Irene and Norman and Lock were welcome participants in the Esperanto Somera Festivalo at Barlaston in August 2008.
Twenty one years ago, Irene starred as formidable Lady Bracknell in an Esperanto version of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' - La Graveco de la Fideliĝo. Oscar Wilde's play, translated by William Auld, was presented in the Bloomsbury Theatre, London, as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the birth of Esperanto in 1887. The production was recorded on videotape, and has recently been re-issued in DVD format.
Irene told of the difficulties of practicing for the play. Because the actors' homes were wide spread and many of them worked full time, getting together at weekends was difficult. The stage with scenery could only be accessed in the last couple of days - a real challenge. She praised the director, Lou Brooks, and said how very much she had enjoyed the production. In spite of her many years, Irene still has a clear powerful voice. Norman told of his admiration for Reto Rossetti, both as translator and poet. When Reto lived in Bristol they they worked together on Gilbert and Sullivan songs, and Norman quoted some verses.
The week-long Somera Festivalo at Wedgwood Memorial College in Barlaston is an established tradition; this year's festival was the 48th, and ran on three levels. Only one complete beginner arrived (others withdrew at the last moment) so he had the sole benefit of an experienced tutor, Malcolm Jones. This young man, Dimitrij Denisjonok from Latvia, made rapid progress and grasped Esperanto so quickly that on the last evening he was able to take full part in the entertainment, reciting 'el Maraj skizoj' by Georgo Deŝkin.
Progresantoj and progresintoj enjoyed their own tailored programmes within the course: Jack Warren led the middle group, and Hilary Chapman the advanced. Hilary's group also had the opportunity to undertake guided historical research in the Butler library and participants presented their findings throughout the week; summary reports of some of them will appear in La Brita Esperantisto. In the evenings, entertaining lectures given by the tutors were well received by all.
Honorary librarian Geoffrey King assisted the researchers to find books and documents - even photographs - and called up a mass of information on the library computer. Two or three students took advantage of the computer suite at Wedgwood Memorial College.
Everyone took the opportunity to visit the bookshop in Esperanto House, and many enjoyed browsing and buying the latest books, DVDs and CDs as well as sorting through second-hand volumes.
An enjoyable week - even if the weather was less than summer-like the ethos was always festive!
Irene (the Esperanto Lady Bracknell) and Norman Lock in Esperanto House; Geoffrey King in the Butler library
Fun and games during the entertainments evening; the bucket sketch by Hilary Chapman and Angela Tellier
Jack Warren lectures on brass rubbing
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