Category Archives: Culture

Theatre capital of the world goes dark

The Society of London Theatre this week made the extremely difficult decision to close all West End theatres, effective immediately for the foreseeable future. 

The news came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tighter regulations on social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Johnson stated that members of the public should now avoid public places unless essential, the advice specifically stating theatres are to be avoided.

Theatre fans, as well as those working within the theatre industry, are understandably devastated by the news of their livelihoods being temporarily taken away. But the news resembled that of a ticking time bomb, with many people expecting it to happen. After the West End’s cousins on Broadway went dark only four days prior, it was simply a waiting game for London’s theatres to follow suit.

Society of London Theatre – 16/03/2020

A closure of this magnitude has already put droves of performers and other theatre professionals out of work for at least the next month, with no concrete date in place as to when theatres will be allowed to reopen. While businesses affiliated with theatre, including box offices, are likely to require longer to recover from financial blows resulting from a loss of ticket sales.

Despite the closures however, the theatre community have banded together in an attempt to show solidarity for those losing their jobs. With a number of theatre organisations currently in talks to introduce subscription paid live streams where actors can perform and fans can tune in to watch.

Others are taking to social media to ask for followers to give support to Acting for Others, a charity that works to provide financial and emotional support to theatre workers in times of need. As well as encouraging fans to increase their support for the West End as and when shows resume.

As industries across the country are being struck down as a result of the virus. Many working in theatre have been faced with the realisation that the prospect of what many refer to as “muggle jobs” are probably not an option. This harsh reality has left a number of theatre professionals with little to do but wait until their beloved shows return to the West End.

In the meantime however, many have taken to social media to offer their services to the community in whatever way they can. Offers of help with audition reps, singing, acting and social media dance classes have become increasingly popular over the past few days. While others are offering one to one chats over Skype in an attempt to keep up the morale’s of fellow performers.

Ambassador Theatre Group

Though many performers are likely to be worried about the weeks ahead with no guarantee of when they can return to their careers, it’s clear the solidarity of the community is not going anywhere in a hurry.

Chloe Rose


An ongoing protest outside Westminster Abbey received a mixed reception as members of the royal house attended a service at the Abbey.

The already high police presence was increased prior to demonstrations and a “die-in” which commenced at 12pm. 

Tourists and City workers stopped to take photographs, with one construction worker blazing “We want more nukes.” 

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Two separate demonstrations were organised. One demonstration condemned a service supposedly thanking the peace nuclear weapons had created. It consisted of vicars and clergymen and other supporters of the Anglican Church.

The second, which did not have affiliations to the church, encouraged disarmament and slated the government for their development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). The die-in condemned the collateral damage caused to human life and the environment by previous governments. 

Opponents of the protest returned with pro-nuclear weapon comments “Big up nuclear war, it’s exactly what we want.” 

People from all walks of life attended the protest, with students, pensioners and young families, and even a few pets in attendance. 

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One protestor said “I want my children, and grandchildren and their children to have a world to grow up in.” She was physically and emotionally moved by the events unfolding. 

Pointing to the Abbey, the pensioner said “I’m here because Weapons of Mass Destruction are absolutely immoral. “I don’t think they’ve (WMDs) ever been a deterrent.”

The protest had slowly been gaining momentum in the early afternoon with protesters aiming to maintain the “die-in” for as long as possible. 

Photos and text by Zubair Karmalkar

Why does the boyband novelty never go away?

The Beatles, Take That, Westlife, JLS, 5 Seconds of Summer, One Direction, BTS, The Vamps. What do all these have in common? They’re all boybands. And we’re all obsessed with them.

It feels like the world has been obsessed with boybands since the beginning of time. There’s just something about a group of boys that can sing. Men, women, boys and girls – we all love it. It all started with Beatlemania in the 60s and, since then, it’s been a bandwagon that nobody can seem to get off.

As pop royalty Take That begin their eight-day residency at London’s O2 Arena in celebration of their 30-year anniversary, it’s time to take a look at why the novelty of boybands just doesn’t go away.

There’s a level of loyalty, when it comes to boybands and their fans. Look at bands like Take That; they’re 30 years into their career and stronger than ever. Granted, they began as a five-piece and are now a three-piece, but Gary, Mark and Howard haven’t been short of success.

They’re arguably one of the only bands that have made their situation work. They broke up in 1996, following Robbie Williams’ 1995 departure but reunited in 2006 (still without Robbie). In 2010, Robbie re-joined the group for their Progress album but his comeback didn’t last long and, in 2014, it was Jason’s turn to hang up his microphone.

Take That are perhaps the only band that have evolved as their members have left but, at the same time, have managed to stick to their roots. Fans of the group are some of the most dedicated fans in the world – no matter what, they’re always supporting. And that’s something that goes for boybands in general.

Think about the Jonas Brothers. They disbanded in 2013 and made their comeback six years later, in 2019. Having had successful solo careers, it’s always a potential risk for anyone going back to their boyband roots but, with boybands, one thing’s for certain: the fans. They may have grown up and in some cases married and had children but the devotion doesn’t go away.

There’s something about having a band that you grow up with. And every generation has one. From the likes of The Beatles in the 60s to One Direction more recently, there’s always a band for people to obsess over. There’s always one you can relate to – whether that be the music, or a member themselves. And that stays with you. The support and connection you feel to a band in your teenage years, for example, will 99% of the time stay with you for a lifetime. And then it becomes about nostalgia. The older you get, the more you’re reminded of the impact these bands and their music had on you – the happy times, the difficult times, the times that you wouldn’t have been able to get through without the support of your favourite band. And that’s why the novelty doesn’t go away; there’s nothing quite like it.

So if you love boybands just as much as us (and the rest of the world), have a listen to our Spotify playlist – a compilation of WNOL and WNOL readers’ favourite boyband songs.

Avengers: Endgame breaks the box office

Marvel Studios has dominated the box office this week with the release of Avengers: Endgame on the 25th of April. A culmination of 21 films, Endgame has grossed over £357 million at the box office in the US and Canada in its opening weekend. It’s now expected to pass Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time. This is all happening in the week before Star Wars Day (May 4th), a day celebrating another of Disney’s highest-grossing properties. Star Wars and Marvel have been neck and neck in box-office ticket sales since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015.

Box office opening weekend (1).png

Reactions to the latest film have been positive, with a rating of 95% from 427 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Matthew Norman of the London Evening Standard says in his review that “the only complaint about Avengers: Endgame is that it raises the bar so high that there may well never be a superhero movie to match it.”

Twitter has been packed full of fan reactions and emotional tributes to the 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Star Wars Day: How to celebrate

From the UK to galaxies far, far away, fans of the Star Wars franchise can be found clad in capes, a collectors t-shirt and ready with a lightsaber. Since 2011, May the 4th has been heavily regarded as Star Wars Day with a play on words of the famous line, ‘May the force be with you’.

Although not affiliated with George Lucas or his former film company Lucasfilms, the day is recognised by the creator, and is celebrated by fans every year. From viewing parties, to costume parties, and even a murder mystery, here are the best ways to spend Star Wars Day 2019. And may we just say, ‘May the force with be with you’.

Events in and around London

Star Wars Experience at Madame Tussauds

The Star Wars Experience at Madame Tussauds is a permanent fixture but what better way to spend May 4th than immersing yourself in the Star Wars world? Travel to a galaxy far, far away with 18 life-like figures of famous Star Wars characters and 12 sets. From Jabba the Hutt to Chewbacca, and Yoda to Darth Vader, there’s everything you need to become part of the franchise. Prices start from £29 for an adult (16+) ticket.

May the Fourth Be With You Cabaret at The Apple Tree 

Hosted by Marc Anthony and headlined by Lily Snatch Dragon, why not head to The Apple Tree in Mount Pleasant, London for a night full of sci-fi themed cabaret? Priced between £5-£10, the independent pub is offering alien themed performances, karaoke and a DJ to celebrate one of their favourite days of the year. The venue is encouraging dress up so you might as well go all out and channel your inner Yoda for the night.

Star Wars Day Stand Up Comedy at the South Kensington Comedy Club

We all love a bit of comedy so, if you’re celebrating May 4th, head to the South Kensington Comedy Club for a night of Star Wars themed comedy. Hosted by the club’s resident MC Star Wars fanatic Ashley Gorman, the night will be full of laughs – especially if you really embrace the theme and dress up. Oh, and it’s free!

See our other Star Wars coverage here: 

May The Fourth Be With You: The Jedi Robe Shop

Star Wars fans and actors pay tribute to Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew 

If you can’t get to London, don’t panic – there are plenty of other ways you can celebrate.

Dress up!

What’s more fun than becoming someone else for a day? Especially when it’s your favourite movie character.

Throw a Star Wars party

Grab your friends and get partying. Make it a viewing party – you can watch the films in order of release or spice it up a little. This is the order that we prefer:



Interestingly, Free Comic Book Day is on May 5th. What better way to continue your celebrations of May 4ththan reading the Star Wars Adventures comics? Set in the Star Wars universe, the comics are the perfect way to experience the franchise in another way.

What your £20 for a NUS student discount card actually goes to

Walking through a fresher’s fair, a student is often first greeted by the welcoming bright teal sign of the NUS. More formally known as the National Union of Students, the famous brand is commonly known for offering students some of the best discounts in the United Kingdom.

Aside from the massive discounts NUS offers, when a student signs up for the union, they join a group of over seven million students aiming to use their education in order to create a fair and prosperous society.

Nevertheless, 61% of students are unaware of what the NUS does for their university environment. And even so, of the 39% who are “aware” of what the National Union of Students does, 86% thought that the organization was just their NUS Extra Card that allows them to get discounts.

Founded in 1922, as an effort to make peace after the first world war, their mission still remains to promote, defend, and extend student rights allows them to fight discrimination and injustice through democratic representation, campaigning, and targeted action.

Through the help of students across the nation, the NUS is able to bring together the collective interests of their members in order to develop research that influences national policy and take on issues that affect the lives of students now and in the future.

The National Union of Students is a voluntary membership organization consisting of 600 students’ unions. That’s more than 95 percent of all higher student unions in the United Kingdom. When a student pays £20 for their discounted student railway card or the extra 20% off at Boots, they agree to uphold and support the three core values of the NUS: equality, democracy, and collectivism.

The latest elected officers of the NUS focus on pursuing equal opportunities for everyone to fully participate in a society of students to celebrate diversity. The NUS also aims to “[build] open, transparent, and accessible democratic structures that increase performance and strengthen accountability.”

Furthermore, their message strongly resonates with the quote, “unity is our strength” by constantly promoting the idea that students’ unions are more effective when they work with each other on a local, national, and international level.

Within every student’s union lies a desire to provide wide-ranging research and discussion about the policies of further education, higher education, society, citizenship, union development, and welfare.

Spanning across Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, the NUS also campaigns and defends the rights of highly marginalized and underrepresented groups such as black students, disabled students, LGBTQI+, and women.


Although it may seem like the NUS does nothing but give you 10% off at Pizza Express and lead the funding and mission student unions, their recent movements and parliamentary wins for students are very present for plenty of individuals.

Student’s right to protected student deposits in the private rented sector, exemption from Council Tax, Young Persons Railcard, and Endsleigh Student Insurance are all due to the constant efforts of the NUS.

Less known strides towards a more student-friendly world have been made by the NUS as well. In the past three years, the National Union of Students has managed to help 48,000 international students who were wrongly deported after falsified English language tests were turned in.

The NUS is also the reason why students over the age of 30 are still able to receive student loans.

When founded by Sir Ivison MacAdam, his vision for the future involved providing “hope for tomorrow.” Giving a voice to their seven million members from all walks of life and fighting for a better student environment for the future.

Read all about what the NUS is doing to not file bankruptcy here.

Star Wars fans and actors pay tribute to Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew

Fans and actors from the Star Wars franchise have been mourning the death of Peter Mayhew, who passed away on 30th April at his home in North Texas surrounded by his family.


He played the Wookie in the original trilogy that began in 1977, as well as in episode III, Revenge of the Sith, and The Force Awakens. He didn’t play the role in the latest film, The Last Jedi, but was on set to provide tips and advice to the new actor, Joonas Suatamo.

With ‘May 4th be with you’ celebrating all things Star Wars tomorrow, it’s likely fans will pay their respects to Mayhew, remembering him as everyone’s favourite Wookie. The Jedi Robe Star Wars shop in Northolt, London told WNOL how Peter Mayhew impacted the Star Wars franchise saying “it’s a sad day” for the community.

Many stars including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), JJ Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), have been paying tribute to Mayhew, who his family say “put his heart and sole into the role of Chewbacca”. He is survived by his wife, Angie Mayhew, and their three children.




Screenshot 2019-05-03 at 12.56.08

Director of The Last Jedi Rian Johnson pays tribute

Screenshot 2019-05-03 at 13.02.35

Suatamo is the new actor portraying Chewie in the latest Star Wars films

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