Sunday, May 5, 2013

Making Sense

On Saturday 3 May, I performed as part of Sense at the Nishi Gallery in New Acton, a well-curated 'audio journey' from spoken word through classical and jazz to 'intelligent dance music'. The largest drawcard was Max Cooper, a British electronica producer. Sense introduced me to Cooper and I have since become a serious fan. I recommend you listen to Synesthetes Museum, which includes a thoughful spoken word piece in the mix (from around the 55th minute).

Rosie Stevens plays cello on 'Manifesto'
Photo: Adam Thomas
For my set, I linked together four poems into Making Sense, which was very similar to other shows I have done recently. It builds on the themes of questioning my motivations and trying to discover my subtexts (a fruitless process, trust me, but hopefully one that is interesting to the audience).

More importantly, though, I achieved a first and was able to check off one item on my 2013 to-do list.* Rosanna Beatrice Stevens accompanied me on two pieces, on the cello and the piano. Rosie is a talented musician, writer and all-round artsy person.^

I gave Rosie recorded versions of two of my poems: 'Manifesto' and 'The Sound of a Fish Jumping'. She composed music to fit the words, pace and tone of the pieces. I think she did a brilliant job, taking the words to something that was more rounded and fuller.

Tapping out the fags of our white-hot wit
Photo: Adam Thomas
The addition of music had some strange effects on my poems and my performance. The emotions I felt through different passages changed slightly as the music played behind me. Sometimes, I could build on the sounds, riding the rhythms Rosie played - for example, during the 'pash' sequence in 'Fish Jumping'. At other times, I wanted to portray a different, but complementary feeling to what I was hearing in the music. This was tricky, such as when I was trying to go for a resigned, despairing reading while fighting the urge to tap my foot.

But with a few rehearsals and a musician who read my performance very well, the end result was a show I was very happy with.

The set list (with links only to the words at this stage, unfortunately):


* Make that half an item. I performed with a musician, but we have not yet recorded those poems. Don't worry, we plan to do that later this year. It was too good an experience not to capture it audibly.

^ Rosie is part of the creative team behind Scissors Paper Pen, a words-based event-producing collective in Canberra. She blogs here.

1 comment:

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