The Waste Land Revisited at BRLSI

Readers performing The Wasteland Revisited at BRLSI’s Bath Poetry Cafe
Sixty people gathered together in the Elwin Room under the auspices of BRLSI’s Bath Poetry Cafe for a very special evening of readings in homage to the towering twentieth century genius of English language poetry, TS Eliot. 
In the first half of the evening, Cafe poet and Chairman of the Bath Minerva Choir, Paul Feldwick (pictured right) held the audience spellbound with his solo reading of Eliot’s seminal modernist poem, the 434-line The Waste Land with its multiple voiced apocalyptic portrait of the traditional values of European civilisation in terminal decline.  The second half of the programme presented the first ever performance of The Waste Land Revisited, a collaborative play for voices written jointly by Cafe poets Sue Boyle, Frances-Anne King, Geraldine Lindley, Tessa Strickland and Judith Young.
A cast of sixteen brought a newer, revisited London to life, their mosaic of voices presenting us with characters as diverse as those in the Eliot original but in this second piece inhabiting and having to come to terms with, the problems and challenges of a recognisably twenty-first century world.
We met Mudlark, the Thames scavenger with his fondness for the river bank rats;  Madame Vertue the secondhand clothes dealer;  Sita the Indian scholar bewildered by the spiritual poverty of the contemporary city; a Spearmint Rhino poledancer; a city financier and his neglected wife; a transgendered croupier from Latvia; a contemporary wedding party and an up-to-date Narcissus preening himself in the mirror before a night out on the town.  A sinister River Thames wove his way through the piece which concluded with a futuristic presentation of the drowned metropolis, its remaining inhabitants gazing over the wilderness of water and wondering where they will find the strength to begin again.
The Waste Land Revisited writers  were very fortunate to have attracted a particularly fine cast of readers, some of whom were not poets themselves but accomplished performers who brought an exceptional level of skill to the reading. Adrian Jean, Tim Evans and Mark Sanders have between them an impressive history of stage appearances in Bath and elsewhere and we were also extremely grateful to  Anna Loo, Meg Osborne, Verona Bass, Tony Ryan and John Challis for bringing their excellent reading skills into the  cast. 
Sue Boyle

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