This year I’ve watched or been involved in several theatrical encounters on the streets of Worcestershire. Having seen some brilliant performances in August at Kidderminster Arts Festival (see link below) I got the performers-eye view in a KAF commission, How do wars start? with Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal.
To find out how it went see our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/how.do.wars.start
Also in August, I was booked by Clik Clik Collective (see link below) to wander the streets of Worcester as Black Country Pat, engaging people as I saw fit, for the Worcester Music Festival. I chatted to lots of people and sang songs.
Last Friday I was with Clik Clik again at Worcester’s Victorian Fayre delivering poetry near the site of Hill Evans & Co Vinegar Works which closed in the sixties. My repertoire consisted of humorous and informative poems about vinegar I’d written specially for the occasion in a Victorian style plus pieces by little known Victorian women poets and Edward Lear.
Engaging the public at such events can be exceedingly difficult. (As you can see, I resorted to post-Victorian equipment.) People with their minds fixed on getting from A to B keep their heads down, determined not to be lured into any form of enjoyment. Is the chugger partly to blame for this? Discuss.
Here are some of the responses I got to the question, Can I read you a poem?
“I don’t like poetry. I’m not romantic.”
A man struggling to walk with a walking stick (hehe, he couldn’t escape) said he didn’t want a poem because he found it difficult to stand still, yet he stood there for ages telling me about the time he worked for Lee and Perrins.
A woman rushing by wouldn’t stop to listen because she was in pain but proceeded to tell me in great detail the different household uses for vinegar, especially cleaning the toilet.
When 3 teenage lads approached I offered, in a very posh voice, to read them a poem and they said yes please, listening with mock interest. I read a short piece by Amy Levy and one of the lads said, earnestly, that she was one of his favourite poets and agreed that it was tragic that she committed suicide at the age of 27. He asked for more poetry, so I turned to another lad and directed this to him:
I DO not love you very much,
Only your tuneful voice,
Which, in a happy moment, takes
The music of my choice.
I do not love you, dear, at all,
Only your merry ways,
Which linger in my mind, and set
Me dreaming through the days.
In truth, I think it is dislike
You kindle in my heart,
Because you come so joyously
To steal so large a part.
He listened intently. “So you love me then”, he said when I’d finished. I walked away, “blushing”. Then the Anti Barber lured him into his chair and drew a moustache which made him look like Lionel Richie and broke into anachronistic song to uproarious laughter. Later I gave a spoken rendition of The Lost Chord by Adelaide Anne Procter to improvised piano accompaniment by a fellow Clik Clik entertainer called Dan. Is it mad? Is it art? Does it matter? Who had the most fun?