SO: what’s next?

A week or so after the SO: To Speak festival ended, and I’ve had to time to ruminate on the various events, catch up on some sleep, and ask “what’s next?”. I don’t mean what or when the next festival will be, but rather what effects this one will have – who will be inspired, and what will they do? Obviously I can only write directly about my own experience, but some events stood out.

Firstly, Eric Ngalle Charles and his Refugee to Writer performances. His story is astonishing (as is his linguistic prowess), and is online if you want it – I’m certainly not going to paraphrase it here. One of the aspects that really grabbed me was how lucky I am not to have experienced anything like being trafficked, dumped in an unfamiliar country with neither contacts nor money, or been embroiled in the bureaucracy of immigration control (oh, how it’s all about control…). His words created a powerful parallel with those of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, and reminded me how the haters latch on to anything they can to dispute the reality of their plight – “they can’t be refugees, they’ve got phones”. Ugh. At the risk of writing about something I don’t know about first-hand, I was inspired to produce a piece entitled A word to the judgemental. The full version will land on a performance stage soon, but it begins

I can’t imagine what it’s like

to have my name

taken away and another

imposed upon me.

Second – the anti-slam. Yes, the anti-slam. Daft it might be (producing the worst poem and the worst performance you can), but there’s an element of craft and characterisation that had never quite clicked before. This time it did. There was laughter, there was pain, there was anticipation, especially with the host and judges being performers themselves, their personas integrated into the whole strange, strange thing. Hilarity ensued, and something in me went ‘ohhhhh, I see’. The upshot of this is that I have a new stage character and a new piece for when the anti-slam rolls round again, and I’m seeking out opportunities to develop the more theatrical aspects of my performance. Some have already begun, including plans to work with someone on ways to improve my memory (after a head injury, I have little verbatim memory), or integrate the difficulties I have into my work. Who knows where this will go, but I’m looking forward to it…

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