When Apples and Snakes Poetry Organisation invited me to run a masterclass session of the writer/performer relationship, I was excited about flexing this muscle again after some time. What was meant to be a two hour sesssion turned in to four hour of exchange. Directors gained a deeper insight on how to listen to the needs and vision of the writer. Writer-performers learned how to engage more deeply with the creative process of the director, while both worked together empowered the performer inside the writer. At the focus was honouring the potency of the story. It was most enjoyable. And the fact that the session ran two hours over the designated time, the group reaffirmed the value of this a dialogue around this layered and fruitful relationship. Performing poets, writer-actors and directors keep an eye out for this course over the next few months. Coming to a venue near you.
Click for more info on WPD
“Power Plant” is a series of free poetry masterclasses delivered by established pracitioners, designed to cover every facet of life as a performance poet, from writing and performance techniques to the intricacies of successful freelancing. It does not matter how experienced you are: whether you’re new, emerging, or a household name, if you’re seriously considering a further career in spoken word, the Power Plant is for you. Plug into the grid!
The monthly sessions can be booked through the mac Birmingham website – although they are free of charge, places are strictly limited, so reserve yours early to avoid disappointment.
This session is led by Zena Edwards and is on ‘Writer/Producer/Director Relationship’.
When: Saturday 2 March, 2pm
Where: mac Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH
<The creative work I do with young people is some of the most rejuvenating and rewarding parts of my job. So when Arts Award asked to to write about why I do it for their website, I was more than happy to.
CLICK TO GO THE ARTS AWARD WEBSITE AND ARTICLE
I have been a core project consultant and deviser of Platform London’s Youth Project, ‘Shake!’, and finally the time has come for it’s delivery. Shake! has been in development since it’s pilot 2010 and successfully received two years funding thanks to the hard work of Jane Trowell at Platform. I spent a day with the rest of the Shake! team creating the courses curriculum.
I have to say, I’m very excited about delivering this program. Lot’s of interactive learning through creative writing, film making online graphic design…and it’s brilliant that in such hard times, so much can be offered for free. We have a great team – Ed Lewis (Demand the Impossible), Farzana Khan, Simon Murray and Derek Richards from Hi8us Films South. Plus the Platform London team who are offering all kinds of support, information, research and delivery tips that are invaluable. It’s going to be an amazing year for Shake!
The first Shake! intensive course is free and runs from 18th February – 22nd Feb. The continuity workshops and mentoring through to Shake’s summer intensive course. Dates to be confirmed.
I have stayed away from Facebook over the last few months because it had nothing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my true friends on there and have love for acquaintances, and I like to stay in the loop about the vibrant city I live in called London. But my own purpose as an artist and thinking person seemed to be open to constant interrogation. Not troll-age (made up word) or criticism but a unpicking of my intentions. I like to think I don’t take these things too seriously but it was wearing on my nerves more than anything. FB used to be place I could go to for debate and info-tussles, intellectual horn-locking and splurges of frivolous merriment. It now seems to be a place where FBers can exercise their anxiety at the paradigm shift the planet is going through. I watched people become more conservative and bigoted. Those who were normally outspoken become more timid, posting flowers and fluffy inspirational quotes that are from others and not from themselves anymore. I’ve also observed others step up their game with more defiant, revolutionary quotes. Its a fascinating, ongoing. The UK summer riots 2011 illuminated the beginning of this tide turning, for us in the Britain anyway, and was a sure marker that the Con-Dem governments austerity measures had kicked in and people were starting to wriggle in the tight squeeze they’d been cornered into. Everyone.
I have used Facebook also as an artist who wants to have more than the performance persona that audiences latch on to - to have a human face that questions, fails, triumphs, thinks and chooses to engage deeply with the world. I now understand why artists have publicity managers to do that. It becomes a minefield. Its as if we are not encouraged to put our real selves out in the cyber world because, the double edged sword of it is that an audience will love the parts they want to love and discard, even scorn the rest. That’s a human survival instinct to stop us eating poison berries and taken in and being injured by those with less than good intentions. I hear and respect that. But I love that as humans with the ability to reason, to take risks and override instinct, to listen to our intuition, our higher consciousness, we hope to develop the muscle of discernment to permit only goodness and creativity into our lives and communities.
So I was prompted to write this post on FB. A sort of assertive artists confessional as well as 2013 well wishing and I wish the final sentiments to all. Happy New Year.
“I wanted to ask a random question as we go into the new year.
My FB page is multi-dimensional. I pose many questions, I resolve myself to pumping out positivity and sharing information, I also take plenty of risks posting articles to unsettle (not upsetting till it falls over) the applecart just to spice things up a little. Often posts are challenged and challenging (all good). A couple of times I’ve posted and been called out for being taken in by a hoax. Not taken in so much as being open to possibilities in a virtual world full of deceptions, counter-truths and alternative narratives. This neither makes me a fool or a conspiracy theorist just an inquisitive individual – like many we all know – who believe in ’cause and effect’ and the power of the mind to overcome through creativity; who uses both concepts to flex the thinking muscle and re-imagine a world existing in Unity, Greatness and Integrity, where BS and tyranny can be the predominant order of the day. We all want to get the truth of things or to one of the many truths we can be comfortable with.
So many of us got squeezed by the recession, infuriated by flabby UK government policy, wrung out and inspired by the Olympics, appalled by the Gaza conflict, p-ed off by the BBC and the Saville incident, baffled by the Leveson inquiry, oppressed by the media inundation of the US presidential election – so many other small and irritating, huge and life-changing, stress-making, anger-inducing incidents that affect us directly, that outrage us, that often make us feel we can have no direct effect upon them. Thank God, or whoever…or not, but give thanks for friends, family (food) and understanding colleagues who make these bleak but changing times warm and bearable as we aaaall feel the squeeze and moments of occasional despair and paralysis.
So the world didn’t end the other day (obviously ) or maybe not as we know it… ok…..and we constantly look for new solutions to live happily in a climate designed to make that a difficult thing to do. This is when I refer and get inspired by to the first few articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a north star. The integrity of its words are potent even if governments in half the countries of the world blatantly blank it like a school bully cutting his/her eye at the school head:- http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
Now to the random question: What would you say to your everyday citizen who inside themselves wants to resist an oppressive status quo through small ways, when s/he can, who chooses to persist, even in the tiniest of ways, until something happens? Who is your silent inner revolutionary? What would s/he say to the end of a rollarcoaster 2012? How do you greet 2013? Head and dukes up? With arms wide open to hug it into submission? Mind and intellect ready to take in and take on the information age with new flexibility? All are kind of appealing…
I guess this post is more of a processing, and sharing of a process rather than a random question… But please, do your thing in the comments box if you feel to…
I just want to wish everyone a Bright, Fruitful, Safe, Inspired and Inspiring, Full of Warmth, Love and flashes of Sheer Excellent Living 2013. We deserve it.
Peace, Light, Love
As a poet who is used to standing behind a mic, manipulating my voice and being a little physically animated, I took the plunge to write a full length one woman show. The difference between the focus needed for a 10-20 minute set at a spoken word night and an hour and ten minute theatre piece are two completely different things. The transition was an intense process. The energy to fill a theatre stage or blackbox studio space is not the same AT ALL as maintaining attention in busy bar. I discovered that mental and physical stamina is a major issue. Also having an outside eye is crucial because as a poet, I can write and poetise for days but where is the story going? Are the characters clear? Does the narrative make sense? I needed a director. But matching a director to a performing poet was not going to be easy. I met and workshopped with 4!
I’d spoken to a few of my peer poets friends and they informed that they too had found the process difficult. Poets can be internal people, conjuring worlds in their heads that they translate into the word. Dancers will dance. Painters paint and sculptors sculpt. But how do poets who want to turn their imaginary worlds into extended performance pieces communicate them to a director? And how does a director receive and translate that information in rehearsal to the full performance? With further investigation I worked out that a bridge of communication of ideas needed to be worked out. There’s a dynamic 3 Way relationship between the writer, the performer and the director that can become a tangle of objectives if the lines of communication are not established early in on in the rehearsal period.
Back in 2007, theatre director Anthony Shrubsall and I were brought together by sheer fate – a friend of a friend of a friend…. I had been looking for a director for my debut one woman show, “Security”, for 6 months and had developed it with the help of producer, Talita Moffatt and director Mike Kirchner to a level that was great, but I felt the journey for the show was not quite unfinished. I knew that the decision to have a stage set (endorsed by me) was obscuring some valuable exploration of myself as a performer and stunting the growth of the rich characters in the script. The show was written in monologue, spoken word, song and movement and set in a cafe. With tables and chairs to manoeuvre around, the flow of the action on stage felt stilted and my line delivery was good but inside, felt stuttered. I needed a fresh approach.
The first thing that I appreciated about working with Anthony was his capacity to really listen to the writer part of me – she (the writer) had a lot to say about themes within the show, which Continue reading
Today, I want to write about the South Africa I love. Not about Malema and Zuma, the travesty of the ANC legacy post-Apartheid or the shocking images of Platinum Miners in South Africa mown down by security forces (warning: graphic video) last week.
I want to write about the South Africa that has so much to offer in terms of its Spirit and I feel this will be the first of a series of posts about it.
Since I saw this horrifying raw piece of footage, I have pulled out all my music, novels and poetry collections to remind me of why SA is still a life changing place to visit.
My personal connection to South Africa is linked to something ethereal. I think. South Africa was my first visit to the African Continent in October 1994, just after the abolition of Apartheid and inauguration of Mandela. My returns since have been connected to the most important thing that has influenced me as a human being and that is the country’s passion of Creativity – turning the Struggle, concepts of Freedom and Liberation into breath-taking Art, Music and Theatre and Dance. I will always be grateful to Pops Mohamed, Busi Mhlongo, Moses Molelekwa, Madala Kunene, Bheki Mseleku, the Xhosa Singers of Lady Frere, Dizu Plaatjies, Kheti, Thandiswa, Zim Ngqawana, and Vusi Khumalo for the music they have given me.
Recently, I was asked by the Kassiani Lythrangomitis from the South African Tourist Board for an interview about my life as an artist and my relationship to SA. Below is the podcast.
In 1998, I was on tour with Pops Mohamed and the NGQOKO Women’s Cultural Group of Lady Frere – from the Ngqoko Village in the Eastern Cape. This choir is one of the last practitioners of the Umngqokolo (overtone) singing – an ambient trance song that made my hair stand on end, stirring the spirit in my very bones. I remember our tour to Zurich, Germany, Paris…. My mind was so alert as I was taught how to play Umgube (mouthbow) and some of their deep-rooted traditional songs whilst riding the tour bus. These Women knew how to party. One prominent memory of this tour was shopping in Paris. Parisiens stared as they walked through the chilly moist streets near Monmartre in layers of blankets, beads and headwraps and I was flipping mental somersaults speaking in broken french to market vendors translating their utterances into my even more scanty Xhosa to help the ladies get the right sized clothing for their children. But it worked. My brain was so alert. It was a time and tour I will never forget.
One of the other highlights of my SA connections in poetry and music was recording with the late, great Busi Mhlongo – one of the most powerful women I have met. She was a giant on stage. In 2000, still very early in my poetry writing career, I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute a poem to her internationally acclaimed album, Urbanzulu.
The track itself is epic and seemed to call for an epic poem – one that was declamatory and rousing.
To be continued…