12 April 2005

First shows of Epic Tour 2005 - Mulgrave School

Just got back to downtown Vancouver from West Van, where I performed the poem three times for Grade 6 students at Mulgrave School. It went quite well, if I do say so myself. The students there are extremely bright and asked interesting questions, and at least two of the shows kept their interest for the full 1/2-hour. That's maybe a tribute to the poem, or to Mulgrave students, or to both. There were about 15 students in the audience for the first show, about 30 for the second, and 15 again for the third. Our host, John O'Flynn, was superbly welcoming, and gave the filmmaker an interview. What an excellent teacher.

This was performance with a vengeance, I may say: and I think the shows got progressively better. Cutting it down to half length on the fly is becoming easier. When in doubt, include something, and ponder how to shorten what is coming! Composition-in-performance -- that key concept of Homeric poetics -- is clearly an exercise in "the tongue swore, but the mind did not"; that is, in being able to think through what will follow on the line(s) currently being spoken, as something else is being spoken. But perhaps that goes for all performance.

Regarding meter: the audience clearly felt "a tremor in the Force" when the meter faltered (as it did a couple of times); there is no doubt that meter has a physiological effect, and two extra syllables, when included by accident, are disorienting. Also, the poet must never stumble, as I did once or twice today, as this immediately breaks the mimetic spell. Grade 6 students are good proof of this, being so honest in their gestures: when I did stumble, several would immediately yawn; if I did not, they remained fixed in the story.

Overall, if future performances go as well as these ones did, the Tour will succeed very well! Tomorrow I head for the other end of the socio-economic spectrum with the performance at the Carnegie Community Centre at the corner of Hastings and Main -- the poorest postal code in Canada, where the Carnegie is a real pillar of community (we stopped in yesterday to check it out). I am so much looking forward to it.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi its your number one fan I loved your show yesterday at Mulgrave I have made t-shirts and ^everything else. I Love you guys so much


Chow for now

Jacqui G said...

Hi,
I really enjoyed your performance yesterday. I enjoyed your actions with your walking stick. Good Job

Bye!!!

MK said...

Hello,

On April 12, the Grade 6's had two visitors. We had a poet, Jack Mitchell and his brother, Dave Mitchell. Jack recited a poem about the Plains of Abraham. Dave was assisting Jack by filming. Jack's poem explained how the English won over the French. In the poem he also said that both Generals in the war died. I think Jack was brave going up and reciting his poem to more that 40 students. I think they both did a great job.

MK

Anonymous said...

April 13 The Plains of Abraham

Yesterday we had the Mitchell brothers come in to our school. These brothers were educating us on a part of Canada's history, the Plains of Abraham. Jack Mitchell wrote a poem on the battle. He told us it was 30 pages, and it took 1 hour to present. The one he told us was about 12 pages, and it took 30 minutes to present. The poem took him 5 years to actually write. And then what really amazed me was that he had memorized the whole thing. Jack told us about how the English stormed the Plains of Abraham clashing with the French, how the great general Wolfe fell sick in his bed. And then led the English onto the battlefield. There he got shot and died. The other general, Montclam, also got shot and killed in the battle. The Englsh won, and claimed the Plains of Abraham. The other brother, Dave was the cameraman. He was filming his brother the whole time. They worked really well together. Jack also included hand signals to make it more interesting. The Mitchell brothers started in Vancouver and are making there way to St. John's Newfoudland. I really enjoyed the time with them.

Eric. R

Hollis S. said...

Hi, I'm from Mulgrave school. I wasn't at the poem yesterday because I had a cough. I really, really, really wish I was there! I heard a lot about it and my class was talking about it and saying how good it was! I wish I wasn't sick!

landon d said...

Hi I'm from Mulgrave School and I really loved your poem that you recited yesterday. I was amazed how long it was and that was even the shorter version. I probably couldn't write one poem for 10 minutes as good as that. I'm a lot more interested in poetry and I thank you for coming in to our school.

Jack M. said...

Good job Jack it was really good. It was a pleasure to meet you I wish I could hear your poem in the long version. It was an epic battle for Canada. However I did not fully understand why you used a stick instead of just acting it out with your hands. I hope to hear it again when you have finished your trip across Canada. Good luck on your tour have fun!!!

Elise N said...

Yesterday, on April 12 Jack Mithell
came in and read us his amazing poem. He told us about the battles on the Plains of Abraham. Both the English and French general died. Wolfe was the English general, and Montcalm was the French general. When Jack Mitchell read his poem he had me mesmorized. To me it was like a fairy tale and I was taken in by his words. It was like a story that you could only get out if there was a major disaster or a long pause. He did a great job of bringing a true story across in a way I would have never imagined.

Beth D said...

The poem was very good! It was amazing to hear about what happened in Canada a long time ago. I probably couldn't even write a two page story on the Plains of Abraham. It was a big event in history and no-one else had written a poem about it.

I was amazed how Jack Mitchell could recite the poem off the top of his head. I probably coudn't memorize that much and if I could, it would take me a year to memorize it!

Last of all I am amazed at the story the poem told. The fact that two generals, Montcalm and Wolfe, died, is astonishing. I thought the soldiers would be protecting the generals instead of having them up front.

I want to thank Jack Mitchell for performing the poem at Mulgrave and I want to thank Dave Mitchell for coming along and helping.

Anonymous said...

April 13th 2005

The Plains of Abraham

Yesterday Mr.Jack Mitchell and Mr.Dave Mitchell came to Mulgrave and told us his poem.It was about the war in 1759.When the French vs the English.His brother came with him also. The poem he wrote told us about General Montcalm who lead the French and General Wolfe who lead the English.Both Generals died on the same day.September 13th I believe,but one of them died after the other.When Jack Mitchell was done he asked us if we had any questions.He told us that the poems are usually four hours long.On his tour across Canada he said he would make the poems an hour long.When he read it to us it was half an hour long.After recess he came in our class and talked alittle bit more on poetry.I enjoyed having him and his brother and I hope they come back in the future!!

Anonymous said...

When you came in yesteday, I thought your poem was long. Only to find out it was the shortened version, the full one is one hour. How did you write so much about the battle in the poem. You seem to have a knack for writing and telling your poems. I was really interested in your poem. I hope your tour across the country goes well.

Fiona B said...

Yesterday, we had the author of The Plains of Abraham come and visit our school. His name was Jack Mitchell and he was accompanied by his brother Dave Mitchell, who controlled all the cameras. At the beginning of the poem I was quite surprised because Jack Mitchell had said he was going to 'perform' the poem, which generally implied he was going to do some acting. So I was really surprised when the only prop he had was a carved walking stick. It was amazing how much expression he could put into it even with just his voice and the carved stick. As the poem went on it became more and more interesting. Eventually I began to realise I was not just hearing it I was seeing it in my mind as well. I was amazed how he managed to keep everybody's attention for the whole half hour!Truly, I am glad that he chose our school as his first stop on his tour around Canada.

Sid.P said...

Yesterday Mr.Mitchell came to Mulgrave and told us his poem.It is about the battle between the French and the English. The French general was named Montcalm and the English general was named Wolfe. Both of these generals died in the battle.
Mr.Mitchell's poem is one hour long, but he told the shorter version which was half an hour. He told the poem very well because he remembered word for word and had very good hand gestures. Mr.Mitchell stumbled a few times, but I still thought he was so brave to tell his poem in front of many people.
The Mitchell brothers are doing an Epic tour all around Canada, so I felt honored to be the first stop they made.
I thought Mr.Mitchell is a fabulous poet and I think he is walking in Shakespeare's foot steps.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday the Mitchell Brothers came to Mulgrave so they could presented the poem Plains of Abraham. It was a really good poem because it took him a really long time. It really showed because it was a great poem. The best part was that I got to hear Canadian history in poetic verse.

Thanks for coming! Mn

Anonymous said...

Yesterday the Mitchell Brothers came to Mulgrave so they could presented the poem Plains of Abraham. It was a really good poem because it took him a really long time. It really showed because it was a great poem. The best part was that I got to hear Canadian history in poetic verse.

Thanks for coming! Mn

Mackenzie C said...

On April 12
Hello this is Mackenzie C,
The plains of Abraham was a very interesting story. The man who preformed it was Jack Mitchell and his brother Dave Mitchell(who was video taping the poem). The poem was about 30 minutes long. It was amazing how Jack performed the poem because he stumbled in some parts but he kept on going and he did not care what the people thought of him. And I think that is fantastic!!! I also thought his story he told about Montcalm -French and Wolfe - English was good. I really liked it a lot. Another thing I really liked was his hand gestures. They made him look very focused. But the one thing I thought you needed was a little more props because it would have made the poem a little more interesting.

p.s It was very, very good!!!!

From : Mackenzie c

Conrad J said...

Hi,I really like your performance.I learned a lot about the battle on the Plains of Abraham.It was interesting how you could use that one stick for all your charactors. The half hour went by like 10 minutes. It was amazing how you could keep me interested for 30 minutes.
Thank you for coming to our school.

Conrad J said...

Hi,I really like your performance.I learned a lot about the battle on the Plains of Abraham.It was interesting how you could use that one stick for all your charactors. The half hour went by like 10 minutes. It was amazing how you could keep me interested for 30 minutes.
Thank you for coming to our school.

Aven said...

Hey Jack, the comments from the students are great! You're clearly a hit. George just forwarded us your email announcement of the tour -- I'm looking forward to your Toronto stop! Mark's very sad that he won't be able to attend -- he's at a conference in Michigan that weekend, unfortunately. He'll have to wait for the film.

Best of luck on the tour, and we'll see you in May!

Aven