Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jumping Genres

Much fun was had on Thursday night at the Didsbury Arts Festival where the #flashtag collective put on a night of words and music called WORDPLAY, which I was asked to perform at.  My piece was a ten minute "audio comic" basically a noirish story with a soundtrack. I hope it went down well. An extract of my reading "Nerdtown" can be heard here. The night was all about jumping genres. The #flashtag writers basically came together from a love of flash fiction and performing - and the live literature scene is beginning to transform fiction in the same way as performance poetry gave a boot up the backside to poetry.

Second up, was Tom Mason with a soundtracked story that had the scariest image of the evening - a bus load of musicians transformed into the grinning members of Jools Holland's big band, all turned into clones of the boogie-woogie piano man. It was a model that continued through Fat Roland's piece - where the narrator is being haunted by a spectral dead Whitney Houston, the dark rumbling soundtrack morphing into Whitney singing "I will always love you".

Completing the first half of the show was  "Tether" by (murmur) featuring David Hartley with an ambitious music concept piece about Russian cosmonauts going into space via a giant umbilical cord "tethered" to the earth. Over a changing soundtrack of drum and bass stylings Hartley told the story of these first cosmonauts. What was this? Musical piece? Story? Hard to tell, but they had created a whole concept with images, video and CD to accompany the music. After a break, where we refreshed glasses, and videos of Alabaster de Plume were shown, Les Malheureux commenced the second half. A duo of Sarah Clare Conlon and David Gaffney, deadpan short stories are intoned by Clare over Gaffney's cabaret keyboard stylings as a powerpoint goes on in the background. Clare reads from a smart phone, as did Tom, and its fascinating to see how easy to use technology is helping writers be more ambitious in their presentations.

Whilst the final act set up, Benjamin Judge read from his brilliant little booklet "50 Stories about Sting."  The final act was the most ambitious of the evening as the collective had paired local art rock band Monkeys in Love with the fiction writer Valerie O'Riordan. Taking her cue from their song titles we had a series of parallel plays - story, then song - with the first piece being a collaboration where the Monkeys accompanied her; and there was even some effective use of the first overhead projector I've seen in about 20 years, to add some visuals to the story. The final song, Owl with Hands, explained Laura's "owl" costume. I think.

So that was it: a unique jumping of genres that actually made perfect sense when you were there. Loved being part of it; and glad that I was prompted to do the most ambitious of my ideas. Lots of writers I know have an interest in music, and I think all of us will be interested in continuing such juxtapositions in the future.

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