Tag: D H Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence Festival: The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd at Lakeside Arts Centre

lawrence2This year’s D. H. Lawrence Festival came to a close last week with a performance of his 1911 play The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd at Lakeside Arts Centre. Drawing on many of the autobiographical themes that would haunt his later work, Lawrence gives us a terse account family breakdown and death in a Nottinghamshire mining community.

The play draws heavily on his earlier work, Odour of Chrysanthemums, a beautifully descriptive short story full of potent symbolism. The play is set in a dismal, rat-infested pit cottage. Lizzie Holroyd is waiting for her husband to come home – she has been told that he has been drinking at the pub and sure enough he comes home inebriated with a couple of bawdy women in tow.

But the following day, Lizzie learns that her husband has been killed in a pit accident and in the final scene she and her mother-in-law receive his body, wash it and dress it while lamenting where everything went wrong. But there are no clear resolutions; Mr Holroyd’s behaviour is of course difficult to stomach yet there is the suggestion that he is not entirely to blame for the disintegration of their marriage.

Although this was a rehearsed reading, with all the actors appearing script-in-hand, it was it was a gut-wrenching piece of theatre and all the actors put on passionate performances. The Nottinghamshire dialect was delivered accurately by all the actors, particularly the one who played the feckless Mr Holroyd. Although Lawrence is not widely-known for his drama this piece proves that he was an accomplished playwright who was able to create vivid characters and dialogue. Let’s hope we see it on stage again in the near future.

For details on what’s on at D. H. Lawrence Heritage in Eastwood visit the website.

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Explore Sons and Lovers at this year’s DH Lawrence Festival

lawrenceDH1 (1)A festival celebrating one of Nottinghamshire’s most famous literary sons is returning next month with a host of different events planned.

The DH Lawrence Festival, which takes place between 6th and 21st September, will include exhibitions, lectures, vintage fairs, afternoon tea, walks, film screenings, music and activities for families in his home town of Eastwood and the surrounding area.

It is 100 years since Lawrence published his autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers and this year’s festival, now in its 10th year, is an opportunity to explore one of his most acclaimed works. Author Stephen Bailey will be leading a walk around Nottingham on 9th September when he will point out some of the landmarks depicted in the novel including Nottingham Castle and the Theatre Royal. On 12th September there will be another Sons and Lovers walk, this time around the countryside of Haggs Farm (Willey Farm in the novel) and Felley Woods. On the same day there will be a screening of the 1960 film at Broadway cinema. The landscape which inspired Sons and Lovers is also the subject of an illustrated talk which takes place at the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre, Eastwood, on 13th September.

For those who want to venture further afield I would recommend a trip to the picturesque Teversal Village near Sutton-in-Ashfield. As part of an open weekend event, which takes place between 6th and 8th September, there will be a chance to find out about Teversal Manor, which is thought to be Wragby Hall, the manor house in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. On 6th September, Dr Andrew Harrison from Nottingham University will be giving a talk on how the landscape of this region inspired Lady Chatterley’s Lover (call Denis Hill at Ashfield District Council on 01623 457426 to book).

Perhaps the event I am looking forward to the most is a screening of Inside the Mind of Mr Lawrence at Broadway. The film, which is set in 1928, stars Paul Slack who I interviewed two years ago ahead of his one-man play Phoenix Rising at Nottingham Playhouse in which he also played Lawrence. Paul, who is originally from Sutton-in-Ashfield, has a wonderful Nottinghamshire accent (there are few performers who can pull this off accurately!) and his shows are infused with breath-taking passion and energy.

Further details, including a full programme of events, can be found here. You can also find D.H. Lawrence Heritage on Facebook, on Twitter @dhlheritage and by using the hashtags #dhlawrence and #dhlawrencefestival.

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Vivid depiction of D. H. Lawrence in Phoenix Rising at Nottingham Playhouse

When Paul Slack finished his one-man show Phoenix Rising at Nottingham Playhouse on Friday evening, there was just one person on the stage. I am stating the obvious here – but such was his stage presence and command of his characters that at times, it felt like there was more than one performer.

The play, written by Campbell Kay, chronicles Lawrence’s early life in the  Nottinghamshire mining town of Eastwood. Set in a sparsely furnished room on Ile de Port-Cros, France, we see Lawrence two years before his death as he looks back on his childhood – his friendships, family, school life and early career, all of which shaped his literary career.

For those of us who know Nottinghamshire well, the play evoked the landscape perfectly. We see how Sherwood Forest and the legend of Robin Hood fired the imagination of the young Bertie (as he was known as a boy) and that he believed the collieries were a blight on the landscape. Lawrence’s childhood was not without its problems; his father was a drunk, he lost his beloved brother to pneumonia and he was an outsider who preferred to read and play with the lasses while the other boys in his class could not wait to finish school and go down’t pit.

Despite this, his childhood memories are infused with a warmth and gentle humour and perhaps what strikes you most of all is how ordinary Lawrence is. Of course, he went on to become of the most celebrated figures in the Modernist movement – but at this point, he is taking his first nervous steps into the literary world and is somewhat bemused by American poet Ezra Pound. At an event organised by writer and editor Ford Madox Ford, he recites one of his poems in a Nottinghamshire dialect with his back turned to the audience which I found both comical and endearing.

The success of this production comes both from Kay’s beautifully written text and Slack’s engaging performance. He moved seamlessly between different voices and really engaged us in the narrative.

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