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The Penny Readings

St. George’s Hall,

December 9th, 2007

St. Georges Hall in Liverpool 2006

Image: Crowd of people inside St. George's Hall, Liverpool.In the annual Penny Readings, now in its fourth year of emulating Charles Dickens’s events of 1862 in which the great author described the room as “simply perfect”, The Reader Organisation have managed to encapsulate not only the very essence of Christmas, but also the very heartbeat of what Liverpool 2008 should be about. What better way to herald the arrival of Christmas than to spend a somewhat chilly Sunday evening in the luxurious surroundings of the Small Concert Room to listen to some of the city’s finest exponents of the spoken word reading festive extracts from Hardy, Dickens and Shakespeare?

Image: The Life Changers Empowering Ministries Gospel Choir.Introducing some of the city’s musical foundations such as the Life Changers Empowering Ministries Gospel Choir – incorporating singers from seven different countries – and the Merseyside Dance Initiative’s African Youth Dance, whose performance was filled with colour and unrestrained enthusiasm, BBC Radio 4 presenter, David McFetridge, held proceedings together as MC by reading extracts from Capsica’s Mersey Minis anthologies.

But it is the guest readers who make the event what it is and not least this year was Image: Annabelle Dowling reading from A Winter's Tale.Annabele Dowler – Kirtsy Millar in The Archers and The Shepherd in Flint Street Nativity – who read from The Winters Tale and As You Like It, bringing scenes vividly to life with great energy. Equally as eloquent were the University of Liverpool’s Brian Nellist MBE, who read from Thomas Hardy’s Under The Greenwood Tree and poet Jenny Joseph, who read from Bleak House and her own work, Led By The Nose, A Garden Of Smells.

As is traditional at the this event, however, it is the chosen passage from A Christmas Carol read by Phil Davis, Editor of The Reader Magazine, that Image: African Youth Dance.closes the show and so releases the five hundred strong audience into the chilly night air with a lighter heart and a renewed sense of what the meaning of Christmas should be.
Chris High

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