This Tuesday & Wednesday just gone (12/3 & 13/3) were the showings of Poets’ Manifesto. This was a youth production shown at the Theatre Royal at Stratford, East London, put together by Karlos Coleman and Kat Francois. I’ve been helping out with the production since January as & when I could, in between working full-time, blogging, keeping up a semblance of a social life and working on my story. I wasn’t able to make it to the Tuesday showing but I saw the Wednesday one.
Poets’ Manifesto was about a world not very different to present-day London except for 1 crucial feature: poets and other creatively-minded people were exiled, segregated from normal society and forced to live in a ghetto/ underground part of the city. They’re believed to hold the power to bring down the law & order that normal society runs on. This system is headed by a man known only as the Banisher, whose job is to ensure everyone adheres to their designated social roles whether they like it or not. Anyone who dares to voice dissent is banished, hence the poets’ underground world. However, the Banisher’s son & heir Noah is secretly a poet. Not just any poet but the Scribe, a poet who’s been secretly undermining the Banisher’s authority over the city, constantly outwitting his 4 henchmen (known as no.1, no.2, no.3 and no.4). Noah later encounters the inhabitants of the underground world – Rocket, his younger sister Melody and others, but also gets outed as a poet by his father! And gets banished!
Through all that action & drama, and the fact that the actors were all ordinary London youths not professional actors, they well and truly hit the nail on the head! It was a masterpiece, I loved it! They got a standing ovation from the audience, and I’m told they got one on the Tuesday showing too! I invited my friend to watch it, and he loved it too! It was all positives all round!
(The friend is KG Lester, founder of the WordLovers Society. It’s a writing club on the 1st floor of Clapton Library, held on the 2nd Tuesday & last Thursday of every month. Writers of all levels & types are welcome. I recommend it for aspiring writers, it certainly helped me. KG also does one-on-one writing tutoring sessions)
The only props they needed was a metal stand and two bunk bed frames. Oh yeah, and strips of masking tape with lines of poetry stuck all over the walls and floor. The poems were all the cast’s own. It was truly inspired how well they made use of the space of the stage, and the way they involved the audience… genius! During the poets’ rebellion they used blackboards to write down what they want changed in society, and got the audience to do the same! And they had little handheld blackboards for the audience to keep! Getting them involved in the action was pure genius, they loved it!
There was even a part when Rocket was telling a secret and told the audience to keep it quiet. He then went up to a little boy sitting right in the front and went, “Sssshhhhh.” That was absolutely spot-on. The whole audience was like, “Aaaawwww! Wasn’t that cute?”
Here’s mine. I didn’t write new government, but then I didn’t erase it either
Regarding the helping out, due to work I could only make a few rehearsals. It began some time near the beginning of January and it was surprising how quickly we managed to get through the whole process in just under 2 and a half months. The 1st & 2nd times were just the planning stages, thinking of a plot and playing games to get our brains working. Kat’s very much the kinaesthetic type, moving around a lot, as well as a fast talker. Some may think it’s crazy, but hey! Creativity is about going against convention. Ask the poets!
The 3rd time I went they’d already decided on a plot, along with characters, poems and a nearly complete script. In fact I wasn’t needed that time; that was only meant to be for the main characters but I wanted to make sure they didn’t forget about me. Just because I couldn’t be in the final product didn’t mean I was letting my contributions be ignored or forgotten! The last time was the Wednesday night, 13/3. I helped the other workers prepare the props, put out the boards, took photos of the last rehearsal, bought pizzas & drinks for the cast (5 pizzas for under £35, plus 1 free! Thanks Pizza Hut!), and finally helped with bringing the guests in.
That last part was hectic, especially since some guests were from the Youth Council (the hell is that?!?) and they were to be escorted to their own room! I didn’t even know my way round the place; there are so many back doors leading to so many different rooms and passageways. Luckily I got out of that by letting my helper do it. But we had to guess which ones were which, all the while dealing with all the other guests waiting to be let through to the stage. Phew!
I think it’s fair to say there was nothing about the show I didn’t enjoy. I’d definitely be glad to help out again.