Spoken Worlds, Old Cottage Tavern, Burton upon Trent

Now in its fourth year Spoken Worlds continues to go from strength to strength. Tonight a strong roster of performers appeared with a typically diverse range of talent. Rather than simply report on the evening I think it is worth looking at the ingredients which make it so successful. At its heart is host Gary Carr. Gary understands the basics. A monthly event must run monthly, on the same day, in the same place, and you always remind that evening’s audience of when the next one is. Any free event where people do not commit in advance can sometimes experience unexpectedly high, and low, attendances. But so long as people are aware where and when the next one is, over time, a strong core audience is built up, which is what Gary has done. A PA to assists those who need help with projection, and a room which can take sixty people comfortably, but is still intimate, helps.

There are rarely headline acts, just three sections where an individual can perform for up to three minutes, offering a maximum of nine minutes over the evening. This is particularly useful those with content which is diverse. An individual might do a comic, a serious, and a themed slot, all as stand alone entities.

Nikki Pywell

It is also fiercely egalitarian. Veteran performers like Staffordshire Poet Laureate Mal Dewhirst ( making a welcome, and warmly received return to the circuit) and Leicester award winning Poet Jayne Stanton have no more, or less, time than newcomers to the event like Harriet Warner and Nikki Pywell. The only measure is; “is it any good?!” Nikki impressed with an extended piece about control, “It’s time to be bold”, which resounded like a personal manifesto. Gary Carr liked her shoes too. Perhaps she bought them in Marks and Spencer? Harriet’s piece on shopping there with her mother, For One Woman, was waspish, clever and very effective. Spoken Worlds welcomes new performers, one of its many strengths.

Phil Binding’s reputation as our Railway Poet was further enhanced while Rob Stevens combined a fine piece on a nightclub murder with his customary acoustic guitar accompanied song, and a running gag on the weather. Ray and Terri Jolland entertained with a sketch and song and Stephanie Knipe made one of her welcome occasional appearances to speak of hoovers and sheep. So you see, this is no ordinary Spoken Word evening.

Spoken Worlds next plays on Friday 15th March at 7.30pm, free admission, sign up on the night.

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