Hannah Andrews is bringing something new to the Durham arts scene. As events producer for Toast + Jam, taking place this Wednesday at Empty Shop, she has organised an evening of spoken word performance, poetry, live music and art. The Bubble got the chance to talk to Hannah about the show and performance poetry more generally.
Toast + Jam will be taking place tonight, June 18th at The Empty Shop, starting at 7:30pm, and is sponsored by Fabios and The Pancake Cafe.
Tickets are £3 standard / £2 concession.
The Bubble: In a nutshell, what is Toast + Jam?
Hannah Andrews: A night of great spoken word and music, in a fun and intimate setting, and with lots of free toast.
Who will be performing at the show?
We have three brilliant poets coming up from Bristol, Sheffield, and Leeds, all of whom are also students and very talented. In between the spoken word local acoustic artists will also be playing.
You’ve been working as a freelance arts events producer in Newcastle, how does the arts scene there compare to Durham?
Naturally in Newcastle, the arts scene is a lot bigger than here in Durham, and as such there is a lot more pushing boundaries and experimenting with style. Two of the events I worked on for example were huge immersive outdoor theatre productions, involving dance, music, theatre, and a lot of fire… a bit like Lumiere but with many more integrated art forms.
What was best about these events though, was the range of audience they attracted, everyone seemed to turn up, from primary school kids, to students, to old age pensioners. That is often what I love most about performance art, its ability to create a special shared experience between people that often wouldn’t mix.
What is it about spoken word performance that interests you?
I think it is a great art form that is taking off all over the country and world, but unfortunately not so much yet in Durham. I really wanted to bring something a little bit different to Durham, before I head into the haze of graduate life (argh!) in July.
Why did you pick Empty Shop to host Toast + Jam?
It is such a lovely venue, with a really quirky, original feel. It also allows a lot of freedom with how to set up the space, which is what we wanted to make it as immersive and intimate as possible.
How difficult is it to make the different aspects of the show (poetry, music, art etc.) come together and combine well?
Music and spoken word are similar forms but each with a very different feel, so naturally work in good dialogue with each other.
As far as combining art forms is concerned, I always try to approach art as an immersive experience rather than something composed of separate entities. Think about an art gallery or installation for example, from the moment you enter to the moment you leave it is an experience in which separate art pieces or forms are brought together to form a cohesive whole. That is the feel we are going for with Toast + Jam.
It takes a careful hand, but the feeling when it comes off is very special.
What kind of people do you think would be interested in Toast + Jam?
Anyone who would like to spend an interesting evening in a wicked venue, with some very talented people.
What would you say to people who aren’t sure if this kind of performing arts night is for them?
If you are interested enough to read this interview, you are probably interested enough to check out the event. Come along and take a look, if it isn’t your cup of tea it will give you something unusual to talk about over drinks with friends!
Finally, what can people coming along next Wednesday expect and look forward to?
A night different to the majority of others in Durham. It will be fun, quirky, and varied, a great alternative to another night in Klute!
Jasmine Simms, one of the poets performing at Toast + Jam, has also provided on of her poems as a preview of what’s to come.
Lessons in Singing Requiems
Start by opening your mouth, not with force
but as though the jaw is unhinged, shocked,
an open door, and they’ll come to deliver lyrics,
banging on the back of your skull. Let them in.
You have so much to learn about singing; amazed
by secrets of the trade. Like how the resonance
stops in your stomach, like getting off a bus
he said, when you step off but the bus keeps going.
You can’t understand why, even now, a man writes
in Latin. You’ve prayed so many times to a God
that you can’t pronounce. In Mozart and childish
grief. In a line you can follow with your finger.
Like many singers, you can’t read, but dive into
sound repeatedly. Because you’ve chosen this place
of five straight black lines and a mess of conversations
with angels. Because you’re not the first to sing.