Saboteur Awards 2017: Spotlight on the Best Spoken Word Show

Next up in the Saboteur Awards Spotlight tour, where we give you a taster of all the works and people shortlisted: Spoken Word Shows! Don’t forget to vote!

“Fat Girls Don’t Dance” by Maria Ferguson 

I am absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for a Saboteur award. I think the awards recognise independent literature in a way that no one else does, and I’m very proud to have my name alongside artists I respect and admire. I never dreamed my little show would get this much attention. It is the cherry on the icing on the cake for Fat Girls Don’t Dance. -Maria Ferguson

Blending storytelling, theatre and killer moves spoken word artist Maria Ferguson explores her relationship with the f word (food) with the help of her first love (dance). Fat Girls Don’t Dance takes us in to the world of performance where three meals a day is up for compromise and skinny sells.

Why voters think it should win:

  • This show is revolutionary: it completely changed the way I think about myself, writing, poetry and my past issues around food. Maria teaches us it’s okay to be funny in a changing climate where so much poetry is focused on politics. She is an inspirational writer.
  • Powerful. Heart-felt. Thoroughly innovative in its exploration of a current, yet under-examined topic.
  • Having seen all the shortlisted shows, it’s in a completely different class. Incomparably good.

“How To Starve An Artist” by Rose Condo 

My eyes bugged out and my heart pounded scrolling through the shortlisted names this morning.  I’m absolutely over the moon to be on the shortlist for Best Spoken Word show, and in the company of amazing artists.  Buzzing! -Rose Condo

I’m a writer, performer and multiple slam winning poet.  Originally from the Canadian prairies, I have competed at the Hammer & Tongue National Slam Final, performed at Edinburgh and Brighton Fringes, hosted Queenie’s Coffee House Nights in Huddersfield and regularly perform at gigs and events.  How To Starve An Artist is my second solo spoken word show, which I have toured across the North and will perform at the 2017 Winnipeg Fringe in Canada.  In the show I prepare and serve food for audiences to savour, while simultaneously serving up spoken word that explores our need for creative nourishment.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Innovative use of audience interaction with spoken word. Plus you get fed.
  • The show is innovative, creative and inspiring. Made me cry.
  • Rose’s show was generous in every sense of the word; she shared poems and food with her audience, and her stage with other performers. In the madness of the Edinburgh Fringe, her show was a reminder of human kindness, and an excellent display of her talent as a spoken word artist.

“Show Me the Money” by Paula Varjack

I am super thrilled to be on a list with these peformers! All in all this year across all categories is a very strong list. -Paula Varjack

SHOW ME THE MONEY is a funny, inspirational show by multimedia artist Paula Varjack looking at how artists manage to support their creative dreams. Using a blend of documentary-style interviews with live performance, Varjack lifts the lid on what artists do to make ends meet. In doing so, SHOW ME THE MONEY provides a painfully honest, yet ultimately optimistic portrait of life in contemporary Britain as government cuts bite.

Why voters think it should win:

  • It is so well conceived, executed and most of all relevant to all artists.
  • amazingly fearless approach to the issues many don’t want to face – I felt energised after seeing this!
  • Important and timely.
  • Bloody Brilliant

“The Selkie” by Fay Roberts 

I’m frankly quite overwhelmed. There aren’t many awards for spoken word, and the Saboteur Awards are an extraordinary honour. In order to write The Selkie, I had to get past a great deal of imposter syndrome – I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t worthy enough – years’ worth. I found it easier to focus on putting on shows for other people to perform in (I still do: it’s immense fun!). Writing and producing and performing (and soundtracking) The Selkie has taken me on quite the journey of self-belief and discovering depths and breadths to myself, as well as a core of strength I’d never tested properly before. The Saboteur Award shortlist is another element of validation – concrete evidence to my internal nay-sayers that people really do enjoy what I do, and get what I do. And I’m going to wring every last drop of excitement and joy and gratitude out of this as I can – it’s quite an extraordinary feeling! -Fay Roberts

The seal woman’s skin has been stolen, stranding her on a reef of rage and tragedy. Can she find her true home, freeing her voice? Fay Roberts (Other VoicesAllographicHammer & Tongue) navigates a modern mythological sea voyage of hiraeth, poetry, music, and storytelling in this haunting solo show.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Fay’s work is truly beautiful, and it’s about time her poetry was recognised in the wider spoken word community!
  • The only show that made me fall off my chair. Twice.
  • Funny and tear-jerking and absolutely spellbinding. The story of a mythical creature but also of every woman’s relationships. I loved it (age 54) but so did my daughter (age 20). Fay’s voice is quiet, musical, hypnotic. This doesn’t depend on brash performance but is all about the deftly crafted poetic story. In a time of despair this is honest AND uplifting. Beautiful.

McCleary & Blair Panda to the Audience 

We are delighted that people enjoyed the show enough to vote for us, and flattered to be alongside these other, brilliant shows! – Ross McCleary & Andrew Blair

People hate poetry but they also love pandas. Maybe if people saw poetry from pandas, people would come to see that poetry? Ross and Andrew donned their panda onesies to find out!

Why voters think they should win:

  • This show was funny, bleak and brought spoken word to a lot of people who might not otherwise have gone to a poetry gig because the central premise was this idea of trying to pander (panda) to an audience by trying out different weird and wonderful ways of getting people in. This included deconstruction of cynical marketing ploys (involving the artists dressing in panda suits) as well as their weird twist on traditional poetic themes of place and identity. McCleary and Blair have been working together for a few years now but this show encapsulated how far they have come in terms of putting something together which was cohesive, experimental and also quite accessible. It was a joy to watch, I saw it several times and it was always slightly different.