Outlet for expression.

I've just watched Ramon Serrano at the Nuyorican cafe. The show is called "Zen and the art of good bullshit!" a show essentially split into three parts, all of them with Ramon at the centre. First is Ramon reading extracts from a book that after ten years he's yet to finish, second is him taking the mic off the stand and going on a rant bordering on stand up or a stand up bordering on rant on the subject that his piece of writing is about, and the third portion of the show involves Ramon's band; There were three men on stage with him, all paired with their respective instruments- bass guitar, conga drums, and saxophone. When they weren't playing they would be wincing, laughing and gasping to Ramon's stories- you truly felt like if they didn't grow up with him, they grew up like him.
Ramon also brought up a two-man Doo-wop choir he met on the subway years ago to provide assistance when singing music he loved when growing up, mainly Temptations and Drifters hits. Ramon gave them a spotlight to sing some Marvin too and the crowd ate it up.
Speaking of the crowd, they were either senior, Puerto Rican or both. I wound up in the audience because I thought it was a line for the slam later that night (there's a rumour that you have to get to the Nuyorican three hours before doors open just to get on the open mic list; untrue, it's more like an hour and a half) What swayed me was that it'd be funny. It was. His story about his mother shooting her living room chair, swinging a machete on a basketball court wouldn't be so hilarious if you couldn't tell that it wasn't by someone who was the son of this woman and understood her logic.
It was theatric, not theatre. He talked about watching Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and then said he'll sing All Shook Up for us now, just because he wanted to. 
There was growing up, there was school, there was lots of singing, and then there was Vietnam. Ramon started reading and he said something so beautifully written I wanted to hold onto it. I kept the line in my head, saying it over and over and over again and then Ramon stopped talking.
He said "I can't. I can't do it. I thought I was ready but I can't" He didn't apologise. He just put the paper back and the crowd applauded without whoops or hollers. It was a clap to let him know we're still with him.

He then read two poems. The first was called Pegao, about the rice on the bottom of the pot. "Rich people never get to the bottom of the pot. Those poor, poor rich people"
His second poem was about how different words in the Spanish language mean different things to different parts of the world that speak the Spanish language. It reminded me of something I go in and out of trying to write- he took it somewhere more fun. I really appreciated how fun he made it.

The line I kept in my head when Ramon was talking about the Vietnam war, about the soldiers coming back, about the trauma they went through to return with no welcome or system by the government to take care of them, the third line from him deciding to not go any further with his piece -"Unspeakable horrors with no outlet to express themselves".
In all of Ramon's dancing and shouting out audience members that he's known for fifty years, widows of best friends with new husbands that he thinks highly of, sons of fathers who've passed away that are watching in their place, you knew that Ramon loved every moment he had on stage. 

Ramon was a history teacher for twenty years before this show. He'd sing on the subway after work before any Nuyorican gigs.
Since November I've written at least six blog posts and have deleted all of them. I'd tell myself that it doesn't matter. Right now I don't think it has to.

Curtain raisers for Stratford

oi oi savoloy 

acting

acting

Until You Hear That Bell is coming to Stratford Circus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This is the show’s third London run. The first at the Battersea Arts Centre for a three week run last June, the second at the Albany Theatre in February this year, and after a five month tour of boxing gyms, community centres, schools and some very lovely homely theatres- it’s finally back in London.

After all that you think I would’ve found a decent abbreviation for Until You Hear That Bell or it’s other names people have called it like Until You Hear a Bell or When A Bell Rings or Until The Bell Tolls or (this one came last Tuesday) Saved By The Bell.

I’m very glad that I love this show. If there was ONE moment of this play that I didn’t like, that I’d have to peform over, and over and over and over again I think I’d not only feel tired after the show, but sad. Instead I get this cool feeling after (or sometimes during) the play I’ll think “Man. This play is sick to the ick” and it has me carry my stage across the country with pride.

So yes, I am still proud of the show- but- for Stratford Circus, I want to do something different. I want curtain raisers. I feel like I wanted to justify the reason why I wanted them in the previous three paragraphs- I haven’t done that- so lets just say I really rate these writers and want Stratford Circus to see them.

Thursday
Miss Jacqui.
I THINK the first time I saw Miss Jacqui perform was at Tobi’s night at the BAC- where she was introduced to me as Rhythm of Men’s manager. I was like- kay cool you’re a manager. Then she actually jumped on the open mic- and was good! I think the poem was called Fireworks in the day. I was like- kay cool you’re a good poet too. I’ll remember that. 

Then

Rhythm of Men (RoM) BLEW UP. BOOM. Seemed to get booked for everything. Forget What You Heard-RoM. Southbank cetnre- RoM. That really sick night at Boxpark, Shoreditch- RoM. Other less significant nights, RoM. My timeline, RoM. RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM RoM
BIT MUCH REALLY.

Of course it’s great that these three incredibly talented young men getting booked is a great thing in itself, but an even bigger plus was that I actually got to see more of Jacqui perform. I kept seeing her perform new pieces, some involving singing, some more focused on page poetry and when it was a piece I’d seen before, you could tell she had worked on it, performed it, knew it better. I was like- kay cool you’re actually next level. Yomi and I booked her for our birthday special with Peter Hayhoe and Mara Ferguson and Jacqui killed it. she got the audience to sing with her, I think she got them to stand up or something too? Either way- she was the stand out performer of the night.
I love her. We love her. Trust me, you'll love her.
Here's a sick poem hers you'll love it.

 

Friday.
Michael Elcock.
Remember that group Miss Jacqui looks after? Rhythm of Men? yeah- he’s in that group. Those guys. I was a little skeptical of Rhytm of Men when I first heard of them. My line of thinking was “Who are these guys that are interrupting Omar” and also, I was just a bit of a wanker and had forgotten how much I loved Def Jam poetry growing up (which was in fact my first real introduction to poetry. Shout out to Shihan. Real eyes reaLise)

This was also way back when Boxedin was struggling. We had just finished our first year and were only really bringing people in off Yomi’s name and after months of cancelling the night and it being moved to so many different places with boxpark- even Yom’s seal of approval was starting to dwindle. 

We decided to give Boxedin one more push. Just to really see if can be a great night. It was in the March of 2013- We booked Kat Francois (Yomi), Rhythm of Men (Yomi), Shortman (Yomi) and Paul Cree (ME).
It really was our first great night and the stars of the show were Rhythm of Men. They absolutely stormed the stage- each one of them not only felt like they loved what they were doing, but they had love for each other and it was a v v special thing to watch.
Okay- sorry I’m not really chatting about Michael. I’ve since learned from watching Rhythm of men that each one has a very different writing style not only to the group they’re in, but to each other. Basically- I’ve got a bit of a gist thattttttt Russeni is a supreme storyteller- the type of storyteller that’s been around as long as time itself- it’s like he talks fables. It’s sick.

Omar is Omar, just pure love manifested into human form.

And Michael- like- a writer. the first time I actually realised how good Michael is was at a Barbican Young Poets showcase where, befoe the poem he did his Kanye West’s dance from that four five seconds song with Rihanna. It was super jokes, everyone laughed and I wonder now if he did that cos he knew his piece of writing contained absolutely no showmanship. It was a poem about traits, about family, about what gets passed down to who and unconditional love. It was beautiful and honestly I wanted Michael to peform because I know he’s an actor that could do well to chat to SC but also, I really want to see him perform more!
Here's a video of him. Sound isn't great. That's on purpose. You'll get that HIGH QUALITY audio experience with the Stratford Circus acoustics.

 

Saturday
Phoebe Wagner.
Phoebe is as smart as she is subtle. She has a poem told through a childs eyes and not once does she stray from this childs view, like a man in his house who doesn’t take off shoes, and looking up from the back of the car window, watching her perform this piece, I kept waiting for her to break into a diferent view but she never did. On top of that, the piece was heartbreaking in completely different ways- like- the fact it was from a childs pov wasn’t even the focal point (even though it was) (even though it wasn’t) (even though it was too)

Again, I met her at Boxedin and although the first time I saw her I just thought I was watching someone with a decent poem, as the weeks went on her poem stuck in my head. All I can remember now is that it was about a nurse and it also had something to do with time. I really liked it. I tink it’s a bit silly to talk about writers so early into their time as writers but I think she’s really talented at making characters and doesn’t seem too concerened about making her the main character in her work- which is a definite trend- which isn’t bad or good- it’s just cool to see her do something a little different.

She’s in the Spare The Poets collectice which is FILLED with incredible writers. They’re also sick at creating group pieces too. 

Oh hey I just found a video of the poem I was talking about AND it's a performance at Boxedin! WHAT A COINCIDENCE

 

So yeah. Really happy with these three. I’m really happy to be doing the show this week too. I feel like the show now has a great reputation but it definitely hasn’t been picked up by any mainstream press, so as much as I’d love to just do nothing and perform- I need to keep pushing on facebook, twitter and Instagram. Because it’s live art, soon this show will be basically dead. One day I’ll be too old to do it, or unfit, or it’ll feel too far away from where I am at that moment for it to be a decent performance. 

So please- you don’t need to share this or anything- or post on facebook- but if you know anyone that would be interested in watching a show about boxing, family and trying to figure shit out- tell a mate.

Safe one.

The New Thing

Creating The Second Thing Is A Different Challenge Compared To Creating The First Thing.

The first thing is seeing if you can tell that story, that story you've known you've wanted to tell for a while. It's trying to figure out structure, realising you can't tell every single part of it, realising that some parts you never thought would be worth telling are actually the most hilarious/heartbreaking/necessary parts of the story.

It took me a year and half to write UYHTB. I'd go to a cafe near mine after work every day and work for three hours and every now and then get that burst of inspo and would be up all night or scribbling lines on the notebook between serving customers.

It's been a year since I finished the show and I've been finding it harder to write this new thing. I've written about three different ten minutes of stuff I keep calling 'seven out of tens'- Stuff that's cool, but it's not blowing my mind. At the same time, I'm not giving any of this work time to really evolve, I'm not caring for it. (And a seven out of ten, it isn't bad!)

When I was younger I'd be so judgemental of artists I didn't know
("Sean, what do you think of the Diamonds From Sierra Leone remix?" "It's alright. Kanye's bit was SHIT")
I think it made me feel better about not being as good as them. I feel guilty about that. Feel like I'm still being way too harsh, but now with myself. Karma vibes.

I'm still sitting at the laptop, doubting myself- hoping to find a breakthrough though. I'm in New York till the 11th of September. I said that I'd write my show here. Think it's beginning to dawn on me how hard that is going to be, mainly because I'm still trying to find out what it is.

But

... I think I have something- it's so far away from what I was writing in January, when I started, but then again, so is my life, and that's what this will be about. I think it's good. Maybe even a 7.5.

I'll keep posting about it, if not for you (dear reader) than at least for me to hold myself to something.

Safe one
And thank you.

CTN is over, UYHTB is not.

Well, well, well...

I'm currently at Heathrow Terminal 3 listening to that one good Big Sean song (you know the one). Remember in the first blog when I talk about being haps this tour has allowed me to get a plane ticket to go see my girlfriend and mum in New York? Well yeah, we're here. 

Life comes at you fast- as do tours. I wasn't able to keep this blog updated which sucks for me, because I really enjoyed writing what I've been doing, even if it's just for me.

Since the Doorstep festival, I've performed two shows at the Jabberwoky Market in Darlington, two shows at the Strike a Light festival in Gloucester, two shows for the Looping the Loop festival in Ramsgate and Margate, a show at the Mill Arts centre in Banbury, one show for the Out There festival in Great Yarmouth and a show at the Folkestone quarter house. Each location deserves it's own post, they all made me feel welcome in their homes. Tired as I got in the midst of this busy bit of the tour, I was never sad. For almost half a year, this has been my job. Fuck.

Most of these places came with some incredibly inspiring workshops with young people with enough enthusiasm to break a heart. Wish I could say more on it but don't know how to yet.

Now. On to some new matters. CTN portion done, but the run isn't over yet people...

Safe one for the good news Paul

Safe one for the good news Paul

Yes, I'll be at the Stratford Circus in October. The details will be in the UYHTB Tour section of this hear website. I'll be there from the 6 to the 8th and after an exciting meeting with Tom from the SC, should be running a really interesting workshop

I'll also be at the Oxford Playhouse on the 12th of September, and will also be performing in Brighton on the 13th!

Then finally, there's the Unicorn Theatre in January. It's a lot. Very excited to keep this show going and hope to see some friendly faces at the London locations!

There's so much more to say- but this is the important stuff. It comes first.

Gonna try and update with some more talky stuff soon. I have to. I hate dead websites.

Before I go I'll leave you with two things: this podcast I guested on with Mr Gee and Joshua Idehen. Mr Gee is really funny- and Josh has some really dumb views on the film Blade that thankfully didn't make it into the podcast.

+

The Muddy Feet youtube channel. Peter Hayhoe is one for the most talented poets I know and has started this amazing film company that is managing to put out a new poetry video every week. The quality is ridiculously high. Mixes of live performances and short films, if you want to know how varied and brilliant poetry in England can be, check this channel.

Still got bare time before my flight is called. I'll try to listen to a different song.


 

Falmouth + Doorstep Festival

HELLOMYNAMEISSEANANDTHISISTHENEWESTBLOGPOSTABOUTMYTOUR.

When you know you're putting your blog up late

When you know you're putting your blog up late

I performed my show at The Poly in Falmouth. I was scheduled to perform two shows- but the ticket sales were too low so it just become the one. I was told Cornwall are big on supporting their own but not so much for touring shows (especially ones with "urban" flyers). 

I was told that there might only be thirty tickets sold. Honestly- for me- thirty is not a problem- at all. I cut my teeth on doing stand up at open mic’s in London performing just to the other comedians and their partners/mates. I can have a lot of fun with thirty. I can have a lot of fun with one. Trussssss me Daddi.

Torbay was really nice. I was at a Travellodge in Paington, a seaside town- lots of beautiful arcades that sorely lack arcade machines. Everything closes at five pm, something that deeply offends me as a Londoner. The team behind The Doorstep Festival, in particular Jade, the co-director of the festival and a Brazilian Jujitsu enthusiast- were so wonderful and made me feel really looked after.

My first show was in a sport community centre and my audience mainly consisted of the parents of the local drama club who were my curtain raiser and some people from the local council to check if I was worth bringing down. We ended up getting to the venue way too early and spent loads of time practicing workouts with Tom- one of the lighting engineers and learning some of Jade’s Jujitsu grapples. By the time the show started I was already knackered.

Channelling our inner Eddie Gordo's.

Channelling our inner Eddie Gordo's.

Also spent a little bit of time with Rihannon. We worked on her introduction to her show. The cartwheel was her idea, asking the audience to turn their phones off, mine. I also made sure that she said her name slowly, and took a pause afterwards so she could get an extra applause. I wish her dad came to watch. He’d have been proud.

the show, in that community centre- to the thirteen year olds who had performed before me and to the parents of these actors- somehow created the most hospitable room I’ve ever performed in. I genuinely felt loved by that audience.

Me and my sister grew up going to nearly every youth club and community centre and I think there’s always a natural love to anyone trying to do something there. It meant a lot to perform there. It really did. The drama clubs we went to shaped both of our lives so much. Youth clubs and community centres are very cool.

Te amo.

Te amo.

I then ran a workshop with some BTEC Mandem at a nearby school. I spent a lot of time ranting- trying to drill into their heads that they can do anything they put their mind to- but I think they’d rather had put their mind to doing some drama games and workshops a bit earlier. 

I’m having a lot of fun doing these workshops. I don’t think it’s something I’m naturally good at- like Polarbear- who is a genius at it. I’m getting better though, and that one in Torbay was a big step in getting better at it.

The practitioner squat.

The practitioner squat.

My second show was at the Edge, in the Brixham. Not much to say other than that the audience were also really lovely, when putting the gum shield in my mouth I threw up, had to hold it in my mouth and swallow and do the rest of the show wondering if anyone noticed. Actually, Harry Bower wrote something really nice about the performance which I think is worth checking out.


After the show I talked to a seventeen year old called Jay. It was a really intimate chat. When I was seventeen, I had a very real hatred for my school system, for failing me, for making me feel stupid- for making my friends feel scared and pressured and worthless.  My focus and energy was instead put into the gym, to comedy nights and (free) courses at Hampstead theatre- Jay doesn’t have those things here. He just writes.  And he’s really, really good. Talking to Jay has been the highlight of the tour so far.

Right now I’m in Darlington- got a few hours till I do another show. I’m loving this tour- talking to new people- realising that country actually has a peaceful beauty I thought could only exist on other islands.
It’s lonely though- and when I get back to London I get this desperate feeling that I need to be out as much to make up for the time I’ve been away. I miss my girlfriend a lot. She lives in Brooklyn. Izzy was saying that all this travelling I’m doing could make me feel lonelier because all these trains I’m taking me aren’t getting me closer to the one place I really want to go. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. I’m so happy- overwhelmed by it- I just wish I could have her with me at the BnBs and Travelodges. 

Ah man I don’t want to end on a downer. Here is a link to Cecilia Knapp’s show Finding Home that will be at the Roundhouse Last Word Festival at the end of May. As to not date this blog post I’ll also post the wonderful trailer for the show that feels a lot more like a short film.

Here's the L---I---N---K.

Te Quiero.

Arlington + Albany

Anyone want to know about Arlington? Most I can say is that I wont ever use a DVD player in my show again- it turned itself off ten minutes in and I had to try and turn it on and fast forward to my boxing bout during the show. Looked like a right mug. Back to the tapes. Re-e-wind.

On the way home, I checked the Arlington Arts centre's pamphlet/list of shows that are on and saw my name written as ‘Ben Mahoney’- I really hope that there is a Ben Mahoney who has no idea why three drama students from Alrington now follow him on twitter- and congrats to him for doing such a great show about amateur boxing in Arlington! What a guy!

I was excited to perform at The Albany. I've seen some of my favourite performers for the first time there. I know it's an amazing place to be- I definitely wanted to do the best show I could.

This next bit of writing, I’m going to talk about performing a lot. And Nerves.

I love doing this so much. I love writing, I love performing. I’m so grateful to make enough money on this tour that I can buy a plane ticket to see my girlfriend and Mum in New York- I think, because I love it so much, I forget how stressful and exhausting it can be. We did a get in, worked on some new staging for the Albany audience layout, tweaked a few later scenes with Yael, did a run through, a tech run- I remember looking at the clock and realising I had half an hour before the show would start. There was then this panic in me that I couldn’t shake off- tried doing a warm up, tried listening to music, staring at a wall- each one for ten seconds, on a loop, getting more and more frustrated with myself.

When I got on stage, I said the first line of the show so quick, I didn’t even hear it. I wondered if I said it right at all. For the next ten minutes I was on stage, questioning myself, frightened, tripping up on my words- luckily- the first ten minutes of the show revolve around me being a very nervous, frightened little boy- so I don’t think the audience could tell. And the audience were so lovely. One of the loudest I’ve ever had. Was so pleased whenever I heard Zia and Eve laugh as well. Love you two so much.

When I finished shifts making burgers, or selling pies, I’d go home and feel rubbish, hoping one day I’d do what I’m doing right now- so to let anything get in the way of enjoying these moments has me getting really mad at myself.

The next show went real smooth- I got to share the stage with Jacqui, who beautifully interpreted my show using sign language- it was such a joy to share the stage with her and I would love to work with her again. 

My sister Eve filmed the show- she’s an amazing filmmaker and did the trailers for the BAC run. it was great to have her film the show and really exciting to see what she’ll do with the footage! I’m guessing she’ll cut it to some unknown Skpeta song from 2008 or a Novelist freestyle that’s only on soundcloud.

It was really nice to do another show in London. Thank you so much to all my mates who’ve recommended the show on Facebook and Twitter! Especially to Beth Friday, someone who went to my old gym does stand up, working at one of the best comedy nights I ever did stand up at, Angel Comedy. In every chat we find another way in which our lives are eerily similar. She also brought Chip Grim, a poet and trainer at one of a gym I used to box for, The Allstars. That meant a lot to me.

And to Daniel Kitson- thank you for coming on Tuesday, for coming to the show in June and recommending it on your mailing list, what you wrote was so encouraging and I’m really thankful and grateful for your support. No doubt in my mind you’re the reason my show sold out. Thank you so much.

I’m leaving London for six days now. Touring. Performing at the Poly in Falmouth on the 9th, The Acorn Theatre in Torquay on the 12th and The Edge, in Brixham on the 13th. It's exciting. I'm really knackered in a BnB in Falmouth. Rains a lot here. Te Amo.

P.S. Follow Andrea Hubert, Zia Ahmed, Jade Bruce and Milly Prett on twitter.

Hull

L-O!

I was in Hull for the heads up festival last week. I loved it. The way they say hello is like "L-O". My two shows were at St Paul Boxing Gym and Winefred Holtby Academy. St Pauls is a beautiful gym. Big painting of the clubs crest on the wall, an area at the back where you can buy a tea if you're a parent picking up your pugilist in training and are early enough to see them spar, framed, blown-up pictures of boys in boxing stances through the ages-from crops, to mullets, moustaches and back to crops again (No fringes). The club has also birthed Olympic gold winner Luke Campbell. Needless to say for this to be my first location to tour I was pretty nervous.

 I was lucky enough to meet Mickey, the owner of the gym before going on. It meant a lot to shake his hand and thank him for letting me do my show in his gym. There was something very strange about warming up, in my Times Amateur Boxing Club attire in the dressing room of another gym before going on. It was Eerie and uncomfortable. I was hit by a wave of doubt- as if I was pretending to box. I started texting Yael Shavit, Helen Heaslip, my little sister, mum, dad, partner- all of them encouraging me. Made me feel really lucky

The room held a lot of theatre makers, people from the community, and boxers. Ex boxers and current.  I couldn't ask for a better mix of people. It wasn't my smoothest show at all. I'm nursing a terrible cough at the moment and at one point had to chug a glass of water while the bell was ringing! What it lacked in timing and delivery it made up for in- I don't know- feeling. The moments that felt important held more weight than they've ever done, almost to the point of hurting me to say them. If the show didn't go well here, I don't know if I  could have had the confidence to perform at another gym so I'm honestly really grateful that the audience at St Pauls were so accommodating and lovely and open to my show! Thank you St Pauls and Mickey!


The show at Winefred was great- it was to year eights and nines. Not sure if the age group is a little too young- and I think a lot of them were worried about laughing in case they'd get told off, but it was great to hear the odd giggle every time i said "fuck" on stage. Can't believe I get to have a job where I can say fuck at a school and not get in trouble for it. How amazing!!


The workshop I ran with the teenagers was great too. We played games, did a little Q&A (And no one asked how I remembered it which makes me love them even more) I fell in love with the way they say so many of their words- and how honest they were in talking about the most important five minutes of their lives.

"Welcome to Mr G's room G's room welcome to Mr G's room G's room"

"Welcome to Mr G's room G's room welcome to Mr G's room G's room"

There's a review of the St Pauls show, by downstage centre, Clare Brennan of The Observer did a FOUR PART tweet about the show calling it a "Hum dinger" which was lovely!

Thank you so much to Daniel Kitson for recommending the show in his mailing list. I've been getting messages from people all day about it!

Final thank you to Stephan Skills from Winefred for giving me his stories to read. I haven't properly tucked into them yet but the fact you've trusted me with them means the world to me. You're a world maker mate!

What else. I stayed in an Ibis which Ethan- the ex-skater tour techie who refers to it as "abyss" and had a lovely time watching Everybody Loves Raymond on the hotel telly in the morning. Saw Deadpool. Really good. Very romantic. Made me miss my girlfriend. I always miss my girlfriend.

Cool. This is really long. I'll do shorter ones in the future.

I'll leave you with the Beetle and Bird website. Milly Prett, someone who worked and helped so much on the beginning show and helped shape it a lot. She can see things a lot of people can't when it comes to writing. I saw them do their show Moonfruit in Brighton- it was incredibly beautiful and I've been hooked on their website for a while, especially watching the Keithettes video. So good!

Okay. Great. Safe one!
Sean.