Photo: Matt Culley @ Fuse FM

When ‘The What’s on Diary’ met Maisie Williams

You may not have tuned in yet, but the Fuse FM radio show ‘The What’s on Diary’ is a growing name around campus. Co-hosts Matt and Brandon take to the airwaves every Sunday from 2-3pm. This is perfect timing for many of you; emerging from the unique kind of hangover resulting from a heavy Saturday night out in Manchester. Filled with an hour of chilled vibes and engaging conversations, you cannot miss it. A month ago, we were given unprecedented backstage access to TEDx Manchester.

The first speaker to take to the stage is interpretative dancer Moon Ribas, co-founder of the Cyborg Rights foundation. Moon, from Barcelona has Earthquake vibration devices inserted into her arms and feet. Earthquakes trigger those in her arms and moonquakes, her feet. Using these vivid rhythms, she anthropomorphises natural phenomena and translates them into dance routines set to appropriate music.

By using these impulses to prompt her next move, she achieves complete independence from social interaction and the artificiality of the built environment. An hour after her talk had finished, we caught up with Moon backstage at the Bridgewater Hall.

After training at Dance College in the UK and becoming familiar with uniquely human behaviour, Moon said that this did not fulfil her ambition to connect with nature and the planet. She wondered “If I could be alone in the planet how could I perceive movement?” This gave her the idea of having electronic sensory equipment surgically implanted into her.

When connected to WiFi, she is able to feel any earthquake detected by seismometers, anywhere on Earth or the Moon. Now she even plans to have a connection to Mars-quakes, too: “This new way of perceiving reality, has of course, changed my perception of the planet.”

“It was a surprise for me to find out that the Earth is constantly moving”. Reflecting on the societal implications of designing the senses which an individual may choose to have, Moon contemplated that “everyone can decide how they want to be… what would you like to sense?”

From vivid artistic imagery to issues closer to home – TEDx had it covered. Our next interview was with ‘charitable barber’ Ged King. After suffering from trauma during his childhood and a successful military career, Ged found himself at a loss. Before long, he had founded Skullfades.

Skullfades is an organisation which aims to give humanity and confidence back to homeless people by giving them free haircuts. Several years later, and Ged works closely with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham to tackle homelessness in the city. His most recent project was touring Paris and the refugee camps of Calais – with the same dream of humanising the oft-dehumanised.

Faced with the extraordinary statistic that “homelessness has gone up in Manchester by over 900% since 2010”, Ged decide to act. After founding a barbershop business, he decided to simply go out onto the street with his staff and offer free haircuts to the homeless. Over time he has built up a rapport with the community and learnt a lot about individuals: “Most of the guys on the street, if not all the guys, have experienced high levels of trauma”.

It was this shared sense of a life that could have been, which gave Ged an additional layer of empathy.

“Because of that suffering, it gives me that gift of seeing it in other people and reaching out”. Gaining a profile through his compassion, Ged has also worked closely with those in positions of power. Local politicians have been a positive influence he feels. He explained that he does not “blame anybody” — in fact, he believes those in power are making a positive contribution — “Manchester’s homeless problem has declined for the first time in ten years”.

Following this sobering reality, we were propelled into the fantasy world of Game of Thrones actress, Maisie Williams. After a quick bite to eat, we sat in a utilitarian room backstage at the Bridgewater. We prepared to interview one of the world’s greatest actresses. Introductions were made, hands were shaken, and we sat down to talk.

We set off to a good start after confirming that we were indeed a low budget, student production: “We are now using a phone” to record. With its final series about to air, and with future plans in the pipeline, Maisie chatted to us about her experiences of acting. We spoke about being cast in the world’s biggest TV drama series as well as her love for Manchester.

Maisie’s assertion that “as a famous person people think they know a lot about you” made it clear that fame does not necessarily bring you happiness or fulfilment. We discussed the process behind auditioning for new acting roles after Game of Thrones.

“Just because you’ve done things before, it doesn’t make you any more right for another role”, she explained and conversation moved on to Maisie’s new company — “it was still definitely like a journey figuring out things I wanted to do”.

Referring to the potential immortality of her role as Arya Stark, she believed that she “always felt very different to the character”, but also remains convinced that Game of Thrones would be hard to top “in terms of the show being so iconic”.

“If I never do anything that’s quite as big again I don’t think I’d be mad at that because it did kind of blow everyone’s expectations”.

And to finish, Maisie’s music choices? “I’ve been listening to a lot of James Blake’s new album, Assume Form”.

You can listen to The What’s on Diary every Sunday from 2-3pm on Fuse FM. You can suggest an event we should cover on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

Tags: andy burnham, Dance, Game of Thrones, homelessness, interview, Maisie Wiliams, ted talks, TED x Manchester

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