Waiting 4 the Bus

Waiting 4 the Bus
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

open mics and beyond a response from Esteban

The problem with me replying to this is that I wear a gown and sing in the same church. While I'm just about certain I have a much greater love for slam than you do, I do have more than one genre of music in my cd collection.

Right now, what I'm aiming for is to build "an experience." I think that poetry should be a layered gift, where you can just sit back and enjoy it, but if you're willing to listen and put in some work, it offers up even more.

I think we're going in the right direction. The Encyclopedia Show, for example, has created a theater event out of poetry, and I adore that. It's not where I'm trying to reach, but it's a hell of a lot closer than anything I've managed to do during a regular feature.

Several times, I've spit during musician open mics, and sometimes it falls flat, but other times there is an energy that is intoxicating. I feel that when we plan events. I feel that, when the poets involved in these events hit homeruns that people go home and talk about for weeks. That feeling comes over me whenever something I hear, or perform, strikes ears like I, or whoever is listening to me, is experiencing it in that very moment. If we are not looking to connect with one another, and have others connect with us on that primal a level, then I honestly don't know what we are doing.

The questions I'm asking myself right now focus on the destruction of separation. I want to engage senses. I want there to be music, and smells, and sights that contribute to the feel. I want there to be interactivity. I want to break down everything that lets the audience feel like they are safely disconnected from what is going on onstage.

So, should we dress in costume . . .yes, if it adds something to the work. Are we crazy? No. We're just having fun and putting on some shows. Is there even more we can do? Yes. Let's figure out how.

open mics and beyond

I've recently come to a conclusion. A conclusion is different than an Epiphany. It's been several years since W4tB started as an open mic. I like a good open mic. It's a good place to practice new stuff, to fine tune your work, to tweek your performance abilities. All good stuff.

Part of me has always known it could be more. Performing poetry has been boxed and packaged in sort of a slam colored wrapping paper and placed on the gift table, or it goes a step too far and becomes performance art. Nobody wraps that, it's incognito enough on it's own.

I worry sometimes that the most important part gets lost. Sometimes we forget that poetry is about words colliding with emotions. Something can be artfully rendered and not have enough power to light a room. Other times the emotion just pours out and leads to phrases like empty soul or hole where my heart used to be. I've heard good slam and seen good performance art. I'm not knocking either. If that's where your mad skills lead you, more power to ya.

My mad skills crave something different, a fusion of poetry and theater. I'm not talking about anything pretentious. I'm talking about a thematic show with some lighting, some minimal props, and maybe some sound effects. I want stuff that adds to the poetry and enhances the performance. If it's a character piece, should the poet dress in costume? I dunno. Maybe, maybe not. The element of surprise is also theatrical. A voice that doesn't match the poet/performers physicality is a great way of grabbing an audience.

The W4tB collective has done 2 shows and many ensemble reads based on this premise. Are we crazy? I dunno. It seems to work.

Benjamin Franklin Quotes