Preparations continue apace for the upcoming Pitshanger Poets Poetry Evening, or 3PE, as it is referred to here in the Archive. Of course, this is also a particularly proud moment for your humble Archivist, who is making her stage debut at our erstwhile host, the Questors Theatre. I have naturally publicly spoken before, such as when I was awarded runner-up at Librarian of the Year or when raising a point of order at a branch meeting of the Allied Cataloguers, Indexers and Alphabetisers, but this is altogether more momentous. For the Studio stage has been previously trodden by such luminaries as King Richard the Third, the Second Mrs de Winter, and Just William. There is blood, sweat, and the tears of a clown upon that floor, grease of the paint, elbow and lightning varieties oozing between its boards, upon which have been the walls, doors and windows of bedrooms, red rooms, dark rooms and lighthouses, all lit up by more bulbs than Blackpool. Indeed, the intimate stage of the Studio is a very big space to fill.
There was a definite nervous energy about this week’s workshop, where Pat Francis was discovered with her curtain-raiser of a very old love story much retold, and introducing husband Peter with his tale from the riverbank, gleaning folk wisdom from the energetic salmons. Next on the bill was John Hurley with his performing birds and a just-so story to explain their absence, and a subtle minor-key observation from Owen Gallagher about the drive to fit-in. Alan Chambers then spun his strange dream-vision over us in the time it took a lock to fill, and Martin Choules gave us a rousing patriotic ballad searching for a new audience, followed by an old classic with updated words by Daphne Gloag. Roger Beckett played the part of his uncle in the War, one of a new guard not in it for the medals, while Simone Nunziata kept his stand-up meditation on words and silence short and sweet, and Nick Barth brought on a finale full of the joys of Spring and a promise of performing an even bigger show later in the year.
It is usually at this point that I crack open one of the mighty Pitshanger ledgers to find a juicy tittle-tattle titbit from glories past to recount, but in truth I have been too busy learning my butterflies and rehearsing my pauses to get round to it. I’m sure Sir John and the Romantics had many a theatrical experience, with Bill Blake and Gerogie Byron in particular the very epitomes of the drama queen, but how will researching such ancient minutia help me to remember my sodding lines (which to be frank are really quite appalling, but what can one expect from such a provincial playwrite ?) But rest assured, come Monday night then the Hamlet of modern Ealing poetry will very much have its prince, and there shall definitely be something written on the stage of Denmark.