Friday, 27 May 2016

20.16 Blog #10: Nooks, crannies and spades

20.16 Blog #10:  Nooks, crannies and spades

My diary said Hull All-Dayer which could mean one of three things:

1.  Punk, ska and folk-punk playing all day (1-11pm)

2.  Getting rowdy with The Lads all day

3.  Doing a series of workshops followed by running some Youth Theatre sessions.

You know me, folks.  It was behind door 3.

As part of Grow Fest, I went along to the Daniel Bye and Richard Bean workshops.  Grow is a cool fest opening the doors of Hull Truck to try and rethink their space, their programming and approach to new writing and new work (e.g. work not written 36 years ago).

Daniel’s workshop entitled ‘Theatre Is Basically A Pub’ was about bringing that informal approach he uses in his theatre to the table.  The pub table.  It was a good analogy, that in the theatre we’re expected to sit, neatly in silence whilst ushers, lights and seats enforce a strict set of rules about passivity.

On Wednesday with Say Owt, me and Stu ran a open mic at the Nook.  It was lovely with just enough performers to make it worth doing, just enough audiences to make it full but not too many it becomes a slog or a rammed room.

If poetry can flow into audience, I think it’s the job of the compere to make them dirty again.  If poetry can clean your soul, it can also wash over them.  Right into those Nooks and crannies!  The compere gets them rowdy, gets them responding, laughing, thinking and wiling on the next performer.  The compere makes the audience a little bit naughty, by which I mean, awake and wary.

But Dan’s workshop was great approaching from a theatre perspective, and see from the other side, to unlearn expectations and apply my experiences to an insightful analysis of performer-audience relations.  Plus, we played some dead good games.

Theatre formats are a constrictive luxury.  Good audiences have no escape.  On Wednesday at the Nook, people could nip to the bar, the toilet, outside all in the way (visually and aurally) of the performer.  The comepre can try and manage this, but the performer has to deal with this.  Phones can go off, people can whisper, scribble, yawn.  It’s all close, it’s all intimate and raw.  In some ways, many ways, it’s more terrifying than a 1000+ seater venue of anonymous bodies.  The Nook had a lovely audience, but they were living, breathing and existing much more tangibly.

After my workshop with Richard Bean, I led a couple of workshops with Hull Truck Youth Theatre.  If Yorkshire folk call a spade a spade, then  Hull folk tell the spade it’s not doing its job properly.  They'd love a spoken word Say Owt open mic, they would.  Luckily, I think this scrawny York kid won them over.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

20.16 Blog #9: The Dark Side

My housemate and myself have been playing Star Wars Rebellion.

He’s the galactic Empire, a power with more resources than all the real-world Empires of our history combined.  I’m a plucky band of Rebels, darting from planet to planet, attempting small-scale missions in the world-weary attempt to cause entire worlds to rise up.

The box says 2-3 hours.  It’s been at least 4.  So far, he’s not found my Rebel base, so far I’ve not completed nearly enough Objectives.  It’s a war of attrition.  And it’s dark outside, like the inky black of space.  And twice as cold.

I’ve been tired this year, and I’m not sure why.  I started with the intention to write a whole host of new poetry.  I have a document on this computer which is called, quite conveniently, Poems 2016.  But none of them are of a quality I’m happy with, and none of them are finished.

Obi-Wan Kenobi has been captured.

I wrote a poem about the 2015 York Floods, but found it too crude and blunt for a complex issue which affected an entire City.  I wrote a poem about William Shakespeare, but it’s just not intricate enough to be worth the niche-ness.  In all frustrating seriousness, I’m in a bit of a rut.

My housemate lands on a planet, which was my Rebel base.  But I moved it.  Sneak

Clearly, neither of us are enjoying this game very much anymore.  We could easily quit, and recommence in the morning.  But we look at the clock, guestimate another 30 mins and crack on.  30 mins passes and Obi-Wan Kenobi has been frozen in Carbointe.  I know the feeling.

So I’ve tried to change my diet, and get some more protein in.  It feels like it’s helped somewhat.  I cut out eggs and milk without too much commitment to the proper replacements.  I’ve added back in eggs, but trying to make up the difference with more Quorn, spinach and kale.

I tried to blow up the Death Star, but didn’t send in enough ships.  The Death Star blows up another planet.  The Rebellion isn’t looking too healthy.

That’s not to say I haven’t been busy.  The Say Owt events we’ve run have been great, and I’ve been doing plenty of busy work for the Laurence Batley Theatre and Harrogate Youth Theatre.  Me and my good chum Nat have been making a theatre show for touring in 2017 (dinosaurs, punks, y’know, the usual).  Oh and blogging.

But sometimes the best laid plans for mice and Sith Lords go awry, and you find yourself, at 23.49, writing a blog as a kind of apology to yourself.

I’m starting to think up new pieces for my next fringe show, a continuation of Up The Nerd Punks imaginatively titled Up The Nerd Punks 2.  I have some poems in my head.  I even started writing a new one the other day.

It’s hard when the Empire have a Super Star Destroyer and you’ve just got a few Transport ships.

It can be hard when there are so many productive people in your scene, and genre.  Making new poems, getting gigs, getting commissions, getting praise.  If you’re a bit stuck, there’s no one to blame but yourself.  I’m not talking about being stuck due to mental illness, anxiety of depression, you can’t help that.  But stuck because nothing’s really flowing, well.  The force flows through us all.

The game ends sometime around 1am.  Chewbacca has been turned to the Dark Side, but in doing so I can ‘cash in’ my Objective to not have any of my characters captured.  We half-heartedly argue about whether Chewie is considered ‘captured’ if he’s not part of the Empire’s side.

It doesn’t matter, I’ve won simply by holding out.  The Base is secure, the Empire will eventually be toppled and freedom will reign across the Galaxy someday. 

You can keep plugging away.  Trying different objectives, holding out, defending or attacking.  Consolidating or controlling.  As long as the Empire haven’t force-choked you into submission, there’s always a New Hope.

One day those fireworks with spark over the moon of Endor.

I sleepily pack up, and we promise to try the Game of Thrones Card Game this week.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Blog 20.16 #8: The Anti-Slam

Dear Sir and/or Madam.

Imagine my surprise when the local poetry event sometimes referred to by the younger generations as ‘Spokening Words’) which I had heard was meant to be one of the highlights of the so-called York so-called Poetry so-called Scene turned out to be nothing more than a sub-par collection of, if you’ll pardon my French, wee-poor words.

God it was awful.

It was like having your ears being drilled by a rusty screwdriver posing as a drill.
It was like having your eyes being poked by scorpions who haven’t had a day off in weeks
It was like having your teeth being furiously chiselled a drunk and sexually frustrated Michelangelo.
It was like someone jabbing their feet into your nostrils despite a no feet policy.
It was like having your tongue being scraped by an ill-constructed tongue-scraper.
It was AWFUL.

Never before in my LITERALLY half-decades of going to see people say things into microphones have I seen such a God-awful display of people saying things into microphones IN THE WRONG WAY.

Lily Luty went up first.  What happened?  That lovely theatre student must have picked up an Eminem album from ‘the internet’ because she attempted a dire rap about ‘shizzles’ and ‘nizzles’ threatening to drop ‘the bomb.’.  The only bomb that was dropped was one for common deceny.  Clearly this, THIS, is the corrupting influence of hip-hop.  Yo indeed, madam!

Andy Love?  Me hate!

Next up was Monica Offlebaum, who on the surface presented herself as your typical, run-of-the-mill German Spiritualist but in-between her entirely predictable clich├ęd lines we associate so well with the German Spiritualist poetry-form where the most brazen of subtexts about sex as if we’ve never herd of sex before and should all be amazed that sex is a thing that happens.  Get over it, Ms Offle-BORE.  Ha!

Taylor Han completely misread the audience’s insistence on left-leaning socially right-on poetry designed to challenge the social order.  Instead their attempt to throw their support behind a certain cranium-rugged American dictator-to-be was a misplaced misrepresentation of what The People really want.  For shame!  Did people right poems about Genghis Khan in 1206?  I very much doubt it!

Geneva Rust-Orta.  It was quite poetry is it?  Was it?  Could it?  You haven’t quiet got it, have you?  Just saying funny things isn’t quite poetry is it?  Your performance wasn’t it, was it?  No, it couldn’t be.  Just try and get it, next time.

Arthur Fisher’s inability to finish his poems was quite simply proof that current artists lack the inability to complete things which

I would suggest, in future, Ms Gardner focus more on her Hard Noise projects (of which I am a rotundly severe fan).  Her last EP was suitably hard, like a bodybuilder eating burnt toast whilst reading Crime & Punishment and I am looking forward to her next musical expenditure.  Her poetry was never going to be as groggily stimulating as her blog.

James Rotchell’s piece lacked a certain something

The final ‘poet’, so-called ‘TJ’ couldn’t write ‘poetry’ if he asked the ‘audience’ for ‘suggestions’, took those ‘suggestions’, formed those ‘suggestions’ in his ‘mind’ and then put those ‘suggestions’ together into a string of words ‘which’ came ‘out’ as a ‘poem’.

As for Mr Simpson (aka ‘Dan Simpson’) the so-called host I want to know weather in That London they allow men of such forthwright forthwrightery to be that close to a microphone.

As for the judges, that Mr Singleton was as drunk as a Lord, and I should know.  Mr Dean seemed more concerned with giving scores than actually scoring gives.  That Henry Raby, however, made some valid points and I have since re-evaluated my stance on Tories.

I trust in future all poetry events will consist or either booking former, current or future Poet Laureates or at the least the entire line-up of the Latitude poetry stage.

Yours sincerely

A. T. Slam