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Writing, Ruby, madness - and those pesky Olympics.

This week my love-hate affair with writing has me in its thrilling and painful grip.  Writing is like an old friend who sometimes annoys the fuck out of me, and sometimes wraps me in arms of pure co-operative elation. Recently it’s been a see-saw between both and admittedly the ole Borderline has a role in this. But, it helps as much as it hinders. Exquisite highs bring great bursts of creativity as much as the pits of anguish that lead me to unfortunate behaviour and the whole frustrating circle. Occasionally the fast dips into desolation can result in outpourings that stand up to later scrutiny.

It was very trendy to be Mad this last week or so. Mental health ‘poster girl’ Ruby Wax did her stuff in fighting the stigma in the work place. I do get a tad uncomfortable. The portrayal of Mad people (whatever our precise shrink labels) can be saccharine. It doesn’t always feel full bodied enough – is that too scary? Perhaps. I suppose there’s always the danger of it becoming like a Bedlam tour reborn. In a programme most likely made by Channel 5. The Woman Who Sliced Her Skin Off and Made Herself Vomit (et al).

I do acknowledge that generally it seems any kind of PD makes even the toughest mind medic blanch. I told my newest ones as much last week. They tittered and argued this was not true. I pulled a face and went hmmm.

I met Ruby in August 2011, as mentioned in my blog of Oct 2011. I’m down from my high now, not so much disappointed in Ruby as working my thoughts around to a realistic view. She is still new to this. I asked her last year at the audience Q&A if she thought there was anything positive to be found in having a mental health condition. She paused, then said ‘no, do you?’ I smiled and said, I believe it makes me who I am, how can I not?

In one amazing tangential leap I will move to the Olympics. (Tangential conversation and thought is one of my personal hobbies, no apology.)

Controversy alert! I’m enjoying them. Is it the sense of history perhaps? Being a Londoner, and a scribbler? I don’t even like sport much, before we even mention ATOS. Maybe Danny Boyle slipped a subliminal message in the opening ceremony, which I also adored. Music of my youth! The Clash, The Jam, for fucks sake. Irresistible. Made more fun with some close friends over to share the experience.

A couple of us indulged in live Tweeting as we watched, adding another intriguing layer. MP gets the hump at the ‘leftie multi-cultural crap’, tweets swarming to attack him, UK Uncut get an image out there of the arena after the NHS ‘advert’ section, we laugh at the remarks that everyone outside of the UK would think what the damn is this about? But they love it anyway because all Brits are eccentrics. Aww.

Back to the sport. I don’t watch it obsessively, I tune in now and then, entertained for a while, mostly by the personalities and STORIES than the actual winning bit, then I’m bored and go back to my film obsession.  

As for ATOS. Let me be clear. I detest ATOS. I loathe the overt capitalism blatant in the sponsorship of the games and hate that ATOS is part of that. I will join in any protest against ATOS that I am physically capable of. I was there at one of the first demos, I do my online stuff, my local campaigning and will continue.  I don’t see a conflict in supporting the actual participants because it is ATOS who we must fight – and surely this is a great opportunity to highlight their hypocrisy while acknowledging the talents of the individuals who are committed to their sports, art and cultural participation.

Is this bias? I don’t care. A few of my friends are in the opening ceremony of the Paralympics.  I am proud of them and the exhausting work they have put in. They are fully cognisant of the role ATOS plays in the attacks upon us. They see the line, and know where it is.

I will try and go to the Paralympic opening ceremony, when there’s a scandal over unsold tickets… AND to an ATOS demo. I am a writer after all, and if euphoria hits on those days, well, what entries for my bulging, greedy journals!

Posted by Penny Pepper, 4 August 2012

Diversity and Devilment!

Please let me tempt you to be challenged and entertained by my guest slot at Soho Theatre, Feb 20th 7.45pm, where I am performing with acclaimed comedy troupe Abnormally Funny People.

Reviews, press coverage, radio slots and offers of work all very welcome. I am also an eager Penny for some representation / management for my spoken word as I have too much to handle on my own.

Other than this, I'm sending this invite purely in the hope that you will come along and enjoy the whole evening. My slot may be brief but I believe it will grab you where it matters and hopefully make you laugh. All feedback and input greatly welcomed. With luck, I get to come back for a longer slot in the future.

My work is described as lyrical, challenging, funny, bawdy. My adventures with spoken word are inexorably linked to my passion for writing and the two connect at every opportunity. My focus is to subvert, to ask questions – with a smile – words twined, thorns in velvet. Yes, I unpick the issues around difference, diversity and disability and I aim to show how they link to the universal human condition.

Apart from a regular output of published work, I've taken my spoken word set to many varied places – including the Edinburgh Fringe, National Theatre, Liberty festival at Trafalgar Square, festivals around the UK, and guest slots for national spoken word organisation Apples and Snakes. Through various aspects of my work I’ve featured on radio and my last appearance was July 2011 for Radio 4’s Fourthought, through producer Sheila Cook.

In 2010 I was Emerging Artist runner up at Dada International. Through this, I gained national, local press and radio coverage. I had other exposure in The Guardian and The Culture Show – in this case, literal, in the form of paintings for which I had modelled nude!

Last July a spoken word event was created around me in New York. I headlined the event, Crip Lit, which was organised by Jo Weedon, a major burlesque performer in the US. The event was very successful, and the venue, Bluestockings, New York’s premier radical book shop, now stocks my book Desires.

This is my short story erotica collection, which was first published in 2003 by Bejamo Press. I wrote this in response to the overwhelming prejudice shown to work which attempted to break down taboos about disabled people as three dimensional human beings. As I aim to challenge barriers and unearth the hidden.

Do hope you can make it on Feb the 20th where you will sample a juicy slither of Pepper sauce and subversion.

Hello there to those who know me, and those of you I've yet to meet!

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 12 February 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 12 February 2012

Splitting Penny: the ups, the downs and Ruby Wax.

I've been poorly and bogged down. Staring at the walls and wondering why I painted them like I did. One is red.

 

Looking at the news and thinking this is all so crazy. This is a big brew of hate bubbling to a head. Feral gangs? Criminal immigrants? Disabled scroungers? When will people rebel against this?

 

I know we're battling. I showed my jittery face at an ATOS demo in London, but I could not stay long. The heat and the crowds, too much. 

 

My life is split into many identities and my therapist tells me this is quite common in BPD. Huh. Am not so sure. Outwardly I am mostly on chug-mode. Happy with friends. Annoyed and silent with everything else. Agoraphobic hermit mode a lot of the time.

 

Edinburgh was a bit of a disaster though I did do the show, along with ending up in the infirmary after falling ill. I also got to meet Ruby Wax who I now adore with a passion. She is doing good and on a journey with her show 'Losing It'. Her memoir is very honest. Let's encourage her to some Mad Pride too.

 

I'm twitching around my own memoir. Oh 30 years since I started writing journals. They freeze your memories in a glow of fond nostalgia. How things have changed - it amazes me I managed to live in London when there were no PAs, barely a computer, only an Amstrad with its errie green lettering.

 

There has been progress which we've fought for in many capacities. We can't lose it, somehow we must not let that happen.

 

I'm a cheerful soul, really. Truly, madly, definitely. Mood swinging, I almost enjoy it. 

Posted by Penny Pepper, 5 October 2011

Last modified by Penny Pepper, 5 October 2011

New York, Old London, Same Battles

I did it. Amazed myself and survived to tell the tale, crammed with feverish stories and kaleidoscope  memories. All roasted and shaken in the rich, brash, varied flavours of New York.

I say roasted with meaning because it was hot. Blistering and humid, and when up the Empire State Building, I could see the thick smog arc hanging over and into the city. One day hit 39c - I don't believe I have known it that hot before in my whole life. Thank the gods for air con. Yet nothing could ruin this incredible adventure.

I was there primarily for work to get a feel for the city, meet people, and to do a performance at the Bluestockings, a radical feminist bookstore, at an event called 'CripLit' which was brought together by the maganificent NY burlesque queen Jo Weldon who worked with several crip woman at DadaFest last year to create 'Criptease'. Indeed, the first piece to be read (by Jo) was the DAO blog by our very own Sophie Partridge, who detailed the DadaFest event with much verve and colour.

Native New Yorker, Christine Bruno, who has visited the UK and worked on the disability arts scene on several occasions, read extracts from her one-woman show 'Screw You, Jimmy Choo', reminding me of what a talented actor she is. Other New York crips did interesting and intriguing pieces; a visually impaired woman telling the amusing story of the frustrations of being a VI bride and the discrimination she faced, and another set where one woman read a beautiful poem while her colleague stripped and danced and posed.

Aussie artist Kath Duncan – another Dadafest Cripteaser – had her deliciously raw and rampant story read out with great panache by Christine, an exceptional reading especially as Christine had not seen it till that moment.

Then it was the Brits. Our own institution of crip glory Mr Mat Fraser read a fab and filthy story, set in New York, and then it was me. Little ole me making my debut in New York. My mum will be staggered! I did my rather rude ‘Dr-Patient Relations’ spoken word burlesque, developed a few years ago with London based burlesque legend Jo King, and finished off with a new piece call ‘Alphabet Sex’. 

I glowed and grinned and basked in my moment. I sold books and Bluestocking took copies as stock. Everyone was lovely and complimentary. I most certainly will return.

I’m full to the brim with New York and the stories will spill out into something very soon.  

But for now, slowly recovering from jet lag, I have to turn my thoughts, if not energy quite yet, to the Edinburgh Fringe. I am there from Aug 22-27, performing the show ‘Adventures in the Dark and Light’ – in Princes shopping mall (!?). Quick note: I have floor/sofa bed space in a semi-accessible apartment if anyone is interest – reasonable rates.

But reflecting on an intense and exciting week, in which I felt I made progress with my work, I have to end on a sombre note.  The ConDem cuts are hitting. Social services peer into our lives to trim and snip… and slash.  A top-notch PA made my New York trip possible in the sense of appropriate support. Yet as budgets are challenged and we are pushed to live in conditions worse than convicted criminals, what then of our work and our aspirations?  

The hypocrisy shouts as loud as we do – can we make them listen? We have to, for all our sakes – and not only to have the right to travel, but the right to exist.   

Posted by , 4 August 2011

Many Many Penny Adventures

It’s all go. Go, go, go. Where to begin?

Ok, firstly, on Wednesday, you can hear me do my bit on Radio Four, for Four Thought. This was recorded two weeks ago at the splendid RSA off the Strand, in front of a live audience. They were responsive, laughed in the right places – including at the sanctioned word ‘tits’ – and looked suitably solemn at the serious moments. I’ll be intrigued to see what you all think, though please be gentle with me.

‘Adventures in the Dark and Light’ had its first showing in June and went very well in front of a decent sized supportive audience. I learned lots and received lovely feedback, encouraging and constructive. A big thank you to my team of the day, old pals Jo Cox, Alex Bulmer and Sophie Partridge, plus project manager Richard Popple keeping me on the ball and Susi Evans adding amazing vibrancy to my pieces on clarinet.

More showings of Adventures soon – but meanwhile, if you have or know of a free venue, do let me know. I’m happy to do showings and tie in a workshop or talk as the work is in development. There will be a grand finale of development this year, on December 3rd in London, but I hope to take it far and wide. Replete with red bloomers, a rubber glove and words I hope will intrigue and enchant.

In 18 days I am going to New York and will be doing some readings, and who knows what else. Watch this space – and anyone with New York contacts please, please get in touch. I’m so excited I could burst out fancy purple confetti all over everywhere!

A little while later, I’m off to Edinburgh Fringe and, incidentally, I have space in my apartment, if anyone wants to hire a corner. A version of ‘Adventures’ is showing as part of PBH Free Fringe, in Princes Mall. Lots of food and accessible loos available!

As you can imagine, this is all keeping me immensely occupied (along with the odd protest… ) and it is true I have very limited abilities in terms of switching off and that thing called resting – or sleeping. Eh? Do I really need to? This means I fall into the pit on a regular basis and today it was suggested my MH meds go up… Hmmm. What a choice – they dull me down but I know it’s a tricky balance.I do often feel rather poorly...

There are also the writing competitions. No, I’ll save that. Keep lucky thoughts beaming for me, and I hope to be reporting on successes next time.

Posted by , 4 July 2011

Films, moods, protest.

Life is busy at Penny towers with much planning – and worrying – going on since I heard I had been successful with my Grant for the Arts. Of course I am excited and bouncing off the walls too. But where to start? Who to work with?

I’m developing a one-woman cabaret called Adventures in the Dark and Light. Please feel free to join my Facebook page of that name if you’re interested in my work. I try to keep it up to date – latest gigs, activities and news in general.

My BPD has been causing me some distress. I hate the word mood swing. What the fuck is that? It sounds almost Victorian but not as exquisite. Like melancholia. I am experiencing fast cycles of highs and low; exhausting, and then I go into a strange gaga distraction for some days. I'm knackered and sometimes scarcely functional. I scare my friends and family... Still, I have done a lot of creative work on the back of it.

But back to ‘Adventures’. I’m looking for a musician to work with me and my cello player Jo Cox. If you are an experienced keyboard player and/or violinist, do get in touch. This is a professional  role and will be paid, though some in-kind support would be appreciated. Have a look at my websites. My work is influenced by folk music, punk, the world, blues… all sorts.

I’m also looking for an actor. Male, 28+, able to play a non-disabled GP, Dr ‘Nazi’. It’s for a short I’m doing with Sophie Partridge, called Doing It.

Meanwhile, I did a film, a youtube video blog, of my day on the TUC March for the Alternative. An eventful and uplifting day. It’s annoying that the media concentrate only on the ‘trouble makers’, out of proportion to their numbers.  I may be idealistic, but I felt the day did have an effect. It was good for US if nothing else, to join in, to be there and be counted. Please have a look at the film and comment – bearing in mind that PAs who often have to hold the camera are not necessarily very skilled at it. Oh, to have my own crew….

Now I must get on. I’m driven to produce lots of creative things right now. 

Did I mention the CD of my Spoken Word? Oh, next time then.

Posted by Penny Pepper, 14 April 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 16 April 2011

Penny blogs. There's a little sunshine and lots going on

The sun licks across my window and lures the blossom to bloom. At last! I’m bouncing off the walls, full of seesaw moods, happy-sad, melancholy-joyful, and dripping with creative sap. Mustn’t fall off the tightrope mind you. But isn’t it lovely to see some sunshine?

The last week or so has been a cram of activity. A new story ‘Nippy Days’, only written about 4 weeks ago, was selected to be read at ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ - a story telling event run by White Rabbit Theatre

The theme for stories was sex, and I hadn’t touched the subject for some years. How could I resist? The venue was Tonybee Studios, in the hip East End of London, very near to lively Brick Lane. The event offers free chip butties and ice-cream. Definitely a happy Jackanory time for grown ups.

I had a great posse of peeps to support me, including DAO blogger and all round superstar Sophie P. The venue was packed to overflowing and us wheelies edged in, causing happy chaos in the café. The actress who read my story did a great job and selected writers had the opportunity to send the stories to Ether Books, who publish to mobiles. I await their response with the usual mix of nerves and excitement.

A few days after this, I was performing at the cabaret event ‘Sunday Service’, at Carnivale, opposite Brick Lane (again!)  This place has atmosphere, a hint of tatty grandeur and a suitable seedy edged cabaret charm. Access through the rear, passing by mysterious collections of grave stones, there was an accessible loo (rarity) but alas not to the stage.

With Jo Cox giving me her usual wonderful support on cello, staking a space on the floor, we opened each half of the sets and the audience seemed to lap it up. I will never forget the crowd urging me on to do the ‘Protest Song’, throwing in their own ad-libs and drumming on the tables. Maybe with a little help from our dear editor I can supply an audio file as I recorded most of the set?!

Pausing for a brief breath, next I’m preparing for my poetry and spoken word drop-in workshops for Shape. Technology did rather mess up my grand plans to play Youtube examples of different poets and styles, including Ian Dury doing ‘Bus Driver’s Prayer’, but I hope I made up for it by encouraging the group to experiment with personification, which is one of my favourite ways of stimulating the imagination for a poem. 

In this case, giving inanimate objects human characteristics and taking that forward with a narrative or emotion. My prompt of ‘being’ President Roosevelt’s wheelchair resulted in some strong and interesting pieces from new and experience poets. I can’t wait for next week and hope more people will come along. (Roosevelt was a wheelchair user, a fact kept hidden from the public at the time). The workshops run every Tuesday 2-4pm until April 12th.

In between all this, I’ve finished a short film-poem, The Lover, a homage love letter to Leonard Cohen and almost finished an absurd little film about an item of disability ‘charity’ ephemera, which I connect.

My life is a crazy one on multiple levels. During all this wonderful activity I’ve also been a bit sickly, doing my pallid invalid impersonation, and been to court! Weird.  

Never once, even when wobbling close to a dip-down or a fall, have I regretted a moment of being so immersed. I might be hyper but I’ll enjoy it if that’s OK. 

Posted by , 10 March 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 12 March 2011

Penny Pepper's DadaFest Part One: Fun, Frantic, Provocative

I'm pulling my guilty face as I write this because I didn't manage to blog while I was working at DadaFest, and I really wanted to share this amazing experience. I've read the blog by Tanya, the reviews, and comments by Colin and echo the sentiments. This felt historic and it was a huge privileged to be there. Yet what a whirlwind, what an awesome frenzy. I loved every minute, even the exhausting ones.

My participation in DadaFest happened despite the odds. Earlier in the year my extreme mental distress had me trapped in a fog of tears and futility. I thought I'd missed my chance, and wasn't especially worthy of one. Somehow I muddled through with help from super friends and colleagues, did some proposals, and was offered work at DadaFest in the end.

I was at the happy launch night, ready for an early start the following day modelling for lovely Tanya Raabe once more. It was quite a thrill to pose under the awesome R.Evolve installation in the Bluecoat, and see people gazing at it, turning the cubes. It was especially funny if people caught my eye and realised then that it was me, one of the naked models they had been peering at.

With some to-ing and fro-ing on the train, London-Liverpool, I was at DadaFest for almost 12 days in total. My work began with being one of the models for The Three Graces for Tanya's life class. This was a moving and empowering event. Fellow model Julia Dean-Richards has written a poignant poem about this on DAO's DaDaFest review pages.

I loved what Tanya did with us, including the silhouette piece, in which we stood against a wall, set up with a paper, to capture our unique shapes. The class included people who had never drawn life models before, including Kath Duncan, a creative from Australia, who I was to work with later. The Guardian have a photo of Tanya working on this piece, in their DaDaFest Gallery.

My next job was with the burlesque project 'Criptease', in which six women had been brought together, mostly through the efforts of Liz Carr, to work with the queen of New York burlesque, Jo Weldon and her partner Jonny Porkpie. Three solid days of crazy glitz and glam rehearsals resulted in an open showing on Sunday 28th November. Each of us presented a 3-4 minute piece, exploring our own take on stripping. I went from dowdy, splinted and bored, to an Arabian shimmying dancer, stripped by the Genie (Jonny), who popped from the lamp. Of course, I had to end with some fast cheeky tassel twirling on my breasts - which the audience seemed to like!

In tandem with the Criptease work, I was also doing a 'Bed-In' performance on the Saturday. This event was to commemorate John and Yoko's peace protest, and other artists included Julie McNamara and The Feral Four. I did some story telling, recalling how certain events in my life had coincided with times of conflict and unrest. Two were most memorable; firstly that of being in a hospital bed when the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1979. How us teenage girls feared a nuclear war! The second was the day of the invasion of Iraq by the West, which happened to be the day my book 'Desires' was officially released, thus wiping out many of my planned interviews. All I can say is – no comment.

I ended my Bed-In with a protest song I'd written in some panic the night before as time was incredibly tight - set to the tune of Yellow Submarine - hopefully I can supply a link soon. It was a powerful moment for me to hear the public joining in on the chorus:

"What do we think of Cameron and Clegg?
They'd rather we were dead
So I'll protest from this bed..."

Part two tomorrow as I am being very naughty now by staying up too late. There'll be trouble if I can't wake up bright and bouncy.

Posted by Penny Pepper, 10 December 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 11 December 2010

My Happy-Sad See-Sawing Life, part 97

I survived the big 5-0 drama remarkably intact and with a beautiful party organised by lovely friends. I am not so sure about the outcome of my traumas with my council as detailed desperately in my last blog. It seems to move forward, and some help has been given, but then it gets rather sticky and slows down again. One pushes on as one must. I attempt to look forward and on that note I must thank you all for the encouraging comments left on my last blog, which made me feel less isolated.

Optimism is not always easy of course now I really am in Survivor mode. Surviving doesn't remotely begin to describe what I feel I'm being put through by the medical profession. I have been flung from one mental health service to another-and it truly seems about passing the buck, or should I say the pounds, onto somewhere else. Such is the lot of most disabled people, clearly.

But as I get used to the current situation and my new BPD label, my life see-saws accordingly. I guess this is it - this is me and always has been! I started to write a one-woman show last year and provisionally called it Finding the Darkness and Light. Yup, that says it all. One day it's all gloom under the duvet, the next impossible exhilaration at writing some new pieces. I should be used to it at my age I know, but I not and it is often very exhausting. The meds don't seem to be doing much accept giving me tinnitus.... oh well, big surprise. 

Yet I've been working a little more and how happy this makes me. It's what I do, it's me being me. I did a short but well received set at Liberty (which was one of the best ever this year) and on Friday 10th September I am doing a 25 minute spoken word set in The Rooms, St Leonards, East Sussex, as part of the Hastings and St Leonards Heritage Open Days event. Please come if you can, there's Open Mic slots and the venue is fully accessible.

You will see me at my happiest - here's hoping and we'll all have a jolly good time.

Posted by , 8 September 2010

Penny Pepper is looking for some actors for a short film she is making.

At last I've written a film script and I'd really like to get some good actors for this 5 min short, which is for a competition.

Naturally, this is an EXTREME micro, micro budget. It's me doing everything on my Sony DV Cam. I can feed and water actors and pay very basic travel out of my own pocket as a thanks. And give a DVD at the end.

I've been making films for about a year now, and you can see some on youtube.com and at 4docs

The short film 'Diary for Lawrence' was chosen for a showing by Shape at an event in Wimbledon recently. I also made it to the shortlist of the She Writes women script writers scheme.

I need to film it within the next 2-3 weeks hopefully, but I will be scheduling it quite tightly, so wouldn't really need anyone for more than an hour or so.

If disabled actors play the Drs they have to be able to 'pass' as non-disabled - but happy to use non-disabled actors in this context. Will do very brief auditions if I get a lot of offers.

Sophie Partridge will play Jackie.

Please email me via email address: pennylion[at]hotmail.co.uk

Thanks for your help Penny P. 

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 28 March 2010

Last modified by Dave Lupton, 5 April 2010

Penny Pepper is looking forward to sunny days and hopefulness

This is going to be a quick blog. I hope, I intend. I shrugged off the suit of blues, for a bit, as the sun appeared. The Up has to come, doesn't it?.

I want to mention now that I am performing on 21 April at Rich Mix, in Shoreditch, at Jawdance - an Apples and Snakes event. I've been booked as one of the featured performance poets, so PLEASE put in your diaries and come along. Likely to be debuting new material, with the ever magnificent Jo Cox. 

These events are fabulous and I'm chuffed to be performing a longer slot. If you think poetry is dull and fusty, come along and have those preconceptions blown to joyful bits. More details as it approaches. 

The Vibe Bar gig went very well you see, and I had great feedback. Though, true the stage was not accessible. Sigh. Regular occurrence but maybe the venue will think on that now.

I'll add another photo from my modelling session with Tanya Raabe, which took place a few weeks ago. It was a great day, working with a class of disabled art students who had never had a life model before. So the poor kids are landed with me getting my bits out! They coped well and drew some lovely work based on my bod, and we had a discussion around using a disabled model and celebrating the disabled female nude.

Tanya of course is outstanding in all she does and the sketch here is a favourite one of mine. She captures something about me... it's almost spooky. I am always honoured to work for her and believe her work is revolutionary and essential to developing themes in art, not just disability art, but it certainly enriches that as always.

My novel Fancy Nancy is now out there, as in someone with some clout is about to read it. I truly hope they like it, but meanwhile, please, this is my begging letter moment, if you are or know a lit agent, do get in touch. I'm ready and I'm ripe to hit the world with work - we can have much success together!

I remain interested by the way, in how artists make decisions about what to do, or not to do, in terms of extra work. I'm streamlining right now....

Ok that's enough. More soon, and hope to see some of you on 21 April.

Posted by Anonymous, 21 March 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 24 March 2010

Penny Pepper blogs a chaotic world, sudden crisis, and some creative struggle

Tonight I am doing an Open Mic slot with Jo on cello at the Apples and Snakes for women. I believe the lovely Liz Bentley is MC-ing too. Liz is a joy to watch and experience if you ever get the chance.

I hope we can spin a little magic for the audience too. If you're in the area do come long. I know I'm rubbish at letting people know in advance but sometimes these things spring up. It's in Brick Lane, East London - in the trendy Vibe Bar - ooo get us. Come along if you can.

Meanwhile in daily grind of life, I find I am caught up in nightmares of bureaucracy gone as Gaga as Lady. Gaga can be great, but in this this sense, it is the thoughtless, uncaring and indifferent kind.

I'm scarcely coherent as I slop around in my PJs, threatened with eviction and debt - because people stop being fully human, and are not doing what they are meant to do. And oh, pardon me! Because I don't fit in a box, and so, they can't tick a box to make their lives easier, I am carolled into a no-win situation. You all know it well. Forms and more forms. Proof of your worthiness. Proof of your poverty. Proof of your crippledness, I've even been told to 'give up work because it's 'easier'.

I'd like to know if any artist has done this. Decided that the fight against the system, no matter if a cliche, is real enough. I have multiple impairments including some heavy health conditions. Yet I can write and speak from my bed if need be. Mainstream view cannot compute such a notion.

Stuff happens that's good. Modelled for Tanya Raabe again - see photo. Will blog on that anon. Novel creeps closer to finish, poems get written. Going for an AC development grant. But all threatened by the other stuff.

Tips for emotional survival, anyone?

 

Posted by , 10 March 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 11 March 2010

Disabled labelled or not. With or without toothache.

Happy new year and all that. But without snow, please. Yes it's pretty. But, of course, not accessible. It makes me apathetic. I have so many projects on the go, and I feel frustrated many are stuck because there's this freeze up of the UK.

Last month I was here there and everywhere inbetween being ill. I went and modelled for Tanya Raabe and we were on Paul Darke's radio show. I managed not to swear - I don't do that generally, but radio can make naughtiness pop out. Going up to Wolves again soon, performing with the lovely Jo Cox.

I did some exciting stuff in Brighton on Dec 3rd, sharing the stage with Liz Carr, which was sooo much fun. The Jesus poem went down well - I think, though we all felt the audience were a little subdued.

I've had ridiculous toothache - an abscess. The tooth needed yanking and of course this became a bit of a palaver as I am not one of those Norms with standard shaped anything. In the end out it came but now rather sore and grumpy.

Question: I am re vamping my flyer for Spoken Word gigs. Should I be disabled specific and why? Am I that, and yet more? Is it a label I need anymore, and who is it for? Are there any historical equivilents and parallells and can they guide me?

Come on, lets debate and argue! It might make me feel less.... disaffected!

Posted by Anonymous, 8 January 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 January 2010

Bonfires, bugs and being creative

I look at my last blog and wonder if there's a conspiracy against me concerning time. It really is relative. Ok I don't know what that means exactly, but I have a twinge in my guts that it's related to um, what you are doing.

So, I suppose I must be happy that time is hurtling by because I've been very creative when not doing great impersonations of a Victorian In-valid with a porcelain sick bowl. Yeah, the bugs have been at me and in me, urgh, but I'm fighting the good fight.

I'm juggling the balls of about 5 creative projects even so.. A great deal of my time is taken up with my film making. It became tiring, writing scripts, writing treatments (tormenting things, they are) to face constant disappointment. So I bit the bullet to start making shorts on a decent Sony Handycam.

Here's my latest piece - 'Bonfire please please please view and rate for me as this is a competition! I hope you are all infected with the sense of fun. We had a ball, me and Janis, keeping ourselves in the main rowdy throng, though it's not for the faint hearted.

www.4docs.org.uk/competition/view/278/Bonfire

I would love you all to view and comment on my YouTube pieces too. There's a narrative short on there now Diary for Lawrence which was the first film I edited having had lessons from Katherine Araniello. I hope she's proud of me!

www.youtube.com/watch

There's a few others on there so please have a peek. The first one was 'Toilet Trauma in Epping Town'. The power of the internet can be damn amazing. The film, done as a piece of fun on the spur of the moment, was picked up by a local newspaper, I was interviewed. The council was challenged, promises were made. I believe the Invalid sign has been painted out as a first step! Wow. 

There's also been a flurry of activity on my spoken word, at least in terms of writing new material. You can see a clip on my Youtube page from 'Bums, Homes and Hell'' - which is from my BAC Scratch performance of last year. This version was filmed at Ada Street in May.

Which reminds me...

Recently I ventured into Peacocks. Yes, the clothing store. And then, lo....!

Jesus Saved Me in Peacocks
By the purple stiletto heels
A woman told me he loves me
That He understands how I feel

Maybe it’s true that in Peacocks
Many gods lurk in the clothes
The rumpled crumply undies
The dresses in disordered rows

....that's a taster, there's more and I hope to perform the rest in Brighton on Dec 3rd!

Meanwhile, yes, of course there's a meanwhile - I've been networking with Graeae in their fine new building, I've been up to Shape to see Tanya Raabe's incredible portraits, I've modelled for her (naked of course) in Wolverhampton, and been on Paul Darke's radio show.

Phew. Watch this space, all spaces and any new space that may appear where a Penny might fit some new tales to tell.  Sod the sick bowl.

Posted by , 1 December 2009

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 December 2009

Penny Pepper reflects on Liberty 09 and the state of spoken word events

The Penny who needs Nine Lives to Do Everything

I don't need the Nine Lives as do cats because I am reckless and have close shaves - well only a little - but because I always make a point, indeed a practice of biting off much more than I can chew. And I only have tiny cripple's jaws you understand!

Liberty on Sept 5th was amazing and a little peculiar at times. I love to speculate on what the random tourists make of all these disabled people strutting their luvvie stuff in various ways. I won't deny that it's an enjoyable experience to have a day when you know you're going to be reasonably looked after as a professional artist.

You get a decent sound check and you can state what you need. Simples! And reassuring. Me and Jo were on top form, I know we were. We came on after the Ouch bit mind you with that Mat Fraser and Liz Carr... (ok ok, as good as ever) but it was a bit tough, though the audience were warm and responsive even if some elements clearly feel they need permission to respond to my audience participation bits. Oh dear. We do still have a long way to go.

Ever onwards, I am currently compiling a spoken word/performance poetry database primarily for London and the south east but if anyone knows of any venues elsewhere with access do let me know.

There is a good site for this sort of thing called Write Out Loud  which lists venues but not access.

This whole scene is very broad based and exciting at the moment. It is not your worst nightmare of 'school' poetry, believe me. While the range of work performed ranges in type and scale, do check out what's available out there, you are a poet or story teller of any kind. One tip I picked up early, is be good at what you do, don't be slack or unprofessional - and get your words heard.

I want to bring you into the debate about whether to mention disability on my latest flyer or not! Yes. Is it necessary and why should I?

More on that soon when some of the many Lives calm down a bit.

Posted by Anonymous, 21 September 2009

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 21 September 2009