Tag Archives: spoken word

Baba Israel on creating The Spinning Wheel in memory of his late father

The Spinning Wheel - Brochure imageTheatre and Hip Hop artist Baba Israel is celebrating the life of his late father Steve Ben Israel, a New York jazz musician, stand-up comic, counter-cultural activist and member of the iconic Living Theatre, with an exciting international collaboration with Unfinished Business Artistic Director, Leo Kay. Combining spoken word, live music by Yako 440 and video by AlbinoMosquito, their dynamic show The Spinning Wheel is here this Saturday 22 November, 7.30pm. Baba Israel  answers some questions ahead of its only London performance:

Why were you inspired to make this show for your father?

Losing my father was very difficult and early on I knew that creativity would be an important part of the healing process. I did a poem for my father 8 days after he passed at his favorite jazz club smalls in the village with Omer Avital’s band. This was the first moment I started to dream about this show. I also made a promise to my father hours before he passed that I would carry on his creative legacy. I did not want his work to be lost and wanted to share it with new audiences. I felt that it was relevant and that there were people who did not encounter him who would dig his material. Another key inspiration was when I was Artistic Director of Contact in Manchester and I presented my collaborator Leo Kay’s show it’s like he’s knocking which dealt with the loss of his father. It has been important to have a co-creator who has worked with such personal material but also brought an objective eye. Leo also really challenged me to find a honest an open space as a performer and writer that I think makes the show deeper, richer, and more present for the audience.

What is the influence your father has had on your work?

My father introduced me to jazz and to improvisation. He also nurtured my love of poetry, humor, and bringing politics into art. I started going to my father’s shows at the age of 4 and was raised in the theatre world. I also witnessed his artistic interventions in the everyday world of parks and subways and as part of protests. He was committed to art as a medium to inspire change and to find utopian moments in the midst of the injustices of our modern world.

What do you think your father would think of The Spinning Wheel?

I think he would have dug it.. His intention was for people to leave his shows laughing, thinking, uplifted, and connected to what makes us human. So far we have been getting feedback from audiences that they are having similar reactions to The Spinning Wheel.

Are you excited about performing at the Albany? And why?

I am very excited! I have a lot of respect for the Albany and its engagement  with community and its diverse and rich program. It is also the first place Yako and I ever performed in London so it is special for us.

What do you hope London, and even Deptford, audiences will get from this production?

I hope that they will enjoy a personal story and enjoy learning about my father’s work and journey. I also hope that it will connect with their own experience of family  and of the need to stay engaged with making the world a better place to be. Plus there is some great music from Yako 440 and stand out visual work from Richard Ramchurn of AlbinoMosquito. Hope to see you there!

Baba Israel, Contact Manchester

Baba Israel hits the stage this Saturday 22 November, 7.30pm in The Spinning Wheel as part of EFG London Jazz Festival. For more information and to book, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Afrovibes Gets a Dose of Chill Pill

Afrovibes 2014 'REVIVALISTS'Only a week to go until Afrovibes, a festival celebrating South African culture, takes over Deptford with award-winning theatre, music and dance. As part of the festival, our associate company Chill Pill have headed to Amsterdam to work with the South African artists of The Revivalists, where they will sample sections from four well-known plays and transform them to make statements about their identities. The Revivalists will have its only UK performance with us on Friday 17 October, 7.30pm. Chill Pill poet Adam Kammerling lets us know how rehearsals are progressing in Amsterdam so far: 

What links Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, Euripides’ The Bacchae, Henry Ibsen’s The Enemy Of The People, Maria Stuart by Schiller and Shakespeare’s Othello? Answer on a postcard please.

Me and long time Chill Pill compadre, Stephanie Turner, are all up in Amsterdam working on a show called The Revivalists. It’s a theatre show that aims to find the answer to the above question. The Revivalists are a crew of incredible South African artists, all from different disciplines, reviving classic texts in their own styles, telling their personal stories through monologues in the aforementioned texts. A narrative has emerged organically over the process of development and the show is getting pretty epic.

The experience has been deep in a thousand ways for a thousand reasons. Firstly, theatre practice is SERIOUSLY different to the life of isolated key bashing/pen scratching that us poets inhabit. There’s more sweating. More dancing. More trusting.

Secondly, the vision of Maarten van Hinte and Marjorie Boston, and the current cast is huge. The span of themes being pulled in through the filter of these texts is amazing. The process of cyphering allows everything in to interact with everything else. If you have an idea, you realise it as fully as possible and then the group decides if and how it can play out in the entire piece. The process is a conversation of short works (and then actual conversations) between all the artists. It makes for the richest and most creative space I have ever worked in.Adam Kammerling

We rolled up to a fashion event on Sunday and ran a short extract of the piece. The other performers, who are mainly theatre makers, are all seriously amazing and we blew some unsuspecting minds. First full run is this weekend and we’ll be doing the show at the Albany on the 17th. We can’t wait.

Meanwhile, back in the land of London, the rest of the gang have sorted out some cracking acts for our parties in the Township Cafe during Afrovibes UK. Not to mention our Chill Pill show on the 16th, featuring South Africa’s own Toni Stuart and London Zulu. I am very excited.

Right. Back to rehearsals.

PEACE

Adam Kammerling, Poet, Chill Pill

Chill Pill will perform with The Revivalists artists throughout the week of Afrovibes festival at three different events: Chill Pill Plus… (Wednesday – Friday 17 October, 8.30pm), Chill Pill: Afrovibes (Thursday 16 October, 7.30pm) and The Revivalists (Friday 17 October, 7.30pm). 

For more information about Afrovibes and to book tickets, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Resident Organisation of the Month: Apples and Snakes

This month’s featured resident organisation is Apples and Snakes, the leading organisation for performance poetry in England, with a national reputation for producing exciting and innovative participatory and performance work. By working with highly creative individuals across the country, Apples and Snakes seeks to nurture, support, and create opportunities for emerging talent and push the boundaries of the art form, artists, and audiences.

Founded in 1982 by a group of poets, Apples and Snakes sought to create more opportunities for performance poetry and be the voice of those who have been marginalised and disenfranchised. In 2002, the organisation made the transition to a national organisation and currently has programme co-ordinators in London, the North East, the South East, the South West, and the West Midlands.

Apples and Snakes’ programming has included incredible performances such as Jawdance, a poetry open mic night, and My Deptford, a celebration of the diversity and culture of Deptford at the Southbank Centre. Their upcoming production, Telling Tales, featuring award-winning UK poet Patience Agbabi, is a re-imagining of Chaucer’s masterpiece The Canterbury Tales. Renaissance One recently sat down with Patience to discuss it:

What 3 words would you say best describe you?

Imaginative, impatient, impassioned.

Tell us a little about your new book Telling Tales.

It’s a modern version of The Canterbury Tales, each story told by a unique character from ladette to ‘ladies’ man’.

You’ll also be touring Telling Tales;  what kinds of events are you going to do and what do you enjoy most about spoken word?

I’ll be doing two kinds of events: arts centres with blatant sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and cathedrals, with covert sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.  Spoken word can connect on lots of different levels, much more than a traditional reading. The words fly straight from the mouth to the heart of the audience with no page in between. That’s the beauty of spoken word.

Which artists have influenced you the most and why?

George Szirtes, Michael Donaghy and Paul Muldoon for form; Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage for half-rhymes and accessibility; Jackie Kay for monologues and Black British perspective; Pascale Petite for imagery; Sharon Olds for honesty and reinventing the poetic line…and that’s judge the living poets. To answer this question in 20 words is impossible. There are times when form really does overconstrict a writer.

What’s an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a creator and performer?

If it works on the page, it will work on the stage. If I believe in the writing it fuels the performance.

What are you most passionate about? (doing/achieving/working)

Inspiring young people and enabling women to reach their full potential through my writing.

Where would you say your style of performing comes from?

It comes directly from the poem, knowing it off by heart and performing straight from the heart.

What creative masterpiece do you wish you had written? and why?

I’ve just written it.

Does current affairs or popular culture influence your writing and performing, and if so, in what way(s)?

The recession has permeated my recent work; and a huge range of music, film and visual art. It makes the writing richer, multi-dimensional.

 Tell us about an upcoming project that excites you, and how we can find out more about it.

I’m working with The Full English on a Chaucer Teaching Pack, to enable The Canterbury Tales to feature more widely on the curriculum. I got properly into writing poetry studying The General Prologue and the Pardoner’s Tale for A’ Level. I’ve always enjoyed narrative poetry headed by a strong character.

What’s your experience been of making inroads in the spoken word and/or music industry?

Living in a large city helps!  Pre-internet, when I was starting out, I attended loads of live events in London because it was exciting and I wanted a context for my own work. Even now, you can’t beat networking face to face.

Patience Agababi image

Telling Tales is here for one performance only on Wednesday 21 May, 8pm. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

Megan Bommarito, Marketing Intern, The Albany

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘Buildings are more than bricks’: Chill Pill on the fate of Glasgow’s Red Road Flats

Chill Pill are in residence at the Guardian, and this week poet Adam Kammerling wrote a touching spoken word response to the plans to demolish Glasgow’s Red Road flats live on television as part of the Commonwealth Games. With backlash over people’s homes and history being publicly demolished in such a spectacle, Adam brings a poignant perspective for the second instalment of Chill Pill’s Guardian takeover. Click on the image below to have a watch:

Image

Chill Pill will be hosting and performing at Chill Pill: The Big One at the Albany on 24 April. For more information and tickets, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘Unplug the unnecessary’: Chill Pill’s Response to Earth Hour

Simon Mole and Mr Gee of Chill Pill created a spoken word response to Earth Hour, which appeared on The Guardian website today. The poem is inspired by news stories about the UN warning over the world’s food supplies and how lights were switched off at famous landmarks in cities around the world for Earth Hour.  Click on the image below to have a watch: 

chillpill

Chill Pill will be hosting and performing at Chill Pill: The Big One at the Albany on 24 April. For more information and tickets, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Deanna Rodger’s ‘London Matter’ Is About to Hatch!

This Friday, celebrated spoken word artist and Chill Pill co-founder Deanna Rodger returns to the Albany as part of Hatched, our programme for supporting artists’ development. She will be presenting her first ever full-length theatre piece ‘London Matter’ this Friday, 7 March at 7pm, which explores the relationship between love and darkness, and ultimately aims to answer the question “why aren’t London’s lights ever switched off?”.

Deanna Rodger

Leading up to the one-night show, we sat down to ask her some questions of our own:

What was your first experience with spoken word?

Attending a workshop at Lyric Hammersmith in January 2007 and seeing Dean Atta and Joseph Coelho perform.

What inspired you to pose the question about London’s lights never switching off?

I was walking around at night a lot in summer 2012, going out and trying to shake myself from myself and I couldn’t. I couldn’t escape seeing myself. I wanted everything to switch off so that I could disappear. I wanted to become part of the universe. It got me thinking about how we connect with other people and how we trust.  I had called quits on a relationship, it was an emotional time.

What do you hope the audience will take out from this performance?

I hope that the story is clear.. There’s loads that I’ve put into this and this sharing will really be about the narrative. And really cool lighting, thanks to Ben! [Ben Wallace, our Technical Manager]

When you are conceiving a new piece, is there a method to your writing?

Madness! And acceptance of all the rubbish that comes with writing every little thing in my head.

If you could meet anyone throughout history, living or dead, who would it be? And most importantly what would you ask them?

Hmm, the first human to ever be in existence though I’m not sure that means I could ask them anything. I think I would like to ask the Queen what she thinks of homelessness in the 21st century.

Find out more about Deanna Rodger’s ‘London Matter’ and book tickets here. As tickets are now limited, you can also see Deanna in Chill Pill Big One on Thursday, 24 April at 7:30pm. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Would You Pay £65k a Month to Live Here?

Chill Pill Poets Simon Mole and Adam Kammerling ponder Metro’s article about Britain’s most expensive rental property. This is the Headline Poem from the Chill Pill event at the Albany, 20 February 2014.

Leave a comment

February 21, 2014 · 10:44 am