Tuesday, 7 June 2011

How The Light Gets In: Hay On Wye Festival

Well, this will be my third attempt to write this blog this morning. Computer keeps freezing - I need work! So, like the How The Light Gets In why not book me for my one-woman show called If Love Is The Answer, What Is The Question? One hour long.

How did this all come about? I was approached by the lovely people at the music and philosophy festival How The Light Gets In which runs alongside the BIG Hay On Wye Festival. I was thrilled to be invited to perform during an hour's slot 2.30-3.30 on Weds. 1st June 2011. Whoopee!

A couple of weeks before the big event, and I'm thinking OK, wonder who else is on with me? A quick check revealed that I had the whole hour to myself and that I was billed as Live Comedy! Eek! And also Woo hoo! Exciting and scary. So, being the old trouper that I am I immediately panicked and thought I know - I'll get - a UKELELE!!! (Bear with me - all will become clear).

Yay! But I can't play the ukelele.
So, I searched for ukelele lessons and luckily there was a 2-hour workshop in Bristol. Along I went, and there were about 20 people there too! So, I reckon that my lesson was about the equivalent of 10 mins uke instructions. Never mind! I went home and realised that I couldn't remember any of the chords, that they were too complex, as was the strumming which I couldn't do either. So, driven by panic - only 2 weeks and counting to the show, I picked something which sounded ok and wrote (well ok devised) a chorus about - Brian Cox! Then added verses (with the help of my mate Helen Thomas - more about that in another blog), and I had my comedy song-slash-poetry mash up (or as I like to refer to it, my mish-mash up!) Taking heart from a late-night tv viewing of Stewart Lee asserting that comedy songs are the way to go!

Next - and through diddling about on the internet researching space, philosophy, etc. I came across the sad story of Laika the space dog. David Bowie's Major Tom kept playing in my head, and I discovered that by noodling about on my uke, I could pick out the melody, and so the song-slash-poem Laika Dog was born, the chorus being : Hound control to Laika Dog/ take your worming pills, get ready for lift off/ etc. (You get the drift ...). Oh, and some lovely drawings courtesy of my daughter Morgan.

Ok, this was coming along - then a poem on philosophy, plus another comedy song based on The Rapture (the predicted coming of the Lord on 21st May which never materialised) was - of course - based on Country Joe and The Fish Vietnam Song - accompanied on a newly purchased tambourine!! Oh yes!

Good, good, coming together. Next a chat through with my mate and sometime collaborator Helen Thomas on content, and before I knew it the rest of the show had come together. I decided on a theme - something which had been running through my head for a while and there it was. My very own new one woman show!
I'm a big fan of going with first thoughts - as suggested by Natalie Goldberg - and it was amazing how seemingly random thoughts and ideas coalesced into a show with an overall theme. I'm also a bit of a devotee of surrealists random-ness, and the audience participation - which went extremely well, formed a large part of this. We did a list poem together, a flip chart was involved, some laughter, a small open mike, and a resolution of: If Love Is The Answer, What Is The Question. Finishing off with a playing out to The Beatles All You Need Is Love - preceded by a random (and hilariously unexpected) fanfare in the middle of one of my poems as the sound engineer, who'd been fiddling about with the levels on the cd accidentally fired up All You Need Is Love, and the excellent trumpeted fanfare rang out. Brilliant. I shall use that as an intro for my next show.

I loved the overall DIY feel of it all which I think is very much in keeping with my punk roots!

All in all, I had a lovely time. I do hope the audience did too. The tent was full, and no-one left before the end (so that was a result!!). I sold some books an all!

Many thanks to Josh who was my able assistant and wrote up the list poem on flip chart for me, and to his girlfriend Lily who had the chutzpah to write a four-line poem and get up on stage. Random cards were handed out for the list poem with the words Love is ... Those with the cards to then finish the line. The result was this list poem - written just as the cards came in (i.e. randomly - I love that, it gives more surprises!):

Love is

finding somebody permanent who you can annoy for life

looking after that special somebody

listening and keeping quiet

better as it gets older: far less messy!

pushing your mum in a wheelchair - uphill!

a warm jumper when it's cold.

a hot chocolate in the rain.

a dog bounding in the sea.


a four-letter word

a tangled web

a gentle breeze blowing loneliness away

sharing time, enjoying each other's company,
being generous and knowing it's ok to be who you are!

Ah, and then ... but I can't really give away the rest as that's the point of the whole show.

If you'd like to book me for a thought-provoking, interactive, and rib-tickling hour-long show of music-slash-words-slash-comedy mish-mash-up, then do get in touch:rosemary.dun@virgin.net
I had lots of fun at the festival. Good food. Stayed at a wonderful B&B (I want them to adopt me!), bumped into a musician from Bristol who used to come along and perform at the openmike nights I used to host at Bristol's Folk House, hung out with some people I met at my show, and stayed for the comedy in the evening where the highlight for me was - yes, a comedienne performing comedy songs on her ukelele!! It's the way to go folks!

Peace and love, and happy festival season.


  1. And for personal critiques and coaching contact ME! (HelĂȘn Thomas).

    Dead chuffed that it turned out to be such a great success and fun too. You'll HAVE TO bring that ukelele up north and wow us with your new skill. I'm available for accompaniment on kazoo, tin whistle or tutting at noisy people in the audience. xx

    Rosemary - you need to follow my blog now love, it's called 'dust free keyboard' - I'm just re-posting old myspace ones so you might turn up on there too...remember the 'We Are The World' one. Nowt else. HTxx

  2. Rosemary, alternatively,if you can't see your name, opt for 'as google account' then you will be taken to the google login page. Sign in there and it should bring you back to your comment along with a captcha before you can post the comment.

  3. It's there! You're right, it must have been Explorer! eh??

  4. YAY! Explorer trying to sabotage google methinks.

  5. Yeah, it's definitely Explorer which won't allow me access to my own chuffin blog!! Fascists! Still couldn't access it that way. Still, here I am xx