'A spellbinding performance from Pele Cox.'
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Pele was invited to be Poet in Residence at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2011. She created performances in response to the Blockbuster exhibitions: The Real Van Gogh, Degas and the Ballet and Hockney: A Bigger Picture. She researched the great artists’ passion for literature, using letters, reported speech and poetry. The rich sources of material enabled her to create a performance to celebrate each exhibition, presented to the academicians, curators and the general public. Her aim was to take audiences closer to the heart of the artist and their way of thinking, working with a group of talented National Theatre actors, she directed these compelling pieces in site specific locations. On the strength of these performances she was invited to present at Keats-Shelley House in Rome and then John Murray, using Keats, Mary Shelley, Shelley and Byron as her template.
Since 2011 has also been commissioned to create bespoke performances for Keats’ House in Hampstead, The Duchamp Festival in Herne Bay, Meadow Arts’ at Ironbridge, BAFTA, The Walker Art Gallery, John Murray, The Scarborough Museum and The Hospital Club. She has also performed her own work at The Cheltenham Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival and Todi Festival.
Below is a summary of events composed and directed by Pele Cox
Royal Academy Residency: Van Gogh: The Man and His Letters
Vincent moved from mental distress to intense lyricism and back again. His letters capture the story of his creative processes, and the cultural and emotional backdrop of his world. Pele believes these internal narratives were cradled by his love of poetry and literature. By weaving strands from this literature, Pele presented in an uplifting form, this troubled genius behind the easel. Using Van Gogh’s own extraordinary and revealing words through the letters, readings of poems he loved and readings from The Odyssey, she mined a literary montage of his internal landscape.
‘I would like to repeat how much I appreciated the wonderful poetry evening that you organised in connection with the exhibition The Real Van Gogh: the Artist and his Letters.
- Ann Dumas, RA CuratoR: Van Gogh The Man and his letters.
Royal Academy Residency: Degas And The Ballet: Picturing Movement
Her Degas performance was commissioned specially for the gala opening of the Degas exhibition. Performed around dining tables of the invited guests Pele explored the relationship between Degas, Mallarme and a ballerina. Degas was a regular visitor to Mallarme’s Mardi’s and wrote sonnets. The script and direction included moments of interaction between these three characters and her soloist from the English National Ballet and in the final movements spoke to Degas. She danced around the diners to Mallarme’s great poem: Le Apres Midi D’Un Faun.
royal academy Residency: David Hockney: A Bigger Picture
Hockney’s profound love of poetry bought to the surface work by Walt Whitman, Stephen Spender and W.H Auden and underpinned a plethora of Hockney’s reported speech and interviews to create an extraordinary reconstruction of the artist in performance by the actor Christian Roe.
ROYAL ACADEMY Residency: Cy Twombly- Obscuring The Word: A Tribute
‘Each line is the sensation of its own realisation.’
Pele performed her final event in the fine rooms to Royal Academicians as a tribute to honorary Academician Cy Twombly. She worked with poems that Twombly loved and with an exiled Iraqi poet who had translated Homer into his mother tongue. Her textual ‘evocations’ acted as equivalents to etching and inscription, an elegy to Twombly’s genius for language made ‘paint’. The piece ended with the poet reciting Homer as an ancient form of Arabic chant, a strange and beautiful event.
Keats-Shelley House Rome
Following directly her work at the RA, Pele was commissioned by Giuseppe Albano Director of Keats -Shelley House in Rome to create a series of bespoke events in the famous house where Keats died. She bought together her company of performers to pay homage to the great romantic minds of Shelley, Byron, Mary Shelley and Keats. Through this process of research and performance she wanted explore dramatically the ways in which these lives broke ground but also how they helped form our contemporary cultural conciseness, mapping the text not through linear narratives or time but led instead by the spirit of the poems and letters and rhythms of the work - all of the script was taken from the months and pens of Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats and Byron.
John murray performance
With a view to evoking through performance some key moments in this publishers' great history, Pele celebrated in performance at the 50 Albemarle Street three events over a year period: For the bi-centenary of 'Frankenstein,' her two performances featured Damian Lewis as The Monster and Helen McCrory as Mary Shelley and 'The Year Without a Summer,' an evocation of the night of ghost stories that prompted the novel. Most recently, ‘Byron is Dead,’ a reenactment of the burning of Byron’s memoirs at 50 Albemarle Street in Piccadilly, and the powerful friendship between Byron and John Murray II.
'Dear Pele – thank you for the outstanding performance of Byron is Dead. It was so skillfully composed and caught the spirit of the different relationships so well. I must admit I found in very strange watching this episode from our family history that came alive in a truly extraordinary way.'