Episode 22 of
Performing Arts Lab
Spoken Word Artist
I’m your host, Sally Adams, and every Monday evening, I talk to people about making original work for the stage. Subscribe to SallyPAL on iTunes, Google Play, Podbean and many other podcast platforms. Leave comments, give me a review, or send an email to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every Monday evening. Thanks so much to those of you who continue to share. Thanks to Connie, Steve, Jeremy, Pat, Emile, George, Vicki, and all of you who are taking the time to spread the word.
Don’t forget about the FREEBIES on sallypal.com/join. You can still get your 20-page free original theatre resource. It’s a glossary of live performance support you’ll need for your original work. It’s useful, entertaining, and there are places to scribble your show’s notes on the pages.
Today’s episode features an amazing young artist, David KoloKolo. David is a senior in the accounting program at George Washington University in Washington DC. He’s like many serious-minded young men about to embark on a career in the corporate world. But just under the surface is a passionate, thoughtful, poetic soul. David received recognition as a spoken word artist through the Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. David is a musician who draws energy and inspiration from his Christian faith. He grew up listening to Bill Gaither Gospel and Hill Song Gospel as well as rock and hip-hop. Although his poetry is not always filled with religious images, his walk as a believer is all-encompassing. David’s non-judgmental approach to his art and his life is nothing short of inspiring. I want to share a poem he wrote and performed that really moved me. Here’s a link to David KoloKolo’s spoken word piece, Anthology of Apologies.
I’m includingConcise Advice from the Interview. This is a short version of tips from this week’s SallyPAL podcast guest. Here are David KoloKolo’s 5 great bits of advice:
5 As you grow as an artist, pay attention to your technique.
4 Art is communal even if you create in solitude.
3 Sharing digitally is a legitimate way to create a communal experience.
2 Share your whole self with your community.
And the number 1 piece of advice from spoken word artist David KoloKolo?
Worship can bind together all the areas of your life including your art.
Thank you for sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, and really and truly, thank you for listening. I want you to pursue your dream to have your original work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but I’ll be here with advice, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. If you like SallyPAL, a new podcast goes out every Monday evening!
Remember: All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination…
Now it’s your turn!
Blog Post – What’s in Your Way?
I had an enlightening conversation today with my friend Sheila about how I have been avoiding putting my podcast out into the world. I already had the first episode fully produced. But I have been second guessing myself daily until I finally went back and listened with people whose opinions I trust. That’s all it took. They didn’t even have to say anything. Just the act of listening to the podcast with my husband and daughter gave me fresh ears to hear what was missing. That is not to say Episode 1 is the most fabulous podcast ever made. I assure you, it is not. It is, however, the start of something I anticipate will improve as I learn and grow with your suggestions. It’s like that with original work, isn’t it? When you first write an idea into a document, or try dance steps alone in your kitchen, or sing some song phrase into your phone, you are not quite ready to share it. Or you struggle to make your partner or your mom (or your kid) understand what you’re creating. A few key strokes, dance steps, or musical notes later you might be ready to share. When you share, if you want your work to grow, you must start by finding someone who a) validates you as an artist, b) understands the value of constructive criticism, and c) is given the go-ahead (by you) to give an honest reaction. Most of the time you don’t even need to hear what they think, it will become clear what needs to be done as soon as you reveal this early draft. But your audience of one or two may still want to talk about what they noticed. When you allow people to express opinions about a work of art you are never suggesting that every idea expressed will be incorporated into your work. That would be silly. Allowing another person to share an opinion about something precious to you is the beginning of collaboration. To be able to hear what other people think about the work, your ego must step out of the way. Take what you can use, disregard the rest and thank all your critics for their opinions. Thank them with genuine gratitude. I promise, this gets easier to do after some practice. Don’t be confused about comments made about your art. A person commenting on your work is not critiquing your character. Listen for the contribution to the art. Sometimes, the most ridiculous ideas can lead to sublime finished work. Listen to Episode 1 of SallyPAL the Podcast
Slam Poet Emily Hedgecock (my daughter) presents to a Teach for America audience.
Kids are wonderful creatures. We often see them through the lens of our adult experience. The novelty of life can dissipate after years of repetition. The first trip to McDonalds is magical, the second is super fun, the third is great, but after dozens of Happy Meals and crawling through yellow plastic playground toys and running on Astroturf, the place starts to become a burger joint full of loud children and tired parents. But when kids are in the beginning stages of discovering everything, even the most mundane experience can have appeal. It’s one of the reasons why teaching kids how to express their feelings when faced with a new experience is so important. It’s what creative teachers do. This video of slam poet (and my kid) Emily Hedgecock, is one of the reasons why I support the arts in schools (besides the fact it pays my salary). If art is a unique expression of a universal experience, then teaching kids how to share these experiences in their own way can connect kids in their shared understanding defining both themselves and their world.
At the recent Creativity Summit in Tulsa this month my kids and I joined a breakout session where we could share our ideas on the question: “How can our schools continue to produce creative young people in a climate of reduced support for education, especially in the arts?” I made a short video and both of my kids answered with a piece of poetry. My daughter’s piece, titled A Sense of Urgency has to do with the reason kids feel misunderstood in the current system. My son’s piece is a reworked poem titled Wasteland. He approaches the idea from a more absurdist perspective because, as he says, the current thinking about education is absurd. Both kids are award-winning writers and I love being able to get a glimpse into their heads. Enjoy!
I am guilty of trying to make Shakespeare seem cool. I use the word ‘trying’ here, though I really do avoid it when giving instructions: “Try to memorize” or, “Try to speak clearly” doesn’t sound as though I am giving my students any direction at all. “Do or do not, there is no try.” But I digress.
I say I try to make Shakespeare seem cool, but the only way to really pull that off is to simply commit to the Bard without apology. Just love him as he is. If your students think that’s lame, no worries. If you don’t care what they think, ‘lame’ can become ‘interesting’, and ‘interesting’ to ‘cool’ is not such a stretch.
In a bit of downtime I came up with a little ditty to put Shakespeare’s plays in order for my students. Sadly, there is no definitive timeline for his works. I arranged the rhyme based on performance history rather than the order in which the plays were written as there is slightly less guess-work involved. Here it is, Bard Rap. Please feel free to steal it if you think it would be useful: