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.


In this first meet-up of the 2020 season the intention is for us to work as a group and to use the writing we bring – plus art-work as well – as the basis for developing our skills as spoken word performers and to create a series of group performances over the course of the day. We will explore a wide range of techniques to help us gain range and confidence – with the spin-off that speaking work aloud is one sure way to find out if, and how, writing works.


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.

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


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


MARILYN FRANCIS : Leaving Home from Dylan Thomas’ Adventures in the Skin Trade

ANN PRESTON : Closing passage James Joyce short story, The Dead


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.
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