Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Passionate about Poetry. Interview with Deborah 'Debris' Stevenson.

In order to learn more about the upcoming Spoken Word Festival at Nottingham Playhouse writer Phil Lowe arranged to meet up with Deborah 'Debris' Stevenson, founder of The Mouthy Poets, to talk about their upcoming extravaganza – Say Sum Thin 9. This is a whole day of performance, music, creative workshops and live poetry at Nottingham Playhouse on Saturday 25th July 2015. The spoken word festival begins at 12 noon and finishes at 10pm and Deborah was as passionate as ever to expound upon the events and the organisation behind them. This is the first time such a large event has been organised through Nottingham's The Mouthy Poets. Deborah elaborated.

“Every Summer we put on a big Mouthy Poets show that generally takes up a large amount of the Playhouse. We have an afternoon show plus an evening show. So, in an infrastructural sense, yes we have had similar shows. However, in our previous Say Sum Thin shows we have had one head-liner and the event programming has only been for three or four hours. The difference with this year is that it is a full on festival. Rather than having one head-liner we have a hundred plus artists including dancers, rappers, Sheep Soup theatre company, Nonsuch Theatre, Zodiac All Stars, a dance group of fifty plus young people, Harry Baker and many others. It is packed with international and local artists all happening in one space and every single space is non stop programming from 12pm to 7pm. Then we have this massive evening show in the main auditorium which is packed full of artists including Mouthy Poets plus a separate Mouthy Poets matinee. It's bigger and better and certainly more of a festival than we have ever put on before. How can I put it? Similar - times a hundred, basically!”

There is no denying the passion behind the event. Deborah further explained that Nottingham's Mouthy Poets meet every Friday. As a collective of fifty people and through their management team, interns and the young people in the company, together they organise and programme the event. This also empowers the young poets into making real life decisions and promotes their motivation within the poetry collective. Deborah picked up with how it was all germinated this year.

“I guess really, communally, the seeds were started in January this year when I started booking artists but the intensive community organising aspect has probably been ongoing since April. I'm crazy happy with everything so far! The programming is really exciting. The standards of the two separate Mouthy shows is really inspiring and thrilling. I think because the ambition of the programming is so high our young poets are rising to the challenge.

As part of the programme we have got a poets vs. rappers battle with a local organisation called Clash Money and we've got a play writing workshop with internationally known children's playwright Nick Wood put on by Nottingham Playhouse. In that workshop people will be making a play during the day and then there will be a rehearsed reading in the afternoon of those fresh new plays. To mix up the creativity we are going to have a foraging room which will have loads of fresh plants and up-cycled jewellery and other products. Flex Records have a 'paint something' workshop and then City Arts are showing a 'flexibition'. The whole space is being dressed by City Arts with all their carnival art. Additionally, we are making giant poetry games during the day and teaching book binding too. It is so massive that the young Mouthy Poets have felt like they need to step up to that and so, not to ruin anything too much, we have UV lights with poetry being done in the pitch black with illuminated elements. Personally I am stepping into a whole new genre by doing a grime rap track through my own music.”

The Say Sum Thin 9 event sounded like huge commitment and Deborah continued with her passionate explanation, concluding...

“We are all working to a maximum capacity at the moment. We all keep laughing and we all keep pushing towards excellence. I must say that working with new art forms cross pollinating creatively between poets, musicians, dancers, rappers and others is so stimulating and challenging in a good way. It has really energised us all and as we don't have much money everyone that is getting involved is doing so for artistic reasons. Those creatives involved are excited to make a painting live with poetry and children; they are excited to make a play live with fifty people and then share it; they are excited about all the live creativity that they can offer on the day and beyond. I think the people of Nottingham will be excited too and we welcome everyone and their families on the day. What we are getting out of it is the sharing and engaging the public with our spoken word art or art in alternative forms and enjoying that interaction as artists with the public themselves. Our Mouthy Poets ambition is to fill that main auditorium with people enjoying the huge variety of creative work being shown at Nottingham Playhouse on Saturday 25th.”

 New programme information hot off the press! Click on timetable below for clearer image.

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