Events

Performances, conferences, readings and other events relating to TS Eliot.

Please check events before making arrangements. No endorsement or recommendation is implied by inclusion.

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Faber poets read The Waste Land in St Mary Woolnoth, August 2022

Three of Faber’s leading contemporary poets – Daljit Nagra, Richard Scott and Hannah Sullivan – are to read The Waste Land in St Mary Woolnoth, the City of London church mentioned in the poem.

Hannah Sullivan won the TS Eliot Prize for her debut collection, Three Poems, in 2018. Richard Scott was shortlisted that same year; and Daljit Nagra, who presents the weekly Poetry Extra on BBC Radio 4, and has been shortlisted twice for the Prize, is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature,

St Mary Woolnoth is one of the two City of London churches mentioned by Eliot in the poem. Working for Lloyd’s Bank from 1917 to 1925, Eliot knew the church well, passing it twice a day on his commute and often spending his lunch hour inside.

In addition, those booking will be entitled to a 20% discount on the recently-published colour facsimile edition of The Waste Land manuscripts.

The reading will be on 27th October at 7pm. This is a Faber Members event, open to Faber Members only, but joining Faber Members is free. Tickets are £12 (£10 students) including a glass of wine, and full details and booking are here.

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Women of The Waste Land, July 2022

The leading poetry event organisers Poet In The City are staging Women of The Waste Land, an evening of performance and discussion, “delving into new insight from Eliot’s previously hidden love letters, to uncover the compelling women who inspired this landmark poem.

“Women weave a vital thread throughout the poem…and Eliot’s life,” say Poet In The City. “From the drama and tragedy of his marriage to Vivien Eliot who shared in Eliot’s ‘horror’ at post-war civilisation, and his genius. To Virginia Woolf who printed the book herself at Hogarth Press. To his hidden muse –  the quiet American drama teacher Emily Hale – now known to be the poem’s Hyacinth Girl. Each left her trace on the great work.”

The evening will feature:

    • Renowned Eliot biographer Lyndall Gordon, whose latest book, The Hyacinth Girl, is due out in October – see our News page for book details;
    • Author and journalist Erica Wagner, whose book on Mary Trevelyan, Mary and Mr Eliot: A Sort of Love Story, is also published in October;
    • Lennie Goodings, Chair of Virago, the international publisher of books by women for all readers;
    • and, recently confirmed, performance by the Bafta, Olivier and Emmy Award winner Dame Eileen Atkins.
    • Update: Added to the panel is Noreen Masud, Lecturer in Twentieth Century Literature at the University of Bristol

The event will be at King’s Place, London on Wednesday 21st September; full details and tickets are here

A limited number of tickets are available to our Members at a special discount – see the Members Area for details.

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Online discussion of The Waste Land, July 2022

Featuring three Eliot academics, Cardiff Book Talk is hosting a free online discussion of The Waste Land on Monday 15th August.

Cardiff BookTalk is a University book group run by the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. “BookTalkers listen to diverse interdisciplinary research topics which expand on themes in the very best classic and contemporary literature. The talks, given by University academics who are specialists in their field, as well as other expert speakers, will be followed by an open discussion session with the audience”

The discussion will feature Dr Ruth Alison Clemens, Dr Nicoletta Asciuto, and Suzannah V. Evans, and begin at 7pm. Details and free registration are here

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Staged performance of The Waste Land, July 2022

For one night only, The Waste Land will be staged at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London as a multi-voiced performance with production elements.

Director John Sackville explains that “it struck me that the dream-like, or nightmarish, chorus of voices that inhabit T.S.Eliot’s The Waste Land might work well as a kind of poly-vocal drama.” He hopes that a cast led by David Bamber as Tiresias “will magnify the cultural and historical resonance of this work, refracting the light, and the darkness, that it sheds into the twenty-first century – and beyond.” The full interview with the director is here.

There will be two performances on Sunday 24th July at 5pm and 7.30pm. Tickets are £20 (£15 concessions) and details and booking are here.

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TS Eliot – Into The Waste Land, a documentary film, June 2022

A new documentary explores “The hidden history behind a landmark in modernism and one of the most acclaimed 20th century poems”, and “details a correspondence that was to prove inspirational to TS Eliot.”

TS Eliot – Into The Waste Land receives its premiere at Sheffield DocFest, “one of the world’s most influential markets for documentary projects”.

The film’s outline suggests that it draws upon the Emily Hale letters. Now, on the centenary of the first publication of Eliot’s epic poem The Waste Land, these recently released letters show the important role Hale played in his creative process, as Susanna White’s fascinating documentary details.” 

The 79minute documentary is being shown twice during the Festival – a premiere with a Q&A session on Saturday 25th June at 5.45pm; and a second showing on Monday 27th June at 3.30pm. Tickets for either showing are £9.50 (£7.50 concessions), and details and booking are here.

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TS Eliot biographer in online conversation, June 2022

Robert Crawford, author of the newly published Eliot After The Waste Land, will participate in an online conversation on Monday 13th June at 6.30pm.

In an event which is being streamed online by the How To Academy, Professor Crawford will be talking to Esme Bright, the Senior Event producer at the Academy.

“The last biographer to have interviewed anyone who knew Eliot when The Waste Land was published, Robert Crawford is also the first to have access to the archive of Eliot’s letters to Emily Hale.

“From his time as an exhausted bank employee after the publication of The Waste Land, through the emotional turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s, and his years as a firewatcher in bombed wartime London, Crawford will reveal the public and personal experiences that helped generate some of Eliot’s masterpieces.

“He will explore the poet’s religious conversion, his editorship at Faber and Faber, his separation from Vivien Haigh-Wood and happy second marriage to Valerie Fletcher, and his great work Four Quartets.”

Tickets are £15, or £9.99 to How To Academy subscribers. Details and booking link are here; for details and reviews of the book, visit our News page.

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The Waste Land after One Hundred Years, June 2022

A special session of Oxford’s Modern and Contemporary Literature Research Seminar is being held to mark the centenary of The Waste Land, including two seminar panels and a group reading of the poem. Attendance in person or online is free.

The event will celebrate the publication of the essay collection, The Waste Land after One Hundred Years, edited by Professor Steven Matthews of the University of Reading (full details on our News page). It will take place from on Wednesday 8th June from 4pm to 7pm, and will consist of a group reading of The Waste Land followed by two panel discussions of the poem and its afterlives.

Speakers at the event include: Professor Rebecca Beasley (The Queen’s College, Oxford), Dr William Davies (Reading), Professor Hugh Haughton (York), Professor Marjorie Perloff (Stanford), Professor Andrew Michael Roberts (Dundee), and Professor Peter Robinson (Reading).

The event will be taking place in the Old Library at All Souls College as well as online via Zoom. Since there are only a limited number of seats available, please register in advance if you are planning to attend the event. Details and registration are here.

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How The Waste Land was made, May 2022

Dead Poets Live are to stage He Do The Police In Different Voices – How The Waste Land was made, at the Coronet Theatre, London from 20th to 22nd October.

“Using the facsimile edition of the poem,” say the group, “He Do The Police In Different Voices tells the story of a masterpiece assembled by three people: Eliot, Ezra Pound and Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Pound’s excisions and Vivienne’s suggestions represent a major contribution to the poem’s final form, and the show will explore the fascinating process of alteration and refinement, using it to clarify and explain the poem – which will be performed in full.

“But this is also the story of three people – one the maker of the poem, another its editor, the third its guiding spirit – all haunted, to various degrees, by mental illness. Dead Poets Live’s new production tells their story alongside that of The Waste Land – who they were and what happened to them afterwards.”

Originally scheduled for February this year, the event is now being staged in the centenary month of the first publication of The Waste Land, in October 1922. Full details and booking are here.

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The Annual TS Eliot Festival 2022 – tickets now sold out, wait-list operating, May 2022

A wait-list is now in force for the 2022 Annual TS Eliot Festival, to be held at Little Gidding on Sunday 10th July.

Welcoming a live audience back for the first time in three years, the 2022 Festival promises a particularly exciting line-up of readings, talks and discussions.

 

In this centenary year of The Waste Land, the celebrated actor, director and author Simon Callow will open the Festival with a reading of the poem.

 

 

 

The author and literary critic Erica Wagner, currently working on a book about Mary Trevelyan, will talk and conduct a Q&A with the eminent Eliot biographer and scholar Lyndall Gordon, whose book on Eliot’s women, The Hyacinth Girl, will be published later this year.

 

 

Mark Ford, Head of the English Department at University College, London, will deliver the Little Gidding lecture, Beginning and Ending: Little Gidding.

 

 

 

George Szirtes, winner of the 2004 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry, will host My Favourite Eliot, the session in which members of the audience introduce and read their favourite Eliot poems

 

 

And Simon Callow will give the annual reading of Little Gidding at Little Gidding. Weather permitting, this will be from the steps of the church Eliot immortalised in his poem, which will be open to ticketholders on the day to visit and experience for themselves.

The TS Eliot Society (UK) will have its usual stand at the Festival, with a number of rare, vintage and First Edition Eliot books, along with other pamphlets and publications including the Society’s Journal (free to members) and other items for sale.

The Festival is a delightful celebration of Eliot and of Little Gidding, and a chance to meet other Eliot scholars and enthusiasts in this unique location. In addition to the programme of Eliot-related events, morning coffee, a two-course buffet lunch, and afternoon tea will be served. Doors open at 10:00, the programme begins at 10:30, and the Festival concludes at 4:30.

All meals and refreshment are included in the ticket price of £45, and for students £25.

Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) are entitled to a special discounted ticket price of just £35. On the booking page, select the green Tickets box, then click on the blue option to ‘Enter promo code’. You may then enter your 2021/22 members password and book your tickets at the discounted price.

Details of the Festival are here. The event is currently sold-out, but a wait-list for tickets is in force should it be possible to increase capacity; registration is available here.

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Eliot biographer in conversation, May 2022

Robert Crawford, author of the acclaimed biography Young Eliot, and its imminent second volume Eliot After ‘The Waste Land’, will be in conversation at a special evening at Topping & Company bookshop in St Andrews, Scotland.

The event will take place on Thursday, 9th June at 8pm at The Bookshop, 7 Greyfriars Gardens, St Andrews. Crawford, a poet in his own right, and Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, “will be joining us to discuss his acclaimed second volume about the revolutionary modernist, visionary poet and troubled man, TS Eliot, drawing on extensive new sources.”

“This should be a brilliant evening to hear a great poet discussing another distinguished poet in TS Eliot,” say the bookshop. “It should be a literary, relaxing, early summer treat.” Admission is £7 for students, £10 early bird advance booking, and £25 to include a copy of the new book. Full details are here.

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Alice Oswald lecture to incorporate ‘TS Eliot and others’, May 2022

The Life and Death of Poetry: A distracted walkabout with T.S Eliot and others is the title of the forthcoming Oxford Professor of Poetry lecture by the celebrated poet Alice Oswald.

Professor Oswald was elected to the Chair in June 2019, succeeding Simon Armitage. She will be giving one lecture each term for the four years of her tenure.

This term’s lecture will be given at 5pm on 2nd June in the Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre, St Cross Building, Oxford. Admission is free, but online registration is required. Full details and a link to the booking page are here.

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Words and vocal music to mark the centenary of The Waste Land, May 2022

An event which will “interleave Eliot’s words with ancient harmonies and new commissions”, Re-Wilding The Waste Land will be staged at St Martin in the Fields, London on Thursday 19th May.

Vocal music, from Byrd and Vaughan Williams to Joanna Marsh and Shruthi Rajasekar, will be performed by the I Fagiolini ensemble, while actress Tamsin Greig as Narrator will give readings from The Waste Land, in an event which promises to “blend the wild and the familiar – the melancholy and the hopeful – with poetry that continues to define our age”

Details of the event and tickets, ranging from £10 to £35, are here

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Reading of The Waste Land by Faber poets, April 2022

Three leading poets published by Faber will give a centenary reading of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land at Margate’s literary festival, the Margate Bookie, on Sunday 5th June.

The three poets are Richard Scott, whose debut collection, Soho (2018), was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Costa Poetry Award; David Harsent, whose most recent collection Fire Songs (2014) won the TS Eliot Prize; and Hannah Sullivan, who also won the TS Eliot Prize for her collection, Three Poems (2018).

The reading will be staged at Turner Contemporary, by Margate Sands, where Eliot wrote part of his poem, and is limited to 50 people. Tickets are £6; full details and booking are here.

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Performance of The Waste Land jazz soundscape setting, April 2022

As a centenary celebration of the poem, a rare performance of Nick Roth’s jazz soundscape setting of The Waste Land will be staged at the Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye on Saturday 4th June.

First performed in 2015, an earlier listing explained that “This rare performative setting breaks the Poem down across four voices, taking as inspiration the idea of Sibylline Fragments – throwing letters in the air and making sense of them as they fall.

“In an attempt to capture the extraordinary verve and daring of Eliot’s great work, the piece aspires to adhere to its tempo and musicality and, in allowing its power to flow, explores how the Poem hangs together as the declaration of a moment in time, prefiguring so much that artistically arrived after its publication.”

A video extract from a previous performance is here and details and tickets for this Hay Festival event are available here.

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The Waste Land Revisited in Bath, March 2022

An illustrated talk and entertainment at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, The Waste Land Revisited will explore some results of a group investigation into the poem.

“During the lockdowns of 2021” explain the BRLSI, “twenty four experienced West Country writers met fortnightly on Zoom to try to map The Waste Land maze. Many of them created new pieces in response to the workshop sessions.”

Bath poet, workshop and events organiser Sue Boyle selected this centenary year to focus on The Waste Land, “its many interpretations, its spurs to the imagination and significantly for all its food for thought.  Her group of dedicated explorers have discovered rich sources of expression and creativity.”

Sue Boyle leads the evening on Monday 11th April at BRLSI 16-18 Queen Square
Bath, with project readers and singers Peter Reason and Miranda Pender. Details of the project are here and details and booking for the evening are here

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Two events (one online) at Lyra, the Bristol poetry festival, mark the centenary of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land.

The recent TS Eliot Prize winner Joelle Taylor will be running an online workshop, a Zoom webinar responding to the themes of the poem, including textual analysis and writing exercises. Attendees will be able to follow along with the writing exercises and discussions, interacting with the facilitator via the chat box.”Participants will consider the relevance of the poem in today’s world, and how we too can find ways to write about chaos, desolation and apocalyptic themes whilst still retaining a sense of hope and wonder.”

The workshop will take place online from 12.30pm to 2pm on Saturday 9th April. Tickets are £7.50; details and booking are here.

And at Bristol Central Library, on Friday 1st April, Jim McCue, co-editor of the annotated The Poems, will give The Waste Land 100 Anniversary Lecture. He will consider why we are still reading Eliot’s poem, how our understanding of it has changed, and what was meant by “editing” it as part of a 2,000-page scholarly edition of the poetry. Tickets are free; details and booking are here.

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A celebration of TS Eliot’s Life, Work and Legacy, March 2022

As part of the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, on Thursday 31st March at 2pm a panel of leading Eliot authorities will explore the life and work of TS Eliot. “They will illuminate some of the key themes in Eliot’s work and delve into his times and influence. There will be readings, debate, and some questions and answers.”

The panel consists of:

  • Mark Ford, head of English at UCL, poet and contributor to the LRB and TLS;
  • Lyndall Gordon, Eliot biographer and author of a forthcoming book on Eliot’s women;
  • Jason Harding, editor of The New Cambridge Companion to TS Eliot and a volume of the Complete Prose; and
  • Hannah Sullivan, author of the TS Eliot Foundation’s Account of TS Eliot’s Poetic Development, and winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry 2018

The discussion will be chaired by Claire Armitstead, the Guardian associate editor, culture; there will also be readings by actor Geoffrey Streatfeild. The event, in the Bodleian Divinity School, lasts one hour 15 minutes; tickets are £12.50 (£7 students), and details and booking are here.

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Festival of ‘fragments’ to celebrate The Waste Land centenary, March 2022

A unique multicultural, multidisciplinary festival, commissioned by the TS Eliot Foundation, and running over the weekend of 8th to 10th April, will celebrate the centenary of The Waste Land across churches in the City.

More than 30 separate “fragments” of performance, installation, talks and readings –“espresso hits of creativity”, each about 15 minutes long – will take place at 22 churches in the City of London.

“Following the methodology of Eliot’s writing,” their press release explained, “f r a g m e n t s  has been devised to combine a plurality of different voices, different spiritual cultures, popular culture as well as high art. Just as Eliot brought a diversity of styles, influences and tastes into his writing so the curators have done the same to reflect the defining elements of The Waste Land.”

Cultural offerings in the intimate church settings “range from Indian Raga to American Ragtime, the Syrian Qunan to Kaustinen folk, Sufi mystical music to negro spirituals, Arabic Hip-Hop to classical opera, fado to flamenco, alongside choral and baroque music, contemporary minimalism and film.”

Audiences book from a choice of “Celebration”s, each one a series of live events within a three-hour timeslot – and then select one of five routes between those events. Ticketholders can either walk that scheduled route between the events and churches concerned, or visit their own choice of ‘fragments’ staged during that three-hour period.

There are also a number of continuous events that audiences can visit in their own time. Three sound, video and film installations, and a DJ experience, extend beyond the three-hour period, to allow audiences to fit these in before or after their live event journey.

The festival is bookended by an Opening Night on 7th April, with a talk by Jeanette Winterson and a performance by Liam Ó’Maonlaí; and a Festival Coda of Marie, Marie, Hold On Tight, the tribute to Marie Lloyd at Wilton’s Music Hall on 11th and 12th April (scroll down to October 2021 for details).

Tickets for access to all of the events within one Celebration are £20, with a booking fee of £3. Full details of the festival, its component events, and booking links are all on the f r a g m e n t s website.

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Talk on The Waste Land‘s literary legacies, February 2022

As part of Literary Leicester,  the University of Leicester’s annual free-to-all literary festival, Dr Scott Freer will give a talk on Wednesday 23rd March at 1:00, entitled The Waste Land (1922): A ‘Mad’ Poem in a ‘Fallen’ World.

Freer’s talk, marking the centenary of The Waste Land, will look at the literary legacies of TS Eliot’s modernist poem, focusing on novels by three Catholic authors – Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, and Muriel Spark – that respond, in similar and different ways, to Eliot’s apocalypticism.

Dr Scott Freer is the editor of The Journal of the TS Eliot Society (UK), author of Modernist Mythopoeia: The Twilight of the Gods (2015), and co-editor of Religion and Myth in T. S. Eliot’s Poetry (2016).

Tickets are free, but advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment, and can be done here

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Lyndall Gordon on Eliot and the Woolfs, February 2022

The eminent Eliot biographer and critic Lyndall Gordon is giving a talk on Eliot’s Tie to the Woolfs: From 1918 to The Waste Land, on Saturday 9th April at Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London.

The talk forms part of 1922: Modernism Voyages Out, the AGM Conference of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain. (The AGM itself is for members of the Virginia Woolf Society only.) The conference celebrates 1922, with other speakers on Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, and on streams of consciousness in Mrs Dalloway and in Ulysses.

The conference runs from 10am to 4pm; tickets are £35 (£28 for members of the Virginia Woolf Sociery). There are details on that society’s website here. Email Lynne Newland, Secretary of the Virginia Woolf Society, for further details and to book: lynne@newlandmail.com

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One-day course on The Waste Land hosted by Professor Mark Ford, February 2022

Faber are hosting a day-long session on The Waste Land led by Mark Ford, poet and Professor of English at University College London.

The day will explore “why The Waste Land continues to be regarded as arguably the most important work of poetry of the twentieth century.”

This session is designed for the general reader –  those who wish to learn more about this important work – and is open to all Faber Members. (The Faber Members programme is free to join here)

“Mark will give you the tools for critical analysis and appreciation through close reading and discussion, leading you through the poem’s historical, social and political context, autobiographical elements, literary allusions and stylistic innovations. With a mixture of taught sessions and group discussions, participants will be encouraged to explore their responses to the poem as well as their experiences of the work of Eliot more generally.”

This course takes place over a full Saturday, 28th May at Faber’s London offices in Bloomsbury. Tickets are £75, and the maximum number of attendees is 18. Full details of the Day are here

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The Waste Land at the Charleston Festival, with Benedict Cumberbatch, February 2022

Details have now been released of the performance of The Waste Land on 19th May at the Charleston Festival, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as narrator.

In 1978, the author and polymath Anthony Burgess set The Waste Land to music. “Its many musical styles and techniques complement the fragmentary and allusive Eliot text,” explain The International Anthony Burgess Foundation. “Quotations from Stravinsky and Wagner in particular, as well as from popular songs of the 1910s and the First World War, are woven into an original and ambitious 35-minute work for six players: flute, oboe, cello, piano, soprano and narrator.”

(A video of a previous performance is here; after an introduction from Burgess’s writings, the work itself commences at approx 9:00)

The Britten Sinfonia will perform Burgess’s score, with the soprano Anna Dennis, and the award-winning actor of both stage and screen Benedict Cumberbatch as narrator of the poem. The performance will be introduced by Lyndall Gordon.

If you are a Friend+, Patron or Benefactor supporter, priority booking for all Charleston Festival events opens Thursday 24 February; tickets go on general sale from Tuesday 1 March. Tickets are £50, but there is a 15% discount for students, disabled visitors, universal credit recipients and green travellers who arrive by public transport, by bike or on foot. There are a limited number of £10 tickets under the Festival’s Under 30 scheme.

Full details of the performance, the Charleston Festival, and a link to booking, are here.

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TS Eliot’s Ash Wednesday live at York Minster, February 2022

To mark Ash Wednesday, on 2nd March, actor and director Charles Sharman-Cox will be performing Eliot’s Ash Wednesday live in York Minster’s magnificent Chapter House. The free performances will take place at 1pm and 3pm. No booking is required.

Charles Sharman-Cox is an actor, director and writer for theatre and film. After an early career working in British Repertory Theatre, he set up Television Projects making films and documentaries around the world.  More recently he has specialised in drama and arts projects working in collaboration with ‘Starving Artists of Los Angeles’ in the US and ‘The Thames Group of Artists’ in the UK.

Details of the Ash Wednesday services and performances at York Minster are here, and a video preview of Sharman-Cox’s performance is here. A captioned recording of the performance will also be shown continuously throughout the day on a screen in the Chapter House.

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Roger Allam to read The Waste Land in concert and dinner evening, February 2022

To mark the centenary of its publication, the Olivier Award-winning actor Roger Allam is to read The Waste Land in a unique concert and dinner evening, Music and the Poetry of TS Eliot, at the Fidelio Café in Clerkenwell, London on Saturday 12th March.

Roger Allam (Endeavour, The Thick of It, Cabin Pressure) will read Marina and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock as well as The Waste Land.

The reading will be interspersed with music by Ravel, Debussy, Dukas, Messiaen, and William Bolcom, played by pianist Angela Hewitt. And the readings will be followed by a three-course dinner; the standard ticket price of £100 per person includes both concert and dinner. (Wines, cocktails and drinks can be ordered on the night.)

Full details of the performance and menu for the dinner are on the Fidelio website.

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Dead Poets Live explore How The Waste Land Was Made, December 2021

UPDATE: This event has been postponed – further details are here

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Ralph Fiennes’ Four Quartets in the West End, November 2021

There have been some further reviews of the performance of Four Quartets by Ralph Finnes, upon its transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London for a limited West End run:

John Lahr, Air Mail “[Fiennes] exudes what the scholarly, inhibited Eliot sorely lacked, that come-hither thing. Eliot’s arcane idiom is exclusive; by contrast, Fiennes’s performance of the poem wants a mass communication. His goal is to make the audience feel the shape of Eliot’s thought as much as parse its meaning. ‘There is only the dance,’ Eliot says. And in his way, Fiennes’s performance is some kind of dance.
“The shape and rhythm of Eliot’s words play on his body and inspire it. Captivated by his physical discoveries, the audience leans into the language and glimpses inside it. ‘Here is a place of disaffection / Time before and time after,’ Fiennes says, tracing the arc of Time with his hand and the diminuendo of his voice. Sometimes by taking a slow run-up to Eliot’s paradoxes, Fiennes can release the profundity buried in them.”

The Times, Sam Marlowe (£): “Now, as the production arrives in the West End, it doesn’t land quite the same way. Its moments of anguish and glimmering wonderment retain their compulsion. But it no longer feels like essential balm for the soul. It has also lost something of its potent austerity, a few self-indulgent flourishes creeping into Fiennes’s still impressive turn as he rakes his agonised gaze and painstaking enunciation of Eliot’s often arcane language across the stalls or flings it up to the gods.” ★★★☆☆

Evening Standard, Nick Curtis  “It’s no surprise that Fiennes, in his brown corduroy jacket and grey slacks, somewhat resembles a teacher, albeit one who’s gone barefoot for some reason. Brow furrowed, eyes rueful, mouth set, he’s determined to impart profound truths, doubtful we’ll understand.” ★★★☆☆

The Telegraph, Claire Allfree (£) “A tour de force by Ralph Fiennes…he seems to almost physically lead us through the door we did not open into the rose garden.” ★★★★☆

Time Out, Dave Calhoun: “It’s mostly deeply serious but there are comic moments too – with him having fun with talk of ‘twittering’ and Eliot’s more earthbound references to taking the tube. This is weighty, powerful stuff, fuelled by Eliot’s deep thought and Fiennes’s committed, courageous performance.” ★★★★☆

London Theatre, Marianka Swain: “Fiennes, who also directs, beautifully honours the spirit of the text, which poses questions rather than forcing answers. He wants us to ponder these existential notions together, and his performance is dedicated to illuminating Eliot’s ideas without stamping an interpretative authority upon them. It’s a selfless act of transposition.” ★★★★☆

New York Times, Matt Wolf: “And at a time when other London stages are filtering great work through a revisionist lens, here is the thing itself, ceaselessly and restlessly alive.”

The Arts Desk, Rachel Halliburton: “Eliot’s influences for the Four Quartets range from Dante to Beethoven, from Bruegel to the Bhagavad Gita and as the evening unfurls we get a full sense of both the intellectual and linguistic richness of what he is trying to do. This is in part because Fiennes plays the music of the language like a virtuoso.” ★★★★★

The Spectator, Lloyd Evans: “Brilliant work. But there’s a health warning. This is not the way to introduce teenagers to Eliot. A newcomer would find it dull to watch a middle-aged English intellectual prowling the stage and articulating a kind of high-table Buddhism. The more saturated you are in the work the more you’ll relish this production. Here’s how to measure the depth of your love. If you call him ‘T.S. Eliot’ you’re an arm’s-length admirer. True keepers of the flame know him as ‘Eliot’.”

For the many more reviews of the performance on its tour, scroll down six items to June 2021

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Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2021, November 2021

THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT

This year’s Annual TS Eliot Lecture is to be given by Professor Seamus Perry in Oxford on Monday November 15th. His title is TS Eliot’s Liberalism.

Eliot, a self-declared Anglo-Catholic, classicist and Royalist, had many critical things to say about Liberalism; yet looking at both his poetry and his politics, Professor Perry will consider whether Eliot may have shared more with the liberalism he deplored than might at first appear.

Seamus Perry is Professor of English Literature at Oxford, and a Fellow of Balliol College, He appears regularly in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and elsewhere, and is the editor, with Christopher Ricks, of the quarterly journal Essays in Criticism.

The Lecture will be given in the TS Eliot Theatre at Merton College, Oxford, the College where Eliot spent his postgraduate year, and Professor Helen Small, Merton Professor of English, will welcome the audience to the award-winning theatre named after him. Merton is also generously hosting a drinks reception after the Lecture, where you can chat with the speakers, Society members, and Eliot authorities and enthusiasts.

The TS Eliot Society is delighted to be able to stage this event live once again, and will have a stand in the lobby before the Lecture, where you can join the Society, and buy rare and out-of-print books by Eliot. It promises to be both a stimulating and enjoyable evening.

THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT

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Marie Lloyd and TS Eliot paired in Wilton’s event, October 2021

A “sort-of-musical” will mark the centenary of Marie Lloyd’s death and The Waste Land’s birth, at Wilton’s, the former music hall in London, in April next year.

Eliot loved popular song, and music-hall in particular, and wrote after her death that Marie Lloyd was “the greatest music-hall artist of her time”. Marie, Marie, Hold on Tight! will feature many of Marie Lloyd’s greatest songs, along with The Waste Land and other “more surprising” Eliot poems, to explore the relationship between his brand of modernism and her brand of music-hall.

The event is being staged on April 11th and 12th, and details and tickets are available now via Wilton’s.

UPDATE: “Marie Lloyd will be played by actress Jenna Russell, renowned for her Sondheim work & most recently acclaimed in Piaf.”

AND: “Tom Hanson will play Eliot’s character Sweeney. He has appeared in Stephen Merchant’s The Offenders and Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo & Juliet. ”

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Bidrohi and The Waste Land paired in celebratory event, September 2021

A touring event will celebrate together the centenary of Bidrohi, the 1921 Bengali poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam commonly translated as The Rebel, alongside the coming centenary of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land.

Directed by poet T M Ahmed Kaysher, this live music, spoken-word and theatrical performance incorporates Eliot’s interview with Professor Shiv K Kumar. “Eliot’s interpretation of Indology,” says Ahmed, “and especially his beautiful interpretation of Gita, will be a part of the production, too.” The event will also include  “rare and relevant” speeches by Kai Nazrul Islam

An article on Asian Culture Vulture explains more about the pairing of the two poets, and the content of the performance.

The event takes place under the auspices of Saudha, the Society of Poetry and Indian Music. Its first performance is at Seven Artspace, Leeds on 2nd October, followed by Rich Mix, Shoreditch, London on 14th November. Tickets are now available.

Tour dates yet to be confirmed are at Queen Mary University London (November), Attlee Room of the House of the Commons (December), Birmingham (December), Oxford (January) and Leeds Beckett University (January).

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Lord Harries to talk on Love and Faith in TS Eliot, September 2021

The Rt Rev Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford, is to give a talk entitled Love and Faith in TS Eliot, as part of the Barnes Book Festival.

Lord Harries, known to many through his Thought for the Day talks on BBC Radio 4, has written and spoken many times about Eliot and his faith, including a 2018 Gresham Lecture on the poet’s conversion.

The talk will be at 4.00pm on Sunday September 26th, at St Mary’s Church, Church Road SW13 9HL. Tickets are £10, or £17.50 with a copy of Richard Harries’ book, Haunted by Christ: Modern Writers and the Struggle for Faith.

The full programme for the Barnes Book Festival is here and booking for Richard Harries’ event is here

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Thomas Becket and TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral – a free online event, July 2021

The British Museum and City Lit are hosting a free online evening of drama and discussion centred around TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral.

Scenes from Eliot’s drama, performed and filmed by City Lit tutors and drama students, will be shown as part of a panel discussion about Murder in the Cathedral and its context, considering why the theme of this play resonated with Eliot in the 1930s.

The panelists include English Literature tutor at City Lit Phoebe Braithwaite,  and TV and film actor Gary Grant, who directed the filmed scenes. The event will be introduced by Dr Naomi Speakman, co-curator of the British Museum’s exhibition Thomas Becket: Murder and the Making of a Saint.

This event is held in collaboration with City Lit, the largest college for adult education in London and Europe, and the Society posted their appeal for participants on our News page in April. It will be broadcast online at 7pm on Thursday 29th July, and details are here.

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London West End dates for Four Quartets for Ralph Fiennes, July 2021

A series of London dates have been announced for the performance of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets by Ralph Fiennes.

His world premiere stage adaptation will transfer to London’s Harold Pinter Theatre for a strictly limited run of 36 performances only from 18 November to 18 December 2021.

Tickets are available now from here.

Some regional dates remain, at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until 10th July; Southampton MAST 12 – 17 July; Malvern Theatre 19 – 24 July; and York Theatre Royal 26 – 31 July 2021. For full details and reviews of the performance, see below.

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Collected Reviews – Ralph Fiennes performing Four Quartets, June 2021

Photo credit: Matt Humphrey

Following its Press Night, reviews are now appearing of the touring performance of Four Quartets by Ralph Fiennes. These will be updated below as they are published.

For full details of the show, scroll down five items to the original announcement in March.

The Telegraph (£), Dominic Cavendish: “What does his performative prowess lend Eliot’s poetry that we couldn’t get at home, studying the page? Above all, Fiennes conjures an air of communal exploration…His tone is conversational without being casual, and a world removed from the clipped and erudite articulation that was Eliot’s signature style (hypnotic though it was). The delivery is magnetic: slow enough to allow words to be apprehended, as if Fiennes were thinking aloud, groping after the ineffable.” ★★★★☆

The Times (£), Clive Davis: “TS Eliot’s meditations on the intermingling of past, present and future have even more resonance in this captivating performance by Ralph Fiennes…Lovers of Eliot who cherish the author’s own punctilious recording may have found Fiennes too emphatic at times…but for the most part it was an evening of subtle alchemy…his physicality drew us into the inner music of the poems.” ★★★★☆

Wiltshire Times, John Baker: “…an absolutely mesmerising performance which keeps the audience completely transfixed… Compelling, moving and symphonic, Four Quartets is performed by Fiennes with great sensitivity and flashes of humour on a starkly black set as background, with only two chairs, a table and a WW2 radio broadcast microphone as props.”

What’s On Stage, Kris Hallett: “Astonishing from a literary point of view, [Four Quartets] lack a sense of conflict, the key to all theatre. Fiennes works hard to try to find this within and succeeds to a certain extent, but as the evening wears on, there was a sense of the words and rhythms rolling over its audience, I noticed heads drooping onto chests rather than leaning forward in anticipation. Even at a shade under 80 minutes, it begins to feel a slog.” ★★★☆☆

The Guardian, Arifa Akbar: “Fiennes animates scenes with such multivoiced magnificence that they hold us rapt and the language becomes clear and powerful as he physically enacts the lines.

“At his best, Fiennes is intimate and upfront, approaching the top of the stage until his toes grip its edges and infusing lines with such expression that they seem freshly polished. He brings an overt theatricality to the production and some passages sound close to Shakespearean soliloquy.

“This bold production…has an audacity that should be welcomed as a marker of post-pandemic theatre. Unapologetically complex, it makes no concessions to the viewer but asks us to think, engage, concentrate, and it is well worth the head-scratching.” ★★★★☆

The Stage, : “Fiennes’ performance is in the model of classical English stage acting – plummy, ceremonious and impeccably enunciated in a resonant baritone. He delivers most of the text with a wide-eyed look, as if startled by the words coming out of his mouth. Spittle glints in the light. Crucially, he is barefoot, as though being able to feel the boards as he treads them imbues him with greater theatrical prowess…

“Performance style aside, the production makes little effort to translate a literary work into a sufficiently theatrical grammar. Without some kind of framing or respite, there is no escape from the unadorned recital of complex poetry. For those meeting the poem for the first time, the battle to maintain enough concentration to absorb meaning from the 75 minutes of verse is likely to be a losing one.

“It is piously performed and reverent to its text, but seemingly hasn’t paused to think about the audience. This is the kind of work that leads people to declare theatre a dying art form, fading into irrelevance. They might just have a point.” ★★☆☆☆

The Arts Desk, Veronica Lee: “It’s no disrespect to say that the evening would have worked as a magnificent piece of theatre with just Fiennes’s magnetic voice and Eliot’s compelling words, but a tip-top design team adds to our enjoyment. Bechtler’s panels shift on their axes, as if to offer glimpses into those other realms suggested by Eliot, while Tim Lutkin’s lighting conjures fire and ice, sunrise and winter landscapes (and most strikingly, there’s a complete auditorium blackout for the line “O dark dark dark”) and Christopher Shutt’s clever sound design is evocative but unobtrusive. A compelling evening.” ★★★★☆

Stage Talk, Mike Whitton: “Ralph Fiennes’ performance is a tour de force, not least as a prodigious feat of memory. This recital has obviously been meticulously thought through, yet his delivery of the lines appears utterly spontaneous, creating the illusion that the words and ideas are being freshly minted there and then. Drawing upon a formidable range of physical and vocal skills to bring these challenging poems to dramatic life, he has created an unforgettable 70 minutes of theatre.”  ★★★★★

Bath Echo, Petra Schofield: “Ralph Fiennes is without question a huge talent and instantly stamps his mark on the work; as Director he has played to his strengths. His physicality and fluid movement break the recital-like feel whilst his use of pause, space and stillness fills the space with power.”

Daily Mail, Patrick Marmion: “They [Four Quartets] are difficult, fragmented works capturing feelings of remorse, humility, hopelessness and acceptance. Simply as a feat of memory, their rendition is a remarkable achievement.

“Over 75 minutes, their complexity makes it difficult for an audience to keep up. But the brilliance of Fiennes’s simple and direct presentation is that he plots his own, personal path through them; and leaves us to catch what we can.

“He’s supported by Hildegard Bechtler’s austere stage design which features a table and two chairs beneath two huge, tomb-like slabs of stone. Below these, barefoot, Fiennes gives a performance of intensity that is also, at times, unexpectedly moving.” ★★★★☆

Financial Times, Sarah Hemming: “It’s a tour de force of performance…But it’s still a big ask for an art form that thrives on plot, character, conflict and action. And it’s a demanding listen. These are works that purposefully loop and circle as they reflect on time, and that bristle with abstractions and philosophical concepts. That density of thought and cerebral intensity are hard to sustain on stage: images pile up and Fiennes, despite his mesmerising virtuosity, can’t quite overcome the lack of momentum.

“Not great drama, as such, then. But this is an evening that reaches for something else. Eliot wrote three of the poems during the second world war: a reckoning with mortality weaves through them, as does the search for grace and a condition beyond temporal pain. It’s in the solace of sharing this contemplation at a time of national crisis and loss that the nub of this profoundly intimate, beautifully performed production lies. Fiennes might be up there alone, but the audience presence is key.” ★★★★☆

i news, Rosemary Waugh: “Ralph Fiennes’ performance…relies on the most basic of theatrical formulas: one actor, alone on a stage, reciting words. And out of this simplicity comes some real magic. Fiennes – who also directs – breathes animation into Eliot’s cyclical meditation on time, love and death.

“His intention is to make these four lengthy poems as comprehensible as possible for the listening audience. In a few, brief sections this leads to him appearing a bit too much like an overenthusiastic English teacher trying to get the Year 11s to like poetry, but for the much larger part it results in making Eliot’s words sound as though they were written yesterday.” ★★★★☆

Mail on Sunday, Event magazine, Robert Gore-Langton” “The last person to record these poems for the BBC was Jeremy Irons, who droned on like a depressed undertaker. Now, hooray, Ralph Fiennes really lets rip live on stage, in bare feet, not overacting but theatrical enough to make you feel the terrific undertow of these late poems by T.S. Eliot.” ★★★★☆

Sunday Times (£), Quentin Letts: “How could any production team, even one including set design by Hildegard Bechtler and creative input from James Dacre, make this navel-gazing properly theatrical? Once or twice I was seized by immense yawns. There are few props — two plain chairs, a simple table, a glass of water and a couple of Stonehenge-size panels that occasionally rotate. A luvvyish touch: Ralph is barefoot. That always makes me shudder. He is dressed and shorn like a 1940s countryman. Occasional sound effects include waves and the tick of a clock.

“If you can forgive the writing’s knottiness, it just about works. Fiennes’s fleshly form brings a foreboding to it all…At the end, when Fiennes dropped his head and fell silent, no one was sure he had finished. Which, oddly enough, may have been the point Eliot was trying to make all along.” ★★★★☆

The Observer, Clare Brennan: “The project is entirely Fiennes’s: he is director as well as performer. On the one hand, this gives the piece a tremendous focus and coherence of purpose. Fiennes the actor is entirely invested in the expression of the work, every gesture, every intonation perfectly at the service of the director’s interpretation. On the other hand, Fiennes the actor is constrained by Fiennes the director, whose reading of the poem seems to me to shy away from fully accepting the deep joy that lies at its core. The emphasis, in the production, is on expressions of anxiety – closer to Eliot the erudite editor at Faber than to Eliot the mystic, steeped in Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Indian epic, the Mahābhārata.” ★★★★☆

The Economist, Boyd Tonkin, The arts after tha pandemic (£): ‘It is an apt starting-point for theatre’s post-covid journey. Four Quartets wrestles not only with Eliot’s personal crises of faith and identity but the public emergency of the second world war; he composed three of the four pieces between 1939 and 1942. Mr Fiennes has known the poem since childhood but revisited it in lockdown, finding that it chimed with the disrupted times, in which “all the normal infrastructure and expectancies are taken away”. Colleagues who helped put the show on the road “volunteered how contemporary it felt—the sense of reckoning with oneself and with life and soul”.’

The Critic, Alexander Larman: “There is a tantalising ambiguity as to who he is – are we watching Fiennes as “himself”, Eliot, an Everyman figure or someone else entirely?

“At the end of the absorbing 75 minutes, it is still not entirely clear whether Fiennes is performing in character or not. Nor does it much matter. He handles the technical challenges of reciting thousands of lines of verse superbly, at times speaking as conversationally and informally as if he was addressing an old friend in prose, and at others deliberately adjusting his voice to take on more dramatic and theatrical registers.”

Tour dates:

25th May to 5th June: Theatre Royal, Bath

8th June to 12th June: Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton

14th to 26th June: Oxford Playhouse

28th June to 10th July: Cambridge Arts Theatre,

12th to 17th July: Mayflower Studios, Southampton

19th to 24th July: Malvern Theatres

26th to 31st July: York Theatre Royal

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John Quinn, TS Eliot and The Waste Land, June 2021

A public lecture, accessible online, is to explore John Quinn’s pivotal role in the publication of The Waste Land.

John Quinn was born in Tiffin, Ohio, in 1870, and grew to international fame as a lawyer and collector of literature and art. He provided legal advice and services to many modernist authors including Joyce, Pound and Yeats, and the manuscript of The Waste Land was discovered amongst his papers, having been gifted to him in gratitude by Eliot.

As part of The Tiffin-Seneca Public Library’s John Quinn Lecture Series, Dr. Garry Leonard, Professor of Literature and Film at the University of Toronto, will be the guest speaker on TS Eliot and The Waste Land on Wednesday, June 23 at 6:30 pm Eastern Time (US and Canada) via Zoom. For further information click to enlarge the flyer above left, and for registration and further details click here.

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Online TS Eliot academic mini-conference, May 2021

An online mini-conference, which UK participants can join, has been organised as part of the Annual Conference of the American Literature Association. The American Literature Association is “a coalition of societies devoted to the study of American authors”.

It will be held via Zoom on June 4, 2021, from 1:00 to 3:15 p.m. Eastern time, with live presentations and Q&A to be recorded for the ALA conference in July. Access is free.

Its two sessions are as follows:

Session I: 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Translations and Relations: The 21st-Century Waste Land

  • William Best, U of Calgary: “The Digital Waste Land: 2020”
  • Susan Edmunds, Syracuse U: “Eliot at the Border: Reimagining The Waste Land as a ‘Translation Space'”
  • Marjorie Perloff, Stanford U: “To Translate or Not to Translate: Foreign Language Citations in The Waste Land

Session II: 2:15-3:15 p.m. Eastern Time
Tradition and the Individual Life: Eliot’s Sources

  • Kate E. Jorgensen, U of New Hampshire: “‘The Darkness of God:’ Eliot and the Miltonic Allusions of East Coker III”
  • Janine Utell, Widener U: “Delivering the Impossible: Voice, Affect, and Intimacy in the Eliot/Emily Hale Letters”
  • Frances Dickey, U of Missouri: “His Heart on His Sleeve: Eliot, Emily Hale, and the Personal Work of Art”

The Zoom link for access to the event is: https://uncg.zoom.us/j/98558902184

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Eliot & Wagner – an online talk, April 2021

The Wagner Society is hosting “Oed’ und leer das Meer”: Wagner and TS Eliot, an online Zoom webinar, on 21st April at 6.30pm.

Dr Jamie McGregor, a Lecturer in Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa, will focus on The Waste Land, and its direct quotations from both Tristan und Isolde and the Ring Cycle, “as well as an indirect (but arguably still more pertinent) reference to Parsifal”.

“The discussion aims to throw some light on why Eliot chose to allude to these Wagnerian works, what effects are achieved by their inclusion in the poem, and how their presence contributes to its overall purpose,” the Wagner Society explains.  “The approach will be conversational rather than strictly academic, and no specialist knowledge of Eliot’s work is required.”

Further details and tickets are here. Tickets are £10 for non-Wagner Society members, free for students and under-30s.

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Emily Hale letters – an online discussion, April 2021

The Princeton University Library, home to the Emily Hale letters, which they kept sealed until January 2020, is hosting an online discussion entitled TS Eliot & Emily Hale Letters: Re-examined

“Join us to hear a panel of scholars and experts discuss what has been revealed from one of the best-known sealed literary archives in the world,” say Princeton Library.

Participants include Frances Dickey, Associate Professor of English, University of Missouri, who has written several essays on the letters since researching them and blogging their content from the day of their opening; and Sara Fitzgeraldauthor of The Poet’s Girl: A novel of TS Eliot and Emily Hale and a contributor to last year’s Journal of the TS Eliot Society (UK).

The event takes place on Sunday 18th April; NB the time in Princeton, NJ is 5 hours behind British Summer Time. Registration is free but places are limited.

UPDATE: A recording of this event has now been made available – see the News page for details.

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Ralph Fiennes to perform Four Quartets live, March 2021

A live, touring performance of Four Quartets by Ralph Fiennes has been announced.

Visiting a series of regional theatres, Fiennes will perform the work to socially distanced audiences, against an austere, simple set. The show has dates from May to July, and will hopefully extend into August.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today (begins at 2:19:50) Fiennes talks about the project, and begins by reading from the opening of East Coker V. (He “takes a conversational approach” to the work, says Dominic Cavendish, writing about the project in The Telegraph)

“This is a poem I have known since I was quite young,” Fiennes explains. “I remember my parents had an LP of Eliot reading it himself. And then I’ve been familiar with it over the years, and have recorded it, in fact, a few years ago. And it’s a poem that’s increasingly had value for me, I think, as one gets older. It’s probably a poem that speaks to middle age and further.”

Fiennes sees the work as “a spiritual examination of who we are and what we are”. It is, he says,“a reflection or inquiry into time and faith. It’s an acceptance of death. It’s asking the big questions about who we are and where we are headed.”

Fiennes had learnt the work during lockdown, and then wondered if it might be possible to put on a production of it. The Eliot Estate granted the rights, and the regional theatres in Bath and Northampton got behind the idea. Dates have followed in Oxford and Cambridge, and Fiennes has said that “We are still working on other venues after that to go through into August”.

And with venues subject to government regulations at the time, “we will flip from socially distanced audiences to, I hope, the possibility of a full house”.

The tour will begin at the Theatre Royal, Bath from 25th May to 5th June. UPDATE: Sold Out.

From 8th June to 12th June, the tour will be at the Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton. Tickets go on general sale on 29th March (Earlier for the theatre’s Members)

From 14th to 26th June, the tour will be at the Oxford Playhouse. UPDATE: Tickets go on general sale on 30th March (Earlier for Playhouse Members)

From 28th June to 10th July, the tour will be at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, UPDATE: Tickets now on general sale.

UPDATE: From 12th to 17th July the tour will be at Mayflower Studios, Southampton. Tickets go on general sale on 22nd April (Earlier for the theatre’s members)

UPDATE: From 19th to 24th July the tour will be at Malvern Theatres. Tickets on general sale now.

UPDATE: From 26th to 31st July, the tour will be at the York Theatre Royal. Priority booking open now; tickets on general sale 19th April.

Further venues and ticket details will be updated on the Events page as we hear of them.

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Acclaimed multimedia interpretation of Four Quartets streaming online, October 2020

The celebrated interpretation of Four Quartets by the US choreographer Pam Tanowitz is to be streamed online.

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.

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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.

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TS Eliot and the Anxious Body, a free online lecture, August 2020

“The bodies in TS Eliot’s poetry need to calm down. They twist, clutch, cling, wriggle, sprout, and burn. In a word, Eliot’s bodies are anxious.”

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.

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A virtual tour of The Waste Land in the City, August 2020

In response to the current restrictions,
Tina Baxter (right), of Footprints of London, has taken online her formerly walking tour of TS Eliot’s City of London.

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.

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Online choral event to incorporate choruses from Murder In The Cathedral, July 2020

An online choral performance will offer an opportunity to hear choruses from TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral, between “an amazing range of sonic variety, texture and subtle use of silence”.

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.

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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.

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TS Eliot & Friends at the University of Kent, March 2020

This event has been postponed owing to the coronavirus.

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TS Eliot Day at Aldeburgh Festival, February 2020

This year’s Aldeburgh Festival features a dedicated TS Eliot day.

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.

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Southbank to stage Murder In The Cathedral opera, February 2020

At the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank, London on 28th March there will be an English-language concert performance of Pizzetti’s opera based on TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral.

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.

Full details of the event are here, and booking is through the Southbank Centre.

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Jeremy Irons, Four Quartets, and Beethoven’s A minor Quartet, December 2019

A performance at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford will bring together Jeremy Irons reading TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, with a performance of the Beethoven quartet which Eliot drew upon for inspiration.

“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.

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Hannah Sullivan to give Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2019, October 2019

We are delighted to announce that The Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2019 will be given in Oxford on Thursday 28th November by Hannah Sullivan.

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.

 

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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.

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Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, live reading by Lemn Sissay, October 2019

In an event at the British Library, at 2pm on Sunday 24th November, poet, playwright and broadcaster Lemn Sissay will read from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

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.

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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.”

There are also performances at St Mary the Virgin, Oxford on 8th and 9th November, and Guildford Cathedral on 14th November. Details are here, and tickets from £10 can be booked here.

Reviews:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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In Place and Time: Benjamin Britten and TS Eliot, August 2019

An event in the beautiful Southwark Cathedral in London will bring together the music of Benjamin Britten and the poetry of TS Eliot.

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.

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Modernist event in Virginia Woolf’s garden with TS Eliot keynote address, August 2019

A midsummer’s evening symposium on gardens and modernism is being held at Monk’s House, Rodmell, East Sussex, on Saturday, 17th August from 5pm until late.

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.

Full details of the programme are here, and registration and details of the event are here.

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Quartets by TS Eliot and Beethoven at St Alban’s Cathedral, July 2019

An evening at St Alban’s Cathedral will feature a reading of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets by the actor Simon Callow, on Tuesday 16th July at 8.30pm.

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.

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Annual TS Eliot Festival at Little Gidding – full details, June 2019

Full details have now been finalised, and booking has opened, for the 2019 TS Eliot Festival, being held at Little Gidding on Sunday July 7th.

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.

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TS Eliot and A Life of Prayer at St Stephen’s, Gloucester Road, May 2019

The church in Kensington where TS Eliot served as churchwarden for many years, is hosting an event to explore the poet’s legacy.

“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.

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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.

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The Waste Land in Sea Fever Festival, April 2019

On Saturday 11th May, as part of the Sea Fever Literary Festival in North Norfolk, the poet, biographer and Faber publisher Matthew Hollis will explore The Waste Land – twice.

Firstly with a sound and vision talk; then secondly as a two-voiced dramatic reading of the poem with fellow poet Richard Scott.

The Sea Fever Festival will be held 10th-12th May, in the Maltings at Wells-Next-The-Sea; the full programme is here and ticket booking, for either the full weekend or for Saturday 11th, is here.

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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.

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Interpretation of Four Quartets prepares for London premiere, April 2019

Combining dance, visual art and a reading of Four Quartets, a work by US choreographer Pam Tanowitz is being prepared for its UK premiere at the Barbican next month.

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.

Reviews:

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”

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TS Eliot ‘In Different Voices’ to feature readings and music, March 2019

Eliot College, at the University of Kent at Canterbury, is presenting an evening of readings, music and drama featuring the works of TS Eliot on Wednesday 10th April.

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.

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Cambridge production of TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral, February 2019

The ADC Theatre in Cambridge is hosting a production of TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral from Tuesday 2nd to Saturday 6th April.

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 cambsweadayschool@btinternet.com to register then pay on the door.

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Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – A Celebration, January 2019

With readings by poet Christopher Reid, author Michael Rosen and actor Simon Callow, the British Library is hosting a celebration of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

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.

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For earlier events see

Events Archive 2017-18

Events Archive 2012-2016

 

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