Stoke Literary Festival

Here are Catherine Burgass and Ray Johnson presenting their talk on ‘Arthur Berry – People’s Poet’ at the second Hot Air Literary Festival (13th June):
Ray and Catherine discussed Berry’s painting, poetry and plays, all of which articulate strongly a sense of regional idenitity, via images, film clips and dramatic readings.  They also launched a new edition of Berry’s poetry collection Dandelions:
Catherine was particularly excited to meet Margaret Drabble – taught on this year’s feminism module From Rage to Page.  Interviewed by Sathnam Sanghera about her most recent novel The Pure Gold Baby, Drabble clearly believed that conditions for women had improved significantly since the 1960s.  Catherine was able to get her mother’s original 1960s paperbacks signed and let Dame Margaret know that the political issues dramatised in these second-wave feminist fictions still speak to women of today, if student response is anything to go by!

Postgrad trip to the galleries (and pubs) of Liverpool

Postgraduate students from Staffordshire University were treated to a day away, to sample the cultural delights and watering holes of Liverpool. It proved to be an ideal opportunity to get everyone together, and the focus of the day was Leonora Carrington’s extraordinary exhibition at the Liverpool Tate (just before the show closed at the end of May). Carrington was an all-out surrealist and magical realist – and a highly accomplished writer of short stories and novels – as well as a stunning visual artist, whose work encompasses paintings large and small, prints, sculpture, tapestries, theatre design and – impossible hats.

Continue reading

Lear at the New Vic

Staff and students enjoyed Northern Broadside’s production of King Lear at the New Vic theatre last night. Barry Rutter, the company’s actor-manager and driving creative force, took the title role. The production was directed by Jonathan Miller.

The Guardian gave it 5 stars, which I thought a little generous ( In comparison with the energy and dynamism of other Broadside’s productions, this one felt static; but perhaps this reflected the sense of transition from the old order, by way of tragic hubris, to the new. Rutter brought touching moments to Lear’s downfall, but lacked the authority of a flawed tyrant at the beginning to give the necessary scale to his descent.

The fantastic story, of familial and political loyalty and conflict, carried the production to its famous conclusion (yes, if you don’t know it, you’ll have to read it or see it).