Thursday, 29 September 2011

From page to stage, The story of Slave – A Question of Freedom. The Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

 In 1806 local philanthropist William Roscoe angered the slave traders of Liverpool by speaking out in favour of a bill to abolish the slave trade.

The pool of life had grown rich in its principal role as Britain’s main slaving power.  It’s hard to believe that in the progressive modern world this diabolical way of life still exists. However, Mende Nazer’s harrowing story, “SLAVE” , tells us otherwise.

Mende Nazer had her childhood ripped away from her one harrowing evening when raiders swept through  her tranquil Nuba village, slaughtering the adults and rounding up the  children of the village.

Mende was sold to a wealthy Arab family who lived in Sudan's capital city, Khartoum. She was subjected to appalling physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She had no rights, no freedom, and no life of her own. Her captor labelled her as YEBIT, a girl worthy of no name.

Seven years after she was seized and sold into slavery, she was sent to work for a diplomat in the United Kingdom. In September 2000, she made a dramatic break for freedom. 

This thought provoking biography highlighting the power of the human spirit has now been transferred to the stage in an adaptation by Kevin Fegan and Caroline Clegg for Feelgood Theatre. It arrives at Liverpool's Unity Theatre,  Tuesday 4th –Sat 8th October 2011.

FIRECRACKER had the opportunity to discuss the origins of the play, the evolution from page to stage with director Caroline Clegg,

In 2005 a friend of mine gave me the book Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis which was to change both the course of my professional life and my perspective on freedom forever.  As I read, tears of sadness and rage fell from my eyes and by the last chapter, I knew that I had to take action.  
Like many people I believed the slave trade had ended 200 years ago, but as I read more, I realised that the abhorrent trade in people is now more widespread than at the height of the transatlantic trade, with up to 27 million people enslaved or in forced labour around the world.  Mende’s story had been the catalyst to remove the blinkers from my eyes; it was as if her voice had woken me with a violent scream which now echoed the silent scream of millions of others.

As a director, the way I can hope to make a difference is by telling the story and so the journey to put Mende’snarrative on stage began.  Having worked with Feelgood in Africa over the last ten years creating shows infused with the exquisite sound of African drumming, a capella harmony and dance, I felt stylistically that I was on familiar territory – in Slave I could hear the rhythms, sense the heart beat of the earth in the Nuba culture.

I first met Mende in a coffee shop in Queensway and we talked nonstop for three hours.  Mende had never been to the theatre and I tried to articulate how I would dramatise her life on stage.  Sitting there with the most inspirational woman I have ever met, I was struck by what I was asking of her – to trust me, a complete stranger with her story, her ‘voice’.   She told me that she wanted us to speak out to help others.  

Storytelling is at the heart of the Nuba culture so we began with their oral tradition, telling a story around a fire.   It was important to celebrate Mende’s family life and culture, to allow the audience to appreciateMende’s deep loss at being denied the right to be with her people. The Nuba songs, music, dance and visual imagery are all natural elements in their daily life and, therefore, in our show. Mende’s narrative is a dark and tragic tale, but it is also full of beauty and joy.

The theatrical adaptation of Mende’s tale illustrates the impact of theatre and how it can transfer negative experience into a life lesson that also celebrates the power of the human fighting spirit. FIRECRACKER will be attending.

SLAVE is at The Unity Theatre Liverpool Tuesday 4th –Sat 8th October 2011.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Smoulder this Autumn/Winter Season with CHLOBO Jewellery.

Words Marvin Alexander.
Photos Matt Ford. 
Model, brand founder Chloe Moss. 
(Click all images twice for detail.)

FIRECRACKER captured imagery for the new addition to the ChloBo portfolio.
The previous collections Lifestyle, Iconics and Oystins, have leapt from Britain’s boutiques to the wardrobes of some of UK’s favourite celebrities and have featured in magazines from Cosmopolitan to Look, Heat to Reveal.It’s not only celebrities that have fallen for the Irresistibly Collectable Jewellery brand, Cricket boutique are also passionate aficionados.
Sophie Parry, Marketing & PR Manager for ChloBo LLP, reveals how the new collection evolved,We knew that boozy colours were set to be big for A/W 11 – reds, browns, maroons so Garnett was the perfect stone to use for this collection. We wanted something sparkly too as that always goes down well for Autumn / Winter so have used mainly faceted beads. 
The Exclusive Smoulder range appeals to everyone – all ChloBo fans. It is glitzy and perfect for night time but can also be warn in the daytime to add just a touch of glam! Twenty-nine-year-old Chloe Moss, founder and designer, was originally inspired to create ChloBo after her travels to the Indonesian Island of Bali.,It all happened very naturally – I went travelling and saw a lady beading bracelets on a Bali beach – I instantly knew that was my calling and what I wanted to do! That was 7 years ago now!
The ChloBo Studio is already speedily working on Spring Summer 2012! However, before that we will be treated to a very exciting collaboration range with a well known fashion designer set to be launched early November.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Art Show. 6.10.11

Matt Ford & Love Mode present
The Art Show. 
An Exhibition of Art, Fashion and Music. 
Starring Millie Dollar and Cocabelle.
7 PM Studio 2 Parr Street. Liverpool.

Click any image to enlarge. 

Part of the Liverpool Design Festival 2011.

About the exhibition. 

Matt Ford. 
Northwest fashion photographer, who has work on permanent display in The Museum of Liverpool. His work has also been seen in many national fashion magazines.
 Love Mode. London/Liverpool based fashion brand that has enjoyed a sell out collection of T-shirts in Liberty of London boutique amongst other outlets.

(Love Mode A/W10 image)

Love Mode founder, Matthew Moore, has collaborated with Matt Ford to create the A/W11 Love Mode T-Shirt Collection.
(A/W11 lookbook coming soon)

The images of black and white nudes, used in the collection, have also been reworked into retro-graphic screen-printed artwork
All of the T-shirts and framed artworks are hand made at the Blue Coat Print room by Matt Ford and are limited edition. They will be available to buy at Studio 2 Parr Street for the duration of the exhibition. Liverpool and London stockists of both the Tee's and Artwork will be announced in November.  

About The Art Show 6.10.11

To launch the exhibition Matt & Love Mode are putting on a free show to celebrate the launch of the new Love Mode collection with 2 of Liverpool's great performance artists, Burlesque Star Millie Dollar and Edgy Rock/Soul Singer Cocabelle. The Show will start at 7 so don't be late. Free Admission. 

For a full press release, guest list to the event, picture/T-Shirts sales or any other info please contact

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Apocalyptic Fashion Theatre.

Words John Maguire.
Photos (not including flyer) Matt Ford. 

Last night FIRECRACKER attended theatre at THE KAZIMIER, the World Premier of The Last Eden, an original science fiction play written by Maria Swisher and directed by Tana Sirois.

The Last Eden is the story of a young girl, a resident of a harsh concrete dystopian future, who makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to embark on a journey in search of the last place on earth where trees still grow.

Exploring the notion of man as a storytelling beast, the piece cleverly interweaves live action, multi-media, lighting and bio-mechanical choreography, theatre as it should be raw and passionate.

The imaginative use of space is captivating and the set consisting of pallets and debris transforms The Kazimier. The creative use of costume makes you feel like you are in an Apocalyptic Fashion Show.

CLICK HERE to see pic in detail. 

At the core of this ambitious multi sensory experience is an evocative soundscape, a stunning original soundtrack performed (and DJed) live by Thomas Ashbrook; whose band 6ix Toys headlined this August to 20,000 spectators at the Liver Building’s 100th Anniversary concert at the Albert Dock, Liverpool.

Playwright Maria Swisher said:
Eden is a show about storytelling, that’s what we’re interested in. Creating new ways to tell stories with sound, music, movement, words, and image. Audiences demand to be stimulated now more than they ever have before. To keep up, we’ve got to be willing to change what we call theatre.”

 The Last Eden is a piece of theatre with two goals: Firstly, to create an innovative, multisensory experience which stimulates young audiences to re-define the theatrical event. Secondly, to confront the frightening future that generation faces in the wake of global warming, pollution, and the destruction of the planet.

The play runs: September 19-22nd at The Kazimier, Liverpool.

To book tickets click here

Cast includes Nicola Wilson, John Purcell, Helen Foster, Danyel J. Roberts, Anthony Proctor, Derek Barr, Lewis Bray, Sean Benedict, Carolyn Grimshaw, Sam Meisner, Tia Konsur, Kieran Parrott, and Kelly Sparrman.

New blog update 22 Sep....  

The Firecracker Studio was ransacked by the cast of The Last Eden, before last night’s performance.
We were privileged to pick the mind of costume designer Miriam Spring Davies.

Miriam graduated in fine art and is a recent L.I.P.A graduate with a passion for fashion, influenced by which is easily identified in the look of the production. She cites her influences as stemming from the world of fashion and particularly Alexander McQueen.
Although the costume designs in the script were very specific, she was allowed the freedom of coming up with her own interpretation and taking on board the ideas from the actors as they found their individual characters.
The creation from costume sketches to construction was a hands on affair. The whole ensemble, even the lighting designer got involved, as they all had to be completed in just four weeks.
The materials were sourced from recycled materials and this make do and mend attitude was in keeping with the plays theme, focusing on the environment.
Miriam and all involved with the process have succeeded in creating an
Androgynous Apocalyptic Nightmare.
A dystopian world imaginatively brought to the stage but one that could be soon so so familiar.

Firecracker meets She Shea.

Enter She Shea, the up and coming Liverpool based fashion label, creating bespoke pieces with a vintage vibe.
Jessica O’Shea ,the designer behind the label, is passionate about her craft, hand making and uniquely  tailoring every individual detail for each specific customer. Firecracker caught up with Jessica at the shoot for her latest collection.

Photos Matt Ford. 
Click to enlarge. 

Ryan Martin – So let’s go back to the beginning, how did She Shea originate?

Jessica O’Shea - I studied at Liverpool Community college for three years and then graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University. I’ve always wanted to work for myselfso I set up She Shea shortly after graduating. I did my work placement for Fatz Kassimfor six weeks but I didn't enjoy creating other peoples designs into garments, I wanted to create my own ideas. I didn't want to just solely design, I wanted to learn how to pattern cut and garment manufacture, so that I could create my ideas into garments. I do like designing but I get much more satisfaction from putting a garment together from start to finish.

RM- What inspires you?

JO -Many different aspects in life can inspire a new idea like travelling around different countries. Sometimes a design will pop in to my head or I’ll dream of something andthen sketch it down the next day, sometimes I can have an idea for a new design and then go fabric shopping and completely change my mind, I like experimenting on the stand, draping fabrics and experimenting with different cuts.

RM  Any particular personal highs in your career to date?

JO- I remember some time last year some of my dresses were copied by one of the high street fashion chains and they sold out in a matter of weeks, I kept getting messages from clients complaining that their one off garments were not so one off but there wasn't much I could do about it. I was delighted to tell you the truth! They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

RM – What type of woman wears She Shea?

JO- I love the Liverpool girl style vibe, you can always spot her out from the crowd. She's always the most glamorous girl at the party taking great pride in her appearance and I would agree that I keep this in mind when designing a collection. I like to create pieces that are different to make you stand out but for all the right reasons because sometimes it can be taken too far and you need to find the balance. I much prefer designing glamorous garments as the opposite to the laid back cool style of London, I like attention to detail,which is shown through the hand embellished detail displayed in the majority of my collection pieces.

RM- What advice would you offer to someone hoping to be the next big fashion designer?

JO- Simply just to go for it if you’re prepared to put in the hard work, it’s not an easy ride but that goes for most things that are worth working for.

RM- So without giving too much away with future collections, what’s next for She Shea ?

JO- Who Knows? I don't. I don't know where I’m going to get my next idea from, I just hope people like the next collection as much as the last.

Visit for the latest collection.

Words Ryan Martin. 
(Check out Ryan's Blog Elemental

Friday, 16 September 2011

His & Hers Magazine. Latest mens wear. A/W11.

Photos- Matt Ford.
Styling- Ryan Martin.
Model- Zak Sliwka.
Read His & Hers Online. 

Jacket & Tee- Firetrap.
Shirt, Jeans & Shoes- Tommy Hilfiger.

Jacket- Tommy Hilfiger.
 All from Firetrap.
 Jaket & Tee- Firetrap.
 Shirt- Firetrap.

All available from The Met Quarter Liverpool.