Category Archives: Performing

Review – and recommendation! Story Sunday through the eyes of a first-time reader

Thanks to Suzanne McConnaghy for summing up her first experience of reading with us at Southbank on March 19th.

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Mark Lewis, Suzanne, Ali Bacon, Debbie Young, Heather Jo Reed

Writers Unchained impressed me so much at the Festival of Literature, back in October 2016, that I decided I would enter their next event. They’d finally got me to see that writing a short story was not just writing a story: there was an art to it. Large learning curve and here I am at Story Sunday  on March 19th, 2017, about to step onto the stage.

The Southbank Club provides us with a relaxed and welcoming venue to listen to ten writers’ interpretations of the theme: ‘Another Country.’

I soon find Story Sunday’s excellent organisation is very supportive to the readers – when you have a programme and know exactly when you are on, it does a lot to calm the nerves. I’m placed mid-way through Act 1 and this gives me time to see how the first two excellent writers handle the situation but comes early enough to allow relaxed enjoyment of the remaining performances.

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Mark Rutterford, Jean Burnett, John Holland, Lania Knight, Dawn Maria Kelly

Heather Jo Reed’s ‘Mr Muyila’s Bull’ transports us straight out to the African Bush, transfixing the listener as we come to understand the fate intended for the little girl and enjoy the mother’s clever thwarting of her husband’s will. Thoroughly rattled by Mark Lewis’s surreal ‘The Ancestors,’ during which we travel across place and time,’ I realise it’s my turn. I’ve prepared a smooth response to the introduction but fail to hear a word of what is said – it must be nerves – so I have to go straight into the story. With ‘Boy in a Blue Shirt,’ you’re out in Bristol, mixing with the people who live on the streets – and under them.

Ali Bacon’s sensitive story of a young girl’s death, ‘The Coldest Country of All,’ introduces a note of sadness which contrasts well with the following piece, ‘The Emperor’s New Wall.’ After the tension of the previous reading, this satirical story by Debbie Young gives the audience an opportunity for uncomplicated laughter.

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Dawn Maria Kelly, Another Country-style

An interval filled with the strong musical performance of Dawn Marie Kelly, mixing well-known titles with some of her own work, and we’re into the second act with Jean Burnett’s ‘Swansong.’ Set in Malta, it reveals the uncertain world of the hit-man and confirms that his is not the ideal profession – if we didn’t already know it. A smooth performance by Lania Knight with ‘The Red Doll’ touches on the theme of homesickness and the power of certain objects, while John Holland’s ‘The Doorstep’ deals with a familiar character, the Polish workman, whom we see in an entirely new way. Then, Dawn Marie Kelly is back with ‘No Place,’ the story of a simple world somehow made infinitely menacing in the telling. Her acting ability and very convincing American accent made this story very powerful.

To finish, Mark Rutterford’s funny, self-deprecating ‘Skydiving’ takes us on a whirlwind journey through his love life, which feels exactly how I believe skydiving would be. This intricate, cleverly-constructed story is a worthy end to a very satisfying programme.

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Picture by Rebecca Lang

Can I recommend attendance at the next Writers Unchained event?
Most definitely. You’ll sit enthralled through a couple of hours of thought-provoking entertainment. And if you’re a writer with aspirations like me, you’ll also learn much from the way in which the performers handle their material and deliver it to the audience. Look out for the next Story Sunday.

Thank you, Suzanne! If anyone would like to be notified of our next event,  please contact us to be added to our mailing list. 

It’s all happening at Unchained Towers (yes it really is!)

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Emily Koch reading Scratching at the Grey

Any minute now we’ll be opening submissions for our next Story Sunday event whose theme is Midsummer Madness (submission details here) but here’s a quick run down on what we’ve been up to since the Love Hangover evening which as hangovers go was a whole lot of fun.

We had great stories and performances from all the writers who came from near and far. Sadly none of the rest of us remembered a camera, but thanks to guest writer Debbie Young you can see a few more snaps on our Facebook page.

And?

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Louise Gethin starred at Bristol Old Vic

Since then we’ve had quite a few adventures, starting in February when Louise Gethin performed Ship’s Diary – a short fictional piece inspired by a visit to the SS Great Britain and narrated from the Ship’s point of view – as part of the Bristol Old Vic Open Stage event. If you want to catch Louise again, she will be one of the poets and writers reading on the 9th June at Life, love and Mortality: A Literary Night. For further information: http://www.skylightrain.com/life-love-and-mortality-a-literary-night/

 

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Shirley in Teignmouth

Meanwhile Shirley Wright enjoyed a visit to the seaside when she took part in the Teignmouth Festival and came second in the Teignmouth poetry prize then ran a poetry workshop at  Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival which was hugely appreciated.

Jean Burnett and Ali Bacon also took part in the Hawkesbury festival  where Jean had the Georgians voted second in the ‘My era’s better than yours’  historical fiction panel. More pictures of the whole day are on Ali’s blog.

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Ali reads at Stroud

No prizes (so far)) for Ali whose short story Silver Harvest has been listed in more than one competition, but she did enjoy reading it at the Stroud Short Stories spring event on April 24th. Here’s a great review of the whole evening by Leah Grant of Good on Paper which really captures the atmosphere – and reveals some enticing news for Stroud Short Stories fans.

What’s next?

Our next ‘outing’ before or own Story Sunday will be at the Talking Tales evening in Bath on June 5th.  ‘More Banksy than Bonnets‘ is a chance for Bristol writers to go large in the sedate (?) city which is our neighbour, so thanks to Stokes Croft Writers for inviting local writing groups – and watch out Bath!

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Eleanor Matthews

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Heather Child

Perhaps best of all, we’ll be joined at upcoming events by new members who’ve recently joined our Writers Group. We’ve been enjoying their work immensely, so please take a look at  Heather‘s and Eleanor’s websites and join with us in giving the a warm welcome.

Like I said, it’s all happening 🙂

 

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