Caro Meets Spoken Word Interview

Francesca Beard: How To Survive A Post Truth Apocalypse

By | Published on Thursday 25 May 2017

You may be aware (and we definitely told you about it) that The Roundhouse’s Last Word Festival is under way, and one of the exciting spoken word acts lining up to take part is renowned performance poet Francesca Beard, who will be performing her latest show, ‘How To Survive A Post Truth Apocalypse’.

To find out more about it, and about Francesca in general, I orchestrated a quick chat ahead of her London show.

CM: Tell us about ‘How To Survive A Post Truth Apocalypse’ – what can audiences expect from the show?
FB: The show is a quest for truth, a journey of discovery through a fantastical landscape of fiction and lies. I’ll be leading the audience across the Butter Dream River, into a land of story, magic and adventure. We’ll hear a tale of true love in the tangled Forest of Desire, confront our own tricky minds in the Magician’s Lair and meet the Oracles of the Past, Present and Future at the Mirrored Lake. The journey will be highly risky and we won’t all make it back home.

CM: You’re obviously dealing with pretty current themes – would you say you have a political agenda?
FB: My political agenda is to encourage humans to take a break from being flaming suck-merchants. I include myself in the above category.

CM: Do you think it’s possible to affect through art the way people think about political and social issues?
FB: Yes. Change is inevitable and unstoppable, but we can, through our actions and intentions, affect how change happens. Art is as good a way as any to try and understand the world and our place in it. Through art we can try and share our knowledge and experience of complex, unknowable things and through art we can let change work through us in the most positive ways. Everyone should be encouraged to fingerpaint. Also, sing in a circle and interpret being different animals through the medium of dance.

CM: Do you think we can ever come back from this ‘post truth’ period?
FB: I don’t think we can go back to how it was before. How we move forward is up to us. I don’t know if we will end up in a world where people consume the reality they are sold, or if we can move towards a world where people try and connect in honest ways. I think it’s good that we are having to acknowledge head-on the fact that people care more about story than facts. We always have shared knowledge through story – the people telling the stories have always had huge power – but we are at a time in history where human beings have the power to destroy the planet. It often seems like we can’t change the system, but the system is us. So if enough of us want to change the system, it will change.

CM: You’re performing at The Roundhouse as part of the venue’s Last Word Festival. Are you doing anything else as part of it?
FB: I’m also leading a workshop on the afternoon of Sunday 28th -it’s called ‘Telling Tales, How to Survive a Post Truth Apocalypse’ and I’ll be sharing my process of how I use personal myth in my own work and why persona and autobiography is such a great resource in creating spoken word and in story-telling.

CM: Can we go back a bit now…? Was spoken word something that you were always interested in? Was this kind of career what you always wanted?
FB: I never thought of poetry and spoken word as being a career possibility though, like many people, I loved reading and listening to stories and poetic language. I stumbled into open mic spoken word, almost by accident. Now, I feel like I have the best job in the world, because I get to connect with people on a level that feels respectful and genuine.

CM: How did you get into performing like this? What advice would you have for anyone wanting to follow a similar path?
FB: I’d wholeheartedly recommend the route I took into spoken word – doing as many open mic events as you can and connecting with the various organisations that support emerging spoken word artists. We are so lucky as an art form to have these incredible support networks.

My career was nurtured by Apples and Snakes, they produced my first show ‘Chinese Whispers’, and are supporting this one. They train artists in facilitation and offer rewarding, well-paid opportunities through work in schools, libraries and other institutions. The Roundhouse is another big promoter of spoken word and spoken word artists. Arts Council England has been hugely supportive of me and so many spoken word artists over the last few decades.

CM: What’s next in the immediate future?
FB: We – it’s me on stage, but I’m part of a brilliant creative team for this show – are hoping to tour ‘How to Survive A Post-Truth Apocalypse’ around the UK and beyond.

CM: Did you tell the truth throughout this interview?
FB: Yes, but I’ve been a liar since I can remember, so don’t take my word.

Francesca performs ‘How To Survive A Post Truth Apocalypse’ at The Roundhouse on 31 May, and leads her workshop on 28 May. See this page here for the former, and this page here for the latter. For a full list of events on as part of The Last Word Festival see this page here.

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