This month’s theme was all about encouraging collaboration, working in pairs, approaching someone you have never worked with before… the initial thought -after it was announced by Heather in March, was DREAD!
Finding the time was an issue…. would anyone agree to partner me…… all my insecurities came out to play and I buried my head in the sand for a few days…. then when I decided to grab the opportunity, I gave it a few more ‘be cool’ days, in case anyone emailed me – or so as not to pounce and appear too eager. In my mind I imagined everyone sending out frantic emails and pairing up and it would be like picking a team in PE*!
* Except this never happened to me as I played hockey, County Netball and was a top 8 long distance runner back in the day (when I was fit and danced) – I was usually picked around the middle of the team creations and so never felt too bad….
Thing was with Mouth & Music, when it was announced I knew exactly who I wanted to work with.
Tim Scarborough is a very talented Percussionist amongst other things – including a poet! A few months ago he treated us all to some music on his mood drum … it was beautiful he transported the whole room into a place of quiet, meditative thought and I for one wanted the sound to NEVER end! As soon as I heard it – I knew of the perfect poem and thought about asking him and then never gave it another thought – until in March this collaboration was mentioned.
Also as an aside for no reason other than force of habit the people I know all sit on the right and the others sit on the left – I wanted to bridge that gap!
I sent Tim an email, fully expecting him to not agree – to my surprise and delight he agreed.
Turns out not many people rose to the challenge of a duet. And we really did – organising 3 rehearsal/writing mornings. (1 of which I had to cancel to work)… 2 rehearsals and 2 hours typing is more prep than I have ever put in – and I got really nervous about performing again – as I didn’t want to let Tim down (which nearly happened when my phone screen blanked out on a cue line)!
Our rehearsals were great, I have not collaborated with other artists since my time involved in the performance circuit and theatre, back in the 90’s. It is something I miss…. especially with the solitude of writing – something I’ve had to get used to.
Rehearsal 1: we tried the mood drum and my Rain Watch poem – played around with it, recorded, re-read and rehearsed. It was instantly fine and right and Tim commented tonight that he wished he’d come to it cold, having never heard the poem and improvised (maybe next time Tim)!
Tim also talked about his Social SATNAV idea and we both worked on and shared poems from our gender perspective.
The 2nd rehearsal was a fortnight later – I had managed to work and rewrite my poem a few times and needed some help with the 2nd voice, we worked on this re-reading and getting it right. Then we turned to Tim’s notebook and came up with the idea of the inner monologue – and the inner, inner monologue – the socially unacceptable bit that we switch off for his original SatNav poem.
It was great fun writing the voice and using words I wouldn’t normally feature, including some swearing. This collaboration gave me the opportunity to write pieces in a new voice.
We also practised Rain Watch. So by the end of our collaboration – we had 2 new dual speaking performance poems and a re-emergence of one of my poems.
People loved our set, rehearsing paid off. It was lovely to hear people had enjoyed it and I cannot begin to express how brilliant it felt to share the stage.
The other performers brave enough to collaborate and work on material were of course our delectable hosts – Sarah Tamar & Heather Wastie, they even introduced props and entertained us as always.
Andrew Owens (host of Drummonds 42) and Michelle Crosbie (headliner at Lichfield Poetry Alight) treated us to a dualogue, Cathy & Alex – a story Andrew wrote, told in 2 voices. They were very brave (they both sang) and were first up. It was great.
Despite Heather inviting people to perform solo, the theme had put many regulars off and we were all a little worried about being thin on the ground (it would have definitely been warmer with more bodies) – we needn’t have worried -Mike Alma and Mogs shared poetry in touching and funny solo performances and we were treated to some music and audience participation with the sandwich love song. It was a great night with electrifying atmosphere and everyone enjoyed it!
I was looking forward to the Headline poets, I have had the pleasure of hearing both David Calcutt (at Poetry Bites) and Nadia Kingsley (Shrewsbury Coffee House) before, never together. It was very enjoyable and they had books to sell ‘Road Kill’ was the one used for the performance, I shall look forward to an Easter Holiday read fest! AND this set inspired a seed of an idea between myself and fellow poet Claire Walker.
And as for Bleeding Hearts – what words can be used (I had better find some) richly political, rock meets folk at high speed and meshes as one and once again a chance for audience participation!
To top the whole night off … Mr Mike Alma, who has been entertained by Marie-Celeste epic journey tales since before the New Year gave me a SATNAV! Wow! Dreams came true. I may be able to find gigs in the future – no longer do I have to use AA Route finder (other route searches are available) – which I am sorry to say, lies a lot and leaves much of the important bits of the journey out – and gives journey durations 50% less than they are generally – causing me (if I find the gig at all) to be late!
Now I will have to come up with ever-more creative excuses like the battery went flat, I ignored the SATNAV or the dog ate my homework…. for being late or lost.
And just to finish this post – here is a lovely review from Mouth and Music;
It has not been customary to mention individual open mic performers in post-gig write-ups, but here’s the exception: Huge thanks to Andrew Owens and Michelle Crosbie for collaborating on a story by Andrew and, even huger thanks to Nina Lewis and Tim Scarborough who not only collaborated but also wrote some great new material. Thanks also to the regular open mic-ers who came along to listen and/or perform solo.
Featured spoken word artists, David Calcutt and Nadia Kingsley showed how page poetry should be performed. Quality work delivered with clarity and humour. Featured musicians, Bleeding Hearts were big, bold, entertaining and political. We sang along and stamped our feet, which also helped us get warm! It was brass (as they say up north where it’s even colder) but regulars are getting used to coming prepared for any temperature. It’s got to be warmer in May! See you then, when we’ll be rebranding, thanks to Gel Newey (Bleeding Hearts bass player) as Gob and Racket 🙂
I am still buzzing nearly 24 hours later! 😉