Monday, October 09, 2017


Ben Drysdale, Adele Chynoweth, Sophie Pieloor

Under Sedation:Canberra Verse Remixed was a repast of poetry, song, drama and emotion. Lighting and sound effects helped create intriguing what’s-happening-next/whose-piece-next moments. The notion to bring poetry to the stage in a live anthology performance is the brainwave of Director, Adele Chynoweth.

Actors Ben Drysdale and Ruth Pieloor played out each piece dramatically but subtly, humorously but graciously, and with irony, grit and emotion yet often still with an appreciated naturalness. They are superb. Over forty Canberra Region authors are represented, from AD Hope (Under Sedation), Dorothy Auchterlonie (Green) and Kevin Gilbert, to Michael Byrne, Adrian Ceasar, Omar Musa, Victoria McGrath, Geoff Page, Sarah Rice, Sandra Renew, Melinda Smith and myself ($600). Full list here.

‘Poets have a very unique view and should be brought to the stage, and the everyday, and the *insurance companies ...’ Adele Chynoweth told us at her talk on Sunday. Her research was painstaking — she read hundreds of works. Adele was interested in what poets might have to say about civilization; what alternatives they were offering other than sedating ourselves.

Shenanigans with actors and poets: Lizz Murphy (left), Victoria McGrath, Ruth Pieloor, Jan Pieloor, Ben Drysdale, Anon (with apologies), PS Cottier (floored).

Experiencing poetry other than on the page can be a challenge for some of us. I thoroughly enjoy hearing poetry read, preferably by the poets themselves even if they are not great ‘performers,’ but I’m visual rather than aural and need to come back to the page to absorb and fully appreciate the words and images. For this reason some works washed over me especially in the earlier section where the actors moved from one piece to another quite quickly. I would’ve appreciated an extra breath or two between each, but this is a minor grizzle as so many others I caught well as the pace slowed a little. Still others caught me out, especially at the end where I could easily have been an emotional heap — on the floor, with the very actors who blew a new life into our words.

Under Sedation: Canberra Verse Remixed is playing at The Street in Canberra until October 14. Go ‘see’ some great Canberra Region poetry — and the world today — unfold in the round.

Reviews (interestingly conflicting) at City News and The Canberra Times.

*A reference to American poet Wallace Stevens who worked most of his life as an executive for an insurance company — as you probably know already.

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