Debris Stevenson – SST9 Draft 2 Auditorium/Studio Show

23 Jun

Hello All

So I am currently working on a long term project (I think) on the meeting points and collaboration potential of Grime music and poetry – as two big loves of mine. I was hoping to find an artists and use that as a starting point, but that has been logistically very difficult – I have found lots of amazing artists to work with and indeed I feel I will work with lots of them but creating something for SST9 with no experience of collaborating has proven too tight a timeline.

So I was faced with an issue of really wanting to pursue this collaboration but needing a new plan, so I decided (as I often do) to give myself an exercise:

– To start re-writing my favourite album, Boy in the Corner, by Dizzee Racal, but with poetry. For now I am going to call this the #PoetintheCorner project. And it will give me a chance to really analyse Grime Lyrics at their finest and try and replicate them within my own form. Bonus: I get an end product and a clear set of things I would like to work with other artists on.

So below is essentially my first try at this exercise, so feel free to tell me if you think it is crap! It uses the structure of Sittin’ Here – the first track on the album – and uses it to tell a story of an experience I recently had on the train…

Feedback Questions

  • I will be using a lot of staging techniques to tell the story, but on the page can you actually understand/follow what is going on? I think that is important.
  • I have been massively pushed by rhythm here so it would be good to know which line sare working and which feel forced or weird or are not working.
  • How does the pice make you feel?
  • + Generalness…

Who’s Seat?

[Intro -]

Mind your back

Still a way to go.

Baby.

.

It’s clear

(nearly there)

.

Look,

.

[Verse 1]

She’s just sitting there, holding bags and baby just blinks

his eyes don’t collide either side, he just squints

her hands hook pits and her hands look strong

but I think her skin’s split like her bags later on

.

She’s just sitting there, two seats in front on the train,

she’s staring into tray, through her baby like a pane,

she reddens quiet a lot, in fact she’s red all the way.

If she stays, disabled place – get moved slash replaced.

.

Commuters journey,

wrappers, papers, rats and goodbye naps,

commuters journey,

Brompton bikes, phone fights and scenic cites

commuters journey,

ticket fines as keypads distract minds

Yeah commuters journeys,

wheelchairs navigate – human freight.

.

Only a reservation,

trying to feed them both from her seat,

only a reservation,

but no other space to wheel their feet,

only a reservation,

but we’ve made life so neat

.

[Hook]

that now I’m sitting here

thinking human farm?

human farm, human farm

I’m just sittin here

.

Hey, I’m sitting just here

Yes, sorry sitting here,

yes me, sorry – sitting here.

My seat, yes, I’m sitting here –

.

[Verse 2]

.

I want to say

.

She’s just sittin’ here, not saying nuthin’, just watch

There are plenty other seats on the train please, cotch,

But I spot down the isle wheelchairs by the three

And I turn so fast that the answers not with me.

.

Their just talking at her, she says nothing but a smile

Slowly showing hurt, sweat patches merge miles.

No one questions bags, why she’s alone

but the lady over there offers hands as a home.

.

Commuters journey,

suited rosy mother offers cover

commuters journey,

Tesco bags and pram past stags,

commuters journey,

seat adjacent stacks fragile patience,

commuters journey,

pain, as baby’s crying like the cane.

.

Only a reservation

Finally, she was just about to eat.

Only a reservation,

before a clique of work colleagues

Only a reservation,

eyes with a touch more grief?

.

[Hook]

and now I’m sitting here

thinking human farm?

human farm, human farm

I’m just sittin here

.

Hey, I’m sitting just here

Yes, sorry we’re sitting here,

yes us, sorry – sitting here.

Our seats, yes, we’re sitting here –

.

[Verse 3]

.

She’s just sittin’ there, she’s not lookin’ up, breathes less (shame)

We’re only here till Bagshot, reservation’s’ always best.

Crying silent, tears are itchy, rolling down her neck.

We keep offering hands, baby screeches, what the heck?

 .

No longer sittin’ here. No one askin’ baggage why?

Stood flat in the isle silent side to side.

Try read myself together, tell table ladies “Fix Up”

Kick Champaign to laughin’, but subconscious shuts me up.

.

Commuters journey,

Bougie bitches don’t get deserts

commuters journey,

tickets trench human spirit

commuters journey,

mums travel lonely carry slums.

commuters journey.

Bust, we need strangers’ we trust.

.

Only a reservation

stand till bags give out

Only a reservation,

I wish I’d hug her now.

Only a reservation,

New voice saying you’re aloud…

.

[Hook]

to be sitting here

thinking human farmI

human farm, human farm

Leave me sittin here.

.

Come sit with me,

But let’s just be

sittin’ here our seats,

yes, we’re sitting here.

.

Staging Ideas:

  • So I definitely want to create the train somehow; set, lighting, seats, projection or people I am not sure.
  • Some characters will say some of these lines I think… so I need to find some volunteers.
  • I want the poem to end with at least me the lady and her baby sitting in the isle but possible lots of people to be sitting in the isle by the end might be nice.

Technical/ Props Wish List

  • I would really like a fake baby… I am not sure if it will work but it is worth a try?
  • I will need lots of people and or chairs on stage I think… I want to create the feel of the train I think but it would be nice if I could do this with lighting as much as possible.
  • I know you are looking into musical licensing, I would really like to use the actual instrumental from boy in the corner if possible… but I am looking into original music options too.
  • Considering some kind of projection to set the scene but I haven’t thought about it tooo much.
  • I think some of this will be played via audio and some live… as it is A LOT to perform in one go… But I would like to challenge myself.

Which Show?

  • With this new staging idea, having a bit stage to travel around may be really helpful to telling this story, but I am also aware of how new a thing this is for me and the risk in that – everything is taking a long time. Also still conscious that a grime vibe might just sit better in the studio… but it could also be scary…. Interested on thoughts of this too.

How Long? 

  • 5-6min – track is 4min long I am thinking + staging and encase I put it to a new slightly slower track.

Debris x

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2 Responses to “Debris Stevenson – SST9 Draft 2 Auditorium/Studio Show”

  1. secondanne June 25, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    I was tempted to listen to the track to get it in context but decided instead to read the page and see how that was.

    So you are on a train and a girl with a baby is sat in a seat, in the disabled section – she has loads of luggage with her – I get the feeling it’s like shopping bags but not with groceries inside, like she has all her belongings in there – and people keep asking her to move because she’s in their reserved seat, and you want to say it doesn’t matter, let her sit there but you notice that someone in a wheelchair needs it.

    You want to help her and tell the women at the table seats to help her too, but you say nothing – a woman offers to help her with her baby or bags when she moves – then when she finds another seat and is settling in trying to eat, a load of commuters get on and bang on about reserved seats again.

    You want to hug her but you don’t. Nobody really seems to notice that she’s laden down with all her stuff or wonders why – she is crying or has been crying. I get the sense that nobody is actually talking directly to her, like she doesn’t really matter but are banging on about how simple it is to get a reserved seat, almost over her head. I get s strong feeling that she is the bottom of the oil or the pecking order.

    The rhythm reads through well, but I think I’d need to hear you do it to see if it flows when you do it?

    Staging? In a sense I wonder if you would be better keeping it simple? A suggestion of the movement of the train maybe, some kind of background beat like the clicking of the train over the tracks. The power here is as much about your inability to act as you really feel you want to because of the way we all behave in the go dirty world, not connecting with each other. So in a way this poem is more about you and less about the girl with the baby – it’s about your failure to act? So maybe it should just be you on the stage – I understand that you have a lot of ideas on how to stage this and so in that case I would say go for a larger space and really make it into a performance piece.

    During the day it would be cool to have someone struggling around the place with a lot of bags and see if anybody helps them out at all? Because I think often we are afraid to help people for fear we will get made to look a fool.

  2. cleoasabre June 29, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    I understand that this is set on a train and I get a very strong sense of a political undercurrent – repetition of human farm and the detached commuters is effective for conveying this kind of theme if that’s what you’re going for.
    The empathy from one human to another is sparse which reinforces this notion of humanity pretty much resembling what a train (in this instance) signifies – mechanical, emotionless, fulfilling a duty (the train monotonously takes its passengers to and from destinations, the passengers are doing something similar by carrying out formulaic work obligations).

    The only characters I feel anything for are the woman with children, and the narrator. The mother feels things and reacts emotionally “reddens quite a lot” “slowly swallowing hurt” etc thus making her human. The narrator, as the story-teller evidently notices these responses which means they clearly understand emotions like hurt, shame, exhaustion… All of this is very clear and effectively displayed. These two characters are emotionally intelligent. I do not get this sense about the commuters. Feels very us and them which is also political I suppose. Do these voices represent the average person who feels things? And the commuters represent the way society has become less and less people-oriented/engaging/enriching.
    Perhaps I am just rambling here, I don’t know. Just the impression I get.

    I am struggling to understand quite a lot of the piece though. Particularly the second half;

    “She’s just sittin’ here, not saying nuthin’, just watch
    There are plenty other seats on the train please, cotch,
    But I spot down the isle wheelchairs by the three
    And I turn so fast that the answers not with me.
    .
    Their just talking at her, she says nothing but a smile
    Slowly showing hurt, sweat patches merge miles.
    No one questions bags, why she’s alone
    but the lady over there offers hands as a home.”

    What is the relevance of the wheelchairs?? And “I turn so fast that the answers not with me”. A question hasn’t been asked to be answered, and are “they” the wheelchairs? Talking at her? I am very confused here.

    Could you explain in a sentence what you want to say? Just cut and dry. I feel you could do this more throughout the piece.
    The ending feels quite cliché in the way I have interpreted it; a definitive feel of unification and hope. I dislike the skipping off into the sunset ideal of the closing stanza. It tarnishes the entire piece for me and feels unrealistic. You have built up this efficiently detached bleakness, which feels like a wasted setup when it is so easily overcome with the outmoded cliché of “let’s just be”.

    I feel like the characters you have chosen to humanise in this piece deserve so much more. The reader is lead to believe they are strong and enduring. The ending detracts from their strength and makes me perceive them as being feebly predictable.

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