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Review: Once this was a poet PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Eager   
Thursday, 09 October 2008 13:28
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Brenda Read-Brown has written and directed an innovative and unusual play based on the last year of Pete Brown's life, which she shared as his partner.

Pete Brown performance poet on Ledbury Portal

Pete was, amongst other things, an agricultural worker (specialising in apples and pears) who found his forte as a performance poet. He founded the Guerilla Poets, a group who would arrive, usually unannounced, at pubs to deliver impromtu, self-penned poems to an unexpecting, beery audience. For Pete, it was bringing folk expression as poetry back to the people, in a setting where he found himself most at home.

Read on for a review of the play, details of when you can see it and a previously unreleased recording of one of his most popular poems The Peasant's Revolt.



To catch Brenda's play Once this was a poet get to Cheltenham Town Hall, Tuesday 14th October for 8:30pm. You might want to book your ticket first:

Cheltenham Literature Festival

The narrative of the play is wrapped around the poems of both Pete and Brenda, as Brenda was and is a performance poet in her own right. The poetry then acts as a dialogue, often internal, between the protagonists, played by Ian Bishop (Pete) and Paula Fancini-Hooper (Angie - as Brenda has renamed herself for the sake of the play). Their performances as members of Tewkesbury Amateur Dramatic Society are superb and help take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. They are well supported by Joe Durrant and Pam Jell, who each perform a variety of roles.

Cheltenham's Arts Development Officer, Paul McKee has described the play as: "A stunningly wonderful theatrical experience! This play was all the things drama should be - insightful, challenging, moving and very funny. It was
very beautiful and life affirming."

In the Gloucestershire Drama Association (GDA) One Act Play Festival, it won all the prizes for which it was eligible and Once this was a poet  also won the GDA Playwriting Award, 2007-8.

Pete Brown proudly sponsored by Stanway Ales on Ledbury Portal

In real life Pete Brown was a poet who believed that poetry should be accessible and popular so that all could enjoy it. He believed in the power of the spoken word over the written word, and to that end would memorise his poems, which would be in plain, not 'poetic' language. His poems knew no boundaries and Pete would not self-censor. If he felt there was a taboo out there he'd go for it tooth and claw. Like the natural world he aspired to, his honesty could tear both people and subjects apart.

You either loved him or hated him. I had the fortune of knowing Pete, of being his friend, of coming under his demanding influence and of sharing some fantastic times together. I realised Pete was doing something special with his raw and real brand of poetry and I took advantage of our friendship to document his progress.

I filmed him on his first gueriila pub tour of Ledbury, when beer and words flowed to startled, but receptive audiences in the Horseshoe, the Seven Stars, the Prince of Wales and the Talbot, and I filmed him winning the National Grand Slam Championship of Great Britain in Cheltenham in 1999.

To hear Pete's Peasant's Revolt click onto the next page.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 October 2008 13:44

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