“none of us had anticipated the degree and nature of the audience participation, but the combination of high art and mischief was quite brilliant. Truly joyful to be allowed/required to be disruptive…”
Alarms & Excursions is probably best known for its provocations. Each year we create one or two new productions that showcase the breadth of talent in our group, and those that we work with. We pick a new theme and spend about six to nine months developing the work. This involves extensive research, from which we create the broad scope of the piece. Then each member of the team works their magic until we reunite to fine-tune it. Provocations are exactly that - we challenge proscriptive old ways of working, turning the world on its head, shooting down some sacred cows - apologies for the mixed metaphor, but then we do also like to have some fun! Sometimes we tackle serious issues too, if we feel strongly about them. Chiefly, we want to challenge each other to stretch the boundaries of our individual and collective practice.
As well as Flotsam! on our home page, here are some of our Provocations, past and present.
9th June 2018
We did it! Following a blind tasting on the 9th June of the top thirty contemporary poets in the UK today (at the L A R C in Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel) we attempted the impossible - a Definition of Poetry. No one has attempted this for a very long time, and Isabel came away with heaps of notes from the participants. What did we learn? That none of us are perfect, even those we lionise - many household names were found wanting. Some of us too! We did manage to define what poetry isn't. The rest is still work in progress... You can find out more about the event by following this link to the Antiuniversity website.
Put That Light Out!
In a change from the more formal and patriotic music and poetry that we associate with remembrance events, we were commisioned by the Friends of the Crystal Palace Subway, to entertain an audience of over 200 with poems, stories, dance, songs and jollification from the Home Front of the Second World War; families waiting at home, children being evacuated, servicemen and women on leave, the red tape, the privations and the tribulations of life during the blitz. All this took place in Crystal Palace’s only surviving, public air raid shelter - the first arts event in the Subway for nearly 40 years. Two hours of amazing entertainment, from the first warning siren to the sound of the “All Clear”.
For the duration of the raid, the audience was entertained by poets, musicians and storytellers - supporting Robin, Irène and Isabel were Graham Campbell; Jazzman John Clarke; Anna Drysdale; Racheal Joseph; John Musgrave; Steve Tasane, Louise Yates and Rosemary Yung.
All in all, a unique experience in a unique space, with a serious message. The performance ended with a minute’s silence and the sounding of the Last Post.
Read the full programme for the event here.
Isabel's epic poem Souk - a journey through the towns, cities & countryside of 21st century Morocco - had its first outing at London's Loose Muse in April 2017. Inspired by her time spent in the country, Souk is being developed into a multi-sensory experience, combining elements of Oud accompaniment in performance, photography by Jules Steele and Andrew Borge and design by Kerry Andrews. This was augmented by a chapbook of the poem featuring some of the images, published in June 2018. Isabel was invited to perform the piece in mufti at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate (see Gallery pages for flyer with more details). Watch this space for more Souk stuff from our self styled "Florence of Arabia"!
Featuring some of Wash House’s star performers, designed & produced by Emma, Alarms & Excursions brought to life Lewis Carroll’s dark & epic poem, telling the story of the ill-fated expedition to hunt & capture the Snark. Our friends at 111 Collectiff commisioned the debut performance in Nico’s Kitchen as part of the 2016 St Leonard’s Festival. Isabel was ably assisted by Ros Balp, Tony Peek and Antony Mair (Live Canon), all poets residing in Hastings. The audience helped us in our quest, bringing along plenty of chalk, railway shares, bubbles and coats. This is a work in progress with further ideas for developing the piece in the coming year.
Commissioned by Arts Council funded music ensemble Contakt, Warp and Weft tells the story of 500 years in the history of one of east London’s best known streets, from the Brikk Leyne of the Middle Ages to the melting pot of culture that this street is today.
Cockspur Willie, the Calvinistas, Mr Dumberbeyli and the gals in calico are just some of the colourful characters you’ll find on the way. Journey with us through music, spoken word and dance, to experience the rhythms, harmonies and dissonance of this famous street. If you know your kettle curl from your grossgrain, you’ll be right at home.
We are the desvalidas - the underdogs, the destitute, the also rans...
The unifying themes of this event focused on Spanish culture from the 1890s to the end of the Spanish Civil War. What emerged from initial research of the times during which the poets, composers and artists lived became in performance, part fluxus, part zarzuela...
On armistice night 2009, an ensemble of artists from various disciplines gathered in Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries to perform Up the Line. Curated by Platform-7, this was an armistice night with a difference; the cemetery was taken over by poets, dancers, musicians and artists to perform major works in remembrance of the passing of the last two veterans of World War One – Harry Patch and Henry Allingham. The start of a series of events in London, Kent and Northern France...