A debate in poetry: Is love life’s greatest gift? Or does it just plain suck?
In what’s become something of a Valentine’s tradition, some of the best poetic voices from across the UK will come together to argue for and against love. Expect moving poems, romantic rhythms and scathing pessimism, as we take the ultimate vote: does love suck? Will Team Love or Team Cynicism win? We’ll just have to wait and see…
Roundhouse slam champion and Channel 4 playwright in residence Zia Ahmed steps onto the Blah podium to share his linguistic dynamism alongside Maria Ferguson‘s (Fat Girls Don’t Dance) unique blend of theatre, storytelling and killer moves. Sharing the stage is Barbican’s Young Poet Kareem Brown, known for his hard-hitting combo of challenging wordplay and stylistic sensitivity.
UK All-Star Poetry Slam Champion Ben Norris (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Family) heads up the April Blah line-up with his charismatic presence and complex, emotional verse. Joined by Bristol favourite Jonny Fluffypunk with his funny, absurd and oddly moving performance, accompanied by the profound poetry of British-Ghanian writer Bridget Minamore, this riotous round Blah is one you’d be a fool to miss!
A show for anyone who has, or has had, hair and hairs.
Dave’s Funniest Joke Of The Fringe award winner and Glastonbury’s ‘Poet In Residence’, Rob Auton casts an introspective eye over the world of hair, underpinned by leaving his head hair and beard to their own devices until he has performed The Hair Show for the final time. Join Rob as he explores the importance of appearance and how people react to someone who looks like he has checked out.
For the past five years Rob has used his command of words and distinctive unconventional humour to explore seemingly mundane subjects: sleep, water, faces, the sky and the colour yellow. His unique world view has been acknowledged through being shortlisted for the prestigious Spoken Word Award by the Arts Foundation, receiving a Best Short Film nomination for the The Peamaster, which he co-wrote and starred in, at the Milan Film Festival.
Alongside performing solo, Rob hosts “the best poetry gig in the UK” (The Times) Bang Said The Gun. The spoken-word night’s raucous and anarchic spirit attracts a rich mix of new talent and some of the most established names in poetry/music including Kate Tempest, Roger McGouch and John Hegley.
“A genuine original.”
“One of my absolute favourites.”
“His absurd brand of stand-up and poetry is exactly what the country needs right now.”
“Charming, eccentric and uplifting, Auton is a talent to watch.”
“I haven’t seen anything else quite like it, or him.”
Salena Godden is one of the UK’s foremost poets, regularly anthologised and headlining festivals nationally and internationally. Fresh off her ‘Summer of LOVEwire’ UK tour, catch Godden sharing some of her brilliant new work for an Autumnal celebration of spoken word. Sharing the stage will be poet and performer Molly Naylor, co-writer of After Hours (Sky One), and Isaiah Hull, emerging and writer and performer from Manchester.
“As electric as its title”
★★★★★ THE I on Salena Godden’s LIVEwire album
A fast-paced crash course in everything you wanted to know about bad language that school couldn’t teach you. Join the class of sinister puppets as punk poet Thick Richard looks at the history, definition and use of swearing in his darkly humorous, educational show.
Pedalling his potty-mouthed poems, cynical, lyrical and jet-black humour, Thick Richard’s Swear School will drag us through an A-Z of the English language and the funniest yet most damaging expressive form of communication we have. Very, VERY strong language throughout!
A support for Kate Tempest, Arthur Smith and The Fall, you might also recognise him as one of the presenters of BBC 6 Music’s Beat of the Day.
Featuring a selection of poems from The Toll (Penned In The Margins, 2017) this show tours the flat-roofed pubs and half-bought couches of Brexit Britain. It struggles with doubt, duty and a score of half-cut nights spent shouting impotently at Question Time. Spend an evening with a raconteur at the top of his game, as he spits out visceral, inventive verse that sweats, bleeds and sings.
“Visceral, poignant, and riotously funny.”
“A rip-roaring raconteur, evoking a Larkin-esque sense of commuter belt ennui.”
“On just the second date of a long tour we enjoyed a sustained and polished performance from a man at the top of his game. Keep your eyes and ears open – Luke Wright has a lot more to say!”
★★★★★ Norwich Eye
“The Toll is a razor dipped in sugar: Although Wright’s heart might have taken a battering of late, it is clear that it is still generous, and the caustic line of humour that runs right through it like a black thread, only adds to its character.”
‘Oi, you. Sentient flesh owner. I have some questions for you. Do you think you’re sexy? What do you find sexy? What does sexy even mean?’
As a young woman who loves poetry, smashing the patriarchy and a well timed slut drop, this has been a question that has plagued Vanessa her whole life.
Sexy uses truthful wit and clever verse to explore our conflicted relationship with our bodies and sexiness, exploring our obsession with what is sexy through comedy, spoken word, dance and various states of undress.
Vanessa Kisuule is a writer, performer, burlesque artists and general empress of blag, based in Bristol. Vanessa has won several slam titles including the Hammer and Tongue National Slam and Roundhouse Poetry Slam. She has performed at an array of festivals, including Glastonbury and Secret Garden Party and has been invited to support the likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Kate Tempest, Dizraeli and David J. You may have seen her ‘alter ego’ Shonda Rhymes, smashing the patriarchy through the world of battle rap league Don’t Flop. Vanessa is the recipient of the 2017 Leverhulme Arts Scholarship.
Directed by Rob Watt, movement by Lucy Bairstow and produced by Liz Counsell
Developed with support from Arts Council England, Camden People’s Theatre and Bristol Old Vic Ferment
Story Slam has an amazing show coming up in December and it’s going to be our most extravagant end of year celebration yet! We’ll have food, drink, gifts and our usual beautiful group photo! Also for the first time ever we will have LIVE MUSIC to accompany the stories!
In order for us to have this extra special event we’ll be selling ADVANCED TICKETS! Tickets will be £8. These advanced tickets will guarantee a seat and the extra money will be used to cover the cost of food, gifts and also pay our wonderful musicians!
Story Slam is where you can hear peoples amazing true stories told live on stage. All stories are told by volunteers from the audience. Put you name in the hat for a chance to tell your story, or just enjoy everyone else’s! The Story Slam is held on the third Sunday every month and starts at 2pm. Doors open at 1.30pm.
We are normally a Pay What You Want event, with a suggested contribution of £4, but this is totally not mandatory! It can be more or less than this or nothing at all. We’d way rather have you here sharing stories than at home crying about capitalism.
Please be aware that there will be some flash photography at the event.
Recommend in Guardian’s Alternative Guide To Bristol
My Top 5 Bristol Favourites – Maisie Williams (aka Arya Stark, Game of Thrones) Bristol 24/7
Our events tend to fill up early, so we open the box office to start stamping people’s hands for entrance from 1.15.
1:30: DOORS OPEN
Doors open and everyone is let into the theatre. If you would like to tell a story on stage, put your name in the hat! If not, just take a seat and enjoy everyone elses.
2pm – 4.30pm : STORYTIME
We pull names from the hat at random, and whoever’s name is pulled tells us a 5 minute story from their life! We laugh, we cry, we drink, we have another one! (20 minute interval at some point in the middle of all of this).
After the slam people tend to hang around at the bar, have a drink, and chat about the stories they didn’t have a chance to tell on stage. Our venue is attached to the amazing and affordable Old Market assembly, which is the perfect place for a pint or Sunday lunch!
The stories have to follow a few rules:
1. They must be *stories*! No rants, standup routines or monologues. We want a beginning, middle and end, and some change and conflict to occur.
2. They must be told in 5 minutes.
3. They have to be true (that time that you and Kylo Ren went on a whirlwind adventure and loved and learned and cried? Not going to cut it.)
4. They need to be genuinely 1st person. You should be a major player in the story and we want to hear your perspective.
5. Preferably no notes. This is about the good ol’ fashioned art of storytelling. Tell it to us like we’re round a campfire, or at a sleep over. (However you may use them feel this would be a significant barrier to sharing your story)
The rules are just there to make sure we get to hear as many awesome stories as possible. They’re not meant to be restricting, so if you’re unsure about anything just drop us a message or ask on the day.
******** CRAFT TABLE AND CONTENT WARNINGS
In the interest of making the story slam a safer and more comfortable place, we give people the option of putting content warnings before their stories. We read them out before each story and give people a chance to leave the room. If you do want to leave the main room at any time, we have a craft out table fully stocked with craft materials and usually some friendly volunteers too 😀
******** STEP FREE ACCESS
The venue has full step free access to the theatre and the stage. However, if you need to use it please let us know (via Facebook message) beforehand as we need a member of staff to open side doors etc. Also please feel free to message us if you have any questions surrounding that (or anything else!). You can also check out our photo album for details on the step free access here.