Sunday, 16 January 2011

News from 2010: The Nine Lessons of Caliban

                       The Nine Lessons of Caliban

                      "I can't remember the last time a performance of poetry haunted me so."
                                                                      Feedback from an audience member.

After The Tempest performances, we started planning and rehearsing The Nine Lessons of Caliban for the Bristol Poetry Festival in September 2010. This was a performance of some of the poetry that had been written by the Firebird Poets and Claire Williamson during our work on The Tempest. It helped us look even more at the character of Caliban and develop a short poetry performance around all the stages that Caliban goes through on the island; all that he learns.

We worked with Ann Pugh on sound, lighting and projecting Carol’s artwork from The Tempest. We worked with Sarah Moody to make more music to go with the poetry. We worked with Claire Williamson to write some extra words to link all the poetry that had been written earlier in the year and in 2009. This then became our working script and we performed The Nine Lessons as a large choral piece; Claire and Sarah performed with us. We were also very proud to have Brenda Cook perform with us. Brenda is one of the Firebird Poets and retired from performing with Firebird (then known as the Portway Players) about 10 years ago. Brenda read a poem she had written and performed over 12 years ago as part of The Lying Doctors (1998). We felt that The Nine Lessons and The Lying Doctors were linked through the themes of oppression and bullying and Brenda’s poem about name calling from The Lying Doctors linked the two pieces very well.

We hope to include the script of The Nine Lessons on the main website in the future, this will also be included as part of the educational resource we want to put on the web around all our work on The Tempest. This resource will include downloadable materials such as scripts, photographs and plans but will focus on 4/5 short films made by Ann Pugh around how Firebird works and makes theatre.

For this blog we would like to include the poem that Brenda wrote all those years ago and now reads in The Nine Lessons of Caliban

Names can hurt and harm you inside
They touch a tender spot
They make you feel horrible
Names stick in your heart
Once called a name
It stays in your mind all the time
When you are called a name enough
You get to think it is right
You can't get away from it.

Extract from the ‘Sticks and stones’ poem by Brenda Cook

Feedback from an audience member for The Nine Lessons of Caliban, performed at the Arnolfini on 19th September as part of Bristol’s Poetry Festival 2010:

"The Nine Lessons of Caliban worked on many levels, not just the spoken word; it spoke visually and resonated with the experience of the performers. This resonance seemed unique to this theatre company; had the piece been devised by those without learning difficulty or physical and mental challenge, many layers would have been missing and Caliban's voice would not have shouted so loud." 

"The projection of the text, embellished by the wonderful illustrations was inspired; it allowed the viewer/listener to roll the text around in both eye and ear."

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