Anna as Director!!

I am interested in ways of staging poetry. Not purely as 'performance poetry' or a return to  heritage style iambic pentameter (and yet, not rejecting those veryfine traditions either) but looking at ways of working with the un/natural rhythms of contemporary poetry and even perhaps not so contemporary poetry. As Bajan poet Edward Kamau Brathwaite said in his famous collection of essays Roots; 'the Hurricane does not roar in Pentameter. And that's the problem: how do you get a rhythm that approximates the natural experience, the environmental experience' (265) but at the same time shapes it into something new and vital.

For me, as a poet, those natural rhythms of everyday speech are fundamental (which is not a controversial view - Wordsworth would have agreed). The crucial aspect of this search is that my voice as a working class woman from London, can register as a thing of interest - as a voice that has something to say that is not crude or faux naive. As Tony Harrison said, referring to the similarly recieved Yorkshire voice in literature, in his poem 'Them and Uz', we are the ones 'Shakespeare gives the comic bit to'.

In my teaching, that is almost all of it. Leading my students through a morass of voices in theirpoems to help them find a way to say it as they speak it; and to say it 'slant' (Dickinson), of course, but to say it their way and in a way that help them explore their truth(s).

My aims as a director are similar. I want to celebrate spoken voice, in all its varieties; to highlight the fabulous story telling ability of many working class people and to demonstrate its poetry. I have a fantasy of Cirque du Soleil style aerial ballet performing from somewhere spectacular like Tower Bridge, to an arrangement of voices of London pensioners - Oral History recordings, casual reminiscence, performing with their lovely story telling patterns and tropes. I have got as far as working with Tower Bridge Road Care Home residents in a circus related event inside the engine room of Tower Bridge; so maybe - one day...

Poets in performance at Shakespeare and Co in Paris 2007; Go Scratch Yourself Performance at Flat Iron Sq 2012, Water Poets at PLA Gravesend; Flat Iron Sq Print

The Rule of Six
Gavin Hadfield's long poetry sequence is set in the first few months of lockdown - 2020. A man sits at home watching the news and commenting on it. The news - global and local events is populated. People are suffering. Fleeing from terror, hunger, war, industrial neglect and political contempt. He is alone, with his congealing dinner for one and his yellowing wallpaper. 
The poem explores our increasing isolation and our humanity. We are aided in our understanding of what is happening in the world by a team of news journalists and some clowns called Bozo and Doris.
Performance is at 7 p.m. on July 1st in Studio 2 at the University of East London Stratford University Square Campus. Close to Stratford Circus and Theatre Royal. Come and clap for your lockdown heroes!
Thamesis Publications will be publishing the text on the night. Follow this link for more info on the pamphlet and how to get a copy:

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