The Last Word Festival…
Art Today have been fortunate enough to be furnished with a sneak peak of the line-up for this key literary festival starting next week in the capital…
The annual festival of fearless storytelling returns to The Roundhouse for two weeks, plus a half week of bold performances from established and emerging spoken word artists…
Jack Prideaux, Producer of the Last Word, said:-
‘The Last Word festival is now in its fifth year and continues to attract some of the biggest names in spoken word. Over the last five years we’ve had performances from the likes of Kate Tempest, Inua Ellams, Hollie McNish, and Sabrina Mahfouz. This year our headliner is Saul Williams – an iconic figure who has influenced many of the emerging artists we work with. The Last Word festival enables us to challenge pre-conceptions of what spoken word is and it’s the mix of established artists and exciting new talent that makes it so special.’.
Internationally renowned American artist Saul Williams is a pioneer of slam poetry, and has worked with everyone from KRS_One to Allen Ginsberg, not to mention The Fugees, De La Soul and Nine Inch Nails. Drawn from his sixth album MartyrLoserKing, he headlines the festival with a story of a Burundi hacker who becomes an internet sensation when he hacks NASA. Written and recorded between Senegal, Reunion Island, Paris, Haiti, and New Orleans and New York, MartyrLoserKing is a multimedia project that engages the digital dialogue between the developed and developing worlds.
Elsewhere in the festival in Two Little Ducks, activist and leading political poet Matt Abbott delves into the chaos of British politics, from disenfranchisement to our fractured relationship with our national identity, drawing his experiences of volunteering in the Calais Jungle whilst his hometown of Wakefield voted 66% in favour of Brexit. Matt’s previously shared stages with figures from Sara Pascoe, Kate Tempest, Ken Loach and Jeremy Corbyn, and recently starred in the national TV ad campaign for Nationwide alongside Hollie McNish.
Other established artists include spoken word behemoth Polarbear, who returns to The Roundhouse with I Knew You, a new play about escaping the past told through the eyes of a single mother who’s unexpectedly reunited with her grown up son’s father.
Jade Anouka x Grace Savage:-
Jade Anouka, star of the Donmar’s all-female Shakespeare trilogy and ITV series Trauma as Adrian Lester’s daughter, will be joining forces with UK beatboxing champion Grace Savage for readings from her pamphlet Eggs on Toast.
Podcasts – Deborah Frances-White & Rai, Alex Feads, Derek Owusu:-
The festival will be hosting two podcasts: Comedian Deborah Frances-White will be presenting her huge hit The Guilty Feminist, discussing topics that all 21st century feminists agree on while confessing insecurities, hypocrisies and fears. Mostly Lit is from 20-somethings Rai, Alex Reads and Derek Owusu, who track London experience and the intersection of literature with black culture in fun and playful way.
Rave – HighRise & Nabokov:-
The festival continues to blur the lines of where spoken word ends and music begins, fusing the two together in LIL.MISS.LADY, HighRise’s fresh concept-rave exploring the history of Grime from a female perspective, and nabokov’s Suitman Jungle. Leaders of cross art form productions, nabokov’s energetic new show follows Suitman from trading floors to dance floors, from city life to night life, as he tries to get through his 9-5.
Nature vs Nurture – Maria Ferguson, Koko Brown, InshaAllah Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan:-
Looking at how where we’re born shapes us, Maria Ferguson looks at whether being from Essex makes you an Essex Girl. Londoner Koko Brown responds to the “but where are you really from” question as she considers what it means to be mixed in contemporary Britain in White, and in LOL, InshaAllah Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan looks at the complexities and contradictions of being a brown Muslim who is forthright about her faith in Britain. Last year, Suhaiymah was the runner up in the Roundhouse Poetry Slam.
The ever-popular Roundhouse Poetry Slam is now in its 10th year of giving undiscovered young poets the chance to compete for the coveted Slam Champion title and win £500 prize money. This year the Poetry Slam will go on the road with heats taking place in Hull and Gloucester before the Final which will performed in front of a judging panel including Saul Williams in the Main Space at the famous London venue.
As well as the Poetry Slam going on the road, this year will see the first time that the festival spreads to off-site locations: south of the river, The Albany and Canada Water Theatre will be hosting a variety of Last Word events, including work from rapper, musician and BBC Radio 4 Poetry Slam winner Dizraeli, and Heaux Noire, an open mic night for and by women of colour.
Art Today will publish further details of the festival this week, including the event programme. Watch this space!
[Credits: Mobius Theatre Press Office; roundhouse.org.uk]