A week in words

Posted on April 6, 2014 by Basement

Last week I was on about dance and theatre and how I think performance that is not dependent on words is important to the theatrical community, and then this week I saw performances that were all about words…

I hope that those reading this also had a chance to check out The Basement’s Spoken Word Fest, or at least The Watercooler (held monthly). I was able to see some of both, and what I saw left me with a lot of thoughts to sort through and figure out how to articulate in my little blog.

I interviewed The Watercooler’s organiser and host, Sarah Finnigan-Walsh and Oliver Quincy Page, about a week ago. I went to the interview with an observation and a thesis of sorts in mind. I wanted to know why Sarah and Oliver think people are drawn to the simplicity of The Watercooler, and I wanted to know if they think it’s a fad hyped by a certain social group of people.

Sarah and Oliver reflected that storytelling as a genre of event seems to attract people who are open minded, who crave intimate truths and engagement with the stories of ordinary people.

Which then led me to theorize that story telling for the theatre lovers is like our own down to earth version of reality TV. We exist in a society that, thanks to MTV, has spent over a decade choosing “a day in the life” style programming over sitcoms, and until dramas recently stepped up their game (Game of Thrones starts tonight!) it was reality shows that dominated in dorm rooms and flats.

Which makes me feel like we (the theatre crowd) are in an opposite pattern of development. The last ten years have seen the birth and rebirth of mammoth stage dramas, but recently I have noticed a trending burst of theatre venues hosting storytellers, and the stories aren’t about Kardashian-esque mis-adventures, but about the use of pharmaceuticals, possibly disappointed but supportive parents, propensities towards avoidance, and arch-nemeses called Emma.

Personally, I feel rather positive about the trend and the fact that it isn’t only David Sedaris that can have an audience now, but also my librarian, barista, and weird cat-collecting neighbour.

Another highlight of my week was seeing Real Fake White Dirt. I have decided that I can’t blog on this as honestly and openly as I might want to, because all of my thoughts from Jess Holly Bates’ work went to the political side of things and also caused me to spend several hours wrestling with myself on how I feel about the subject of “identity.”

However, that is the very reason I think spoken word is so important and, in my opinion, successful. Spoken word artists are powerful in the way that they utilise words to articulate their own experiences, opinions, and social observations.

Bates, caused me to take another look and spend some time trying to determine how I think and feel about a subject/topic and there were no technical aspects, design choices, or plot lines to provide me with distraction from the sometimes-uncomfortable things that she had to say.

My thoughts last week were “A Little Less Talk….” But this week I have to say that while I might personally feel somewhat overwhelmed when my theatrical experiences are a bit word heavy, this week I found my self enriched by what everyone had to say.