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About Poets and Players

Linda Chase tells the story of the beginning. . . .

Poets and Players originated in 2004 to provide a showcase for talented new writers. At the time, I was teaching at The Arden School of Theatre and also at Manchester Metropolitan University on the MA course in Creative Writing. I was surrounded by creative young actors and poets who were writing and performing their own work, but only to their follow students and teaching staff. Why not find a wider audience? Why not have these two groups of students meet one another? Why not invite some musicians too? Why not mount a combined programme?

The next steps were quite easy. Everyone I asked liked the idea of mixing genres and many of the new writers volunteered to perform. We held free events in Didsbury and began to attract an audience. At this point, I started to develop my email 'Dear List' to publicise various poetry events in Manchester. This is still the main method of publicity for Poets and Players as well as for the Poetry School Manchester of which I am the coordinator.

Last year the Director of the Whitworth Gallery invited us to put on some events in the gallery on Saturday afternoons. These were free and open to the public. Next we were invited by St. Ann's church in the city centre. This larger venue required more experienced performers so I invited professional poets and musicians to perform, as well as newer writers. Since I no longer taught at the theatre school and therefore had less contact with the actors, the word 'players' began to refer more to musicians. Still, I like to keep the door open to both.

Mixing professionals poets with new writers was a very good plan. The well known poets and musicians could help attract wider audiences and the newer writers could receive quality attention and mentoring from the experienced readers. This seems to be a very good way of nurturing a community of poets in Manchester.

At the beginning of 2006 Poets and Players was awarded a grant from the Arts Council. While writing the application, I realised that I wanted to widen my knowledge of new writers in the North West. To this end, I enlisted the willing help of others in Manchester who organise poetry events and workshops. I asked them to be my talent scouts and to recommend new poets to me. To meet the terms of the grant, Poets and Players must also generate some income. To do this, we will make a small charge for gigs at the Tai Chi Village Hall in Didsbury. At St. Ann's, the church will collect the entrance fee. The events at the Whitworth are free.

This year we plan to hold 7 events. Please log onto the website for details and dates of future gigs.

Poets and Players would have no use whatsoever if it weren't for you- our fellow poets, musicians, actors, members of the audience and other supporters. Thank you!

Arts Council England