Ready for the BIG weekend?


So here it is – Blah Blah Blah’s Big Weekend Blog. Alliteration at its finest. Blah Blah Blah has been in existence for, oooh, around 6 years now. Our monthly nights of spoken word chicanery regularly sell out – a quick hurrah if you please – and last year we introduced the magnificence that is the Big Weekend. We were not satisfied with a measly 10 shows a year but needed to bung in a good concentrated dollop of all that is sacred in performance poetry. So three days on the trot. THREE days of words, verse, superlative performers, rhyming, improvising, laughter, chatter, heckling, a couple of sniffles, much clapping, some feet stomping and a whole lotta beer.

For you regular fans of the Blah then you will know our host and programmer is the sterling Anna Freeman – a freedom fighter for the gingers of this world and a canvas for Bristol’s finest tattoos. She is also pretty nifty with words and she will be our guide during the three days of the Big Weekend. She is also the brains behind putting the weekend together, so when you see her in the bar then buy her a pint for just being awesome.

This year’s Big Weekend is being held at our mate’s house – the extraordinary Wardrobe Theatre in Old Market and we are dead pleased to be able to work with them whilst our usual gaff, Bristol Old Vic, is having its redevelopment.

Tongue_Fu_BBW_web_carousel.jpgAnd we have invited back some of our old poetry chums to help us with the weekend, like the sensation that is Tongue Fu. Last time they were with Blah the audience wouldn’t let them get off the stage. A band, some poets and a rather lush and charming master of the revels leads to an anarchic night of irreverence


Cecilia Knapp on the Saturday afternoon promises to be dead special with music, beatboxing and beautifully funny stories. It is a perfect Saturday afternoon, just perfect.

Writing_Workshop_BBW_web_carousel.jpgDo the inspiring writers’ workshop in the morning with the lovely Roundhouse folk (yes from that there London) and see Celicia’s show in the afternoon all for one price. Look just bring your tent with you and stay all weekend. We’d love to have you.

Vanessa_Kisuule_BBW_web_carousel.jpgBristol poet, Vanessa Kisuule will have her old typewriter ready to go as she will type you a poem on whatever subject you like. Give her an idea and she will produce poetry for the soul. Just for you. Who else can offer that?


Stand Up and Slam hit Bristol and take over the city with their whirlwind night of madness – a hit at Edinburgh Fringe these guys will take your funny bone and tickle it until it screams for you to stop. Saturday doesn’t get any better.

The_Sleep_Show_BBW_web_carousel.jpgAnd then on the third day there was…. drum roll… Rob Auton. One of our favourite folk and a massive hit with the Blah audience. The Guardian called him the Brian Cox of the poetry world – I don’t know what he thinks of that. Why don’t we ask him when he brings his extraordinary show on sleep to the Wardrobe stage?

So put aside the weekend, think of nothing but Blah. Bathe in the waters of spoken word, join the congregation, raise your pint and settle in for one of the highlights of Bristol’s year.

We are ruddy pleased to say that the weekend is selling like…. um…. hotcakes? Have you ever had a hot cake? No me neither. Just saying do book your tickets to ensure you’re with us. There will be poetry, there will be laughter, there will be tons of loud clapping, there will be no tears, there will be wassailing. At a time like this (thanks Mr T, you know who you are) just submerge yourself in the healing weekend that is big and is Blah.

For more information about Blah’s Big Weekend and to book tickets, click here.

Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 6

Honey we’re Home!

Tech week always makes my heart beat a little faster and harder because it means we’re getting closer to finally sharing it with audiences. What will they think? Will they love it, hate it, laugh at the jokes, be touched by the tender moments or will they *blink blink scratch heads* at the whole thing? You just never know! I suppose that’s the beauty and curse of finally opening the doors to meet the unknown.  We’ve been working hard though and it feels so good to meet our gawjuss set in all its glory and enjoy the splendours of the design elements coming together to sprinkle gold dust on what has been achieved so far.

Songs have been changed, text has been slashed and new text inserted, movement has been tightened up, costumes have been poked and prodded – no stone has been left unturned. Everyone’s battered but the commitment to Junkyard continues to drive everything forward. It’s been a tough week and there’s been a fair few changes but nothing has been in vain.

The actors have been absolute stars and I always think of them as a sort of breed of demi-god because the stamina and strength demonstrated has been..well godly lol… Still they experiment, still they remain fully focused and highly charged, still they have fun and look out for each other. They have worked so hard and I’m sure that everything that has been achieved from the 16th of January till now will reap its full rewards. Previews are about to come thick and fast and Press Night forever looms but of course this will only be the beginning. As the weeks pass and the show continues its journey on to Theatr Clwyd and The Rose, Kingston more discoveries will be made and the production will continue to grow and soar. I’m pleased that I’ll be witness to it all.

It’s been so lovely to share a few thoughts over this period and I’ll be sad to say goodbye *sniff sniff.* But it’s time to give birth. One final push and we’ll soon be holding a new baby in our arms:

….Her name is JUNKYARD…

Michal xx

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at:

Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Meeting Fiz – Junkyard’s Erin Doherty

JunkYard. Photo by Mark Douet _31B5750.jpg

Ahead of previews this week, we managed to pull Bristol Old Vic Theatre School alumni Erin Doherty away from rehearsals for a quick chat about all things Junkyard. Here she fills us in on what to expect from her character Fiz in our latest Spring Season show.

Tell us a little bit about Junkyard
Junkyard is about a group of kids who have been given up on and tells the story of someone coming into their lives and giving them something to believe in (although the path to believing in it may not be as slick as that sentence!)

Can you tell us a bit about Fiz?
Fiz is a thirteen-year-old force to be reckoned with. She makes her own rules, and lets you know about them. She will not be told what to do or how to behave. Fiz lives at home with her Mum and older sister of two years, Debbie. She is determined to end up like neither of them.

How would you describe the music in Junkyard?

Are you excited about returning to Bristol Old Vic?
I cannot wait. I love it here. Bristol will always remain a very special place because of training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for three years, it’s home.

Did you play on adventure playgrounds when you were growing up? Do you have any funny stories?
As a matter of fact, I did! My sister and I went to loads of different ones when we were growing up. I vaguely remember getting the physics of a seesaw wrong once and thrusting my face into the handlebar… I’ve not seesawed since.

What’s been the funniest moment that’s happened in the rehearsal room so far?
I must say, with Jeremy, the rehearsal room is always laughing. He is brilliant and hilarious and it’s infectious.

Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.


Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 5

I can’t believe how quickly these last few weeks have flown by. It feels like only yesterday when we all met for the first time at the meet and greet and now here we are. We have a show on our hands people! 🙂

As last weeks usually go there has been a lot of activity – The musicians joined us for most of the week to rehearse all of the songs and embed them within the scenes; a day was dedicated to hair cuts/dyes and styling (honestly, it felt like Stars in Their Eyes!). We changed and tightened the movement and worked the transitions to make them slicker and more interesting; we had an afternoon of filming for marketing.  Goodness, this week definitely required good organisation. I have to give a shout out to our DSM Jen who has managed the room fantastically with its constant comings and goings (with my help obviously 😉 *cough cough*).

We had our first stagger-through which was really useful for everyone. Jeremy has worked hard with the company on individual scenes so it was great to start pulling all the scenes together into bigger chunks stopping only to tweak bits and pieces. It was great practice for the company and great for us as Creatives to see the full picture. We then dived into our first run through (Eeek!)  joined by a few extra guests from Headlong and I’m glad to say that  it went really well.

Now call me a nerd but I love making notes. I love Detail. Detail Detail Detail. If I could marry Detail I would Lol. But what I love more is when actors implement notes given and you see performances taken to the next level because of those finer details. This was definitely the case when we had our second run-through on Friday which in a way felt like a bigger event –  maybe because it was the final run-through before heading down to Bristol or maybe because we had a larger audience courtesy of the production’s co-producers, which can be completely nerve-wracking but is a necessary stage in any rehearsal process. What is certain though is that everyone Stepped. Up. Their. Game. Listen, if this is what we’re working with at this stage I have no doubt that everyone will knock it out of the park when the show finally kicks of in T – minus 4 days.

Bye Bye London. Hello Bristol. Tech. Previews. Press Night. Here we go!

Speak soon!

Michal x

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at:

Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Recollecting ‘The Record’ with Jake Cooper

Having parted ways with his 45 on-stage comrades, we caught up with The Record‘s Jake Cooper to reminisce about his experience being a part of this boundary-pushing show.

I will do my best to avoid clichés here, but it does become difficult when the experience is so indescribably extraordinary! The process for me began in September 2016 when a friend shared an advert on Facebook: a call out for Bristolians to take part in the show as part of IBT Bristol International Festival 2017. I’m lucky enough to work at Bristol Old Vic in a number of Front of House capacities, so I had heard about the show already, and the premise of such a large cast of strangers was an intriguing hook.

The auditions, and subsequent rehearsals, took place at the Trinity Centre, a lovely converted church in Lawrence Hill. We were invited in groups of 10-15 to work with 600 HIGHWAYMEN (or Abi and Michael, as they were known to us) for an hour, during which we ran through some basic movement exercises, then worked on simplified snippets of the show itself. This briefest of tasters gave us a hint of how uplifting and special the project would be; coming together and performing with strangers, even just in a simple three minute piece, was incredibly powerful.

Cast Photo.jpg

After getting the call that I was in (yay!), I was given a page of cues and movements to memorise before rehearsals began in mid-January. For three weeks we worked in individual slots of about 45 minutes with Michael or Abi, never meeting or knowing who our fellow cast members were. This was a fascinating concept, and required a huge amount of trust in our directors. Thankfully, they were both incredibly easy to trust; not once during the process did their faith in us all doing the right thing waver, and having such an extensive focus on how I performed as an individual was so valuable.

Rehearsals flew by in this way, and before I knew it, it was show week. Our tech runs had also taken place individually, so we first met our cast mates on opening night itself, side stage in the holding area. Just as we began to introduce ourselves and try to ascertain who was doing what, we were brought back to focus by Michael and Abi, and were asked to simply concentrate on performing our parts as we had individually rehearsed them. As we had done so proficiently thus far in the process, we trusted them to follow their instructions.

So it was then that the lights went down, and one by one we stepped out on the stage with a strange kind of blind faith in each other. And what an experience! For me, opening night passed by with a sort of joyful surrealism. In a theatrical space that through my work I have an almost unparalleled familiarity with, I was doing something completely alien – performing a series of abstract movements with complete strangers, looking out onto an audience and wondering what on earth they would think. This was not acting or performing as we know it, this was simply seeing and being seen. So many elements came together: as well as seeing how my moves fitted in to the whole, I heard Brandon Wolcott and Emil Abramyan’s beautiful music for the very first time, and felt first-hand how the presence and engagement of an audience completed the art that we were making.


For me, the reception of the audiences was what gave The Record context and meaning, and kept the piece alive beyond that opening night. As the performances passed, my castmates became less like strangers and more like friends. The movements became more natural, and the sensation of stepping out on to stage became less nerve-wracking. But each and every show, as Abi would always remind us, a brand new group of people sat in the theatre and responded to us completely differently. On stage, every time I moved my gaze to a new audience member, the feeling was unique. The tiniest acknowledgement, the subtlest alteration of expression was enhanced a hundredfold. And post-show, through talking with a huge range of people, the experience of the show continued to ferment and develop. Some people had taken upwards of a minute to realise the show had ended; some had left halfway through; some had been moved to tears; all, as far as I could tell, had experienced an emotional response that warranted discussion.

Whether you loved The Record, hated it, or were somewhere in between, it seems that our audience have all been moved to delve into its deeper meaning. The sheer range of topics to discuss post-show blew me away: the nature of humanity; the function of theatrical space; how to condition the response of an audience; death; time; how to form friendships. In choreographing something quite simple and minimalist, Abi and Michael have created an incredibly varied and poignant forum that continues to travel all over the world. Their vision and intellect is inspiring, and the discussion they elicit is always worth having. As a performer, I never watched the show in its entirety, so it’s difficult for me to comment on what I think the meaning of it all is. All I can say with conviction is that coming together with people that I would simply never have known otherwise to create art was immeasurably powerful. I have come away with a deeper awareness of the smallest interactions that we as humans share on a day-to-day basis, and that, no matter how pretentious it may sound, is valuable in a way that is incredibly difficult to articulate.