I guess the stage doesn’t really matter… What we had today was a sort of marquee this morning, as such we weren’t really elevated above the audience. But this is good. Very Tony Abbott-esque. There was a second hand book sale going on too, right behind the audience seating. This was good. Everything is good.
I came up with the Writers: on stage branding last year. The Booranga Writers’ Centre received a grant from WWCC to run some performance poetry workshops. Out of this, the Booranga Spoken Word Group is formed. It consists of David Gilbey, Harata Syme, Jo Wilson-Ridley, and myself. Our aim is to work on aspects of performance, but also to get gigs, to perform alongside other experienced writers. Our first performance in Wagga earlier this year featured the amazing David Finnigan. Our second performance – it just happened, a few hours ago – was here in Albury and featured the equally amazing Nathan Curnow.
Jo Wilson-Ridley kicked things off for us Booranga folk. Her performance was assured, giving me some satisfaction that the work we’ve put in (plus the countless hours of memorising work Jo has done alone) has shown some results. Her work was as always entertaining, with a focus on domestic satire, but I’ve really noticed an increased confidence in her presentation. Hey, hard work does give some results people.
David Gilbey, ever-assured poet and raconteur (and until quite recently a senior English Lecturer at Charles Sturt University), took us on a journey to Japan with his poems. I know David has a close connection with the place, and often feels most comfortable when he can recreate the feeling of being there. His work without doubt gives a sense of this connection to the audience.
Harata Syme performed one longer piece for us today. Her work tends to focus on the pursuit of power and knowledge, the relevance of action to contemporary culture, but it is also her delivery that blows me away every time. A hip-performer as well as spoken word performer, Harata creates intensity simply (at least it seems simple), with her rhythms and tone.
I was the penultimate performer. It’s hard to assess your own performance, but hey, what the hell, I think it went okay. A public reveal is always a good thing, and so yes, I did have a couple of those ‘moments’. When you perform from memory, your worst enemy is the pause. The key is to make it feel deliberate, utilised for a reason. I think I got away with it. My last piece (if you know me, you know I am obsessed with my fictional life as a ballet dancer) went particularly well. The crescendo effect to end things. Another highlight was my daughter wandering on stage to have a little chat (while I rambled on about having a ‘microwave instead of a head’).
What needs to be said about Nathan Curnow? He is, there could be little argument, a seasoned performer. He’s been working the Melbourne scene for years. We have to give him this (even if his blogging skills leave a little to be desired…) I was particularly pleased to be able to hear Nathan do his piece inspired by Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, which he wrote for Liner Notes. We love Nathan. The crowd loves Nathan. I only hope he might do some kind of ‘impromptu’ performance tonight at the festival dinner…