PAW #10 is about the hairdresser at the University of Birmingham students’ union (she’s astonishingly nice), and about how shocking and beautiful it can be when real talk emerges from small talk.
University of Birmingham
Poem A Week #3: Breaking Cobs
The 3rd Poem A Week is about the Midlands: my birthplace, one-time sexual hunting ground of Lord Byron, and perennially ignored b-road between the affluent south and the quaint, charming north. It inspired much of Tolkien’s Mordor, but it’s home.
This post might at first seem to have a rather explicit agenda – to persuade you to come and see my play – but actually I just want to write a little something about it (sadly, Facebook is where the aggressive self-promotion happens at the moment!). Although of course I’d be delighted if you did come and see it.
Method is my second full-length play, although it’s the first to be properly produced. And it’s also the first play I’ve ever directed. Putting it on, therefore, has been a fantastic and challenging exercise in many respects, but one that I have absolutely relished. I’m wary of speaking too soon, as I know how much hard work the next few days require (we open on Friday 6th December!) and how much could go wrong in the short time we have, but so far it has been nothing but a pleasure. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a very talented and committed cast of 8, and alongside an extremely hard working and equally talented creative team. Special kudos must go to producer Elisha Owen, and to filmmaker Paul McHale, whose skills I could wax lyrical about for hours (and have done to many friends already!). But instead of doing that, I think I’d rather show you this trailer, so you can see for yourself:
Method is a play about blindness, both literal and figurative, and concepts of performance, in life and in art. I first conceived of it in Spring 2012, wrote Act 1 in Scotland in October 2012, and finally finished Act 2 in July this year (having taken a necessary sabbatical in order to focus on the small matter of my degree!). I then tweaked it over the summer, following a read-through of the first draft with some superb and willing actor-friends, before starting rehearsals in October. So it’s been a long time coming, and I am a different writer now to the one I was when I sat down to pen (read: type) the first scene almost 18 months ago. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of the script. I absolutely am, and I’m even prouder of what we have done with it. The play involves a lot of digital theatre elements, principally the film projections, and about this I am particularly excited. The potential for interaction between live and recorded performance has always interested me (indeed, it’s something I intend to explore even further in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family) and Method is my first foray in to this area. Whether it works will become clear as the week plays itself out, or perhaps it will never become clear, but either way I think the production will contribute something new and important to the University of Birmingham’s theatrical landscape. Fingers crossed.
Oh, so you are interested in coming to see it? Well, you should’ve said sooner! Tickets can be reserved by writing on the wall of the Facebook event, or, if you’re not the Facebook-ing type, by emailing Elisha Owen on email@example.com
Method runs 6th – 8th December 2013 in the Amos Room at University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students. Tickets are £4 Watch This members, £5 concessions, £7 standard.
Scribble Kicks and last-minute gigs
20th November 2012. Can you remember it?
Christmas hadn’t happened.
The world hadn’t ended yet.
The royal baby was still a royal secret.
It was but a humble Tuesday.
Well, you’d remember it if you went to the inaugural SCRIBBLE KICKS, the first ever Writers’ Bloc event at mac birmingham.
To counterbalance Grizzly Pear, our performance-poetry night at the Bristol Pear, I wanted to put on a page-poetry and prose friendly evening of readings in a relaxed and marginally less-bawdy atmosphere, where the emphasis is entirely on the words. Originally Scribble Kicks wasn’t going to have a headliner (and future events, about which I’m currently in discussions with mac (ding! for pretentious managerial-speak points), probably won’t), but it happened to so neatly coincide with the publication of two excellent collections of contemporary British poetry that it would have been foolish to turn down the opportunity to happily marry the two. Abi Curtis’s The Glass Delusion and Luke Kennard’s A Lost Expression are both published by the Man-Booker shortlisted Salt, and it was a privilege to welcome the authors to the cafe-bar at mac to launch the books and read their new work.
Scribble Kicks is nevertheless still all about supporting new and emerging local writers, so there were plenty of open-mic slots available, which provided a platform for an eclectic and delightful range of readings from Writers’ Bloc regulars, mac‘s own ‘Future Poets,’ undergraduate and MA students at the University of Birmingham, and entirely new faces (to be most encouraged!). I’m very keen to see the event become a place where Birmingham’s writers meet to share work or works-in-progress more formally, drawing on the good work done by Apples and Snakes with their Poets’ Place initiative at Central Library. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next edition, which I’ll write about on here, as well as on the Writers’ Bloc Facebook page and mac Birmingham‘s website. You can follow me on Twitter, and Writers’ Bloc and mac are also on there.
3rd December 2012. Ring any bells?
It won’t for most, but for 12 lucky people, it certainly will! On the last Monday of the autumn term, I organised one of the most last-minute gigs in the history of gigs that anyone has actually called a gig. Not only was it called a gig, however, but it was part of a tour…”Girls on Tour”, to be precise. The girls on said tour included the wonderful Sally Jenkinson, a fine spoken-word performer and big-dog at Wandering Word who I had the all-too-brief pleasure of meeting at the Bristol Poetry Festival in September, Liz Greenfield, another excellent poet, and the extremely talented singer-songwriter Dominie Hooper. Seeing an endearingly ramshackle Facebook event page declaring an endearing vague tour of the north with certain dates yet to be filled, I decided to think like a southerner, declare anything from Rugby upwards the ‘north’ and invite the girls to perform in the Beorma Bar in Birmingham Uni’s Guild of Students. Due to the fact that all this happened about 3 days before the date we hit upon, the audience turn out was small. Did I write 12? ha! Can’t you people spot a comic under-exaggeration? Well, it was 12. But my god it was good. The intimate atmosphere, and the fact that, of those 12, half live in my house, leant the evening a generous cosiness, as if I’d invited the three performers into my front room. Sally was great, at turns deeply personal and hilarious, and it was fantastic to finally see her on stage. Liz’s poems were often bizarre, challenging, terribly unPC (therefore also hilarious!), and somehow managed still to contain pockets of breathtaking imagery and metaphor. And Dominie’s performance was simply gorgeous, both musically and lyrically. Of the modest selection of merchandise available from the girls, our house went home with a copy of Liz’s pamphlet, Nobody’s Uncle, and 2 copies of Dominie’s EP, Run It Over, both of which you should buy, now (links are above). Now.
For all the semi-stressed dashing around, it was unquestionably worth it.
So remember kids; if someone asks to read poetry and play music in your pantry in front of paying audience with 10 minutes notice, say yes instantly.