Thursday, 20 April 2017

Banff Spoken Word Residency - day 4

Thursday, April 20

10:00 am - 1:00 pm - Workshop 4, Led by Tanya Evanson

Afternoon - Faculty Studios, Individual Meeting - Afua Cooper

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm - Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab - Panel and Discussion 

Workshop 4, Led by Tanya Evanson

WRITING UNDER THE INFLUENCE - From meditation to spontaneous acts of literature and performance. 

In the initial part of the workshop we did a sufi exercise - a visualisation involving a cube, a horse, a set of ladders, a storm and some flowers. Tanya led us through the meanings behind each part of the visualisation and some fascinating things were revealed!

We then did a group exercise starting with a single sentence that was written on the whiteboard. One by one we suggested a follow-on sentence from the line previously written on the board. We were then asked to write a text starting with a sentence on the whiteboard. Following this we were split into small groups and were asked to choose some sentences from the texts that we had each written and further develop another text which we were then to perform as a group to the rest of the group. This exercise demonstrated how multiple works can be developed from a single starting point.

This workshop ended with an introduction to Sema, the dance of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes, whose inspiration comes from Persian philosopher and poet Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi. 

Individual Meeting - Afua Cooper

Afua and I discussed some of the texts within my publication 'A lot can happen in fifteen minutes'. She spoke about using the words in the sentence to visualise the words on the page, and suggested some poets to research:

Walt Whitman
Pablo Nervuda
Kamau Brathwaite

Afua was really encouraging about my texts and described poems as being stories in a shortened form.

I was advised to submit my work to poetry journals and festivals, and was told about Peterloo Poetry Festival in the UK.

Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab - Panel and Discussion 

A structured discussion about language, storytelling and collaboration. This panel explored why the language we use matters and how can we be more purposeful and aware of language, how we speak and listen, especially when seeking to better understand different ecosystems. 

Organised by leaders and artists, who are curious about how they can help create space where people feel safe, comfortable, and able to demonstrate vulnerability in service of creating more intimacy, understanding and collaborative opportunities.

This discussion followed a format called The Long Table.

The Long Table is a dinner party structured by etiquette, where conversation is the only course. The project ingeniously combines theatricality and models for public engagement. It is at once a stylised appropriation and an open-ended, non-hierarchical format for participation. Both of these elements – theatrical craft and political commitment – are mutually supporting in this widely and internationally toured work. The (often-feminised) domestic realm here becomes a stage for public thought.

The components are simple: the long table; chairs; a paper tablecloth; pens with which to make comments, to draw, or to scribble ideas. The final, and necessary, component is an etiquette sheet. This list of rules for engagement lays the groundwork for talk that is structured in its participatory aspect without being limited in content or access. The rules, or perhaps helpful hints, include items like ‘There can be silence’, ‘There might be awkwardness’ and ‘There can always be laughter’. The Long Table acknowledges the sometimes uncomfortable side of both private exchange and public engagement, while celebrating the potential for new forms of knowledge-making and -sharing.

The Long Table is inspired by Marleen Gorris’s film Antonia’s Line, in which the protagonist continually extends her dinner table to accommodate a growing community of outsiders and eccentrics until, finally, the table must be moved out of doors. The Long Table, then, brings what might often be seen as ‘outside’ in – to a realm of conviviality – while showing how everyday, domestic things which might usually remain hidden can be brought out – into a realm of public ideas and discourse.

The etiquette is as follows

This is a performance of a dinner party conversation 
Anyone seated at the table is a guest performer 
Anything is on the menu 
Talk is the only course 
No hostess will assist you 
It is a democracy 
To participate simply take an empty seat at the table 
If the table is full you can request a seat 
If you leave the table you can come back again and again 
Feel free to write your comments on the tablecloth 
There can be silence 
There might be awkwardness 
There could always be laughter 
There is an end but no conclusion

For more information visit 

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