Celebrate #WorldTheatreDay I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about your experiences in theatres, plays you have seen, performances that stunned you, and so on. Please include a short third person bio.

world theatre day

The Shrew

It isn’t the one performance I’ve seen,
open air, gender-swapped, abridged,
that comes back to me
as I read it for the first time
in twenty-one years,
well as I remember that,
at Fountains Abbey, the day after
my final exam. Sly was Scottish,
they messed up the ending,
Bianca disappeared as the actress
was playing Petruchio as well.

Nor is it Burton and Taylor,
though I can just picture them now.

Katherina’s voice for me
will always be that of Margaret Leighton
on the Harper Collins recording
I had on two white cassettes
and wish now I had kept,
or got it on CD instead.

Go get thee gone,
thou false deluding slave
was the only line I thought I remembered,
as it’s printed on a postcard
I use as a bookmark
in my book of Brontë poems.

It turns out there are hardly
any lines I have forgotten.

-Peter J. Donnelly

The Reading
Keats House.

There is the poet; exposed on her mountain-top,
no longer sheltered in her lap-top castle
poking fun at a hapless world.

She gabbles the words – her cherished harvest,
fearful eyes alert to the enemy,
each well-fletched arrow zinging dead on target.

Emotion builds behind the hurried monotone
and will she leave us, stranded in the ether,
or take us upward way beyond ourselves?

Ricochets from her philosophical bomb-blasts
mock the tawdry trappings,
the lampshades and the repro chairs,

unexpected artistry and pathos brings relief
and as the final cadence bares some naked truth,
the challenge passes in a wave of clapping.

Was this catharsis, – a physical implosion
in the name of art and womanhood?
Creativity travels lightly, with backward
glance and worn shoes,

and a gold standard placed just out of reach;
as each parent swims the hellespont of guilt,
the poet balances on a tightrope
strung between art and perfection.


Strauss Moment

Like a seagull riding a thermal
Jessie Norman takes us
on upwards aboard a melifluous
wave of mystic sound to
a heaven-scape from
Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs.

Such sound is not of our world,
splitting levels of perception
weaving harmonies
in a mystical language and
under that intoxicating spell
resistance is futile.

Just as lullabyes reach
deep in the soul to loose
tangled frets to the wind, so
Jessie Norman’s easy hypnosis
caresses until everything stills,
eyes close and a
private smile flickers.


Cheers and Tears for the Clown

Tears still prick at Ralph McTell’s clown
“hanging up his smile on a hook by the door”.

“All the world loves a clown”, sings Cole Porter,
but not true, for children sense instinctively
the two emotions, grief and laughter
thinly disguised by the motley
and the garish paint.

When the circus clown car stopped by me in
the front row, the fear was intense as
those heavily daubed eyes met mine
and the whole weirdness of that Vauxhall-gardens,
seedy, commedia dell’arte,
sexless, wild extreme
pierced my nice little world. . .

. . and mockery – the crowd laughing helplessly,
wave upon wave of laughter with each drum roll – why?
As the clowns’ world disintegrates like their car,
we join in with the ridiculing of the
underpants and the sausages
and the centuries of derision at someone else’s sadness,
one step removed from our own.

Through the circus clown, we’ve cloned vulgarity
and learned another laughter;
another weapon in the arsenal of life.
The flop of the custard pie takes something away.
The clown wears our grief in his sad smile – he
can bear it, it’s his job,
while we must laugh,

– laugh outside of the frame, beyond the boundary,
laughs transcending the artifice
of the big top, and,
just as enigmatic Feste steps
outside the comic dream of Twelfth Night,
the circus clown hangs up his smile
and weeps.

-All by Jane Newberry

He: “Actors Are Liars”

It tell him I’ve written
a Christian play.

He says:

It’s not real, you know.
It’s dishonest.

God says don’t lie,
and that’s what actors do.

Try to be something they’re not.

All theatre is lies.
Satan’s work.

All actors are Satanists.
All playwrights their priests.

-Paul Brookes

Emptying my late dad’s house, I find a shoebox labelled “Dad’s Cards” . Among these I discover a letter to him composed when a play of mine called “Still Children” was being staged at Hull University’s Gulbenkian Theatre in 1984. My final year, or so I thought.

I was twenty one. I am shocked by the religiosity of the language.

-Paul Brookes from an unpublished memoir

Bios And Links

-Peter J Donnelly

lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter. He has been published in various magazines and anthologies. He recently won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition.

-Jane Newberry

Jane is a children’s writer yearning to be a grown-up poet. Retirement three years ago brought more time for trying new literary genres. She enjoys a wide range of musical and arts activities and shares her husband’s passion for historic buildings and Celtic Cornwall.

Publications to date:

2008 – A SACKFUL OF SONGS (Cramer Music)

2012 – A SACKFUL OF CHRISTMAS (Cramer Music)

2018 – poem “Hemiola” in anthology “The Possibility of Living”- (Poetryspace)

            poem shortlisted Bridport Poetry Prize

2019 – Poem in anthology “Dragons of the Prime” (The Emma Press)

2019 – Mi-shan shortlisted for Mslexia Novella Prize.

March 2020 – Big Green Crocodile (Otter-Barry Books).

October 2020 – poem in South Magazine

July 2021 – Big Green Crocodile shortlisted for CLIPPA award

September 2021 – two poems in Coronavirus Anthology – RedWolf Editions November 2021 – Paperback edition of Big Green Crocodile

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