'I just wanted to do SOMETHING': why Luke Wright has been performing nightly during the lockdown
On a Monday night in mid-March when live events started being cancelled lock, stock, and barrel due to the coronavirus crisis, leading performance poet Luke Wright said on Twitter that he would be live-streaming his shows over the following couple of weeks. He said then: "I can't not gig. My need to show off is pathological." We’re now into May, and Luke has been performing live – a different set each time – every night at 8pm on Twitter since the lockdown. As he approaches his 50th show, Write Out Loud asks him when he plans to take a break; how or if it pays; and, well, what’s his motivation?
When you started your nightly lockdown performances, how long did you plan for them to go on for?
Ah, man, not sure I had a plan. I just wanted to do SOMETHING. I wanted something to look forward to, didn’t want my life to be crossing things out of my diary. I said I’d do them for as long as people kept tuning in or by the time I was able to start gigging again. So far, after 44 shows, I still have an audience so I’ll carry on.
When do you plan to take a break? Do you have a target figure of consecutive shows to aim for?
No, I’m just going to carry on until no one is watching or I go mad. Who knows, maybe everyone will get back to some kind of normal way before the theatres open, and they’ll forget about me.
How long does it take to prepare for a show each day, given that you change the set list each night?
I sit down at my desk at 7pm and go through my poems, check them against my mood and start to assemble some kind set list. I try to not repeat poems too often, I like to leave at least two weeks between repeats.
What sort of feedback have you been getting? Does this kind of thing pay well?
People comment as I am going along and I’ve had lovely message from people after the shows. I’ve also been fortunate enough to receive some donations. I entirely lost my income as a result of lockdown so it’s vital to keep me going. I can’t say it pays ‘well’ but I’m truly grateful for anything I receive.
Are you finding the time to write new poems? Do you find lockdown inspires you creatively, or not so much?
Yes! I’m working on a new show. I’m taking old Georgian street ballads, which have the most amazing characters and giving them a new lease of life. These ballads are great fun to write, but in-between home schooling my kids and taking almost obsessive amounts of exercise I don’t have nearly and much time as I’d like. I’ve also written a couple of poems inspired by lockdown life, one of which is in the character of my Essex Lion poems - you can see that here
Do you in some way need the adrenalin of a nightly show to cope with these times?
I like the routine, it gives me some structure to my day. And I like to connect to people. And show off. It’s mainly just my pathological need to show off.
Write Out Loud reviewed and enjoyed one of your early shows - I think it was the 13th. Just wanted to say thanks again for what you are doing to help entertain the nation!
Gawd bless ya, kind sir x
Luke Wright will be performing his new show The Remains of Logan Dankworth in full on Twitter at 8pm on Wednesday 6 May