Performing Poetry

10 Feb

This week at our Friday Mouthy Poets’ workshop we focused on ways in which we can perform spoken word poetry.

Drawing from music, dance and theatre, spoken word is by its nature an art form which is very performance-based. The way in which imagery in the poem can be heightened by visual and aural aesthetics on the stage is an effective way of drawing in the audience’s attention.

At previous Say Sumthin shows, the Mouthy poets have had the opportunity to be creative with their stage space. The words remain the most important part of the whole performance, of course, but the visual and aural effects are there to enhance the language, and draw the audience’s focus towards particular moments in the poem.

As someone who hasn’t been part of any performances of spoken word poetry before, playing around with physical theatre was quite a new experience for me. Firstly we took the words ‘fear’ and ‘trapped’ from somebody’s poem and tried to express these in individual freeze-frames. Then we got into groups and created a series of choreographed images which we performed to everyone else. Then we took the best two of these images and performed them as the poem was being read out. It was a bit difficult to tell whether this looked effective from my perspective because I was concentrating on making sure I didn’t mess up what I was supposed to be doing, but I can imagine that on a big stage it would help to push forward those vivid images in the language.

Some poems, we established, might work best with a minimalist set. It was important to make sure that the action didn’t draw away from the poet. This was an interesting taster, however, that got us thinking about different ways in which we could perform our poems.

They say that everyone takes in information most effectively in different ways: some by listening, some by reading, some by doing. I can definitely see how a poetic image that is accompanied by an effective visual one can help to make key moments in a poem more memorable to an audience.  

by Natalie Popow

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One Response to “Performing Poetry”

  1. Anne February 14, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    great blog post on our session last week Ms P!

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