We chatted to Spoken word guru Matt Harvey, coming to Wells Theatre Festival this July, first up presenting a Spoken Word Workshop, and secondly to perform alongside poet laureate Claire Guest and local Workshop graduates.
So, you’re coming to Wells Theatre Festival this year.
I totally am and I’m very much looking forward to it. In fact I’ll be coming up to Wells twice during the festival. Firstly on the 7th for a workshop, then on the 12th for a performance at the Globe Inn with Claire Guest and some poets who I’ve yet to meet but who I will have met and worked with at Ritchie Hall on the 7th .
Tell us about the workshop on the 7th July.
We’re going to spend three hours together, giving attention both to our writing and to performing what we’ve written or brought with us. I’m not claiming that everyone will be transformed in that time into the best writer/performer they have it in them to be, but there’s every chance they’ll take meaningful steps in that direction. There may be strides, leaps and bounds, even. There will also be shuffling, edging and furtive sidling. All forms of locomotion will be encouraged, and other metaphors will be catered for.
Three hours seems a long time but, given we’ll be looking at writing and performing, it’ll probably whizz by. I’m hoping everyone there will be up for jumping in and trying things with no expectation of immediate excellence – although you never know – but every chance of genuine enjoyment.
And then there’s the performance at The Globe on the 12th, what can we expect?
I’m expecting to be surprised. What I love about Spoken Word is the sheer range of what you find and the openness of audiences to different work, different styles. I’m aware there’s a literature festival in Wells later in the year but I think it’s fitting that this gig finds itself in the Theatre Festival.
In Spoken Word there are elements of story-telling, theatre, stand-up, performance art, all alongside the good old-fashioned poetry reading. There’s a permission, given and accepted, to go to very different places in very different ways. So someone’s interrogation of grief arrives alongside someone else’s love poem to cheese, or a frank account of addiction takes its place alongside a rambling prose poem about buying curtain material. This last example is one of mine, by the way. It’s quite intense.
A Spoken Word evening can be a mini-festival in itself with the range of voices taking the stage. It can be hard for a relatively new performer to come along and claim the space after someone has been either deeply moving or very funny, but that’s the challenge for all of us – to grasp the nettle, bite the bullet, change the metaphor midstream and be ourselves.
Take part in the Performance Poetry Workshop taking place on 7th July at 2:00 pm – 5:00pm. Tickets £5.
Book tickets to see Spoken Word with Matt Harvey & Claire Guest + local support perform on 12th July at 8:30pm – 10:00pm. Tickets £5.
Apples and Snakes presents: Matt Harvey @ Wells Theatre Festival. Find out more about applesandsnakes.org.