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Say Owt Slam #19 3rd Feb 2018 @ The Basement, York

Whatever Happened To Vandal Raptor? April tour:

Durham @ TTEST 12th

Leeds @ Workshop Theatre 17th

Hydra Bookshop 18th

Derby Theatre 20th

Harrogate Theatre 24-25th

London @ Ovalhouse 26-28th


Nerd Punk Book Launch 29th April, All Saint's Church, York

Spoken Weird 3rd May, Halifax

Gong Fu Poets 31st May, Durham



Thursday, 1 December 2016

20.16 Blog #26: Third Angel Talk

Below is a draft of the talk I gave at Third Angel's Where From Here Symposium 17th November at Leeds Beckett University.  I didn't really read this word-for-word, but hopefully got across the idea.  Third Angel are a 21-year-old Theatre Company making autobiogrpahical word that plays with text, stories, truth and space.

Strawbs Bar 2007.  Probably a kind of chill northerly breeze.  Young Henry, keen to be at University after a Gap Year of mainly working at Virgin Megastores and reading Harold Pinter.

Straws Bar.  Giant cushions in the shape of Strawberries hang upon the walls.  Bannister coated in too many layers of white paint.  Creaky floorboards.  Here, a Young Henry, keen to be at University after a Gap Year of mainly seeing his mates go off to University and attending very safe unenthusing poetry nights, gets up to read at Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones, the brainchild of Andy Craven-Griffiths and Adam Robinson, cohorts in poetry and words, a mixture of hip-hop background and literary story-telling.  Bringing poets from across the UK who are the best of the best of a bulging scene before the Scroobius Pips, kate Tempests, Hollie McNishs and Mark Grists did wonders for viral videos.

Young Henry Raby, totally forgets all his poems and ends up sticking Andy’s banana in his pocket.
I stopped trying to be John Cooper Clarke, and like all students, tried to work out who I was at University.  I seemed to me, in the depths of those times, that everyone else at University was doing incredibly well at being a well-adjusted, popular person while I stumbled around.  But I think, and only realise this now, that the best friendship circles I found where at those Strawbs nights.

So at University I developed a kind of personality in 3rd year as being some raving anarchist because I was against cuts to the University.  In the left-wing circles at the Uni, UI was a incredibly liberal lad circling around Worker’s Liberty, SWP, SP and the Anarchists trying to make sure everybody all got along.
And as part of 3rd year English & Theatre Studies, we saw Third Angels’ Words + Pictures.  What intrigued me was the autobiographical stripped down approach to theatre compared to other works we had been seeing at the Lowry and West Yorkshire Playhouse.  Also, I’m pretty certain it had Games Workshop references.

“You’re nothing like you are onstage” is something often said to me in the Real World.  On stage, all improvised asides and audience interactive banter, well rehearsed poems and necessary energy required to make the event memorable.

In The Real World, allergic to eye contact, apologetic, fiddly.

I find the world of poetry open mics and slams, the audience recognise truth.  Or that is to say, they recognise bullshit.  Vanessa Kisuule said of our recent slam it was her fav for years because everyone was being themselves.  In London, everyone is (apparently) trying to be the next Big Thing.

Hi, I’m a human being, here’s my story or opinion to share with you fellow human beings.  Thanks.
But it’s a lie!  A goddamn lie!

Because the more we incorporate elements of stand-up, of theatre and character, elements of story-telling, of being the bardic clown, we are blurring what is truth.  We can play with it, make it a performance, even fake it.

If you own the stage, if you are in control as the story-teller, as Third Angel’s work often is, the audience place faith in you, they believe in you, they are prepared to trust you.  They recognise agendas, perhaps they might not always believe a stand-up comic, but there is something very Perfect about poetry.  Unless it’s of the whacky sort, it feels raw and honest.

There’s also the problem if you’re going to get political, like any great public speaking…

So does Henry Raby the performer have a fake quality to him, a constructed confidence which leaves me wondering if I’m being honest to my genre.

In this book on D.I.Y. a lot of the authors are very very good but they’re all talking about the idea of DIY.  Third Angels’ entry is saying, look, don’t worry too much about the ideas.  BEWARE THE SOFA is their motto.  Beware getting stuck sat down over-thinking, discussing, debating, analysing.  Just make something.  Just crack on and do something.  This is one of the unwritten rules of running Youth Theatre sessions (yes there is also YT Facilitator Henry) is you need to get those teenagers on their feet!

So what I take away from Third Angel is their playfulness with autobography and truth, their blurred lines of audience/performer and also their readniess which will hopefully be a boon in the uncertain world of 2017.

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