Last Wednesday was Bad Language and afterwards "BL veterans" Fat Roland and Dave Hartley both wrote on their blogs about how on that particular evening they underwent some kind of performance epiphany, together but separately, if you know what I mean. Weird thing is, just around the same time I also had a "performance moment", but for once I wasn't with my fellow Flashtag members. In fact, I wasn't even in the Rainy City; I was over in the City of Light, Paris. Some background. The Flashtag writing collective was created nearly four years ago, when we performed our micro fiction for the first time at the 2010 Manchester Blog Awards (as they were called in the olden days) then, a month later, at the inaugural Bad Language. So how odd for three out of the five of us to have a significant breakthrough just at the same moment, right now.
So, what happened? Well, Dave learnt a 300-word piece off by heart, having been influenced in some part by Flashtag's recent Short Short Story Slam (the next is 8 July, btw - get it in your diaries!), when the winner Simon Sylvester committed not one but three stories to memory: "He was able to liberate his hands and eyes from the ubiquitous paper and put them to good use elsewhere: in gesture, audience eye-contact, and character embodiment." Meanwhile, Fats dealt with a heckler in a cool, calm, collected and, by all accounts, comedy way. He posted: "What struck me about that moment was I could multi-task my little brain gremlins to enable me to plan mid-performance. I'd not done that before. I felt like a stand-up."
And me? I didn't just have one performance moment, I had two - last Thursday, so a little over a week ago, and then Monday just gone. I'd already arranged to read at the weekly Paris Lit Up night in hipster Belleville, which was absolutely rammed but very welcoming (pix above; see the PLU blog of the night here), and after my turn, audience members and fellow performers alike encouraged me to try out SpokenWord Paris the night before I came home. This was equally popular (how do they manage it every week?), just as friendly and in a great space with low wooden benches set out amphitheatre style (play spot the Clare in the audience below). The big change for me was that neither venues had PAs - so, as well as having no mic to hide behind, it seemed to make me use more exaggerated gestures and facial expressions (see photographic evidence), and made me speak more slowly as I had to really project my words, which meant I could take my time and look around the room a lot more than usual. This all added to the drama and humour, and got the audience to concentrate and connect, which gave me the confidence to go for it good and proper.