Friday, 11 March 2016

Cabaret Thirty in the Heart Centre

Richard Wilcocks writes:
It worked! Under-thirties from our local area and far beyond came together on Friday, united for one wonderful evening of singing, music, storytelling and poetry - most of it created by themselves.  With one or two exceptions, most were current or recent students of one type or another, which is absolutely fine and logical, given that Headingley's population is inclined that way by about fifty percent. I devised the programme without knowing much about the timing of each piece, so inspired guesswork had to play a part. There was no opportunity for a rehearsal, of course. I had thought that two forty-five minute halves would be about right, but as it turned out the show ran for nearly twice that amount of time - and no-one seemed to mind all that much that the predictions were out.

If I was forced to choose a performance that was really star-quality, I would go for the violin-playing Owen Spafford, who is in Year 9 at Lawnswood School, a bow-brandishing maestro before his time, and I suspect from the clapping and the thumbs-up signals that all present would have agreed. My only criticism of his masterful treatment of mainly Irish traditional material is that he did not linger in his glory for more than a second or two, disappearing through the audience sat at tables at full speed. Of course, there were plenty of other impressive and memorable contributions, and some surprises. I was charmed by Kari Medalla's song to her Japanese friend in the audience , which was in Japanese, liked Samantha Crossfield's very well-read story about a woman on the London Tube who notices a baby smiling at her, felt that John Darley should turn up at more poetry readings on our home turf, laughed at Lewis King, who will make a solid career as a stand-up comedian, wished that Mabh Savage could have given us more of her poems on the Seasons, was taken aback by Kirsten Savage's (yes, they are sisters) spirited songs with bouzouki (maybe she should have brought her band as well), thought that Sophie Joelle's extract from her new story for 'young adults' showed that she will soon be up there with the best of them, tapped along to the singing of Billy Humphreys, was moved by Jenny Rutten's sad song about a love affair and a little upset that Ethan Lowe did not have time to give us more of his repertoire. Time hurried on, I'm afraid.

Thanks are due to all who helped to make the whole thing possible - particularly to Hannah Stone from Leeds Trinity University.

The running order was as follows - Kari Medalla (songs with guitar), Becky Leeming (poetry), John Darley (poetry), Lewis King (comic flash fiction), Samantha Crossfield (short story, Sophie Joelle (short story), Billy Humphreys (song with guitar), Mabh Savage (poetry), Owen Spafford (violin),  Ethan Lowe (short story),   Kirsten Savage (song with bouzouki), Jenny Rutten (song with guitar)

Megan Di Luzio writes:
Cabaret Thirty is running for its ninth year and it has to be recognised as a wonderful, unique opportunity that allows new talent to burst forth from the community of Headingley, Leeds. With a pastel blue guitar and a wistful look in her eye, Kari Medalla opened the evening with a rendition of Fast Car by Tracy Chapman and captivated the crowd with her beautiful voice. ‘I had a feeling I could be someone’ was a lovely emphasised line by Kari that reflected the aim of the evening, to allow young people to confidently presented their own creative pieces, establishing their own individual talent in the community! After Kari the musical acts in the room continued to amaze with Billy Humphrey giving a heartfelt show after having not performed for two years, Jenny Rutten who performed two songs of Brazilian, then Dutch origin and Kirsten Savage played the unique Bouzouki, performing her own songs that filled the room. However, the stand out musician of the evening was thirteen year-old Owen Spafford who played pieces of fourteenth century folk on his violin. Owen’s playing brought a genuine smile to my face and was received exceptionally by the audience and this modest young man didn’t even bow! The atmosphere was brilliant as the audience stamped their feet in time to the music as if about to stand up and dance like at a medieval, folk festival… perhaps next year Headingley?

Yet, the creativity isn’t limited to only musical compositions, Headingley Lit Fest presented a variety of poets and writers with lovely developing talent and as someone without a creative bone in her body I was extremely impressed. There was prose: Ethan Lowe read out two short stories of which Wooden Night made the audience chuckle with its hilarious dad-joke ending, Sophie Joelle read the first chapter of her novel in writing ‘Love always wins’ and Samantha Crossfield read her short story. I particularly enjoyed Samantha’s performance, not only due to her brilliant projection and embodiment of character, but because the stream of consciousness of this woman on a the underground truly reflected these moments of deep, absent thought that run through your mind as you sit on the tube in busy central London.

There was also a large amount of poetry throughout the evening: Becky Leeming presented us with some content from her working collection which portrayed the themes of nature, loss and mourning ‘hidden in my writing leaves’, as stated in one her poems. John Darley was the complete opposite of Becky, moving away from natural imagery and presenting poems with overlapping ideas, read quite rapidly in order to create a rapid stream of images for the audience. Poet Mabh Savage was also a delight this evening and I particularly enjoyed her soothing voice and poem that personified the seasons of autumn and winter.

The most unique act of the event was Lewis King whose genre was ‘Comic Flash Fiction’. His performance of Journey to the Centre of the Hoover was fabulous because his characterisation of the protagonist was humorous and remained constant throughout his reading. His use of actions and colloquial language made the performance feel relatable and his general wit kept the audience at ease when he was on stage. I highly recommend going to Cabaret Thirty next year (if not before) because this event has such a variety of talent from Headingley that needs to be seen!

*LATEST - click here to read Mabh Savage's blog post about Cabaret Thirty

Audience Comments
Great event, lovely atmosphere, and such a wealth of talent! A real diverse mix, music poetry and stories. Many performers who I will now look up on line to find out more about them. More please!

A sparkling mix, a fascinating evening. A cracking opportunity to dip into a range of performances. A pretty venue, a convivial atmosphere and a compere who put everyone at ease.

A grand evening! I particularly enjoyed: Sophie Joelle - great natural delivery and realistic writing of dialogue; Billy Humphreys - liked the passion and polished performance. Don't apologise to the audience - no need! Owen Spafford - one word - Phenomenal! One more thing - an interval is just civilised - it would have been better to have one and finish slightly later.

Good idea to carry on the young people's night from last year. More ...?... it next year. Felt it would have worked better in two halves. Maybe background music as we came in to establish atmosphere. Important ingredient in the LitFest.

Good night, it was interesting to experience the variety of the performances. Favourite was Samantha's story.

Lovely relaxing evening with some seriously talented and inspiring artists.

Only improvement I can think of is that the artists didn't seem to know what was going on in terms of timing, set length and running order! Thank you!

I like the decor and there was a good mix of things.

Excellent - so many different things! Highlights - my two offspring of course; Kari wonderful Spanish singing; Billy really good summertime music; John Darley amazing and thought-provoking; and of course Owen, absolutely brilliant!

Beautiful music, profound poetry and a terrible pun. Kirsten Savage was the best because she is sat right next to me and I think she has a gun. As an additional note - I like shorts, they're comfy and easy to wear.

Kari rocks!  As does John Darley. And Lewis, He's awesome. And Billy. And Mabh obviously. She’s  the best. And Owen is amazing. Twas great. PS I don't have a gun.

Owen Spafford - totally brilliant young player, with a quiet composure and captivating charm. This lad will go far. Very well constructed set.

I enjoyed the show all the acts were very interesting.

I enjoyed it a lot, though think it would have profited with an interval and a bit more publicity.

Owen flew! Everyone else was lovely too.

Awesome! Enjoyed it all, good range! Billy was SICK!

Good atmosphere and group of talented people.

Ethan was a personal favourite! Good night!

A wonderful evening. Loved it!

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