Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bath Poetry Cafe has had a worrying few weeks but the January meeting on Wednesday was able to celebrate a future now no longer precarious. This was a medley night, with a wonderful range of great readings skilfully choreographed by Sue Boyle whose passion for poetry always illuminates the room.

And this week I had the fantastic privilege of an interview for Plays International with Tom Morris, the much-admired new artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, who really is as awesome as his reputation. We met in a cafe near the theatre on a freezing morning so I greeted him from behind steamed-up glasses and dripping blood from a cut finger which decided to re-erupt, neither of which could be called a good look. But Tom was effortlessly polite and his enthusiasm for his new role and for the creative community comes across as utterly genuine. 'Our starting point is collaborative,' he says, emphasising how he's hugely excited by the 'crucible of culture' that Bristol is becoming. One example of his own contribution is Bristol Ferment, nine days of theatrical experimentation,“a forgiving environment were people can try things out and learn from performing whether an idea has legs” - which looks simply brilliant though frustratingly I'm already committed elsewhere on every night...

“It is only when the bodies start piling up that the world takes notice of Haiti” wrote Andrew Marshall in The Independent. That was back in 2000, as a sombre tribute to Jean Dominique, Haitian journalist and human rights activist, assassinated on the steps of his radio station. I'm abashed to admit I knew nothing about this charismatic champion of the powerless and campaigner for justice, until the Haiti benefit night organised by my friend Niamh included a showing of his life story. The Agronomist was made soon after his murder by Oscar award-winning Jonathan Demme who also directed The Silence of the Lambs. Jean Dominique knew his struggle was his death sentence: he believed "You cannot kill freedom, you cannot kill justice". Savagely sad and inspiring in equal measure, this is a story of a country in need of not just donations but far better treatment by the world beyond its borders.

This week's weird footnote: A reading test!
I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in what oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is that the first and last ltteer be in the r ghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

- and a totally irrelevant image of Bristol docks on the first night of that much-welcomed thaw.

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