Tag Archives: Storytelling

Not so Idle Women

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On Saturday night I finally managed to catch the Idle Women Tour, this is a project Heather Wastie has worked on since 2016, I missed the 2017 performances and have been meaning to catch a show ever since!

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The show gained financial support from Arts Council England, which enabled the employment of a Tour Manager, Zoe Hunn and Director, Milla Jackson.

Last Autumn Idle Women featured on BBC Country File, which aired November 12th as part of Remembrance programming.

https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/broadcast/bbc-countryfile/

The Spring Tour started last week with a performance at The Chestnut Inn,  Worcester on Tuesday 3rd April.

idle women chestnut inn© 2018 – Alarum Theatre

I knew the basic content of the show and have been aware of Heather’s work and some of the poetry. I purposefully didn’t look into the Double Bill and had no idea what to expect from Kate Saffin (other than half the show).

Photographs taken in the first week of the 2017 Tour © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

Kate Saffin took care of the first part of the evening with her theatrical piece about the Idle Women, great story and wonderful portrayal of multiple characters (as a former actress I know how challenging this can be). The story she told was moving and educational. Kate uses simple dramatic devices masterfully in her one woman show.

Kate is a Boater, writer, storyteller and actor, Kate Saffin has lived on a narrowboat and told stories of the waterways as solo plays since 1999. She trained as a writer for stage and broadcast media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (MFA). © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

I regret not speaking to Kate after the show, (I was so excited to see Heather), Kate’s performance was moving. ‘Isobel’s War’ was full of character and story, told in a way with simple props and devices that transported us back in time.

 © 2018 – Alarum Theatre

Heather Wastie gave us the second half of the show. ‘Idle Women’, a performance filled with facts and passion. It was great to watch her perform again. She gave us both songs and poetry and new material to the show.

Heather was Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16 and is well known for her interpretations of oral history. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs which she now performs. This work was published in November 2015 by Black Pear Press under the title Weaving Yarns. In 2017 she was commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to compose a children’s song cycle, ‘Loom in the Loft’, to celebrate the restoration of the Weavers’ Cottages in Kidderminster.

In 2017 she was commissioned to write and perform poems for the popular Nationwide Building Society ad campaign, Voices Nationwide. She has also worked as poet and actor for National Trust property Croome Court in Worcestershire. © 2017 – Alarum Theatre

Heather was also a Guest Poet for INKSPILL (AWF’s Online Writing Retreat) in October 2014.

It was a very factual show both in terms of the waterways and the wartime volunteers.

IW_National-Service

© 2017 – Alarum Theatre

I loved discovering how the term ‘Idle Women’ came to be and to hear talk of the Tardebigge Canal (where we took our own poetry adventure on board a narrowboat back in the summer of 2016 – and there were many locks). I have my tiller girl badge to prove it.

This show is a must for Water Dwellers but is just as fun for Land Lovers. I think it appeals to both communities, anyone interested in history, waterways or just looking for a good night out! It is great to have many tour venues on the canal itself. This makes the interval exceptionally special – when you step out and see part of the world the show is all about.

https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/who-were-the-idle-women/

It was quality storytelling and an entertaining, fun evening.

idle 1© 2017 – Alarum Theatre

If you are local enough, I urge you to catch Idle Women. Here is the Tour Schedule https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/2018-tour/2018-tour-dates/ you will not be disappointed!

The Summer Tour will see them travel further North on the Leeds & Liverpool Waterways.

 

Related Resources: IW_National-Service

 

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/our-work/caring-for-our-heritage/heritage-team-blog/heritage-team/idle-women-the-land-girls-of-the-waterways

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-truth-about-the-idle-women-of-the-canals-some-extraordinary-wartime-volunteers-are-together-1531552.html

 

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Bridge the Gap – an Intergenerational Tea Party

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Last Wednesday (20th) I went out for a morning on the canal in Birmingham as part of an event organised by Beatfreeks and Aysha Begum (OXJAM Slam Poet winner). The plan is to roll out monthly evening events with poetry that bring different generations together. The whole concept of the event was Aysha Begum’s and Jaden Larker and Matt Windle were particularly excited to see the idea come to fruition, having both been around at the conception.

I didn’t know what to expect other than my ticket included a 3 hour canal journey, workshop, poetry, a chance of performing and free tea/coffee and cakes. A perfect morning if you ask me. I love getting involved with performance and projects that are a little outside the box of a café or pub open mic, events outside that remit challenge you with new experiences and you get to see how your work/ writing can work on different levels.

aysha begum bridge the gap

I managed to get to the meeting point and was happy to see some familiar faces, including Beatfreek poets, Matt Windle, Jordan Ashley Ann Garvey and Jasmine Gardosi. We all boarded the boat and were greeted with a story from Jaden Larker (Seasick Fist), a Beatfreek poet. He then encouraged us to use the workshop time to mingle with people we didn’t know and the older people. Many people moved seats and as Matt, Jordan and I had sat near the top end by the time we were able to get up to move – there was nowhere to move to. Part of me felt guilty about not taking this opportunity to share stories with the older generation. I think I became the older generation for Jordan and Matt.

It was great though because Jordan and I hardly knew each other and although I have seen Matt perform often and he always has time for a chat, there is still limited time and topics at a poetry event – whereas on this boat we were being encouraged to raid our own past for stories.

The ticket cost covered refreshments and during this part of the voyage the team waited sandwiches, wraps, samosas and other nibbles to each table. We had tea and coffee from the bar (alcohol was available) and thoroughly enjoyed a good natter.

Later on we were treated to performances by Aysha Begum and Amerah Saleh – both poets I have seen in action at various events, both are Beatfreeks and both did well to raise their voices over the engine of the canal boat.

Then after some more cake and nibbles the Open Mic started – I bet we were all glad of the organisational decision to split the boat/ audience in half as the engine was still hard to hear over.

I enjoyed being exposed to poetry from poets who had joined the academy a week beforehand, there were performers I hadn’t seen before and some I had. It was great fun joining in. There was also time after the performances before the poets swapped over for a quick Q & A …. it is all too easy to forget how magical our world is to people who don’t write.

It was a fantastic event – if you are local enough to the Midlands, UK – look out for more of these!

 

 

Spoken Word at The Ort – Friday 16th May

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Last week I was trying to limit the open mic events I attended – besides being exhausted after my 10 gigs in 11 days mini run, I have also had a chest infection and a hacking cough for a few weeks – I had practically lost my voice by Monday. On Friday is was a husky luscious sort of voice and worked well with ‘Hairy little secrets’ in our Moustache poem.

I missed Hit the Ode for the first time since February and also another Spoken word night in Birmingham. I would have really struggled to stay awake at any events before Friday night.

Friday I had a (now very rare) day off work – needed to get to the solicitors and sign paperwork for my flat. Hoping to exchange this Friday. After running a few errands I had the afternoon to compose myself (mentally) and rehearse the set poems. I was excited to have enough material for Tim and I to perform a medley of our work.

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Collaboration #4 – with Tim Scarborough

We arrived early enough to get a comfortable seat and enjoyed the acts unwinding on the stage, we had no idea of the set list – I think Tim liked not knowing, he sure knows how to pump adrenaline. Debbie told me we were opening the 2nd half – a great position to be in, especially as one of my friends had to leave early, I convinced her to stay for our set.

Our performance was good and I enjoyed it, we had fun and some great feedback.

We performed Rainwatch *the original poem that got us together, the first time I heard Tim perform on his mood drum, this was the poem I had in my mind, it was already written and I thought it would be the perfect accompaniment for the words. We performed our 2 co-written pub poems, Pull the Other One andSocial SATNAV along with the best of our Body Hair Set – The Hair that Wouldn’t Stop and Moustache Poem with Fact Bombs, which resulted in David Rees Jones (MC for the 2nd half), heckling most of the men with facial hair stylizers afterward.

Feedback – people liked Rainwatch with the Mood Drum, Social SATNAV and Moustache Poem with Fact Bombs the best, people were entertained and said we should have done a longer set (I think my voice just about managed to hold out)!

We then sat back to enjoy the rest of the acts.

It was a great night, thank you and well done Debbie Aldous, who organises and MC’s the Spoken Word event.

Z Andrea Smith Tim

© 2014 Andrea Smith

zuzana Klementova Miss Superlicious T © 2014 Zuzana Klementova  – Supercilious Ms T

 

Zuzana Klementova Ort Swing © 2014 Zuzana Klementova

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There were many more acts and photographs than I have posted here,  just a little flavour of the event.

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Tim and I were prepared to work on a new set, with percussion for next month’s open mic but sadly it clashes with the opening of The Worcs LitFest – which is also the announcing of Poet Laureate, friends of mine are in the running and I had already chosen to support them. I also miss another festival evening due to a friend’s birthday party – but it’s Woodstock themed so it’s going to be great! We will still collaborate again, we just don’t know when.

End of the Month Review – February

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It has been another great month, busy, busy, busy!
Some events were managed and some were missed, the same goes for written submissions. I had fun though and that’s the main thing. waffle

•Blogging
We have 638 followers – that’s 33 more followers, thanks to all of you who have joined this month.
I have left contact cards on my library display and look forward to seeing if we have any extra traffic on the back of those.

Projects

I have continued Jo Bell’s 52 – write a poem a week and just keep going – I missed posting on time this past week, but have since written the poem ready, there are a few people who post late, I will try not to do it again.

Jo Bell’s 52 – which you can join up for and/or dip into throughout the year. Many people I know have now taken up the challenge based on the great things they have heard.

Fancy writing weekly poems this year? Get involved HERE
•Submissions

Wenlock Poetry for Shop Displays

  • Published

I had a poem published online.
Writing

I have produced lots of new poems this month, the folder is filling up well.
Performing Poetry

I missed a lot of events this month for a variety of reasons, I managed about 2 a week though, so that’s still good going.

Word Up Birmingham

Sunday Xpress Birmingham

Diverse dancers Exhibition – Performing Dance Poetry on the Opening Night

Hit the Ode (the BIG ONE!) Birmingham

Poetry for Lunch – The Library of Birmingham

Mouth and Music – Kidderminster

Laura Yates was the headliner and I met and saw Lorna Meehan perform for the first time. Both these women are in Decadent Divas and I can’t wait for next month in Malvern, where they are all performing together.

Confab Cabaret Malvern

KAF Creatives Relaunch – Kidderminster – Gallery Exhibition – 6 performers AND beer tokens – my first gig where there was token payment.

Poets With Passion – Birmingham

I missed several events – Poetry Alight in Lichfield, where my friend Michelle Crosbie had her Debut performance as a headliner, alongside Jo Bell and Matt Merritt, due to distance and work.

I missed Drummonds 42 last Wednesday as that was the first night with our American relatives.

I missed Stanza as I was performing at Diverse Dancing that evening.

I missed Poetry Jam, due to tiredness.

I missed Buzzwords in Cheltenham due to weather, floods and closed roads.

I missed SpeakEasy in Worcester due to Mr G’s birthday.

I also attempted to learn poetry off by heart for my set at Hit the Ode – I discovered I am a Page Poet rather than a Stage Poet at the moment.
Events

Library Display of ‘The Fourth Wall’ for Local Arts Network

I also saw Cat Weatherill perform at a storytelling event, Hungry Hearts. It was a great night out.
•A Writing Life

My Writing West Midlands job started. I had my first day at being an Assistant Writer at The Hive in Worcester. It was great fun and something I am looking forward to building on.hive3

 

 

 

 

I also celebrated Valentine’s Day, Mr G’s birthday, my younger brother’s birthday and Mr G’s goddaughter’s birthday and I SOLD my apartment! I also got back into reading and managed about 3 books this month. Including – Jasmine Somers Makes Amends, by local writer Amy Rainbow. Look out for the review – COMING SOON.

Hungry Heart Storytelling

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Last night I missed Buzzwords in Cheltenham, after last month’s aqua-planing experience I decided not to risk the journey, ironically the weather was much better than before.

Then I had a surprise phone-call and was invited out. Over in a village that I used to live in, 11 of us met us to watch this performance of Hungry Heart, which was story-telling from Italy with a seductive edge by Europe’s leading performance story-teller and MC of Tell Me On A Sunday at the Ikon, Cat Weatherill. catweatherillcouk

It was a superb show and a great night. I was delighted to meet her after the show and talked to her about Tell Me On a Sunday. It is something I may try one day, watch this space!