UP THE LINE 2011 ARTISTS FEEDBACK

Contributors:

Julian Jacobson, Pianist

Keren’Or Pazard, Dance Choreographer

Dougal Squires, Film Interviewer

Joe Duggan, Poet, The German Graves

Bran Jones, Photographer, Broadstairs

Kai Clear, Filmmaker

Harry Vendryes, Film Performer

Mo and Jane Black – Lantern Artists

Dead Rat Orchestra, Performance at front gate and exit

Jazzman John Clarke, Light Brigade Poet

Harriet Olins, Lifeboat Poet

Isabel White, Poetry Director

Mel Simpson, Artist Liaison Manager

Mark Holihan, Broadstairs Poet

Duncan Menzies, Piper

From: Julian Jacobson, Pianist

I was delighted to participate in this significant event for the third year running. This year was in a new location, and a dramatic and historic one it turned out to be. The event seemed to run with smooth control and I felt able to concentrate on my message and on communicating with the public with no worries about the organisation.

My own pieces were chosen to reflect my current musical, as well as political, standpoints. As I am concentrating heavily on the music of the great German composer Beethoven this year and into 2012 (his four-note motto from the 5th Symphony was, it will be remembered, chosen as a peace and victory symbol by the Allies despite, or perhaps because of, being by a German composer) – I decided on a piece by his close follower Johannes Brahms. Brahms was of a later generation and the piece I chose, Intermezzo op 117 no.1, was written only around 15 years before the outbreak of WW1; nevertheless it shows the spiritual and peaceful nature of the deeper German (including German Jewish) temperament, the one not corrupted by militarism and nationalism. My own piece to complement it, “Prelude”, which received its first performances at the Remembrance event, reflected my current concerns with conveying atmosphere through extended tonality and extremes of register and texture. I felt they conveyed a strong message and the public seemed drawn in by the music.

From: Keren’Ot Pezard, Dance Choreographer

The remembrance event in Margate was a very challenging context for dance. We had to perform outside on a hard floor for an hour and forty minutes a dance in a loop. We found that performing over and over again was giving us more depth each time and challenged us to stay present and creative to give to the audience the same intensity with variations of time and space in our perception. Usually, you perform one or more night a piece to get to the point where the performers and the piece starts to breath and open new meanings that we didn’t expect. So in one night, we lived about 12 or so nights. The weather was beautiful this night as well with full moon and the cemetery enlighten with many artists fed us in a very poetic atmosphere.

From Dougal Squires, Film Interviewer

After having been impressed by last year’s event at Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery I was eager to attend this year’s Up The Line in Margate. The surrounding countryside, the graveyard itself, and the two chapels provided a wonderful setting. My role was to interview artistic participants, helpers, and members of the public. Many artists had returned for their second or third years to take part in this unique event. However, as with last year, the most enjoyable part was talking to people from the local area who had been intrigued by the idea and then entranced by its realisation.

From: Joe Duggan, Poet, The German Graves

Feedback From Margate Event

A challenging and inclusive event , in that it presents an alternative to the traditional experience of remembrance. For me, this was incredibly important, as I could not participate in a traditional Remembrance event.

There are a number of reasons for my discomfort at traditional events. One is its strong linkage between present conflicts, which I do not support, and the sacrifices of past wars. There is also a strong branding and conformism, in the media and elsewhere, that implies that all war actions (by the British) are heroic, It seems to me like a constant perpetuating of the old Latin Lie “Dulce et Decorum Est”. I am also uncomfortable with events that ignore or pay lip-service to the losses experienced by civilians on both sides of the conflicts remembered.

Yet when I expressed this to the organisers of “Up the Line” they found a way to express this, through the selection of poems performed. This year the performance of “The German Graves” beside the location of some German graves in Margate was extremely poignant. I was also touched by the conversation it evoked in attendees, one man saying “Sure they were just like us, it was Hitler that put them in the ground”. If there is another event in the UK that looks at Rembrance in such a diverse and intelligent way, I am not aware of it.

From: Bran Jones, Photographer, Broadstairs

I think the event did work, I have no idea of the footfall but there seemed to be a steady flow of people going around the cemetery. The people I spoke to all seemed positively impressed. I hope it is a first that will have continuity.

I do think that to hold the event after dark has its pros and cons. It does certainly add a dramatic atmosphere to the delivery of the poetry, dance, music. But in negotiating the paths in darkness there is no way of taking in the rest of the ambient, and little time for reflection. Maybe an event that starts in daylight and ends in total darkness? Creativity and art function well when they access the in-between spaces, and also when they pose more questions than answers. Day is work or school, night is rest, sleep or recreation, twilight is the space when we pause for reflection.

It would also mean that creating documentary content of the event would be possible. We had a 40 minute film made of the events at The Old Lookout Gallery in Broadstairs over the summer, and it really had impact, the artists who exhibited were happy and it impressed other curators and will prove a valid support for future grant applications.

From: Kai Clear, Film on Uwe Tree

Project aims

The aim of my contribution to the 2011 Up The Line remembrance event was to create a suitable and contextual backdrop for Harry Vendryes’s WW1 soldiers war journal recital. This backdrop was to take the form of a motion video installation comprised of archive WW1 footage, edited in order to convey images of trench life and front line warfare projected onto the large conifer tree behind Harry.

Conclusion

As the audience followed the event path the projection could be seen from a distance as a guide drawing their attention to Harry’s location. Whilst in previous years the footage had been more concerned with scenes of soldiers departure from Britain and preparing for war, I felt that by adding more scenes of the actual warfare (troops going over the top, trench life, gas attacks, shell fire, wounded men and explosions) created a great deal of atmosphere and enhanced Harry’s excellent performance. Again the image of the solitary poppy at the films end was a powerful and potent image that clearly resonated with the audience. Many thought at first it represented a bullet hole and blood, but as the image came further into focus and revealed its true shape there were many awed gasps and comments. From the people I spoke to after the event it was apparent that it was this image that had most impact.

Future refinement

Should this event be funded again I would like to refine my installation content quite radically. What I observed this year was that even though I was able to create a clearer projected image on a non-uniform texture medium (the conifer tree) by tinting the footage blue, I still felt that some of the scenes weren’t as vivid and a little too indistinct for my liking. I feel that a far more striking installation could be created by animating archive still images instead of using the war film footage. This technique has been used in many recent screen and broadcast documentaries where footage in not available or is too expensive to use. My installation already contains two such animations, the one of Lord Kitchener at the start and the poppy at the end, I propose that the next video should contain more animations as these images have the potential to create a deeper impact on the audience.

From: Harry Vendryes, Film Performer

Weather was absolutely perfect. Combined with which, the full moon behind the clouds set a perfect atmosphere. I couldn’t help feeling that even a multi-million dollar, American blockbuster, simply couldn’t buy,make or represent that kind of ambience. Stunning!.

The film Kai made was brilliant (a better word fails me). The poppy at the end appeared to be three dimensional, as it was indeed projected onto a 3-D tree. Did he even realize this would happen? I felt as if I could’ve reached out to pick it.

The biggest mistake was running both my extracts. After the second run, we quickly realized it was off and too long, so just ran the new Fred Ball piece. I think this new piece is better, stronger and enjoyed moreby the audience. By comparison, the Blackmore diary appears like a shopping list of events.

I was VERY disappointed with how I began my performance. Can’t think what was up. It was:

a.) Too flat, not enough variation, b.) Too artificial in tone (think WW1 jolly hockey sticks)

c.) A little too fast, d.) I mistakenly put volume above everything else (bad, and not needed here)

However, once I got going, I felt it was one of the best things I’ve EVER done. I’ll repeat that: ONE OF THE BEST PERFORMANCE I’VE EVER GIVEN… ANYWHERE! The contrast even surprised me. Somewhere inside me,a switch gets clicked on. Weird!

Once I heard about the cancelled Brompton event, I didn’t know if Margate would also be cancelled at the last minute, so kept with the original idea of ‘reading’. Upon reflection, it would’ve been better

‘off script’ for Fred Ball, but maybe not so with Blackmore, which requires a more detailed and distant approach.

I liked that everyone had great attitude and turned up on time. Although this isn’t really my business, it does add to the overall good feeling.

Food was much appreciated and yummy. Thanks for that John.

Pity I was last on route, so saw very little of the other performers.

If UTL is repeated, I would suggest a military long wool coat. They are very distinctive, without requiring any medals or insignia. That long olive WWW1 Great Coat (its proper name), combined with Fred Ball being ‘performed’ instead of simply ‘read’, would take this piece into new and exiting territory. Thanks again, and don’t forget to thank Mel from me as well.

From: Mo and Jane Black – Lantern Artists

The workshop venue “the greedy cow” is a lovely little place, with easy access for unloading equipment, though being upstairs it would be limited for disabled access, the owners were very accommodating, providing food and drinks for all ,adults and children alike.

The workshop itself seemed to be a hit with again both children and adults alike, and they enjoyed decorating the lanterns for the parade.

The event itself was very beautiful and well organised, the lights and performances were very moving, the atmosphere being very surreal and not at all scary as perhaps one would imagine for the children, but they seemed to enjoy it as much as the adults, the weather was perfect as was the full moon, it could not have been more perfect.

We both look forward to the next event, and thank you to every one who participated, well done . ] Thank you again

From: Dead Rat Orchestra, Performance at front gate and exit

From a personal perspective the event began to have impact a soon as our rehearsals had begun – the first rehearsal was spent with the band members swapping war stories from their own families, comparing and contrasting each of our unique relationships with these historic events – something we have never done before – it was a learning experience – we uncovered a common history which is all to often overlooked / forgotten / ignored.

Having witnessed the UTL Brockley – we were more prepared to consider how our role in the proceedings would effect and reflect upon the event as an entirety, considering the delicate balance between our music, the poetry and dance and the other interventions. Our second time participating in UTL, was a marked evolution from the first, this time we we’re required to perform not only as “the lads before the war” at the start of the trail, but at the end of trail representing the “home coming/wake of war”.

We experimented with various looping song-lines and instrument combinations for the 1st “Lads Before the War” movement, but the performance truly reached its pinnacle with a rousing version of the round “whose pigs are these?” (rather than some of the other more introspective songs we tinkered with). Replete with percussion and distorted vocals, “whose pigs are these?” with its almost-benign rural-esque lyrics acted as a perfect vehicle for the sense camaraderie and revelry (with almost sense of naive obliviousness) that we were trying to invoke,

The 2nd movement “Return to Home”, faced us with a far greater challenge and responsibility: trying to maintain the event’s stance sober not somber, and aware of slipping into simplistic remorse. Accompanied by Robin’s accordion chords, Dan sang a song taught to him by his grandfather from his Navy days, – a simple verse, almost a nursery rhyme “I see the moon, the moon sees me”, his faltering, imperfect vocal re-enforcing the very human aspect of the whole event. Whilst Nathan sang a fragment from a song popular with the troops in the trenches during WW1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLn8fyE0saQ), “when I told them, just how beautiful you are, they didn’t believe me” – removed from its context of a classic love song, this simple line seems to gain a much greater resonance {Sometimes I felt like I was singing it to the individual audience members… almost saying “we did all this for you – don’t forget it, value yourselves and you’ll respect our memory….”}

All this to a stark cadence of axe against wood as Dan and Nathan chopped into a log: this evoked something of home (work/chopping firewood/return to land), and something almost futile in the activity; One audience member remarked

“it was like each strike with the axe represented ‘one cut down’ – a life gone”.

We consider this piece (written specifically for the event) extraordinarily successful and we will certainly incorporate it into future performances.

Up The Line has become important on a deeply personal level within the band, and we have discussed that UTL is something we would like to participate in every year as our own process of remembrance, reflection and way of marking respect.

From: Jazzman John Clarke, Light Brigade Poet

Needed to be on my metal for the two powerhouse pieces I read: Joseph Seamon Cotter’s:’Sonnet To Negro Soldiers’ & Alfred Lord Tennyson’s:’The Charge Of The LIght Brigade’ as there could be no diminution of effort on the part of the reader – so it was quite tough but also hugely enjoyable & rewarding.

I, personally, received applause, audible thanks, and suitably hushed murmurs of admiration from almost all of the groups who stood & listened. Apparently, an archive recording of Tennyson reading his famous rallying cry is extant & one gentleman kindly remarked that I “read just like him”.

It did help enormously to have a volunteer marshal nearby in hi-vis jacket throughout my stint & lessened the effect of isolation I had encountered at the two previous ‘Up The Line’ events I’d taken part in @ Ladywell & Brockley Cemeteries in South East London (2009 & 2010). Also it was very beneficial & helped bolster readers/performers stamina & well-being to have some food & drink arranged ‘before’ embarking on the event (in The Chapel/Side Building).

Tealights were also protected from the wind on this occasion by being covered with attractive metal lanterns. A full moon was probably fortuitous but, obviously, assisted by bathing the cemetery in lavish light for once! The monuments that were lit I thought really added considerably to the overall aesthetic of the event.

Plastic sleeves for the poems being read were a must, as there was a fair amount of condensation in the air despite it being mercifully dry on this occasion.

The turnout & local support was admirable I thought & I think I can safely say that the audience reaction I saw was extremely favourable. Indeed, I did marvel myself at their individual & collective attentiveness as I read each time to each group that gathered before me.

Finally,I offer my warm thanks & special regard to all concerned in co-ordinating this unique event & it almost goes without saying that particular praise is due to John McKiernan, Isabel White & Mel Simpson. It was really satisfying also to see that both The Arts Council of England & the other local sponsors recognised that fact for the 2011 event which, once again I was privileged & proud to be part of.

From: Harriet Olins, Lifeboat Poet

WHAT WORKED WELL

I think the setting was fantastic. It was fitting for ‘Remembrance day’ and visually dramatic. I think the way the audience walked through the grave yard on a specific route was a good idea as it felt like you were actually going on a journey. You didn’t know what you would find next, as opposed to being in an auditorium and performers

coming out one by one. It was well organised. Every one seemed to take responsibility for what they had to do – the performers and the organisers. Melanie was a clear leader and the technical staff was very efficient. John was

very encouraging and energetic. I was sent my poems far enough in advance to know them well and transport was provided by Isabel which was nice as I didn’t know any

other the other performers at first and I did once we’d all arrived together.

WHAT DID NOT WORK WELL

Apart from being initially unsure of how I would manage reading in the dark, (Isabel had brought extra candles which I used in the end) everything went well from my point of view.

AUDIENCE COMMENTS

One man stayed for a second round so that he heard all the poems twice. Some people said ‘thank you’ and ‘that was beautiful’.

There are no other issues I’d like to raise and I would be interested in being involved in a similar event.

From: Isabel White – Poetry Director

As with previous Up the Line programmes, we always try to tailor the programme to make it as relevant as possible both to the overall theme and the space in which the programme is presented. Also, the issue of adequate funding is always at the forefront of planning what we will do and how we will do it. Initially, it seemed a greater certainty that we would be presenting the Up the Line programme in West Brompton cemetery rather than Margate. Of the two, Margate was least likely to be confirmed at that stage. We had therefore begun researching the poetry content of the artistic programme based on its relevance to West Brompton cemetery. Once the programme was confirmed it was evident to me that we could not simply transplant the poets and their poems from London to Margate. Margate had its own unique dimension, given its proximity to the former RAF Manston, Battle of Britain airbase, as well as the prominence of the graves of former German service personnel. Other factors, not least the topography of the site, would also impact on the programme.

We wanted to use local poets but struggled to find readers of the right calibre. Other companies use actors and whilst we are not against this in principle, we are always concerned to maintain the integrity of the performance, in the sense that poets behave like and relate to other poets in different ways to actors. That said, we want to work with people who can project well to an audience in a dark place where there may be ambient wind noise and other distractions.

In the two weeks leading up to the event, the number of performers fluctuated almost daily and it was only with five days to spare that we actually had a full complement of readers for our core programme. We had planned a “poetry scape” – an innovation that had worked well in Brockley in 2010 – but were unable to deliver this in Margate. Notwithstanding, elements of this were incorporated into the programme for the event.

  • The content reflected a number of core themes:

  • The role of women in a conflict, as the carer, homemaker, lover left at home, or the widow

  • The professional role of women as ferry pilots, bringing new aircraft to Manston for the conflict

  • Pilots based at Manston and their experience of war in the air

  • Courage, and its impact on the individual in conflict

  • The war from both perspectives – allied and axis.

  • The German graves in detail – who is buried there

  • German graves from the perspective of the English soldier

  • The arrival of America in the conflict

  • Remembrance from the perspective of an expatriate American living in Thanet today

To this mix was added Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade, since Tennyson’s sisters are buried in the cemetery, within fifty yards of the reader. The piece is a little jingoistic, patriotic even, but also ironic, especially in the way it describes how adept are the British in snatching glorious defeat from the jaws of victory!

Copyright issues prevented some pieces being included and indeed, one piece was in disputed copyright on the night, eventually being substituted by another at the last minute.

The locations for the poets were well thought through by the creative director of the programme. Their stations were in the main well lit, given the resources available. We could have benefited from a little more lighting but we certainly had more than on previous outings and we were of course restricted by available funds.

The sequencing was logical and built nicely to the citing of the music and poetry at the German graves. The gaps between readers allowed for reflection and the approximate 3 mins time slot for each reader seemed about right. In the event, at busy times we had to reduce our poems from say four to two and then increase them again as “traffic” tailed off. Unlike the two previous outings, the weather was extremely kind both to reader and his/her audience, and the moonlight, combined with artificial light, was outstanding in creating the right atmosphere.

We were fortunate in having five excellent readers, each with their unique style, who rose to the occasion and all of whom were easy to hear. Our American poems were read by an American poet living in Thanet and the programme included at least two works written in the 21st century, one especially for the German graves.

The poetry provided a thoughtful counterpoint to the musical and visual performances so that a variety of audiences could experience and enjoy the content in a medium that suited them. We try to be even handed in our poetry choices and reflect as wide a cross section as possible. We do not offer jingoistic work as the event is not about celebrating war. Interestingly, so many people immediately jump to that conclusion. For example, in searching for a Polish poet we had talked to a Polish journalist who was initially quite hostile to the idea that we were putting on an event that “glorified war”, even though there was no evidence in our materials that this was the standpoint from which our programme emanated.

The notes thus far have been from the perspective of my role as poetry director. I do however wish to finish with a note from my perspective as a performer. I opted to perform both because we had experienced trouble recruiting performers and also because my own composition – Die Deutschen Gräber, was to be performed in German, and we had not been able to secure a native speaker of German to perform it. We did not want the performance to detract from the poem.

It is a challenge to read in a non native language and something which I am acutely aware of. That said, the environment on the night, the size and demeanour of the audience, meant that I too was able to rise to the occasion and put in a good performance. The repetition allowed each piece to be delivered more fluently and all my pieces could be used on future events.

Overall, the thing that delights me most about working with Platform-7 and with John in particular is the relatively free reign we have to create work within a strong framework; he is able to bring out the best in us. Also, the fact that he can deliver an audience that represents a broad cross section of the community local to where our performances take place. As a poet who has regularly performed on the poetry circuit in the past, usually to my poetry peers, it is also refreshing to know that 80% of the audience may be hearing poetry for the first time and may be inspired by it, either to read or write more of it themselves or just to understand it in a wider context.

From: Mark Holihan, Broadstairs Poet

. What worked well (artistic content etc.) – I was not able to see much of the event, but I did see the film and the oboe player in situ. Both were wonderful. It all felt very atmospheric. The setting helped immensely as it worked as an art piece in itself. The volunteers seemed well organized and helpful.

. What did not work well – Again, I saw very little. The organization felt a bit chaotic when I arrived and I felt that some participants and volunteers were confused about their roles. No one seemed to know where anyone was. I finally went off on a wander through the graveyard to find my little tree – and then had to come back to ask if it was indeed the right place. My son, an evaluator, was told conflicting versions of what was expected of him. But it all worked out pretty smoothly in the end.

Technical problems with your role – I was comfortable with my role as it was very simple and there were no technical hitches.

Any interesting comments made by the audience that you overheard

My audiences were very quiet and I heard nothing but “Thank you” and the very occasional applause – both very welcome.

If you would like to do it again – Yes. It was great.

I hope this is OK. It was a wonderful night and I was very impressed with all of the work and organisation that went into it! I would be happy to do it again.

From: Duncan Menzies, Piper

I very much enjoyed being part of Up The Line 2011. The event was well organised, the programme carefully considered, and the end result both tasteful and thought provoking. On a personal and professional level, Up The Line was an excellent chance to meet and work with a wide variety of talented artists, which is clearly a valuable opportunity for anyone active in the creative industries.

UP THE LINE 2011 CREW FEEDBACK

20 Dec 2011

Contributors:

Paul Hazelton, Limbo Arts, Projection Technician

Danielle Gilbert, Margate Liaison

Lurca, Technical Manager

Pat Codd – Gate

Lauren Lapdige, Volunteer Coordinator

Patrick Codd, Gate Manager

Mel Simpson, Artist Liaison Manager

From: Paul Hazelton, Limbo Arts, Projection Technician

A poignantly melancholic event but with a tinge of John McKiernan’s enthusiastic charm. Although I wasn’t able to experience the entirety of Up the Line Remembrance due to my responsibility for looking after Kai Clear’s work, I must say that I was very impressed by both John McKiernan’s sensitive curation, coordination and the efficiency of the event. All the artist and crew I met were fully engaged with the project and I felt that the fluidity of the event made the experience a poetic one. A rare opportunity, for those that attended, to experience Margate Cemetery as a living breathing place. The event added to the already ambient atmosphere, which was also enhanced by the fortuitous clarity and stillness of the evening. It was both strange and wonderful to see so many people walking around the cemetery at night. A great event.

From: Danielle Gilbert, Margate Liaison

Congrats on a brilliant evening last night. The last I had checked we estimated about 200 people had shown up- wow!

Thank you so much for approaching me and including me in a wonderful and very touching project, I really enjoyed the whole process and of course seeing the performances at the cemetery.

Please keep me in mind for future projects!, of course I will help out where I can.

From: Lurca, Technical Manager

I don’t really have any feedback other than I thought it went ‘swimmingly’.day was a bit long but we knew that would happen! next stop Flandres?

From: Lauren Lapdige, Volunteer Coordinator

I was extremely happy with the willingness of the volunteers and their professionalism in undertaking the role of stewarding at this years event. At times some requesting to do extra shifts to safeguard the

public. I believe this is a testimony to the collective ownership and team work that ‘Up the Line’ promotes between its artists, crew and volunteers. All of the volunteers were happy to have been involved in such a stunning event and requested helping with Platform- 7 works in the future. The chair of Margate Friends of the Cemetery was pleasantly surprised at the quality and professionalism of the team and the successfulness of the event. He asked if we would return another year to do it again. I am energized by his enthusiasm to have us return and delighted to have the support of a group who care

immensely for the cemetery and Margate. Personally I believe the event was very successful it’s carefully created ambience stunned a volunteers and audience. particularly Dead Rat Orchestra’s mesmerizing performance. I will use the organization and communication skills leant during this project to further my knowledge in future art events. Up the Line 2011 has widened my knowledge in the undertaking of such a well put together piece from conception to realization.

From: Patrick Codd, Gate Manager

Just a short note to give you some thoughts on Up the Line in Margate this year, from my vantage point as “Gate Supervisor”. While writing I guess its worth setting out how I see my role in case you want to pass this on to other people , and perhaps so we can discuss the effectiveness of the role/how it can be improved etc at a review meeting.

There was a great range of people at the event this year – a good mix of ages from babies to elderly people, groups of friends in their twenties and thirties, family groups , elderly couples, people on their own. People arrived in varying moods and with varying expectations. Some people arrive excited with expectations of a fun night in a cemetery, others puzzled, intrigued by what to expect and some people were clearly suspicious of what was going to happen. There was a small group who contained two men who were a little aggressive, demanding to be let in as soon as they arrived but on the whole, their wider group seemed to be keeping them under control.

My role is to ensure that everyone who arrives

· is welcomed

· has a programme

· advised as to roughly how long it will take to get round

· advised to take their time

· advised to follow the way marked path (the glow stick path that people see going off into the cemetery is always welcomed!)

· told that to get the best from the event it makes sense to go around in small groups of 10-15 people

understand that if the do find themselves in a big group that impairs their view of a dancer or their ability to hear a poet – then its fine to hold back and wait until the next performance

· are asked to be respectful of the nature of the event and the venue and of the artists and other members of the audience by keeping noise down and switching mobile phones off.

I then answer questions about the event, refreshments, toilets etc and generally keep people happy while they wait. I try not to give them too much information before they go in as we know that it is important for people to come to their own conclusions about what they experience.

It is important that I try and limit the size of groups and try and have a sensible time between each group. The smallest group sizes this year was a group of two people who arrived near the 8 o’clock closure time – they didn’t know each other , a youngish man and an elderly man with a walking stick – they appeared to be great friends before they’d even got to the first poet though!

At the Gate I was ably assisted by a volunteer, Reg who I found out was a member of the friends of Margate cemetery – as the evening progressed he began to enjoy himself, talking to people about the cemetery while they waited, he was very friendly and I think it definitely makes sense to have a suitable member of the friends at the gate as it adds to people’s knowledge of the cemetery and gives context/balances out me talking about the event.

Generally speaking, it was harder this year than last to keep people from wanting to “pile in” as a large crowd – for two reasons

1. we couldn’t keep them outside the gates as there was very little pavement room and it was a dark busy road whereas in Brockley there was a well lit large pavement area outside the cemetery.

2. the people of Margate were very prompt and keen so that most people arrived at the starting time. – a lesson for future events might be to make it even more explicit that you can arrive any time between certain hours, though of course that’s a bit like asking commuters to “stagger their journeys” – how can they without knowing what everybody else is going to do?

However, one way or another I think we managed it quite well?

It was also difficult to assess exactly how many people came through this year – I’d guess at about 270 (not including volunteers , performers, other “staff” but when I walked around with the volunteers at the end to experience the event myself there seemed to be a number of people who I did not recognise – many were volunteers but others had perhaps come in the other gate towards the end of the evening?

As it got close to closure, I began to see a number of people who I had let in earlier passing by the gate and so I asked them what they had thought. The comments were all very positive “Beautiful” “A lovely event” “very well done” “interesting” .

then after closing the gate I was lucky to be able to go round myself. I saw all except the film and the actor and all I can say is that the quality was very high this year – performers who you have used before had really developed their approach , the poets were really good and the dance was superb and moving, particularly as it was beginning to get cold at that time and their breath in the air in the lighting just added to the poignancy.(my favourite item). Julian’s piano piece that he had written was excellent and went well with Joe Duggan’s poetry reading. The setting for the oboe playing was great and the playing had quite a crowd of people who had definitely stayed twice to hear it again. The Dead Rats at the entrance gate and again at the end were on form and had many requests to re-perform their ending piece which they were happy to do.

I thought the lighting and the settings for all the acts was excellent. I particularly liked the simple lighting of the monument behind the piano, the blue oboe woodland area and the dance area with the dancer emerging along the pathway.

The printed programme was of a high quality and appreciated by the audience. One thing that could be improved here would be a “map” of the monuments that are lit, perhaps an idea of which graves had candles on and why? Again, another item for the post event review that I know you are arranging.

Mel Simpson, Artist Manager

‘Up the Line’ was a beautiful event, which I think went exceedingly well on the day / night. The chosen performances were fully appropriate to the event, and all artists and crew pulled together as part of a successful team.

I would say that from my perspective as Artist Liaison Manager, there were some things that could have been more clearly explained / better organised from the outset; but hopefully we all learn from each event and could achieve this next time.

I would also say for future reference, that the role responsibility that was described, and the amount of time it would demand, was much underestimated, and that therefore, in the future, the role would need further funding (i.e. a higher fee to match the workload, at least double). If helpful I can detail amount of hours involved etc for future reference.

That said, I believe we delivered something unique, subtle, reverent and well thought out and it was a pleasure to be part of.