Monday, July 17, 2006

The Burgess Project - the project outline

A co-production between the-phone-book Limited & Manchester Literature Festival, to be presented October 2006.

About Burgess:
Anthony Burgess is perhaps the most famous writer to have come from Manchester, and yet he is astonishingly best known for a film adaptation of his novel 'A Clockwork Orange' that he didn't even script. An author of novels, poems and short stories, a teacher, critic, translator, journalist, broadcaster and avid diarist, by the time of his death at the age of 76, Burgess had published over fifty books and composed a tremendous amount of music - much of it un-heard.

Peripatetic from an early age, Burgess lived in Harpurhey, Higher Crumpsall, Miles Platting and Moss Side as a boy, before wandering further afield in adulthood - quite literally starting with a walking holiday around France, Belgium & Germany. No matter how far he travelled, he never forgot Manchester and The International Anthony Burgess Foundation remains in Withington as the caretaker of a vast archive of work.

Project Outline:
the-phone-book Limited proposes an exciting new production that will bring new life to a diverse literary archive. Using local writing talents and new technologies, we will deliver a live-literature psychogeographic historical tour of the city for the inaugural Manchester Literature Festival this October.

This project will be delivered in three stages.

1: Generating new writing.
With expert advice from the author of the most recent Burgess biography, Andrew Biswell, we will lead a hand-picked selection of the North West's most dynamic writers around the Manchester where Burgess lived, learned and worked. Then, using his work as source material, the writers will create a new collection of works that respond to his fiction, real life and music. Whether a vignette inspired by a musical score, a short story inspired by a Greek translation, or a haiku description of a Burgessian Manchester long-destroyed by Industrial development, we will present a modern approach to an epic collection.

2: Generating rich media content.
In the run up to the festival, some of those pieces will be rehearsed for live presentation, some captured as spoken word or musical recordings, and some dramatised for video productions. Add some real-life materials such as text excerpts from the original manuscripts and photographs from public archives, and you have a rich collection of material that can be delivered to the audience during the event, via their mobile phones. This material can be used to enhance a vignette, or to subvert it, to empower one point of view or argue against it.

3: Generating new readers.
During the festival the writers and/or actors will present their new writing in a unique liveliterature event. Our audience will be lead through the city in a promenade style performance tour. The new works will appear as live readings and as pre-recorded footage sent directly to the audience's mobile phones via SMS and bluetooth. At the end of the event, all subscribed audience members will receive an SMS detailing all the source materials used in the creation of the event to stimulate further reading.

About the Producers:
The mobile phone has become a social phenomenon. Not only can we speak to one another from almost anywhere on the planet, we can also share thoughts and memories in real time, simply by using the 'rich media' capabilities of most handsets. Whether it arrives in text form, as an audio recording of spoken word or music, or as a still or moving image, the message is what counts.

Inspired by mobile phone technologies in 2000, the-phone-book Limited created a new genre of literature - the ultra-short-story - using a maximum of 150 words. In it's three years, encouraged people around the world to use their mobile phones and their spare time creatively, generating an archive of 935 stories written by 330 writers from 24 countries, all available to read across traditional and mobile internet.

Our belief in sharing our experiences has lead us to work with diverse organisations and communities across 15 countries. In the last six years we have delivered fair-trade commercial ventures, an online and performative education programme, passionate presentations at internationally renowned creative and commercial conferences, and have exhibited in the UK, Japan, New York and Adelaide.

About the festival:
Manchester Literature Festival will celebrate the creative interplay inhabiting our city through three strands of programmed activity:

Read is the place where you can meet some of the most exciting authors currently writing, in the best and most unusual venues that Manchester has to offer. In a trial run last year we hosted Carol Ann Duffy in the Royal Exchange, while John Stammers read to a select audience in a luxury suite at the Lowry Hotel and Daljit Nagra entertained us in a Sikh Temple in Cheetham Hill. We have held events in astronomical observatories, museums and private houses. This year, we will continue to mix large and small scale venues and bring emerging and established authors to the city.

Independent is a celebration of the best in independent writing culture. Manchester has always done things in its own way; we are a city that leads rather than follows. From independent publishers, new writers and writing forms, to the explosion of DIY culture in the form of ‘zines, blogs and electronic publishing...we will profile the future of writing before it happens. Whether it is a unique, three-day celebration of Palestinian literature in English, a fast emerging local publisher gathering tales of urban life from around Europe and translating them into English, or a summit on new forms of publishing, it will happen in Manchester first.

Freeplay is the moment when word meets code, offering us new ways of visualising, understanding and communicating our world. We have a project linking schools in Manchester and Northern India via WAP mobile phone internet technology. There will be a bluetooth-driven live literature event based on the work of Anthony Burgess. Blog-driven creative writing projects will enable MLF to lead the creative drive of writers towards the social revolution of digital technology.

The first Manchester Literature Festival will take place from Thursday 12th to Sunday 22nd October 2006.


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