Sunday, 31 March 2013

Snapshots From The Bible WK13. Luke 24:v1-8. The Resurrection.

Luke 24: 1-8

 ‘1: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. 2: And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3: but when they went in they did not find the body. 4: While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; 5: and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6: Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7: that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." 8: And they remembered his words, 9: and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.’

Easter Sunday- time to consider the story of Jesus’ resurrection; central to the Christian Faith.

If we regard God as the almighty and omnipotent power we should have no problem in believing this story. The point about God is that He is free to do anything He chooses and will use means that we are able to relate to in order to draw us to Him. The Resurrection is perfectly credible considering that almighty powers are beyond our understanding; therefore the Son of God is clearly capable of rising from the dead to fulfil God’s word as revealed in prophecies of old. To us, revival from stone dead after 3 days is impossible however the power of God makes all things possible so who are we to discredit this story without any real evidence to the contrary? 

Living in modern Western society we require a great deal of understanding and imagination to even relate to the idea of people being put to death on a cross, let alone all the other details of this special event. However, we know from history that many really cruel things happened that are shocking to us-  Roman gladiators killed each other for sport, slaves were treated incredibly cruelly, depicted recently in the film ‘Django,’ ethnic cleansing was horrendous and widespread and barbaric goings on were commonplace as reviewed in the Horrible Histories,’.

The difference here is that one person, Jesus, was betrayed, ganged up on and put to death in a cruel fashion for the good of all mankind. In some ways it makes no sense and in others, perfect sense, depending on your views and thoughts. If I am correct, God was always 3 in 1- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That in itself is somewhat surprising as we would initially consider God to be just one power, one component yet we humans have been given 3 components; body, mind and soul without which we would not be able to function, so all things considered, this makes sense.  

What form Jesus took as God’s Son before His birth as a human we do not know, neither do we know the issues He faced upon becoming independent in this manner, except that He had to be obedient to His human parents treating them with respect, thereby taking a subservient role.  

What we do know is that Jesus made the choice to carry out this phenomenal sacrifice and was resigned to it as opposed to embracing it on His own behalf. His distress was obvious when acknowledging God’s will and He chose to do what He knew to be right despite having the power to walk away. That is a great lesson for us in times of pain and challenge. 

What do we get from all this? Grace. Eternal grace in the form of acceptance into God’s kingdom as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice.  We are told that we just have to believe, accept and ask for forgiveness of our sins in order to accept this gift. This is where our personal faith and philosophies come in, so to one and all regardless of personal belief, have a Happy Easter! 

Jaz McKenzie
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Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday~ an alternative point of view!

I do hope that no-one will take offense as this is simply my point of view and I respect other people’s religious beliefs and opinions as being equally valid.

Today is a very special day in the Christian calendar, central to Christians religious beliefs; their entire philosophy in fact. Without Good Friday the Christian Faith as it stands today would not exist. I was brought up in the Church of England, migrated to the Baptist Church for a while following which, over the past few years, I have developed my view of faith, existence, the after-life and so forth which does not exactly tick traditional boxes however I am sure it fits in somewhere!

For this reason I will say that I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God and accept all that it stands for however, I do not believe that God only provided the one approved way to heaven for a small group of people at the expense of the majority. God created so much diversity in this world that He must have ‘inclusion’ and not ‘exclusion’ policies in place, metaphorically speaking!

There are so many religions within our world and every true follower of each religion genuinely believes that theirs is the only God given religion, effectively meaning that some believe everyone else needs to convert to their religion or they will not be saved - resulting in eternal damnation.

Here are a couple of the issues I have difficulty understanding, leading to my reasoning:

  • How can a God who is love possibly comprise Himself by condemning billions of righteous people to hell simply because they followed the ‘wrong’ religion?

  • Every religion has converts. Surely if one religion really was the prime God given religion, people would not convert elsewhere. I imagine that if people were practicing the one and only true religion, God would ensure they stayed there and not allow them to compromise themselves. God created many races, each race comprised of a myriad personalities that have individual requirements including the way that they view God, life and the afterlife. I think that God, having a generous nature, provided for all through creating different ways to reach Him.

How many times is there really only one correct way to do something? There are even different ways of approaching the same mathematical calculations. One and one make two however you can choose whether to line up the bricks horizontally, vertically or on top or one another in order to do the calculation! Later on we don’t even need to use objects, we learn a whole new method called mental calculations. The point is, the end result remains the same although the method used is subject to variation.

Let’s give thanks for today and for the way God blesses us on a regular basis regardless of what we may actually deserve. Grace is an incredible gift and worthy of the deepest appreciation. Have a very blessed Good Friday.

Jaz McKenzie

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Haters~ Don’t you love ‘em!!!

As a matter of fact, NO!  I recently saw yet another Facebook status on the subject of haters and wondered… WHY? Given that there were no clues, I thought that maybe it was just a general remark to keep up the Facebook viewing figures, or possibly that person had recently experienced problems with one or more people.  Either way the subject comes around every so often, it’s a part of life so how do we deal with it?
There is only one way that I choose to deal with haters, or anyone else who intentionally sets out to upset me… WALK AWAY.  There is a very common expression that I have heard repeatedly… ‘ I love haters because they inspire me to work harder and achieve my dreams.’  NO… the thought of building an empire inspired by hatred does not appeal in the slightest. Why would you allow someone like that to affect your actions? Gloating with success is not attractive either. Yes, be inspired and work hard- but just do it! Do it because you want to prove something to yourself, to be the best you can be, to bring a sense of pride to your families and friends, to show all of your supporters, sponsors, colleagues that they were right to believe in you- and especially as evidence of your God given gifts and talents.
Haters ooze hatred towards you and they often try to draw in others to affirm their point of view. For that reason they are not worth the airspace and certainly not worth any form of retaliation! All that happens when we speak or retaliate is that we fill our mind with a strong negative vibe which will then be transmitted back into the universe. This process interferes with our feel good factor and makes us susceptible to more negative experiences. It is simply not worth it.  On top of that, how satisfied do you think a hater will feel if they know that they have had an impact on you? As with every situation in life, keep your focus elsewhere on the good things that you are experiencing- hate is NOT your problem, it is their problem. It is their jealousy, envy, negativity and ungenerous approach to life that allows these feelings to enter into their minds and take root.
 People can try to damage your reputation and others might say, ‘no smoke without fire.’  Sometimes there is not a single genuine fact in the vile comments that are made. People have their own agenda’s and might misread your actions or intentions. If you know how you have behaved and are happy with it, you do not even have to defend yourself. If you do decide to take any action, make sure it is dignified and totally professional where appropriate.  If you are overly defensive or accusatory, you will suffer and put your image at stake. You could even make people feel uncomfortable, as if they are caught in the middle, and they may feel forced to take sides or walk away from you- so always consider the effects your actions will have on others before following a course of action. 
What do you do if a hater comes crawling back? Now this is a question. We have to weigh up our principles and make a decision! Forgiveness may or may not enter into the equation. We should have forgiven our haters a long time ago and forgiveness does not mean that a person who has been forgiven has an automatic right to re-enter your circle. The answer lies with you. What happened in the first instance? That is where you will find your answer.  If you understand the situation you can make a reasoned decision but if you don’t, why would you trust that person?
Sooooo what do we do about haters? Get over it! A little further down the line most incidents have been superceeded by our usual everyday life and are best forgotten.

Jaz McKenzie
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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Snapshots From The Bible WK12~ Hebrews 12:14+15 Living in Peace

Hebrews  12:14+15

‘Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.’
These are very clear instructions telling how we as humans are supposed to live! There are no short cuts allowed either as we are given a tall order to make ‘every effort’ and not a token attempt to live peaceful and holy lives. On top of taking care of ourselves we are instructed to accept responsibility for others, putting individual and communal behaviours on our personal agenda. This is a part of everyday life, reality being that we do care for one another; apparent when we give general advice and guidance and also in the way we observe one another, listen and try to be of help.
Living in peace requires us to be considerate and adaptable- in our own homes, our community and the world at large. It can be very easy to ridicule others or become angered by their opinions, frustrated with certain behaviours or simply upset with someone’s views. We need to cultivate tolerance because tolerance allows us to enlarge our perspectives.
It is very clear that God really lives in us because it is through our actions that we will be able to see Him. We need to think about this a bit. There are a few people in history whom God has directly revealed himself to, but here we are told that we have the power to see God through living holy lives. It does not state when, however every good action should have a ‘Godly’ quality to it. We are also shown the importance of disregarding the bad, which when left uncorrected can cause huge problems for many people. We are given tools to use, especially discipline and must discipline our children otherwise they may grow up to be wayward! We know these things although sometimes choose to keep quiet and not stir up trouble. Every single action affects someone else so we need to make sure that we allow good to flourish and do our best to stamp out negativity and evil. Do not be a bitter root, instead be a sweet flower attracting the bees and the butterflies!

Jaz McKenzie
If you would like to share a verse or opinion, contact:

Friday, 22 March 2013



This is a real treat ~ great performance by Lenny Kravitz & Prince. I have to say, Prince definitely adds a new dimension to this song and a great deal of energy as you would expect! I was very pleased to discover it, having no idea that the two had performed together! Whereas Prince rarely performs, Lenny still loves to entertain his fans on a regular basis and continues to record new music, taking a great deal of pride in the production and presentation of his material. Don't have much time for the dancer... un-necessary!!

Jaz McKenzie

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Kehv Prince of Reggae Soul

Today I am sharing a link to Kehv speaking about himself. Sadly, blogger will not allow me to share any video's directly at the moment and I have no idea if this will improve!

Here is part 1 of a 2 part interview I did with Kehv forever ago but it is still relevant!


July 2011, Conversational style interview with Kehv.  Part 1:  Exploring the background to his songs Conscious Farmer and Distant Lover.

Firstly I would like to thank Helen Morgan for arranging this interview and Kehv for giving his time and opinions so freely.

I thought we might start with your singles that are out Kehv and let the people know how you went about recording them, especially ‘Conscious Farmer’ which  has a very interesting video.’

All of the music on ‘Simply Kehv’ was recorded at The Impressionist Studio and mixed at the Metronome Studio. Out of the three particular songs you are speaking of I will start with ‘Conscious Farmer.’ The whole idea was to join the ‘doo-wop’ type of feel with the R&B old school type of staircase and outside in the park feel to a reggae swing. At first I was going to do it on a rhythm but the song itself wasn’t coming through so I scrapped the rhythm and I just decided to make up some oohs and wops and put that in the background with something simple, a little beat, and it took off from there and developed into something really magical.

Conscious Farmer has the real old Barber shop feel to it hasn’t it, very noticeable from the English perspective.

Right, exactly  and these are all the different kinds of things I really try to speak about as far as my influences in music go and I really try to add as much as I can without messing up the integrity of the music. There is something to say for just trying to do music ‘like this’ just because ‘I like it’ and sometimes the song itself can suffer just through trying to do something different. It’s a fine line and I found that out with ‘Conscious Farmer’ because that is a song that was written from before and I was trying to get it towards music but it just wasn’t working out. In the end I just stuck to the basics and did what I want to do and in this situation it really leant itself to the song.  I was happy that I could share that with people because at the same time I am dubbed ‘Prince of Reggae Soul.’ People wonder what that’s about, why am I considered Prince of Reggae Soul and this is one of the examples I would use especially as this hasn’t been done before;  I have never heard of a Doo-wap reggae song before. I think it’s ok and people are enjoying it.

Agreed, the music has a very fresh that delivers a clear message.

That’s the piece of the music that I really love, when you step out in faith and do certain things from the heart and it translates, I really like that and I’m happy about it. It was recorded in that sense, it was start stop, start stop, start stop and as the album was coming to the end I just went simple and said ‘you know what, let me just be simple and do what I know I can do’ and my friend and I actually did the background doo-waps and so forth. His name is Damien Reynolds and he was part of a singing group I was involved with from the earlier part of my career called LED, Love Energy and Destiny, a group that formed out of high school and we did a lot of R&B and so forth. It was really bringing in what I did before and mixing it with what I do now.

Why did you decide to involve children in the video?

Well, a seed is the most infant stage of anything, so when I speak about planting your seed and letting it grow it’s about the kids; it’s about us because we were grown from something. It was based upon how certain seeds were planted and were grown, we were raised up to adults. The things that we did throughout our childhood and the things our parents did with us through the years have never left us, so the way we sow we reap and it’s showing the full cycle and circle of life. What you reap is what you sow, that is where it came from, we were once little things (Laugh!!)

Distant lover of course contrasts greatly with Conscious Farmer

Distant Lover was an idea that I can up with, the obvious piece of the song is the message of lovers being away. During the Myspace days I had a lot of people that were really in tune with how I was moving and what I was doing and that felt good. It‘s not necessarily ‘lovers persae’ in my category as far as this song goes. It can be applied yes but it’s almost that illusion, imagine a world of illusion and you feel a way about a person and it’s in this world. It’s not happening in the physical, it’s like it’s almost in a box. You feel that distance, you feel that push and pull and you feel that closeness. You know.

Yes, and It’s a security too because it can’t go too far wrong when it’s in a box either can it, so how did the song come about?

Right, that’s a good point. That whole piece came about because I heard a rhythm from Sugar Roy, so my manager Helen got in touch with him and let him know what we wanted to do. We moved forward with the song and just recorded it. It was one of those songs that really wrote itself.

It was an effective to contrast wasn’t it to Conscious Farmer because you worked really hard for that particular song and this one’s on the relaxed side so it’s completely different, people can relate to it.

Right, exactly and that’s the beauty about making music because each song tells its own story and what I’ve learned from producing is that you give a song what it needs and don’t make it sound a certain way if it’s not asking for it. My intention is to approach my take with music by saying I’m still learning, so as I approach it I am not afraid to say ‘that doesn’t sound right so we have to do it again.’ At the end of the day music has to give me the feeling that it’s easy to digest. When you cook good food you swallow it easy and it goes through your digestive system nicely without any issues or problems or drama. There are some songs that I have worked on before that take a long time to find that ease of digestion, so Distant Lover was a gift I would say and I get a few gifts all the time because creativity comes from one source and sometimes when we are in tune we can pull from that well a little more easier than when we’re far away. I call those far away times the wilderness; there are times when we are in the wilderness and you have to learn a little bit more before we can open up again to the source and then you can pull from that well again. At that time I was in tune with a lot of things and the song came very easily for me as far as Distant Lover goes, and that was recorded at my home too in the studio.

Jaz McKenzie

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Be Braap~Be Blessed!!

Sometimes we just have to focus on all the good things in life- and the more we see… the more we see!!! Yes, this makes sense! Once you learn to open your eyes wide it is obvious that your peripheral vision will increase enabling appreciation of even more good things. It’s the basic rule of attraction, the rule being that once something comes into your existence you keep noticing more of the same- regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. I remember when I first wanted to have a baby… don’t you just notice very pregnant women with in a 100 mile radius?!?! If you discover a ‘new’ name, guaranteed it will pop up in the film credits within a couple of days- therefore the more good we see- the more good we will see.

Thanks and blessings go hand in hand and the same principal applies- the more thankful you become the more blessed you become.  When we notice more of the good we attract more good. If you take the basic concept of sharing, once we all give generously everything seems to stretch further. I think we develop greater generosity around others, so multiply that by 10 people and you happily cater for double the number.

You don’t necessarily have to DO anything to feel blessed beyond thinking a little about good things and the more we do this the easier it becomes. Sometimes I find myself giving thanks in anticipation and this is a blessing in itself as we will draw more good towards us. This can work through mental re-enforcement which heightens expectation and helps us to perform to our pre-set standards. Of course, the law of attraction always comes into play and can be used to our benefit.

If you focus on becoming a better person you will achieve and as we do this we have even more to be thankful for. Some people say the first thing you should do everyday is count your blessing… I find it hard to focus upon waking up and tend to wait until I’m out of the house!! As long as we don’t allow the day to pass without giving thanks  I guess we are maintaining focus and will continue to draw blessings towards us.

 Have a beautiful and blessed day!

 Jaz McKenzie
If you would like to write an article for Its Braap~Its Life contact:

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Snapshots From Ther Bible~ Week 11- Galatians 6:7+8. Reap What You Sow

Galatians 6:7+8

‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. V8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.’

This is one of those verses that is inclined to make you think about all the wrong things you have done and quite possibly cringe! For a start, how many of us managed to remain in a virtuous state before marriage? Very, very few I imagine. How often have we coveted other people’s possessions, been greedy and so on? Not too good when you stop to think about it.

I will add, we are made in God’s image and we know for a fact how angry He became throughout the Old Testament. We also know that Jesus had a temper, even if He did only display righteous anger and it is almost impossible to imagine that He didn’t have lustful thoughts from time to time too!

My understanding is that God knows we are sinners and reminds us on many occasions but at the same time He has given us a way to redemption. We are not expected to be perfect but we are expected to try and honour Him and steer clear from temptation, hence the Lord’s Prayer.  Possibly the term ‘mocking’ refers to those things that we do quite intentionally, maybe during times when we feel far from his love. It is the way in which we live our lives and whether we seek His forgiveness that really counts. You can’t just do something and say, ‘Sorry God.’ That definitely is making a mockery of forgiveness.

It might be helpful to think about the fact that God made us with all our strengths and weaknesses, therefore He understands us at all times and knows how to help if we ask Him. Prayer helps, so does focusing on the good in ourselves which can encourage us to feel stronger; particularly knowing we have the power to say no. I also think that if we go down the wrong road in life and are later truly sorry we can be forgiven.

The choice is quite straight forward, the question is, when are we actually ready to act upon this information and make the changes that might be required? Over to you!

Jaz McKenzie
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Friday, 15 March 2013

The Voting Rights Act 1965

President Lyndon Johnson (36th US President often referred to as LBJ)

I would love to post this video, President Johnson's speech about the Voting Rights Act, however blogger is refusing to co-operate, so you will need to follow the above link!

15th March 1965 was a very important day in American and world history with President  Lyndon Johnson calling for equal voting rights, a huge contribution to civil liberty. The act was passed by the senate 25th May 1965 and came into being very quickly, 6th August 1965, just 5 months after it was first announced. The Act's full title is: ‘An act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes,’ an interesting and somewhat ‘open’ title. The act itself was designed to allow all American Citizens the right to vote, effectively giving the vote to every ‘race and colour’ in an effort to over-ride discriminatory practice.

This is an important part of the legislative history which followed the Civil War. The Voting Rights Act has subsequently been renewed and extended 4 more times to date, the most recent being 2006, signed  by President George W Bush.

Lyndon Johnson was often referred to as the 'accidental president,' succeeding to the presidency after the assassination of President John F Kennedy, remaining in power for just over 5 years. President Johnson's main aim was to create a 'war against poverty' to better the USA.

Jaz McKenzie

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Be Braap~Be Inspired!!! Real Quotes from Real People!! # 25

Don’t waste time forcing a square peg into a round hole, instead go and find a round peg! ~Jaz McKenzie

As a rule many of us spend too much of our time trying to force situations. We try to make facts fit in with our opinions or put energy into relationships which are clearly failing. All this amounts to wasted energy and a much better way to live life is simply to go with the flow. No matter how hard we try we cannot make something work if it is wrong! A square peg might be bashed into a hole when great deal of force is applied but it will not sit comfortably and it certainly won’t weather well! This means that in the end you will have to carry out maintenance! Instead, be accepting of life and when you enjoy it and take a positive, joyful approach you will find that things always have a habit of working out for the best!

BE BRAAP! Send us your favourite quotes or sayings with a few words... you can include a photo of yourself (optional) to: These can be your own quotes or famous sayings and we will include them in this section: 'Be Braap~ Be Inspired.' NOTE: you do not have to be a great writer, simply send YOUR quote with YOUR thoughts in 10 or more words as the aim is to inspire others! NEXT= 25

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

'PEACE' Poem by Issa Loyaan Farrah

Issa was born in the UK and spent his childhood in Southampton, returning recently, and moved to London aged 16 where he lived for many years.  Stories and poetry have always played a part in Issa’s life with his major influence being the music culture of the 80’s, particularly hip hop.

2007 was the year of Issa’s first live performance and he has since cultivated his skills, delivering work which is focused heavily upon his knowledge and observations pertaining to everyday life. This poem forms a part of his protest poetry and reveals the very core or Issa, 'peace.'

Through his studies of theosophical teachings and personal experience, Issa has developed an understanding of the ways in which poetry can be used as a healing medium and its ability to empower us as individuals. Issa hopes that his poems will make a difference to individuals and in so doing,the world in general. Quote:  ‘Through poetry I can perhaps make the incomprehensible accessible and provide a ‘soundtrack’ to life in all its glory and gloom.’

If you would like to experience Issa's poems first hand, he generally performs in the Southampton region with regular appearances at, ‘The Art House Moving Voices,’ ‘The Hobbit Open Mic’ and  the ‘Talking Heads Candlelight Club.’

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to share your poetry contact:

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Snapshots From The Bible WK 10~Ecclesiastes 10:19 Enjoying Life

Ecclesiastes 10:19

‘A Feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything.’

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK, a day of celebration and it is good to see an example where celebration is given approval. In fact, alcohol and money are often disapproved of or even banned within many religions but here we are given a reason for their existence. A feast is made for laughter and we all know that laughter serves many purposes. Laughter improves our mood, creates a common bond and can keep us feeling young. Laughter is an antidote to stress and worry, creating the feel good factor and helping us to enjoy life. We do not need to party excessively neither should we party to excess, but we need to make time to gather together and socialize, chill out and enjoy one another’s company.

Wine makes life merry- a very jovial and accurate remark, with wine often creating the final touch to a special meal. Again, provided people show restraint, drinking wine is perfectly acceptable as a person’s behaviour will remain acceptable.

Money is the answer to everything. This might sound a little mercenary but it’s a reality. There have always been methods of trading and money is now worldwide currency. Whereas we can barter or agree skills exchanges, ultimately we are unable to lead a reasonable standard of life without sufficient money. Ideally, the more people have the more they will choose to share. It is not so much possessing money that opens us to judgement, it is what we choose to do with it- what do we spend it on, where do we invest? Our attitude to money is key and provided we acquire it in an honest fashion and do not crave it to excess, it is a great benefit to us.

Sometimes we are so busy worrying about life we forget to live it! I believe we are on this earth to enjoy ourselves. Yes there are difficult times for each and every one of us but we need to keep positive and enjoy life. We have a choice, to be happy or to be miserable and our attitude will affect others around us. Eat, drink and be merry, enjoyment is an important part of everyday living.

Jaz McKenzie

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Saturday, 9 March 2013

REVIEW: Dracula~ The Original Twilight Saga ~IB~ Babies- Fairfield Halls.

Photo's courtesy of the Fairfield halls... Rehearsal shots

‘Dracula the original twilight saga,’ was adapted for the stage by Liz Lochhead who defined her idea as creating a timeless work with modern touches. I appreciated Liz's take on the story and was impressed with the cast. Musically Dracula was strong with, ‘The lunatics have taken over the asylum,’ and ‘Peaches on the Beaches’ creating electrifying undertones- adding to the drama.

The two sisters, Lucy and Mina Westerman, (played by Anna Doolan and Beatrice Rose respectively,) opened the play. By using a ‘swing’ the girls' youth and innocence was cleverly projected whilst their characters skilfully depicted a healthy level of sibling rivalry and sisterly love. Both actresses had extreme fluctuations of character to express within their roles and afterwards Beatrice described how she enjoys playing characters who are ‘going through a journey.’ Beatrice especially enjoyed the challenge of projecting the change in Mina, from a virtuous ‘motherly’ sister to a newly married young women in a state of insatiable lust- who is suddenly distraught over the death of her sister (which she could not comprehend.) Mina went on to have her own ‘hypnotic’ encounter with Dracula following which she took the brave decision to stick by her husband and travel to an unknown destination (Dracula’s castle,) blindfolded. Anna’s character, Lucy, experienced changes too, switching between girl and vampire, with both roles well interpreted.

Although timeless, I felt that the predominantly modern aspect of the play was essentially in the way Dracula was portrayed; Jos Vantyler’s performance being rather more suave than ruthless. Andy Brady who played Dr Seward, and Isaac Stanmore, playing Jonathan Harker a real estate agent, both did justice to their roles which primarily focused on the balance between their emotional states, coping with extraordinary events and their professions. Felicity Dean juggled two very different characters, Florrie- the Westerman’s personal maid and Doctor Goldman, an upbeat yet laid back character who had a very touching relationship with Renfield. Miles Barden, playing Van Helsing, first put in an appearance during the second half of the play. Whilst Miles gave a competent performance, there was something about the role that I felt required strengthening.

The cast of Dracula
The most difficult part to act was Renfield- the ‘lunatic,’ and Jay Worthy gave a highly credible performance. Renfield’s initial insane mutterings about Lucy’s destiny planted an almost subliminal fear in my mind and this was re-iterated again later in the play; possibly making it the scariest aspect of the show- to generate fear is not so easy in modern society! Renfield went on to speak about the horror of receiving ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy as depicted in, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’- Jack Nicholson,) which thankfully is less commonly used these days. The ‘gem’ of his mutterings was a very thought provoking comment made after he had been reprimanded for biting the heads off live birds, a loose interpretation- ’they think that eating dead meat is normal but I think it’s a form of necrophilia!’ Renfield remained a constant presence on the stage which created suspense and greatly contributed to the success of the play. At times he remained stock still and at others produced variations of the foetal position! Overall I received the impression that Renfield was being torn in two by fear of the knowledge he possessed and clearly wanted to break free from his master, Dracula. When Jay spoke about his perception of Renfield, Jay conveyed that he believed Renfield was acting as Dracula’s conscience, so by default once Dracula killed Renfield he set himself free.

Dracula seduces Mina
The killing of Lucy was a dramatic moment and I was not sure what to make of it at the time. Upon reflection, a flash of white light at the point of her death embodies the idea of restoring her soul to peace and strips her of evil so is actually quite appropriate.

I was surprised to learn that the cast had only two weeks of rehearsals, receiving the script a month previously, leaving them little time to learn their lines and, equally importantly, study and research their characters. My view: they did an excellent job and I hope that we will be treated to more showings of this production in the future.

Jaz McKenzie

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Friday, 8 March 2013

International Women’s Day~ A quick History Lesson!

With Mothering Sunday looming large I was curious to discover that today is International Women’s Day. Why? I thought, would we have a day to celebrate women- What is I.W.D actually about? So I decided to uncover a few facts behind the international recognition of women:

• The title has been changed which enables us all to embrace this day. Originally it was called, ‘international working women’s day.’

• The first ever I.W.D. was celebrated 28th February 1909 however has been a highly flexible feast and is now celebrated on 8th March every year.

• I.W.D. resulted from a declaration by the Socialist Party of America and was followed in 1910 by a National Women’s Conference.

• 100 delegates from 17 countries used I.W.D. as a type of launch to fight for women’s rights- to vote, hold public office and equality within employment law.

• Different regions in the world use the day differently. Some celebrate to recognize respect, appreciation and love of women whereas others focus on women’s social, political and economic achievements.

• The United Nations uses it to focus on creating awareness regarding the on-going struggles women face worldwide.

• Women played such an extensive part in Russian history, working to create peace during the Russian Revolution in 1917, that I.W.D. was recognized and eventually assigned a public holiday by the Supreme Soviets during October 1965.

• The People’s Republic of China later gave their women workers half a day off in celebration of I.W.D.

• The U.N. chose the same date to draw attention to women’s rights and world peace in Western Society.

• The U.N. decision has given rise to the introduction of 2 simultaneous themes on I.W.D

This year the U.N. theme is about violence against women whereas the I.W.D theme, which is set by the International Committee of the Red Cross, is focusing on women in Prison.

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To all women everywhere~ have a happy and productive day!

Jaz McKenzie

If you have been inspired by a woman and would like to share your story contact

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Why blog about Dracula? Surely that doesn’t fit the ~IB~ specs!!

I decided to write about this somewhat contradictory topic having been to a performance of, ‘Dracula,’ yesterday which I will be reviewing. During the interval I was asked to explain the aim of ~IB~ and having spoken about encouraging people to be positive, received an amused remark along the lines that Dracula didn’t really fit the ethos. We laughed at the time and naturally I went away and had a little think about it. I am pleased to announce the following conclusion: Dracula as an individual does hot however, the story of Dracula does!

Question: how did I arrive at that conclusion?

Very quickly!! In relation to the storyline, it is based on the age old theme, ‘good defeats evil and will always come out on top.’ If Dracula were a single true representation of all the evil in this world the story woks very well. Dracula woos people into his presence creating an aura of lust combined with desire. In a similar way we as people often lust after money, possessions, power, sex etc. Once the victim is reeled in, Dracula bites and claims them for his own. In real life the devil tries to do likewise however we have salvation to hand within our religious beliefs. In Dracula,Van Helsing comes running to the heroine’s assistance and the story ends when Dracula is killed by a stake through the heart rendering him and his accomplices banished forever!

The second reason for blogging my review is simple- ~IB~ strongly supports the work of the Fairfield Halls and so far I have always enjoyed quality productions. My status is basically as a member of the public who enjoys the arts- rather than a seasoned critic who is adept at identifying the best and the worst of a production. That is a specialised job and there are many excellent critics who have studied the arts in detail. We work in the following manner: If a performance is value for money, well acted, puts its point across and makes for a good night out... Its Braap! That is the Braap test and if our standards were ridiculously high very few of you could count yourselves Braappers... myself included and I started it! If something is Braap it’s something we enjoy, something that makes us happy or challenges us, people who make us feel loved and wanted, people who constantly strive to improve in all or specific areas of their lives. So now you know, reviewing Dracula is without doubt a very Braap thing to do!!

Jaz McKenzie

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

If at first you don't succeed!!

Here is a picture that deserves an ~IB~ award!!! Unfortunately we are unable to credit the photographer but WOW WHAT SKILLS!

I consider this picture to be a visual summary of the traits we would do well to develop in our own lives- Skills learned from a young age that have been acquired through patience, determination, concentration, great posture and always rising to the challenge! In a way it demonstrates the importance of learning to cope with smaller things before we can go on to great challenges- How she manages to carry so many huge pots upon her head and under her arms at the same times is mind blowing!

Next time you have a challenging situation or task, try holding this image in your head for inspiration, it should have the affect of making you more determined to keep on keeping on until you succeed!

Jaz McKenzie

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Miriam Makeba Interview - 1966

It is a good exercise to take a look back at our historical roots and sometimes it helps us realise how far we have come. Yes, we are a long way from world equality and struggles continue but it is good to see progress. How strange it must be to have your songs banned! I think Miriam can do the talking!

Jaz McKenzie

Soweto Blues With Miriam Makeba

Google are bringing Miriam Makeba to us today in recognition of her distinguished career as a singer and civil rights activist. Miriam was born this day in Johannesburg in 1932. We will be sharing an interview that was recorded with her in 1966- following this post.

Great track this, so listen with care!!

Jaz McKenzie

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Snapshots From The Bible WK 9. Isaiah 7:9 Faith

Isaiah 7:9

‘If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.

DEFINTION OF FAITH (Hebrews 11:1) ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’

Very commanding words which we need to keep in our hearts and minds at all times.
We can be hesitant and waver in life, but when we have faith in God and faith in ourselves, no matter the challenge we will be able to rise to it and achieve more than we would have believed possible.

Faith generates confidence and is a tool which inspires us to keep on trying. When we have faith we know ‘we can.’ This can be seen when we study the great leaders of the world, with Barack Obama’s campaign slogan, ’Can we do it, yes we can,’ providing a prime example. People who have faith understand that there is no such thing as failure. Whatever happens in life is simply another means to a desired result and the reasons are often revealed with hindsight. This is why it is important to still give praise in the face of adversity whilst continuing to step forward in faith- preferable to taking a ‘woe is me’ approach. Of course you will get upset, angry, feel de-motivated and close to giving up or even feel that God might have deserted you; that is normal BUT faith will overcome all negative feelings and help us get back on track. This is beautifully demonstrated in the ‘Footsteps in the sand,’ poster. We are human which is exactly how God made us, yet at the same time we are made in the image of God and need to practice using our God-like traits.

What if God had created mankind and lost his faith in us? After all, Eve did bite that apple! If this were the case there would be no salvation, God would wipe His hand of this huge ‘lost cause.’ Instead, according to Christian religions, God sent His Son to save us and all religions believe ultimately in Heaven/eternal life. The fact is, there are seeds of faith planted within each and every one of us. Faith across the whole spectrum of life as we know it and beyond; it is up to us to examine everything we already know, reaching for new knowledge that will enable our lives to be lived to the full.

Most things in life are an act of faith. Consider every road you cross, you have a percentage chance of being run over, eating puts us at risk of food poisoning and so on. We take risks with our behaviour, health, finances, choices and ideas, expecting things to work in our favour. When we have faith we have the ability to see things through; to understand that the plan will unfold as it is destined. By contrast, when we lack faith there is a high chance of things going wrong because we fail to give things 100% attention and expect to experience difficulties.

Walking in faith means having high expectations of God and of ourselves and creating/accepting challenges designed to measure our steadfastness. Faith itself will not always be at a consistent level in our lives but we know we need it and the more we use it the stronger our faith will become.

Faith overcomes worry and doubt, helping us to keep perspective and strive forwards in all areas- without it, we are as nothing!

Jaz McKenzie

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