Marketing Skills a Notch Below Kafka's
Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 03:32 PMGreetings Earthlings,
Hi Random Dudes,
Yes, Future Idiot, you really wrote this.
So, I've been in the process of migrating this site to a free wordpress site for, oh, six years? But I really am just about to - because 1) I am making a new solo show, with Hannah Jane Walker, supported by Apples and Snakes, Improbable Theatre and Arts Council England and am now doing lots of scratch and performance around it, 2) Storyverse is about to get exciting and 3) Mark Dearman, who hosts this, has so much better things to do and I am now too ashamed to ask him to fix the next glitch.
So, I've missed writing about lovely gigs at Tongue Fu and bang Said the Gun, but here a a bunch of others:
She Grrrowls 21st May Apples and Pears
Pulse Festival Ipswich 30th May
International Poetry Reincarnation 30th May Roundhouse
Burn After Reading 2nd June Seven Dials Club, Covent Garden
Jazz Verse JukeBox 14th June Ronnie Scotts
Apples and Snakes Scratch 30th June Bush Theatre
International Brigade Memorial Trust Gig 4th July Jubilee Gardens
Poetry Tent Latitude Festival 17th July
Also, for archive purposes, one long undigestible post, what the heck, I've been lucky enough to be part of a couple of extraordinary projects run as part of the Young Vic Taking Part Department. This is what producer Lily Einhorn wrote about the latest one on her facebook page;
"We made a show for Young Vic Taking Part. It took four months and I am immensely proud of it. The women in it care for others selflessly and secretly so it feels like the show should be less secret. In that spirit here is the programme note I wrote. At the very least it might explain what we did and why we did it and how immensely incredibly indescribably awesome these women are.
'Imagine a woman up to her neck'
Samuel Beckett's Happy Days did just that. But where would this woman go if she could move? What would this woman do if she was able to escape? Who is this woman if she is not Winnie?
Happy Days felt to us like one woman's story - so we wanted to use it as a starting point to tell more stories, of more women. Of women who, like Winnie, find themselves defined by something outside of their control. Women who chose to care for others when that meant their world shrank around them. The rubble piled higher. Up to the neck. Working with local women and unpaid, female carers we created movement and text which enabled us to imagine freedom and escape, and to describe the daily realities of life for these extraordinary, ordinary women. All of the movement was improvised by the cast in sessions led by Coral Messam, whilst the text was generated by exercises led by performance poet Francesca Beard.
For the carers, coming to rehearsals every week and juggling their responsibilities with our sessions has been an ongoing negotiation. We have been meeting the two carers groups for four months, getting to know these amazing women with an often forgotten role in our society. We felt that the sessions themselves needed to be joyful - to be a respite - and we hope we have translated that to the stage. If it is theatre’s job to tell the stories of a society, to tell us our stories of ourselves, then we wanted to tell those stories that we do not hear, do not know exist. We have not given anyone a voice, we have simply allowed those voices to be heard.
Some women had circumstances too complicated to allow then to perform but we are grateful for their words. It has been a joy and a privilege creating this piece with these women. Every story you will hear is true. Every woman on stage stands with many more behind her. This is for all those women, keeping the world turning, one day at a time."
Mouthy On Tour
Friday, January 30, 2015, 08:33 PMI worked with Anne Holloway and a group of young Mouthy Poets, throughout my artist residence at Nottingham University. Every other Wednesday, our intrepid group, weary from work, from college, from school, would meet round the conference table in the Mixed Reality Lab. I would ask them and they would try, with all their hearts, to put the world inside themselves into words. Brave, majestic guinea pigs, Mouthy Poets transcended the screens, QR codes and jazzy wired paraphernalia of the Computer Sciences Building, filling it’s cold empty atrium with their diverse, colourful realities.
When I heard that they were on tour and coming to the BAC in London, I made sure to get tickets.
Here’s my review - I’m biased about this because I’ve worked with them. Also, I know the social good that Mouthy Collective does, I have seen how Debris and Anne and Panya support the young and emerging poets in their community. Both good reasons to go out and support the Tour. But hey, guess what, it was one of the best evenings I’ve had at a spoken word event. From Anne’s wry, smart, opening poem, through to Laura Dedicoat’s funny, moving ending, the Mouthy show was a beautiful journey, unexpected, tender, - the pacing, the curated journey, the lighting and music, the visuals, the inclusion of Ioney Smallhorne’s film of Maresa Mackeith’s poem. So much love and respect for the audience, just in the staging, the way the performers worked the transitions between pieces, seemingly so simple and in practical terms, it must have taken weeks of painstaking rehearsal.
Perhaps the way that Mouthy work, the intentions behind this work, perhaps this has something to do with the outcome. Perhaps these things are irrelevant. Mouthy could be the most shallow, egotistical, cynical human beings to board a minivan. I don’t know. I do know that you should go and see them – the ticket price in London was ridiculously low for such an amazing show. And buy the programme, which would be cheap at ten times the price, it contains all the poems from the show. And if, for some reason, you don’t know if you like spoken word and happen to be reading this blog – for the recipes? I brought my neighbour Heather, who is in her 70’s and beautifully alluvial in her cultural literacy but had never been to a spoken word show before. She loved it so much, she took her grandson to the Albany the following week to see Luke Wright.
Writing the City Open Mic Nite
Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 01:09 PM
Dear Writing the City Students,
The next and final session of our Writing the City adventure for this semester will be on Wednesday 10th December at Spoken Word Open Mic, which sounds like a wonderfully friendly and welcoming joint.
Venue: Vogue Fabrics, 66 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB, London, United Kingdom: http://voguefabricsdalston.com/
Doors open at 7.30pm, please get there then to put your name down for the open mic, which starts at 8pm
Here's some further information in a link to the facebook and wordpress sites:
Please bring 1) a lowered acceptable risk threshold and 2) a poem or short piece of prose (less than 5 minutes) to share - you can bring it on your phone or as a print-out, please make sure the text is big and bold enough to read and do practise it a couple of times beforehand. We will be there to support and cheer you on/share in the public humiliation of your failure. JOKE. There will be no shame in failure, because failure is glorious. We will share the reflected delightfulness of whatever it is that happens. So, show up for that.
n.b. There will not be a session on the 11th December, the open mic on the 10th replaces this session.
P.S. Don't forget to submit your creative writing pieces via Blackboard and post your reflective logs at Wells Street BEFORE 1000 on Thursday 11th December.
Writing the City
Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 11:02 PMHello, Writing the City Students,
We are half way through our creative writing course.
We have done many free writes and practised some improvisation methods as a way in to creative writing.
We have also discussed - and I hope - located - our helpful questions.
Why do you want to write?
Who do you write about?
What do you need to understand?
Who is your reader?
Questions are great. Also, risk and failure. I am responsible for grading you and I would urge you to fail well rather than pass adequately.
Here is the info, if you don't understand it, please email me.
The first semester of Writing the City will be about finding your 'voice' by exploring London through new writing and experimenting with the ways in which setting can ground character and plot.
By the end of the term, students will have produced a short (1,500 - 2,000 word) monologue inspired by the city. The course aims to be fun and confidence-building and will support each individual to experiment with language and to develop their own narrative tone and style.
The second semester of the module will introduce certain fundamental elements of prose and dramatic writing through workshops and site-visits. It will also allow students to combine creative writing and non-fiction techniques with a further exploration of the relationship between writing and place.
As well as work for assessment, there will be regular writing / reading assignments set between weeks.
This year the module will be taught by the following writers:
• Semester 1 - Francesca Beard
• Semester 2 - Matthew Morrison
Assessment criteria for Semester 1
A Writing Portfolio: A short prose monologue (1,500 – 2,000 words), submitted online by 10.00am on 11 December 2014 30%
B Reflective Log: This will detail the processes of production of the semester 1 creative writing. Submitted in hard copy to the registry ‘bins’, Wells Street reception by 10.00am on 11 December 2014. 20% YOU MUST ATTACH A CA1 FORM (DOWNLOADABLE FROM ‘FORMS’ ON THE UNIVERSITY WEBSITE)
Note, in each weekly entry of approximately 300-500 words, your log should generally cover the following areas:
• Responses to class sessions
• Discussion of your wider inspirations for writing (music, travel, exhibitions, etc)
• Commentary on your own developing creative work
In our seminars, we have discussed the importance of the reflective log.
We have played games and participated in free writes. We have exchanged opinions.
These were important and instrumental.
Thank you to all who participated, it was a pleasure and a privilege to teach you.
As requested, the text of a narrative poem performed.
We’re on Ladbroke Grove,
Trees like saints in the dusty avenue and
You ask me what I want and I tell you
‘Something bad for me and American’.
You disappear into the shade of Golden Dragon,
For kung pao chicken and pirated Hollywood dvds.
I go on, through this melting part of the city.
Tower blocks tune jazz and geometry,
Money suns itself in Georgian crescents,
The homeless guy who lives by Tescos
Sprawls in a tall glass of gold.
He salutes me V for victory,
As I pass though the glass doors.
Inside, the air hums with choice.
If you are what you eat,
I 'm a Rubix Cube of biochemistry,
Consumer of international scandal,
Diverting food from other people's mouths to my sleek fridge.
But I buy free-range eggs and fair trade coffee.
It's too easy to feel guilty.
I have a responsibility to this economy to spend money on stuff.
And it's tough making decisions.
What do I want?
“Pick me, pick me,” shine the New Zealand fun-size Fuji.
The Danish bacon shines fatly and the South African Merlot winks ruby.
The French brie shrugs, “If you want.”
I'm examining some vegetarian sushi when a fight breaks out in aisle 2.
“Scuse me! Hello!”
A man has queue-jumped.
Perhaps an accident.
Zig-zagged trolleys, jostling for position, could happen
Still, he can't be allowed,
Not when there's so much feistiness around.
If he were sensible he'd retreat,
but he stands his stolen ground.
“Get back in your own line,”
Shouts a matron in a sari.
“Get back to your own country!”
Oooh, that was the wrong thing to say.
The Phillipina cashier squeaks in dismay.
The security guard with the tribal scars
Pushes past Japanese art students to her rescue.
The Australian chef from the Brazilian restaurant says,
“No offence, but you're out of line.”
Three Jamaican women in three different queues
Start shouting abuse in a Greek chorus of sisterhood.
The only other English-looking guy, in a suit,
Organic chicken in his basket,
takes his iphone out his pocket and, ooh, look at his thumb go,
He's not really here at all, he's surfing.
The queue-jumper senses it's not his crowd and leaves.
Everyone starts talking.
The chef asks me where I come from.
“Malaysia,” I tell him.
“You're Muslim,” he goes and I say,
“No, I'm Chinese Malaysian.”
“Mee hao? Wau hern gkau shing?”
He intones and I freeze because I don't speak Chinese
But for some reason I can't leave,
So my smile fixes in a grim rictus as his fades
And now he's thinking that my expression is politely inscrutable rage
Because foreign devil has just called my ancestors
A herd of goatlickers by mistake
When actually he's asked me “how's it going mate?”
It's unfair on chef but I'm fed-up confessing
I don't understand Cantonese or Mandarin –
People look at you like you've cut off your mother's tongue.
So he slopes off with his basket of emergency lemons
And I'm left stricken by the gift section.
They sell all-sorts and there's an air plant,
Priced £2.99, an unprepossessing weed,
All wisps and drooping suspirance.
The tag says it gets its nutrients from air.
It's rooted nowhere.
So... what's the point of that?
If it can't be planted, is it even a plant?
No, it's a misfit or wouldn't it be in the flower section
With the heritage roses and the jade palace jasmine
Instead of sat here between the bath salts and I love Mum mugs?
Now I'm identifying with this wierdoid freak.
If I were a plant, I'd be one of these,
Sucking colour from anything it can.
In Britain today, it's all about your roots, your identity,
But there's banana bio yoghurts over there
Who've got more live culture than me.
I've got to get out of this place,
I'm having a negative epiphany in the dairy section of Tescos,
Double disgrace to my race – a crisis of Chineseness surrounded by cheese.
Empty basket dumped, I exit onto the market
Straight into a walking Benetton ad.
People of all colours, creeds, nations,
stroll in the middle of the road, turning it pedestrian.
This is where I belong, in this privileged mix,
This moment of ordinary democracy,
Where everyone can be equal, everyone can be free.
This babelicious city, where daily,
Over 300 languages are spoken,
Each one diverse in nature as the black panther,
Fairy penguin, blue whale –
But each with something in common that
No other animal communication system has.
A grammar that allows me to say and
You to understand
Something that has never before been shared.
Of course, English is the money tongue,
The currency of word as bond,
The voice recognition system,
The key to the citizen question,
Whether you’re witness to the greatness of Britain
Or a some equals less than in this United Kingdom.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world,
My alternate sister sits inside a factory ,
Running victory swooshes through machines.
I wonder if she wonders what it would be like to be me?
Does she feel the same sun on the same skin,
Stand under the same stars in the same sky?
I wonder if she understands global warming,
Quantum physics, quarks,
All the songs sung by the scientists
That comfort no one in the dark.
Does she burn paper money in the cemetery
To feed the spirits of her ancestors,
While mine watch hungrily from the frangipani trees,
Mosquitoes whining in their hair?
Copyright Francesca Beard
Tags London Tescos Identity Race Language Chinese Money Food
Unstoppable Stockwell Poem
Saturday, October 25, 2014, 10:51 AMLast week I got to know Stockwell, just a little.
I pass through Stockwell a lot, on my way to and from home in Brixton, but I’ve never spent much time there. Then I get a call from Russell at Apples and Snakes asking if I can and want to write a poem celebrating Stockwell, to be performed at a launch event for Stockwell Square on Saturday 18th . Family friendly, three minutes long. Sure.
Best job in the world, a gift, a reason, a sunny, blustery October Thursday walking around Stockwell, talking to people.
Thank you to everyone I chatted to, to David the charming, hung-over law student from Hong Kong, to the guy in Lidls, the guy outside the tube, the toddler and mum at the bus-stop, thanks to all at O Campino for the delicious soup and the chat about Madeira and football and Stockwell FC. I look forwards to coming back with family for traditional Portuguese Sunday dinner and fado.
Stockwell – it’s unstoppable
Never stock still is Stockwell,
It’s a twenty-four hour clock well,
Everything flows through Stockwell,
Everything goes in Stockwell.
Call it home from home from America,
Call it home from home from Africa
Home from home from Asia
Home from home from Australasia,
It’s centred like the equator,
Chilled like it’s Antarctica,
(Stockwell’s cool enough for Artic bears,
They can shop for ice cubes at midnight at Jacks,
Go to Lidl for their thermal under wears…)
All the corners of the round globe call Stockwell home,
Clapham, Lambeth,Kennington, all roads
Lead to Stockwell.
Stockwell, it’s unstoppable,
On the Northern and Victoria,
Black and blue lines are best beats all a ya,
Never stock still is Stockwell,
Stockwell stirs the melting pot well,
It’s a nexus, a crossroads, cultural connection,
All the puddles and the pot holes hold rainbow reflection,
It’s a global cross section.
(Vote for Stockwell in the next election.)
‘So Stockwell’, I say,
There’s a celebration,
There’ll be music and dancing,
You’ve got fans, they’ll come out.
So please stop it from raining.
And could you kindly
Answer some questions?’
Where do you live?
How old are you?
What’s your favourite food?
What do you dream of?
What’s your favourite ice-cream?
What’s your inspiration?
What makes you angry?
Who do you love?
Who are your celebrity crushes?
What do you do to relax?
And Stockwell says:
(and I can’t do the accent because Stockwell has many voices, so please read it in the voice you have in yr mind)
‘My lucky numbers are 55, 88, 2, 133, 333, 196, and 345
My favourite colours are blue, black and the red of a double decker bus,
I like to travel, to be transported, I’m adventurous.
My musical tastes are all over the place,
I like Samba, Soca,, Dot Rotten, Roots Manuva,
Hip hop, R & B, fado, electronica, rock,
Last film I saw? Attack the Bloc,
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers brighten my skies,
Edward Thomas’ war poems make me cry.
My inspirational women are Violette Szabo and Cecile Nobrega,
The Bronze Woman is my facebook and twitter avatar.
I’m as old as I feel,
I’m older than the Romans, young as the newest born.
I’m in a relationship with Brixton,
But I’m also seeing Elephant and Castle,
Oval, Vauxhall and recently Nine Elms.
I go to Larkhall Park in the summer,
I want to take tennis lessons next year,
I like the go carts, I miss Derek Reed
He collected every single tyre for the track and nobody knew from where,
It’s a mystery.
I’m fanatical about football of course,
I support all the teams,
Stockwell FC, so proud of them,
Most days, I walk down Durand Gardens, round Albert Square,
Those quiet side streets, so serene
Clean wood, glass, steel, an architect’s dream,
I listen to the infant school kids in their lunchtime break,
It’s one big happy scream.
At night I walk with the cats through Parkers, Studley, Lansdowne Greene
Round the blocks,
Checking up on mine,
My motto in life?
Be kind, be kind and then be kind.
I dream of what everyone dreams of,
The past, the future and the present unknown,
I dream of a heart with a safe, sound home,
My sons and daughters, nameless and brave,
Who feel unsung, dispossessed, displaced,
Folks who’ve been with me for decades,
Traditions lost in people that leave,
I welcome the yuppies with their city money and their hipster shoes,
But I want to keep my old folk and my youth.
What makes me angry?
Injustice and lies,
Cover-ups turn tragedy into a jagged social divide.
I think of my stolen child every day,
All my lost loved ones,
I hold their memories near,
They are in the strength and sway of the trees,
I hear their voices in traffic sound,
See their faces in the clouds,
Their names are written on every breeze.
What do I love? This,
I love when people speak with me.
I love the BMXers and the skateboarders,
I love the toddlers in their pushchairs
And their speed-walking mothers,
I love the students and the joggers
And the geezers and the dudes,
The uncles and Aunties,
I love all the languages and I love the food.
Espidada, natas, rice and peas.
Some call me Little Portugal,
I’m home from home from Madeira, Opporto, Lisboa,
Stockwell, I show and tell,
Stockwell, I speak the world well,
England, Guyana,, Jamaica, China,
Ireland, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana,
Brazil, Poland, Vietnam, Russia,
Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester,
France, Italy, India, Somalia,
Though if I want to eat sambuusa I have to go to Streatham,
It’s fine. Never mind. I get the 133 and it gets me straight home again.
Stockwell – unstoppable.
Thanks to Jay Bernard, who I met at BAC ahead of Chris Thorpe’s show Confirmation, who told me stories of growing up there and about her uncle, Derek Reed, rest in peace.
Thanks to Chris Thorpe and Confirmation for giving such great destination – if you haven’t seen it, go, it and he is brilliant.
Thanks to Marie and everyone at Omnibus, it was a pleasure to work with you and I hope I get to do so again: http://www.omnibus-clapham.org/
And thank you to all at Apples and Snakes for this and everything and just being the bees pajamas and the cat’s mittens and the jelly’s elbow.
And here’s a picture of the multi-talented and shape-shifting Keith,
aka Mr Crumbucket and his Mechanical Dragon: