“A superb mix of traditional and innovative literary events put together with great imagination and flair.”
Exciting site specific performances, plays, workshops and more were among the literary inspired events that took place in October, under the Other Worlds, Other Voices banner for the Rochester Literature Festival.
The ten day festival for readers, writers and like minds opened with two events to celebrate National Poetry Day on Thursday, October 3rd, and a second event in association with Medway Libraries on Saturday, October 5th.
“Rochester Literary Festival is cool! The director and cast of Bang Up did a brilliant job and made people cry! The She Writes plays went down really well again with lots of challenging, intellectual questions from the audience afterwards and then Skywatchers was an explosion of theatrical panache, intriguing writing and weird, weird things. Elsie and Iris now truly believe that aliens are hovering above our Medway heads, ready to abduct us.”
NATIONAL POETRY DAY – 3RD OCTOBER: POETRYMON AND MAGGIE HARRIS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH
What they said:
“A brilliant poet and the kind of experience that Medway needs”
“Maggie is a fantastic reader and writer. Very engaging and full of character”
POETRY WORKSHOP WITH MAGGIE HARRIS – 5TH OCTOBER
What they said:
“Very good leadership by Maggie Harris, welcoming to all levels of writer”
“Found it really helpful – great to hear some styles of writing. Enjoyable”
A NIGHT AT THE THEATRE – 5TH OCTOBER: ‘BANG UP’ BY SARAH HEHIR & 17PERCENT PRESENTS ‘SHE WRITES: WHAT’S THROUGH THE DOOR’.
A Night at the Theatre was brilliant, thank you to everyone who came along and supported it. It was very gratifying to see there is a large and appreciative audience for local playwrights. Stunning writing brought to life by two excellent casts in an event that can never be repeated, only aspired to again in the hopefully not too distant future. Welcoming visitors from as far apart as Watford and Hythe was very satisfying, as it means our reach has extended way beyond our Medway borders – very encouraging for the future of the festival.
Photos courtesy 17percent. Read all about the cast and crew here.
What they said:
“So fantastic to see such a capacity audience for brilliantly written stories, and heartening in this technology driven age that people want so much to sit and hear them. WELL DONE EVERYONE!”
“I was blown away by the evening. BANG UP was immensely powerful; deeply insightful, empathetic, humorous and full of gritty realism. I was moved to tears. I loved everything about WHAT’S THROUGH THE DOOR: the concept; writing; performances and the whole collaborative process – brilliant! Thank you.”
“Great night, really enjoyed it. Q&A a great idea 🙂
“Excellent play, funny and sad, just what you would expect in the West End. The acting was excellent, especially the two leads called Lee and Miss.”
“Both performances were astounding, so well written, produced & directed. It felt like a London quality night out in Rochester, I was totally in the world of all the stories.”
“Excellent venue and acoustics, quality of actors, quality of plays.”
“The standard of the plays was fantastic, thought provoking and entertaining. The actors were also fabulous, especially some of the younger cast members, who really added to the realism for Bang Up, the prison based play.”
(What I enjoyed was )”The talent and enthusiasm of everyone taking part.”
“The content and the Question & Answer session at end. Good venue.”
“The first play was very moving, absolutely brilliant.”
“I thought the quality of the overall writing was very good and very entertaining – and the acting was outstanding”
“I would just encourage the literature society/circle to keep going, it’s nice to have something cultural and diverse in the area.”
THE SKYWATCHER INVESTIGATION – 6TH OCTOBER
Our interactive story game was as entertaining for the cast as for our audience, all of whom joined in the fun to earn clues to their next destination (mimicking the Triffids and learning an alien language where necessary) before meeting for the final short sci-fi films at the Guildhall Museum.
What they said:
“Just wanted to say how brilliant yesterday was. Really enjoyed it and it was magical seeing the kids so swept up in it. They absolutely loved it and have been wearing the tags with pride ever since. Really caught their imagination and a day they’ll never forget. Well done, really fantastic; bet you’re exhausted!”
‘It was just so much fun, and so different. The kids all talked about it all the way home and want me to find something similar to do (not sure there IS anything similar to be honest) They also told all their friends about it and showed off their passes and their badges.’
Roy Smith; Sarah Jenkin (B.U.C.K.E.T Mission Control); Dave Norris (Biggles); Max Macpherson; Anne-Marie Jordan (Jules Verne Steampunk Otherworld); Malek Montag; Dee Hudson (War of the Worlds); Riven Gray (The Midwich Cuckoos); Jaye Nolan; Lance Phillips; Sophie Williams (Day of the Triffids); Nigel Adams; Abigail Ziering; Matt Lewis (Aliens) Nick Walker and Amy Norris from Rochester Film Society, Natasha Steer from Creatabot and Nikki Price, official photographer.
And our immense thanks to our brilliantly accommodating venues in Rochester High Street: Baggins Book Bazaar; Johnstone’s Tool Shop; Rochester Games and Models;, The Dot Cafe; Nucleus Gallery and coFWD coworking space.
PLAY: WRITE – 7TH OCTOBER
“A lively play around with words. And beer as an added bonus!”
CITY WITHOUT A HEAD – 8TH OCTOBER
A terrific evening of cityscape writings, word bingo, sweets and puppy dogs eyes! Many thanks to ME4Writers for letting us share in their moment of triumph, and to everyone who came along to see it.
Photo courtesy Nikki Price Photography
WRITE AROUND TOWN – 10TH OCTOBER
What they said:
“Stimulating exchange of ideas and writing exercises to take away and work on.”
“I now view Rochester through different eyes.”
POTLATCH – 12TH OCTOBER
Once again, our Potlatch threw up some wonderful blind Q&A’s (one person writes the question and hides it, another writes an answer), leading to lots of “Oohs” and “Ahs” and hysterical laughter! And an amazing short story was improvised using the props pictured!
What they said:
“This is the first time I’ve attended a creative writing workshop and I felt really welcomed, encouraged and valued. It was inspiring, uplifting and great fun – a truly wonderful experience. Thank you!”
If and Then:
If Earth and Jupiter collide … then alien stars would burn with the fervour of lovers.
If women ran the world … then the sun would shine forever and the seas would never run dry.
If everyone wore a mask without expression … then there would be no wars.
How do mountain goats cope with vertigo? With minute precision.
How do people fall in love? With great caution.
How do fleas mate? With a great deal of style and panache!
How do you make jewellery out of skin? By performing yoga, on the beach, at sunrise.
FROM SORCERY TO STARSHIPS – 12TH OCTOBER
What they said:
“It was nice to meet so many like-minded people. Everyone was very friendly, the content was interesting and the venue was accessible and welcoming.”
“It was interesting and informative.”
“The presentation was great.”
THE HERO’S JOURNEY – A CALL TO ADVENTURE – 12TH OCTOBER An evening with Bill Lewis.
What they said:
“I was captivated by Bill’s evening. The strands of social anthropology, psychology, personal stories and performance were beautifully woven into an insightful, thought-provoking and heart-warming journey. Thank you again and for the whole RLF experience – a real joy!”
“Bill was interesting, intelligent and entertaining. I left feeling challenged and inspired.”
“It was a superb opportunity to spend time listening to and learning from one of this country’s great poets.”
“I’d be interested in a series of events which discussed ‘The Hero’s Journey’ in greater depth; perhaps one event for each of the points on the circle.”
“I now want to go and explore Nicaragua!”
ALICE – 13TH OCTOBER
Photos courtesy Nikki Price Photography
What they said:
“Thank you so much to all who helped create such a beautiful and enchanting performance.”
“Brilliant play and to have only been working on this for two months is totally amazing. Well done all, you really pulled it off. Very moving!”
“Original and unusual, a lovely performance, very much enjoyed.”
“A diverse range of art forms all came together to create an entertaining, family friendly event.”
“A unique way to show a well known story, amusing narration, emotional dances, great music , a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.”
“The orchestra music was beautiful. Some of the dancers were quite engaging e.g exotic dancer and the Queen of Hearts.”
The Other Worlds, Other Voices exhibition for mixed media took place at Rochester Community Hub and Library between 5th – 12th October during normal opening hours. Featured artists were: Richard Jeferies; Nikki Price; Deke Dobson; Trudy Wilde; Fitzy; Rosie Melville; Ben Cameron; Sarah Hinds; Tony Malone; Sarah Jenkin; Trisha Herlihy; Chris Page; Jaye Nolan and Sharon Manship. Each artist has their own distinctive style, whether written, visual or textual, and the overall result created an inspiring insight into the other worlds and voices of Medway and Kent artists.
OUR EXCEPTIONAL FESTIVAL ASSOCIATES:
This festival couldn’t have taken shape without the awesome contribution of these good folk and the fantastic volunteers involved.
Roy Smith, Project Manager The Skywatcher Investigation. Roy lives in the Medway Towns, where he works with young people and spends a lot of time writing nonsense. Most of his writing happens at night and other inconvenient moments, when he is regularly interrupted by his dog and the desire to play old video games. Roy is a member of ME4 Writers* and the coFWD coworking community; he also runs Seasonally Effected, a monthly open mic for creatives. Websites are www.royalansmith.co.uk and www.seasonallyeffected.wordpress.com
Creative Producer and playwright Sam Hall, of 17percent and ME4Writers* for Write Around Town, Poetrymon, City Without a Head and She Writes: What’s Through the Door. Sam Hall’s plays have been performed in the UK and internationally. Her play ‘Seven tunes on the flute’ received its world premiere in Italy at the Trends festival of new British Writing, April 2013, and her first play, written long ago whilst at school, won the Six Counties Festival.
Jacob Bride, Creative Director for Alice, is a composer and member of local band Brides of Rain, and has collaborated with the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra on many occasions. By the age of eighteen he had taken the position of Principal percussionist for Maidstone Symphony Orchestra and the Kent County Youth Orchestra. He has embraced the unpredictable, yet hugely enjoyable world of freelance performing, composing and teaching, whilst juggling this with his personal band projects Brides of Rain, Larkspur, and Scarecrow Highway, and also running a small promotional group for the arts and music (Pagan-Saint promotions) with JIMtheSAINT (Jamie Scott Godfrey).
*ME4Writers are a collective of Medway based writers who work together on projects and events. The group was set up by Sam Hall in 2009, and was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Literature category at the Medway Culture & Design Awards 2012.
Our venues: Grateful thanks to Medway Libraries, Ye Arrow and The Good Intent for allowing us to use their space for free. Also, the following venues have discounted their usual prices for us, which again is much appreciated: The French Hospital (the Visitor Information Centre Auditorium) The Gordon House Hotel and The Royal Function Rooms. Full credit will also be given to the businesses allowing us to use their space for The Skywatcher Investigation – finding them was all part of the game though, so they remained a secret until it was over (see above)! Our workshop space, coFWD, is an awesome supporter of community activity in Medway, and we thank them for their hospitality.
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