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Posts Tagged ‘Stratford Poetry Festival’

And so it was that the following evening, I was one of a number who sat in a downstairs room in Hall’s Croft  (the present cafe space?) and much enjoyed listening to the voices of  Fenella Fielding and Max Adrian as they treated us to a poetical battle of the sexes with splendid panache and gusto. Some of the pieces were so amusing that there was as much laughter in our “small corner” as in the room where the actual readings were taken place. One particular moment which almost stopped the show was to hear Max Adrian dramatically whisper:

“Yesterday, I held her tight then cut her throat and serve her right!”

I cannot recall the author of this particular excerpt (perhaps it is familiar to some readers?) but I CAN recall the author of the very last piece. And why? Ah, now this refers to the surprise I referred to in my last blog.

We were just finishing our interval coffee when the door to the room opened and one of the organisers of the evening ushered in our guest readers. It was just as if Fenella Fielding and Max Adrian were in the family lounge back home! We were told that Miss Fielding  and Mr Adrian were aware that they had two audiences that evening – those who could see them and those who could only hear them. To show their gratitude to us, therefore, they had very kindly agreed to give us a special reading of the final item of the programme which was from George Farquhar’s THE BEAUX STRATAGEM. It was a richly comic reading, and still a vivid memory.

That season saw the 11th Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival and in this special year of RSC celebrations, we have the 58th Festival. What joins those seasons together is that readers taking part  include members of the RSC past and present. In 1964, Max Adrian was a former founder member of Peter Hall’s new company – 50 years ago, he had been in THE HOLLOW CROWN and THE DEVILS at the Aldwych Theatre, and had also played Jacques here in Stratford with Vanessa Redgrave as Rosalind.

On 3rd July, Alexandra Gilbreath, Henry Goodman and Scott Handy appeared in a devised programme by StanleyWells entitled THESE OUR ACTORS, whilst on 10th July John Heffernan and Penny Downie are taking part in MUSE OF FIRE. The latter is devised by Paul Edmondson and explores the relationship between the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare. (Tickets cost £15,and may be obtained by telephoning or calling at The Shakespeare Bookshop in Henley Street .The Box Office opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm,and Sunday 12pm to 4pm).

These evenings provide a special celebration of poetry, and I can’t help wondering whether at either performance there will be any 18 year olds who just happen to be in Stratford on holiday and who just happened to notice these evenings were taking place ? If so, I hope they have or have had as marvellous an evening (and holiday) as I did.

Next time, I’ll write more about that special week in 1964.

Tony Boyd-Williams

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