Saturday, October 31, 2015, 12:18 AM
I've been working with Islington Community Theatre's young company of 11 to 14 year olds to make a piece exploring their relationship to digital environments.
We had a showing yesterday at Platform of work in progress. I'm looking forward to the next phase, with Miranda Cromwell, the director and Kwame Odoom, assisting, to make something for a public audience in the new year.
Miranda and I didn't want to make a bad play about the naughty internet. We are fascinated by the thought that we are evolving as human beings because of our relationship to digital technology - the way we interact, the way we think about memory, our collective consciousness, our identities.
I love the internet.
I am old enough to remember a time and place where there was probably not a single computer in the country as powerful as my smartphone.
I remember how long it took to call someone because you had to wait for the mechanism to spin back before you could hook your finger in the metal ring and drag it round.
However, the process is about listening to our young company at ICT and supporting them to shape something that communicates their reality to adults.
What came out of our devising conversations was overwhelmingly that these young people were overwhelmed by digital technology.
They found the constant need to deal with data flow stressful.
They found the continual branding and rebranding of their identities as consumers of that data toxic.
'Please make it stop', they said.
I am largely immune to the stress that they are talking about but even I get it, when I read an article like this Gawker published piece about viral media:
It makes me angry, for myself and for others, this insinuation that if you don't post about something, it didn't happen, it doesn't matter.
I'm pretty sure no one will read this, because I don't really post and also, when I do post, I post about live literature and poetry, not even slam poetry and well, that's obviously an ox bow lake of culture, but for the record -
Gawker, and all you other whatever you ares, although invisible to you, like much of the world, I've been busy doing stuff.
I sometimes want to share it, but often I don't because I would rather spend my time making other stuff or hanging out with family and friends or just reading in the bath.
Here's my truth - if you weren't there, you've missed it. Telling you about how great it was seems redundant and boastful.
And, sure it's about marketing and I do apologise to the people I work with about how crap I am at marketing, but actually, that's not my skill set and, as yet, it is not my job.
My job is to make sure that when you show up, you will be part of a live event and that it will be something magical and absolutely unique.
And if I post about it in the knowledge that you probably wouldn't be able to come,
I want to find a reason to post so that it isn't just passive aggressive spam.
Other people have different reasons for not sharing - they didn't have internet, or it wasn't in their culture and they didn't want to make it available online without context or they simply didn't care to have an audience of people who couldn't see what the physical reality of the event was.
But maybe you didn't mean what you said and were just rubbing against your phone. In which case, I recommend turning it off and removing the lithium battery before you insert it up your arse.
If you'd like to read this prompt, and in fairness, maybe I read it wrong, it's at the base of this post.
Storystock at the Bush Theatre - one brilliant day, two more to go...
Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 11:27 PM
This Wednesday in the half term break, me, the Chinese star animals and Anais Snow Antopolski , my special helper, were welcomed with the most graceful hospitality by the Bush Theatre and StoryStock.
We performed (ta da!) two shows of Animal Olympics.
Firstly, I would like to say that it was by far my favourite of all the Animal Olympics shows I have done. Both of them.
Secondly, I would like to say that this festival at the Bush is wonderful, there is two days left, and if you can, get down to it. There are a bunch of brilliant things on offer:
The first show we did was techd by Jimmy, son of Natalie Garces-Boves.
The second was techd by Snow because I think Jimmy was in a Manga workshop.
Not because there were not superb and ready and able tech adults, but because the kids actually could do the job, they did it really well.
Thank you all the children who came to the event and to their parents.
We shared a dressing room with Judith Kerr - legend - her backstage rider was 'a glass of good red wine'. Nat, the brilliant stage manager decided on Malbec, which, in my book, was a good choice.
Do do go, if you happen to see this, and happen to have kids, it's a lovely festival. And they will be there next year too, I think, I hope...
Two for One ticket offer this Friday 28th and Saturday 29th August!
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 04:26 PM
A Lie - a new show by Francesca Beard
In this show, I will try to pull off one great trick.
What is the best lie you know?
Mine is... me.
A dazzling piece of theatre from 'The Queen of British Performance Poetry'
Age recommendation: 16+
Venue: Soho Theatre - Friday 28th and Saturday 29th August 6 pm
Part of Hotbed Festival of new writing 2015
'Hotbed showcases some of the best new writing in the UK' Lyn Gardner Guardian
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 theatreís 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 itís 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.
Hereís my review - Iím biased about this because Iíve 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 Iíve had at a spoken word event. From Anneís wry, smart, opening poem, through to Laura Dedicoatís 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 Smallhorneís film of Maresa Mackeithís 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 donít know. I do know that you should go and see them Ė 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 donít know if you like spoken word and happen to be reading this blog Ė for the recipes? I brought my neighbour Heather, who is in her 70ís 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.