Thursday, April 06, 2006

Francesca and the Troubagangers

Scooted off to British Council yesterday for a lunch-time interview with performance poet Jessica Beard over pizza in the courtyard. (Here pictured with daughter Lola Choo who is learning how to follow in her mum's footsteps.) It was as much a meeting with a friend, because we'd met in Manila last November when I got my first taste of what Performance Poetry is all about in Francesca's workshop sessions.

Then at night the La Bodega gig. Francesca and the Troubagangers – a showcase of local talents. There was something for sure at stake for both parties. This was Francesca’s first ever Malaysian performance even though her roots are here (half-Malaysian, she was born in Assunta Hospital and grew up in Penang).

And our local guys had something to prove too - would their performances flag and sag when put side by side with a professional performer/poet of Francesca’s? As it turned out, it was a totally brilliant evening.

The upstairs of La Bodega was packed to the rafters with an incredibly supportive crowd. (This was Wednesday and this was poetry for heaven’s sake!) Jerome and Yasmin Low compared the evening incomparably. (Though Jerome added me to the list of people to read on the open mic afterwards ‘cos he said I was a heckler! Not good.)

Francesca was totally connected with the audience as she shared hilarious stories about her childhood,her dog Fluffy, multicultural encounters in Tesco’s and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Poetry meets stand-up comedy meets song.

But this is the heart of it - her poems were addressed directly to the audience, drawing them in, in a way that reading them out cannot. One poem was a survey about which way we'd prefer to die if we could choose (being eaten by a lion in KLCC Park, getting chainsawed by a nutter, left to drift slowly into outer space ... ) - a grimly funny piece, which had her soliciting views from the audience. Poetry that talks and lets you talk back.

The Troubagangers were on top form, feeding on the electricity of the occasion. Most of all I enjoyed: Jerome's lyricism, Fahmi Fadzil's No Exit (which he improvised on for the occasion), Ruhayat X performing his piece about the pencil, another dose of Pang's encounters in the dark, Sharanya's very sexy poem about everything wanting to make love to her ...

But it was Rahmat Harun's rollercoaster ride of a performance of Keranamu Malaysia which came closest to upstaging Francesca ...

I came away inspired. Syabas to all who worked so hard to pull the evening together and a special mention for Sunitha Janamohanan of British Council and her team.

(Below - Francesca relaxes with a glass of wine after the performance.)


irene said...

Am so glad I went! Was my first time attending something like this, and it was a great eye-opener. Thoroughly enjoyed Francesca's performances. Meeting you was a highlight too, Sharon! (gee, now I sound like a stalker or something... *grin*)

lil ms d said...

i really wanted to go, but couldnt because my ride had to cook dinner for the husband! because i can't drive yet, and depend on taxis/friends' sympathy, i'm pretty much legless for now. haiyah.

but sharon sharon sharon! read vogue uk (april 06) and in the lit section - i saw my former class mate - ray robinson and his first ever published novel 'electricity'!!! he's very very talented and great fun. felt soooooooo proud of him and always felt he'd go very very far with his writing. wah!

bibliobibuli said...

it was lovely to meet you too irene!

ms d - sad you couldn't come ... if you need a lift, let me know

i have heard of your friend - i put the book on the BC library list and am looking out for it because it is supposed to be one of the most exciting novels to be released this year ... according to the british press and waterstones magazine

The Great Swifty said...

Stuck in Perth, impossible to attend something like this. Anyway, Sharon, here's an entry my guestblogger and I did about Haruki Murakami's Elephant Vanishes, I seriously feel that he's overrated. Would like to hear what you think of him

thewailer said...

I missed her performance and regret profusely ever since! :(

Anonymous said...

_have_ regretted _it_ !!


Sorry, couldn't stop myself :P

Siege said...

Oh! Is she still in Malaysia? Please do say HI to her for me... :) I'm here in Seoul, by the way, taking up a residency exchange program for young writers.

Well, I'm sure you all had a great time at Francesca's performance! I promise to contribute something in my blog on performance poetry as soon as I find the time. :)

Write On!!!

bibliobibuli said...

swifty - i'm sure you have some very exciting stuff going on there that would make us jealous if only we knew

your review of the murakami was very interesting ... well done for putting bookish debate before us ...

wailer - next time ... hopefully there's more performance poetry to come later in the year

anon - since you are fictional how could you have turned up?

siege - i did say hi for you and told her to look up your blog

look forward to reading what you write about performance poetry and hope you write about your experiences in seoul too

lainieyeoh said...

oh my friends and i simply love her. since you are friends with francesca beard......bribe her with whatever is necessary to bring her back

- i'll supply the loving lesbian audience.

Anonymous said...

Turned up for what ? :) If I could though, the first thing I'd say to her would be "Ah, the one that doesn't have one, and will hopefully never have one" and see if she gets it :)

Words are fun to play with :)

bibliobibuli said...

hi ray, sent you an e-mail with contact details for ms d