Monday, July 02, 2012
Beowulf, Boccaccio, the Hurdy Gurdy and thou
by Mary McCallum
At Eastbourne’s Rona Gallery on Friday night, we were privileged to host the local Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe transformed into a motley band of Troubadours in full costume telling ribald and robust tales.
Manny Garcia kicked off with the opening to the epic heroic poem Beowulf – his own loose translation and the original – which transfixed listeners. Manny’s translation of the prologue to The Canterbury Tales followed (‘When April's rains unparch/The desiccated earth of March/And succour every seed to flower/In hedge and bower…'*) with a performance of the original that sounded, well, like the original. Those in the know in the audience murmured appreciatively as round Chaucerian vowels and rousing ‘r’s’ hurtled forth in the telling.
Then ‘midst joyful reverie’ the band of troubadours continued with – among other things – Chaucer’s The Manciple’s Tale which raised much hilarity, a Boccaccio tale of love and deception which entranced, and medieval recipes delivered as poems and covering such delights as bird pie and porpoise pudding.
Merrilyn Moonen on the ancient hurdy gurdy provided a fascinating musical interlude. Finally, Florence McFarlane - in full jester’s garb – performed an Arthurian tale called The Boy and His Mantle – worthy of any jester at a medieval court.
The tradition at the Rona Gallery salons is for there to be a performance or a talk by local on his/her passion, a musical accompaniment, then to finish, an open mic for local poets. This time, there were five poets including visitor Janis Freegard and local John Horrocks. More hurdy gurdy to end, then the 50-strong audience headed home well and truly warmed against the midwinter’s night.
Rona Salons are on the last Friday of the winter months at Rona Gallery 151 Muritai Road Eastbourne, 6.30-7.30 pm, $5 only with a glass of wine. They are community events designed to provoke and entrance and engage the locals and I am proud to be associated with them - all thanks to the Ponder family for their wholehearted support and to Manny Garcia for the promoting the concept. So far, we’ve had a geologist talking about the formation of Wellington harbour, artist Richard Ponder talking about his love of colour and Manny Garcia reading from his short fiction.
Next up: Friday July 27, grief counselor Dr Hetty Rodenburg will speak about how she came to work with the dying and grieving, and then in August, Ray Watters will talk about his work in South America. Neither talk to be missed. Twitter: @ronagallery.
*Chaucer translation © Emanuel E Garcia