Lancaster’s Cultural Scene

Lancaster University Theatre Group (LUTG)

If you were a mainstay on your secondary school’s annual play and musical scene then you might well want to establish yourself here in Lancaster. You may be under the impression that doing so is a sideways step; nothing could be further from the truth.

LUTG shuns the secondary school days, where direction was taken from staff  and the choice was ‘this show in the school hall or nothing’.

There are three productions a term, sometimes four. You may be chosen for one, or you may have a choice of up to three, in which case you’ll feel less like a one trick Adam Woodyatt and more like a hurdle bounding Angela Lansbury. You might say ‘I’m crap at acting though’. By whose standards? In a single term, LUTG produced a Georgian farce (The Rivals), a Victorian horror (Dorian Gray) and a Thatcherian drama (Road); three very different productions which required three very different styles of performance; here you can find your theatrical calling. If you are pants at performing then direction, production, stage management, creative assistance and scenery hauling is another circle just waiting to be expanded. No-one is restricted to performing in the same venue, either; you’ll flit between the intimacy of Dukes DT3 and the black emptiness of the Nuffield Theatre, amongst many, many other spaces.

LUTG gives you the tools to construct your own boards, but its publicity officer Matthew Bosley is keen to point you in the direction of other rich, explorable worlds. “We’ve taken successful shows to the Edinburgh Fringe and participated in the National Student Drama Festival. LUTG is essential to get stuck in to for someone aspiring towards a career in theatre.”

To join, sign up at Fresher’s fair. If you miss it, membership can still be paid at the first set of auditions, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday the 8th and 9th of October in Furness Foyer, 12-6 PM.

In Michaelmas term, LUTG will be staging the following productions –

Woyzeck – Georg Buchner. 9th – 11th December.

Frozen – Bryony Lavery. 18th – 19th November.

Punk Rock – Simon Stephens. 2nd-3rd December.

A Little Night Music – Stephen Sondheim. 25th-26th November.

– Ronnie Rowlands

Lancaster University Comedy Institute (LUCI)

D’you remember in’t old days when you had Lancaster University Comedy Institute? Their abbreviation was ‘LUCIFA’! Whatweralltharrabout?!

Now called ‘LUCI’, Lancaster University’s comedy society only sprung up in 2009, but they have already elicited gales of helpless laughter from those present at their Fylde bar gigs and those listening to ‘Talk of the Devil’ and ‘Rigged’ on Bailrigg FM. Their radio presence shows that they don’t limit themselves to stand-up comedy. A typical LUCI meeting, which takes place in Pendle TV room focuses on writing workshops for the first hour (6-7 PM) in which members are encouraged to write sketches for ‘Funny Stuff What We Wrote’, which will be recorded and broadcast on Bailrigg FM this year. The second hour is devoted to the writing and practicing of stand-up comedy, where members have the chance to exhibit their funnies for criticism and appraisal in preparation for the week of the gig.

Last year, LUCI was rapidly finding its feet. Now that it’s found them, the society promises that this year they’ll be staging bi-weekly stand-up shows. They’re well advertised, free to attend and free to perform in, and it’d be a great disservice on all our parts if we didn’t offer LUCI the support they deserve. Again, don’t let fear of not being funny introduce ambiguity about joining; One of LUCI’s brightest talents Ryan McCann, who has gone on to reach the semi-finals of the Laughing Horse New Comedy competition and now hosts ‘The Lock In’ with Tom Dransfield on Bailrigg FM, said; “I used to watch a load of comedy in little clubs and would sometimes leave feeling I could do better. But it’s such a daunting thought and I never plucked up the courage. Being in the society got me to sit down and do some writing, before that I’d never actually put pen to paper”.

If comedy is a mountain you want to scale, then look out for the ‘comedy’ sign at fresher’s fair and tuck in.

Bailrigg FM

What began in 1968 under the eagerness of two physics students wanting to trump York’s radio output has ended up as an award winning, well tenured student radio station. Bailrigg FM broadcasts a full schedule 24/7, but with departing students comes empty slots that need filling. So long as the station’s rules are followed, hosts have free reign over the content of their shows. Output has included music showcases, live band sessions, roundtable discussions, talk shows, topical news chat and sketch hours.

Upon joining (for three pounds at fresher’s fair or the station, situated in Furness college), the station offers students the chance to pursue areas of expertise within journalism, management, web design, technical engineering and, of course, radio hosting. The station operates under a committee elected on a termly basis, and members can oversee or have a hand in news, sport and music content, or learn the technical intricacies of radio and take delight in mastering the sound desk.

With close links to LUSU, Bailrigg FM is amongst those first on the scene to cover the FTO elections (documenting developments and holding interviews with every candidate for a role) and the Roses, Lancaster & York’s annual sporting face-off. Depending on where they are hosted, the latter gives members the chance to travel to York and watch the games (whilst reporting on them, of course – nothing’s free). Besides York, Bailrigg FM has its finger on the pulse, and has always endeavoured to do something special for a special occasion. A 24-hour show was broadcast for Red Nose Day, the studio was abandoned for the LICA building launch and the Bailrigg FM festival, and more will surely happen this year.

There are very few chances to be heard on the airwaves, so this is one that should be jumped at. To secure a show, contact the programme controller (whose address can be found on www.bailriggfm.co.uk), arrange a training slot and get scouring your record collection.

ULMS – Lancaster University Music Society

Have you turned up at University with a musical instrument buried amongst your pots, pans and other pointless paraphernalia? Then The University of Lancaster Music Society – or ULMS to its friends – is the society for you. It’s one of the oldest, largest (they have over 200 members), most active societies on campus and has quite a pedigree when it comes to nurturing aspiring musicians. They welcome musicians of all abilities with open arms, so if you’re even slightly musically inclined, a trip to visit them at the Freshers’ fair should be on your itinerary.

ULMS itself is an extremely diverse society, composed as it is of several major ensembles – so whatever instrument you play you’re sure to find a home. “We’ve got six major ensembles at ULMS”, Rhian Davies, ULMS’ President, told SCAN, “the Orchestra, the Brass Band, the Choir, the Big Band, the Swing Group, and the Wind Band. We’ve also got our own Conductors Union and some smaller musical groups that come together for specific occasions.” It’s these ensembles that have made ULMS such a force to be reckoned with, both on campus and nationally. They regularly perform all over Lancashire, as well as participating at competitions across the UK. Last year they went one further and helped develop an entirely new inter-University brass band competition. Rehearsals for all of the ensembles begin in week one and usually take place in the Great Hall; see the ULMS Facebook – www.facebook.com/iloveulms – for more information.

ULMS are also notable (they’re notable for pretty much everything they do, to be quite honest) for the quality of their live performances. These concerts are frequently feted as being some of the best student-led events on campus, and they usually include a good selection – if not all – of the ensembles, so there’s a bit of something for everyone. Even if your musical talent is roughly on par with that of a quadriplegic gnat and you don’t plan on joining the society as a musician, you’d be foolish not to attend at least one of their concerts over the course of the year. You can start as you (should) mean to go on by getting yourself along to their first, free performance on the 16th October in the Great Hall, which will be followed by a social. Socials, incidentally, are yet another thing that ULMS are well known for (bloody show offs) –fancy dress film nights, Christmas carol bar-crawls… they do pretty much everything short of drinking wine out of their tubas. Come to think of it, they probably do that as well. But you’re just going to have to join to find out, aren’t you?

LA1:TV

Bad television seems to have become as vital a part of a student’s diet as dodgy takeaway pizza and Sainsbury’s value vodka. Last year, my housemates’ choice of TV revolved almost entirely around repeats of James Bond movies and dubious looking shopping channels. Paul Becque, the somewhat deranged face of BidUp.TV, became a regular fixture of the household and housemates would frequently stay up until midnight in the hope of catching one his infamous ‘Mega Drops’. He became a sort of friend to us, really; a friend who insisted on selling us over-priced calendars that featured ‘literally every month!’, but a friend nonetheless.

Being a second year will make you slightly deranged like that. However, I implore, nay, beg of you not to succumb to Mr Becque’s unique ‘charms’. Instead, turn on Lancaster’s very own internet TV channel, LA1:TV, and start to get involved in making thought-provoking, entertaining TV yourself. After undergoing a radical rebranding over the summer (returning students may remember its previous iteration, LUTube), LA1 is back and, quite literally better than ever. “The aim of LA1:TV is to produce television content for Lancaster’s students, by Lancaster Students”, said Will McDonnagh, LA1’s station manager. “We want to make programmes that you want to watch, whilst teaching our members some great skills.”

If you’re interested in developing skills for a career in TV that LA1 is the best way to do it. The society will educate new members in all the arcane arts of the moving picture – if you want to present a news show, direct or act in a drama, produce a sports show or even operate the cameras, then LA1 can teach you how to do it. There are plenty of shows to get involved with too, as LA1 caters to an extremely wide range of interests. The Soundbooth is LA1’s new music venture that will be recording live sessions with the bands on campus, and The Scene will be previewing and reviewing the latest cinema releases. You can even get involved on a night out – SugarTV will see a diary room chair installed in The Sugarhouse – but try not to be too drunk when you decide you want to appear on TV, or you may regret your night out even more than usual in the morning…
“When else in life are you going to be able to say ‘I made my own TV Show’?”, McDonnagh told me; and he’s completely right. Get involved and flourish or miss out and end up hosting late night TV shopping shows. It’s up to you!

Lancaster Music Library

Lancaster probably has one of the best hyper-local music scenes in the country when you consider the sheer amount of original music that gets written and played on our little hill, but unfortunately many of the bigger acts tend to ignore us (it’s probably too cold up here for all those pampered superstars). Nevertheless, there is a ray of hope in the shape of what is probably the most unlikely place you’ll ever hear live music is Lancaster’s Library. Yes, really. I know, I was shocked too. This isn’t the University Library, mind, although I can’t help but imagine that some sort of secret rave in the stacks would probably be pretty fantastic too.

Anyhow, I digress. The venue is part of the Get It Loud in Libraries initiative, of which Lancaster’s library is the flagship. And although it sounds a little weird at first, it really is the nicest place you could ever watch a gig. The combination of no overt corporate sponsorship (we just have to hope it doesn’t become the 02 Library any time soon…) and the unique character of the library creates an incredibly friendly and entirely independent atmosphere in which to watch live music. The bar that sells cans of fizzy pop an artfully decorated cupcakes in place of Fosters and Walkers and the fact that you are surrounded by books only serves to add to this atmosphere.

But the real key to their success is quite simple; they pick briliiant bands. The indie folksters Slow Club and quirky songstress Emmy the Great will have played there by the time you read this, and later in the term the likes of Mazes, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and CSS will be turning up in to roll up and gleefully flout the library rules on noise. They also have an uncanny knack of picking artists who are teetering on the edge of mainstream popularity. Ellie Goulding, Pulled Apart By Horses and Katy B have all played there in the not so distant past; three artists who have now gone on to achieve phenomenal success. So if you want to see someone who will quite literally be the next big thing in some absolutely lovely surroundings then you really have no reason not to head down there.

And yes, it’s in a Library. I’m not kidding.

Live at LICA

“So”, I hear you cry, “what is this Live at LICA business and how can I get myself involved?” Well first things first, LICA stands for the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts and is pronounced ‘like – a’ and definitely not ‘lick – a’, (in the North that’s something else entirely). But we shall start as we mean to go on which is on a positive and informative note; Live at LICA are very, very awesome.

Technically, Live at LICA is the combined organisation for the Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster International Concerts Series and the Peter Scott Gallery. Located on the top end of campus the swanky LICA building shines like beacon attracting art, theatre and music magpies to flock and worship the contemporary arts scene. Put it this way; Carlsberg don’t do arts buildings, but if they did they would probably look something LICA this (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Once you have immersed yourself within the building and its surroundings you are sure to discover that it is not only the sparkly exterior which is enticing, but the vast array of upcoming events which are laid out like a culturally rich banquet. Some particular goodies for the autumn season include the darkly delicious Franko B and Rachel Goodyear exhibition, the acclaimed Schubert Ensemble and internationally renowned company Reckless Sleepers, who are bringing their touring production of Schrodinger to your doorstep.

Whereas twitter can be arguably a place for people you can’t shut up, even when they’re by themselves, Live at LICA’s account is informative and promises never to bombard you with tweets telling you they’re “just eating a cream cake. LOL.,” Honest, so visit www.twitter.com/liveatlica. Also, for more information on future tasty cultural treats check out www.liveatlica.org as well as www.facebook.com/ilovelica to keep you in the loop, on the straight and narrow and down with the kids. Init.

 

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