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The Last Word Festival

1 November 2013 Charlie Kenber

“Spoken word is in a really exciting place right now and The Last Word Festival at the Roundhouse is testament to that”

Next month the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm are producing London’s first ever spoken word, live performance and storytelling festival. Taking place over two weeks, the Festival, entitled The Last Word, will see a range of art forms come together: including installations, shows, takeaway poetry, master classes and discussion events.

The Festival is set to be an annual entry in the Roundhouse’s eclectic calendar, and provides an opportunity to engage directly with the venue and contemporary art forms. Alongside the performances, master classes will teach how to create poetry, to writing collaboratively for performance and even how to perform your writing.

Spoken word is becoming an increasingly popular means of cultural expression. As Lucy Atkinson, the Festival’s Producer tells us, “In recent years, spoken word has really come into its own as a hugely eclectic and vibrant art form adding to the cultural landscape in the UK.” Polarbear, an artist producing work for the Festival adds, “spoken word is in a really exciting place right now and the Festival is testament to that.”

But what actually is spoken word? What forms of performance come under its umbrella? Lucy continues, “never easy to define, spoken word takes on everything from theatre and storytelling to rap and hip hop. It has flourished from poetry slams to successful theatre productions to having its entire own section at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.”

Indeed, the Roundhouse, Camden’s cultural hub, has been central to this growth. The venue hosts a wide range of music and performance events throughout the year, on top of its engagement projects which foster young and emerging artists. “The Roundhouse has been part of this journey,” Lucy tells us, “developing and presenting the leading artists and now, for the first time ever, bringing together a wealth of performers and performances in The Last Word.

This reflects a policy focus of the venue: Marcus Davey, CEO and Artistic Director of the Roundhouse observes that, “spoken word has been central to our creative projects programme for 11-25s for the last five years, igniting and powering a new generation of young wordsmiths, poets and storytellers here and further afield.”

It is this young generation who now have their very own festival within which to present their work. And with the festival running for a full two weeks – 16th November to 1st December – there really is no excuse not to get yourself up to the Roundhouse.

The Last Word Festival Highlights:

Wasted by Kate Tempest

A day glo trip through the parks and raves and cafes of South London, where life is what you make it. The rapid-fire words of Kate Tempest paint a picture of lives less ordinary in an unforgiving world, sound-tracked by an exhilarating score. A play about life, love and losing your mind.
16th – 24th November, 8pm. Tickets £15

Huw Stephens presents Lyricism

In collaboration with Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Lyricism is a celebration of spoken word in music. Hosted by Huw himself, the evening will include performances by musicians and poets.
26th November, 7.30pm. Tickets £12.50

Bang Said the Gun: Pagematch

The legendary Page Match returns for a night of word wrestling courtesy of the amazing Bang Said the Gun, the finest purveyors of stand-up poetry. The evening will feature an unstoppable line-up including Luke Wright, Tim Clare, John Osborne, Ross Sutherland, Joe Dunthorne, Adam Kammerling, Rob Auton, Inua Ellams, Hollie McNish, Richard Marsh, Katie Bonna and Emma Jones.
29th November, 7.30pm. Tickets £12.50

The Simple Things in Life: Salander

Walk into Salander one person at a time, alone, and click. As the door shuts, the journey begins into the inner world of Salander: an installation where words are the performers. Created by award winning poet Lemn Sissay in collaboration with young people in care or who have been in care.
28th – 29th November, 4pm-8pm; 30th November & 1st December 12pm-8pm. Free

Poetry Takeaway

The world’s first purpose-built mobile poetry emporium. The Poetry Takeaway specialises in the production of free, made-to-order poems, delivered and performed to the hungry yet discerning literary consumer within ten minutes or less.
29th November – 1st December. Free

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