‘Hello! I’m at the theatre’, PR prose, toying with Hollywood, dalmatian in translation


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The Independent Online

They’ve got your number

What links Richard Griffiths, James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman? Too tough? I’ll tell you. They have called for plays to be halted so they could berate someone in the audience for using a mobile phone. Probably best, then, if they all stayed away from the show that just opened at the Battersea Arts Centre in London. I Wish I Was Lonely is an exploration of our relationship with “the Gods in our pockets” and comes with an instruction for anyone attending to NOT switch off their mobile phone. The show also encourages theatregoers to call and text each other during the performance.

It is the work of Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe, and is, in the words of Walker, “participatory theatre for people who don’t like participatory theatre”. At one point, Walker and Thorpe ask: “If we threatened to take your phone and wipe all its data, would you leave?” “It’s interesting,” says Walker, “because about half the audience say they would, which is kind of like admitting that their phone is more important to them than being here.”

But Walker is keen to point out that the show is not in any way judgemental. “We’re not saying mobiles are bad, only that technology has advanced faster than our ability to cope with it.”

Don’t believe the hype

Public relations people do a great job and where would we be without them, etc. To celebrate their work, here are five real-life press releases that crossed my desk this week:

1) “Watering cans just got sexy” (Klara’s “Keira” watering can, above).

2) “New erotic novel puts spotlight on domestic violence” (a book, perhaps aptly, called I Sh*t You Not).

3) “With the incubation of spaces, both digital and physical, our aim is to foster compelling movements” (the Design Hotels website).

4) “The collection is a new micro-environment, a scenography which comes to life through materials, functionality and forms” (the Se furniture collection).

5) “Cameron’s kitchen style goes viral” (Kenwood kitchen appliances).

Block busters!

The process of turning toys into films can be traced back to Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977). Since then we’ve had Bratz: The Movie, Transformers, My Little Pony: The Movie and so on. None, though, has seen quite the success of The Lego Movie. Which means every toy manufacturer in the world is currently contemplating the suitability of its product for the big screen. Many have had plans in development hell for decades, all are being dusted off and reconsidered. So, what are the blockbusters we can expect to see in 2015 and beyond? Universal’s live-action Barbie film might finally see the light of day. As might the Hungry Hippos animation. Most intriguing, though, is Sony Pictures’ Monopoly: The Movie, with Ridley Scott at the helm. If Hasbro ever gets to turning everyone’s favourite word game into a film, can this column offer the following anagrammatic title: Scrabble: Eh, Motive.

Answers on a postcard

The RCA’s Secret sale celebrates its 20th birthday this year. As usual, prospective art collectors will pay £50 for a postcard-sized work of art that could be by someone established (Grayson Perry, Jeremy Deller and Zaha Hadid) or might be the work of an RCA student or graduate. The works are available to view – without knowing who did what, of course – from 22 March, but one of this year’s established contributors has a point to make about the whole venture.

Pete Fowler is known for his Monsterism series of toys and merchandise. When asked why he has donated work for this year’s event, he says: “It’s a cause I’m happy to help as support of the arts is under attack and we must counter attack!” Right on! Changing the world, one postcard at a time. 

If we could talk to the animals

From Doctor Dolittle to Up we have long been obsessed by the idea that we might, one day, be able to converse with our four-legged friends. Well, that day just got closer with the news from the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery that its No More Woof device will be available soon. In fact, prototypes of No More Woof – which translates dogs’ brain waves into basic statements such as “I’m hungry” – can be pre-ordered now (from $65/£39) for delivery in April (nomorewoof.com). And while we’re on the subject, you might want to pair your No More Woof with a device called Petchatz, which allows you to “connect and interact with your pet” wherever you may happen to be ($349, petchatz.com). Insert your own “barking mad” joke here.

The name of this band is ...

Indie bands in need of a name, look no further. A distinctly NSFW (that’s Not Safe For Work for the uninitiated) website went live recently that purports to show, in real time, what people are searching for on a variety of pornographic websites. Fit-for-print favourites from a cursory – for work purposes, naturally – look last week include: Masculinity Fail, Naughty Bookworms, Pokemon Hentai, Son Loser, Ghost Parent, Bust Sway, Horse Hung, and Granny Voyeur. You’re welcome.

For no rhyme or reason

Another in an increasingly regular series of limericks based on recent events:

All those flashes and cameras and staring

To walk Oscar’s red carpet takes daring

But here is a primer

For any first-timer

Be sure to know “who” you are wearing