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Facilitators of Mirth

Laurence Clark on writing his first play 'Cured'

Exerts taken from an interview by Jay Richardson, originally published on the British Comedy Guide website

Coronavirus has turned every comedian's life upside down. But bizarrely for Laurence Clark, he's now able to perform at more clubs than ever, despite having shielded for much of lockdown.

Born with cerebral palsy, the Liverpudlian stand-up uses a wheelchair. And prior to the pandemic, there were many venues he couldn't play, simply because they weren't accessible. Performing on Zoom though, "I'm finding I can now do clubs that I never could before!" he laughs. "So it does have some advantages".

Not that it's any substitute for the live experience. "It's ok. It's different" he shrugs. "Because you just don't get a lot back from the audience. There's no way of knowing if they're laughing on the whole, which is really strange for stand-up".

But it's also through Zoom that he's conducting rehearsals for his first play. Starring Jack Carroll in his theatrical debut, Cured is a loosely autobiographical comedy about four teenage Scousers with disabilities taking a trip to Lourdes. Set to open at Liverpool's Royal Court, announced as one of the recipients of the government's Culture Recovery Fund this week, plans are also afoot for a UK mini-tour.

A small French market town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Lourdes became a site for religious pilgrimage in 1858 after a peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, leading to her veneration as Saint Bernadette. Water, which flows from a spring in the town's Grotto of Massabielle, is said to have healing properties, making it one of the world's most popular sites for religious tourism. Or as a character in Cured puts it, "Blackpool for Catholics".

Clark travelled to Lourdes when he was 13. "I'm not for a Catholic family, I just think my mum and dad wanted a break. It was a way of getting rid of me for a week!" he grins. "I genuinely thought it was a holiday to the south of France and I naively didn't cop on to any of the religious aspects until the whole thing started.

"So it's based on my experience. But my wife, who is from a Catholic family, was taken as a child as well. She walks with crutches but uses a wheelchair from time to time. She was wheeled up to the bath with the holy water and helped in. But when she got out, she just walked off. Because that's what she does.

"Obviously, this looked like more than it was! So that got me thinking about a place where people are expecting miracles, maybe they see things that aren't quite there. Then I started talking to other disabled people for research and they've had this shared experience. But I've never seen it covered in a drama or a comedy.

"I talked to one guy who lost his virginity there. That's in there. But the overriding thing that came out was that there was a lot of affection for it. Because it was their first chance to go away without their parents, go with friends or meet friends. And it was the social aspect that people valued. So I'm trying to convey that. One character is very religious and one is very anti-religious. One guy is just using the whole thing to pursue a girl he fancies."

Directed by Robert Softley Gale, artistic director of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, Cured stars Carroll as the rascally Connor. The cast also features Hollyoaks star Amy Conachan as Rose, object of his desires, Nicola Chegwin as the religious Helen, who had a soft spot for Father Luke (Phill Ryan) before he entered the priesthood, and comedian Pauline Daniels as Sister Mary, the overbearing nun running the trip.

Read the full article here

Laurence Clark on writing his first play 'Cured' Laurence Clark on writing his first play 'Cured'

News story posted on 21-10-2020 10:00

Gag Reflex Ltd benefits from Culture Recovery Fund

Gag Reflex Ltd has been awarded funds as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

We feel extremely fortunate to have received this support and look forward to using it to be able to continue bringing work to people that badly need it right now.

We are one of 588 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support – with £76 million of investment announced today. This follows £257 million awarded earlier in the week to 1,385 organisations, also from the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back. Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations."

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

“Culture is an essential part of life across the country, helping to support people’s wellbeing through creativity and self-expression, bringing communities together, and fuelling our world class creative industries."

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision inLet’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of several bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and unprecedented support package of £1.57 billion for the culture and heritage sector. Find out more at www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19

Gag Reflex Ltd benefits from Culture Recovery Fund Gag Reflex Ltd benefits from Culture Recovery Fund

News story posted on 17-10-2020 10:00

Adam Kay publishes his third book 'Kay's Anatomy'

The hilarious first children's book from the UK's bestselling non-fiction author, Adam Kay, was published this week; ‘Kay’s Anatomy’ is now available, and shot straight to number one on the Amazon book charts

Do you ever think about your body and how it all works? Like really properly think about it? The human body is extraordinary and fascinating and, well . . . pretty weird. Yours is weird, mine is weird, your maths teacher's is even weirder.

This book is going to tell you what's actually going on in there, and answer the really important questions, like:

Are bogeys safe to eat? Look, if your nose is going to all that effort of creating a snack, the least we can do is check out its nutritional value. (Yes, they're safe. Chew away!)

And . . .

How much of your life will you spend on the toilet? About a year - so bring a good book. (I recommend this one.)

So sit back, relax, put on some rubber gloves, and let a doctor take you on a poo (and puke) filled tour of your insides. Welcome to Kay's Anatomy*.

*a fancy word for your body. See, you're learning already.

"This first book for children by the former doctor is a survey of the human body with jokes that make the facts more memorable. Not for the po-faced, and with illustrations for every silly analogy, it is like listening to a teacher who makes pupils fall about.”
– The Times


"Totally brilliant!”
– Jacqueline Wilson


"If only this funny and informative book had been around when I was too embarrassed to teach my kids about bodily functions”
– David Baddiel


"Hilarious and fascinating!”
– Konnie Huq


"The sort of book I would have loved as a child”
– Malorie Blackman


Beautifully illustrated by Henry Paker, Kay’s Anatomy is perfect for the inquisitive 7-12 year olds in your life, and available at kaysanatomy.com

Adam Kay publishes his third book 'Kay's Anatomy'