Acclaimed multimedia interpretation of Four Quartets streaming online, October 2020
Pam Tanowitz joined with composer Kaija Saariaho and artist Brice Marden, with Four Quartets read by Kathleen Chalfant, to reimagine TS Eliot’s work. This 2018 World Premiere performance, at the Fisher Center in New York, was described by Alastair Macauley as “the greatest creation of dance theatre so far this century”.
The work had its UK premiere at the Barbican last year; Pam Tanowitz was interviewed by The Guardian, and scroll down to April 2019 below for its reviews.
The work is being streamed online across the weekend of Friday, October 30 to Sunday, November 1. Virtual access is available worldwide, with tickets from US$10. Details and access purchase are here.
Charleston Festival to show TS Eliot Arena documentary online, September 2020
The BBC’s landmark 2009 documentary, Arena: T.S. Eliot, is to be shown online, as part of Charleston’s Small Wonder Festival At Home.
The documentary “takes an in-depth look at the Nobel Prize winner and seminal figure in twentieth-century English language literary culture who was a regular visitor to Charleston.” (Pictured here with Virginia Woolf.) With contributors including Seamus Heaney, Lady Spender, Jeanette Winterson and Christopher Ricks, the documentary features never-before-seen private scrapbooks, albums and archive footage from Valerie Eliot.
The film will be shown alongside exclusive new poems inspired by the documentary from poets including this years winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, Roger Robinson. Full details of the event are here.
The documentary will be available via the Festival website from 10am, Friday 25 September to 10pm, Sunday 27 September. It is free to view, although viewers may consider contributing to Charleston’s emergency appeal.
TS Eliot and the Anxious Body, a free online lecture, August 2020
In a free online lecture, on Wednesday 2nd September at 5.30pm, Cécile Varry of the Université of Paris will address TS Eliot and the Anxious Body.
“How do you soothe the anxious body?” Varry asks. “The drastic solution suggested at the start of Eliot’s first collection of poems (1917) is to put it to sleep artificially (‘Like a patient etherized upon a table’). This is followed by more violent approaches: head chopping, impaling, flattening; and finally, at the end of an irresistible seaward movement, drowning. But the body always comes back, it always clings on.”
This paper explores Eliotic tension as something of the body, giving rise to a conflicted, overpowering desire for physical loosening.
Cécile Varry is a doctoral student at the Université Paris Diderot, where she also lectures on English Literature. Her research focuses on the poetry of T.S. Eliot, and more generally on the role of emotion in modernist poetry
The lecture is part of the Late Summer Lecture Series, an annual free public event hosted by Durham University’s Department of English Studies and READ (Research in English at Durham). To attend online, please reserve a free ticket through this website. You will be emailed the Zoom meeting number and password to access the lecture.
A virtual tour of The Waste Land in the City, August 2020
A virtual tour, The Waste Land in the City, will take place online on Friday 21st August from 2pm. Details of the event, which will visit City landmarks relevant to the poem, are here. Tickets are £5.
Online choral event to incorporate choruses from Murder In The Cathedral, July 2020
This will be the first live concert after six months of lockdown for The Sixteen, whose choir and period-instrument orchestra “stand today among the world’s greatest ensembles… acclaimed worldwide for performances delivered with precision, power and passion.”
Music for Reflection on Saturday September 19th will consist of eight choral works by Josquin, Sheppard, Arvo Part and others. Between them, actor Antonia Christophers will narrate three choruses from Murder In The Cathedral; the opening choruses of parts one and two, and the play’s final chorus.
The Sixteen’s Founder and Conductor Harry Christophers explains that “Our programme allows us to reflect on our lives and the lives of people around us. It is framed by two double choir litanies both prayerful yet full of hope, whose final prayer is echoed by the women of Canterbury.”
Performed to a limited audience at King’s Place, London, tickets are available to hear the evening live online.
2020 Annual TS Eliot Festival and International Summer School cancelled, April 2020
It has been announced with enormous regret that both the Annual TS Eliot Festival 2020, and the International TS Eliot Summer School 2020, have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The TS Eliot Festival was scheduled for 5th July at Little Gidding; the TS Eliot Summer School was to have run 4th to 12th July in London.
Announcing the cancellation of the Summer School, Georgia Reeves, their Events Administrator, said “The Institute of English Studies have made this difficult decision in response to official UK government restrictions on large gatherings of people and in response to projected models of the evolving global health crisis caused by COVID-19. And while July seems like a long way off, it is our responsibility to look ahead with an abundance of caution and to act in accordance with public health recommendations.” Further details are here.
The organisers of the Annual TS Eliot Festival have, regretfully, taken a similar decision to cancel their event, but hope to welcome its audience back to Little Gidding next year. Both events are hoping to roll over as much as possible of their planned line-ups to 2021.
TS Eliot & Friends at the University of Kent, March 2020
This event has been postponed owing to the coronavirus.
TS Eliot Day at Aldeburgh Festival, February 2020
On the morning of Monday 15th June, AN Wilson’s film Return to TS Eliotland will be shown at the Aldeburgh Cinema. The screening will be followed by a talk and analysis of Eliot’s Four Quartets by Professor Mark Ford. Details are here.
Then in the afternoon (and repeated the following morning), the Doric String Quartet will stage a performance combining Eliot’s Four Quartets with Beethoven’s String Quartet in A Minor Op 132. “In this performance of the Four Quartets, actors interweave the text with the five movements of the Beethoven performed by the Doric Quartet in an enthralling re-imagining of two extraordinary works of art.” Details are here.
A limited allocation of tickets is available to first-time Festival attenders for just £10.
Southbank to stage Murder In The Cathedral opera, February 2020
Assassinio nella Cattedrale was first performed in 1958 at La Scala and has been frequently revived in Italy. This concert performance, a rare opportunity to hear the work sung in English, will be conducted by Martyn Brabbins with Sir John Tomlinson in the role of Archbishop Thomas Becket.
Bruno Bower will be giving a free pre-performance talk for ticket holders at 6.15 pm in the hall.
Jeremy Irons, Four Quartets, and Beethoven’s A minor Quartet, December 2019
“Jeremy Irons recites Eliot’s unsurpassed contemplation of time, the universe and the divine while Soloists of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra play Beethoven’s testament to beauty and humanity, the String Quartet Op. 132.”
The event, on Saturday 1st February at 7.30pm, is part of the Oxford Beethoven Festival; full details and booking are here.
See the News page for links to an audio documentary about the significance of Beethoven to TS Eliot.
Hannah Sullivan to give Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2019, October 2019
Her title is TS Eliot and the Art of Abandonment.
Dr Hannah Sullivan is Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow at New College, Oxford. Her Account of TS Eliot’s Poetic Development is published online by the TS Eliot Foundation.
Her first book, The Work of Revision, explored the complicated genesis of some of the major works of English-language modernism, including poetry by Eliot. In 2013, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize to write a second book on ‘free verse’ – “a strange, straightforwardly oxymoronic, historically unstable phrase that, nevertheless, is almost the only way we have of describing modern poetic form.”
She is equally well known as winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Three Poems, her acclaimed 2018 debut collection of poetry, described by the Chair of the judges as “an astonishing debut, challenging the parameters of what poetry can do”.
This is the first time that the Annual TS Eliot Lecture has been given in Oxford. Hosted at the TS Eliot Theatre in Merton College, and with a welcome from Professor Helen Small, Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, doors (on the Rose Lane entrance) will open at 5pm; admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis, and the event will begin at 5.30pm.
Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) are able to reserve seats for the event; see the Members Area for details.
Adrian Dunbar directs The Waste Land in London, October 2019
The “jazz soundscape” The Waste Land, created by Nick Roth and directed by Adrian Dunbar, will have three rare performances at the October Gallery in Bloomsbury, London on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November.
Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty) sets the poem in a multimedia staging for four actors, with a score for live jazz quintet by composer Nick Roth. A review of a previous performance (at the International Beckett Festival 2015) gives some indication of the nature of the work.
Tickets are £22 for the Saturday evening performance, £17 for the matinées, and full details and booking are here.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, live reading by Lemn Sissay, October 2019
Lemn Sissay MBE has only recently recorded his reading of Eliot’s collection. The first poet commissioned to write for the London Olympics, Sissay is a regular contributor to radio and TV. Full details and booking are here.
Murder in the Cathedral – November performances in cathedral settings, September 2019
Coinciding with the 850th anniversary of the real murder of Thomas Becket, the theatre group Scena Mundi are staging November performances of TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral in cathedral settings.
The first are in Southwark Cathedral, on 4th, 5th, 12th and 13th November. ‘Thomas Becket preached his final sermon in London at the Priory of St. Mary Overie, now Southwark Cathedral,” says The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark. “It is therefore deeply appropriate that this new production will be performed at Southwark as we begin the marking of the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of this great saint. We look forward to playing our part in the remembrance of a champion of the English church and people.”
Financial Times, Sarah Hemming: “Seeing TS Eliot’s verse drama played out in a sacred space underscores the particular awfulness of slaughter in any house of worship.”
The Stage, Julia Rank: “Cecilia Dorland’s fluid production brings out its strengths”
The Guardian, Michael Billington: “I had forgotten how deftly his play mixes poetry and prose, rhymed couplets and free verse, the medieval and the modern.”
The Telegraph, Dominic Cavendish: “Tough on both the brain and the butt, but there are saving graces.”
UPDATE: There is important information about these performances for Members – see the Members Area for details
Francis Bacon inspired by TS Eliot, September 2019
An exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Francis Bacon: Books and Paintings, explores the literary inspirations behind the artist’s paintings, including that of TS Eliot.
“Bacon experienced poetry as a ‘compost’ which ‘bred’ images, atmosphere, associations,” writes Jackie Wullschläger in the Financial Times. “Many came from Eliot, the great fragmentary modernist. Bacon also paralleled his working process, mingling sources high and low, accumulating in his mind, as Eliot did, ‘numberless feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles . . . unite to form a new compound’.” (quote from Tradition and the Individual Talent)
The exhibition includes Bacon’s 1967 Triptych inspired by Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes. “The outer panels of writhing couples with gaping mouths evoke precisely the brothel of Eliot’s poem Sweeney Erect“. The exhibition runs until 20th January.
Two Quartets – Eliot & Beethoven, September 2019
A music and spoken word event at St Martin’s, Gospel Oak, London, will bring together TS Eliot and Beethoven, on Sunday 22nd September at 5pm.
The Kertesz Quartet will perform Beethoven’s String Quartet in C sharp Minor Op 131, while Eliot’s The Dry Salvages from his Four Quartets will be read by the author and theologian Nicholas Sagovsky.
The music and the reading will be interwoven; admission is free but donations are welcome.
Talk on the life of TS Eliot at the Lindfield Arts Festival, September 2019
As part of the annual Lindfield Arts Festival in West Sussex, Cavan Wood will give a talk on Saturday 21st September, from 10.00am to 11.00am in The Bent Arms Function Room, Lindfield, on TS Eliot – a spiritual seeker. Details and booking are here ; admission is free.
Cavan Wood has been a Head of RE since 1993. He has written textbooks for Heinemann on Judaism and Buddhism as well as for the Think RE series. He is a regular contributor to Secondary Assembly File and a reader in the Church of England. His talk “will tell the story of TS Eliot, the American who settled in Britain, the radical young man who became an Anglican Church warden.”
In Place and Time: Benjamin Britten and TS Eliot, August 2019
With the music performed by the City of London Sinfonia, the event, In Place and Time: Benjamin Britten and TS Eliot, on Wednesday 20th November, is another marking the ninetieth anniversary of Faber & Faber, the publisher with whom both Britten and Eliot were profoundly linked.
Readings from Eliot will be Ash Wednesday and Little Gidding, while the works by Britten include his Canticle V (The Death of Saint Narcissus) and his popular Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge.
Tickets are £28 for reserved seating, or £20 for roaming (“cushions, wandering and other seating”). Full details and booking are here.
UPDATE: It has now been confirmed that the evening will include readings of Ash Wednesday and of Little Gidding by the acclaimed actors Alex Jennings and Juliet Stevenson.
Modernist event in Virginia Woolf’s garden with TS Eliot keynote address, August 2019
2019 celebrates the 100th anniversary of Virginia and Leonard Woolf purchasing Monk’s House and its celebrated garden. This evening symposium, held in the garden itself, will consider the significance of the garden to Woolf, the Bloomsbury group and other modernist writers and artists alike.
The keynote address will be given by Dr Jeremy Diaper of Durham University. He has published numerous chapters and articles on TS Eliot’s agrarianism and the history of the organic husbandry movement, including in our own Journal of the TS Eliot Society. His book, T S Eliot and Organicism, was published in 2018.
Quartets by TS Eliot and Beethoven at St Alban’s Cathedral, July 2019
This will be interspersed with a performance of Beethoven’s late quartet in A minor, Op 132; Eliot wrote to a reviewer of the poems, “You are quite right in supposing that the Beethoven late quartets were present in the background.”
Tickets are £20, and full details are here.
Annual TS Eliot Festival at Little Gidding – full details, June 2019
This year’s Festival features a reading of Little Gidding by award-winning author Ali Smith, pictured here inside the church which inspired Eliot’s poem, and which is open to visitors as part of the Festival.
There are talks by Eliot authorities from both the US and the UK; scarce and First Edition TS Eliot books for sale, along with journals and other publications; and a chance to read Eliot to the audience yourself.
And in addition to the programme of Eliot-related events, morning coffee, a two-course buffet lunch, and afternoon tea are all included in the all-day ticket price of £40 (concessions available)..
It’s a great day for Eliot enthusiasts, a true celebration of TS Eliot and of Little Gidding. For full details, the day’s timetable and a link to booking, visit the TS Eliot Festival page via the menu above.
Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) receive a special 25% discount on the ticket price – details upon booking.
Members can also enjoy an exclusive discount on the lithograph of Little Gidding by Carry Akroyd which adorns the Festival poster – and trigger a donation to the Festival itself. See the Members Area for details.
TS Eliot and A Life of Prayer at St Stephen’s, Gloucester Road, May 2019
“More than just an order of words” – TS Eliot and A Life of Prayer is being hosted at St Stephen’s, Gloucester Road by The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, on Sunday 16 June at 4.30pm.
“Drawing on his own academic interest in twentieth-century English literature, and his enthusiasm for the poetry of Eliot, Bishop Jonathan Baker will demonstrate in his talk the depth and insightfulness of this remarkable writer, and will help us make connections to our own spiritual development.” Afternoon tea is served afterwards, and Choral Evensong and Benediction follows at 6pm. For more details click here.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats at The Fitzrovia Chapel, May 2019
The Fitzrovia Chapel, in Pearson Square, London, is hosting an Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats lunchtime event, at 1pm on Friday 24th May
Kate Thorogood, Programme Curator for the chapel, will give an audio presentation of the work, with an introduction to the life and work of TS Eliot and his association with the neighbourhood of Fitzrovia. It is also an opportunity to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the beautiful building and hear about its Byzantine-inspired interior. Event details are here; admission is free, and tickets are not required.
The Waste Land in Sea Fever Festival, April 2019
Firstly with a sound and vision talk; then secondly as a two-voiced dramatic reading of the poem with fellow poet Richard Scott.
A new TS Eliot Guided Walk – in Bloomsbury and Marylebone, April 2019
Tina Baxter, who has led the guided walk around City of London sites from The Waste Land, has announced a new guided walk incorporating some of TS Eliot’s personal and professional locations in London.
The walk begins in Bloomsbury, home to Eliot’s offices at Faber & Faber, to his acquaintances in the Bloomsbury Group, and to his early publishers, The Hogarth Press. It travels across to Marylebone, to the apartments where Eliot lived during his first marriage, and the nearby Larrick pub.
The walks will take place on Sundays April 28, May 26 and July 21st. Further details and booking are here.
Members of the TS Eliot Society UK can book at the concession rate for these walks.
Interpretation of Four Quartets prepares for London premiere, April 2019
Previously acclaimed in New York, Alastair Macaulay called the work “the greatest creation of dance theatre so far this century”.
In The Guardian, Tanowitz herself talks about the work, for which she visited each of the Quartets’ locations. “The things I thought were abstract were literal,” she says. “We read the poem in each place and tried to map out how Eliot would have entered the garden, where he took a right or a left.”
Performances are from 22nd-25th May, and tickets are available here. Scroll down to October 2018 for further details of the work.
On BBC Radio 3’s Music Matters, (24.39 to 35.53) Tom Service talks to the composer Kaija Saariaho about how Eliot’s poetry inspired her, with extracts of the work’s music and reading from Four Quartets.
The Guardian, Lyndsey Winship: “Tanowitz’s dance seems to have absorbed the marrow of Eliot’s words, the sense of time stretching and contracting and existing all at once. This is a work of masterly craftsmanship”
The Telegraph, Tristram Fane Saunders: “Tanowitz’s Four Quartets attains a stark purity that captures the spirit of Eliot’s work, by avoiding every obvious choice. Her stripped-back approach feels at once distant and intimate. Rather than represent the poetry through music, here the poetry is the music. ”
Evening Standard, Emma Byrne: “Setting dance to words can be a risky business but Tanowitz resists any attempt to act out Eliot’s abstract verse. Instead she uses the four poems…as though they were a score, responding to changes in their rhythm and rhyme, focusing as much on their innate musicality as their content.”
The Times, Donald Hutera: “Eliot’s searching, quietly aching (and occasionally opaque) words — delivered, flawlessly, by the gently expressive [Kathleen] Chalfant — become a sounding board for dance.”
The Stage, Neil Norman: “Brice Marden’s painted screens range from sun-bleached Ordnance Survey maps to water-stained architects’ drawings. Grounded in classical movement, Tanowitz’s choreography is airily kinetic, but rarely innovative. The pleasure is in the detail…”
The Arts Desk, Jenny Gilbert: “Rarely in my experience has abstract contemporary dance – almost an hour and a half of it, without a break – been so varied or compelling.”
The Observer, Sarah Crompton: “The work’s achievement is to embody the tone and impulse of the poem without ever becoming literal. It is richly allusive, yielding its secrets slowly”
The Spectator, Laura Freeman: “This inspired translation from page to the Barbican stage is electrifying”
The London Magazine, Suzannah V. Evans: “Rather than offering the sort of emotive explanation that Eliot feared, the production is pared-back, its moments of movement and stillness cutting to the quick of Eliot’s poem”
TS Eliot ‘In Different Voices’ to feature readings and music, March 2019
TS Eliot ‘In Different Voices’ will include readings from East Coker, The Waste Land and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and the staging of a piece from The Elder Statesman. Click on the poster (left) for full details.
The event will take place in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall, Gulbenkian, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NB. Tickets are £6 including drinks and canapes afterwards, and are available here.
Cambridge production of TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral, February 2019
The production, by the Bawds company, is directed by Madeleine Forrester and Helen McCallum. “The production aims to involve you – the audience – as witness, judge and jury.” Full details of the production are here, and times and booking are here.
Linked to the production is a commentary session at St Andrews Street Baptist Church, Cambridge on Thursday 21st March from 1–4pm. Lindsay Fursland, a tutor for the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, will analyse key speeches in the play, examine the historical background and Eliot’s biography, explore how Eliot used ideas from Aeschylus, and compare Eliot’s own soul-searching with that of Thomas Becket. Booking details are here, or you can e-mail email@example.com to register then pay on the door.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – A Celebration, January 2019
On Tuesday 15th January, Nicolette Jones chairs an evening of reading and discussion, celebrating the book in the 80th anniversary year of its publication.
Full details and booking are here. UPDATE: The event is now to be streamed live on the British Library YouTube channel, and to libraries in Huddersfield, Poole, Hull and Norwich – details on that same page.