Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Poetry Island

 Then two days later it was time for a different kind of spoken word evening but one also packed full of excellent performances with amazing variety was this month's Poetry Island at the Blue Walnut (Britain's smallest cinema) in Torquay, hosted by the ever popular Chris Brooks. - Who had very kindly asked us along as guest performers. Headlining was Chris himself with a fantastic extract from his crazy new one man show 'Edward Lear Ate My Goat' - a twisted murder-mystery style poetic tale weaving together unlikely names in an attempt to discover the truth about what links the likes of Tennyson, Lear, and Chris himself, with some insane departures into and remarks on light entertainment on the way. It was definitely a night for tongue twisters as Chris got us all roaring rhymes that ended his lines like 'vexed' and 'texts' as he pieced together a wacky poem along the way, summarising various parts of the journey of his researches!
   Other performances of the night included Tim King (often heard and seen at Taking the Mic and recently at Forked! in Plymouth) who gave a very fine rendition of one of his trademark pieces, the inimitable James Turner doing haiku, (who'll be headlining later on in the season), and Matthew Hammond the Stand Up Philosopher doing a fabulous and hilarious rendition of Nietzsche's criticism of Kant, including more audience participation tongue twisters as we all had to shout 'have you thought the thought that's never been thunk before?' and 'have you plundered the ponder that's never been plumbed before?' I was impressed that everyone managed to yell them correctly - especially the second one! What a night. Despite driving there in a gale, and the latter only having finished work in time to drive straight there, and dinner in the van on the way in the dark, it was a great evening and one to remember. Well done Chris!

Storyclub Strikes Again!

What a week! February began with an excellent Storyclub - despite four of us turning up before anyone else - Jon Freeman of Tyburn Jig, the hard working host, ourselves Widsith and Deor, and Jackie who occasionally tells a tale with a variety of Native American flutes and suchlike. However soon after, Michael Dacre of Raventales turned up, Tracey and Lawrence of the amazing Goliards, and later on David Heathfield, as well as newer tellers and listeners. It was a hugely varied evening with wildly differing styles, which all goes to show you never can say that it's the same old thing at Storyclub! From creepy theatrical monologue to a truly bizarre tale of a duck kingdom told by gifted singer/songwriter Kimwei, to Michael's rendition of an abridged section from the Laxdaela Saga (which should have been called Gudrun's Saga!). I recollected him asking us (after we had done some Egil's Saga tales - our favourite saga to perform from) about Saga tales at a previous Storyclub, and this time we had a hilarious discussion about the merits and claims or otherwise of the various characters! Gudrun was a woman famed in Medieval Iceland for her beauty, wealth, powerful intellect and force of character, and above all, her tragic life and four husbands. But the Saga - every bit a modern novel as are all the best Sagas! if a depressing one - circles around her relationship with the young man she loved best, and yet due to his folly, her pride, and his best friend's duplicity, never marries, but ends up (in Lady Macbeth style) having killed instead. It is a heart-wrenching tale of betrayal, jealousy, love and horror. Michael was more on the side of those that think of Gudrun as Lady Macbeth and Bolli (the lying best friend who ends up marrying Gudrun on her rebound) as understandable and in love. I on the other hand am firmly of the opinion that whatever else she did, she was motivated by vengeance only because of the dreadful betrayal which Bolli by his machinations brought about - and that the one who gets in the way of 'true love' gets what they deserve - or at least, I could see where she was coming from, and felt a deal more sorry for her than for Bolli. It was a noisy and involved, but good humoured dispute! brought to an end only by the beginning of the second half of the evening.
   When it was my turn, I had to apologize that while I had wanted to tell a love story, preferably a stirring and passionate tale of a brave princess rescuing a beautiful prince from a ravening monster, unfortunately what had stuck in my mind all week was a crazy ghost story from the Deep South called 'The Plat Eye'! by Veronica Byrd. Which is a ludicrously wonderful tale of the supernatural which we adapted, and Deor played the parts of all three monsters brilliantly - the eight legged dog wolf, the terrifying dark dryad and finally the Plat Eye itself. He used three masks (all made by himself, the Plat Eye specially for the purpose) to great effect, and it went down very well, considering I had only decided to do that story at suppertime, and we hadn't rehearsed it once! I so love contemporary American fiction - there's a quirky voice I seem keep on finding in the 'zines and sites which I come across, that's just irresistible.
   Deor 's did another from the Kalevala (Finnish national epic), and though he ran out of time as it was the last tale of the evening, like the last one, it went down a storm, including laughter at 'Handsome Hero Lemminkainen's dodgy dealings with the maidens of the Island of the Blessed!