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Discover a new love for the form in a multi-event musical extravaganza at Watershed this January

Musicals don’t always get the best rap. The unabashed all-singing, all-dancing tends to baffle some; the music often dismissed as insubstantial or ‘lite’. But as many know well, musicals are hardly ‘lesser operas’ – underneath the extravagance lies nuanced social commentary and poignant political reflections.

For a whole week this month in Bristol there will be screenings of much-loved musicals accompanied by workshops designed to help you examine the intricacies of musicals and learn how to write your very own. 

Featured in the programme are Broadway classics West Side Story and Hairspray, musicals loved widely for their song and dance, and steeped in racial and identity politics of their respective times. In West Side Story, with music by Leonard Bernstein, themes of immigration and racism are the antagonisers, while in Hairspray, racial segregation in 1960s Baltimore is the hook on which its love stories hang.

The week of events is a collaboration between poetry and spoken word organisation Milk Poetry and online young people’s magazine Rife, as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide season celebrating film musicals.

The two-hour workshops following the showings will be run by spoken word performers and are created specially for aspiring poets (aged 15–24), but with plenty of explanatory material for anyone not familiar with musicals. Participants in the workshops will get to demonstrate their talents in a showcase.

The season will close with a screening of Process, the visual album from UK award-winning artist Sampha, directed by acclaimed video artist Kahlil Joseph (Beyonce: Lemonade), at East Bristol Cinema on Friday 31 January. 

18– 31 January / www.rifemagazine.co.ukwww.facebook.com/MilkPoetry/

Visit www.watershed.co.uk to buy tickets.

Caitlin Bowring

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