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Dead Poets Live: Autumn Journal

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A thrillingly intimate and powerful dramatic monologue

Dead Poets Live‘s Autumn Journal returns to The Coronet following last year’s sold-out performance.

The autumn of 1938 was, if you were British, arguably the most frightening moment of the twentieth century. Louis MacNeice was a poet from Northern Ireland, turning thirty-one and working as a lecturer in London and Autumn Journal, his masterpiece, describes his response to a season of intense anxiety and uncertainty. It’s a diary poem, which frets and argues with itself and blends the personal – a love affair, the daily round in London, the leaves falling and Christmas coming – with the overwhelming and terrifying inevitability of an approaching war. There’s no other poem quite like Autumn Journal, and few which communicate that mixture of dread, distraction and incidental beauty which seems so uncannily descriptive of our own present moment.

Dead Poets Live have established a cult following at The Coronet Theatre for their dramatised readings of classic poetry, attracting some of Britain’s finest actors including Charlotte Rampling, Miranda Richardson and Tom Hiddleston. All proceeds from their evenings go to the charity Safe Passage. Dead Poets Live is devised and supported by The TS Eliot Foundation.

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Additional Information

Safe Passage
Dead Poets Live donate all the proceeds from our shows to Safe Passage, a charity which helps unaccompanied child refugees and vulnerable adults in Europe find safe, legal routes to the UK. Safe Passage’s legal team works with families living in the UK who are trying to reunite with relatives that are asylum seekers in Europe and on dangerous journeys. The aim is for refugees to avoid falling into the hands of smugglers or risk life-threatening routes to Britain.

Only half a per cent (0.54%) of the UK’s total population is made up of asylum seekers and refugees, and when accounting for population size, the UK ranks 19th overall in Europe for asylum applications received. Those that do come to the UK do so for various reasons – many make the journey to reach family and friends, because of cultural ties, or through no choice of their own, because of the actions of traffickers. Most of the Ukrainians we have supported at Safe Passage wanted to come to the UK because they saw Britain as a welcoming country that respected human rights. However, the vast majority of even the small number who attempt to reach the UK end up in Calais and Dunkirk with no access to safe routes. Between 2010 and 2020, only 6% of unaccompanied children who received asylum in the UK arrived via a safe route. Since the Government closed the two major safe routes for unaccompanied children, 83% fewer refugees have arrived via a safe route in the 12 months to June 2023 compared to the previous year.

Two years since Kabul fell to the Taliban, and the Government is still failing to honour its commitments to help Afghans reach safety. Through our legal work, we have observed first-hand that the current schemes are too slow and too restrictive. Many at-risk Afghans have no way to reach safety in the UK, and families who were separated in the evacuation still have no way to reunite with their children and loved ones. Without functioning safe routes, more and more eligible Afghans have been left with no choice but to risk dangerous journeys to reach safety in the UK. To the end of August this year 4,080 Afghans crossed the Channel, compared to just 69 Afghans crossing the Channel in the whole of 2019. Currently, around 1 in 5 of all people crossing the Channel are from Afghanistan. To urgently prevent further loss of life and to honour these commitments, the Government must act now to provide safe routes and offer welcome and compassion to Afghans in need of safety.

We’re the only organisation working with children at risk on the ground in both the country they find themselves in and the country they wish to reach. This, combined with our high quality casework, is unique and has proven particularly effective at cracking open legal routes.

Our field teams help identify and support child refugees who are eligible for transfer and ensure this happens quickly and safely. Where there are unexpected delays we reassure the child and make sure they remain out of the hands of smugglers.

Our team attend the arrivals of child refugees we’ve helped reunite with family, to make sure they have a welcoming face when they arrive in their new home and restart their life in the UK. We also have a volunteer Community Mentoring programme that helps refugees settle by helping them register with a GP, sign up for school or other specialist organisations that may assist them with specific problems.