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Multi-Award Winning Writer Director Choreopoet, Performer music,poetry publisher, composer,multi-media artist, journalist, blogger, creative visionary arts, cultural activist, sojourner, urban griot,chamelon dreamer

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hybrid Language & Sexuality - A Valuable Literary Week in Leicester

I have had a marvellous week in Leicester, in the company of two exquisite novelists , Kerry Young from Leicester discussing her Costa nominated book Pao published by Bloomsbury . Rozena Maart from SA, her book Rosa's District Six - published by Tsar. With Kerry I questioned her at an event she was leading, at De Montfort University Cultural Exchanges, about the hybrid language and voice of her main character , a Jamaican Chinese man living in post war Jamaica, as well editorial processes and the desire to write in the first place. She explained her need to evoke the music of Jamaican Patwa and yet make it readable, for a mainstream market. A formidable achievement and I can confirm this from my early reading of her book. This being of interest to me as I am creating language and voice for my diva character Solitaire, who is from Leicester using Jamaican Patwa, peppered with other street argot. Kerry, explains, the editorial processes were valuable, if challenging and she goes on to say, after her academic and social policy achievements, she had always wanted to write a novel and be published by a prestigious publisher . Her route to being published is telling , in that she was linked via a Black Women's Group of Novelists in London. To the UK's first Black woman Literary Agent and was her very first client - well the rest they say is herstory....We have agreed to keep in touch, both being Members of the Society of Authors !

Rozena Maart dined heartily on soul food (ground nut chicken stew with smoked shrimp rice -mmm...delicious) at my house , and shared fascinating stories of her life in SA during and after Apartheid. Her utter disbelief , when she is often confronted on her travels in academic circles , with attitudes that negate a sexual life of oppressed Black people, during liberation struggles . As well as her humor, in relating wonderful, often amusing family stories in South Africa . Touching also, on some of the exciting poets and artists in SA. e.g Lebo Mashile. Together with the linguistic adaptions of her multi-ethnic , multi tribal, Gender Studies Students at Kwazulu Natal University - where she is the Head of the Department . Her book in particular, charts the pernicious racist context of the apartheid era , yet affirms , the strength of women in families , the community connectedness and their sexual exploits ! We also discussed theatre , in particular the work of Augustos Baol Theatre of the Oppressed ) and Antoin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty . The following day , as the headliner Rozena read selected extracts from her novel , that intimately described day to day lives of Black women in District 6 SA. A culturally rich busy, former slave quarter area very poor , where later its people were forcibly removed from . This reading was at the increasingly popular, monthly Pinggg...k! -billed as the Metro Sexuality of Verse . A Poetry Spoken Word Night, hosted by poet Bubba aka Dr Robert Bennett , that is warm friendly, quite alternative, based at the Red Tent (named after the best seller book !) Leicester. The energy and commitment these two writers displayed in their writing and the subjects, they felt passionate about - I found it wholly inspiring . It has invigorated my own thinking and approach, to my own writing in myriad ways.
Simply... wonderful !!!!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Divas Deaths & Show Business 80% Business 20% Show..?.

In year or so , that has seen Vesta Williams, Amy Winehouse and most recently Whitney Houston -unwind from this mortal coil . In Whitney Houston's case in particular I have just commented , publicly to highlight and acknowledge the family's turmoil and the struggles that Divas can face in the music industry hidden from public view -i.e. when not on show. This was done via a phone link on a local BBC radio programme. It therefore , seemed timely to mark , to observe - some ordinary peoples , the media and the music businesses' responses to these sad events. On the one hand it seems to me, there is the heightened personal grief , of family and friends experienced in the harsh glare etc of the world's media. On the other, the public's natural reaction, of wanting to express their own responses , to these seemingly untimely deaths, 'amplified' via the internet and media. Leading inevitably to a rise in demand for an artists music . From which , in an unseemly manner, the music industry, rather too brusquely, seeks to make its profit.

Whilst the artist's families numbed shocked and grief stricken, contend with the difficult task of the care and funerals of their loved ones. The music industry machine grinds on regardless, to capture the money . Whereas, a natural (it seems to me ! ) dignified period of respectful privacy and compassionate contemplation. Would result in time, in a considered reflection of the artist and their gift to the world , is not even considered, by these music industry companies. It would appear Divas in a sense, are the 'property of the company' at all times, even more so in death. So business as usual...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

People Weep, Branded Now - Back to 'Wood Shedding'

On the 20th of January a really important milestone was reached !!! It has took till now to process the whole experience properly. With the huge push towards the sharing of the work in progress, at a prestigious theatre studio space, in front of a 50+ specially invited audience. The audience included the pros, Dramaturge, Director, Producer, Literary other Theatre /Performing Arts practitioners etc. Alongside Board members of the project , arts partners for the the project and Cultural Olympiad. Importantly also Community Ensemble cast (filmed), friends and colleagues. A great audience overall !! Some people wept in reponse to the performance (I spoke with them after), words used by those who saw it were; 'powerful' , 'raw ' ' great use of the Leicester idiom' 'I get the diva Solitiaire' etc. All this very gratifying and much appreciated by me . I still wait to review the full video footage of the lively Q & A at the end of the sharing, to analyze further . But I received direct feedback too, after the performance, one to one from audience members, as well some text and internet messages.

We presented the script in hand sharing/work in progress, all the elements and components of the piece, in the 30mins allotted, stage complete with three screens (large back screen , 2 smaller ones stage left and right ) for digital visuals. Starting with a dynamic moving digital visuals montage, featuring edits of all the digital visuals . Featuring all the characters of the piece with some potent House music I composed by way of soundscape. After this an exposition of the choreography of the main character Solitaire with a rhythmic soundscape. Swiftly after this , into 10 mins of dramatic monologue , with moving digital visuals woven in. Afterwards there followed a sequence of the 'Shadow Woman character's choreography on video. Finally, the main character Solitaire choreography onstage , combined with digital interactivity (MXP) projected on the large back screen. The Q& A followed straight after . (see above).

I am pleased three key objectives were achieved: to show what a choreopoem is and receive a favorable response, recruit ambassadors for new audience development (to get people to book their tickets soon), show and get positive feedback from all our arts partners. Additionally, the the theatre confirmed our performance dates 21/22nd 2012 June Curve Theatre. Fortunately, we have now we received formal approval to use the Cultural Olympiad Brand logo (no simple process this achieved with good partnership) for all our marketing . With our new Student Intern on now board for marketing purposes - GREAT STUFF !

Yesterday the Creative Team and myself viewed footage of the performance a positive and constructive excercise. There are some fairly great dramatic photographs also. In the light of all the feedback we had at that point, we made notes and discussed the piece , what areas could be further strengthened and what were the positives e.g the technology working well etc , audience response etc A key factor, is to now draw up a more intense writing performance rehearsal program for me . To divest myself of other roles, producer, director. etc. To defer the need for the technical rehearsals at a later date i.e. operator . So for me it is time for 'wood shedding' - a term I learnt form from Black jazz musicians meaning to detach and persistently rehearse fundamentals, to build to full mastery for performance. All of the above people agreed that all things taken into consideration, all bodes very well indeed for the final performance