Spotlight on Open Mic: Catweazle and Find the Right Words
What made you think you should set up a performance night?
Catweazle: When we started, there was nothing here [in Oxford]. Catweazle is an unplugged performance space for music, poetry, spoken word, song, and all manner of acoustic artistry. The night has been running for 24 years, this Autum. It is a listening space (no PA) and people have taken it to their hearts.
Find the Right Words: We've been running for 5 years. I moved back from living in Liverpool (where I discovered and fell in love with poetry nights) and there just weren't any high quality poetry nights whichexcited me in the city. I wanted to set up a night which brought renowned writers and performers to Leicester whilst also offering development and performance opportunities for local poets.
Do you have guest poets? If so, how do you choose them?
Catweazle: It is an open stage, on a first come, first served basis.
Find the Right Words: We do! Two every month. How do we choose them? That's a tough question. I have tohave seen them before or they have to come very recommended.
What are the highlights of running a night of this sort?
Catweazle: The dizzying array of very talented people, whom one might never otherwise discover.
Find the Right Words: Watching performers go from being new and nervous on the open mic to gaining in confidence and owning the stage.
And the difficulties?
Catweazle: Fragile egos (esp my own)
Find the Right Words: When headliners cancel at the last minute
What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up a Spoken Word Night?
Catweazle: Start small, be consistent (i.e. turn up, keep it regular, etc)
Find the Right Words: Be organised. Pay your headliners properly. Know that this will take up more of your time/life than you think it will!
Jess, we noticed that at Find the Right Words you also run workshops in conjunction with your night, what are the benefits of doing this?
It offers audience and open micers another way to engage with the night - by developing their skills with a professional writer, by sharing their work in a space which may feel more comfortable to them than on the stage, by getting to know other writers and performers more than they would if they just sat in the audience with them.