News from Vanessa Rosenthal

Last year Vanessa took up a post as Writer In Residence at Kings College, London to research the archive of Colonial Nurses Letters held in The Cecil Rhodes Library within The Bodleian Library with the object of developing them into broadcast drama.

These letters, written between 1880 and 1960, are part of the extensive archive held within the Rhodes Library which records the conditions, terms of service and practices of European Hospitals within the British Empire of the period.

Nurses in Africa

As part of the second part of the residency Vanessa has scripted a play – “Passages from Empire” – based on the material. Alongside this she has been leading workshops at Kings College for both the Hons English students and the Nursing Degree students on ‘Turning Real Lives Into Drama’.

In the final workshop, jointly run by Vanessa and independent broadcast producer, Polly Thomas, the script gave a staged reading under simulated studio conditions by a cast led by Buffy Davis, prior to its professional recording and transmitting in 2014.

This reading took place in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre at Kings College, London, on 13th December 2013.

This whole project has resulted out of a successful application by Kings to the Wellcome Foundation who are funding the enterprise.

Fran Larkin as the Young Karen Gershon Vanessa rosenthal as the Older Karen Gershon

The Stage 1 Festival

Yellow Leaf were invited to take their production of Vanessa’s play ‘Karen’s Way’ to the Stage 1 Festival at the Beit Avi Chai Theatre in Jerusalem during the week of Passover and Easter, March 5th – 8th, 2013.

Fran Larkin took over the role of the Younger Karen Gershon for this tour.

Nitzan Bakshi’s excellent photographs of the festival, including many of “Karen’s Way”, can be seen on the Beit Avi Chai Facebook page.

Two further performances were arranged for 2014:

Yellow Leaf were invited by the committee of the Leeds Holocaust Memorial Day to stage ‘Karen’s Way’(see below) to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz. The performance was at the 7 Arts Centre in Leeds on Saturday, January 25th 2014.

A further performance also took place on Saturday, 1st February 2014 at 7.30pm at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York.

From Alan Meadows

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

The Rubaiyat

Over the last twenty years or so, Alan Meadows has done occasional performances of ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’. The show lasts 30 minutes and was done for fund-raising purposes only, starting when he was playing Prospero in Rep. The local community was raising money for a scanner and he did a number of late night shows after the performance of ‘The Tempest’.

He recently revived it for a U3A (University of the 3rd Age) Poetry Group in South London. Maggie Smith (no connection with Downton Abbey as far as we know) reported in the U3A Newsletter on “an inspirational performance, in costume and with full props, including wine, which many of us were invited to quaff with him.

Joseph & His Round-the-World Dream-Boat

Alan has also written a play to be performed by young people about the 18th Century naturalist Sir Joseph Banks. This premiered at the Joseph Banks Centre in Lincolnshire on October 6th, 2012.

Here’s why:

Sir Joseph Banks

His colleague on the Board of Trustees of the Carers Federation, Dr Cheryle Berry, is also Chair of the Sir Joseph Banks Society. Banks sailed round the world with Captain Cook and was later President of the Royal Society for more than forty years. The Society not only commemorates his many achievements but also develops work opportunities for those who find it difficult to enter the labour market.

Joseph & His Round-the-World Dream-Boat (thanks to Maria Warburg for the title) is a pretty anarchic affair, full of songs, comedy and mime sequences in which you can involve almost as many young performers as you like.

Sir Joseph Banks

The script is a gift to the Society: it was entirely up to them how they used it.

It was performed by the Horncastle Young Stagers at the Lion Theatre, Horncastle on October 6th 2012 – in advance of special celebrations in 2013.

In 2012 the play was awarded the Flora Murray Award by the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archeology.