Directing Poetry Theatre

So my friend Spoz told me about this idea he’d had knocking around since a poetry trip to Chicago where they got asked to write poetry about your city. This prompted me to write my own and before you know it, poets we knew were coincidentally coming out with Birmingham poems. That’s when you know you’ve tapped into something!
So we got our funding and  ‘Ten Letters’ is happening and I’m seriously impressed by the writing that our fantastically talented group of poets have come up with so far. The poetry isn’t always celebratory, its challenging, topical, subversive, nostalgic, playful and breath-taking, all the things a city can encapsulate. This idea of a physical city being personified through words is something that each poet has tapped into in their own way and the combination of these poets on stage promises to be an electrifying experience.
It also marks my début as a poetry theatre director. Having either directed theatre or self directed my own poetry work, it’s going to be an interesting and challenging experience directing a group of poets, some of whom have acting experience, others who don’t, but all of them can communicate their work to the audience so in this sense, half the work is already done.
As an actor who fell into performance poetry, I feel like I’ve always been working towards a way of fusing poetry with more theatrical elements, that hazy place where a poem essentially becomes a narrative and the poet a storyteller. I think the boundaries of poetry theatre need to be stretched in a different way for each individual piece and in this sense there are no rules, but there needs to be balance and structure. So as we gear up to our intensive rehearsal period in July, I look forward to going on a journey out of my comfort zone with a talented group of people to reflect our experience of our city to an audience in a way they’ve never seen before. I hope you like it 🙂
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