Writer and Poet Roger Robinson talks about taking part in Apples & Snakes’ 35th Birthday Celebration, ‘Rallying Cry’
Marking 35 years since the influential poetry organisation formed; creating a space for emerging artists to hone their craft, Apples and Snakes acknowledges this exciting achievement by curating an immersive production taking over the newly renovated Battersea Arts Centre. Rallying Cry, just like Apples and Snakes is a call for vibrant, non-apologetic voices that disrupt the norm, fighting for equality. Apples and Snakes’ Associate, Roger Robinson celebrates over 3 decades of writing and spoken word poetry, having performed with influential bands, touring internationally with the British Council, been featured in the National Portrait Gallery’s New Generation Poets collection and having been chosen by the arts organisation Decibel as one of their top 50 influential Black British writers. A project that witnesses emerging and established spoken word talent collaborate, Robinson talks about what audiences can expect.
Hi Roger! You’ll be performing in Apple and Snakes’ event Rallying Cry from the 4th to 6th October. How do you feel ahead of the performance?
I’m excited. I think it’s a super innovative, immersive, challenging and really important piece of artistic work. I personally like the idea of established and emerging artists on the same forum creating a collaborative experience. The span of opinions, skills and viewpoints are refreshing.
Apples and Snakes celebrate 35 years of creating and developing work from some of the UK’s boldest voices. You have been a part of the organisation’s history having once been their Programme Co-ordinator. What does it mean to you to be taking part in this celebration?
I’ve always been a fan and associate of Apples and Snakes and have remained close to each of their iterations. What has always been at the heart of its different directors and especially more so with Lisa Mead; its current artistic director, is how important poetry and spoken is to disrupt the status quo and make positive change in people’s lives. That’s the ethos behind the scale and scope of Rallying Cry. It’s a big risk but it can afford big rewards and big change.
Poet and Activist, Audre Lorde’s sentiment – “Without community, there is no liberation. In our rallying and marching, we rediscovered community in one another” is a powerful starting point for Rallying Cry’s intent to rouse rebellion. What does the term ‘rallying cry’ mean to you?
To me Rallying Cry is about declaring what you want to develop in the world for other people beside yourself; for humanity, for the good of others. It’s not solely about personal politics. It’s about making change in the world and using your voice no matter how large or small to start creating it; and in that declaration finding the community who feel the same and moving forward with them.
The immersive performance will take part in different parts of the newly restored Battersea Arts Centre. What will your performance entail?
My performance will be, for want of better words, will be a performance lecture. It will essentially be a community activist trying to encourage an audience to join a march. It’s more complicated than that but I don’t want to give it away.
What would you like for audiences to take away from your performance? The show?
I would like people to understand the sensory horror of racism and racist brutality and understand that if you aren’t constantly being active as a citizen against it then it will rise and rise and then racist governments will be elected etc.
How did you approach creating your spoken word piece?
I usually start with a concept for theatrical work. Then I’ll ask my self a hundred questions about the concept and what central story could get this over. Then I’ll come completely away from the concept and then I concentrate on the clarity of the story. From there I’ll work on sensory perception and rhythm. I need the music and sense to reflect the subtext of the concept. From there I’ll get it up with a director or team. Sometimes there will be more clarity issues when you get up on the floor and get physical with it. After that it’s into rehearsals and more changes as you get the piece in to your body. Then in front of an audience and some smaller adjustments and then that’s it.
What advice would you give to aspiring poets?
Writing is really about reading, show me a great writer and I guarantee that they are a great reader.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Rallying Cry will be shown from Thursday 4th until Saturday 6th October 2018 at the Battersea Arts Centre. To find out more about the production, visit here…