I was booked as a performer at the Beautiful Octopus Club at Unlimited festival at Southbank Centre through my involvement with its organiser, Heart N Soul. I would be involved in two performances; Meeting Points, where one audience member at a time would communicate with a variety of performers (one performer at a time) through verbal and non-verbal communication and Showcase, a live music performance on stage to audience members. 

A surprising but good addition to the area I was to perform in for Meeting Points was that it’s organiser, Will Dickie added a chair to it, so that audience members could sit on it if them sitting on the floor (as the performance would otherwise require) wasn’t an option for them.

I was glad to see that the tape on the ground, which led audience members to a circle on the floor in front of me was clear and most people either knew to approach me, although one group of people weren’t aware that they had to first sign up on the riverside and had to go back to do this.

My performance, in which I invited to people to play musical instruments with me and talked to them to get information that I would use to improvise a short song was enjoyed by audience members; although it was confusing to some, especially those for whom English wasn’t their first language when I (like a lot of songwriters) phrased some of the things I said in the song somewhat differently to how they would in conversational English.

It was good that the performance pushed me to improvise song lyrics, something I’m not usually very confident to try.

When I later performed in the Showcase it was good that fellow performer, Peter Brown was comparing (announcing what was happening at the show between acts) using material he’d rehearsed in a run through of the show two weeks ago and that performances from people were better than they had been at a rehearsal we had for the Showcase. It was also good that there was a ramp at the back of the stage so that performers didn’t have to walk through the audience to get on stage and it was clear that they were performers and helped give the show a professional feel, something that is often lacking in some of the gigs you end up playing as a performer who’s not in the public eye.

The audience for the Showcase were also great as they were very into the performances they saw and I was told that my performance was brilliant by several audience members afterwards.

I found performing at the Beautiful Octopus Club to be enjoyable as I love performing to receptive audiences at established events and venues and I’m able to say I’ve performed at the infamous Southbank Centre and the infamous Unlimited festival.

To find out more about the Unlimited Festival at the Southank Centre please visit: www.unlimited.southbankcentre.co.uk, and discover new work by disabled artists.

Banner image: The Beautiful Octopus Club Festival 2016, produced by Heart n Soul:www.heartnsoul.co.uk
Photo by Christopher Andreou