Reel to Real

Reel to Real Cosey Club 100216 002Reel to Real   

Does the Golden Age of Cinema mean something to you? Have you ever longed to go over the rainbow, tried to make out at the movies, eaten at Fatty Arbuckle’s, had improper thoughts about Betty Boop? Have you ever wanted Janet Leigh in Psycho to get her own back, seen yourself as John Wayne, Joan Crawford or James Dean, thought of Marilyn Monroe as more than just a ‘candle in the wind’? ‘Reel to Real’ – from Silents to Surround Sound, from the Rex to the Multiplex, Gable to Gere and Dumbo to Depp.

Cheshire Poet Laureate, John Lindley, performs from Screen Fever, his highly entertaining and critically acclaimed collection of poems about the magic of cinema. His spell-binding readings, interspersed with classic film and original images will entrance you.

If you enjoy film but also stunning poetry, this highly original show which combines the two is unmissable.”

Reel to Real, a show where poetry meets the movies. The poetry from John Lindley’s hugely popular collection Screen Fever is brought to life on the silver screen, providing an evening to remember. The show would be a great addition to any venue’s program of events.

To get in touch for more information or to book, please contact:

John Lindley: /

Thank You.

Reel to Real trailer

Reel to Real – from then to now.

Some background from John Lindley on the new show.


Years ago, I envisaged trying a poetry reading with a difference. My plan was to take poems of mine that I’d accumulated over the years on the subject of the movies and construct a performance exclusively on this theme; the poems, stripped of any introduction, would be surrounded and supported by film footage and music snippets.

Logistics (for ‘logistics’ read ‘technical incompetence on my part’) at the time prevented me realising this ambition. Reluctant to abandon my idea completely, I worked with a friend, Bernie Wylde, on a performance a little less ambitious but one that would still, I hoped, prove interesting, entertaining and innovative. Instead of employing both the use of still images and movie footage, I restricted myself to audio material. Calling the show Screen Fever, I staged (what I then regarded as) a one-off performance at Congleton Library. To my relief, the room was full and the audience response most encouraging. The success of the evening convinced me that I should attempt repeat performances of Screen Fever and I subsequently staged it on numerous occasions before being invited to present the show at the Jon Silkin Memorial Festival in Cornwall and at Ledbury Poetry Festival.


Fast-forward a number of years and, with the total of my movie-themed poems having more than doubled, Pinewood Press published them in a full collection, Screen Fever. That book, and the exciting prospect of taking part in both Congleton’s first Arts Festival, Open Space and Goostrey’s annual Goosfest galvanised me into attempting my original vision for this show. The technical help of others played an essential part in helping me realise my original vision for this show.

So, under the banner of Reel to Real, I now have the updated, upgraded, all-singing, all-dancing (although I do neither of the latter two, you’ll be relieved to hear) version of the show, complete with poems, film music and dialogue, cinema footage and stills.

This was the show I’d always envisaged. On first performance, I’d rarely been so excited (and scared!) since my first glimpse, in a cinema at the age of 3, of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

What audience members have said about Reel to Real:

“If you enjoy film but also stunning poetry, this unusual evening which combines the two is unmissable.”

“The clever combination of original and engaging poetry with expertly chosen archive film clips of Hollywood greats from yesteryear, delivered flawlessly by John Lindley, captured the imagination of the whole audience. It left people with a the warm glow of knowing you had experienced something special. No one wanted the evening to end.”

“Reel to real was a superb show. By turns funny, thought-provoking and entertaining it cleverly blended classic film clips, recorded and live poetry readings to create a unique event. Two thumbs up!”

“An atmospheric evening of brilliant poetry intertwined with vintage films.”

“A great performance. John’s poems add new insight into the era and lives we see on the screen. And watching clips from the films that inspired the poems makes them very easily accessible. A perfect match.”

“A very engaging, well paced show using poetry to explore the lives behind the celluloid, using original film clips. The pieces of film correspond perfectly to the lines of the poetry, and are both nostalgic while encouraging you to rethink original perceptions”

“John Lindley has developed a perfect show for showcasing everyone’s favourite: the cinema with his at times serious, at times laugh-out-loud poetry.”

“A brilliant mix of nostalgic film clips and modern language that breathes real life to the pages of John Lindley’s written words.”

“John Lindley reads his poems with a combination of levity and earnestness that is at once unique yet entirely accessible. He has a particular ear for rhythm and tempo that will carry you along irresistibly. Reel to Reel is chock full of puns and ironic references to our modern day cult of celebrity, making it a highly relevant commentary on our own dreams of immortality or at least a tweet’s worth of fame.”

“Only a skilled poet with true enthusiasm for film could make this work. It works! A unique, moving experience.”

“John’s poetry is always entertaining whether it causes elation, points out indifferences, despair, injustice. . . “

“John’s, Reel to Real, reels you in with its imaginative approach which reminds you why you love poetry and old movies, and why both stick in our memory.”

“A very powerful poetic piece of movie memorabilia.”

“John Lindley is always approachable, always a pleasure to meet, read and work with.”

“What I loved about Reel to Real was that the poems and movie clips didn’t just replicate each other but became much greater than the sum of their parts. Also, it was great to see young people there enjoying the surprise when older fans chorused the famous one-liners. This show is a great way of bringing different generations together.

Reel to Real celebrates the stars and glamour of an era and what it meant to be young and in love with the cinema but Reel to Reel isn’t just an evening of nostalgia. There is plenty of limelight but the show also has insight. John’s rhythms and rhymes remind us that the movies also reflect the social issues of the time, such as injustice and racism. In that, Reel to Real is a thoroughly modern tale which makes us think about “now” as well as “then” and about what is “reel” as well as “real”.”


Screen Fever

Screen Fever, the latest collection from poet John Lindley, is published by Pinewood Press.

Unlike many of the subjects – “cinema’s luminaries” – there is nothing showy or overblown in John Lindley’s sequence which ripples with fascination and delight as it luxuriates in “the shimmer of the silver screen”. As expected, given the subject matter, “the stars and the sex and the scandal”, the writing is a gallery of visual detail couched in fresh imagery, skilful puns, song-like rhythms and rhyme, and variety of form. Poem after poem brings these “giants that walked upon the screen” into realistic perspective with humour, wit, and enviable craft. This is poetry that is underpinned with irony and insight and which speaks honestly and humanely – accessible, memorable, moving and slick without ever being meretricious.                                                                  Roger Elkin

 John Lindley’s poems are always shaped by a dry wit, but he keeps an eye on the wider picture. Comedy, tragedy and close observation in one volume.                              

Jo Bell

Price £7 + £1.60 post & packaging. Cheques payable to ‘John Lindley’

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