Saturday, 2 July 2011

Seaside, summer solstice, and stort stories

On 21st June 2011, I was privileged to have a short story of mine performed at local live literature evening. The event, entitled 'Are You Sitting Comfortably', is a regular night run by a theatre group called White Rabbit, who invite stories on different themes for each event. This month the theme was the seaside, especially apt for both Brighton and a summer solstice evening, as the evening was warm, and the town busy with tourists visiting the seafront.

As you might expect from a theatre group, where stories are performed rather than just read, this was no ordinary live literature event. It took place in 'The Basement' in Brighton's North Laines, a venue you entered by descending into a literal basement - a room full of small tables and a stage area complete with comfy armchair - just waiting for someone to take a seat and tell you a story. The Basement was all exposed brick walls, low lighting and tea-lights on tables. It was busy, with people sitting on a raised step against the back wall, and all the tables full, creating a really lively atmosphere.

Also on the tables, which were all covered with check table-cloths, were plates of fairy cakes, sweets, blowing bubbles, playing cards and china teacups with tags stating 'Drink Me' - a nod to the White Rabbit concept of our hosts. The seaside theme continued with one of the three readers being dressed as a mermaid, and there was ice-cream during the interval.

With nine stories in total the evening was quite a long one, with six guest stories and three from the readers themselves. During the intervals, as well as ice-cream there was more grown-up refreshment such as wine and even cocktails served in teapots! The whole atmosphere was one of creativity and fun. To keep the fun going there was also a pass-the-parcel after the stories, with literary questions each time the music stopped!

It was a great experience to hear my story read aloud. It's a step away from the writing, and even the editing, and, for me at least, very different to having to read your work yourself, as you can concentrate on the words and story rather than what and how you are reading. I found all the other stories chosen to be clever and fun. The audience seemed to enjoy them all, and a really fun night was had by us all. For a final touch, as it was the summer solstice, we were invited after the event to light sparklers out in the street. Overall, it was a very enjoyable way to spend a Tuesday evening, and I was delighted to have been chosen as a guest writer.

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