Daily Archives: November 19, 2019

Newly approved cystic fibrosis treatment offers promise – Midland Daily News

Posted: November 19, 2019 at 11:49 am

Omar P. Haqqani, for the Daily News

Newly approved cystic fibrosis treatment offers promise

On October 21, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new therapy that could improve the lives of thousands of people living with cystic fibrosis (CF). The first triple combination therapy has been made available to treat patients with the most common cystic fibrosis mutation. Trikafta is approved for patients twelve years and older with cystic fibrosis that have at least one F508del mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. There are approximately 2,000 known mutations of the CFTR gene, but the most common mutation is the F508del mutation. It is estimated to represent 90% of the cystic fibrosis population. Trikafta is very effective on this mutation. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) calls it, "the single greatest therapeutic advancement in the history of CF."

What is cystic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis mutations prevent CFTR proteins to become functional and that prevents the movement of chloride to the cell surface in the body. Chloride is an element of salt and when its movement is hindered, mucus in various organs becomes thick and sticky. The improperly developed mucus causes germs and bacteria to remain in the lungs. This results in infection, inflammation and other complications, including respiratory failure.

CF also presents a danger in the pancreas. The mucus causes digestive enzymes not to function properly, resulting in malnutrition and poor growth, due to the prevention of the release of digestive enzymes. Mucus can also cause liver disease by blocking the bile duct. It may also alter the ability for men to father children.

In the U.S., more than 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis and more than 70,000 are diagnosed worldwide. More than 50% of them are age 18 or older.

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis

Symptoms of CF appear in proportion to damage to particular organs. The most common and noticeable symptoms occur when the lungs become damaged. Lung infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis, along with wheezing, or shortness of breath are frequent symptoms. Additionally, persistent coughing may occur and often produce phlegm.

When CF affects other organs, symptoms may include salty tasting skin, poor weight gain, despite a good appetite, and infertility. Other symptoms may be bulky stools or problems with bowel movement.

Diagnosis and treatment

CF is a genetic disease. 75% of cases are diagnosed before a child is two years old. As with the symptoms, treatment is focused on the organs exhibiting the most impact from the mutation. In looking at specific symptoms, a physician may prescribe airway clearance, pancreatic enzyme supplements and individualized physical fitness programs. These therapies have often proven effective.

Nasal inhalers that include antibiotics to keep nasal passages clear are used in airway clearance therapy. To improve the absorption of various nutrients, pancreatic enzyme supplement capsules may be prescribed, along with multivitamins.

The available therapies that target the defective protein are treatment options for some patients with cystic fibrosis, but many patients have mutations that are ineligible for treatment. The new therapy is a combination of three drugs that target the defective CFTR protein. It helps the protein made by the CFTR gene mutation function more effectively.

The prescribing information for Trikafta includes warnings related to elevated liver function tests (transaminases and bilirubin), the use at the same time with other products that are inducers or inhibitors of another liver enzyme called Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A), and the risk of cataracts. Patients and their caregivers should speak with a health care professional about these risks and any medicines they take before starting treatment.

Patients with cystic fibrosis should also speak with their physicians about having tests performed to understand which gene mutations they have.

To learn more about cystic fibrosis, its symptoms and treatment, log on to vascularhealthclinics.org.

Ask Dr. Haqqani

If you have questions about your cardiovascular health, including heart, blood pressure, stroke lifestyle and other issues, we want to answer them. Please submit your questions to Dr. Haqqani by e-mail at questions@vascularhealthclinics.org.

Dr. Omar P. Haqqani is the chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland: http://www.vascularhealthclinics.org

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Reg CF Funding Portals: 50 in Total with Several Exits and Several Additions. Is Reg CF Ready to Scale? – Crowdfund Insider

Posted: at 11:49 am

Periodically, Crowdfund Insider revisits the Reg CF sector of online capital formation. Reg CF or Regulation Crowdfunding may have garnered most of the attention from popular media but really there are three individual crowdfunding exemptions including Reg A+ and Reg D 506c.

Under Reg A+ you must file an extensive offering circular with the entire offering process costing around $300,000, according to one estimate. But Reg A+ enables an issuer to raise up to $50 million from both accredited and non-accredited investors.

Under Reg D 506c, you may raise an unlimited amount of money but only from accredited investors. This is the most popular crowdfunding exemption and Reg D (5o6c and 5o06b) is a trillion-dollar market.

Issuers using Reg CF may only raise $1.07 million and must utilize a FINRA regulated Funding Portal or a broker-dealer. Due to the low cap on funding, frequently issuers will do a side-by-side Reg D 506c offering to circumvent the extremely low amount you may raise.

Last time CI revisited the number of approved Funding Portals was in July. Since that time, several new funding portals have joined the approved list and several have exited.

Regarding Reg CF funding portal exits two more have departed this sector of crowdfunding.

EquityBender based in Charleston, South Carolina, is no more. The domain just indicates a private site.

Seeding VR is the other exit. As the name indicates, Seeding VR was targeting the virtual reality sector. Apparently, it even attempted to launch a crowdfunding platform in the UK. Today, both domains simply time out.

This brings the total of funding portal exits to 12 with at least two the direct result of some time of enforcement action: UFP LLC and DreamFunding Marketplace.

The three additions to the list bring the total to 50 FINRA approved funding portals with one in question as Fundpaas has long been on the suspended list and is expected to join the exits.

The three recent additions include:

Fundopolis has yet to list its first offering but appears ready to launch its first issuer. According to its website, Fundopolis expects to also enable issuers to raise capital under both Reg A+ and Reg D as well.

Infrashares is described as follows:

InfraShares is a crowdfunding platform that pools investment from individuals into large sums of development capital for critical infrastructure projects (roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, water systems, renewable energy and schools).

This platform is utilizing Reg D as well. Currently, there are two issuers posted on the site -both under Reg D 506c.

Prospect Equity does not appear to have a live site as of yet.

As Crowdfund Insider reported in October, Reg CF has raised over $300 million in securities offerings since the exemption became actionable in May of 2016, providing capital to over 2000 campaigns. This is according to a report by Crowdfund Capital Advisors.

Overall, Reg CF can be called a success as it has helped smaller companies raise much-needed growth capital while creating new jobs. But multiple shortcomings hobble the exemption thus undermining its potential success.

First, the fund cap is widely recognized as far too low.

Average seed rounds in the US stand at about $2.2 million typically using Reg D. A good number raise much more.

In the UK, the most robust crowdfunding market in the world, issuers may raise as much money as they want. A prospectus requirement at 8 million creates a virtual speedbump for issuers looking to raise more than that amount.

The most successful Reg CF Funding Portal, Wefunder, stated earlier this year that limitations to the exemption may make the exemption an option of last resort.

Republic, another leader in the Reg CF sector, published a letter providing the perspective from issuers that have utilized Reg CF to raise growth capital. The letter, signed by 23 different founders and CEOs of early-stage firms, indicated that Reg CF has its benefits but suffers from serious limitations.

Every industry participant has voiced their concerns to both Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). While some policymakers have supported common-sense updates, since 2016, little has been accomplished.

And it is not just the funding cap that undermines Reg CF.

A report by the SEC from this past summer touched upon many of the issues.

Common sense changes that allow for special purpose vehicles (SPVs) that safeguard smaller investors while making it simpler to gain access to higher-quality deals is a no brainer.

There is also the 12g trap that may compel a company to become a reporting company once it has 500 investors. A problem that is antithetical to investment crowdfunding.

The Association of Online Investment Platforms (AOIP), an advocacy group for online capital formation, has posted a position paper with its goals.

So is Reg CF ready to scale? Probably not without some changes to the rules. Many of the larger platforms now have broker dealer licenses and offer other services. Doing enough $1 million deals in a year to cover your costs can be quite difficult.

The SEC is currently going through a regulatory review, as defined by a concept release, which seeks to improve the exemption ecosystem while harmonizing the alphabet soup of rules. This may be the best opportunity the industry has to see some impactful improvements. If not, it will be up to Congress to step up and do the job. Dont hold your breath.

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Hedonism in the neighborhood CCRC? – Guest columns – McKnight’s Long Term Care News

Posted: at 11:48 am

Hedonism isnt necessarily the first term that comes to mind when thinking of senior care communities. Yet the word occasionally appears in research articles that relate to residential and community satisfaction, weaving in psychology, sociology and behavioral sciences.

Let me reflect on two foremost dimensions of satisfaction: pleasantness (hedonic), practicality (utilitarian) and thirdly on probability the governing influence on future changes being considered at and for institutions involved in senior care.

Hundreds of research articles discuss the impediments CCRCs and smaller communities face in attracting seniors from their beloved homes. Five reasons identified by AARP are fairly universal: Physical stress in moving; fear of losing ones independence; anxiety over leaving a community; emotional attachment to a family home; and fear of the unknown.

Depending on the source, 85-90% of seniors wish to remain in their own home. In the U.S., 10,000 people turn age 65 daily. Were lucky, my years in China tell me there the figure there is estimated at 50,000 a day.

That gerontology data influences both older institutions and planning for new senior stand-alone facilities.

But to what degree do we understand the hedonic paradigm as part of a strategy when proposing senior care platforms?

Let me be up front: Disparity in income has been a part of civilization since walking the dusty streets in an ancient Agora. Even socialism cannot diminish that difference.

But todays financially capable middle-aged people seek in retirement the amenities held prior to their senior days. Moving from that desirable environment, for whatever reason, should contain for new elders similar or improved amenities yet not neglect effort given to less financially able seniors.

Altering quickly an older residential structure to include modern touches is not done lightly or rapidly. Few in-place senior institutions have freedom to yearly expand their pleasantness (or hedonism).

Consistently present are encroaching and ever-present impediments. Impelling geographical, economic, governmental, licensing and other factors influence the choice of changing residential options.

Increasingly new senior structures proclaim faultless assurances in structure, physical and programs via marketing announcements. But which sectors within the continuum should be major vectors for the future?

Im undecided; aging and past experiences intrude. Which option? When? Where? What percentage? That is not a cop out. Its my bias, and there is no perfect answer.

Regardless of board decisions and corporate oversight, there must be a degree of new and continuing hedonism linked with minimal savings held by potential residents.

Studies aver there is a correlation between wealth and residing in a continuum of care institution, yet the lack of sufficient funding for many persons is the major detriment for joining a senior-care facility.

Additionally, reading and tallying only online marketing ploys, creature comforts meant as supplements become more dominant than pragmatic services.

Emerging statistics suggest that by their early 70s, 10-15% of todays younger middle-aged Americans will seek residential facilities highly comparable to their current lifestyle. In other words, hedonism and elegance must co-mingle with economically successful private lives of individuals, and the reverse.


There is no doubt that pragmatic economic factors have always been a major influencer of senior care development. But other dominant influences on elder senior residences have multiplied precipitously since I served on the board of a senior care enterprise in the 1960s.

Today, a duality of exterior national, state, county and city factors joins the human internal causes and effects senior residents and future residents. Extensive research on senior communities and people who live in them also has increased and shaped better understanding.

If one accepts todays increasing concern for the hedonic, that desire suggests pragmatic and utilitarian outside criteria should merge in individual residences. Whereas exterior influences affect future senior planning, interior planning criteria are narrower.

A city, for example, determines which criteria its commissions, planners, and other officials consider when approving housing and public residential facilities. Most of these macro criteria may be background noise to interior planning and individual residential units.


Integrating conceptual dimensions of home is a key to creating increasingly important resident satisfaction. What are the semantic parameters that suggest the criteria for a home? Of course any concept of home involves a physical space, a utilitarian structure, and my concept of hedonism subsumed under an environmental platform with which the resident has an attachment. Oversimplified are touchstones as physical, spatial, societal dimensions. In other words, everyone is more comfortable within their national and local culture.

Space, safety and a sense of neighborhood increase loyalty to an institution. While the mission statements of in-place and future residential facilities may not overtly include value-driven terms such as friendliness, their existence matters and should be imbued in future strategies. All wish a retirement complex to be as close to a home ambience as possible.

I support programmatic change, but the impetus for a more home-like feeling could receive added prominence. There must be an improved visual, emotional, hedonic attractiveness as a key part of any utilitarian effort. There should be a mutual intertwining of options, never losing sight of a continuum of care, but with determined support for hedonic inclusion in senior facilities.


Probability is part of simply two dynamics in planning and meeting future senior care trends. Suffice it to say that in the healthcare industry, the onrush of the need for increasing care for seniors will not abate.

Many communities are land-locked, facing rejection of enlarging their horizontal footprints. Four major options exist then for accommodating new needs:

The theory of probabilities affirms no decision will be perfect. But hope that ends with a successful reality is the result of employing confident visions, giving probability a chance at success.

Herbert Hildebrandt Ph.D., Hl.D. is Emeritus Professor of the Ross School of Business, Emeritus Professor of Communion Studies (international) and former VP/Secretary of the University of Michigan. He is one of the founders in 1962 of Glacier Hills, Ann Arbor, MI.

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Josh Glancy: a night of hedonism sounds tempting but I’d rather be tucked up in bed – The Times

Posted: at 11:48 am


The Sunday Times,November 17 2019, 12:01am

Real parties happen rarely nowadays in my life at least. In fact I can count the number of serious, leave-it-all-out-on-the-dancefloor ragers Ive had this year on one hand. With several fingers to spare.

So I was rather pleased when I received an invitation to one last week. It ticked all the boxes: Brooklyn. Costumes. Warehouse. Strange goings-on. Conspicuously late finish. A rare opportunity for what you might call a proper night out.

My friend and I planned to go. We sourced outfits. We dropped our plans into dinner conversation to flaunt our nocturnal glamour. But then it reached 11pm. The night was cold. Dinner was heavy in our bellies. Brooklyn suddenly seemed very far and bed seductively near. You can guess how this went.

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Bilched review coming-of-age teen dramedy with authentic attitude – The Guardian

Posted: at 11:48 am

The energetic Australian indie Bilched touches on subjects familiar to coming-of-age stories including youthful hedonism, awkward sexual encounters and the final days of school. By youthful hedonism I refer specifically to booze guzzling, weed smoking and pill popping: the three essential food groups for experimental teenagers captured in narratives of this ilk, which usually involve somebody falling into a swimming pool sooner or later.

However this Sydney-set feature shot in a tight 21 days isnt all vomit in the punch bowl then pass out in a bush. Theres also a reflective and perhaps even wistful element to it, somewhere beneath the beer stains and stubbed-out spliffs. Not enough to make the drama accessible to a broad demographic, though it was never supposed to be; this film is obviously intended to appeal to the same kind of people it depicts.

One of Bilcheds key authors is among that demographic: the writer and star, Hal Cumpston, penned the script when he was 18, reportedly over a 10-day period. The film was directed by his father, Jeremy Cumpston, who successfully infuses it with a vigour one associates with scallywags decades his junior.

We first encounter Hal as he is in a mad hurry to make a theatre audition, in a frantic introductory scene that reminded me of Nash Edgertons early short film, Deadline. From the get-go Bilched has an invigorating pep and pace, shot with the sort of bling that comes from a resourceful cinematographer in this instance Shane Kavanagh determined not to let fiscal frugality impinge on their ability to create splashy visuals.

The gold standard of cost-effective, cranked-to-11 aesthetic in recent years is director Sean Bakers turbo-charged iPhone-shot drama Tangerine, which makes even well-paced films like Bilched seem listless by comparison. Like Jonah Hills recent retro-flavoured coming-of-age pic, Mid90s, Bilched achieves an interesting aesthetic through Instagram-esque colour grading, coating streetside images with a striking but commonplace visual lacquer.

Hals audition is part of a bookend framing device, though the narrative is more concerned with the protagonists everyday life. His routine includes making wisecracks, talking back to teachers and engaging in schoolyard argy-bargy with frenemy Ella (Holly White). When Ellas father (Rhys Muldoon) leaves her home alone and tells her to not, under any circumstances, have any parties when hes gone well, we know where this is going: straight to the swimming pool and the kids whove had too much to drink.

In this universe the acquisition of alcohol and pot are tasks of monumental significance; historical turning points in which legends are made and/or reputations ruined. The script isnt slick or sly in the way of an adolescence-themed comedy with real wit, such as Superbad. Nor is it entirely sincere as a dramatic character study, like the recent and excellent Eighth Grade.

But Bilched is disciplined and punchy nonetheless, the film-makers demonstrating a reasonably good grasp on how to turn prosaic moments into amusing character-developing sequences. It is endearing in a funny sort of way: you kind of root for the protagonist, but also kind of want him to pipe down and grow up.

Rather than authentic drama, per se, Bilched has authentic attitude, the source of which is Hal Cumpstons distinctive stamp as writer and star. Its hard to say which is more effective: his performance or his script, partly because they are so thoroughly enmeshed.

Coming-of-age movies are more likely than other genres to have unconventional leads. The modern Australian spin on this category of film was spearheaded by a mesmerisingly weird performance from the boisterous and gangly Bruce Spence in the 1971 classic, Stork. Cumpstons performance isnt at that level but he is still is a rare find: grounded in the reality of this world and yet somewhat larger than life.

Its easy to forget his character is an aspiring actor, though it makes sense in hindsight given Hals performative personality and drama-seeking demeanour. Cumpstons presence, behind and in front of the camera, is a reminder that films can still feel fresh and spirited even if they arent particularly original. Despite the youthful hedonism, Bilched has brains and style.

Bilched is in Australian cinemas from 21 November

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Misery, not hedonism, appears to be driving increased drug use among Gen Xers and Boomers – Illicit Trade

Posted: at 11:48 am

Over the past few years, numerous surveys have revealed that Millennials and members of Generation Z are less keen on the consumption of illegal drugs and alcohol than their immediate forebears. In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control and Preventions most recent Youth Risk Behaviour Survey showed that alcohol, drug and cigarette consumption have been falling consistently among American teens for at least the past decade. The study also showed that young people in the US are having less sex. Until recently, similar trends were being observed in the UK, where alcohol and drug consumption among young people have also been following a general downward trend for several years now.

Yet despite this, the number of drug-related deaths in both countries is on the rise. Back in August, data from the UKs Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that drug poisoning deaths rose by 16% in 2018. Last August,the CDC saidthat drug overdoses were estimated to have killed just over 72,280 people in the US in 2017, which represented an increase of some 10% on the previous year. All of this suggests that members of Generation X and Boomers are accounting for a growing proportion of both nations problem drug use and drug-related overdose deaths; a trend that appears to be being borne out both statistically and anecdotally.

Back in 2017, the UKs ONS revealed that people aged between 40 to 49 had the highest rate of drug misuse deaths across England and Wales for the first time ever in 2016. This led to people of that age group being dubbed the Trainspotting generation after the Irvine Welsh novel that was popular during their youth. According to ONS researchers, the emerging trend of older people suffering a higher a number of drug overdose deaths was down to the fact that many addicts in the 40 to 49 age group were beginning to lose lengthy battles with substance abuse habits that might have been begun decades ago due to poor physical and mental health.

In a more recent assessment released this August, the ONS said that people born in the 1960s and 1970s [were] dying from suicide or drug poisoning in greater numbers than any other generation. The ONS said that while the reasons for rising drug and suicide deaths in this age group were complex, a high number of those who lost their lives lived in some of the most deprived parts of England.

While it might be easy to conflate drug problems among Boomers and Generation Xers with the hedonistic times in which they came of age, other studies have also suggested that this might be too simplistic a view. In a paper published in April, researchers at Vanderbilt University in the US state of Tennessee noted that high levels of depression, suicidal ideation, drug use and alcohol abuse identified among middle-aged white Boomers was beginning to impact the youngest members of Generation X. Lauren Gaydosh, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health and Society and Public Policy Studies at Vanderbilt, forecast that midlife mortality may begin to increase across a range of demographic groups, adding: Public health efforts to reduce these indicators of despair should not be targeted toward just rural whites, for example, because were finding that these patterns are generalised across the population.

Earlier this month, new figures published by the UKs National Health Service (NHS) revealed that the number of English pensioners aged over 90 being admitted to hospital after suffering from psychological and behavioural disorders following cocaine use had risen ten-fold over the past decade. This came almost a year after similar data revealed that the number of over-45s in the UK seeking medical attention after suffering serious mental health problems as a result of drug use had risen by 85% over the previous decade. Speaking with the Guardian at the time, Ian Hamilton, Associate Professor of Addiction at the University of York, said: [Older people] are more likely to have had longer drug-using careers, so they will need longer in specialist drug treatment. However, unfortunately treatment services are being directed to offer abstinence-based services rather than maintaining this group on substitute drugs like methadone.

Both ONS studies and the Vanderbilt paper suggest that rising problem drug use and overdose deaths among older people in both the UK and the US have little to do with them being children of the second summer of love or having grown up believing heroin chic was the epitome of cool. Instead, evidence indicates that the growing number of people experiencing problems with drugs in later life appear to be among the most vulnerable in society, suggesting that labelling them with nicknames such as the Trainspotting generation might at the very least be treating the problems they face with undue flippancy.

While it may be the case that some Boomer or Gen X drug users might have been living with a habit for decades, it would seem that many are pushed to use illicit substances as a result of the undesirable life situations in which they have found themselves, and not as part of ill-advised efforts to relive the hedonism of their youth.

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One to watch: Giant Swan – The Guardian

Posted: at 11:48 am

Bristol has long held a reputation as one of the UKs more formidable musical cities from 1970s post-punk pioneers the Pop Group to the 90s trip-hop of Massive Attack. In recent years, forward-thinking artists such as Batu and his Timedance label, as well as producers Hodge & Facta, have been perfecting an incisive gut-punch of a techno sound with regular DIY parties in the city.

And now comes electronic duo Giant Swan. Robin Stewart and Harry Wright met as skateboarding 11-year-olds, and formed guitar band the Naturals, immersing themselves in Bristols local indie scene. Later, formative trips to London clubs such as Corsica Studiosturned them on to the hedonism of the dancefloor, and they soon began to experiment with analogue setups, exchanging instruments for electronics.

Renowned for their shirtless, intensely energetic live performances, Giant Swans eponymous debut album plays like the distilled essence of their onstage act, featuring distortion, manipulated vocals and an ever-present, tub-thumping bass. Its music that implies chaos but is carefully engineered to engender an effervescent freedom in its listeners. As Stewart said in an interview: This is why we started doing it: because its fun. Long may it continue.

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Posted: at 11:47 am

An election candidate for Glenrothes has been dropped by the Brexit Party after homophobic tweets declaring war on LGBT+ people were discovered at the weekend.

Victor Farrell will now stand as an independent, but in a statement issued today, he has doubled-down on his vile hatred, describing the LGBT people of Fife as that sinful community.

The man who would hope to represent Glenrothes at Westminster said in relation to LGBT people:

They are not my community. Let them live how they please, do as they want, it means nothing to me. I do not represent them.

The posts surfaced after local SNP MSP, Jenny Gilruth, tweeted links to posts by Mr Farrell on Facebook from 2017, including a post which describes him as launching a war against LGBT people.

She said: Look at the state of the Brexit Party candidate standing in Glenrothes crusading against lesbians, rampant youths and all those without God in their lives.

But the self-proclaimed fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christian has defended his statements, claiming his right to free speech is being undermined.

After criticising young people and saying they are running headlong into hedonism, he goes further, saying he is against extending the vote to those aged 16 as to have young people rule over you is a sign of national catastrophe and judgement according to the Bible.

In his ranting statement, he goes on to say I represent that vast group of much-silenced people who still hold these Biblically rooted views, and are sick to death of having other peoples views violently imposed upon them and also having their freedom of speech removed so as not to be able to contradict them.

Seems the only thing Mr Farrell is not so enlightened upon is his hypocrisy.

His full statement is below:

Five candidates are hoping to secure your vote in Glenrothes on 12th December:

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BWW Interview: Alexander Wright Talks THE GREAT GATSBY at Immersive LDN – Broadway World

Posted: at 11:47 am

Oliver Towse in The Great Gatsby

Alexander Wright has just moved his immersive version of The Great Gatsby into the newly refurbished Immersive LDN in Mayfair. We got a chance to ask him what makes a great immersive show, how to take care of the wellbeing of the audience, and his thoughts on the fascination surrounding the Jazz Age.

How and when did you fall in love with theatre?

I think I've always loved theatre, I've always loved music, and I've always loved books - I've always enjoyed being whisked away into a story. I was dragged into a production of Annie when I was 11 because my sister was in it. Then at school, I ended up directing a production of Jim Cartwright's Road, as our only drama teacher was off, and I was hooked.

When did you decide you wanted to get into immersive theatre? Was it something you personally enjoyed?

It's just always made more sense to me than asking an audience to sit in the dark for two and a half hours and to ignore them. It's a really weird social convention. It's far more normal to include an audience within the world and within the narrative. Of course, not all stories should be told in an immersive way, but I think our traditional understanding of what a 'theatre' looks like is really pretty weird.

Do you approach frontal shows differently from immersive ones?

Honestly, I've never made a 'traditional' show. I've made lots of storytelling shows for the back rooms of pubs, or raucous shows for people's gardens, or site-specific shows for loads of brilliant places. Maybe one day it will feel right to tell a certain story in a fourth-walled theatre, but that day and that story hasn't arrives yet.

What's the most important thing to remember when making immersive theatre?

I think always asking how the audience sit within the story - the audience should always be actively present in the story. And, in some ways, that's all immersive work is - putting an audience into the middle of the story. If we forget about them, then it won't work.

How do you make it feel "real"?

We make it feel real by creating real intentions and emotional drives. Pretty much all stories are to do with people, and people wanting or needing or losing or gaining things. So, for us, it's about working with brilliant actors who can make all those things feel real, then we as audience will feel that too.

The recent increase in immersive shows has sparked a conversation on the wellbeing of audience and performers, as well as some concerns relating to safety and comfort - how do you approach those kinds of issues?

It goes without saying - or maybe it needs saying more - that everyone should feel happy and well and safe when they're at work. In our instance, an immersive world is our workplace. So it's our job to make sure that actors, audience, production and everyone else can spend time in those worlds together without anything going wrong.

The main thing is trying to measure people's behaviour, so that everyone knows the rules of the world. And then, of course, we have to put in lots of different ways to help if that doesn't go right. We are constantly developing our safeguarding policies and putting more things in place to help look after everyone.

Why do you think Gatsby has been so successful?

There's obviously an alchemy that we weren't expecting. We made the show to run for four weeks in an empty pub in York over Christmas in 2015, and the show is still going from strength to strength, which is amazing.

I think The Great Gatsby is an amazing world to step into. We're lucky to be a part of a boom in immersive and interactive theatre and arts, to be making work at a point where audiences want to step outside the traditional show-watching modes. But I think the alchemy of incredible story, brilliant actors and adventurous audience has created a really special production.

Do you think there's a sort of fascination around Fitzgerald's material?

Yes. Fitzgerald creates visceral narratives in a wild moment in history. The 1920s in New York was a huge time of revolution - some good and some bad. The time gave rise to commercialism, capitalism, materialism, advertising, and celebrity. It also gave rise to social liberation, to jazz, to hedonism and a wilder society.

At the centre of his stories are glorious and tortured people - we love them and hate them in equal measure, they are magic and tragic in equal measure. We do, as a modern society, fetishise the Jazz Age - a term Fitzgerald coined - because I think we see a lot of ourselves, a lot of our wants and desires, amplified in those stories.

Giving away as little as possible, what happens over the course of the night?

A lot! All the audience arrive at one of Jay Gatsby's infamous parties. From that point on, the story divides into multiple parallel narratives, which interweave, cross over and collide. There's a host of parties, dangerous liaisons, secret meetings, confessionals and intrusions. In some ways, The Great Gatsby is a beautiful love story, in other ways a hero-breaking tragedy. We play out a host of narratives across myriad spaces in our beautiful Gatsby Mansion.

How would you describe the show?

I describe the show as interactive, immersive, and narrative-led. Everything is always moving chronologically forwards, the story driving on across the whole building.

All the characters know the audience is there the whole time - sometimes this is great if a character wants to host a party, and sometimes it's super hard if there's a private moment that's forced into being public. It's a big explosion of Fitzgerald's incredible dark and sparkling world.

Has it changed since you first premiered it?

In some ways, it's changed hugely - the scale, the production value, the nuance and detail are constantly developing. But in other ways, the heart and soul of the show is the same as when we started: to create a unique experience for an audience inside Fitzgerald's towering and thrilling world.

What can audiences expect from it?

Some damn good Charleston, a cocktail or two, secret meetings, scandal, lost loves, finest romances, heart to hearts, hedonism and hope across a remarkably designed venue.

Why should they come?

There's an invitation from Jay Gatsby waiting for you - why wouldn't you come?

The Great Gasby runs at Immersive LDN until 31 May, 2020

Photos courtesy of Sam Taylor and Helen Maybanks

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BWW Interview: Alexander Wright Talks THE GREAT GATSBY at Immersive LDN - Broadway World

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The Crowns season 3 is an astonishing achievement – National Herald

Posted: at 11:47 am

This could have something to do with Ms Colmans innate personality. Ive always found her conveying an intellectual anxiety , a kind of constant bewildered self-questioning , that is not quite what the Queen is meant to convey.

I though Helena Bonham Carters Margaret to be a much more curvy character and accomplished performance, although much of her notorious hedonism seem like gestures of defiance against a destiny that placed her at No.2 in British royalty(like Asha Bhosles writhing scandalous cabaret songs) .Bonham-Carteer nails the character.

But the real revelation of Season 3 is Josh OConnor. As the slouching, anguished, overshadowed heir-apparent Josh confirms he is the finest young British actor we have today. He brings to his royal role a sense of looming tragedy underscored by a strong sense of self-preservation.

The performances are all so staggeringly hued, its hard to not feel for all of them. The narrative gives each of the occupants at Buckingham Palace a chance to emerge from the edifying shadows where history has placed them.

I specially liked Jason Watkins Harold Wilson. Watkins imbues the British prime minister with a sense of earthy warmth to counter the excess of royal stiff-upper-lip service that he must negotiate every time he visits the Queen.

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The Crowns season 3 is an astonishing achievement - National Herald

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