I’ve been commissioned to write a new monologue as part of Z-Arts’ Family Matters project. If you don’t know, Z-Arts, formerly the Zion Arts Centre is Manchester’s only venue dedicated to inspiring and providing creative opportunities for children and families across Manchester and the Northwest. Here’s the blurb about the project from Z-Arts website: A series of 5 monologues from spoken word artists on the theme of family. Each piece is a real life portrayal of one person’s family, what it means to them, what family life is like growing up, the challenges, the love and ultimately how it has shaped them as an individual. Including a gay Muslim who grew up in a loving Bengali family in a small Essex town, now living as a practising Muslim with a non-Muslim partner who want to start their own family, or a Somali woman who is cohabiting with her partner and now has her own young family, but has estranged from her parental family for seven years, as a consequence. Or a simple story of a teenager and the dependent /independent struggle of family ties and releases that represents. This project doesn’t just focus on families, it puts families into focus. Each monologue would be a piece of beautifully crafted writing, drawing on emotions and creating a window on the multiplicities of human existence in the modern world. Followed by Q&A on the state of the ‘family’ in 21st century Britain, and what it means to be part of a family in this day and [...]
At long last, having performed at two Edinburgh Fringes and a two month schlep around Australia, we are bringing Anthropoetry to the fair cities of the UK (well, England). This will be the last ever outing of this show as it’s really time we got on and made a new one, so do catch it if you can as it’s your last chance, and you wouldn’t want to miss out now, would you?
I’m currently Cross Country Expressing through the South-West countryside on my way to Devon to spend a week at Arvon’s writing retreat centre in Totleigh Barton, on a ‘Writing for Theatre’ course led by David Eldridge and Tanika Gupta. The course is the first week in a script development process for my new project Goat’s Song. It’s actually a return to a very old project – nearly ten years ago I wrote a piece for a young poet’s scheme with the RSC called Big Voices. The idea was to bring together a group of writers from the UK and a group from the States, get them each to write a piece inspired by the theme of ‘Tragedy’ and throw them all up on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, under the direction of Dawn Walton. And that’s what they did. The poem I wrote, Goat’s Song – inspired by the Greek roots of ‘tragedy’ – tragos (goat) and oeida (song) – was about a character called Goat Boy, who unwittingly becomes a universal scapegoat. Sent by mysterious forces to shoulder responsibility for various global tragedies, he becomes a sort of reluctant superhero, whose special power is to take the blame for other people’s wrongdoing. Dawn instantly detected a certain MC-influence in my writing and so got a team of producers, led by her brother Chris, to write a drum and bass soundtrack for the entire 15 minute long poem. I don’t have an offiical recording of the performance but fortunately my dad [...]
Edinburgh Awesomeness Is awesomeness a word? It is now. So, we’re all up in Edinburgh’s grill right now doing various shows which I’ve probably already told you about but am going to tell you again as I’m a sucker for repetitive self-promotion. But to take the edge off the self-indulgence a little bit (only a little) and to give you a reward for wading through my relentless solipsism, I’m also going to give a list of recommendations of things you should also see at this year’s fringe, once you’ve been to see us of course. I’m only going to recommend people/shows I’ve actually seen already, so I may do another list half way through the festival once I’ve seen some more things that I’d like to recommend. If I’m not lying face down in a gutter by then stinking of haggis, self-loathing and Caledonian 80 mumbling ‘t…t…two shows… a…at the s..same time… why? why?!’ etc. So, to begin with, stuff you may already know about: Mellor & Steele present ‘Anthropoetry’ and ‘Shaggy Doggerel’ Anthropoetry, our humorous, musical, spoken word journey around the human body opened at C Nova on the 31st July and has already picked up a four-star review in Three Weeks. We’re on every day at 8pm, tickets are various prices depending on the date, but we have 2 for 1 offers from 3rd – 6th and will announce more 2 for 1 days as the run goes on. Follow us on twitter or facebook for announcements. We [...]
Seeing as it’s taken me so long to get round to writing the next part of my Australian round-up, I’m going to keep it brief, and add our brief sojourn to Melbourne into the bargain too. Our venue at the Adelaide Fringe was a 60-seat tent at Gluttony, a hub venue comprising a variety of marquees around a central seating area, a couple of bar tents and food stands and some animatronic pig sculptures. Gluttony’s logo is a pig (they started off as a food and drink festival, hence the name and some very good value wine) so all the spaces have porcine names – ours being the Piglet. Performing in a tent definitely felt more of a fringe experience, even after our previous glorified garage – which did at least have some decent air-con. The tent just had a giant fan at the back which we sometimes had to turn off as it was so loud it drowned out the quiet bits. But mercifully the temperature dropped a bit in our second week there so the heat wasn’t quite so intense, though still pretty stifling as Adelaide is a lot more humid than Perth and they were undergoing a heatwave. ‘Oh you poor things,’ said the people at home, ‘how the suncream must sting when you sweat it into your eyes, how you must wish for the hail and drudgery of an English winter stubbornly refusing to give way to Spring’. That was the subtext at least. [...]
Shaggy Doggerel is the new show from ‘award-winning’ duo, Mellor & Steele (aka me and Dan). We will be premiering the show at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013, as part of PBH’s Free Fringe, at Fingers Piano Bar, 61A Frederick St. More details will be available shortly from my gigs page, but basically it’s on every day (except Mondays) at 5.30pm – 6.30pm, from 3rd – 24th August. This is the blurb: Superman and Lois do battle with a uterine super-villain; Peter discovers there’s more to the wolf than the stories tell; a philandering footballer suffers the grisly consequences of seducing a team of WAGs… Combining spoken word, comedy, music, storytelling and hip-hop, award-winning duo Mellor & Steele spin deliciously dark yarns both familiar and strange. You’ll bark with laughter and take paws for thought. Acclaim for previous show, Anthropoetry: **** The Scotsman **** Broadway Baby **** Sabotage **** Flaneur Fringe Weekly Award Winner, Adelaide; Performance Award runner-up, Fringeworld, Perth More details, extracts of the show, tour dates etc. to follow (once we’ve actually written it).
I’ve been back at home a few weeks now and although various trips around the country since I returned have meant I haven’t properly finished unpacking yet, let alone begun to deal with the fallout and debris (financial, professional, emotional) of being away, I’ve realised that a proper blog post about our travels is long overdue. This is partly in case anyone’s interested in what we got up to while we were away, but primarily to signpost people to the brilliant artists that we met while we were out there, so that hopefully you will look out for them if and when they visit these shores, or you visit theirs. So this is the Perth bit: The Perth Fringe Festival, or Fringeworld as they would much rather you called it, is only a baby – this is their third year – but it’s roughly doubled in size and popularity every year and looks set to become a mainstay of the Perth cultural calendar. As, I hope, will the venue that we performed at – The Noodle Palace/Bok Choy Ballroom. Aaron & Fletch from JumpClimb were first-timers to running a venue this year, but with the management of a number of bands and acts plus the annual Beaufort St festival, which this year drew over 100,000 punters to its massive one-day party, they were bound to make a decent stab at it. A last minute fall-out with the owner of the noodle factory that inspired the venue’s names meant the boys [...]
We’re about half way through 0ur run at Fringe World, Perth, and feel like we’re starting to hit our stride now… So considering this review was from our first night I think we got off quite lightly! REVIEW: Anthropoetry The West Australian January 31, 2013, 1:10 pm PERFORMANCE Anthropoetry (UK) Presented by Ben Mellor Noodle Palace, Mt Lawley Review: Isabel Inkster Before taking my date to this show, I found myself warning her: “Now, it IS a poetry show. . .” It is a shame that in the current scene in Perth, even poetry lovers feel the need to make excuses for the art form. Ben Mellor’s Anthropoetry, however, needs no disclaimer. It certainly is poetry, but leaving the performance limited to that description would not recognise the comedy, scientific spin, and musical prowess that is equally present in Anthropoetry. Ben Mellor (BBC Radio 4 Slam Champion), supported by the essential musical contributions of Dan Steele, presents a collection of stand-up poetry linked by the theme of anthropometry – or the measurement of the body. What strikes most is Mellor’s manipulations of language and his penchant for puns, combined with a clearly well-researched body (pardon my own effort) of scientific knowledge to provide the “backbone” of his poetry’s purpose. Steele wields a guitar, loop pedal and samples to provide an engaging soundtrack that pulls the performance together in a way that the loose theme of “the body” may not. At more earnest moments – for instance in the beginning of [...]
We’ve opened Anthropoetry at Fringe World, Perth and have been running for three nights. Opening night was typically frenetic and fired on nervous energy but we had a great audience who left us buzzing. We also picked up a great review from Perth poet Jackson, who I hope to see in action before we leave town… I’ve posted the review below, but have a look at her blog too… Gotta go and do another show now, will post some more news soon… Deft, left and definitely def: Ben Mellor’s ‘Anthropoetry’ at FringeWorld Last night I took the number 22 bus up Beaufort Street to FringeWorld venue Noodle Palace for the opening night of Anthropoetry, written and performed by UK poet Ben Mellor and his musical sideman Dan Steele. Anthropoetry is billed as ‘a humorous, musical, spoken word journey around the human anatomy, attempting to get the measure of modern life.’ Let me be honest here: after reading that I was expecting to cringe. I was expecting lots of groan-worthy anatomical puns. I was expecting words spoken too fast to take in, competing unsuccessfully with too-loud music. I was expecting an overdramatised performance of forgettable poetry whose impact depended on the performer’s charisma more than the words. I was also expecting a boringly long show in an uncomfortable venue with terrible sound. It wasn’t like that at all. The sound was excellent. Local artist management company JumpClimb have done a great job of setting up an intimate theatre in a back [...]
The studio version of Anthropoetry is now available to buy from my Shop page. The recording comprises all the poems and music from the show, with shortened links to tie it all together and put the pieces in some sort of context. The CD just comes in a basic cardboard sleeve with track listing printed on the CD as well as the sleeve. It includes a free MP3 download of the album too. It’s a fiver. Download-wise you can download the whole thing for £4, or individual tracks for 50p (the links are free). Track 8, Beat ‘n’ Trachea is also free.