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Genesis New Writing Night, Genesis Cinema – Review

Presented by Genesis Cinema

Pros: The opportunity to see and influence the development of plays at their earliest stages.

Cons: As there were no posters or anything in the foyer to indicate where the event was taking place, venturing there was initially a trifle unnerving.

Our Verdict: A very enjoyable experience. Something to put in your diary each month.

Courtesy of Genesis Cinema

When I first arrived at the Genesis Cinema to collect the tickets, there were no signs or anything else to indicate there was a New Writing Night taking place on the premises. This being the case, I did have my doubts about whether I was at the right place. After speaking to one of the members of staff and asking a number of questions, he happily informed me that the event was taking place up the stairs and that people had already started to arrive.

Once my friend arrived, we went up the stairs to ‘Bar Paragon’ – the area that hosts the evening and various other events. There were plenty of people there and it had a good atmosphere. The lights were dimmed, candles were lit, and lots of people of all ages were sitting on sofas and small tables, chatting – all very relaxed. As there were so many people there, I did think initially that my friend and I would have to stand for the event. Luckily, I eventually found a table that had been reserved for us.

The manager of Genesis compered the evening and explained how it would all work. We would watch four excerpts of plays from various writers, followed by 15 minute breaks. During that time we would answer a few questions and give general feedback on the material we’d just seen performed. Each of the pieces performed were very different and I would say that personal taste plays a part in what was most enjoyable.

The first revolved around the head of a Third World water charity plus his assistant who meet up with a biographer and her husband. After details about the charity head’s past are discussed, it becomes evident that there are some things he doesn’t want to talk about and that ethics are in the eye of the beholder. To use an analogy, if an organisation such as Greenpeace had money from a major petroleum company at its disposal, what do you think it should do?

The second item – my personal favourite – centred on an elderly woman who is being cared for by a much younger woman. Is the younger woman her daughter or someone else? In some ways the piece was a metaphor for the construction of storytelling, but behind the love letter to language and touching relationship between the two women lay a further, serious message which packed an emotional punch.

The third item touched on the sensitive subject of religion and how, especially in Britain, people of all persuasions have strong opinions, irrespective of how enlightened or open-minded they think they are. Of all the pieces shown, this was the least polished, but its kernel of ideas did have potential.

The final, weighty, item revolved around two gay men – both living with heterosexual partners – who have seen each other off and on over the years, and ponder on what the future has in store.

One thing I did notice (which was raised by others in the evening) was comment sheets for one of the plays was not given to everyone. Admittedly there were a lot of people to cater for and not much room for the people giving out the sheets to walk around the tables, but even so… In the future, the organisers may find it easier to have everything pre-prepared so that all the comment sheets are already in place when the audience arrives.

On a separate matter, there was a verbal introduction to each piece performed (which included the writer and the actors performing) but barring the playwright’s name on the comment sheet, no other written info was given to the audience. I recognised one or two people performing from other productions I’ve seen, but it would have been nice to have an official list of everyone involved. Maybe it was assumed the most of the audience knew the artists/theatre companies anyway.

These, however, are small gripes. The evening, overall, was very enjoyable and I’m certainly looking forward to going to the next event. It’s to the credit of the manager of the Genesis cinema that he’s eager to champion the growth of the Arts in east London in this way (and the Art Deco building where the event takes place is gorgeous as well!).

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Genesis New Writing Night runs at Genesis Cinema on the third Thursday of every month. Next event takes place on 17th October 2013.
Box Office: 0207 780 2000 or book online at http://www.genesiscinema.co.uk/

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