One Way Ticket: Pete Hunter

Deborah Stephenson 2On 9th March I arrived at The Writers Place, New Writing South in Brighton, just in time to wait in the porch way for fear of disturbing Sophie Rose rehearsing her piece, and listening to it, I realised how much work the poets had put into their poems since I had heard the bones of the poems the previous week.

Sophie Rose1On Saturday 2nd March, the One Way Ticket poets – Azfa Ali, Deborah Stephenson, Michael Vidon, Katerina Quinn, Joshua Seigal, Sophie Rose, Lorianne Tika-Lemba and Jenn Hart, plus the project leader Rosemary Harris – had been in Southampton at the Nuffield Theatre for workshops and to share the half-formed pieces they were intending to present at the showcase the following week. These proto-poems were given their first airing for peer review. Everyone had managed to approach the theme of child migration from a different angle, making for varied, layered, colourful and moving pieces. Some called on personal or family experiences, whilst others put themselves into the minds and families of those who experienced the deportations.  It’s a testament to Rosie’s experience at structuring workshops and to the openness of the poets, that feedback was given and taken in good faith and good heart.

michael vidon1On the 9th March, the group gathered in Brighton in order to share their work with the public, but first there were more exercises, tweaks and feedback. Rosie put everyone through their paces and Chris Ewell from Half Moon children’s Theatre offered his expert feedback on the run-through whilst I filmed each poet talking about the project for feedback. What struck me during the afternoon, as well as the raise in quality of the work, was the closeness of the group. The past 4 workshops had really drawn everyone together and they all cared about each other’s poems and shared personal experiences and tips and tricks for performance. As time drew closer for the showcase itself in front of … gasp! … a real audience, nerves were beginning to show and words of reassurance were shared, as, to be honest,  no-one needed to be concerned about how they would perform.

Lorrianne Tika-LembaEach poet had raised their game since the previous week’s workshop. The poems had been chopped and changed and honed and polished and wrestled into shape and then memorised as much as possible so that each poet could gave as good an account of themselves as possible. There were a few youngsters in the audience, who initially bore the focus of the audience participation sections of the poems  until the rest of the audience were drawn in and became involved.

Azfa AliThe ways of approaching the difficult subject of the project, child migration, were very inventive – Michaël introduced us to his family tree via the letter ë in his name, which transformed into a roving snail; Azfa shared an allegorical tale of a tortoise rebuilding its shell after it had been blown apart; Katerina became her younger self in a family who relocated to Zambia when she was a child; Sophie created a family expecting the return of a long-lost uncle who was deported in the 50’s; Lorianne explored the idea of not fitting in and how she shared her insecurities with her childhood friend – a doll; Joshua used a piece of string to help him begin to explore a family history he didn’t know he had; Jenn imagined herself being a child in a Centre For Asylum seekers , waiting for someone to claim her and Deborah introduced us to some of the harsh conditions the deported children experienced once they were in Australia.

joshua SeigalAfter the show there was a great deal of chatting and hugging and congratulating amongst the poets and the buzzy atmosphere continued as we made our way to a café/bar for a winding-down drink and something to eat. Gradually everyone reluctantly drifted off, still chattering about poetry, performance and politics. There may even have been a couple of tears!

However, everyone has already been back in touch by email – sharing their plans and wishing Sophie luck as she goes forward to work with Rosie on the second stage of the project; and everybody has further plans for the work they developed on One Way Ticket.

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