Photo credit: Chris Scott
Making waves on the spoken word scene, Jenny Lindsay, who was one half of Edinburgh’s fantastic cabaret Rally & Broad, has new and exciting plans after the end of her sadly-missed project with collaborator Rachel McCrum. The Fountain interviewed her about Flint & Pitch, a new spoken word organisation for Scotland, which has many much-anticipated varied strands of spoken word, music and theatre experiences for us to look forward to.
TF: It’s sad to see the end of Rally & Broad, the wonderful cabaret founded by you and Rachel McCrum but it seems clear that is not the end for you and cabaret, by no means. What have you got up your sleeves for 2016?
JL: The Flint & Pitch Revue carries on in the tradition of Rally & Broad, which I ran with Rachel McCrum from 2012 – 2016, as a fun, late night cabaret of spoken word and music. These shows are also going to feature floorspots for brand new acts, headline bands, guest comperes and more.
The core Revue shows are happening in Oct, Dec, Jan, Mar, Apr, May and June, but there will also be Revue shows in other places throughout the year. The showcase style events are immensely popular in Scotland, and have been growing in popularity particularly over the last 5 years, so the Flint & Pitch Revue aims to maintain a high-quality, diverse, exciting and fun event series, with the opportunity for audiences to hear the best of the Scottish and UK scenes.
‘Flint & Pitch Presents’, taking place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s Netherbow Theatre in February, March, May and July 2017, is an ambitious new touring platform for spoken word theatre shows, where a headline solo show will have support from two locally based spoken word acts with brand new work.
Every event series I have been involved in has been born out of my experience as a writer and producer of spoken word, and for a long time, the lack of a dedicated spoken word venue in Scotland has made it very difficult for Scotland-based spoken word acts to tour, to progress and to develop long-form spoken word. Flint & Pitch’s Presents shows aim to change that, and I am actively encouraging artists to pitch for these slots.
TF: And this is not a crazy move for you as there are elements here similar to what you were doing with Shift. Can you inform us about Shift and why you have moved further in this direction?
JL: Through my experiences with Shift/ Collective, which was formed by Rachel and Bram E Gieben with the aim of finding a way for Scotland-based acts to showcase hour long shows in a proper theatre venue during the Fringe, I know how difficult it can be to have to be your own producer, performer, PR assistant, press agent, tour manager… the list goes on!
Currently, spoken word acts in Scotland are trying to be all of these things for themselves, without any kind of infrastructure, which means that a helluva lot of exceptional work isn’t getting a platform, and it is restricting access for those who want to crossover into writing and producing longer work. What the Presents shows do is provide the start of some infrastructure: a guaranteed fee for all acts; marketing and press – the artists just need to focus on the artistic side of things, which is what their main focus really is.
I’m particularly excited to see how this part of the project develops over time – and it’s proving really popular with acts as a concept. I’m planning to bring some absolutely amazing headline shows to the Storytelling Centre, so watch this space! No spoilers as yet, I’m afraid!
TF: So Flint & Pitch at the Lyceum in the shape of the Lyceum Variety Nights sounds like great fun. Are you able to warn us what you have in store?
JL: The Lyceum Variety Nights are very exciting, aren’t they? They were conceived by the new Artistic Director of the Lyceum many months ago, and I’m delighted to have been asked to be involved in realising his vision of opening up the Lyceum to new audiences, and bringing the Variety Night back to the theatre, updated for the 21st century! The Lyceum and Flint & Pitch have been working closely together on these for months, and we’re all terrifically pleased that the acts we approached said yes! What we’re hoping is that it will be a terrific experience for the audience – a really fast-paced, diverse show of quality acts, in a magnificent theatre.
There will be fun audience interaction; great spoken word and music, innovative theatre – and all in short sets with Sian Bevan and I keeping the night flowing with our compering. Sian is one of the best comperes I have ever seen, and I’m delighted she’s come on board too!
TF: With the success of the Flint and Pitch at the Unbound tent at the EIBF, it must be an exciting venture. How does it feel to be opening doors in the spoken word scene, and what are you most looking forward to with these projects?
JL: So, overall, my focus for the next 10 months is on nurturing these three different, but complementary event series, alongside the wee team that helps keep everything ticking over behind the scenes – namely Chris Scott, who assists in documenting and admin, and Bram E Gieben, who is assisting with PR and is a great sounding-board, as he is a great spoken word act himself.
The three venues involved with all of this are magnificently supportive too, and I’m really pleased with how everything has come together, and extremely grateful to have received Creative Scotland funding to support the Revue and Presents shows. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some nervousness, obviously! With any event-series there’s massive financial risk involved, even with funding, and a lot of behind-the-scenes scurrying and planning and, aye, occasionally panicking (!), but if this all comes off I’ll be absolutely beaming.
I adore spoken word, and have been involved in promoting it for as long as I’ve been writing it; since 2002, with very few breaks! Flint & Pitch is a really natural progression for me in terms of my work as a programmer, and it’s great to be able to do all of this. As a spoken word act myself, I find all of the artists I book massively inspiring, and I get a great deal of joy out of being able to book these acts and see audiences engaging with their work. I’m also looking forward to compering the first Revue show in October, but equally excited about having guest comperes for some of the other Revues too!
The first of Jenny’s events are listed below:
Fri 14 October, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh, 7 – 10pm. As part of this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, Flint & Pitch showcase five excellent acts in a delicious mash-up of spoken word and music. Featuring Harry Giles’s ‘Drone’, Jo Mango, Chitra Ramaswamy, Finn LeMarinel and Hannah Lavery. £6. Tix: http://bit.ly/2c6h1X3
Sun 6 November, The Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh 7:30 – 10pm. The Royal Lyceum Theatre is delighted to announce the exciting line up for the Theatre’s first Variety Night, curated by Flint & Pitch’s Jenny Lindsay and conceived by Lyceum Artistic Director David Greig. With Emma Pollock, Luke Wright, Christopher Brookmyre, A New International, Jenna Watt, Rachel Amey and Andrew Greig with Leo Glaister. £15. Tix: http://bit.ly/2bjWT5h