Review: The Unfolding of Benjamin's Misery
Written and Performed by Hideto Ambiguous
Square Edge Community Arts Centre
Review Date: 7/02/2020
On Friday night at Square Edge Community Arts Centre in Palmerston North, Hideto Ambiguous bared his body and soul to present The Unfolding of Benjamin’s Misery.
It was a small room, which accommodated an intimate audience, with a basic stage which was only slightly elevated above the audience. There was no backstage area to slip behind the curtains and peer out at the audience, there were no shadows to lurk in, there wasn’t even mood lighting. Hideto Ambiguous had to master the space, and he did.
The Unfolding of Benjamin’s Misery is an award-winning one-person show (having won the 'Best Words and Ideas' award at the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2019) in which Hideto showcases a range of talents including spoken-word poetry, story-telling, singing, ukulele playing and his uniquely entertaining ‘Asian’ dancing.
The show started about fifteen minutes late, but as it turns out that was when we as the audience were playing our role—a clever device which subtly reinforced the themes of us and them. We were watching a show as an audience but were also the audience in the show. There was also an unexpected guest cameo—a blowfly which became expertly woven into the tapestry of the show and showed how supremely Hideto governed the stage.
Benjamin’s misery really did unfold in front of us, like an intricately folded artwork with new things to discover under each new layer. Hideto performed multiple characters, with unique accents and postures who came to life with such natural ability that for a moment I started imagining there was a backstage where all the characters resided.
It was perhaps fitting, given the subject material, that Hideto had only the clothes on his body, a ukulele and a few coins to use as props. With a small audience unable to be distracted by moving or colourful props how was it that Benjamin made us see things so clearly?
It is a true inside story, as Benjamin sheds his problems in front of us, and we observe the evolution of Benjamin. Powerful story-telling works to break down barriers between cultures and expose the beating, human heart at the centre of us all. Every step of the journey created the Benjamin we saw before us, and it was fitting that we observed that through past, present and future layers of story.
Although the subject material illuminates the shadowy world of exploited migrant workers, Benjamin is gentle and kind, offering options, possibilities and ideas for dealing with these challenges. Benjamin is nobody and everybody. He opened up a portal to his vulnerabilities, and struggles and then offered hope, and the potential for happiness. I laughed and smiled, frowned and sighed, as Benjamin unraveled his journey.
We get to see the breaking and making of Benjamin and how he chooses to take control of his life by using his gifts to improve life for himself and other Benjamins. I am grateful for the gift of Benjamin that now resides in me.
It was both a privilege and a pleasure to experience this performance by an exceptionally skilled artist whom I expect to see carrying on to do many great things.
As well as being the winner of Liverpool Poetry Slam 2018 (UK), Hideto's first poetry collection, “Foreigners in Me” will soon be published by Lastbench/Antivirus productions in Liverpool, UK. Hideto Ambiguous is someone to watch as he takes multiple talents, this show, and a new one he is currently developing, on the road internationally. You can follow his Facebook Page or his Instagram Account to keep up with upcoming projects (I will be).
Written and Directed by Gregory Cooper
Review Date: 9/11/2019
Prostates, Pelotons, and Property Management what more could you want out of your Saturday night? There’s another P word, so just use your imagination. . ..
Saturday night was opening night at Centrepoint Theatre as they wheeled out their latest showing—MAMIL aka Middle-Aged-Man-In-Lycra. I was eager to see a MAMIL up close because usually they are only seen moving in packs—cycling like they are trying to outrun the inevitability of their lives. Getting a MAMIL out on his own in front of a live studio audience was sure to be a rare treat.
This show written and directed by Gregory Cooper is the story of one shallow, privileged, white male (Bryan) who transforms his life by joining a cycling group after his world crumbles around him. He finds his soul and learns how to really love himself and his fellow man.
The set design was the barest I’ve ever seen at Centrepoint, I guess they were emulating the soul of a MAMIL. It was sparse and black, like a recently divorced middle-aged man's bedroom. The special effects amounted to a smoke machine, lights and sound effects. The attention was centred on one middle-aged man acting out multiple personalities. Of course, there was also a bike and Lycra.
New Zealand actor Mark Hadlow delivered this one-man show. He was confident, strong, and a great story-teller. It seemed like he held nothing back. It’s worth seeing this show just to see a theatre legend work a room. I’m in no way qualified to have opinions about acting techniques so I’m not even going to try. I’ll use lay persons terms. He played at least eight characters and switched between them seamlessly using different accents for many of them. My personal favourite character was the wiry old man who organised the cycling group. Also, he cycled throughout the whole show and made it look effortless. Leaping on and off the quite tall set and getting changed on stage multiple times goes a long way towards proving that he’s obviously a superhero. The audience were highly stimulated by the probing nature of the show—literally. Mark Hadlow certainly has his fingers in a lot of places. There was more than just a bike seat around his rear end.
This is a man friendly show. If you want to drag your man out for a date at the theatre, then this show has the black décor and right amount of testosterone to make even the most theatre-hating man happy. If you’ve raised your eyebrows about this heavily stereotyped statement then rest assured, the whole show is like that. . ..
I’d like to see Centrepoint Theatre open-up a night for palmy MAMILs with a group discount for arriving in their Lycra and click-clacking into the theatre with their cycling shoes on. Maybe a latte special that day would be useful too.
This show is well explained. You won’t have to turn your brain inside out to figure out what is going on. It’s an easily accessible laugh if you can overlook the quite un-PC content.
My website still wasn’t quite right.
After I’d completed a web-audit and identified the areas where I could improve my website homepage, I started doing a bit of tweaking in some other areas like my products. I needed to tell people what I did in neatly packaged products (I still have to add some, like blog-writing, because obviously I’m great at that!) and direct them towards finding out more information, contacting me and finally--purchasing my high-quality services.
I was excited about how much I’d changed my website and asked a friend and mentor to have a look at it and tell me what she thought. Both being freelancers, we have a bi-monthly meeting where we talk about our businesses and anything else we want to. It’s awesome.
After a short discussion about my website the takeaway message was that while my website sounded awesome (just like me), it actually didn’t look like me. My friend (bless her) said that it was grey and that I was bright colours (I love her). As soon as we nutted out that this was the problem it seemed so obvious that I don’t know why I hadn’t spotted it before. Of course it is just natural that I would be so focused on the words that the pictures were an afterthought.
Armed with this new information, I was just itching to go and inject my website with the bright colours of my personality so that it looked and sounded just like me.
Now, my website is not only functional, full of keywords, and welcoming but it also looks and sounds like me--I love her.
Along the way I updated all of the rest of the pages on my website. Here’s what I did to improve my website and what you can do to make sure your website is welcoming people to your services properly.
Branding on Point
Firstly, my logo was not big enough.I couldn’t enlarge it in the template on the web platform I was using so I had to make a workaround. If you read the blog before this one you’ll know that I sorted that out on my homepage by getting rid of the logo box and inserted it as a picture instead. However, removing the logo from my template meant that it disappeared from all my other pages too. So, I’ve put my logo on every, single page so that whenever someone is reading my content, they’ll also be seeing my brand--front and centre.
I Got Social
I want people to be able to contact me or find out more about me from every single page on my website. So, I added the social icons to every page. Now my clients can access my Facebook business page, my Instagram, my LinkedIn and my email from whichever part of the journey they’re on through my website.
All About Me
I streamlined my about page. I highlighted three reasons why people would want to choose me to write good content for them. I think I made a compelling argument for why I might just be the best copywriter for the job. I added a button with ‘contact me’ on it that will take them straight to my email address so that I can strike while the iron is hot! I’ve just convinced them that I’m the best person for the job and now the next thing to do is to CONTACT ME.
Making Communication Easy
My contact page got the same sleek treatment, although I did remove some things and add others. I made my content more inviting and offered multiple avenues with which to contact me. My clients can call, email, text, message me on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram or fill in my contact form. So, my clients can contact me via whichever method makes them feel most comfortable.
I added my products to my contact page so that if I ever want to simply market the contact page of my website, then my products list will be right there too displaying all of my packaged services.
The Same but Different
When it came to the wedding vows page on my website I knew I was pretty happy with the words as they were, but it looked like too much writing. So I split up the writing to create more white space, and made sure each paragraph started with a bolded sentence that could be skim-read. I don’t know about you but I like to skim read before I commit to a whole-page worth of reading.
I also added the relevant products (wedding vows and speech-writing) to the end of the page so that clients won’t have to go back to my services page and scroll through it to find the product they’re after.
My strengths are in creating compelling words in all the right places to help your (and my) clients easily find what they’re looking for on your website.
I’m not a web-designer by any stretch of the imagination. I have given my website good functional features to help my clients find out more about me, my services and how to contact me. I’ve also created pages that would be useful for marketing purposes--none of them are lazing around uselessly. Those things are really important.
You’ve have to entice your clients to want to interact with your website, and that’s where a few choice words can be magic.
If you’d like a free web-audit or a discussion about your web-content needs, you can contact me any way you like. Here’s a link to my contact page with all my details. See what I did there?
I’ve been working away on a few things on my website to make it oh so much more appealing and effective
Okay, so, I’m not a web developer and these things can take a lot of intense eye squinting and expert movements of the tongue. But, if you read my last blog where we did an audit on my website homepage (cos we’re taking projects on in small bite-sized pieces here) you will know that two things that I said I’d start with were:
Well, I did it! Here is the new look:
Look I could spend hours trying to get a better design look on this but actually I just need my logo and service to stand out because that is what people are looking for. Might I add that it’s the words that count and good direction from your website.
Your website should be saying “Hello, my name is **** and you’ve come to the right place. What would you like today, let me show you how to get there”
So let’s move on to the next tasks which were to:
So I’ve changed the tone to match my brand voice and now my homepage sounds just like me. I love her! Lol! I do think that I’ve made it appeal to my ‘best customers’ because I’ve targeted the sorts of things that they may think/feel/want. I’ve written the copy to reach out to the kind of people who I want to work with. They don’t want to write their own web content and they know what kind of person I am--cool, easy-going, a genius, I could go on...Honestly, why wouldn’t you choose me? And, I’ve reduced the writing on the screen to offer a ‘value proposition’.
The next task is:
And there it is. Clickable links in bold with clear next steps will usher my clients from reading to enquiring or buying.
See how instead of having a whole blurb about my Web Content writing on my homepage I have just used this powerful statement:
I can make your web content talk effectively to your target market so that you don't accidentally give a poor impression to your customers.
Click here to talk about how I can help you to be 'super' content with your website.
My link redirects to a new spot for my Web Content information where the rest of the blurb, and a clear next step is available. What sort of next step? I have a buy now option that allows people to click and purchase my packaged items. Packaged items? That’s right remember my next task:
How will people know what you’re selling if you don’t tell them?
This is a lot simpler with product-based businesses because you can show and tell, but with service-based businesses such as You Have My Word it can be a bit tricky. When people ask me what I do I say ‘I write stuff’. That doesn’t really tell people much and they say ‘what kind of stuff?’ and I say ‘anything’. It’s not very helpful really and doesn’t do the job of ‘converting’ an innocent person into a customer.
So, I’ve packaged my services into products. I’m going to let a picture speak a thousand words here:
Now that I have packaged my services I have a place to usher people from my homepage to where they want to be. Trust me, they do want to be there. When they click on the product they are interested in they get the full compelling blurb that used to be on my homepage. Also, I can use the URL of the product to advertise my services on Facebook or any social media platform and when people click on it it will come right back to the product on my website. This will allow me to make Facebook Ads from them when I want to market my business services (more on this in later blogs, stay tuned).
What do you think? Has my website homepage and web content improved overall? This is just the beginning of a long journey into the world of effective websites and additional platforms which usher your clients towards conversion (that’s a fancy word for ‘buying things’).
If you’d like me to audit your website and whip-up some web content to delight your clients then you know what to do--contact me here if you want to work with someone cool (See what I did there? I just linked you to my web content product package--boom).
I talk and think a lot, here I share the love and the words and the thoughts. Take it or leave it...