Congratulations on your recent win at the Saboteur Awards Festival 2021! How did you feel when you found out that you’d been shortlisted this year?
I was very surprised but delighted to have been shortlisted. ‘Spark’ had only been performed once in a theatre before covid hit, and since then all performances and activities around the show have been pure digital. Because of this I thought the show would kind of slip away because of bad timing, but being shortlisted for the award and then winning has given me hope that there might be a life on stage for ‘Spark’ in a post-covid world.
Do you feel the pandemic has impacted your work at all; made it harder, or perhaps even easier, to reach people and to promote what you’re doing?
Just before the first lockdown I received arts council funding to create an education programme aimed at young people to teach self-confidence and voice through spoken word poetry, using the show as the main source material. The aim was to go into schools and teach in person, but I had to change my plans and create a digital programme instead. It almost worked out better because now, instead of being tied to my availability and location, the Spark Education Programme can be taken anywhere in the world, and teachers who may not have the resources to bring in a guest speaker but still want to teach spoken word in their classrooms can deliver the programme on their own with full autonomy. It also meant I could commission the filming of the full show in a theatre and share it online. You watch the full show and take the education programme for free at www.sparkeducationprogramme.com
Are you working on anything at the moment that you might be able to tell us a little about?
Right now I’m doing a lot of writing for TV, but I have one eye on the next spoken word project. I’m wanting to explore female storytelling as a heritage. Being from Glasgow, my grannie is a natural storyteller and can command any room just with her words. There’s an electricity to it, and it only exists in person. As we rely less and less on in person storytelling and rely more on digital, are we losing that magic? Can I be as an engaging storyteller as my grannie in my group WhatsApp chat as she is in person? I don’t know the answer, but it’s something I hope to explore in my next work. I don’t know much about that work, but we call my granny “The Oracle” because she just knows everything about everyone, so I know the work will be called “Oracles”.
Of course, one of the real shortfalls of not being able to run a live awards show is that people miss out on the opportunity to share an acceptance speech. While you’ve got the platform to, is there anything you’d like to share with readers about your win?
The show was made possible because of the support from my partner, David Devereux (who also composed all the music and performed it live on stage with me), because of my Director of Poetry, Jade Mitchell, and because of the Director of Theatre and Dramaturg, Charlotte Ryder, so I want to thank them for helping me turn my random idea into an actual thing. I also want to thank the person the show was inspired by, my sister Hannah. There is no one else who has my back as much as she does, or who makes me laugh as much as she does. She is my favourite witch and the original member of my coven, and I’d be lost without her.
You can keep an eye on Sarah’s work, and any upcoming projects, by following her on social media. She’s available on Twitter – @sgrantcreative and @SparkPoetryEdu – Instagram – @sarahgrant.creative – and Facebook, facebook.com/sarahgrantcreative. For now, though, another well-deserved congratulations from us to Sarah Grant for winning the award for this year’s Best Spoken Word Show!
Make sure you check back here on Wednesday, June 23 for the next in the spotlight series.