Saturday, 30 January 2016

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS - Cabaret, Sonnets and Workshops in London

It's been another whirlwind week or two here at poetry towers, with lots of trips down to That London, and loads of fun things coming up in February to look forward to as well!

So, on Saturday 23rd January, I popped down to London to take part in Cabaret of Cunts, a feminist performance festival in Limehouse.

The venue, Limehouse Town Hall, is an awesome dilapidated old council building, which is now used as a brilliant, if slightly spooky performance space. It's festooned with fairy-lights and has it's very own bar, plus it's really easier to get to from St Pancras station - what more could you want from a venue?

Limehouse Town Hall

Cabaret of Cunts is a one-off show, put together by the Pussy Patrons, an awesome female theatre troop from Queen Mary's University London.

The night was hosted by Elyssa Livergant AKA Polly Parton, beer-swilling, foul-mouthed and gamourous southern belle, and included brilliant performances from Tight Theatre, Molly & Jess, and Kate James Moore.

Tight Theatre are a group of women from Bristol, and their performance, PUSSY. Part dance, part physical theatre, PUSSY explores female sexuality in a witty and accessible way, while never shying away from the themes of shame and sexualisation. It's a fantastic piece, and I can't wait to see what they do next!

Tight Theatre performing PUSSY

Then we were treated to some feminist folk music, courtesy of Molly and Jess, whose beautiful harmonies and kick-ass lyrics left me feeling like I needed to pick up a banjo and get involved! There was also an intermission show from puppeteer Kate James Moore (Commedia Puppets) and her reworking of the story of Hamlet was a delight to behold. 

There were also short talks about Sisters Uncut, a group of activists who protest about austerity and its negative effect on women, people of colour and the trans community, as well as information on abortion rights in Ireland and Northern Ireland (Speaking for IMELDA).

After the interval it was time for the main event and the Pussy Patrons did not disappoint! The show was messy and raw and moving and hilarious, and the crowd loved every second of it. I won't spoil the show for you, but suffice to say that these ladies packed a helluva lot of thought-provoking information into their half hour show, as well as some ingenious uses for jam!

Photo by Liv Leopard

In fact, I had a fantastic time performing with all these inspiring and talented women, and you should definitely seek them all out wherever you can! And check out this awesome review of the night, courtesy of the very excellent Hattie Long.

After all that excitement (and getting a little bit lost on the tube on the way home) I was back in London the following week to do some poetry workshops with the year sevens at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Shepherd's Bush.

A friend of mine is a geography teacher there (elbow patches and all) and he somehow persuaded the librarian that I was the right person to teach eleven-year-old boys how to write poetry.

The ominous blank page

That being said, it was actually really good fun, doing poems with around a hundred boys over the course of the day. We looked at similes, metaphors and sense poems, and even though they all looked thoroughly confused when I asked them to describe their bedrooms 'using only smell and sound', they actually came up with some really great writing!

It was an incredibly long day, and though it was amazing fun, I now have a new-found respect for teachers, who do this kind of thing all day every day. I tip my hat to you, ladies and gentlemen!

This week, I'm excited because I'm going to the Whitworth Gallery at the University of Manchester to take part in Thursday Lates with the Quiet Compère, and a bunch of other brilliant northern poets! You'll get to see the likes of Kate Bendelow, Ken Evans, Kate Garrett-Nield, Simon Haworth, Hannah Mackay, Melanie Rees, copland smith, Anna Tuck, Reece Williams and Sarah L Dixon. And best of all: the whole thing is free!

We'll be performing from around 6:30pm to 9pm on Thursday 4th February, and it's going to be a really fun show! Check out the Thursday Lates website for more information.

28 Sonnets Later: Zombie Shakespeare

Finally this week, I'm looking forward to starting another round of 28 Sonnets Later, the sonnet-writing project where myself, Andy Bennett, Adam Warne and Russell J Turner write twenty-eight sonnets over the course of twenty-eight days in February. Only this year is a leap year, so we'll be writing twenty-nine.

It's our fifth anniversary at 28 Sonnets Later, and we're celebrating by filling February 2016 with some mega-awesome ekphrastic poems! After much thinking and list-making, we've chosen our favourite artworks and we're going to pick one at random each day to write about. So check out the website from Monday onwards for a sonnet-a-day, and check our twitter page for loads more sonnet-y goodness!

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