As a Man Grows Younger

This new play for one voice by Howard Colyer, performed at the Jack Studio Theatre 19-23 February, was the fruit of an idea and subsequent conversations between myself and Howard a couple of years ago, when it transpired that he was one of the miniscule number of people I knew, who had knowledge of the Italian writer Italo Svevo. Thanks to the play, the number is no longer miniscule! Svevo, pen name of Ettore Schmitz, lived, mostly in Trieste (but also in Charlton…) across the 19th and 20th centuries and was greatly inspired by the Austro-Hungarian culture of the time, Freud included. He was ‘a mixture of things’, full of contradictions and self irony – the perfect basis for James Joyce (his English teacher and friend) to transform him into Leopold Bloom of Ulysses. Well, if you came to the play you’ll know all this. And if you’re intrigued enough to read Svevo’s works, I recommend his novel Confessions of Zeno.

Let me just add that feedback and reviews have been mostly complimentary and I want to thank Howard, Director Kate Bannister, Designer Karl Swinyard and their technical crew for a fantastic job. And of course David Bromley, who in his portrayal of Svevo and Joyce gripped us for 70 minutes with his energy and acting skills. A superb, faultless performance.

Stage photography by Tim Stubbs Hughes.

David Bromley as Svevo
David Bromley as Joyce

Events

‘Proper’ summer is finally here and, while I’m reluctant to start thinking about autumn, I am inevitably and joyfully beginning to plan the first event of the ‘new term’. The first thing I did was to look back at all the in-words events from the very first one in January 2017, and I realised that over five years I hosted 49 readings, including a number of lectures by Graham Fawcett. 49! What shall I do for the 50th? I’m thinking that, although it would limit the numbers in the audience, I would really love to have an in-person event at the West Greenwich Library, like ‘in the old days’. And you never know, I may even be able to get to grips with ‘hybrid’…. Of course, it will depend of many factors, and as soon as I can, I shall post a date if not a full programme.

I love the new animation at the top of my homepage. Thanks to Paul Kley for creating it. The words on the flying page are not a quotation but a whole poem, a favourite of mine, by the Italian hermetic poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. It is impossible to translate, though countless attempts have been made. I am sure you can guess its meaning and I leave you to create your own ‘translation’ of it. Ungaretti fought in the trenches and those two lines represent a moment one morning – pared down to a sense of the absolute, maybe also of possibilities?

As we emerge from a not-yet-over pandemic and wake up every morning feeling the dread of conflict but also aware of the beauty of spring and the blessing of nature and community, Ungaretti’s words are more than ever appropriate.

I am taking a break from organising things over the summer. Whether I will be as dynamic as the train above, or I’ll take time on a siding, I’m not yet sure.

Either way, I am always happy to hear from you with thoughts and ideas, and wish to thank you for your support so far.

Be well!