HT Mashup: Features

National Poetry Day - 5th October 2006

Scarborough Poetry Workshop will be presenting some of their work on National Poetry Day, 5 October, at a special lunch at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Jackie KayBy rights poetry should have died out centuries ago. An artform that allowed oral societies to dramatise, memorise and relate their founding myths and legends, poems might seem out of place in modern society. But poetry has entered the human psyche so that every age and every place has need of poets and poetry. Scarborough is no exception.

The theme of National Poetry Day is identity. The English language has been so wonderfully grasped, wrestled with and moulded by the different peoples of these islands that it is impossible to imagine modern poetry without the special qualities brought by Irish poets like Louis MacNeice, Tom Paulin and Seamus Heaney, the Welsh Dylan Thomas and R S Thomas, and the Scots Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Muir. Recent immigration has brought a whole new life to British poetry through the work of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephaniah, who picked up on the thrilling live performances of the punk poets of the 1970s.

Women now share centre stage in British poetry. It’s appropriate then that National Poetry Day featured poet is  Jackie Kay. A native of Edinburgh, with a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, Jackie was adopted by a white couple at birth and brought up in Glasgow. One of Britain’s most popular poets, her latest collection is Life Mask (2005).

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Silent Film Festival 2006

It's 1926: Valentino looks into the camera and the world wobbles on its axis; by June he is dead from a stomach haemorrhage and half the population is in mourning. Movies have their first great legend, and film is confirmed as the most powerful art form of the twentieth century.

Reel forward 80 years and Rudi's last and most popular film, Son of the Sheik, is opening the fourth Scarborough Silent Film Festival. Four nights later the festival closes with arguably the finest silent film ever made, Buster Keaton's The General. In between there are classic films starring Harold Lloyd and Ramon Navarro, and a rare showing of Berlin, the first great film documentary.

Why the sudden interest in films from the silent era? The reason, according to film buff Tony Davison, is that more films and better quality prints are becoming available all the time.

Tony has been showing films in and around Scarborough for 50 years and his enthusiasm is undimmed. "Until recently, if you wanted to see a classic film like Chaplin's The Goldrush you had to send away for 12 reels of  8mm film. Videotape started to change that, but DVDs have given fantastic quality, along with availability."

Films seen only by dedicated enthusiasts have been dug out, cleaned off and digitally re-mastered. When a 1927 film called Sunrise was re-issued by the British Film Institute two years ago, it caused a sensation, with reviewers hailing it as one of the greatest films ever made. It was shown in the 2004 Scarborough Silent Film Festival. Last year the festival showed the re-issued version of Carl Dreyer's 1927 Passion of Joan of Arc; another unforgettable experience. This year there's also the chance to see well-known films like The General, Ben-Hur and Safety Last on the big screen.

Because, as Tony Davison says, "Seeing a film should be an event; the cinema itself is part of the experience. Watching a film at home gives about a tenth of the impact of going to the movies."

Stephen Wood from the festival's host venue SJT agrees: "As everyone in Scarborough knows, the SJT was built inside the shell of the old Odeon cinema. We were careful to recreate the atmosphere of the original building and the McCarthy cinema is a perfect setting for classic movies."

Highlight of the festival will be Saturday's showing of The General with Terry Ladlow giving live keyboard accompaniment. This once-only event is likely to sell out, so book early - and don't forget Rudi too.

Festival programme:

Wednesday 18 October (Scarborough Library)
Son of the Sheik (1926)

Thursday 19 October (Stephen Joseph Theatre)
Safety Last (1923) with Harold Lloyd

Friday 20 October (Stephen Joseph Theatre)
Ben-Hur (1925) starring Ramon Navarro.

Saturday 21 October (Stephen Joseph Theatre)
The General (1926) starring Buster Keaton.
Keyboard accompaniment by Terry Ladlow.
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)

Tickets for 18 October £4 on the door at the library.
Tickets for 19 to 21 October £5/£4. To book call 01723 370541.

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