or a creative drought. What works for them won’t necessarily work for anyone else.

Eventually the voice in my head, the one pushing me to do something, drives me to pick up some implement of creation and make something. Usually this first push doesn’t last long, but it’s a stepping stone that enables me to move forward, and once I’ve taken that first step other stepping stones appear out of the fog that’s been surrounding me.  Now the problem is; which path to pick?

But it’s a choice I can make.

Definitely today.

Of Aliens and Munchkins

OK, self promotion first.

‘Attack! of the B-Movie Monsters: Alien Encounters’ is now available on Kindle.


It’s the second in an ongoing series from Grinning Skull Press of stories themed around 50’s B movies. It’s also the second to feature one of my stories. ‘Red Mist Over East Creek’ takes us back to the mid west town from my first B movie venture ‘Vermin’.

It follows our reluctant heroes and heroine facing an alien invasion. It’s full of tension, drama, iffy plot devices and dodgy 50’s film science. I think you’ll enjoy it.

This volume has produced some wonderful tales, all high quality madness!

UK Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/ATTACK-B-Movie-Monsters-Alien-Encounters-ebook-x/dp/B01FPYAD48/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465675365&sr=1-1&keywords=attack+of+the+b+movie+monsters

USA Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/ATTACK-B-Movie-Monsters-Alien-Encounters-ebook/dp/B01FPYAD48/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465676259&sr=8-1&keywords=attack+b+movie

It should be available in physical book form soon.




Now for some promotion of Steve Jackson Games and Munchkin.

I’m a fan of Munchkin and have been since the beginning. My original three sets are uncoloured.

The game has grown a lot since then. and this year sees Steve Jackson Games celebrating 15 years of Munchkin! With this they have produced their Guest Artist Editions, new, limited editions of the various versions available drawn by different artists.

Steve Jackson Games have given away some free copies on various social media platforms over the last couple of months. Each box signed by games designer Steve Jackson himself. I was lucky enough to win one of these. Munchkin Fu, drawn by John Kovalic.


Those who know Munchkin know John Kovalic is the regular artist for the game, with close to 5500 cards drawn. He wasn’t available for Munchkin Fu and so was given this guest artist set.

The art and production values are exceptional as ever.


It has been played….


and, of course, the nine year old won.


He beats me at most versions of the game, to be honest.

Except Munchkin Cthulhu. The Old God must like me………






(n.) the soul, creativity or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

This wonderful, underused, word describes something that can be seen in many places.

I’m happy to say I see it in my own work.

I hope others do too.

That aside, wherever you look you can spy something lovingly handcrafted, beautifully written or passionately taught.

I see meraki whenever I look at the following….

The recycled, upcycled, handmade creativity of Meebee designs. https://www.facebook.com/MeebeeDesigns?fref=ts

The weird essence of self that appears in the writing and art of A Dark Whimsy. http://adarkwhimsy.wordpress.com/ (she really is a fruit cake).

The seemingly random mix of craft and teachings of Winniemay’s Hankerings. https://www.facebook.com/WinnieMaysHankerings?fref=ts

The shaping, moulding, creative hands of Kelly Loves. https://www.facebook.com/kellylovescraft


The shapes, forms and unconditional love that emanate from the beautiful soul that is Portsmouth Yoga. http://www.portsmouthyoga.co.uk/ 

All these people fill their crafts with energy, fun, dedication and commitment. They pour their heart and soul into what they do.

And I am privileged to be able to say, to one degree or another, I know them all and my life is richer for that.