REINVENTING THE READING EVENT
This week I was lucky enough to be invited to two of the wackiest reading events ever. The first was Literary Death Match, hosted by the hilarious and energetic Todd Zuniga. Todd’s job is the only one in the world that is better than mine, I reckon. He tours the world, staying in vibrant cities, experiencing great new writing, and making fun of authors. I was up against Alan Bissett, who performed a brilliant piece from his Moira Monologues, so didn’t have a hope in hell of winning, but loved the event anyway. Kirsten Innes and Tim Tunrbull were funny and entertaining (Thanks Tim for explaining that Dionysus is not some kind of urinary infection, though there could obviously be a link). Liz Lochhead was brutally honest as the judge of literary merit, and George Galloway was fabulously disguised as Mark Buckland. But it was Ian Macpherson, judging performance, who stole the show. “Helen,” he said, “your performance was wonderful… last night.”
The second event was in Utrecht, Holland. City2Cities is an international festival where a host city invites authors from two other cities, in this case Edinburgh and Stockholm (I once lived in Edinburgh!) The thriller night involved ticket buyers taking a boat across the canal into the bowels of the old library, listening to spooky music on beanbags, wandering along candlelit pathways, popping in and out as authors read from an old chair in a grandfather’s-style den in the basement, and drinking. Bizarre, original, and fun, fun, fun.
It’s great to see that traditional (and, I think, tedious) readings are being reinvented. Let’s have more of it!