I recorded today a reading of a favourite poem of mine: Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. You’ll recognise the poem from Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Poetry allowed, aloud and out loud:
There are always differences between voices in tone, emphasis, and expression when a poem, or any text, is read aloud. It is quite an ordinary, unremarkable reading that I have recorded. I have heard some ferocious readings of this poem. I rather like those readings.
As background to why I connect with this poem…
In the early ’00s, as a youngin, I performed this poem, one of a few I performed, at the talent show held annually in the town I grew up in called the Gascoyne Showcase.
The poem holds a special place in my heart. I read it and it brings me back. I loved performing. I took pride in preparing for my performances, practising like crazy until I knew my poems back-to-front, and in being able to deliver them just as I had hoped I would. The feeling of accomplishment that comes moments after walking off stage having performed in front of a packed theatre, having delivered a ‘polished performance’ if things had gone exceptionally well, is one I’ll never forget.
I was saddened to hear of the demise of the event several years after I left the town.
The Showcase was more than a talent show. It was an event that brought the town together and saw talented acts—poets, dancers, musicians, and many more weird and wonderful acts—take to the stage and entertain! I met many confident, passionate people who simply enjoyed performing and amazed me with their fearlessness performing in front of others.
I was fortunate to have been a participant in the Showcase over a number of years and it was always a highlight.
It was an incredibly well-managed event. From the organisation of rehearsals, to the experience backstage, you could feel the passion of the people who made the event happen, their support and commitment to ensuring operations ran smoothly. They were also nice people—some of whom were themselves performers in the show. I recall that those that were showcased none other than experience at their craft and excellence in their performances.
The Showcase ran across three days, with afternoon and night sessions, during which the town cinema-cum-theatre was packed. The best acts would be saved for last and others called back for encore performances. The acts were judged by a panel of three judges—one judge would be called in from out of town and the other two, were usually performing arts locals who rotated between the sessions.
Each performance was rated and given feedback on one of three certificates that could be awarded, ‘Highly Commended’, ‘Commended’, or ‘Participation’. This introduced a degree of healthy competition, but more importantly became a means of initial quality control. It weeded out ‘silly’ or ‘have-a-go’ entrants. By entering, an act entered seriously. If they did enter and weren’t appropriate to the event, for whatever reason, they were canned at rehearsals.
And so, with all that said, I am fond of this poem. It reminds me of the fantastic event that was the Showcase and the great experiences I had as a performer.