WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING – KING CRIMSON
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
A review of Being Human at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry.
Most Playwrights write in the knowledge that they are hopefully going to hand over their work to a director and a group of actors who will bring the realisation of the piece to new audiences.
Poets on the other hand tend toward delivering their pieces in performance and readings themselves, so the production of Being Human that debuted at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on the 22nd July was a brilliantly conceived natural progression taking poetry in to theatre with a ground breaking approach to making poetry accessible to wider audiences.
Being Human used poems from the third of the Staying Alive Poetry Anthology Trilogy edited by Neil Astley and published by Bloodaxe books. Bloodaxe headed by Simon Thirsk and Neil, set out to bring poetry to new readers, taking the very best defining poems from around the world often from poets whose work was little known outside of their own circles and languages.
Theatre is always a risk, a theatre production that is delivered solely through contemporary poetry makes that risk even greater so Jonathan Davidson’s vision to produce this show was not one for the faint hearted.
This needed a considered approach and a clear view from the whole of the team as to how it should be brought to fruition.
Under the directorship of Steve Byrne from Interplay Theatre the poems selected created a narrative of stories told around a table, by characters gathered to share bread, cheese, wine and pomegranates with their experiences as fathers, mothers and tortured souls.
The interplay between the actors Benedict Hastings, Elinor Middleton and Barrett Robertson created a thought provoking mood through the delivery of the poems, where the potency of the words were left to stand on their own with out the drawn out preamble that poets often feel is necessary to justify their poems when reading them at open mics.
This was a breath of fresh air as you were taken along with the characters who emerged from the first lines of the poem then developed into a glorious sound and visual sculptures of the human condition.
To add to this were the subtle projections on the table cloth and the use of light or lack of it to create atmospheres, sometimes unnerving such as when pitch darkness was punctuated with sounds of a stick being run across railings or gunshots from Vietnam.
Barrett’s delight as a Father seeing the ultra-scan picture of his unborn child, standing on stool, drawing himself tall as if he were on a mountain top proclaiming to the world his joy.
Elinor morphing from an angel to a Muslim woman as the table cloth floated on some unfelt breeze and wrapped itself around her as the words spilt from her expressive tongue.
Benedict as a man loading the table with everything that was him, his possessions, his fears and anxieties, a piece that was to be a central core, as it was reprieved by Barrett at the start of the second half and then by all three actors at the end as echoes of each other, not quite in time, different lives all loaded on to their own tables.
This production was not merely the reading of poetry, but the consideration of meaning, drawing out the values that Neil Astley had seen in the poems when he first selected them for inclusion in the anthology.
Poetry as I have never seen it delivered before, poetry receiving its due respect with its ability to soothe, delight, attack and permeate our senses to leave a splendid sense of fulfilment in a greater understanding as a result of experiencing it.
You left with a feeling of being affected, somewhere and some how you had been drawn in from being a bystander, a mere audience member, to being an active stakeholder in the events.
That is poetry at its very best and this was the sharing of poetry, given as the most precious gift.
There is a new vibrant thinking in the arts where theatre can explore poetry, where traditional audiences from one art form can be exposed and delighted to engage with other art forms that they other wise would not.
Being Human was one of the first productions to demonstrate this. A risk that Jonathan took and got it right, this is the platform from which to build, the potential for this to be developed for bigger stages and on to television is ours.
But even with bigger productions, the smaller production in an intimate space will always work just as well if they are done with the care and sensitivity to the poems that was seen with Being Human.
Everyone who was involved with this production is to be congratulated; you have started something that as poets we can engage with, now lets nurture it.
This production is touring so watch out performances, Being Human will be at Ledbury on 1st July and then at Bury St Edmunds on the 9th July and will return to Midlands in October; this is not to be missed.
The Anthology Being Human, edited by Neil Astley was published in 2011 by Bloodaxe Books and is available from bookshops and the usual webstore.
I woke up the day after the performance with a mind full of ideas on what I want to do as a poet to take poetry to new audiences using the inspiration that Being Human has instilled into me.
For more information go to www.livepoetry.org
Polesworth a Place for Poetry – Dig the Poetry – 2012.
Polesworth has a long association with poets and poetry, including the names of Michael Drayton, Ben Jonson and John Donne and some make a claim for William Shakespeare. Later came Edward Farmer and more recently poets from all over the country with the development of the award winning Polesworth Poets Trail.
Following the development of poetry in response to Dig the Abbey 2011, Polesworth Abbey has secured funding from the Arts Council England to explore the interpretation of the Archaeology through poetry and creative writing as part of Dig the Abbey 2012.
A series of workshops with some of the regions leading poets and writers will take place during July and August. The workshops will held at Polesworth Abbey with poets and writers working along side the Archaeologists on site to engage with the finds as they occur. Giving a real opportunity to look at the artefacts in-situ, exploring the layers of occupation of this very important place.
Poets and writers will seek to interpret the meaning and value of the finds putting them into the context of the lives of the community to which they belonged, as well as what they mean to us today.
The Archaeological themes will explore the methods and techniques of the excavation, including geophysics, layers, trenches, artefacts, documents and the archaeology of the landscape.
This is a unique exciting opportunity for both new and experienced writers to use their experience of being part of the Dig to put their thoughts on to paper and in doing so create a new legacy for future generations.
The poems and prose created will be presented at The Heritage Open days when readings will be staged as a FIZZ Poetry and Spoken word event.
Following the Dig there will be a publication of the poetry and prose that best reflect the dig and its findings.
To register your interest in participating in the Poetry Workshops, go to the www.digtheabbey.co.uk web page and click on the Red Button.
Also check out the blog at http://digthepoetry.wordpress.com
THE FIZZ IN JULY – with guest poet Terri Jolland.
SOME OF MY COMING SOON DOINGS
Readings in June / July
My diary is all over the place I am not sure where I am meant to be and where I will be reading.