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What words are ours? by artist Talia Randall

Talia Randall makes and curates riotous cabaret, bold poetry and joyous theatre. Often acting the chaotic clown on stage, once you scratch the surface you’ll find work that is political, personal and provocative.

Talia writes for Run Riot about What Words Are Ours? a poetry-cabaret night she hosts and curates. “Daring... thought provoking… hilarious”, the show is British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted and is returning to the Roundhouse on Saturday November 17th after sell-out shows last year.

Fierce bars & fishnet tights, satirical picture-poems about white liberal proverbs, Polari inspired love stories, BSL Poetry performed by ground-breaking Deaf artists, James Earl Jones reading the alphabet, a Boyzone sing-along, a paper-throwing fight and a giant inflatable mouth… these are just some of the things you can expect from a night at What Words Are Ours?.

Not your usual poetry night What Words Are Ours? throws together a kaleidoscopic range of performers who would never usually be curated on the same line up.

The acts may be stylistically different but are united by their innovative approach to language and are all equally as incredible as each other. As well as being a celebration of these artists the show is deeply political too.

On the What Words Are Ours? stage artists have explored the appropriation of language and identity, have reclaimed terms that have oppressed them and have dropped raps at breakneck speed about austerity cuts, whilst pounding the stage in towering heels.

The show also features Deaf poets working in BSL and Visual Vernacular. Visual Vernacular (VV) is “a method of expression which involves re-enacting an event through body movements as opposed to using the language of sign”.

Deaf Artist Zoë McWhinney joined us last time and performed poems in BSL. Zoë worked with a BSL interpreter and a voice actor who expressed Zoë’s poems for hearing people in the audience. Zoë playfully referred to these collaborators as her ‘voices’ that she could employ to express herself to everyone in the room.

It was Zoë’s primary voice though – her visual voice, her BSL Poetry and Visual Vernacular – that was the most stunning. When Zoë performed exclusively in Visual Vernacular, with no one else interpreting her work into spoken English, everyone in the room was bowled over.

For the upcoming What Words Are Ours? Donna Williams aka DeafFireFly will be performing work in similar art forms. Donna says of her work: "I'd always enjoyed reading poetry but the first time I saw BSL poetry on stage it blew my mind. Now as a bi-lingual poet, I experiment with delivering poetry in English and BSL, using various styles and techniques. Being bi-cultural and moving between the hearing and Deaf worlds can be a struggle and I reflect on this in some of my poems. At What Words Are Ours? I'll be performing some of my poems in English and SSE (Sign Supported English) and others in BSL while interpreter / actress Becky Barry reads my English transcript of the poem. This bilingualism is a key part of my identity and I'm excited to share my work on the night."

At its heart What Words Are Ours? is less a show about the power of language but more a show about power itself. The languages we speak and sign everyday are inherently political and intrinsically about power and What Words Are Ours? was born from the urge to explore this. Join us at our fun, bold, poetry-cabaret.

At the upcoming show on Saturday November 17th the line up is killer:

KAYO CHINGONYI - whose book, Kumukanda was a Guardian and Telegraph book of the year and won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. “Chingonyi’s poems are full of questions that need asking” The Guardian
Having worked with the likes of Mykki Blanco and Scottee expect the unexpected from LASANA SHABAZZ, a visually arresting performance artist.
Groundbreaking deaf poet DONNA WILLIAMS will perform BSL poetry that explores her fascination with bilingualism, translation and identity. Donna will perform some of her poems in English and SSE (Sign Supported English) and others in BSL while interpreter / actress BECKY BARRY reads the English transcript of the poems.
British Syrian poet LISA LUXX will share poetry that is “sensitive and revolutionary – always kind, always fierce.” (Dazed and Confused), RUTH SUTOYÉ's poetry explores intimacy, loss and how we carry this through the generations. A Roundhouse Resident Artist, Ruth’s work spans poetry, visual art and photography.
Queer performance artist OBERON WHITE will be writing a ‘speed poem’ made from audience suggestions alongside an esoteric and nature inspired extract from their show winegod.

Created and hosted by me (poetry-clown TALIA RANDALL). I’ll be performing something Spice Girls inspired.

The night will be BSL interpreted by MARTIN FOX-ROBERTS a multi-talented BSL interpreter & performer.

The next What Words Are Ours? is at the Rounddhouse, London November 17th 8 – 10pm and will be back again in March, June and September 2019. Tickets are £10 and can be booked, here.

Talia Randall
@talia_randall (Instagram)

What Words Are Ours?
by Talia Randall
Saturday 17 November, 8pm
BSL interpreted
Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8EH
Box office:  0300 6789 222
Tickets: £10