A Scholar & A Statesman Staged Rehearsed Play Reading – A Dramaturge/ Directing Triumph for Dare to Diva

A Scholar & Stateman E flyer S-and-S-A4-Poster-LayoutOn Sunday June 18th 2017 at the Attenborough Centre, the staged rehearsed reading of A Scholar & A Statesman, an important  play written and produced by Pamela Roberts FRSA, with myself as Dramaturge/ Director took place. The play had seven professional actors and it features the story of a local Leicestershire hero. Arthur James Harley, who was born in Antigua, he lived at the turn of the century and settled in Shepshed Leicester, after a number of Academic Achievements at Harvard USA, and Oxford England, before becoming a Reverend of the Church of England.  At the Attenborough Centre there was a good attendance, of a diverse audience made up, various locals, prominent members of the Antiguan community, along with with her Excellency  Karen Hill, the High Commissioner of Antigua & Barbuda also present.

The event was ably introduced by Host Makeda and throughout the reading the actors gave very strong performances, that captivated the audience throughout. After a warm round of applause, Makeda then briefly interviewed Pamela Roberts, Carol Leeming and three of the Actors, to comment on their thoughts and experiences with regard to the play. There then followed a lively Q&A with the audience, e.g questions around the writing of the text, staging the reading, or specific characters of the play.  Many audience members expressed not only their enjoyment of the piece overall, but their connection to  the themes highlighted in the narrative text. There were many favorable comments from the audience members, as to specifically the acting, directing lighting etc. along  with their wish to see the final production.  In addition , for this production to be widely shown, as performance and also with audio, printed background materials, to be shared across England, and in Antigua itself as part of important Black History,

 

 

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Going South! – Success At Surrey Poetry Festival 2017

 

In early April 2017, after receiving a request for my email address via private message on twitter from Hix Eros. The name prompted me find out more about the person wanting to get in contact. It turns out that Hix Eros on twitter, proved to be a certain Dr. Joseph Walton aka Jo Lindsay Walton, Poet Novelist Ph.d Creative Writing Lecturer, Leicester University and Poet-In Residence at Surrey University. Joseph Walton is the Editor of Hix Eros the title of an online poetry review magazine, published jointly with Sad Press. Hix Eros Reviews and Sad Press (set up in 2009) publishes experimental poetry chapbooks –of up to five a year. Joseph Walton is also one of the organisers of regular poetry events in Bristol.

I mention all this, to show the steps I’d taken to establish who this person was. After I had done so, I forwarded via private message on twitter my email address to Hix Eros. After which I received an email, inviting me to read my poetry, at the forthcoming Surrey Poetry Festival May 6th2017. I was at once delighted and edgy with anticipation. Later on after receiving some event information from Joseph and researching the festival. I understood the festival was known for hosting many published British and International experimental poets, many of them also editors of poetry publications or academics.

After a pleasant relatively trouble free drive south to Surrey, with my driver and travel companion Adam. We arrived at G Live –a brand new very large Arts Venue in Guildford. There was a series of different literary events taking place across the building. We were guided to the Rock Room, a large room with rows of chairs. There was already audience members in attendance. We then met Joseph, who greeted us warmly and went over the running order. I was on in the first section of the programme. We then set up my books on the poets book table and Festival Staff took over the sales role.

By now I was clear on the poems I was to read from my chapbook The Declamation of Cool Eye given the time slot, but I had one poem not part of that collection. I was not sure if I should include it. I decided I would see how things went with the first couple of poets and the mood of the audience.

Needless to say, I was somewhat nervous in this new environment, with many English Literature and Creative Writing academics in attendance. I was a world away from Leicester Poetry Open Mic nights like Shindig (Nine Arches Press/Leicester University) WORD or Pingggk! Here, no one knew me, or my poetry at all apart from the programmer.

When I asked Joseph how he had come to book me for the festival he said, that I had been recommended, by Tom Kew a colleague and fellow lecturer at Leicester University. Tom Kew was familiar with my work, he teaches English Literature & Creative Writing Undergraduates, and uses my poems Valley Dreamers and Highfields Fantasia in is lectures, included in a Bloodaxe Anthology and Welcome to Leicester Dahlia Press.

Before I went on to read, there was a couple, poets from Ireland with their young son of three years. They read a poem as a duet, parallel voices alluding to their life and relationship. The woman’s poem was clipped and chaotic and the man’s measured and reflective. At various points, their son distributed pieces of papers, to members of the audience with short poetry quotes from other poets. The woman at one point used a slang word for masturbation. It was then I realised I could do my poem, the one I was initially unsure of. Due to it also having a slang word for semen. My Breaking the Silence poem is about sexual violence written as a letter to the perpetrators shirt.

When it was my turn to read it felt like the first time I’d read poetry to an audience. There was much paper shaking in my hands, but I proceeded to relax as time went on. Certainly by the time I read Breaking the Silence I was in the swing of things. I also read or rather sang my poem Autumn Rage, which and allowed me to use my voice in a different way. Joseph’s comment was ‘that was fantastic’. audibly immediately after I had finished reading to the audience,

There then followed warm prolonged audience applause, my relief papable, my face mirrored the audiences’ smiles all round. Later Joseph shared with me, how pleased he was I had sang Autumn Rage Plainsong. As he knew I was a singer, but he did not feel he could ask me to do so. Other audiences members, took time to tell me how much they enjoyed my poetry. I made new contacts and colleagues, mingling with the other poets and sold some books! All together it was very successful enjoyable experience.

 

 

 

Surrey Poetry Festival 2017 – Carol Leeming to read from new Chapbook!

I am thrilled to be reading, at the forthcoming Surrey Poetry Festival Sat May 6th 2017 12-5pm GLive Venue Guildford, organised in conjunction with  the New Writers Festival. at Surrey University.  The festival is in its seventh year, and is known to be the seat of  new experimental and ground breaking poetry. The Poetry Festival is curated by the Poet in Residence each year at Surrey University, currently Dr Joseph Walton, poet and editor Hix Eros Review and Sad Press. Alongside myself reading,  there will be a vast array of stunning poets from across the UK, Ireland and Iceland with more to be confirmed  .

This is a great opportunity and significantly, marks my very first appearance at a Poetry Festival outside of Leicester. Some years ago I read at a fringe event of First Story (literary organisation), at Literary Leicester Festival curated by Harry Whitehead, Centre for New Writing Leicester University. More recently, I had the pleasure to read at a Writers Showcase as part of Leicester Writes Literary Festival curated by Farhana Shaikh of Dahlia Press. In both cases I read a wide variety of poems. For the Surrey Poetry Festival I will be reading poems primarily from my new chapbook collection The Declamations of Cool Eye.

See link of for further information: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/englishandlanguages/literature_events/surrey_poetry_festival/

 

What the Butler Saw Leicester Artists Community Response to Joe Ortons’ controversial Play What the Butler Saw at Curve Theatre 11th March 2017

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On Saturday March 11th a group of artists including myself, all of us based in Leicester shared our  performances on the Curve main stage set, as part of a presentation titled What the People Saw, as a response to Leicesters’ world famous playwright  Joe Orton’s  play What the Butler Saw  (WTBS)that was playing at Curve Theatre.  This was part of a celebration to honour Joe Orton’s work, lead by Julia Thomas the RYDT Director In Residence at Curve. Julia provided information resources and helped facilitate work, that was devised, over a couple of weeks and was finally presented, as script in hand performances to an invited audience.

As a group of artists, we  were able to attend technical rehearsals, final main house productions of WTBS ( I saw a storming fantastic show!), read the script and use rehearsal facilities and importantly perform our own work, on that lovely set for the main play. Creative group meetings were held to identify  an discuss the key issues within Orton’s play, to begin to shape our own personal and collective responses. This was a very positive supportive experience, as we bonded very quickly and worked well together.

The presentation included a collection, of short humorous satirical sketches, short dramatic plays, music, physical theatre and poetry. My own contribution featured political poetry, that incorporated key political slogans, from over several decades of public demonstrations, songs about not being a bounty coconut, a dark limerick about institutional sexual abuse and celebrification, a cross dressing love poem, and a poem about lesbian burlesque and seduction in a club.

In taking on this project, I saw it as an opportunity, to take a risk, come out of my comfort zone of writing drama, to do political satire i.e. more humorous work. As well as to work with other new exciting talented artists, I had not worked with before from Leicester. It was a welcome opportunity, to work with Curve Theatre itself.  We as a group of artists were all delighted that Nikolai Foster and Julia Thomas, along with the invited audience  expressed their delight and pleasure at our work. For myself it was most satisfying to see the positive response to my own work, it  made me more confident about exploring more satire and humour. Finally, it must be said it was a wonderful opportunity provided by Curve.  My appreciation  and knowledge of Orton’s play WTBS increased tenfold, and provided  us with ample material, to inspire our own creativity in heaps!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Leeming at Write On Leicesters Writer Showcase Central Library March 15th 2017

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I took part in  Write On, the Leicester Writers Showcase event, a new series of events lead by Matthew Vaughn Leicester Libraries, and the other members of the literary community in Leicester e.g. Emma Lee and Ambrose Musiywa.  the events are recorded Bia audio and photographs also,  Leicester can very much look forward to further dates this year, with next month author Marianne Whiting will take the floor with her Viking Shield Maiden books.

On this evening I began by reading, to a good sized mixed audience, a number of poems from my debut poetry collection The Declamations of Cool Eye. Thereafter followed a short interval with refreshments and a lively audience Q& A. Whereby I was asked about my writing process, how I get inspiration for poems and in particular, how this collection came together. I disclosed that the collection was made up of my shorter  poems. As I have been been known previously to write long form prose poetry for stage as choreopoems. I also highlighted how a silver sequined North African hat, provided an creative impetus, for the narrative persona of Cool Eye (a childhood nick name of mine).

This all lead to the making of the film poem Enchanter and to the completion of a collection of poems for the book. There were also questions about my editing processes, along with the value of independent editor, and rigorous editing of your own work, as had been advised to me by other poets e.g. Jean Binta Breeze. I explained a number of the poems in the book had been read by literary professionals,  who gave their helpful comments and feedback. Others poems feature in important anthologies. I am delighted to report  at the end of the evening, I sold a number of books and signed them, and received very positive feedback from peers and audience members. Well worth doing and an important even for local writers to help develop an audience for their work.

Enchanter Carol Leeming Upstairs At The Western Theatre March 3rd 2017

On offer was a  song and percussion by /carol Leeming in Enchanter persona, followed by a screening of the ‘mesmerising’ Enchanter film poem. With audience Q & A with Carol Leeming of Dare to Diva and Rob Gurney on hand. The second half featured spirited  readings from Carol as the Enchanter, in full costume dress complete with large silver sequined hat. With book sales and signings at the end of the night.

There was a lively discussion around the style of the film poem, the African roots and the notion of people’s journeys in the introductory section, reflected in the style and musical presentation.With some audiences members explaining how they identified with the sentiments that were expressed.

There was further questions and discussion fro the audience, about the love song Habibi and the love poem  Drawing in the film poem. How these two things contrasted, with the look of the film poem, which is in black and white an was very much  influenced by German Expressionism.

See a review here:

 

Carol Leeming Receives Penfold Award for Media from Leicester Writers Club 17th November 2016

Carol Leeming  was awarded the Margaret Penfold Award for Media for Digital Story Telling for the Enchanter film poem at the Leicester Writers Club Annual Awards Dinner. LWC Committee members had viewed  the evocative Enchanter film poem at an exclusive packed preview  launch screening in September  2016 at Phoenix Arts & Cinema. The audience response was noted as to how enthusiastically  there had received, the Enchanter  film poem which was written, and produced with Rob Gurney of Digital Mechanic, it featured Carol performing the character of the Enchanter,  with song, dance and a recitation of the poem ‘Drawing’  taken from the debut chapbook published by Dare to Diva The Declamations Of Cool Eye.  Dare to Diva will release the film poem Enchanter to the wider public, early in the New Year.  Prior to a series of event dates, poetry readings from The Declamations of Cool Eye, with Book stalls and signings of by the author Carol Leeming

https://leicesterwritersclub.com/2016/11/22/annual-awards-dinner-2016/