Apologies for my radio silence, the avid followers amongst you will have noticed that the final week of the tour has remained undocumented until now. There is good reason for this. My last 9 days in New Zealand were spent tutoring on the inaugural Poetry In Performance course at the National Youth Drama School (NYDS) which was a wonderfully intensive, crazy busy week of drama, words and rubber chickens...but I will get to that.
First things first. Final tour gig.
My last tour date was at Massey University in Palmerston North. Despite a middle of the day show, (I am usually a night owl) the place was packed and it was a wonderfully warm way to close a fantastically friendly tour. I had the honour of performing alongside a mannequin at this gig (one of my biggest phobias) so feel quite proud that I didn't let that faze me. It was a surreal moment when the gig was over and we realised that we had completed the tour that we had spent so long planning and looking forward to. Not that it meant we could relax. We had a week of teaching to prep for. However, we did indulge in one or two treats to celebrate a successful tour....
Now. NYDS. There is no real way to explain this amazing, ridiculous, energetic, exhausting and violently creative week. I had the absolute pleasure of co tutoring a group of 14-19 year old students in performance poetry. My fellow tutors, Ben Fagan and Jess Holly Bates (both incredibly talented) brought so much expertise into the room that I spent a lot of time joining in with exercises and learning and writing myself as well as shocking myself with how much knowledge I have myself on the subject.
"Not just some of it, all of it!"
The above is the title of our student's sharing of work at the end of the week. It comes from a students' poem and sums up the week in every way.
We spent the week combining drama and creative writing, creating a safe space and developing an ensemble voice. We introduced the students to work by a hugely diverse range of sources, poets from all over the world whose work we admire. We spoke of the scene and our own experiences, answering questions and encouraging the young people to get involved in spoken word across New Zealand. We connected the work to physical movement exercises that formed the basis of both mine and Jess' practice and by the end of the week we developed a fun, fluid and focussed piece of work for the whole school sharing that worked with a sense of play on stage. I had such a brilliant time getting to know the students and other tutors and fully immersing myself in the NYDS way of life. I was welcomed with open arms and was blown away by the openness of the place. But most of all I feel like this week was imperative to my creative development and has done wonders for my practice as a writer, a performer and most importantly a spoken word educator. I learnt so much from having a space to try ideas and I also feel that my contribution to the New Zealand spoken word scene, in particular the youth scene, was valued and important. I am excited to return to NYDS next year and build on the culture of spoken word that we started this year and am excited by the poetry seeds we have sewn in the students and what they will grow during the year.
Now, if that wasn't enough, I also had the privilege of starting a rap troupe. I will leave you with the evidence. (There are some private jokes in here, but for sheer production value alone, this is worth a watch.....)
And with that, the tour and therefore sadly this blog, must come to an end. This month was one of the best of my life and I am so grateful to have had the experience. To all who have read the blog, thank you for keeping up with my adventures. To keep in touch please follow me on twitter @sarsbars89.
I would like to thank all those who supported/contributed to the tour. Including:
Arts Council England, Apples & Snakes, Ben Fagan, Jess Holly Bates. Karen, Mike and Sarah Fagan, Amanda Green, Cat Brogan, Jacob Sam-La Rose, National Youth Drama School New Zealand, Claire Keys, David & Christina Ward, Ken Arkind, Gus Simonovic, Ironbar, Te Henga Studios, The Boiler Room, Trace Tidd, The Common Room, Gerard Barron, Poetry In Motion, Travis Cottreau, The wellington Pub Poets, Irene Fagan, Dog With Two Tails, Kyra Gillies, Massey University, Karen Newton, Stage Door, Havelock North High School, Simon Murfitt, Wellington Access Radio, Otago Access Radio, Laura Beth Keown, C K Stead, National Library, Peter Ireland.