Saturday February 1st 2020


A Day Immersed in Verse Drama and the Spoken Word

Morning in the Elwin Room / Afternoon in the Elwin Room 

For our first meetup in 2020, we are going to have the exciting privilege of working with poet, playwright and drama teacher GRAEME RYAN who was for thirty years Head of Drama at Heathfield School ,Taunton 1998 – 2017. Graeme has authored eight full-length plays for young adults, including Heartland, Brave New World and The Name of the Beast, which were performed at The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre Taunton. Graeme also directed and performed in productions of Sue Boyle’s Report from the Judenplatz  (2016) and The Letters From Mexico (2017). A contributing member of Bath Writers and Artists since 2017, including a recent poetry performance with Ama Bolton entitled Fathers Lost and Found as part of a day on memoir. He was winner of Teignmouth Open Poetry Competition 2018 and third-placed in Torbay Open Poetry Competition 2017. He performed at Teignmouth Poetry Festival 2017 and 2018 and is a  member of and frequent performer with Fire River Poets, Taunton.

Graeme Ryan

Graeme Ryan

GRAEME will be bringing his drama experience and skills to help participants explore performance as a way of improving and developing their own work. We will also be discovering how speaking aloud can deepen our appreciation of writings by others we have admired and how listening to others read can give us new insights into our own.  Graeme is an accomplished director and will be using the Day to show what collaboration, feedback and experimentation can add to our experience of the written word, whether it is the work of others or our own.


Happy New Year to everyone!

I’m excited to say we now have sixteen subscribers to the Feb 1st Elwin Room meet-up entitled Voices of Exile and Remembering, plus a wealth of material on this theme that participants are going to bring for our morning’s devised performance! It will be fantastic to combine your original work with writing by other authors (approx 200 words per piece of writing) which will give the chance for us to share new work and old in a very meaningful way, including artwork too. Original work is not compulsory of course, but the morning provides a great opportunity to perform your own writing, and hear others perform it too, which is a great way of finding what really communicates and resonates. Please bring five copies of each piece you are contributing.

We will be working in small groups for the first part of the morning, focusing on vocal techniques and impact, staging ideas (including for example choral speaking) selecting and editing/combination of final material before integrating as a company for the performance before lunch. We are likely to have more material than we can use, so be prepared to edit and get creative in your small groups. Some of you may remember how successfully this has worked in the past – in the Waterwoven presentation, and recently in Fathers Lost and Found. It is ambitious but I am confident we can create something we as a group will own and be proud of, editing and incorporating ideas from everyone – and which will prove to be most absorbing fun in the process!

Sue has kindly emailed you a copy of her verse drama Report from the Judenplatz for our work in the afternoon session. We will be using as our script the version that starts on page 15, where the different voices are demarcated, but do look at the whole document and its important additional material. We will allocate parts on the day – but don’t worry, you won’t be expected to perform without the scripts in your hand, although familiarity with the script will greatly assist us. Do read it several times aloud at home and you will find it is a most powerful, moving and hypnotic text to perform; in fact spoken out loud is the only way to experience its real impact, as we discovered when performing it in Taunton in 2016.

The day will begin at 10am (doors open from 9.30) and we will break for lunch at 1pm. If everyone could bring a lunch contribution that means we can stay together as a group and save precious time for the afternoon session which will start at 1.45pm. We can accommodate a small audience (max 15) in the Elwin Room for our afternoon staging of Report from the Judenplatz which I would like to start at around 3.30pm to give time for responses and feedback afterwards, before we conclude at 4.30 pm. A few members of the group have said they would like to attend and support as audience for the afternoon, which I hope you will greatly welcome. I realise that time for this ambitious afternoon task is limited, but I think we can achieve lots and, with the right guidance, step out of our comfort zones, push our skills and immerse ourselves in the group.

I’m looking forward to it!

Morning session: call for contributions


Do you have any original work or work you love which explores the themes of exile and remembering and which you would be willing to share with the group to create an informal but powerful shared performance in the morning session?

Some starting points for inspiration are at the end of this post. 

The intention is to pool the material we bring and to create something new which develops our spoken word skills and our sense of ourselves as powerful communicators, all with the support of the group.Shorter pieces (around 200 words, in any format, or artwork) will of course work best, and we may well need to edit as we go along, but sharing the rich material you may bring in order to create something unique will be a special experience.

H.-A.-Imagoschew-Exil-3-300x249 (1)

Contributors & Guests
VERONA BASS : Japanese Maple by Clive James; Leaving the Farm by Dinah Read; Shakespeare Sonnet LXXIII; found poem by Neil Gaiman on homelessness.


AMA BOLTON : a “found poem” of exile and an original piece

SUE BOYLE : Themes of Exile in The Venice Book  & Italo Calvino : Marco Polo’s Grief

EILEEN CAMERON : Remembrance Sunday 2019


ANN CULLIS  (afternoon only, not performing)


MARILYN FRANCIS : Leaving Home from Dylan Thomas’ Adventures in the Skin Trade; \Tourist: Dromahair, Co Sligo by Billy Collins; Arrival 1946 by Moniza Alvi; Like a Beacon by Grace Nichols.



MIRANDA PENDER : Her father’s exile to a forced labour camp in 1940

ANN PRESTON : Closing passage James Joyce short story, The Dead; Jewels in My Hand by Sasha Moorsom; Gorky’s The Artist and His Mother by Charles Causley.

AMANDA READ ( guest)


SUE SIMS : Home, by Warsan Shire (British-Somali poet)

JANET SNOWDEN : The beginning of Mike’s journey into exile

JUDE WISDOM : Images of Migration & Henry Purcell : Dido’s Lament 

Not able to attend

Afternoon – Report from the Judenplatz

In the afternoon session we will attempt a staging, by Sue Boyle’s kind permission, of her short and extremely powerful Holocaust verse drama; Report from the Judenplatz – a few days after Holocaust memorial day. This will be a most exciting challenge and hopefully prove a perfect showcase for all the skills we have been exploring through the morning. Copies of the play will be available well in advance to familiarise yourself with the play (don’t worry, you won’t need to learn lines in advance and will be able to keep the scripts in your hands throughout the afternoon!)

auschwitz square resized copy

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this day, and any suggestions you may have to add to its content and impact.

Do let me know as soon as you can if you would like to participate in this day.

(With Sue’s permission I will email you in advance the 11 page script of Report from the Judenplatz so you can become familiar with it before the day.)

GRAEME RYAN:  Curator of Feb 1st meet-up day

Voices of Exile and Remembering : a few starting points

The experience of exile lies at the heart of so much writing, from Dante to Brecht, from Andrea Levy to Chimamanda Ngoze Adiche; from the award-winning Vietnamese poet Ocean Vuong to Wordsworth, in his exile from the wisdom and transcendent visions of his childhood.
And of course we are all exiles in one way or another: from the natural world, from our true selves, from our ancestors and heritage, from our childhood and in some cases the lands of our birth.
In his poem Piano, D H Lawrence writes:
‘In the flood of remembrance I weep like a child for the past.’
and Sylvia Plath in Tulips concludes:
The water I taste is warm and salty , like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.’
One current Kurdish exile, female poet Bejan Matur writes of a refugee people, like those who haunt our nightly news bulletins:
‘Birds hovered between earth and sky./Now the tribe cannot possibly survive/they said and flew away./We believed the birds/in their flurry,/that the tribe would not survive./With the tremulous souls/of all migrant peoples/we peered about us./First at the mountains/then the plain.’
Exile is universal, and Remembrance is a source of both pain and consolation.

Interested in joining our group as a subscriber? We have vacancies for 2020.
Use our contact form to get in touch.

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