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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. 

Another Country – nearly there!

anothercountryorangeThe programme is nearly done for our next event on Sunday March 19th when ten local writers will read their interpretations of our chosen theme ‘Another Country’

The venue is Southbank Club, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol  BS3 1DB
7-9 pm

Entry £5 on the door.

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Guest writers at the last Story Sunday

We’re delighted our line-up is confirmed. Come along and hear new work from old friends and familiar faces and with live music from Dawn Kelly. 

Guests: John Holland, Lania Knight, Mark Lewis, Mark Rutterford and Debbie Young

Writers Unchained members:
Ali Bacon, Jean Burnett, Dawn Kelly, Suzanne Mcconaghy and Heather-Jo Reed

 

Hope you can join us!

The Twilight Zone – Captain’s Log

Stardate: October 24th ….

Out of this world – or just plain blinding.

You’ll have to excuse the cliches while we say a massive thanks to everyone who made last night’s Twilight Zone an absolutely stunning experience. Most of all to our amazing writers who each brought a unique and contribution to the SF/spec-fic genre every one of which was totally unforgettable.

So let’s hear it for these brave and talented souls who took the floor (with apologies for the odd solar flare!)

ACT ONE

Kevlin Henney 'Ashes to Ashes, Manana, Manana'

Kevlin Henney ‘Ashes to Ashes, Manana, Manana’

Julie Hayman ‘A new Cosmic Order After the Apocalypse’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonty Levine 'The Map of Chad'

Jonty Levine ‘The Map of Chad’

 

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Mark Lewis ‘Candy Man’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Corlett, 'Last Tango in Space'

Anne Corlett, ‘Last Tango in Space’ (and first glass of wine back on earth!)

ACT TWO

Alex Bridge 'Questionable Benefit'

Alex Bridge ‘Questionable Benefit’

Barney Barrett 'Down the Plughole'

Barney Barrett ‘Down the Plughole’

D. S. Ketelby 'The Birth of Birds'

D. S. Ketelby ‘Giving Birth to Birds’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Phlip Douch, ‘Trog and Kron attempt to Refuel’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevlin reading John's 'Youre Very Beautiful'

Kevlin reading John Holland’s ‘Youre Very Beautiful’

 

Our commiserations to John Holland who couldn’t make it on the night but whose story ‘You’re Very Beautiful’ was read by Kevlin with such mesmerising intensity it looks to me as if John’s shadow (or maybe his alien alter ego) was with us in the room.

Thanks as ever to Southbank Club who provided the ideal venue and to Sally for bringing along the portable atmosphere!

 

 

This was our fourth story Sunday since last we began on a misty night last November, so a good time to thank everyone who has read for us this year.

We are off to give ourselves a pat on the back and decide when and what our next event will be. Thanks to last night, I think there are a few more sci-fi fans in this neck of the woods.

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Apocalypse? Miaow!

Logging out.

And thanks again for all the birds, robots, eggs and (recurrent theme) very startled cats.

 

The Twilight Zone approaches

Yes, at 6pm next Sunday you can enter a world of mesmerising and mind-bending stories read by their writers. Our call for submissions has been the best yet and in a break with tradition we at WU are standing aside in favour of a full programme of guest writers. Our line-up includes not only star local writer/performers but also newcomers to the Bristol live-lit scene.

What can you expect if you join us?

  • Anne Corlett‘s award-winning story about space-travel
  • Philip Douch with sci-fi at its most hilarious
  • cosmic shenanigans from Jonty Levine, Barney Barret and Julie Hayman
  • an alien with a roving eye from  John Holland
  • an edgy take on time travel from  Alex Bridge

Sally post-nanoIf you feel the need for something more familiar, Mark Lewis offers boiled sweets (but not as you know them) and you can share an apocalyptic cigarette with Kevlin Henney. Or if far out really is your thing, we have D. S. Ketleby with an avian family saga.

Tickets £5

Doors (and bar) open 5.45.  Mind-altering stories,   6 – 8 pm

Let us – or them – entertain you!

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Madness it was … (or “phwoah, what a scorcher!”)

midsummergrpahicHelp. Autumn is nearly  upon as and you’re wondering what happened to midsummer.

For us it all came down to a rather warm evening  at Southbank Club and a great line-up of readers who entertained us with tales of doomed love, doomed window-cleaning,  febrile festivals and disturbingly real trouser snakes.

Amongst all the general insanity we also had some spectacular prose and highly professional performances.

So before moving on to whatever autumn may bring, here are a few souvenir postcards of what we did on our midsummer holidays with thanks to all those who came along and made it what it was.