Poetry Interprets Art in Jeux D’Esprit Show

“I like that” or “I don’t like that” were the opening lines from this year’s Jeux d’Esprit’s production at King’s Arms Barn last weekend from presenter Brian Cheadle which as he said just sums what can be heard when you visit any art gallery around the world.

The show “I Like That” asked the question, why not look closer at the paintings and interpret what the picture is telling you.  Brian then introduced a range of paintings by Lowrie, Renoir and others which had poems written about them.  The show opened with a risque Roger Hilton painting of Oi Yoi Yoi (a naked woman) with a funny poem with the same name by Vicki Feaver that included the lines “But her mons venus you’ve etched in black ink with the exuberance of a young lad caught short on a bellyful of beer scrawling on the wall in the Gents! The Hunters in the Snow painting by Bruegel had three very different poems interpreting the picture with individual compelling styles describing the scene.

The poems were read by Jan Corby, Janice Selkirk, Alok Tripathi, Grainne Harling and Peter O’Sullivan who all drew the audience in with their captivating voices and expressions to understand more about the context of each painting.  Jan has performed in all 7 Jeux d’Esprit shows with the other actors making their debuts for the production company this year.  Peter said, “I didn’t really know the paintings but when you read the poems you really see the paintings.”

The show ended with a very funny poem “Not my best side” about the St George & Dragon painting by Paolo Uccello (below) which was acted out by Jan, Alok and Peter the opening lines were, “Not my best side, I’m afraid. The artist didn’t give me a chance to pose properly, and as you can see, poor chap, he had this obsession with triangles, so he left off two of my feet. I didn’t comment at the time (what, after all, are two feet to a monster?) but afterwards I was sorry for the bad publicity.”

Jeux d’Esprit have each year raised money for The Chiltern Centre.  Jill Richardson said, “The Jeux d’Esprit team would like to thank all those who came to the King’s Arms Barn over the weekend. We had a full ‘barn’ for every performance and raised over £1000 for The Chiltern Centre which means that we have achieved our overall target of £10,000 for the seven years we have been making shows in aid of the Centre.”

© National Gallery, London