This event ran as part of the AHRC / British Academy-funded Being Human Festival, November 2017, dedicated to displaying the hidden stories that humanities research can bring into the light. In preparation for the festival, we started digging into our own University archives, and began to make more and more extraordinary discoveries.
Chief among them was the story of the original Soho Poly theatre – radical forerunner of today’s Soho Theatre on Dean Street – which operated out of a tiny basement room belonging to the University from 1972–1990. Many of the country’s best known writers, actors, designers and directors worked here during this time. This secret space quickly became the centre piece of our Being Human project, where for a whole week visitors came to visit London’s most important ‘lost’ theatre.
Our research also uncovered other inspiring stories of creative endeavour – including a series of public lectures from 1917 given by Louie Bagley, then Head of the School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, on 'Poets and Poetry of Today'. The University has a long history of supporting and nurturing poetry as evidenced on the Poetry Matters page and see our blog for more.
You can view a selection of poetry event programmes on the University of Westminster Archive's Flickr page
The week-long event offered an opportunity to experience an exciting and various programme of events including a newly commissioned piece of digital theatre, live poetry readings, and an exhibition of rare Nobby Clark photographs. For videos of performances from the festival please see the Space in Action.
Fittingly, the festival concluded with Mike Garry, Writer in Residence at the Centre for Study of Law, Society and Popular Culture, performing his poem St Anthony. St Anthony is, of course, the Patron Saint of lost things and it was a perfect end to the festival. Watch a video of this performance.