Up and About

March 25, 2007

Hello again, time for a Lydia trying to sort her head out post.

I’ve been up and about performing – much more than I would normally. I guess it’s because I’m trying to take all this poetry malarky a bit more seriously. Performing makes me appraise my work much more critically and lets me know whether something actually connects with it’s audience. So, it’s good for upping the quality of what I’m producing. Of course – this sometimes means finding out the hard way whether something works – and isn’t always pleasant…

Last week I read in Nottingham, at a kind of bear pit of a venue, with no mic and lots of jolly, up for it people. I’ve read at this particular night before (about a year ago) and completely bombed. It was a slam and I lost control of the audience. I was too quiet and too nervous and they descended into a hoo-graa of a self entertainment. However, this time, the up-for-it-ness of the audience worked in my favour. They responded to the content of what I was reading and this helped me get with the comic timing.

So, fresh from the positive experience, this weekend I did a gig at Leicester Uni. I read the same Nottingham -crowd-on-side piece…and it bombed. I tried a follow up piece to it-and that bombed even more. When I went to finish on a final piece-I clocked the organiser weaving her way to the front to get me off!

Now, I’m not the most experienced of giggers. I have friends who make their living doing this and have 100’s on the clock..but still, I have a feeling that this type of gig will not be for me. Reasons:

1. The exclusively student crowd were there to get drunk, not listen to poetry. Other acts were music based. When it came to the poetry they appeared to be mildly confused.

2. The direction was hazy. Partly my fault, for not clarifying, but partly not. No time limit for reading was specified. So, when I did what I thought was reasonable..3 shortish poems, I didn’t expect the indignity of being ushered off! Luckily this was narrowly avoided as I began the third with an ‘and to finish’ nod, which seemed to give the organiser some kind of clue. Still…when, someone else (apparently a friend of the organiser) did approximately 6-7 poems…with NO gentle ushering from the organiser…I did get kind of irritated.

3. The P.A system was shite. The venue was shite. You couldn’t hear yourself properly on the mic and the space was so sprawling you couldn’t make decent eye contact with the audience. Hell, you couldn’t even SEE the audience.

No. It was not a great gig. Having said that, I’m really glad I did it. From the two very different reactions to my first piece (Fury) I’m not sure whether to persist with it or not…but when it comes to the follow up piece (Solomon’s Child) I think I’ve learnt enough to shelve it. Yes, it bombed-but I didn’t enjoy hearing myself read it either! When it comes to the third piece (Down the Phoneline) performing at the uni gig, also made me think. This, a more serious piece got a better reaction.

So, I learnt alot. Mainly that I need to get a proper set sorted out – and I need to stop trying to write ‘funny’ crowd pleasers.  I have a very successful friend who does whoop, whoop, furiously funny stuff. He could bring a corpse to the brink of hysteria. I could not. But perhaps there are other ways to build intensity and draw an audience in. Lets hope so!

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One Response to “Up and About”

  1. Good for you for getting out there and braving the elements.

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