Ahh. Finally, the new season of Homework is about to kick off. Homework is Aisle16’s London scratch night, a kind of loosely themed literary cabaret on the last Wednesday of every month. Each night has a main show, with support slots from the residents, and often a guest slot.
Last year, despite drifting across three venues, we managed to have a fantastic run, premiering new material and shows every single frickin’ night. For a gig that consists largely of poetry, it manages to be pretty raucous fun. Back in October we debuted the full version of Infinite Lives, our show about video games and the grinding vapidity of real life, which is developing into something I’m really proud of. I think it contains the best material I’ve ever written, and it’s on a subject I really care about. Me, Joe and Ross also debuted the full version of what would eventually become Found In Translation, our show about how we tried to infiltrate infamous French experimental literature group, the Oulipo. We’re due to perform Found In Translation at the Port Eliot Literary Festival, on Sunday 26th July. Again, the show’s final version is something I’m really chuffed with and proud to be a part of. My other highlights from last season include: taking part in the four person performance of Ross’s Obituary poem, which cuts up four obituaries from around the same time then splices them together as if they refered to one person; hearing Kate Nash do a set at the end of Joe’s Submarine reading; watching Ross, Chris, Joel and Luke perform Services To Poetry on a tiny stage in a room packed to bursting point, and remembering that they’re my favourite poets; and getting to play Where Jenny Goes on my uke with glockenspiel accompaniment.
So anyway, the new season goes on until the end of October, on the last Wednesday of every month. It’s upstairs at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, although knowing our history with venues, I wouldn’t be flabbergasted if at some stage we have to make new arrangements and up sticks to somewhere else. But that’s all part of the crazy make-do-and-mend ethos that makes Homework so special, so slapdash. The night’s certainly one of my favourite to do, because the audience are always great. We experiment, we write lots of new material, and because of that, there’s that exciting feeling that what you’re watching will never happen again. It’s just a really cool mix of new stuff and super-bankable classics that is loads of fun to perform and seems, from the crowd’s responses, to be, err, nearly as fun to watch. Heh.
So, the new season kicks off with John Osborne’s Radio Head – current Radio 4 Book of the Week. As well as John’s reading there’ll be a full set from Tim Key of BBC4’s Cowards and Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe.
I reckon Tim Key is awesomecakes.
As if that wasn’t enough (well, actually it obviously isn’t – you can’t have a cabaret night with only two acts) me, Ross Sutherland and Chris Hicks will all be doing support slots, performing new material and generally being convivial little imps. I’ve actually written brand new poems, which I’ll be trying out for the first time at Homework. Squeeeeeeeee!
So look, if you’re reading this, you should come. Here are the details. The mental thing is, it’s only £3 on the door. If you can’t get there, we film each night and it sounds like an actual film crew should be turning up to the opening night too, so there’ll be eager lenses a-go-go. Fingers crossed it will be giddy joy and everyone will have a great time. We’ve been super-jammy with our regular audience at Homework. They’re lovely and the main reason we keep doing it.
Oh, and last but definitely not least, we’re extremely grateful to the Arts Council, who are helping to fund this second season. They’ve been really, really supportive, seem to get what we’re doing, and have trusted us to work hard and develop it. Hats off to them, really. Thanks to them, we’re now able to put on a whole half-year of exciting, innovative, affordable live literature in East London. Hooray! It’s not just good for us – it’s good for all the somewhat nutty heroes who put in so much work to create a vibrant performance poetry scene. There’s some fantastic stuff out there if you know where to look. Ahem. But may I suggest starting at Homework?